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"Mass Effect: Andromeda" (2017): Drack, a Character Analysis

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Lee has an embarrassingly deep love of all things "Mass Effect." Her favorite is the original first game.

An image of Drack.

An image of Drack.

I'll be honest: on my first playthrough, I ignored Drack (and funny enough, Drack will send an email asking why you're ignoring him if you do).

As a huge fan of both Wrex and Grunt, I was suspicious about any "replacement" that might be trying to worm its way into my nerdy heart. His introduction also didn't make me care much for him. I mean, the second you meet him, he insults humans? Grunt wasn't exactly a saint when Shepard let him out of the tank, but at least he didn't insult her entire species!

There was also the fact that the krogan in Andromeda are insufferable in general. Back in the original trilogy, they were more sympathetic and there was more to them than constantly whining about mistreatment. But the krogan in Andromeda feel one-dimensional in how obsessed they are with talking about their oppression. They never shut the hell up about how the big bad Nexus hurt them, and krogan like Morda take it out on Ryder, when she wasn't even awake for the uprising!

But then I decided to give Drack a chance, and now, hilariously enough, he's one of my favorite characters in Andromeda.

Here's why.

Drack is the Anti-Grunt

My screenshot of Drack joining up with Ryder.

My screenshot of Drack joining up with Ryder.

I feel like all the squad mates in Andromeda were meant to be the opposite of the squad mates in the original trilogy. For instance, Vetra was a criminal whereas Garrus was a cop; Peebee was perky and outgoing, whereas Liara was quiet and introverted; and Liam actually had a humble, yet whacky personality, whereas Kaidan and Jacob were kind of self-righteous and bland.

I feel like Drack is the opposite of both Wrex and Grunt (Wrex hates his family while Drack centers his life around family, etc) but the writers seemed to be focused more on making Drack less like Grunt:

  • Grunt is young and his relationship with Shepard is that of a child looking up to a parent (Grunt even goes on a teen-like bender in the Citadel DLC and calls Shepard to bail him out of jail). Drack is old, and his relationship with Ryder is that of a father looking after a child.
  • As revealed in Lair of the Shadow Broker and also in Mass Effect 3, Grunt comes to idolize humans because he loves Shepard. Instead of researching krogan history, he's fascinated with human history and loves human food, noodles in particular. Meanwhile, Drack thinks humans are pathetic and never hesitates to say so.
  • Drack repeatedly claims to be a relic, a fossil, and everything the krogan should forget while moving forward. Grunt is the future and hope of the krogan.
  • Grunt hates the turians after reading about all the horrible things turians did to krogan during the war. Drack's best friend is Vetra, a turian.

So as you can see, Drack was written to be everything Grunt is not, and yet somehow, he still wound up being a compelling character to me. I love his interactions with the rest of the squad, his background comments, and his relationships with Ryder, Lexi, and Vetra.

A great example of how cute his relationship with Lexi is:

[The Pathfinder team arrives in Kadara Badlands. The water is on fire.]

Drack: I bet I can drink it.

Lexi [comm]: No, Drack! No!

Themes of Parenthood

My screenshot of Drack fighting with Vorn.

My screenshot of Drack fighting with Vorn.

One of the overarching themes in Andromeda is parenthood and how it effects the way people are shaped. This was also a theme in the original trilogy with basically all the squad mates either having bad parents or being bad parents. Hell, even the geth arc was about the quarians (their "parents") abusing them like a stepchild.

In Mass Effect: Andromeda, several of the characters speak of their parents, and some allowed it to shape who they became. One good example is Cora.

A screenshot of Cora.

A screenshot of Cora.

Cora had crappy parents who abandoned her, and as a result, she spends the rest of her life trying to find a new parent who can guide her and love and accept her unconditionally. This is why she bounces hopelessly between mentors and lacks an ability to lead.

When you aren't taught to trust in yourself as a child, it becomes twice as difficult as an adult. Obviously, a person who can't trust their own judgement can't lead. Poor Cora shows her lack of self-trust when, during her loyalty mission, she turns to Ryder and sadly asks what she should do.

I actually loved this about Cora, because as someone who had an abusive parent, I empathize with her a great deal. When you first meet her, Cora comes off as this badass superhero out of X-men or something. Then you find out she's this vulnerable, hurting person who is actually clueless and afraid (constant rants about uncertainty). I thought her writing was good in how it subverted our expectations.

I would write a full analysis on her if I could bring myself to roll a Scott and romance her, but I just love Sara too much (and I don't feel like surfing Youtube).

Drack Joins to Raise Ryder

My screenshot of Sara and Scott sitting like Barbie dolls.

My screenshot of Sara and Scott sitting like Barbie dolls.

Ryder is in a similar predicament to Cora. Her father basically neglected her growing up and never really guided her or formed a bond. She is lost and alone, and Drack can see this from a mile away.

Meanwhile, Drack devoted his life to raising Kesh, and now that Kesh is an adult, he feels useless. For him, Ryder is basically an opportunity to raise another child and to regain a sense of purpose in his life.

My screenshot of Drack imparting wisdom.

My screenshot of Drack imparting wisdom.

There is a scene toward the end of the game where Drack actually tries to tell Ryder why he joined the Tempest, though the implication flies right over Ryder's head.

