*spoilers* Revisiting the Mass Effect 3 ending.

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#51 Posted by Ghostiet (5289 posts) -

@Napalm said:

@Ghostiet said:

the Leviathan DLC throws wrenches into the theory which I don't think were addressed.

Whoa, wait, the Leviathan DLC also does away with it? No spoilers, but, I didn't expect that from that DLC.

It does in a minor way by expanding on the backstory behind the Reapers. Nothing spoilery, really. It also shows how fucking short-sighted BioWare is in the same way the Extended Cut did, which is why I refuse to believe these people could pull off something as deep as the IT.

#52 Posted by living4theday258 (679 posts) -

I wasn't a huge fan of mass effect at all, but i did play and beat all of them. That being said this...... theory is nothing but fans trying to make a bad ending into a good one. Face it ME 3 had a badly written ending. nothing more. nothing less.

#53 Posted by StarvingGamer (8375 posts) -

Let me take these straws away so you can stop grasping at them. No seriously, if this thread is still a thing the next time I'm around a computer I'll be happy to tear it apart.

While I'm at it I might as well let you know that Santa isn't real either. Sorry, spoilers.

#54 Posted by TBird13 (107 posts) -

Wait, don't the extended endings give just straight up epilogues, some of them from other characters' points of view? I'm all for unreliable narrators as a writing tactic, but I had no idea there were still indoctrination theory folks out there after those.

Even if we aren't supposed to take what happens within the big reaper base literally, the end results seem pretty unambiguous, as they occur from a 3rd person omniscient viewpoint.

#55 Edited by Forum_User (310 posts) -

Another thing that is suspicious is that the Citadel (or its inhabitant, if you like) is the Catalyst. A Reaper creation is the key component of a weapon that nobody is sure of the exact purpose or origin of. I was suspicious about that from the start, going around trying to get this thing built when nobody even knows what it is. It always seemed like an obvious "gotcha" set-up.

In fact, this is a theme that shows up more than once in the series - being led to believe that some piece of Reaper technology is necessary to defeat the Reapers.

#56 Edited by Devise22 (230 posts) -

@Forum_User said:

Another thing that is suspicious is that the Citadel (or its inhabitant, if you like) is the Catalyst. A Reaper creation is the key component of a weapon that nobody is sure of the exact purpose or origin of. I was suspicious about that from the start, going around trying to get this thing built when nobody even knows what it is. It always seemed like an obvious "gotcha" set-up.

In fact, this is a theme that shows up more than once in the series - being led to believe that some piece of Reaper technology is necessary to defeat the Reapers.

You still fail to grasp that the world around Shepard reacts in every ending to the decisions that he makes while on the Citadel at the end. If it is all in his head the world should not be able to react to those things. In the extended endings they go further as mentioned with third person narration about what has happened. It's clear as day they shut down any aspect of the indoctrination theories as being any more than fans hoping/wishing.

#57 Posted by Mr_Skeleton (5146 posts) -

@Forum_User said:

@Ghostiet said:

They never flat out denied it, but they did say that they have only planned indoctrination as a gameplay gimmick, but they scrapped it early on.

Again, I'd like to see what exact quote this is based on. As for the rest, I don't see how your personal opinions / assumptions of their overall storytelling capabilities are really relevant to what story they actually wrote.

They pretty much said that the indoctrination theory is wrong I can start searching for the exact quote but honestly I got can think of more interesting things I can do with that time, so just take our word for it. Or don't, it's up to you.

#58 Posted by Pudge (899 posts) -

@Brodehouse said:

I think they should've split The Reaper War across several (3) games, because they simply bit off more than they could chew. They should have slowed development down and did an entire 20-30 hour game about each of the main thrusts in 3, and _resolved_ plot threads well instead of having to rush through them because there isn't enough time in a 30 hour game to get deep into any one area. As it was, the conflict was just too grand and big to really do in a 30 hour game with two years development.

Man I wish they would have done that. I enjoyed most of ME3 leading up to the ending, but there was so much to be expanded on in any one scenario, it's mind blowing. I don't know why everyone has to make Trilogies nowadays, why not plan for as many stories as you need to tell, instead of shoehorning tons of plot into 2 and 3 because you have to end it at 3.

#59 Edited by Forum_User (310 posts) -

@Devise22 said:

@Forum_User said:

Another thing that is suspicious is that the Citadel (or its inhabitant, if you like) is the Catalyst. A Reaper creation is the key component of a weapon that nobody is sure of the exact purpose or origin of. I was suspicious about that from the start, going around trying to get this thing built when nobody even knows what it is. It always seemed like an obvious "gotcha" set-up.

In fact, this is a theme that shows up more than once in the series - being led to believe that some piece of Reaper technology is necessary to defeat the Reapers.

You still fail to grasp that the world around Shepard reacts in every ending to the decisions that he makes while on the Citadel at the end. If it is all in his head the world should not be able to react to those things. In the extended endings they go further as mentioned with third person narration about what has happened. It's clear as day they shut down any aspect of the indoctrination theories as being any more than fans hoping/wishing.

I think I'm going to leave one final question, before I leave for a while, even though I know it's just setting people up for the smart-ass answer of stating the "obvious," (as inconsistent with everything else as it is) and that is this:

Why does Shepard shoot "Anderson" on the Citadel?

#60 Posted by Slax (941 posts) -

This is an amusing thread, but I'm not really sure what you are getting at. You avoid discussing the DLC (maybe you haven't played it) or the extended endings both of which make it pretty clear that IT isn't a thing. Even the video you posted says right at the beginning that everything Bioware has done since the release of ME3 has proven IT not to be true.

This argument is old and silly. But if you want to keep pretending that there is the 'deep' meaning to ME3 then go for it.

