Ash has an embarrassingly deep love of all things "Mass Effect." Her favorite is the original first game.
Most Mass Effect fans love the Citadel DLC. It was meant to be a love letter in farewell to the fandom (and an apology of sorts for the dismal ending).
I enjoy using the Citadel Epilogue Mod to make it the official ending of my Shepard's story. The mod allows me to imagine the DLC takes place years later, and my Shepard is now married to Liara with six little blue babies, all of whom are staying with Aethyta as this stuff is happening . . . ahem.
On my most recent playthrough, I realized something really sad about the Shepard clone.
The Clone Cared About Brooks
The clone actually cared about Brooks. Maybe the clone even loved Brooks.
On my most recent playthrough, I decided to target Brooks and try to kill her during the shuttle bay fight. Every time I knocked Brooks out, the clone leaped in to viciously protect her. I mostly play a Vanguard, so I got smacked back several times with Nova (so embarrassing). Then the clone knelt down and tried to revive Brooks—which failed because I Nova'd her sorry ass away. (Wrex: You feel that? The real Shepard hits harder!)
When you think about it, Maya is the clone's only friend in the world. I always had this belief that she and Maya were lovers. They had a real vibe.
I mean, think about it. Pay attention to the way Maya Brooks mocks Shepard and her crew throughout the DLC.
Brooks Hates Sweet, Dorky Women
One thing I really hate about the Mass Effect games is how Shepard is forced to be an oblivious, trusting boob.
In Mass Effect 2, during the Lair of the Shadow Broker DLC, Shepard blindly trusts Vasir, but the audience knows Vasir is going to screw her over after we're given a shot of her making sneaky eyes when Shepard enters Liara's apartment.
In Mass Effect 3, the first time I played the Citadel DLC, I suspected Maya Brooks the moment she walked into the sushi bar. I knew immediately that she was either the bad guy or she was being used by the bad guy because it was just too convenient that this completely new character just happened to know everything that was going on.
When a new character is introduced at the end of a story, that's a red flag. It's an amateur writing no-no Bioware did all the time in the Mass Effect franchise (coughStarKidcough), mostly because they assumed their audience had read some money-grabbing side comic or watched some side movie that really should have just been presented in the games.
Then, just like Vasir, they showed Maya Brooks making a sly face while you are telling Joker to run, and it's pretty obvious that she's a bad guy. The hired mercenaries dragging her away and only wounding her to bait Shepard was kind of an obvious set up. Then the way she gleefully pushes you down the side of a building under the pretense of protecting you. Ugh.
My Shepards are always pissed at Maya Brooks for shoving them through all that glass and they take Renegade options to treat her like crap for the rest of the Citadel DLC.
If only Bioware had allowed the player to call her out for that. A perfect opportunity was presented when "Brooks" protested having to infiltrate the casino. Renegade Shepard could have said something like, "You pushed me down the side of a building. You're helping."
Then when you're infiltrating the casino, Maya is sneering at you the whole time. If you mess up distracting a guard, she laughs at you. Right before you begin the quest, she expresses doubt that you can get to Khan, like you're some kind of idiot. This makes doing the whole thing without messing up pretty satisfying.
Maya then spends the entire DLC behaving like an (ugh) "adorkable" nerd because that's the way she sees characters like Liara, Traynor, and Tali.
What's hilarious is that Liara, Traynor, and Tali aren't even like that. Not to that extreme. Traynor is a gamer nerd but she's not cutesy and goofy. Liara has one moment in the first game where she's awkward, and it's not because she's "adorkable" but rather because Shepard is human and she's terrified of insulting her. Meanwhile, Tali in the first game is a walking codex and only becomes "adorkable" toward the male version of Shepard in the second game.
The impersonation Maya is doing is an outlandish caricature of the kind of women who surround Shepard. It's a mockery of Shepard herself.
And honestly? I felt a bit mocked personally, I'll admit it. I love characters like Liara, Traynor, and Tali for their dorky cuteness. I also loved Kelly Chambers and romanced her in Mass Effect 2. So it really drove the roleplay home to have my Shepard—whose weakness is adorable, naive, innocent women—get called out in the Citadel DLC.
Brooks even takes it a step further by comparing herself to Miranda, as if "badass bitch" types were superior to the "adorkable" types in Mass Effect. It stung a bit that she said that, because my Miranda (one of my favorite characters) was dead.
If you pay attention during the Citadel archive sequence, you can hear Liara yell at Maya Brooks for "accidentally" shooting her, further evidence that Maya hates the Dorky Sweet Woman archetype and loathes Shepard for surrounding herself with such people.
It feels like Maya Brooks was written to mock the typical fan who loves nerd bait, i.e. characters like Tali and Liara and Kelly who are sweet and innocent and stroke the player's ego by worshiping them.
