KitaSaturnyne's Take On The Endings (Or, The Day We Brought Back Crucifixion)

KitaSaturnyneKitaSaturnyne wrote on 27 Jun 2012 05:30

I don't want to do some well-thought out essay. I don't want to write a kind of dissertation on my approval of the endings. I'll also be reposting this on the BSN, since I don't want to write two different versions of this.

As I experienced the endings, I made notes as they progressed. In this post, I will be paraphrasing those notes here. Stuff in italics are my thoughts, expanding on those notes.

- The extra scene before the beam was a nice touch. I think though, that it might have been more appropriate for Shepard and the love interest to say goodbye BEFORE the Normandy arrives. It kind of ends up sitting there while Harbinger doesn't shoot at it.

- A pretty neat scene of the Crucible approaching, and Hackett finding out that someone made it onto the Citadel.
I guess they detected some kind of energy surge from the beam?

- Shepard gets ejected into the Citadel now.
Pretty funny. Reminds me of the Mako's ejection into the Presidium, so maybe the beam was some sort of mass relay technology? Makes its designation as the "Conduit" rather fitting.

- Nothing new in the scene with TIMmy. A shame, but understandable.
Also, did the original elevator have a shaft of light around it? Because if it did, it no longer appears for me.

- Did the original Crucible docking footage have dialogue? I don't remember it being there.
"Ten seconds to docking" and the like.

- Hoo, boy. The Catalyst. Here we go.
I found it an interesting wrinkle that when Shepard asks if it can help us defeat the Reapers, its response is "Perhaps". Doesn't seem like much, but might imply a whole bunch of things.

- It explains what the Crucible is. Turns out it's a massive power generator/ amplifier, which turns the Citadel into a massive beam projector.
I actually like the idea that organics were able to conceal the plan for all this time, making the Reapers think it had been erased from history. "Clearly, organics are more resourceful than we realized". It lent creedence towards its realization that its solution wasn't working anymore.

- It explains the creation of the Reapers. It's intent, while seemingly good, was executed in a terribly misguided way because of its flaw in logic. As relations between its creators and the synthetics of the time broke down, it decided to preserve these progenitors in Reaper form.
Again, I understand its good intentions, but its logic was very flawed. Despite its efforts, synthetics and organics have not gotten along. So, the Catalyst, a synthetic, decides kill the organics and transform them into massive, frightening machines. Where does the misguided part come in? Well, it believes it's helping preserve these races. In fact, it even mentions that its creators didn't like having to become Reapers, which means it acted on its own. As such, I don't find the Catalyst funny as everyone else seems to, but horribly misguided. And whether or not Shepard can call it out on this flaw in logic doesn't matter, since we're already hip deep in the consequences of its decision, which touches on one of the main themes of the game in a weird way. Pointing out the flaws in its logic won't change anything, the Reapers still have to be stopped.

- It explains its purpose: to act as a liason between organic and synthetic life.
It even implies that it tried this over multiple generations, trying to act as a warning beacon of sorts. As mentioned before, its attempts to create understanding between the two types of life, a theme strongly portrayed in the Quarian/ Geth conflict, failed. So, it misguidedly went the Reaper route, deciding on a cycle of prevention rather than non-interference.

- It talks more about the choices:

DESTROY
- While the Crucible is quite advanced, it's not advanced enough to send out an energy beam that will discriminate between synthetics and the Reapers.
I like that it's now warning us that other synthetics will go down with the Reapers, instead of the manipulative line, "you can wipe out all synthetics if you want". The re-wording of this went a long way with me.

- Technology will be "affected", but can be rebuilt by those who survive.
By using the general statement "technology", the Catalyst implies that the Geth and EDI can be repaired/ rebuilt. It doesn't say explicitly, though, so that might not be enough. Also, there's still the moral quandry of offering them up for sacrifice in the first place without their knowledge or consent. But, if they are able to be restored, and subsequently are, was it a sacrifice to begin with? If it was wrong at the time, does restoring them make up for that? Interesting moral questions here.

