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Old 03-19-2012, 06:45 AM
Johnny Angel is offline
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Join Date: Aug 1999
Posts: 4,544
Originally Posted by Grumman View Post
As do I. But really that just shows how awful the actual ending is, that "but it was all a dream, and then Shepard woke up and had an ending that didn't suck" is considered superior.

As an aside, does anyone else think the use of that kid throughout the game was a misstep? If you want me to care about a representation of all the lives lost in the war to stop the Reapers, some idiot civilian who indirectly committed Suicide By Reaper is not a good choice. Far better would be the squadmate who died at Virmire during the first game: someone Shepard knew, trusted and made a deliberate decision not to save.
It's true that the kid's story wasn't nearly as touching as just listening to the civilian over the radio as the soldier tried to talk her through applying a tourniquette, and then the Reapers came...

The kid was heavy-handed symbolism, which common wisdom in writers' workshops says that audiences will reject and even resent. Of course, in the 'it was all a dream' reading:

SPOILER: least the kid could serve a more-than-symbolic function. As Flannery O'Connor wrote, before a wooden leg can be a symbol, it first has to be a wooden leg. It has to have a role in the story, that is, other than being symbolic. In the 'struggle against indoctrination' theory, the kid is an actual nightmare Shepard is having, which is then being used against her, to cause confusion.

Also common lore in writers' workshops is that audiences hate 'it was all a dream' bullshit, especially for endings. It's cheap, dishonest, and often serves as cover for the writer's inability to write out of a corner. Now, Bioware probably also noticed that in truth audiences are actually often energized by this hatred and fascinated to discuss the controversy.

If we don't assume what happens is true, or that it's merely some dream-state analogy of what's really happening, then what we have is a combination of the 'it was all a dream' ending with the 'lady or the tiger?' ending. The aggregate, however, feels to me like the 'no ending' ending. As bitter as that is, however, at least it's not the:

Three apocalypse ending. Because accepting the 'dream' excuse, I feel licensed to assume that the consequences of the choices aren't what they are presented as being. The mass relays don't all blow up for no reason.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying that they can buy themselves out of all the other stupidity with the 'dream' excuse, unless they want to drag that excuse all the way back to Mass Effect 2's ending where apparently making a new human-form reaper required juicing thousands of humans and using them as hydraulic fluid. "What are they doing with our genetic material?" Shepard asks. Actually, genetic material can be stored quite compactly for whatever purpose it was needed. The question should rather have been "Why the hell would they need megaliters of our meaty pulp?" Now, if everything from arriving at the Collector's base to the end of Mass Effect 3 was all a dream, even that glaring stupidity is explained away.

And this is precisely why people hate dream endings. It becomes a game of seeing what bad writing can be excused.