Spoiler Warning S4E23: Lawful Stupidity

By Josh Posted Thursday Jan 13, 2011

Filed under: Spoiler Warning 155 comments

Shamus went to bed early (or late, or something – he shifts his waking hours so often I’m not even sure he can keep track of it) so Uncle Josh is here again to post the episode this morning.

Link (YouTube)

Despite the implication I make with the title and description of this episode, I actually don’t think Samara’s a bad character. She’s certainly more interesting than… well, basically anyone who works for Cerberus at the very least. And she has the second- or third-best loyalty mission in the game.

The real problem I have with her is that her “code” really is, quite literally, Lawful Stupidity codified. “My code does not allow me to be detained, so if you attempt to hold me for longer than 24 hours I’ll kill you. Even though you’re a cop. And trying to stop me from killing all of your suspects in this investigation. And you don’t actually want to hold me anyway.”

I don’t care what hoops the BioWare writers jump through to try to justify this attitude as “good” or “noble” or, and this is the kicker, “just.” I just can’t get over this point – the writers are asking us to respect someone who follows a strict moral code to the letter when that moral code says to kill everyone that acts contrary to your moral code. How can that possibly be considered a good thing? It just doesn’t work in any universe that is actually trying to make sense.

Which apparently isn’t Mass Effect 2 so I guess that’s perfectly fine.


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155 thoughts on “Spoiler Warning S4E23: Lawful Stupidity

  1. GabrielMobius says:

    Samara’s entire recruitment mission just filled me full of ‘wat :V’. I can’t even begin to imagine who thought it up, and then at the very end of it, I just went crosseyed. It was too much to put up with. And Josh, I really don’t blame you for losing track of what you’re doing, because I don’t actually think you’re doing anything.

    … God, can you imagine if you had to go through this shit to recruit Miranda and Jacob (with all of the non-sense that comes with it)? I think I would’ve left them to languish and just rushed the Collectors.

    1. Josh says:

      At least Thane’s recruitment mission makes a little more sense (although you don’t actually run into him until the very end).

      1. GabrielMobius says:

        I think that’s what really cemented Thane as a good character for me, though. With Samara, you run into her about halfway through, so they can showcase how powerful of a Biotic she is, and her Lawful Stupid code.

        But Thane has this air of mystery about him, and all you really see is the wake that he leaves on the way to his objective. And when you finally do see him, he does what he’s supposed to and is officially free to accompany you. It’s tied up and leads into his recruitment onto your ship well.

        Samara? Like that, except not.

        1. Lalaland says:

          Thane’s conversation tree on the Normandy is one of my favourites, it’s one of those that seems to actually reflect the ebb and flow of trying to get a stranger to trust you. Some of the others come across really oddly, like the crazy person who sits beside you on the bus and pours out intimate details of their life you wouldn’t tell your confessor.

          1. Someone says:

            In Thane’s case, asking him about his past essentially causes him to relive his most traumatic moments, since drell have perfect memory (I wonder what kind of environment causes a species to adopt such a trait) which they seem to have trouble suppressing. It’s like making a war veteran see all his friends get tortured and killed again, just because you were curious what the war was like. Makes Shepard look like a douche, come to think of it…

            1. Sekundaari says:

              They depend on ultra-long hacking minigames to get food?

            2. bit says:

              It’s explained in game why they have that trait; their homeworld is a near-featureless desert, so they used the perfect memory to map out exact paths between oasis’s. It worked fairly well for me, especially since the desert part is also a large chunk of the explanation behind Thane’s other defining physical trait, Kepral’s Syndrome.

  2. Daemian Lucifer says:

    Well justicars arent really good,only lawful.And by lawful,I mean they obey the law of their code,not any other law.They are really stuck in their old traditions.So they are like samurais.

    Also,samara is a really,really old milf.Im surprised bioware didnt make her a romance option with the achievement “Milf scored”.Guess that means they werent completely taken over by the ea.

