5. Problems with Indoctrination & Arguments Against

Make no mistake, juts because I am arguing that some form of the Indoctrination Theory was fully intended by Bioware (namely that choosing anything other than Destroy is false) it does not mean I think there are no problems with it.

Its biggest and most obvious problem to me is the fact that if true we are left without a real ending. We do not know what really happened. If the awful Control and Synthesis endings are fake, what happened? If Destroy is chosen and Shepard lives, where is he/she?

Or maybe they fully intend to always leave the ending ambiguous. Maybe they simply want us to debate this ending, after all we were never supposed to know if Deckard was really a replicant in Blade Runner. But this seems too much of a cop out. This goes beyond if one man was a synthetic life form, the entire fate of the galaxy is left undecided.

I personally feel that if Bioware leave the ending open to interpretation they will make things worse. The IT believers will feel their story has not ended. And the IT-skeptics will continue to just hate the ending.
UPDATE: After the Extended Cut I am very happy with the ending when Destroy is chosen and the others rejected as lies. This doesn't really help with people who selected those bad endings though. Hopefully Mass Effect 4 makes Destroy canon and we can move on ignoring the others. Or even better maybe The Legendary Edition can do what the EC failed and actually make the ending make sense, either with IT or some other way so we do not have to believe in space magic or that Shepard being a Reaper could be in any way considered good.

Bioware are between a rock and a hard place. I simply cannot see how the literal ending can be saved, it's that bad. Now if it's intentionally like that because IT is the truth, it NEEDS to be resolved. Bioware lose the artists vision of leaving us all on a brilliant debatable question, but if they don't they lose their artistic credibility because far too many people will continue to believe the literal ending is true, and that it is terrible. One thing true for most people who reject IT, they still hate the endings.

The percentage of people that seem to like the ending appears to be very small, and virtually none of the hardcore base seem to (looking at the forums and polls). And almost all IT supporters like the ending, when viewed as IT.

The Prothean VI

Many people have argued that the fact that the Prothean VI identifies Kai Leng as an "Indoctrinated presence" but not Shepard is proof that Shepard is not Indoctrinated.

However the theory is that Shepard is slowly being Indoctrinated or is attempted to be Indoctrinated only at the very end and is not already Indoctrinated. And since we know the Prothean's were also infiltrated by Indoctrination, it stands to reason that either their detection skills are not 100% or they can only detect a fully Indoctrinated being.

I'll probably continue to add more poignant criticism of Indoctrination here later.

Continue reading -Pre-EC Part 6: Other Thoughts, Theories & Conjecture


  1. One point I read about on a message board:
    If your effective military strength is too low, the only option is to destroy (not sure how this is affected by the extended cut). This doesn't make sense, because the other two options (synthesis and control) should be the ones that the reapers "want" you to do, hence their attempt at indoctrination. There would be no point to trying to indoctrinate Shep if she/he could only destroy the reapers.

    Another point I realized after playing the extended cut: If you reject the choices, civilization is destroyed. That ending just doesn't fit in as far as I can see. Put differently, if IT is true, then the reapers win via control or synthesis, and *maybe* by destroy (if everything is a hallucination and the destroy option never actually happens, even if you pick it). But the reject choice lets us see the galaxy definitely burn. So why is this ending different from the others? Shouldn't we see a reaper victory in at least two of the three other ending paths if IT is true?

  2. Actually as I state in the guide, destroy is your only option only if you chose to destroy the base at the end of ME2. If you saved it then Control is your only option, which could mean you were already successfully indoctrinated. But either way...

    Also remember the theory states that the attempt to indoctrinate Shepard is in direct correlation with Shepard's ability to actually succeed. If Shepard has a low EMS, then the Reapers care very little if Shepard is indoctrinated since they will win regardless. If Shepard has very high EMS they try harder, offering the pretend best synthesis option.

    If Shepard has low EMS, it does not matter if Destroy is chosen because Shepard will still not wake up after the titles (showing the break of the indoctrination attempt).

    And if the last part with the Catalyst is an hallucination, then the Reapers win as long as Shepard has either very low EMS or chooses anything other than destroy. Including reject. Synthesis and Control are an hallucination to lead Shepard away from destroying the Reapers. Reject has the same effect, so why would they only "win" from the first 2? Remember the hallucination version of the theory is that what you see after the choice is an hallucination. So it matter not that civilization is destroyed. All that matters is does Shepard wake up or not? And the ONLY way Shepard can wake up is choosing Destroy with high EMS.