Mass Effect: Yes, Vasir Was Actually a Villain
I have noticed over the years that a lot of Mass Effect fans seem confused about whether or not Vasir was actually a villain.
She was not misunderstood or someone to be pitied. She was pitiful in the same sense Saren was pitiful, as in pathetic.
As Renegade Shepard can point out to Liara in the very first game, Saren was always a racist, human-hating bastard who was needlessly violent and a distortion of what it truly means to be a Renegade. As outlined elsewhere, there is a stark difference between Saren and Renegade Shepard, while there is no difference whatsoever between Saren and Vasir.
Vasir is not killing innocents for the greater good, but to protect a shady source of intel without even knowing why Liara and all those innocent people "needed" to die. She is purposely juxtaposed against Shepard, in that both of them are being manipulated and misled into working for someone questionable who sits all day at computer screens.
The difference is that Shepard was right and Vasir was wrong.
Shepard was a hero and Vasir was actually a villain.
Shepard Had No Choice
The first thing fans do is accuse Shepard of being a hypocrite for working with Cerberus and then daring to criticize Vasir. What people seem to forget -- or don't understand outright -- is that Shepard had no choice but to work with Cerberus.
Shepard woke up in a lab after having been fiddled with for two years. She didn't run out and join a terrorist organization of her own freewill.
The developers did this on purpose. The fact that the player had no choice over what happened to Shepard was supposed to make it hurt extra hard when she -- we -- were yelled at on Horizon by the Virmire Survivor for something we couldn't even help.
When Shepard first meets the Illusive Man, he lies to her face and says she can just walk away at anytime. He says this knowing that he has already destroyed her reputation while she was sleeping. He spread rumors and lies that Shepard was now a space Nazi, so no one wants anything to do with her when she finally wakes up, least of all the Alliance and the council.
Shepard can't just walk away from the Illusive Man. She stays with Cerberus, knowing they are the only way to stopping the Collectors and protecting the colonies. Because Shepard -- even Renegade Shepard -- was a hero, she would never turn her back on people in danger. Even if that meant forfeiting her reputation.
The Illusive Man counted on this and backed Shepard into a corner. All he ever wanted from her was the Collector base, so that he could get his hands on Reaper tech and use it for human domination of the galaxy. Make no mistake: Cerberus was all about putting humans on top and subjugating aliens.
It had to be Shepard who helped Cerberus, because as the Illusive Man says to Liara in Redemption, nothing beats personal motivation. Shepard had a pretty big motivation to see the Collectors destroyed, and as powerful a being as she was, she was probably the only person who could actually do it.
Thus, the Illusive Man was willing to pay any price to have Shepard back just the way she was -- and firmly in his clutches. Having Shepard under his control, to wield as a weapon, meant eventually dominating the galaxy in the name of human supremacy.
By Mass Effect 3, Shepard learns just how "free" she was to walk away from Cerberus when it's revealed that the Illusive Man tried shutting down the Normandy after Shepard destroyed the Collector base. He failed because by then, EDI had become a full throttle Shepard fan.
So in the end, Shepard spends the entire second game being lectured, dismissed, and yelled at for "joining" an organization, when she actually did no such thing at all.
In that light, Vasir's ignorant accusations of hypocrisy ring hollow and only serve to further underscore just how in the dark she was. Especially given that she had a choice to work for the Shadow Broker and could have walked away at anytime.
No. Vasir was not boxed in a corner like Shepard and she wasn't forced to do a damn thing. Just like Saren, she actually thought her actions were necessary and right even though she was very wrong.
Shepard, meanwhile, thought her actions were right, and they actually were.
Vasir Admires Shepard
Again, just like Saren (and most of Shepard's enemies), Vasir actually admires Shepard. I honestly think this is part of the reason why so many people pity and like Vasir. She is both a Shepard fangirl and a pretty BAMF in a fight -- in the entire trilogy, Vasir was the only enemy that actually gave my wreck-shit Vanguard trouble. Ffighting the Reapers was easier.