#61 Posted by Napalm (9020 posts) -

@Slax said:

This is an amusing thread, but I'm not really sure what you are getting at. You avoid discussing the DLC (maybe you haven't played it) or the extended endings both of which make it pretty clear that IT isn't a thing. Even the video you posted says right at the beginning that everything Bioware has done since the release of ME3 has proven IT not to be true.

This argument is old and silly. But if you want to keep pretending that there is the 'deep' meaning to ME3 then go for it.

Yeah, just don't think we have to take [the OP] seriously.

#62 Posted by Freshbandito (689 posts) -

The indoctrination theory is nothing more than wishful thinking by those who didn't like the ending and are twisting plot holes / bad writing and happenstance to fit their logic and then never accept arguments against it by waving their hands at every contradictory piece of evidence and shouting "It doesn't matter it was all in sheperd's head!! and he's still alive and he's still cool and he still thinks this is his favourite store on the citadel and he's alive and there'll be a me4 and he's alive!!!!"

#63 Posted by Colourful_Hippie (4419 posts) -

I didn't think multiple ways of disproving the indoctrination theory and highlighting how stupid it is would take up 4 pages.

#64 Posted by EXTomar (4843 posts) -

@Forum_User said:

@Devise22 said:

@Forum_User said:

Another thing that is suspicious is that the Citadel (or its inhabitant, if you like) is the Catalyst. A Reaper creation is the key component of a weapon that nobody is sure of the exact purpose or origin of. I was suspicious about that from the start, going around trying to get this thing built when nobody even knows what it is. It always seemed like an obvious "gotcha" set-up.

In fact, this is a theme that shows up more than once in the series - being led to believe that some piece of Reaper technology is necessary to defeat the Reapers.

You still fail to grasp that the world around Shepard reacts in every ending to the decisions that he makes while on the Citadel at the end. If it is all in his head the world should not be able to react to those things. In the extended endings they go further as mentioned with third person narration about what has happened. It's clear as day they shut down any aspect of the indoctrination theories as being any more than fans hoping/wishing.

I think I'm going to leave one final question, before I leave for a while, even though I know it's just setting people up for the smart-ass answer of stating the "obvious," (as inconsistent with everything else as it is) and that is this:

Why does Shepard shoot "Anderson" on the Citadel?

Because the writers believe that is drama players would find shocking and entertaining.

#65 Posted by Hailinel (25179 posts) -

Jesus wept. People are still trying to back the indoctrination theory?

#66 Edited by Tru3_Blu3 (3222 posts) -

@believer258 said:

But even if the Indoctrination theory, er, "fixes" the ending, what are we going to do about the mostly cheesy dialogue, the super generic story, or the bland gameplay?

I like Mass Effect 1 and 2 a whole lot, but 3 was just a let down. I really wanted to like it, and that "want" to enjoy what I was doing drove me to the end of the game, but that doesn't make it good. It's not just the ending that isn't good. It's the whole story. There are only a handful of interesting moments throughout the whole thing.

Meanwhile, the Indoctrination theory doesn't fix the idea that all of our past decisions were supposed to play into the ending and... they didn't. An entire series lauded for its choice systems and in the end none of them actually mattered at all. That's the "closure" that it's missing, it wasn't satisfying at all, even with the... uh... "Indoctrination theory."

Can we stop saying "Indoctrination theory" as well? It's not a theory. It's an idea that a fan had to settle his doubts about the ending, which is fine but giving it this whole "theory" thing and then discussing the hell out of it like it's actually something truly brilliant just comes across as sad. It's like people that take it seriously NEEDED this game's ending to be really, really good, so when it wasn't they made up something and said "Hey, it's actually bloody genius!"

That's the issue with Mass Effect 3: It took itself way too goddamn seriously. ME1 was supposed to be a campy spaghetti sci-fi flick with cliche romance, goofy English-speaking aliens and hammy politics -- and I loved every minute of it. ME2 took a darker turn with inspiration from The Empire Strikes Back, and I accepted it since it tried to show off the dreadful side of the franchise's universe. And hey, there was some great humor and touching moments that supported the notion that this was an escapist's dream. Both of those games knew what they were doing.

ME3 doesn't. Bioware just didn't give a shit at this point since all the minds that made 1 and 2 what they were left the goddamn building and the rest of the team was stuck with this... thing they didn't fully understand. Mass Effect 3 should've followed the tone of the first game by being a light-hearted, yet bad ass romp filled with action, sex, punching, humor, cheese, politics and a happy ending. But no, they wanted it to be a somber tale of war, mortality, insignificance, and sacrifice. That just isn't Mass Effect. It fucking isn't.

#67 Posted by Rasmoss (459 posts) -

@Brodehouse said:

@Rasmoss said:

@Brodehouse said:

I think they should've split The Reaper War across several (3) games, because they simply bit off more than they could chew. They should have slowed development down and did an entire 20-30 hour game about each of the main thrusts in 3, and _resolved_ plot threads well instead of having to rush through them because there isn't enough time in a 30 hour game to get deep into any one area. As it was, the conflict was just too grand and big to really do in a 30 hour game with two years development.

In my opinion, they should have never had a full Reaper invasion. The way they build up the Reapers in ME1 and 2, no resistance should have lasted against the Reapers as long as it does in 3. Also it makes all the fannying about the galaxy, one of the best parts of any ME game, seem completely silly, since you should be focusing your efforts on all the people dying. The last game should be stopping the Reapers entering the galaxy, like in the other games, but somehow make the solution more permanent.

I understand where you're coming from but there are two things;

1) Vigil even states himself that the destruction of an entire species is not a quick affair; it took centuries for the Reapers to wipe out the Protheans. This goes further into 2...

