Argonaut, you are my hero of these forums really, I agree with about 99% of stuff you have written in most of the topics you have participated in.
Now, to add to this conversation, I think people dislike the companions cause more often than not they steal all the spotlight. I wish that Larian would drop the entire idea of origin stories, as I have said it many times before, or keep them confined to DOS games only, they have absolutely no reason hamfisting them into BG series. Period.
Hell, I don't really hate a single one of them. I understand that they are each different people caught in difficult circumstances forcing them to work together. But they do need to work on their sympathetic skills a bit more. The only one who could possibly get away being the major pain in the butt is Lae'zel, her being a githyanki and all that. She sees all the races of Faerun as inferior, and it shows. At least she's honest about that. Also, the circumstances you meet each of the companions under is pretty bit weird, Astarion being indeed a shining example among all of them. There should indeed be a way for the others you have recruited to at least REACT to him pulling a knife on us. They don't have to help, but at least react, say something. It's not that much to ask for, is it?
And speaking of our PC, Larian could implement such a simple fix for our lack of any visible backstory, well we do have backgrounds - acolyte, noble and so on. But they never come up in dialogue. I played as a seldarine drow acolyte cleric of Eilistraee on my first run, on my 2nd I went with high elven wizard noble. Now the racial and class dialogues come up often, but the 'background' never does. Never. My newest character is a drow warlock of the old ones, with the entertainer background, and I can already predict that the entertainer background will never ever come up in dialogue. I mean, is it really so hard to implement the backgrounds as some sort of backstories for our PCs? Like hell, Larian could give us 2 options even as to what you did via dialogue like it was done in POE, and people would not complain as much about our PCs being a full empty blank slate. Hell, I wouldn't complain anymore. Our PCs backstory doesn't have to as grand as the origin characters' one, but at least make it matter a little bit more.