Personally, I like sweet dorky women because they are sweet and dorky, not because they worship me. I also like "badass bitches" like Miranda and Samara, but alas, you can not romance Miranda as a woman and Samara always turns Shepard down, male or female.
I think it would have been pretty hilarious, actually, had you been able to romance Miranda as a woman, only to find your clone likes the same kind of woman and is romancing Maya Brooks. And by "the same kind of woman" I mean feminine, arrogant, intelligent, and powerful. Maya and Miranda have a lot in common, but Miranda is obviously the better person given that she can turn her back on Cerberus by the end of Mass Effect 2 (for the right reasons, unlike Maya).
Maya Caused the Beginning of "Mass Effect 2"
Lazarus Station actually went down in flames during the beginning of Mass Effect 2 because that was when Maya stole the clone and made a run for it. (It's been years and I can't remember where I heard that. Maybe in the comics or something. So sorry, no source.)
Stealing the clone was Maya's attempt to create for herself the perfect Shepard. One who romanced "badass bitches," hated "adorkable" women, and was fanatically pro-human and anti-alien. The clone Shepard was a dream come true for Maya, a chance to set the world the way she wanted, and in this light, it's very telling how much Maya wants and admires Shepard, even grudgingly. The way she says it's been "fun" after she reveals herself the villain seems oddly . . . sincere. Getting that close to Shepard, even for a few hours, was probably amazing to her.
Meanwhile, the clone has developed an emotional attachment to Maya. The fact that she goes out of her way to revive Maya and protect her during the final fight says spades about how she feels. Maya is her teacher, guide, and friend in a world she barely understands. This would only underscore her furious jealousy of Shepard: even Maya loves Shepard.
What's even worse, Maya is probably the clone's lover and gave her the first sexual experiences she would ever know. Then this woman—who spent a year telling the clone how great she was—turned around and betrayed her.
You can't fail to notice the irony of Maya—the pro-human alien-hater—betraying the clone of the first human spectre. It's a purposeful analogy: Shepard, the first human spectre, was hurt the most by other humans throughout the course of the series.
Humans are not loyal to each other and are jerks just like everyone else. What's more, humanity doesn't see Shepard as as person but as a tool. It actually sucks to be Shepard, especially in Mass Effect 2. The clone learned this the hard way, which is what makes her such a sympathetic figure.
But as I like to say, the clone is a tragic figure but not one to be pitied. The saying basically boils down to this: while any decent person would feel pity for the clone, that doesn't absolve her of all the crimes she's committed.
The clone was a murderer. A lot of innocent people died for what she did, misguided or not, and she had to pay for that. She has also proven to be very dangerous. So as much as I pity the clone, I always kick her off the ship.
Even the clone knows she's wrong, because trying to save her amounts to watching her commit suicide. Heartbroken by Maya's betrayal, realizing she's been manipulated into a monster (and possibly used as a sex object), she destroys herself rather than go on. Even had she lived, she would always have been in the shadow of the real Shepard.
Honestly, the clone's entire dilemma just makes me hate the Illusive Man more. For someone hell-bent on protecting human life, he sure didn't have a problem using and discarding it.
"You'll Miss Me."
Maya Brooks, having been captured and arrested, takes one last chance to goad Shepard for falling for her "adorkable" ruse.
Paragon Shepard can talk Maya into submitting to prison with a pretty great line, but I always feel like Maya needs to pay for her crimes, not with jail, but with swift execution. Shepard is a spectre and has the authority to make that call.
What's more, sparing Maya because you know about her childhood is called "meta gaming" because Shepard doesn't know about her childhood. And as I said further up, Maya needs to pay for her crimes just like the clone. Having a bad childhood isn't an excuse for all the innocent people she killed during the DLC. She killed a lot of people and worked willingly for Cerberus to boot, meaning that she probably has more blood on her hands than the Normandy crew combined.
My Shepard executed the Exogeni scientists in the first game (the ones hiding out after Feros) because they were responsible for the Thorian creepers and a lot of death. Didn't matter what their "intentions" were. They unapologetically murdered people for their experiments.
My Shepard also executed Balak and Rana Thanoptis. Why should she show mercy to Maya Brooks, who is pretty much just as bad?
It's always been my belief that Maya Brooks wanted Shepard to shoot her. I mean, she hacks out of her handcuffs and runs away, but where is she going to go? I believe she did this on purpose wishing to die. The clone is dead, she's alone, she's lost, she can't go back to Cerberus. Where else has she got to go? So she commits suicide by Shepard.
And considering that my Shepard is a no BS Paragade, that's just fine with her.
"Not at this range."
© 2018 Ash