2) This is a force the Reapers have never remotely contended with. They have always started out affairs with a sneak attack at the Citadel, destroying the galaxy's main source of communication and travel. They were denied that this time. if you go by some of the hints offered regarding the rachni, and the Reapers broken hold over the keepers, this cycle should have began a thousand years before. That's a thousand years of technological advancement it should never have received (think of the QEC). Add to that the various advances discovered by looting Sovereign and the Collector's equipment, advances that no other cycle had been privy to. The asari themselves, genetically modified by the Protheans to be better biotic soldiers, are a plus. And even though it appears like no one prepared for the Reapers outside of STG and Shepard, it's a hell of a lot more than the Protheans or anyone else did.

But absolutely, there is a weird amount of dicking around that just doesn't seem like Shepard should be doing. They could have kept most of it if they just increased the sense that each mission is vitally important and Shepard is the only one they think can pull it off (a lot of it is rather important from a galactic stance, acquiring those Cerberus scientists, investigating the rachni signal, stopping the assault on Grissom Academy). Or just the sense that Shepard actually ran a hundred missions and these are just the ones we're showing you. I think what could have made them feel more important is if the galactic strength meter wasn't so piss easy to fill up. You never really feel like you need those scientists, or you need to make an ethically dubious choice in order to have enough strength to win. And yeah, take out all the stupid fetch questy stuff. That's about as bad as the Mako collect resources stuff, or the planet scanning from 2.

Maybe they shouldn't have made a meter at all, and let people wonder about what they needed.... then again, this is the age of the FAQ. People like Vinny would look it up 100% of the time.

You make good points, but the way Sovereign tears through the fleet in 1, and the way everyone is affected by indoctrination that comes near it, just make it hard to see how you would last for long against them. But for an advanced machine race, they sure have a very ineffectual method for mass genocide.

Anyway, it wasn't really my point. I think Bioware's strength as storytellers lie in building exciting worlds to explore and making great characters that you connect to emotionally, and they should have kept that as the focus.

#68 Posted by Oldirtybearon (4851 posts) -

@Tru3_Blu3 said:

@believer258 said:

But even if the Indoctrination theory, er, "fixes" the ending, what are we going to do about the mostly cheesy dialogue, the super generic story, or the bland gameplay?

I like Mass Effect 1 and 2 a whole lot, but 3 was just a let down. I really wanted to like it, and that "want" to enjoy what I was doing drove me to the end of the game, but that doesn't make it good. It's not just the ending that isn't good. It's the whole story. There are only a handful of interesting moments throughout the whole thing.

Meanwhile, the Indoctrination theory doesn't fix the idea that all of our past decisions were supposed to play into the ending and... they didn't. An entire series lauded for its choice systems and in the end none of them actually mattered at all. That's the "closure" that it's missing, it wasn't satisfying at all, even with the... uh... "Indoctrination theory."

Can we stop saying "Indoctrination theory" as well? It's not a theory. It's an idea that a fan had to settle his doubts about the ending, which is fine but giving it this whole "theory" thing and then discussing the hell out of it like it's actually something truly brilliant just comes across as sad. It's like people that take it seriously NEEDED this game's ending to be really, really good, so when it wasn't they made up something and said "Hey, it's actually bloody genius!"

That's the issue with Mass Effect 3: It took itself way too goddamn seriously. ME1 was supposed to be a campy spaghetti sci-fi flick with cliche romance, goofy English-speaking aliens and hammy politics -- and I loved every minute of it. ME2 took a darker turn with inspiration from The Empire Strikes Back, and I accepted it since it tried to show off the dreadful side of the franchise's universe. And hey, there was some great humor and touching moments that supported the notion that this was an escapist's dream. Both of those games knew what they were doing.

ME3 doesn't. Bioware just didn't give a shit at this point since all the minds that made 1 and 2 what they were left the goddamn building and the rest of the team was stuck with this... thing they didn't fully understand. Mass Effect 3 should've followed the tone of the first game by being a light-hearted, yet bad ass romp filled with action, sex, punching, humor, cheese, politics and a happy ending. But no, they wanted it to be a somber tale of war, mortality, insignificance, and sacrifice. That just isn't Mass Effect. It fucking isn't.

Agreed. 100%.

Although, Mordin's goodbye and saving the Krogan packed a hell of an emotional punch. At least for me.

#69 Posted by troll93 (391 posts) -

@ChadMasterFlash said:

The Reapers were on the grassy knoll.

I fell out of my chair laughing at this.

#70 Posted by ExplodeMode (852 posts) -

@Hailinel said:

Jesus wept. People are still trying to back the indoctrination theory?

Just pretend you are from the future and that you've traveled back to a more savage time.

#71 Posted by themangalist (1739 posts) -

@Brodehouse said:

I think they should've split The Reaper War across several (3) games, because they simply bit off more than they could chew. They should have slowed development down and did an entire 20-30 hour game about each of the main thrusts in 3, and _resolved_ plot threads well instead of having to rush through them because there isn't enough time in a 30 hour game to get deep into any one area. As it was, the conflict was just too grand and big to really do in a 30 hour game with two years development.

I like this idea of a trilogy (at least one two-part series) on the Reaper War. I can't see this happening at all now. I also thought the suicide mission made more sense if it was in the Reaper War.

But for what ME3 is, I'm done with franchise. I kinda don't want to see another ME game.

#72 Edited by Baillie (4245 posts) -

@Forum_User said:

Another thing that is suspicious is that the Citadel (or its inhabitant, if you like) is the Catalyst. A Reaper creation is the key component of a weapon that nobody is sure of the exact purpose or origin of. I was suspicious about that from the start, going around trying to get this thing built when nobody even knows what it is. It always seemed like an obvious "gotcha" set-up.

In fact, this is a theme that shows up more than once in the series - being led to believe that some piece of Reaper technology is necessary to defeat the Reapers.

The Catalyst isn't a Reaper creation, you've got it totally backwards. The Catalyst created the Reapers.

I might as well explain this further, actually. So spoilers - I guess?