    1. Simon Buchan says:

      Agreed to the first, and to the second: you can “romance” “Samara”… :)

      1. Daemian Lucifer says:

        Well,you can only half romance the real one,and romancing the fake one…It goes as expected.

        1. Simon Buchan says:


      2. Integer Man says:

        There’s always the airlock.

    2. ccesarano says:

      I would’ve thought of Justicars more like Judge Dredd.

      Considering Bioware’s love of ambiguous morality, I wouldn’t be surprised if their intent was more to show that following the law to the letter could be just as evil/bad as being completely chaotic. They also likely wanted to explore what would cause someone to follow such a life.

      But as with all things Mass Effect 2, the greater idea is a lot better than the execution thereof. When I heard Samara say “If you keep me from my mission for 24 hours I’m permitted to kill you for preventing me from catching so-and-so”, I raised an eyebrow. If she said “I’ll be forced to incapacitate you as my laws are held higher than your own” or something, with the sense that the ONLY law that matters is that of the Justicar and that she’ll fight back (but not necessarily kill) to keep on track of her mission, then it would make a little bit more sense. I could see a race of aliens with a law that they feel transcends the laws of any locality, but in order to remain “good” will avoid violence or even killing as much as possible.

      Of course, I imagine saying “I’ll be forced to kill you” just sounds “more bad ass”.

      1. Simon Buchan says:

        For better or worse, there’s no incapacitation in Mass Effect – it’s at best fatally wounded or fighting capable, nothing in between. You could fanwank justify that as a side-effect of shield and weapon tech, but it’s more a narrative decision (conscious or not).

        1. Someone says:

          There was this neural gas you could use to avoid killing crazed colonists in Zhu’s Hope.

          1. Simon Buchan says:

            True – did they ever explain why that didn’t work on anyone else?

            1. krellen says:

              Because it was specifically wired to affect the Thorian spores inside those colonists; it wasn’t just generic nerve gas.

              1. Someone says:

                Still, I doubt that the universe of the future has no nonlethal weaponry. Smoke, nerve gas or at least good old rubber pellets should affect Asari as much as humans (not sure about Turians, but they are not a part of the given equation). Samara in particular has a number of biotic powers capable of neutralizing both civilians and armored combatants – just fry the shields and freeze your target in stasis or lift up in the air and run away.

                She has a choice, the whole “I have to kill you in 24 hours” thing is either her personal decision or related to that “Lawful Stupid” Justicar Code of hers: “thou shalt be punished by death for getting in the way of a justicar” or some such nonsense.

                1. RejjeN says:

                  The biggest issue I see with that is that they would need to carry two guns then, one normal and one of the rubber pellet guns, seeing as even a rubber pellet ought to be deadly if fired by a frickin rail-gun (which is essentially what all Mass Effect weapons are if I understand the mass acceleration effect). Really I’m surprised that legs and chests of unarmored individuals don’t splatter into non-existance when they are hit by one…

                  I agree about the whole “Have to kill you” deal though, makes little sense.

                2. Someone says:

                  Not a problem – get a gun with adjustable projectile velocity, set it to nonlethal and shoot people in the feet. Or in the abdomen, their medical technology probably allows a full recovery from anything short of a direct headshot. There is also electric shock, tranquilizers, blunt force trauma and the old-fashioned sucker-punch to the throat. Not to mention all the insane FUTURE SCIENCE!!! riot control methods that may exist within the universe.

                3. Daemian Lucifer says:

                  But projectile speed is not the only thing that matters.Id imagine that armour piercing bullets would be deadly to an unarmoured person even at low velocities.Youd need to change the shape as well.

          2. Nyaz says:

            EDIT: Oops, I responded to the wrong post. Uhm… crap.

        2. ccesarano says:

          From a gameplay standpoint, yes (and perhaps another reason I dug Alpha Protocol more than ME2, even though a tranq-gun wasn’t all too different from a real pistol except people “slept” instead of died). However, from a story stand-point we can assume anyone we fight in gameplay is out to kill us and thus Samara would react as necessary.

