Commander Shepard Must Die – Again!
I read a blog by Greg Rucka the other week titled “On Reapers, Collectors, Being Called Shepard” and I’ve been thinking about it ever since. As much as I love Mass Effect 2, I was having some issues with the rebirth of Commander Shepard. Rucka’s article address many of those concerns, including the idea that there has to be some conversation involving Shepard and her rebirth (I usually play as FemShep and so I use the pronoun “she”). I hope we get to experience that in ME3.
That is not my main issue, however.
Simply put, Commander Shepard needs to die. Again.
Now I have played through ME2 four times, finished all the DLC, including “Lair of the Shadow Broker”, and I will argue to anyone who will listen that it is the best game ever. And yet I can’t escape the notion that because of the way Shepard came back that she should not survive the end of the trilogy.
Perhaps if she had come back to life through more divine means I might have been able to accept this second chance at life. If God or gods or aliens with fantastic powers (ala Q in Star Trek) were responsible, then perhaps I could suspend my disbelief and play in peace. This sort of thing happens in graphic novels all the time. (Jean Grey and Betsy Braddock in X-Men come to mind.) Perhaps I might even have been okay if Shepard had been revived by technology a few moments after her death (a crutch in Star Trek The Next Generation and Voyager). However in ME2 two years pass between her death and rebirth. Even with the advanced technology available to Miranda Lawson and the Illusive Man, I wonder if I got the same Shepard, my Shepard, back just the way she was before.
In my latest play through, I looked even more closely at the nano-tech that Lawson used to repair Shepard’s body(shown in the above youtube video). Impressive for sure. That is all well and good, but how can even the most advanced technology restore memory and personality? Moreover, her new lease on life speaks to the issue that the spark that makes her special and unique is somehow anchored to her physical body, or at the very least returns when all the organs and systems begin to work again.
So how can BioWare make this right with me? The first option is to kill Shepard again. She can go out in a blaze of glory saving all humankind from the Reapers or her body can simply shut down by rejecting the nanotech, but either way I need to see that in the end, nobody cheats death. The second option is to reveal that she really is different, ala the Rucka article. Instead of a simple acknowledgment that “I got better,” there should be some trauma associated with this return to life. Perhaps a darker Shepard could emerge over time. It would great to see her really transform into something more evil or twisted.
BioWare has a rare opportunity to explore the other side of death in Commander Shepard. They have created a character with the potential to be one of the most memorable in any medium. I would love to see her remembered not only for saving humankind, but for being the most human of us all by living, dying, living, and (hopefully) dying.
- Indoctrination, Assimilation, and Elimination: The Reaper Methodology in Mass Effect
- Return to Mass Effect: The Compassionate Shepard
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- Mass Effect 3, Marketing, and a Magic Bullet: Emily Wong Reporting
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