Leviathans are the a ultimate species, they dominated all others and were organic. The created the Catalyst - known to them as the Intelligence - to keep the synthetics created by organics from wiping their creators out; think Terminator. The Catalyst came to the conclusion the only way to make this work was by creating Reapers. Reapers are created by harvesting organic life, which preserves them and, technically, not wiping them out. They started with the Leviathans, creating Harbinger. This explains why they are in the image of Leviathans.
#73 Edited by GetEveryone (4455 posts) -

@FilipHolm said:

@Forum_User said:

@DeeGee said:

Indocrination Theory would have been an amazing, powerful and effective ending to the game. It's a shame that Bioware didn't think so too.

Did you watch the video? You have to watch the whole thing. I know it seems like fluff at the beginning.

They said themselves it's a false theory. I would've loved it to be true personally. They should've just shut up.

I wouldn't be too worried about what Bioware think.

Fuck sake... GB's hyper-linking is iffy as hell. Here's where I was going to send you: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Death_of_the_Author

What I mean , specifically, is that if the indoctrination theory seems plausible, and a lot of people have assumed that reading given what the story presents us with, then it is totally acceptable to interpret it that way - what Bioware says has absolutely no meaning beyond that they put the game out. If their pieces fall a certain way, and it suggests a certain reading without their intention, well they should have been explicit in their story-telling.

As is, IT presents us with a preferable ending to the trilogy than the one which Bioware have intended.

#74 Posted by BoOzak (966 posts) -

@GetEveryone: That was my interpretation of it back when this was all anyone ever talked about.

It's fiction whether or not it's creators intended it to be something different than what it ended up being doesnt make a difference. If you can rationalise it, it doesnt matter what anyone else thinks. I'm curious what the OP is trying to accomplish by trying to convince everyone that this is the one and only true ending.

#75 Posted by impartialgecko (1624 posts) -

The ending of Mass Effect 3 is the least of its problems.

#76 Posted by Phatmac (5726 posts) -

The ending is what'll except as my ending for the series. These other the theories are nice, but I don't think they work.

#77 Posted by Yummylee (22054 posts) -

@adam1808 said:

The ending of Mass Effect 3 is the least of its problems.

Really? I mean ME3 has a lot of issues besides the ending--the actual ending combat mission itself is awful and doesn't come to close to conveying what is supposed to be the biggest battle in the history of ever just to note a certain other problem I had with it--but it's definitely still up there as one of the most egregious.

#78 Posted by MildMolasses (3224 posts) -

@Devise22 said:

At the end of the day I think the most logical thing to look at is simply that Bioware was in over it's head. They had so much hype, so much build, so much going on that when it came time to solve it all at the end of Mass Effect 3...

Oh I wish more people would think this way when discussing that game. What they did with the series was so overly ambitious that it was virtually impossible for it to be wrapped up satisfactorily. Maybe they shouldn't have flown so close to the sun, but I think they should still be applauded for the way they were able to incorporate so many variables into a multi-game arc

#79 Edited by huntad (1955 posts) -

I don't take the OP seriously when he picks and chooses who to respond to. Apparently, those who have pointed him in the direction of his answer, though one he probably doesn't actually want, are not important because it doesn't fit with what he wants to be the truth.

#80 Posted by FilipHolm (669 posts) -

@GetEveryone said:

@FilipHolm said:

@Forum_User said:

@DeeGee said:

Indocrination Theory would have been an amazing, powerful and effective ending to the game. It's a shame that Bioware didn't think so too.

Did you watch the video? You have to watch the whole thing. I know it seems like fluff at the beginning.

They said themselves it's a false theory. I would've loved it to be true personally. They should've just shut up.

I wouldn't be too worried about what Bioware think.

Fuck sake... GB's hyper-linking is iffy as hell. Here's where I was going to send you: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Death_of_the_Author

What I mean , specifically, is that if the indoctrination theory seems plausible, and a lot of people have assumed that reading given what the story presents us with, then it is totally acceptable to interpret it that way - what Bioware says has absolutely no meaning beyond that they put the game out. If their pieces fall a certain way, and it suggests a certain reading without their intention, well they should have been explicit in their story-telling.

As is, IT presents us with a preferable ending to the trilogy than the one which Bioware have intended.

Yes and that was kinda my point, too. They should've left it open for people to interpret it the way they want. And when they state that a theory is false, in a way it ruins the fun of speculating. It doesn't make it impossible to interpret it yourself, but it's just not as fun anymore :p If you know what I mean

#81 Posted by dulmonkey (78 posts) -

This whole thing reminds me of when the Star Wars prequels hit.

#82 Edited by Ares42 (2729 posts) -

@Forum_User said:

Cute, but the theory is that everything that happens after the beam attack is in Shepard's head.

Why are people still doing this dance ? I've said it before, and I'll say it again, even if the theory was true the argument you present here (which is what the entire thing hinges on) would make the end of the saga just magnitudes worse. It would basically mean that the only closure you got after spending hundreds of hours digging into this deep involved galactic war would be "and then Shephard died... *black screen*". If the end really was all in his head it has absolutely no impact on the world, nothing that happened after the blast would mean anything at all.

#83 Edited by Forum_User (310 posts) -

@huntad said:

I don't take the OP seriously when he picks and chooses who to respond to. Apparently, those who have pointed him in the direction of his answer, though one he probably doesn't actually want, are not important because it doesn't fit with what he wants to be the truth.

Well, for one, without naming any names, I tend to avoid responding to people who just make rude comments or just generally act snide instead of simply giving a counterargument. That rules out bothering with many replies in this thread. It isn't like I held a gun to their head making them read this thread, but I guess that's the internet for you. Two, nobody has adequately addressed Shepard waking up under a pile of what appears to be concrete rubble, but you have no problem with that, apparently. Of course I'm sure the argument there is that it's the Citadel and Shepard survived the huge explosion, somehow. I don't know how that is supposed to be more plausible than the end being in Shepard's head, but whatever. To be fair, they deliberately do not really show much of the surrounding environment, because, as I see it, they don't actually want the answer to be clearcut. I suppose that by the warped logic by which Shepard manages to survive just about anything (like getting hit with a Reaper laser, if people believe that could actually happen without the Reapers intentionally letting Shepard live), it could be the Citadel and it's just a trick of the lighting that makes it look more like concrete than the stuff that the Citadel is made out of.