          But the cut-scenes do not provide such an effective excuse. This is a cop that is merely trying to detain her, not kill her. As such, doing something like tying her up and gagging her should be good enough rather than having to out-and-out kill her.

      2. Daemian Lucifer says:

        To be fair,it does show how their old laws(or customs)werent really appreciating life if its not lived the way it should be.Im quite ok with that.It makes the asari more realistic,like a race that still hasnt adapted completely to this new lifestyle of a multi raced galaxy.

        1. Jordi says:

          I once heard that people value life more the longer it is expected to last. This suggests that life has become more valuable as our life expectancy increased throughout the ages. By that logic, the Asari should value life like no other race.

          (by value life I don’t mean that they necessarily enjoy every second of it, but that they think it is really really bad when it gets prematurely ended)

          1. Daemian Lucifer says:

            Sure,but asari are extra terrestrials,so they have different psychology and different culture.I mean,they discriminate against pure bloods.When have you seen something like that in humans?Not even our stories have that(well,apart from the asari).

            1. X2-Eliah says:

              Mind that Asari purebloods are more or less equal to human inbreds (not wanting to be offensive). And you know how that usually goes.

              1. krellen says:

                They are viewed the same, yes. The genetics probably don’t actually work out the same, however.

              2. Macready says:

                “Purebloods” are like inbreds?

                No, Im sorry, but what are you thinking? (No offence)

                You do realise asari have only been in contact with aliens for a few generations? Yes, that equates to a good few thousand years, but that doesnt change the fact that it constitutes a few generations to the asari.

                Now what do you suppose they did before then? Thats right, melded with eachother. And this led to them being the first (of the current crop) species to discover the citadel, and generally establish themselves as the most influencial race in the known galaxy.

                Not bad for a bunch of inbreds, right?

                No, there is absolutely no benefit whatsoever from asari mating outside their race. There is only a belief because asari are culturally arrogant, and created a religion based on the belief that they “unite the disparate shards of the galaxy”.

                Asari melding with aliens may be AS beneficial as melding with other asari. Its certainly not MORE beneficial.

                Still, I cant blame you too much. Even those idiots at Bioware contradicted this with their so called “main villain” in ME2, in the form of Harbinger.

                Then again, maybe Harbinger really is the deluded, gibbering imbecile ME2 made him out to be…..

                1. krellen says:

                  Incidentally, the only reason we humans have a stigma against inbreeding is because we don’t throw away the rejects. It’s actually a central tool in the area of animal husbandry.

                2. Roll-a-Die says:

                  Ehm, no, as it is explained in the lore, both that Liara teaches you, and that you observe, when an Asari mates with another species, they take on traits of that species. Purebloods maintain the status quo, nothing changes, nothing is gained, nothing is lost. By mixing with other races, you gain traits that benefit the Asari as a whole. Change is considered VERY good in the Asari society, to lack change is to lack an essential component to other Asari, but that’s speculation on my part.

          2. Someone says:

            What’s really weird, is that the Asari are considered to be the wisest, most advanced and civilized race in the universe. They were the first to find the Citadel! Mass Effect, the first one at least, repeatedly tells you how awesome they are, and how far they have come in relation to other species, yet they still have such an absurd and medieval knight templar tradition.

      3. eri says:

        BioWare? Ambiguous morality? What the hell games have you been playing? BioWare’s characters are less ambiguous than they are just brain-meltingly stupid. Dragon Age is the only game that even really gets close to ambiguity, but even then it’s still pretty limited in scope.

      4. Avilan says:

        She’s not forced to kill the officer. The officer is bound by orders by her (dickish!) superiors and cannot back down, so both she and Samara realizes Samara will have to kill her. If the officer had the option of after 24 hours just step aside, she would.

