So, to continue in this vein of highly improbable reinterpretations of things that I am so fond of, let me tell you about another wacky idea I cooked up.

It all started when I was watching this Mass Effect 3 episode of the game commentary show “Spoiler Warning”, and one of the hosts, Josh, mentioned that Cerberus can “still manage to succeed despite being terrible at everything”. (He says it at about the 2:00 minute mark):

Hmmm.  Is there any other organization you can think of that still succeeds, despite making lots of bad decisions and being widely despised?  An organization which, when seemingly being beaten, simply uses its seemingly-inexhaustible resources to take the advantage?


[Again, huge spoilers, obviously.]

I’ve been mulling over it since I finished the game, and I have to say that I think I like the ending where Shepard chooses to control the Reapers the best.  Commenter xmenxpert disagrees, favoring the “Destroy” ending.  I can definitely understand why one would feel that way; indeed, I had been planning to destroy the Reapers, but the final talk with the Catalyst changed my mind.

Let me explain how I arrived at my ending.  For all of ME 2, my Shepard was pretty loyal to the Illusive Man, since he did save his life and no one else seemed to take the Reaper issue seriously.  I preserved the Collector base at the end, because I figured having it gave us options, whereas destroying it was irreversible.  I liked it the idea of controlling the Reapers and their technology for humanity’s benefit. To quote another BioWare game: “What greater weapon is there than to turn an enemy to your cause?”

I was planning to go along with whatever the Illusive Man wanted to do in ME 3, right up until the scene on Thessia when the Prothean V.I. states that at the end of the last Reaper cycle, the Protheans’ efforts to thwart the harvest were ruined by a rogue group that wanted to control, not destroy the Reapers.  Later, it turned out that the Protheans in this group had been indoctrinated by the Reapers to sabotage their efforts.

This meant that Cerberus was nothing new, and siding with them would be playing right into the Reaper’s plans, and would cause the cycle to continue.  So, I reconsidered, and resolved not to do what Cerberus wanted after all.

This was my plan right up to the last scene when Shepard meets the Catalyst, at which point the following exchange takes place:

Catalyst: Or do you think you can control us?

Shepard: Huh… so the Illusive Man was right after all.

Catalyst: Yes, but he could never have taken control, because we already controlled him.

Control of the Reapers was possible, the Illusive Man had just screwed it up.  But Shepard hadn’t made the same mistakes, and so he could take control.  I think this was the significance of the blue (Paragon) color being used for the control ending and red (Renegade) being used for the destroy ending.  It was a plot twist of sorts: the Illusive Man had wanted to do the right thing, but out of evil motivations, and Anderson had wanted the wrong thing, but out of pure motivations. So I chose Control.

Now, you may object that this decision rests solely on trusting that the Catalyst is telling the truth, which is a gigantic leap of faith given that (a) you just met it 5 minutes before, (b) most of what it says to explain the choice is vague nonsense, and (c) its original plan and reason for creating the Reapers is a patchwork solution at best and utterly insane at worst.

All of these are valid objections, and in a really good ending, you wouldn‘t have to trust the Catalyst. But, with the choices the game gives you, you have to take Its word for it or else let the cycle continue.  Consequently, I would argue that the Control ending is the best of the available choices.

Finally got it this Christmas, and have been playing it this weekend.  It’s good, but the missions are kind of repetitive: go to base held by Geth/Cerberus forces, choose who you want to either activate or deactivate the Anti-Aircraft gun, defend them, wash, rinse, repeat.  Anti-Aircraft guns are the new rogue V.I.s, it seems.

Also, the whole idea that “well, yes, the Reapers are destroying the Galaxy, but we refuse to ally with [whatever other species of alien] because we’ve been at war with them forever” is a little unbelievable. I think intelligent beings could put aside their differences long enough to fight the attack of the Metal Cthulhus. As Ronald Reagan–yes, that Ronald Reagan–once said:

“In our obsession with antagonisms of the moment, we often forget how much unites all the members of humanity. Perhaps we need some outside, universal threat to make us recognize this common bond. I occasionally think how quickly our differences worldwide would vanish if we were facing an alien threat from outside this world. “

Same principle here, except it would be all the members of the galaxy uniting to stop the threat from outside the galaxy, not just the planet.  It seems kind of unbelievable they could be so petty.

I’m sure there will be more plot developments, of course, and maybe it will be explained.  It’s still a fun adventure game.  I’m sure I’ll post a lot more when I finish it.