People want me to comment on the DLC which I have not played, so I mostly don't. I don't want to get into arguments about content that I have not played through (and probably won't, since I think all of the paid Mass Effect DLC is overpriced), but I have read some of the arguments about why the DLC does not contradict the theory. I think that people are probably misinterpreting some things, just as some make the claim that Bioware "confirmed" that the ending is real, even though not a single one of them was able to provide a direct quote to back that claim, because the forgotten quotes that they are likely basing that on are actually deliberately ambiguous. Like I said, though, I don't feel like arguing about DLC I haven't played. There are plenty of people who have played it and still maintain that the indoctrination theory makes sense.

Since last visiting this thread, I have come across some other bombshells, like that the file name for the foliage textures in the jungle scene at the end actually has the word "dream" in it, and the huge piles of bodies (that some claim look like Ashley and Kaidan, though I'm not sure if I buy into that part) that suddenly appear off to the sides when Shepard wakes up that weren't there before. Now while I try to objectively take into consideration the rather small number of arguments I have seen against indoctrination theory and weigh them against evidence in support of it (even if I have not directly addressed all of the myriad posts in this thread arguing the position), it gets rather tiresome to see lazy non-arguments that basically amount to, "No, it's just bad writing and you're trying to rationalize it." I guess some people maybe think that I am some kind of Bioware superfan (despite having just recently finished ME3), but I have actually long been very critical of their games (though maybe not on this particular website), and have even on multiple occasions said that I think that Mass Effect 1 is kind of a bad game. Anyway, that is neither here nor there. The point is I don't think I was trying to rationalize anything. I never had a bug up my ass over the ending (being "bad") like many did, which is maybe because I never felt that invested in the series to begin with. Sure, I initially thought the ending was kind of silly, but I've rather come to expect silly endings in video games, especially RPGs. The theory just makes sense to me when presented with all of the evidence.

Funny, when I started out, this post was just going to be a short two or three sentence reply. I tend to do that. Anyway, no, I'm not going to address every argument, especially the ones I view as lacking any real substance (just saying it's "bad writing") or as just being rude. As I said, I didn't play the DLC, so I don't know just how much people are inferring things that weren't necessarily there (which I'm sure is what they think of my posts) or taking at face value something that, similarly to how I view the ending, could be some form of misdirection. Those arguments are out there by people who have played it. I'm trying to stick with what I have actually played. As for people that just jump in to make snide remarks that basically amount to, "I'm right and you are wrong," I try to avoid wasting my time with such individuals, as a general rule. It doesn't always work out that way, but I try. Actually, when I made this thread, I thought most people would agree with the indoctrination theory, especially after seeing the voting ratios on the various YouTube videos about it - not necessarily every single detail (I've seen some rather weak and some rather strong arguments for it), but just the general premise. I didn't think it was going to be filled with so many who were utterly dismissive of it. It's been enlightening in that regard, at least.

#84 Posted by huntad (1955 posts) -

@Forum_User: Look, that's the thing I'm talking about. If you refuse to see new pieces of evidence pertaining to a theory you have, you are most likely in denial. Even the free Extended Cut DLC brings more closure to the ending and strays even farther away from the Indoctrination Theory. It is my held belief that if you wish to argue something, you need to have all of the facts.

I am not arguing for or against this theory, because I did not play the Leviathan DLC, but I can firmly say that your argument should not and will not progress until you do because others have claimed that it brings more information to the table. I will not comment back here or take you with a grain of seriousness until you have all of the facts (regardless if you believe the purchase price is justified).

#85 Edited by Forum_User (310 posts) -

To summarize, here is what I think are some of the strongest points (though many others have been brought up) in favor of some version of indoctrination theory:

- The "Star Child" appears similar to the form of the child that has been haunting Shepard's dreams.

- At the beginning, nobody else takes notice of that child, and the child takes off (is no longer there) when Anderson shows up. That event is accompanied by a Reaper growl, which people say is explained in one of the Mass Effect novels to be something that happens when someone rejects an indoctrination attempt.

- When Shepard catches up to the child in one of the dream sequences, they are both happy, even while they are burning. This is Shepard's mind warning itself that the child is bad news.

- "Shepard" shoots "Anderson" (a representation of part of Shepard's mind) in the end scene. Immediately after this Anderson dies, we are shown that Shepard is bleeding from the place that Anderson was shot. (Remember, this is all taking place in Shepard's mind, according to this theory.)

- There are black wavy lines around the screen during the final confrontation with "Shepard," "Anderson," and the "Illusive Man." Black "oily" shadows are a sign of an indoctrination attempt. (There are also wavy shadows in Shepard's other dreams.)

- Anderson says he followed Shepard into the beam and yet somehow he ends up in the room before Shepard. That the Illusive Man would be there at all makes even less sense.

- Since when do Reaper thralls have the ability to control the bodies of others? The Illusive Man must feel rather privileged to have been granted this ability.

- The Reaper beam at the end does not kill Shepard. This is presumably because the Reapers do not actually want Shepard dead, at least not at this point.

- When Shepard wakes up after apparently being hit by the beam at the end, off to the sides are large piles of corpses that were not there previously - not corpses like what you would expect to see after a fight, but deliberately constructed piles like on the Collector ships.

- In the ending where Shepard lives, s/he appears to be under concrete rubble. Furthermore, regardless of what the rubble looks like, the idea that Shepard could have survived the Citadel explosion is kind of crazy, even by Mass Effect logic.