        1. Zak McKracken says:

          Weeelll… Did you know sometimes one can impose their will on others without killing them?
          Smara could just make her “step” aside, couldn’t she?
          And by “step aside” I mean “levitate her out of the way”. End of story, noone killed. This “eiter-or” type of argument is medieval and somehow tied to a weird understanding of honour.
          “I need to reach a goal, and if I spend one second making that less uncomfortable for anyone, I’ll lose my honour. Because you’re not consequential if all your actions don’t have as dire consequences for everyone as they possibly can.” That’s not even lawful stupid, that’s lawful arrogant asshole. That’s “I must do it because it is not forbidden”.

          1. Avilan says:

            The point is that the officer seems to take her job as serious as Samara does. This means that even if Samara “tries to levitate away”, the officer would use force to detain her. And get killed. It is a matter of Honor Before Reason for BOTH of them, so I guess you can see it as two cases of Lawful Stupid pitched against each other.

            1. Zak McKracken says:

              Still, Samara is way more potent than the police officer and could easily tie her up or otherwise get her out of the way without killing her, no matter how she tried.

              1. Zaxares says:

                I imagine all this talk of “killing” is a bit of an exaggeration on the writer’s part. I doubt Samara would REALLY stop to deliver killing blows to every single police officer who tried to stop her escaping. At the most, she would respond with lethal force, but only enough to get people out of her way. She probably hurls people against walls etc., but she doesn’t whack them again if they stay down (whether it’s because they’re truly incapacitated or just faking it is of no concern to Samara, as long as they don’t try to stop her again).

  3. X2-Eliah says:

    Meh. As I said before, asari = space hookers. Even the old hags get breast implants.

    (ME3 – now with jiggle physics! See the entire game take place on Illium!)

  4. Sydney says:

    I always saw Samara as a send-up of the stereotypical stick-in-ass paladin. Sorta like Miko Miyazaki from Order of the Stick.

    1. Halfling says:

      Except Miko was interesting and presented masterfully. :P

  5. Kian says:

    The thing that really bothers me about this mission is, Samara is trying to find one person, and the cops are trying to solve exactly one murder. They don’t care about the whole smuggling or other illicit stuff the Sisters are up to. They want to know who killed the dude.

    So in comes Shepard, to ‘solve’ the situation. With his very special brand of solving; shooting dozens of people in the face.

    Arguably, your objective here is to find out the name of the ship Samara’s target left in. You can also solve the murder case (and if you are renegade, kill the murderer before you even knew it was her). Now, what’s the difference for the police between letting Samara kill everyone, and letting Shepard kill everyone?

    What’s even worse, there’s an armed group of mercenaries, ready to kill everyone they see, not 30 seconds walk from the police line. Great job there, guys!

    1. Daemian Lucifer says:

      “Now, what's the difference for the police between letting Samara kill everyone, and letting Shepard kill everyone?”

      She is an asari,you are not.The police here seems to be more interested about politics than anything else,so they dont want to risk an asari killing bunch of other races.You,however,they arent responsible for,so they can let you run wild.

      1. somebodys_kid says:

        The whole specter thing might have something to do with Shepard’s relative freedom…though I don’t remember if that was mentioned in the dialogue or not.

    2. Raygereio says:

      The police didn't want to detain Samara. The local government ordered Samara's detention so that she wouldn't cause a diplomatic incident / PR nightmare.

    3. Ringwraith says:

      Illium is where pretty much everything is legal, so smuggling isn’t really that possible let alone prevalent, they even have what amounts to slavery there.

      That, and they’re more worried about dealing with a Justicar running around such a morally bankrupt planet populated with other races.

    4. Zak McKracken says:

      I guesss that whole episode is the wrong kind of task in a game that consists of scripted dialogue and mortal combat.
      But then I guess the makers of the game were not so much enamoured to the “kill seven boars” kind of tasks, so they tried to make something more diverse, even if it’s not really what the game engine was made for.
      Or maybe they thought noone would care as long as Samara keeps her dress unzipped.

