First, let me explain where I stood on the original ending debate. When I first saw my ending, I was pressed. Initially, I rejected it. However, I thought about it for a couple of days. I didn’t really discuss it much because I didn’t want too many opinions tempering my thoughts. After a few days, I still wasn’t satisfied, but I didn’t hate what they did more than I hated the execution. The lack of closure bothered me more than that—along with some of the plot holes and the Normandy’s confusing jump. I wanted to know that my Shepard didn’t do this in vain.
I was ready to hear opinions after that, specifically from people who liked the endings. I faced another problem there. Most of the discussion about the endings brought out two kinds of people. The kind who have nothing to say beyond “Meh… Endings suck.” And the ones who accused disgruntled fans of being “whiners.” I wanted to hear argument about both sides that were well thought out and find out why they felt the way they did about the endings. So, I did discuss the ending with someone who liked them that was very well thought out. Those discussions did a lot with helping me to make peace with my ending while seeing why someone might really love the ending they got.
I was never really one of those people who wanted the ending changed completely (but I didn’t discount the argument of people who did want those endings gone). I never wanted to roll around in the rubble with my LI. I didn’t want an Ewok dance party. Hell, I didn’t even expect my Shepard to make it out of this trilogy alive. I just wanted it to make sense somewhere, somehow. The Extended Cut of the endings did its job in mostly making me feel like Shepard had accomplished something even after the fallout.
Everything after this will be spoilerish, and this is longish. I'm not sorry for it.
Was this extended cut perfect? No. There are some questions it answered. There are some questions unanswered. And there are some new questions. I didn’t expect perfection because they were still going to work with the endings they had, and there was nothing they could do to suddenly make the endings diamonds. Do I feel a sense of closure now? Yes, I do. I think if they’d just done some of these things in the beginning instead of trying to give it to us raw, there would’ve been much less outrage. Some of these things, like the hammer (beam) run, should’ve already been in the final game. And let me just say that the Ashley and Garrus LI version of the hammer run are the most touching to me. I pretty much fangirled all over myself in Garrus’ version.
What I really always actually liked about the endings is that they really were on equal footing, IMO. Assume from here on out when I say endings I mean the “best” ending of the original three and not the other endings that may come from having a low EMS score. Back to the point, I didn’t feel that one ending was necessarily better than the other. They all have their pros/cons, but I don’t really feel like Bioware pushed one ending over the other as a “best” overall, only the “best scenario” of your chosen decision. I feel the same way about the added content. Even though the Starchild gives you his opinion on what’s the best, all the endings are a legitimate choice, and none of them seem to scream, “I am the best ending of all three!”
Synthesis did feel a little too perfect with its message of everlasting peace and “maybe we’ll transcend mortality and become immortal.” And there are still some LOLscience issues that I’m having with it. I don’t think my feelings on why I don’t think many of my Shepards will choose it have changed, but I appreciate the perspective on it. And I loved EDI’s narration of the events. The end especially touched me with everyone huddled together mourning Shepard, but EDI is standing a little apart from the group as if she’s an outsider, unsure if she truly belongs. But you can see that she hurts. My eyes started leaking when Garrus pulled her toward them in a big ol’ bear hug to show that she wasn’t just some machine She was family. And at that moment, so much emotion washes over her face. I loved her parting words: “Because of her… I am alive, and I am not alone.”
Control was explained much better in this DLC. Before now, I’d just started to see the control option as the option you just took when you didn’t know what the hell else to do with Shepard. It felt the most like the choice that just straddled the line. And in some ways it still does, but it gives enough information to make me not worry so much that Reaper Shepard might forget why she had to make that decision in the first place and start the cycle over. Having Shepard narrate it as an entity that’s removed from her humanity was a nice touch, too, and really played up the goddess aspect of the ending.
I think, out of all the endings, destroy is still the most problematic, which I will get into more later. However, it is still my preferred ending for the Shepard I played through this again with (Chance, my renegade turned renegon by ME3) with the same reasoning as before. She doesn’t believe in control or merging, and while it’s unfortunate that she may destroy the geth, EDI, and even herself, these are sacrifices worth making to ensure the reapers are destroyed. And I loved how the epilogue focuses on rebuilding, not just each race independently, but together they rebuild and form unity and peace.
Now, I’ll talk about that new ending, and this will be longer thoughts that the original three. And take in mind this is just personal conjecture. Others will have their own take on it. This is just mine.
Refusal. I know some don’t like it and still feel it’s a slap in the face for those who may have done everything possible, but still didn’t “win” in the sense that they were hoping for or punishment for airing their grievances with the world about their thoughts on the endings for Mass Effect 3. I appreciate the ending because it does allow Shepard to battle the reapers and die on her own terms, knowing that she never compromised. However, Shepard may have lost the battle, but I feel that what she left behind can win the war.