CONTROL
- Same as before, explained with some extra stuff that probably doesn't matter to anyone.
The idea of Shepard's consciousness replacing that of the Catalyst is quite interesting, but as people have already demonstrated in the original thread, they all just think that Shepard's going to turn someday. But that is only SPECULATION.

SYNTHESIS
- Allows both organics and synthetics to achieve their ultimate goals: Organics want to be perfected through technology. Synthetics want to be perfected through "understanding".
Understanding what? Emotions? Friendship? Family? Reproduction? I actually think it's all of these things. As for how it occurs, I don't know. But does it really matter at this point?

- The Reapers will become connected to us and be able to share the thoughts, memories and experiences of all the civilizations that comprise them.
Corny, to be sure. Does that mean then, that Synthesis achieves peace by turning us all into a galaxy-wide hive mind?

- Each exploration allows for refusal of the idea. You can refuse in two ways, one of which was drayfish's method - Shoot the bugger. The other is via the dialogue wheel: Upon presentation of each choice, we can respond questioningly to it, or we can reject it. Rejecting the last choice brings you to what amounts to an "Are you sure?" prompt. If you choose to go with the choices, things go on as before. You can still back out though, by shooting the Catalyst.
I thought that this was smart game design, allowing for all the choices to be present at every moment of this scene, once control is finally restored back to us.

- Onto the ending sequences themselves (Keep in mind that I went with a Paragon Shepard, highest EMS I could scrounge up and no MP):

REFUSAL
- Very hopeless feeling as the Catalyst turns off the lights and leaves. Would have been nice for this to be longer, so we'd at least get to see Shepard fighting to the last. Doesn't come off as an attempt to troll, but rather to encourage the RGB endings. It still could have been done to add more to the end of the narrative, however.
This ending doesn't explicitly say that the next cycle wins, but I think it's implied that it at least happens at some point thanks to us, which I still think is a victory on our part. I was hoping for some more details leading to our defeat, but oh well. This actually feels more like a sequel set up, now that I think about it.

SYNTHESIS
- New "Fall back" scene.
Joker's struggle and emotional response to this goes a long way for me. I still don't like that he left, but at least he doesn't either. In fact, this rather profound sympathy between Joker and the player is probably lost on everyone at this point.

- Husks are attacking, the beam hits and it's like the husk has regained intelligence. In fact, it almost seems fearful of the human nearby at first.

- Mass relays break, but not totally. At least they don't explode.
See My Final Thoughts at the end of this post for my notes regarding this.

- The Reapers leave the homeworlds
The green eyes were weird, but probably vital for creating context in these scenes.

- "New Retreat", where Joker seems a lot more depressed and rueful about leaving Shepard behind. Still goes a long way for me.

- The stranded theme is the same, though the Normandy is a lot less damaged.
This creates the question of why it crashed, however. The original movies showed us the Normandy being damaged, which explained to us why it landed on a planet. A more fitting replacement might have been to have Normandy damaged somewhere in between, where the wing/ engine doesn't come off, but we see consoles exploding and shipwide malfunctions, then emergency landing.

- EDI summarizes the results of choosing Synthesis. While it's mostly riddles and metaphysical stuff, I find it quite satisfying in that it touches on the major theme brought forth by the Quarian/ Geth conflict: the struggle for artificial life forms to understand what it is to feel and think like organics.
This, I believe is what the Catalyst was trying for. We corrected its misguided attempt, and achieved true peace throughout the galaxy. Furthermore, EDI's words make it feel like what we did was actually a sacrifice - "Shepard died so we could have this gift". As for the idea that peace can only be achieved through sameness, that issue is still there. So is the issue of forcing the change on everyone in the galaxy. I also wanted to say that this much more emotional, expressive EDI was awesome for me. It spoke a lot to me about how the gap between organic and synthetic was bridged.