- The Star Child is inconsistent both with itself and what you know about other events. This part does not really do much of anything to prove this is in Shepard's mind, but it does indicate that you shouldn't really believe anything it says.

Well, there are tons of other minor points, but those are some of the bigger ones off the top of my head. I'm not going to sit here and argue about it for thirty more posts, though, especially over something somewhat subjective that there is no absolutely bulletproof evidence for. Also, for the record, I'm not saying that it is definitely right. I'm just rather convinced that I think it makes the most sense by far. Certainly, I think that a literal interpretation of the ending as what actually happened makes little logical sense, not because of the deus ex machina nature of it, but because of all of the contradictions used to get there. To be clear on one thing, I was originally, when I made this first thread, torn between whether it was entirely in Shepard's head or a mixture of illusion with reality. I then read some other things and became convinced it was entirely in Shepard's head and edited one of my early posts accordingly. I'm still strongly leaning towards it being all in Shepard's head, but I don't entirely rule out that maybe Shepard did somehow get to the Citadel (although I would maintain that if s/he did, it's because the Reapers allowed it), but much of what is seen there, including Anderson, The Illusive Man, and the self-proclaimed Catalyst, is bullshit. I know it's irrelevant to most here and they think that what you saw is exactly what happened, period. I just want to clarify my thoughts on the matter, as I have been primarily arguing from the point of none of it being real. (As I said, I do currently lean strongly towards that view.)

I'm probably done replying to this thread for now, just because, well, I have to stop at some point, and this seems a good a place as any. I've other things to do / read / whatever.

#86 Posted by impartialgecko (1624 posts) -

@Yummylee: By the end of the game I had almost stopped caring. I really don't care about the Reaper story itself, more so the effect it has on individual characters and so many of my favourites were given cameos rather than proper parts to play in the game. Couple that with the fact that you shoot so many fucking guys, over and over again in every mission for hours and you have a game that I actually considered not finishing.

It's hard to explain, but I finished Mass Effect 2 three times with different characters that I pulled in from the first game and I never noticed that time passing. Mass Effect 3 was a narrow funnel delivering wave after wave of meaningless combat so that maybe once in ever 3 hours I would get to have a decent conversation with someone, you know, like in a Mass Effect game.

#87 Posted by Baillie (4245 posts) -

@Forum_User: If you read my reply, you'd understand the Star Child aka the Crucible is a creation by the Leviathan race.

#88 Edited by Forum_User (310 posts) -

@Baillie said:

@Forum_User: If you read my reply, you'd understand the Star Child aka the Crucible is a creation by the Leviathan race.

And it just happens to look like the kid that Shepard has been having nightmares about since the intro. I don't know if there's a bigger "something's-not-right-here" detail about the ending than that. One thing I think everyone can agree on, at least, is that that was deliberate.

I guess one thing I haven't much considered is the idea that the end might not be an indoctrination attempt so much as a test to see if Shepard (or whoever else happened to get to that point) is, in fact, indoctrinated. I don't know what to think of that. Just throwing that out there since it popped into my head. As has been often pointed out elsewhere, a crucible is - to use Merriam Webster's definition - "a severe test." Literary devices and all that jazz. I'm trying to avoid going off on too many tangents, but another definition is "a place or situation in which concentrated forces interact to cause or influence change or development." Yeah, very funny, Bioware. Hand whoever came up with that name for it a goddamn medal.

Anyway, I'm still sticking with indoctrination attempt.

#89 Edited by EXTomar (4843 posts) -

That reminds me: The dream kid was one of the more dubious things Bioware has done in the whole series. I can't recall another moment in whole series where the game tried to impose any sentiment or feeling on the player. The moment they did that the game went from "How the player feels about the decisions they made" to "Regardless of the decisions made, Bioware wants you feel that" and it is poorer for pulling that stunt.

#90 Edited by Forum_User (310 posts) -

@EXTomar said:

That reminds me: The dream kid was one of the more dubious things Bioware has done in the whole series. I can't recall another moment in whole series where the game tried to impose any sentiment or feeling on the player. The moment they did that the game went from "How the player feels about the decisions they made" to "Regardless of the decisions made, Bioware wants you feel that" and it is poorer for pulling that stunt.

Well, according to indoctrination theory, that is kind of the idea: The kid, who nobody else notices (because he isn't real), is an attempt to play on Shepard's emotions. The kid does not show up in the duct until Anderson has left the room and Shepard backtracks. When Anderson shows up, the kid is gone again, which is accompanied by a Reaper growl (a sign of a failed indoctrination attempt). Then, nobody helps the kid onto the shuttle that gets blown up later. He boards it himself.

Fitting into this notion is that the kid's only lines are, "Everyone's dying," and (at least with the paragon response), "You can't help me," both of which are meant to sow doubt in Shepard's mind about his / her ability to defeat the Reapers.

An indoctrinated Shepard would benefit the Reapers far more than a dead Shepard. Shepard has a ridiculous amount of influence by the end of the trilogy. Indeed, Shepard has managed to gather a large amount of the fighting forces of the entire galaxy around a mysterious device of alien design...

#91 Edited by Vertrucio (148 posts) -

I think people are picking up on some broken left over fragments of a smaller indoctrination plotline that we know was going to be put in the game.

Then they're grasping at straws to add in as much stuff as possible, all to try to make some sense of what is just a really bad final few minutes of an otherwise excellent game.

Listen to yourselves, it's honestly as bad as any conspiracy talk. The moon landings deniers, 9/11 deniers, etc... You need to let go. The ending just is what it is, and it's bad enough to make you want to seek out something that might justify it in your minds to make it seem better. If you just look at it, you'll see they're just leftover pieces of bad storytelling. The kid, the 3 colored ending, just bad storytelling.

