After my last post about the problems with Mass Effect 3’s ending, I’ve had a little time to sit down and think about it a bit.
It still sucks.
It sucks because you’re railroaded into a position where there are three paths, all of which are basically the same, just with different colours of ‘space magic’ that essentially screw the galaxy over in three different ways. Your character acts totally out of character and you’re not given any actual room to actually role-play (and for the critics of the serious, there’s not even any cover-based shooting action).
At least, that’s the way it’s presented… it feels like a “a (space) wizard did it” or “rocks fell, everyone died” situation. Basically, shit happens, credits roll…
Currently, a huge section of the fandom is like this:
However, there is a theory – It might be wishful thinking, it might be people trying to grasp some straw of sanity from an otherwise nonsensical ending. It could also be that us fans have more sense than the Bioware writers… hmmm.
The theory is that, the ‘ending’ is nothing more than a hallucination, Shepard having been zapped by Harbinger begins to fall into Indoctrination. The whole ending scenario is Shepard battling the Reapers in his/her unconscious mind. This goes some way to explaining several discrepancies (plot holes) that suddenly occur (namely Anderson’s presence on the Citadel, the Normandy’s FTL jump, your crew not being on Earth anymore) – it also explains why the Space Wizard – sorry, the Catalyst – takes the form of the young child that’s been haunting his dreams – the child s/he saw die back on Earth. And speaking of Shepard’s dreams, if you pay attention to the environment Shepard find himself after Harbinger’s attack it’s quite similar in some way to the the dreams you have earlier in the game…
Anyway, the three choices Shepard is presented with – Control, Merge and Destroy – the presentation of these is interesting. Destroy is glossed over and implied to be the worse choice, Control is shown to be something other people have tried and failed at and Merge is shown as the way to go.
As I’ve explained before, the ‘Destroy’ choice is said to wipe out all synthetic life in the galaxy, not only the Reapers, but your friends and allies too – even Shepard him/herself! If this is some Indoctrination based hallucination this choice would be the one Harbinger would not want Shepard to take, it would represent Shepard rejecting both joining the Reapers (‘Control’) or accepting a future of the Reapers (‘Merge’). It would make sense for Harbinger to try and direct Shepard away from it.
Therefore it is interesting that it is only with this choice (combined with very high military strength in the battle previously) that people get a quick 10 second cutscene, after all the others that shows someone (presumed to be Shepard) in the trademark N7 armour, breathing whilst trapped under concrete.
This scene alone seems to suggest that Shepard was not on the Citadel (it’s not made of concrete) – that combined with the fact that Shepard’s armour was burnt off by Harbinger’s attack also suggests that everything that happened since that attack actually didn’t really happen.
So where does that leave us? It leaves us with uncertainty as to the actual conclusion of the story. Do we blindly accept the non-sensical ‘space magic’ endings we’re shown or do we try and find something hidden under them?
The trouble is, with anything that people don’t like, they try and work around it, try and make it into something that they do like. This hallucination/Indoctrination theory certainly fits those criteria to a tea.
Is it a case of wishful thinking?
I don’t know.
So the question is – just what the hell were we supposed to think?
If it’s a case of what we’ve been given is it – that the ending is intentionally what we saw – then I still believe that it’s a pile of rubbish – it jibes against the whole rest of the series and – in my opinion – taints it somewhat.
On the other hand, if this hallucination/Indoctrination theory is even partially true and we’ve not seen the real ending – then how and when do we get the real ending? In some down the road DLC package? In a fourth instalment to the trilogy? We were sold this game being told it was the end of the series, that the storylines would be wrapped up and we could move on. This has not happened and we’re potentially looking at having to pay for another ending?
So, in the meantime, what am I supposed to do?
Well, having finished one play through with one of my Mass Effect 2 characters, I’ve started another.
This time, it’s Jennifer Shepard’s turn – despite a bug in the game not allowing me to import her face (I had to try and recreate it). Although I have to admit – I probably won’t go into the endgame again…
I have to admit, I am tempted to also start playing through as my ‘Jim’ (aka the evil bastard) character as he’s already left the galaxy in such a bad state, I’m not sure the Space Wizard ending can break it any further…