- Shows everyone going home under Synthesis context.
This part is the same no matter which ending is chosen, though it's apparent that your decisions influence whether or not certain little inserts are present, which I think is nice and reflective of our choices.

- The Memorial Wall scene was an emotional moment.
I cried. My only sticking point is that I would have loved to see my character's first name on the little plaque the love interest sticks up there. The first time we really see Shepard is at the end of the character creation screen, where their name is prominently displayed. Hell, the first step of the creation process was choosing their name. I thought that putting that full name on the memorial plate would have made a nice bookend for that.

- Normandy lifts off.
This actually made me feel the "brave new world" vibe when I saw it.

- Buzz Aldrin remains. His scene is still pointless, but I don't think it detracts as much from the ending anymore.

My thoughts (Not from the notebook):

Synthesis still needs a bit more explanation, but not as much as before. I can understand people's impression that BioWare seems to be pushing Synthesis on us, but I think that if you look at each ending on its own, they end up having equal merit and emotional payoff as this ending does. It may be a little too "sunshine and rainbows", but what I focused on was EDI's determination to not let this gift go to waste. It seems to me that others had already decided on the message they were getting from this ending and just left it at that.

The message I got? That whatever Synthesis is, it's allowing for something really big and really great, and Shepard gave his life to help us achieve that. I'm going to do everything I can to realize that gift in honor of Shepard's memory.

CONTROL
- The Catalyst watches and fades away.
I think that particular shot was there before, but it only became clear to me once the Catalyst explained that Shepard would be replacing it.

- Joker leaves, albeit very reluctantly.
See my notes on this above.

- The husks just back off from killing the marine.
Not sure what it's saying here. Waiting for orders from Shepard? Realizing new role as servant?

- The Citadel isn't destroyed, but closes.
Since Shepard is the new Catalyst, this makes sense. However, what his plans are for the Citadel and the people on it kind of needs to be explained. If he's keeping it as his flagship, something about the people being kicked out should be shown.

- The mass relays break, but don't explode. I didn't see an energy beam fire from the Citadel after it closed, though. Did I miss that?
See My Final Thoughts at the end of this post for my notes regarding this.

- The Reapers leave the homeworlds.

- The "New retreat" scene with a more contemplative Joker.

- ReapShep summarizes his intentions. As a paragon, he plans to use the Reapers as guardians and servants. He plans to watch over the galaxy and keep it safe from outside threats, because he loves his friends, including those that died so he could get as far as he did.
It's been brought up that at some point, Shepard might suddenly just realize that he's above everyone else and kill them, whatever the logic is for that (seems based more on science fiction tropes than logic). While it's true it could happen, there's no indication here that it will, and it feels to me like reasoning on par with that of the Catalyst - "Even a 1% chance means it absolutely WILL happen!". It's just speculation at this point.

My thoughts (Not from the notebook):

While it still left some small questions, I felt that things were pretty well wrapped up here. Not only are Shepard's intentions clear, but he follows through with them, like Legion and the Geth did when we united them with the Quarians. It feels like a question I asked a long time ago in the original thread was answered: Shepard was the catalyst after all.

DESTROY
- The Reapers fall dead as before.

- Where before the husks were struck in awe of the humans next to it, this time the beam vaporizes them.
Small detail, but important nonethelss.

- Relays break, but don't fully explode.
See My Final Thoughts at the end of this post for my notes regarding this.

- The Reapers fall dead all across the galaxy.

- "New retreat", "new crash".

- Hackett summarizes that while everyone was set back a little bit, everything can be rebuilt.
I liked the flickering lights on the starships here. It shows that not just synthetics and the Reapers were targeted, but technology as a whole. It also implies, to me, that synthetic life can be restored, even if it's as silly as taking a wrench and some high-quality twine to get EDI up and running again.

