Oh wow, I ended up with a very different read on this I guess.
I think my read on it clicked for me not in the moment it happened, but rather after starting a second character, and seeing the intro again, after the ending. It went from “ehh, okay, let’s grind to 305 now.” to “OOOH DAAAAAANG!”
To me, the giant glowing monument to hard work, which lasted 10 seconds was a nod to Ghaul, the runt, who tried hard. It’s a shitty plot arc to say “You can get past hardship, you can do everything in your power, try as hard as you can, but your parent/god/whatever figure just likes other people more, so you are incapable of mattering.” Ghaul had to win. Something. So, Ghaul got to take the power. Twice. We still get our shitty story about perseverance being meaningless if you aren’t special/chosen/etc. but with the asterisk of - Ghaul beat us. At least as far as a game seems willing to let an enemy win without making the player lose, or keep thinking about them, Ghaul won. Ghaul took the light, became immortal. (Then we mortals, fighting over who gets to be immortal, got a solid reminder that we still don’t understand anything. We don’t control anything. Not even the Vex could figure out how to simulate the light. The time-traveling, complete planet terraforming, infinite has no idea.
The traveler lights up its own defenses at that point, smashing Ghaul. Utterly. This isn’t a fight, study and worship of this unknown superpower is worthwhile. Which, sucks on a few levels. At first it’s a fairly gentle “Okay, wtf was that all about?” It sucks a bit because it kinda nullifies anything being said about/by Ghaul as a character. What Ghaul is meant to represent or say to or about the world kinda gets lost in what seems like a very dumb “player is right because video games,” way.
- But THEN - (Spoilers about links between post-credits scene and potential future stuff.)
We get the post-scene, which brings us full circle to the first moments of the first cutscene, which describe where the traveler came from.
Those triangle shapes were the symbols used for the un-named enemy the traveler fought/fled/whatever from/with.
Sparking up it’s “nope” rays for Ghaul sparked their attention/life, which made me SO excited for DLC, and where the story could go now.
That, at least for me, kinda changed Ghaul’s downfall into a very critical plot point. Not an ending to the story, but a launching off point for the story of Destiny 2. This is where the MMO starts. Plenty of threats on the table, including possibly the origin of it all, certainly some old friends to explore what’s going on with them in the Taken, the Fallen, Cabal cleanup, etc.
But what that did to Ghaul’s arc for me was - offer a reason which, as far as any non-Lovecraftian universe-bending super power types, Ghaul won. Also, Ghaul was a catalyst for reminding the players that our power is borrowed, and insignificant compared to threats to come.
(I’ve… got a lot of ongoing mixed feelings about this. It has been very interesting reading other takes/reads on this stuff. I seem to be enough in the minority and have enough caveats/asterisks required for my enjoyment of it to know it’s a mess, and will stop for now to save people’s time.)