But, we're not some special minds that have identified some grand scheme from the ME developes, nor were the developers ever trying to make inception. It's just broken fragments from a game that just didn't stick the landing. This kind of indoctrination story as the whole game and end plot doesnt really work for ME as a series, but it would work as a major story arc mid game.

#92 Posted by StarvingGamer (8375 posts) -

Ok, first off, the very video you're linking to admits that the entire theory has been debunked by the extended cut ending. And second off, on to my promise from before since this thread won't go away.

@Forum_User said:

- The "Star Child" appears similar to the form of the child that has been haunting Shepard's dreams.

The AI is trying to appear to Shepard as a sympathetic entity, and what is more sympathetic than the kid you failed to save and have been beating yourself up about

- At the beginning, nobody else takes notice of that child, and the child takes off (is no longer there) when Anderson shows up. That event is accompanied by a Reaper growl, which people say is explained in one of the Mass Effect novels to be something that happens when someone rejects an indoctrination attempt.

A lot of busy adults have a tendency to not notice or actively ignore kids, especially when they're being attacked by giant space squids of death. And you can't use a Reaper growl as a sign of anything when you're in a city being attacked by a billion Reapers. It would be like trying to attribute mystical property to the bark of a dog while standing in a kennel.

- When Shepard catches up to the child in one of the dream sequences, they are both happy, even while they are burning. This is Shepard's mind warning itself that the child is bad news.

Dreams are always full of weird shit. The burning/smiling could easily represent Shepard's subconscious desire to give up and give in because he's so beaten down. Trying to ascribe specific deliberate meaning to random dream imagery is the first and last step to losing all credibility.

- "Shepard" shoots "Anderson" (a representation of part of Shepard's mind) in the end scene. Immediately after this Anderson dies, we are shown that Shepard is bleeding from the place that Anderson was shot. (Remember, this is all taking place in Shepard's mind, according to this theory.)

Shepard was exploded. He had to appear severely injured while simultaneously able to walk shoot a gun. A gut wound in this situation makes the most sense. It's cinematic storytelling 101.

- There are black wavy lines around the screen during the final confrontation with "Shepard," "Anderson," and the "Illusive Man." Black "oily" shadows are a sign of an indoctrination attempt. (There are also wavy shadows in Shepard's other dreams.)

Which is conclusive of nothing. It's either an idoctrination attempt even though the theory is based on the idea that Shepard has already been indoctrinated (?), an actual indoctrination attempt which means he's not dreaming which debunks the theory, or just the way they want to visually represent all Reaper control, be it indoctrination or simple paralysis, because it's all Reaper power or because they didn't want to bother generating a second film effect.

- Anderson says he followed Shepard into the beam and yet somehow he ends up in the room before Shepard. That the Illusive Man would be there at all makes even less sense.

It's a giant teleportation laser. Who's to say that it would deliver them to the same place? Anderson could have easily been put into an area closer to the platform. Also Anderson seemed to be in much better shape than Shepard which means he would have been moving much faster. Even if he ended up in a room the same distance away, he could have easily beaten Shepard there by power-walking.

- Since when do Reaper thralls have the ability to control the bodies of others? The Illusive Man must feel rather privileged to have been granted this ability.

I don't know. How extensively have you studied Reaper thralls when placed in the locus of power that is the Citadel when it's in full "fuck up the galaxy" mode?

- The Reaper beam at the end does not kill Shepard. This is presumably because the Reapers do not actually want Shepard dead, at least not at this point.

Glancing blow.

- When Shepard wakes up after apparently being hit by the beam at the end, off to the sides are large piles of corpses that were not there previously - not corpses like what you would expect to see after a fight, but deliberately constructed piles like on the Collector ships.

The giant beam is there to transport human bodies into the Citadel for processing. When you rake the leaves, do you take them to the bin one at a time, or do you rake them into smaller piles which then get raked into larger piles which you THEN take to the bin?

- In the ending where Shepard lives, s/he appears to be under concrete rubble. Furthermore, regardless of what the rubble looks like, the idea that Shepard could have survived the Citadel explosion is kind of crazy, even by Mass Effect logic.

That is the biggest non-argument I have ever heard.

- The Star Child is inconsistent both with itself and what you know about other events. This part does not really do much of anything to prove this is in Shepard's mind, but it does indicate that you shouldn't really believe anything it says.

In what way? Name one thing it does that is inconsistent. Yes, this is a challenge.

Look, I'll grant you that taken out of context, no single point you're making is any less plausible than my counterpoints. But none of the counterpoints I am making are any less plausible than your points either, and my counterpoints have the additional advantage of being backed up by the EC ending put out by Bioware themselves. The indoctrination theory is fantasy, plain and simple. It's like trying to play a game of connect-the-dots with freckles where you add your own dots. Of course you're going to get the picture you're looking for.

#93 Posted by WinterSnowblind (7617 posts) -

This was all summed up on the first page, but..

  • Bioware have outright denied the indoctrination theory, go digging on the official forums for their posts.
  • The "extended cut" pretty much debunked the whole theory even before the developers stepped in. If none of it really happened, why do we see so much of what happened in the future because of those events?

People are simply trying to read too much into what was a rushed and ill-thought out end to the series after the original writer left the project. There's no deeper meaning, it really was as empty and shallow as it appeared.

#94 Edited by Forum_User (310 posts) -

@WinterSnowblind said:

This was all summed up on the first page, but..

  • Bioware have outright denied the indoctrination theory, go digging on the official forums for their posts.
  • The "extended cut" pretty much debunked the whole theory even before the developers stepped in. If none of it really happened, why do we see so much of what happened in the future because of those events?

People are simply trying to read too much into what was a rushed and ill-thought out end to the series after the original writer left the project. There's no deeper meaning, it really was as empty and shallow as it appeared.