- Shows Citadel rebuilt.
I found the shots of the wrecked Citadel interesting to be able to see. The subsequent shot of its restoration helps me to believe that the Geth and EDI can be restored. Would they be angry at us, or understanding? Would we be able to make things right between us?

- Emphasis on rebuilding, things are recoverable.
This ending really hits us over the heads with this idea. However, it allows me to believe that restoring synthetics is possible. Tradeoff?

- Memorial wall, Normandy lifts off.
This scene, in the context of destroy, almost brings up the question of how they repaired the Normandy, but Hackett and the Catalyst's speeches fix this by telling us that technology will only be "affected" and not necessarily destroyed. Furthers notes in the final section below.

- Shepard breathes.
Hey! I got the scene without having to play multiplayer! Great! It still brings up a lot of questions in regards to whether or not this is really Shepard, and if so, what he has to answer to in the wake of this decision. Will he stand trial? Will he be hailed a hero, despite the losses? Will anyone believe him when he tells them what happened? Now that I think about it though, does it really matter at this point?

- Buzz Aldrin still here.
Sadly, this scene still has no point other than to tell us that a story just happened.

Final thoughts:

- Re: The relays break but don't explode
While the game shows us the relay's breaking and not exploding, Control seems to imply that they later end up in a few big pieces in the end. I personally think it's not that much of a reach to think that the races of the galaxy can put them back together, since they're not disintigrated into tiny pieces anymore. Instead, it's kind of a matter of putting them back together from what's already there, just with a few seams made of glue and duct tape showing.

- One thing I think helped massively with this was Shepard being able to vocally refuse each choice. Of course each choice is an atrocity in its own way, and that doesn't change even in light of the consequences of each chociei. But, we are allowed to vocally refuse it in the game, so it quickly comes down to a matter of "if you don't believe in it, don't choose it". You'll be refusing it, and your Shepard will be refusing it right along with you, which I think helps people recapture a lot of the Shepard they'd come to believe in.

- Something that helps me a LOT in terms of "forgiving" BioWare: The "Buy more DLC" blurb was replaced by a heartfelt message from the dev team. Short, but infinitely better than what it was, so that deserves some points.

- Did I enjoy the endings? Yes. There was much closure to be had, and some of the important themes of the game were touched upon. However, I felt that these themes might have needed to be touched on a little less subtly. They shouldn't have gone with the concept of Synthesis if they didn't understand it, which it certainly seems that they didn't. That said though, this ending was much more clear than its original incarnation.

- Were the endings thematically revolting? No. The choices still are, absolutely. The endings though, through their various clarifications and attempts at closure, actually end up touching on these themes rather well, so as far as thematically revolting goes, I think the ending sequences are now divorced from the choices in and of themselves.

Questions still left:
In Destroy, how were the mass relays rebuilt? Were they destroyed as badly as in the scene from Control where the Reapers are putting the relay back together? It it as simple a matter as that for the galactic species?
The gigantic pieces of the relays at least seem to imply that this is possible. Control implies that in the two situations where the Reapers are left alive, they rebuild the mass relays for everyone. Since they're helping rebuild in Synthesis, they probably account for this too.

In Destroy, did the Catalyst say that synthetic life would be utterly and irrevocably destroyed while other technology would survive? If technology could be rebuilt, couldn't synthetics as well?
I choose to believe it's possible, though that still doesn't make throwing them up on a sacrifical slab a good thing. Also, I imagine Shepard would have a loooot of 'splaining to do.

In all the endings, what do our friends do when they rejoin everyone else? Shots of the Normandy crew would have gone a long way here. Seeing Daniels and Donnelly finally give in and kiss each other, Joker and EDI working together in some capacity, all that stuff.

So, there you have it. My thoughts on the endings. Not quite as caustic as most people here, I know. Hopefully as time goes on, I can elaborate further on my feelings regarding the EC. Thanks for your attention, all.



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