In the med bay, Drack describes a dark time when he had no reason to live. Then someone placed a small baby krogan in his lap (Kesh) and told him that she was weak and wasn't going to make it. Raising Kesh gave Drack a reason to go on.

It seems like Drack is just reflecting on the past, but he's actually trying to tell Ryder why he joined her crew. When he met Ryder, he had no reason to live. Kesh was an adult and didn't need him, so he just kind of wandered around, waiting to die (which is what he's doing on Eos when he meets Ryder).

Then suddenly, Ryder, this weak baby human, practically falls into his lap, has just lost their parent, and needs guidance and protection. The fact that Ryder can actually fight proves that she won't die after two seconds of Drack joining, so he decides to come along for the ride, be a father again, find purpose.

Of course, none of this seems to click for Ryder, who is oblivious to the true meaning behind Drack's story about Kesh. Drack finishes his story by telling Ryder that parents are just the starting line. Where you go from there is up to you.

My screenshot of Drack dangling Aroane.

My screenshot of Drack dangling Aroane.

What Drack tells Ryder is actually pretty great advice.

A lot of people (myself included) go through life and blindly allow the way their parents treated them to shape who they become. And unless they become self-aware, they will forever be at the mercy of what their parents said and did to them.

As I mentioned up higher, Cora is a pretty good example of what can happen to a person who becomes fixated on their parent's mistakes. At some point you have to let go of what they did and move forward (I myself learned this the hard way).

The only problem I have with this theme is that they didn't go into it enough. Ryder's issues with Alec should have been explored more deeply, and there should have been more options to roleplay a character who either resented Alec for making them Pathfinder or idolized him blindly.

As with all things in Andromeda, this was a huge missed opportunity. And I say this as someone who loves this game and wishes for a sequel: criticism is not hatred.

A Reason to Go On

My screenshot of Drack and Vorn arguing.

My screenshot of Drack and Vorn arguing.

So basically, Drack's entire arc is about finding a reason to keep living. As someone who is 1400 years old, he has seen it all and done it all, his body is slowing down, and the baby he raised is now a competent adult who doesn't need him. There is no reason for him to go on until he meets Ryder.

I feel this is part of the reason why Drack is so angry if you don't save his scouts from the Archon's ship. Not only were the scouts people he knew personally, but they were left to die by the one person he's standing there, living and breathing for.

The choice about the scouts was, to me, yet another missed opportunity. If we had been given the chance to get to know Drack's scouts during the events of Elaaden, it would have made the decision to leave them behind much more difficult and meaningful. Instead, they are just strangers to us.

The writing in decisions like this is something that could have been improved upon in future games, but for whatever reason, EA/BioWare continuously throws the baby out with the bathwater and starts completely over, screwing over every single fanbase they manage to build (Dragon Age 2 and Hawke's fans come to mind) in order to build a new one.

It's ridiculous.

Racist Grandpa

Drack complains about Spender.

Drack complains about Spender.

Once I understood why Drack had joined the Tempest, I felt bad for him and didn't mind that he vented at Ryder for her choice to leave the scouts. I don't believe Drack was seriously angry at Ryder, which is why he didn't leave the Tempest, but he did feel hurt and betrayed.

Drack is a very old krogan, which means he lived through a time where the salarians treated the krogan pretty badly. As a result of this, he has carried his prejudice through to a new age where it no longer has any place. He is basically Racist Grandpa and sadly, has passed that ignorance on to Kesh, who also complains if the krogan scouts are left behind and makes the decision out to be a race issue, which it is not. (And she does the same thing again if you don't choose Morda for ambassador at the end of the game, so I've heard.)

Please keep in mind that I'm not justifying racism. I'm explaining (not condoning) why Drack hates salarians and views saving Pathfinder Raeka as some kind of race issue that it isn't: he has lived through a lot of betrayal.

I'd kill Morda in a heartbeat if we could.

I'd kill Morda in a heartbeat if we could.

Drack is part of the reason why I always make Morda the ambassador at the end of the game. Actually, there are a number of reasons:

  • It makes Kesh chuckle.
  • Drack is happy.
  • Tann is pissed off, looks to Addison for help, and gets blown off, which is hilarious.
  • I feel less guilty about leaving the krogan scouts behind to be exalted (which I always do because it makes sense to me to save another Pathfinder).
  • The krogan finally have political influence and will hopefully stop whingeing.

All that being said, I feel that there's hope for Drack to eventually stop being a Racist Grandpa trope. The fact that he can befriend a turian and even somewhat likes Kallo, a salarian, says that even an old dog can learn new tricks.

Adorable Father Figure

Drack cutely sleeps on Ryder during Movie Night.

Drack cutely sleeps on Ryder during Movie Night.

So in the end, Drack is a great addition to the Mass Effect franchise. Hearing his story, getting to know him, and coming to love him as a character has only made me want more. (And also, Kesh and Morda made me want a female krogan follower. I'm surprised by the fans who can't tell the difference between male and female krogan. The female krogan have sloping head plates, no spikes, and angry soccer mom voices.)

If only Andromeda was going to have further content. Can you imagine getting to hang out with Drack for three games and watching him basically raise Ryder into a competent badass?

Oh, the fun we could have had.

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