None of the new companions from Mass Effect 2 return as crew-mates in Mass Effect 3. This is quite disappointing. Many of them do get good cameos, at least. My favourite of the lot has to be Thane’s. Funnily enough, Thane is not a character I cared about much in Mass Effect 2. I’d put him on the same level as Jacob and Miranda; another bland character with parental issues (though in this case, he’s the parent rather than the child). But here, this time, it worked.
So, a little set-up. Thane is an assassin who joined up in Mass Effect 2 largely with the intent to go out with a bang, given that he was afflicted with a terminal illness. His loyalty mission concerned his son, who appears in the video, who was headed towards a life of violence like his father’s before Shepard intervened. In Mass Effect 3, Thane first appears in a hospital, waiting for his death, then shows up to stop the assassination attempt I talked about last time and is wounded. After the action dies down, Shepard gets a message to meet Thane back in the hospital, and it’s here that the scene in question takes place:
What made the scene so affecting to me? I’m not particularly religious, but I nonetheless find myself consistently drawn in by the rhythm and language of ritual, and it’s a tone that the scene nails. It subtly calls attention to the weight of the violence and destruction in the game – not just that inflicted by the Reapers, but also that done by Shepard. The game drops the ball when it comes Shepard’s internal struggles generally, but this was a nice way to bring it up without being too overbearing.
But mostly, there’s the little interaction between Thane and his son. It’s one of these moments where, for a change, it’s not about Shepard. It’s a nice little capstone to Thane’s loyalty mission from Mass Effect 2, and, again, the game makes the choice to use a lighter touch and fewer words, and to trust in its audience to get the point.
I also like how unnecessary the scene is. The game could have had Thane die stopping the assassination attempt, and not had this hospital scene all together, and it wouldn’t have felt like something was missing. The other funny thing is that I didn’t realize how non-interactive the scene was until I watched the video. There’s only one, maybe two dialogue choices in it depending on how you count. It’s quite a testament to Bioware’s abilities that the scene feels right, like Shepard is behaving and speaking like I’d want her to, even though I’m not providing them with much input. It’s quite the contrast with the moment I talked about last time that didn’t work.
I think I’ll probably have one more entry about Mass Effect 3 before I close the book. I only rented the game, so I’m not going to have access to the revised ending, and I’m not sure I can muster the passion to care, anyways. But there are some more things I want to say, especially since I don’t think I’ve talked much here about the combat systems yet.