So, I just wrapped up Mass Effect 3 about an hour ago. I did so under the pall of a raging gaming community which has portions literally demanding a new ending. You know what? Under that pall, with that preparation, I liked that ending. However nothing refines one’s ideas and thoughts like discussion, so let’s do it Omega Level. Let’s discuss the Mass Effect 3 ending. Heavy spoilers past the break.
I suppose where to start is what I chose: I decided to rock the synthesizing ending to ME3. As someone who likes the concept of the Hegelian Dialectic (I don’t want to sound pretentious, it’s just a neat concept to me okay?) it seemed simple that in order for the Cycle to break there needed to be some sort of synthesizing between the Organics (Thesis) and the Synthetics (Antithesis) or else as God-Child-Guy pointed out, it would happen once again.
It’s a riff I enjoyed in Battlestar, it’s a riff I enjoy in the philosophical blatherings of Hickman’s S.H.I.E.L.D. What if you didn’t choose that ending? Perhaps you’re not as satisfied as I am. Et cetera. But I’m side-stepping a bullet which is buzzing around.
The lack of your galaxy’s reflection.
The idea throughout the Mass Effect series as any raging fan will point out currently is that ultimately you determined how your galaxy looked. It was *yours*, and everything you did was reflected in the manner in which it behaved. The ending of the game however, was utterly devoid of this. All the squad members you saved. Whether or not you cured the genophage. Everything. Most people’s qualms are that what is the point of any of your decisions if they aren’t taken into consideration.
—My equivocating argument is that it is still your galaxy. Everything that let you up to that final moment was you sculpting your own journey. The minutiae that created your save file was still responsible for giving you the unique experience you rocked through three titles. Unfortunately with the preponderance of choices, ultimately BioWare shot themselves in their own fucking kneecaps. Someone call up Achilles, we have the Tragic Flaw. The greatest strength of the series ultimately undid itself in a moment where they had to fucking conclude.
I actually buy that. I’m agreeing with those who lament that idea. A writer on some site said that the problem with the ending wasn’t the writing itself was bad. (Though there are a variety of fair complaints against it) Instead the problem with the ending was that it didn’t reflect our own unique journey.
It didn’t. But the journey was still ours.
Furthermore, the game itself often drubbed up concepts of Fate and the futility of organic species. A part of me wants to argue that frankly the three choices that are given are proof of mankind’s limited but existant agency. Mankind and the rest of the galaxy was powerful enough to repel to an extent the Reapers and Dumb Child-God-Guy. Yet even in the face of that, it was only enough to budge them to the point of soliciting new options. The Reapers over and over again stated that the Organics were Nothing. The hubris that we brought with us as the character was buying into the notion that would could matter.
–I’m not actually sure I believe it.
In this desperation to make sense of the failure for the game to adequately reflect our decisions, people are delving into the minute aspects of the game. Milling message boards and coming up with theories. Ultimately the game is going to dare you to make up your own interpretation. None of us are never going to know if the totem keeps spinning. I’m at peace with that. I have my own riffage on the ending and I’ll internalize it. I often wonder if this is because I’ve gone through years of rigorous training in the utterly useless halls of literary theory and we’ve been taught that every text ultimately gets away with its author. I buy it. To an extent. (I fall into the middle group almost everywhere) And that the tales we ingest are our own to make meaning with.
If this all seems like unstructured muck, it’s because I’m still very much in dialogue with myself regarding the game. This is me working through it. I admit its flaws and its deficienes, but on a very basic level I found my outcome to be rewarding. Why did So and So get out of the ship after the ending with Joker? I don’t care. That’s just honesty. Why was Joker flying away? Well, why the fuck would he stay in a hot zone after dropping me off? Furthermore, how much time had passed since he dropped us off? Or since the synthesis was complete?
If you can’t get past the utter lack of your own universe being reflected in an ending, in a series where the whole concept is autonomy, I don’t blame you. It just didn’t bother me. My journey was my own up until that point, and then I was funneled into that moment and I had a choice to make. That’s the long of it. The short of it.
If I was to lodge a complaint about the ending, it was the post-credits scene. Even for an apologetic and blind-eyed asshole like myself, I know you don’t tack a fucking frame narrative onto a story after it ends. Insanity. Pure insanity. Clunky as fuck and unneeded. So Shepard is a legend? I get it. It’s cool. It’s unneeded though, and God only knows the “just one more line” is going to generate three-thousand threads about how there is room to conclude the story.
I don’t want DLC to give me closure, I have it. I don’t want a company to kowtow to fucking fan pressure. That’s insane. I wouldn’t even ask that out of fat Lucas and the fucking Star Wars prequels and god knows how that burns me. It’s out. It’s done. All that is left is for us to make meaning, to discuss. That’s the fun thing about these things, these cultural (geek) events.
If you’re pissed, I understand. I get it. I just can’t bring myself to that point of apoplexy. Before the final moments it was one of my favorite games ever, and it still is. Reservations and flaws in tow.
In some awful fucking trite way, I am the synthesis of the maelstrom between the Pissed and the (almost non-existent) Happy people regarding the ending.
I’ll take it.