When you first meet Vasir, she seems sincere in her admiration of Shepard as "one of our best operatives." She also seems bitter and makes a bunch of jokes about Shepard and Liara when the player is interacting with everything in the apartment.
Much like everyone else in Mass Effect 2, Vasir seems personally hurt and disappointed that Shepard "faked her death" and then joined a terrorist organization, as if Shepard personally let her down.
When examined in this light, she could be viewed as a Shepard fan who tragically fell to darkness while trying to follow Shepard's lead after her demise. Garrus, for instance, did this when he went full Renegade, completely misinterpreting Shepard as someone who would waste time hunting down and slaughtering mercenaries for fun -- which is actually pretty messed up and not as admirable as fans make it out to be.
Sorry to go off into a tangent about Garrus, but there's a difference between what he was doing on Omega and what Shepard did when hunting down slavers in the first game. Shepard didn't get her entire crew killed trying to take on a large station because of her inflated sense of self. She also didn't hunt down people like Nassana's sister for fun or with a naive intention of "fixing" society by slaughtering people but because she thought someone was in danger.
It sounds a bit ridiculous that Vasir would admire and imitate Shepard. After all, Vasir was probably a thousand years old and above that sort of doting on "baby spectres." But we've seen older, more mature asari warriors fall for Shepard before.
If Shepard refuses to be reinstated as a spectre, then compares Vasir to Saren after the boss fight in Lair of the Shadow Broker, Vasir will berate Shepard for turning her back on the council and "faking" her death.
What's sad is just how little Vasir actually knows about the situation and what's really going on with Shepard, Liara, and the Shadow Broker. And yet she was willing to blindly murder hundreds of innocent people to do what she thought was right based on this foggy bit of information. Makes it extra hilarious that she was ignorantly doing all this crap out of loyalty when the Shadow Broker doesn't even care about you killing her.
Again, Vasir is purposely juxtaposed against Shepard in this sense, as Shepard was also flying blind by working with Cerberus without all the facts. Shepard -- and by extension, the player -- is supposed to look at Vasir and see the person she could become or has already become (blindly loyal to a bad guy) based on whether the player is playing Paragon or Renegade.The difference is that Shepard a) had no choice and b) was actually doing it for a good cause.
Whenever Renegade Shepard sacrifices people, there is always a damn good reason: stopping a mad man from hurting anyone else, stopping the Collectors, stopping the Reapers. There's a line and she doesn't cross it.
Characters like Vasir and Saren cross the line over and over, and this is what makes them Faux Renegades, twisted and broken people (to quote Anderson).
Vasir is No Different From Saren
That was supposed to be your takeaway, especially since Shepard can actually say it after the boss fight.
When Vasir takes a woman hostage, she states (depending on your dialogue choices) that she is going to pin the murders and the bombings on Shepard and Cerberus.
This is the same thing Saren did when he sabotaged Anderson's attempt at the spectres: he blew up a factory of innocent people just to kill one guy. And because this is literally a crime, he made sure Anderson was blamed for it.
The similarities are not a coincidence.
Probably the only reason Anderson wasn't court martialed is because the council was afraid of a cross species incident: they are shown to actually fear humans and not want a war with them. So they just buried Anderson in shame and sent him away -- like they did Shepard in Mass Effect 2.
The fact is that Shepard -- whether Renegade or Paragon -- actually cares about people's lives and only kills innocent people when she has no other choice, not when its easy or convenient. Some examples include sacrificing the hostages over Terra Nova or letting the factory workers die to catch Vido because Vido will only go on to kill more people if he isn't stopped.
There's a difference between being ruthless and pragmatic and being a straight-up asshole who doesn't care about protecting life and even enjoys the carnage.
Saren and Vasir are the latter.
© 2018 Ash Gray