While it is truly a sad ending for Shepard, her legacy that was left behind obviously helped the next cycle since the child with the new female humanoid stargazer asks if that’s how they eventually made peace. I think it would’ve still have been interesting to see how Shepard’s choice to refuse and the information they learned about her cycle (and others) factored in. Even if they hadn’t thrown in the grandma thing, we would still know that Liara’s message is waiting. Did someone eventually have to decide where Shepard wouldn’t? Or did the information in the capsule help them band together, to advance quickly, and find a way to truly defeat the reapers with this new and detailed information about the reapers?
Answers that I’d like, but I’m not upset they left that open to interpretation. And Mass Effect, in my opinion, proved over the course of the series that even though the reapers seem unstoppable, they are not. They are large in number, they are advanced, and they’re damned scary. But they are not invincible. It seems implied (again, to me) that each cycle is beginning to become technologically advanced sooner which might be evolution’s solution to the reapers. But while technology is fast and the results are quickly seen, evolution requires time, adaptation, and is subtle in its execution, allowing each cycle to comprehend the information they were receiving about the reapers from the cycles before and adding their new knowledge and contributions while using the technology that the reapers left behind and making it better to suit their needs. In their own way, the reapers aided evolution more than they intended … ironically.
I personally like to believe that in choosing that ending, Shepard allowed another race to battle the reapers without having to resort to some compromise, where they get to refuse all of it and still win, that the contribution from all the races before culminate into something that allows a future cycle to do what “couldn’t” be done. It won’t be just a Shepard victory, but a victory for all those who have gone before and a victory for future generations. And maybe it is actually Bioware’s middle finger up, but that’s not what I gain from it on a personal interpretation level.
Also, thank you, Bioware, for fixing that Normandy thing. It was just stupid before, and there was no way to get around it NOT being stupid. It validated my feelings on how Joker would've handled that situation, but did it's part in explaining why he did leave without me having to guess that he was told to retreat.Watching a frantic Joker was especially disconcerting for me. The original scene with the Normandy only ever made sense with the "bad" destroy ending, and I see that it's used with only that ending now.
I am still mostly aggravated with Starchild, though. I can’t really get it in my brain that he serves a purpose in this series other than being there just because. I appreciate that they let us question him a bit more, though, to understand what each of these decisions entailed, even if some of it was still a bit ridiculous. Example: Starkid still tells Shepard that all synthetics will be destroyed—including her. Nothing changed much from the original destroy ending there. Then, that conversation with Starkid got a little weird. He seems to develop a case of ADHD and starts going on about lots of people dying, but no more than what’s already been lost. What the fuck are you talking about, kid? I’m trying to find out what’s going to happen to EDI and the geth.
So, I’m really not sure what I was supposed to take from his answer on that other than it was an elaborate “I don’t know what will happen to you, and I'm probably fucking lying, honestly” and that we have the power to rebuild—which I didn’t need him to tell me anyway. It would’ve been nice to have seen a scene on Rannoch that showed what happened such as did the Quarians suits do some weird stuff? Did they have geth corpses everywhere? Did the geth melt? Are they somewhere on Rannoch saying, "LOL. Destroy. You ain't destroying nothing, Shep."
I mean, showing me just EDI, while sad, doesn’t really make me connect what I did to destroying synthetics, especially since Shepard didn’t die… I guess. I’m still not sure what they want me to get out of that few seconds of breathing.
However, I couldn’t help but laugh at how he said he was created to observe and solve a problem, but apparently, his creators forgot to add the code for not coming up with circular solutions that will destroy your creators. Then, they were stupid enough to help him carry out this plan and got mad when he had the nerve to make them the first reapers. Ultimate troll successful. I joked with a friend that it would be funny if Harbinger was that reaper. No wonder it is so pissed all the time.
I didn’t care much for the explanation of the Crucible. Starkid made it sound like I just ran all over the galaxy and made a big ass power source for his laptop. And I couldn’t get on board with this whole “we knew about the Crucible, but we couldn’t be bothered” thing, either, even though he acknowledges the Crucible was a big deal. “Oh, we just thought we destroyed it this last go around.” Oh… okay. I still want to know what it is the Crucible did to make him “see” these new choices, but left him incapable of actually executing them (not that I would want him to do that unless he was going to go shoot the tube for me).
And what was that throwaway scene of Thane? Was that just to shut people up? Still not even a peep from the crew on his death. You know what? I’m going to let that go. This wasn’t to gripe on about what I didn’t like. I’ve done enough of that. I do it all the time. I just wanted to note that I was pleasantly surprised by the endings. I went into this expecting the very worst, but I’m surprisingly okay with what they added.