Oh, this again? Another person essentially telling me to Google some half-remembered thing that they apparently couldn't actually find themselves. Really, if someone could provide me an unambiguous comment from a Bioware employee from a reliable source that the ending is absolutely what happened, that would settle things. (Comments like that it shows how dedicated fans are or that Shepard survived the Citadel explosion are not unambiguous. A post that does not dance around the question and that straight-up says the ending is real is.)

#95 Posted by mordukai (7157 posts) -

@Forum_User: Bioware pretty much nixed the whole indoctrination theory with the extended DLC so all your points, while being very thoughtful and do raise some questions, are moot because the company that made the game ignored all of them, and further more, actually devoted time to discount them.

Both ending, vanilla and extended cut, show that Mac Walters and Casey Hudson pretty much had no clue as to how to end it and were just making shit up as they went along. That's what happens when take the main writer of the series who had a plot line mapped out, and put him on a failed project and give someone else control over the story.

#96 Edited by Forum_User (310 posts) -

@StarvingGamer said:

- In the ending where Shepard lives, s/he appears to be under concrete rubble. Furthermore, regardless of what the rubble looks like, the idea that Shepard could have survived the Citadel explosion is kind of crazy, even by Mass Effect logic.

That is the biggest non-argument I have ever heard.

That is the most self-descriptive sentence I have ever seen. By the way, that ending only can happen if the non-indoctrination (red) path of destroying the Reapers is chosen, despite Mister Catalyst (who is obviously telling the truth, because when would the Reapers, or something controlling them, or whatever it actually is, lie to anyone? : D) saying that it would kill Shepard. This also is confirmed as Shepard surviving by official sources like spoiler documentation with the N7 edition.

But I'm sure it's another "glancing blow," and surely isn't part of one of the biggest pieces of misdirection ever put forth in a video game story. Is it that nobody can believe that the creators of a video game (instead of a movie or book) would pull a stunt like that? I mean, I live in the world where 2001: A Space Odyssey (seems a fitting example) is a thing, right?

#97 Posted by WinterSnowblind (7617 posts) -

@Forum_User: Like I said, the extended ending negates the whole thing anyway so the fact Bioware also previously denied their being any validity to the theory isn't really important. It feels pointless to go trawling though a forum to like for specific posts from the begining of the year when there's already other proof to point to. But it's there, if you want to look yourself.

It's disappointing, but the deeper meaning you're looking for really isn't there. It was just a bad ending.

#98 Posted by Forum_User (310 posts) -

@WinterSnowblind said:

@Forum_User: Like I said, the extended ending negates the whole thing anyway so the fact Bioware also previously denied their being any validity to the theory isn't really important. It feels pointless to go trawling though a forum to like for specific posts from the begining of the year when there's already other proof to point to. But it's there, if you want to look yourself.

It's disappointing, but the deeper meaning you're looking for really isn't there. It was just a bad ending.

How does more stuff happening at the ending negate the ending being in Shepard's head? The theory already held that the rest of the crew landing on another planet was in Shepard's head, even though Shepard obviously was not there. Adding more to it (in an apparent effort to calm down internet rage, which may have been viewed has having a potentially negative impact on sales) would not change that. I mean, I get the perspective, that when they said that they were going to do an extended cut, it was inferred that it would bring more closure, and on the surface it would seem to, but...well, I guess we'll just have to agree to disagree.

#99 Posted by haggis (1677 posts) -

My god, people, move on already. There is no benefit to BioWare denying the indoctrination theory, because it makes some fans happy (and makes fans like me want to puke, because it's complete shit). Initially, there were some rumblings from BioWare that they were going to come right out and deny it--all signs pointing to the fact that there was some internal wrangling over the reaction to the ending, probably with writers on one side and PR people on the other.

BioWare pretty clearly chose to move the ending in a different direction, but bits of indoctrination still pop up. It's pretty obvious that the Indoctrination Theory--as it exists now--was never BioWare's intent, but merely accidental given leftover narrative bits that were never removed when the ending was modified. Trying to make sense of these bits is impossible, as they were never intended to go together in the way we now have them. Like pieces from two jigsaw puzzles mixed together--force the pieces together if you want, but it's still forced.

I liked (but didn't love) the ending as it was, and liked the fleshed out bits from the extended cut. Those of you looking for more are going to be disappointed. Eventually BioWare is going to have to repudiate the Indoctrination interpretation as soon as new Mass Effect games come out.

#100 Posted by mordukai (7157 posts) -

@Forum_User said:

@WinterSnowblind said:

@Forum_User: Like I said, the extended ending negates the whole thing anyway so the fact Bioware also previously denied their being any validity to the theory isn't really important. It feels pointless to go trawling though a forum to like for specific posts from the begining of the year when there's already other proof to point to. But it's there, if you want to look yourself.

It's disappointing, but the deeper meaning you're looking for really isn't there. It was just a bad ending.

How does more stuff happening at the ending negate the ending being in Shepard's head? The theory already held that the rest of the crew landing on another planet was in Shepard's head, even though Shepard obviously was not there. Adding more to it (in an apparent effort to calm down internet rage, which may have been viewed has having a potentially negative impact on sales) would not change that. I mean, I get the perspective, that when they said that they were going to do an extended cut, it was inferred that it would bring more closure, and on the surface it would seem to, but...well, I guess we'll just have to agree to disagree.

This is not even the case of "agree to disagree". That's how facts are. If Bioware never did the extended cut then your argument stands true but the fact Bioware addressed the rather ambiguous ending means that any further analysis of the original ending is moot.

Again...Bioware discounted the indoctrination theory so this whole argument is pointless. I don't really care if you played it or not but that's how it stands. You are looking for a deeper meaning in an ending, better yet in a whole game's story line, that really has none.

However, if that's what it takes to get you through an ending that was crap that go for it.

If Bioware decides to address those issues in the upcoming new Mass Effect game then that remains to be seen. Personally I think Bioware will pussy out and do a prequel set in the First Contact War.

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