  6. Jordi says:

    “Lawful Stupidity” is exactly the reason why I feel that “Lawful Good” is not the “goodest” alignment in the D&D spectrum (although most video games certainly seem to think so). I usually play chaotic good, because to me it means that my character will do (what he feels is) good no matter what other people may think about it.

    1. Raygereio says:

      Lawful stupidity arose because most games with the D&D alignment (and most gamers for that matter) don't really get what lawful vs. chaotic is supposed to be about. http://www.wizards.com/default.asp?x=dnd/sg/20050325a

      Then again D&D alignment in general is a murky concept that most people treat way to seriously. All it's really good for is deciding whether or not your character is affected by circle against good.

      1. Daemian Lucifer says:

        The problem with d&d alignment is that it is a universal thing,and you have evil races.So its ok to slaughter an orc village because they are an evil race.Children,elders,everything.So genocide is good if its a genocide of an evil race.

        This wouldnt be a problem on itself,but d&d also allows you to subvert the concept of an evil race by playing a good drow,or something like that.And that leads to contradiction between what good actually is.

        You cant have a universal ethical code if you have races that perceive it differently.A lawful dwarf would see a lawful elf like some chaotic criminal,for example,while a chaotic elf would see a chaotic dwarf like some uptight police guy who wants to be a bad boy.

        D&d system can only work if you have one sapient race,or if all the races you have share the same moral code.

        1. Raygereio says:

          Oh, dear lord. Don't get me started on the concept of “evil” races and the huge truckload of unfortunate implication attached to it.

          This wouldnt be a problem on itself,but d&d also allows you to subvert the concept of an evil race by playing a good drow,or something like that. And that leads to contradiction between what good actually is.

          Well, that's because originally the whole good vs. evil thing really was created purely so that players had a justification for performing genocide on the evil races. That and it provided GM's with easy plot points: “An orcish army is approaching. What do they want? Nothing, they're evil; conquering and pillaging is what they do. Now stop asking stupid questions.”.
          Good vs. evil is effectively no more then a basic us vs. them thing. Okay, Drizzt is now one of us. That means he's good. The rest of the Drow are not with us; SLAUGHTER EVIL!

        2. Moriarty says:

          Slaughtering an orc village because they’re evil is in itself not a good act. It’s propably closer to evil than it is to neutral. However, attacking an orcish warcamp that has been raiding nearby villages is not evil.

          And the dwarf/elf chatoc differences are exactly what makes races “usually lawful” for example. I don’t see the problem with that.

        3. Zak McKracken says:

          I think the “orcs are evil” thing is just something that makes it easier for the players to determine who the enemy is. In real life it’s hard enough already, and gaming wouldn’t be fun if you couldn’t sometimes just know that everyone you meet who looks like an orc is cleared to be converted to XP.
          People who apply that principle in Real Life are called “racists” or “nationalists”. But if you had to try and find a diplomatic solution before you can slaughter the enemy, the game would be boring.
          I think the same reason is behind the fact that in games and movies the bad guys’ henchmen always immediately attack you, no matter the odds, and don’t show fear (or any emotion, really) until they die: The player/protagonist isn’t supposed to feel bad for killing someone, so let’s not give them a reason. Realistically, these people would probably make for really tragic figures.

      2. Simon Buchan says:

        I always thought it would be interesting to have a story explore the effects of living in a world with *provably* extant absolute morality. Is it possible to be a “Knight Templar” just doing what you think is right, if “Detect Evil” tells you immediately that you’re in the wrong? If someone is Good, but is forced to make two-evils choices a lot, does that change their alignment? Can spies be effective if they have to a similar morality to the society they are infiltrating (making defecting highly likely)? There’s a lot of material on that line in a character sheet…

    2. Integer Man says:

      “Evil will always triumph over good because good is dumb.”

      Chaotic Stupid could also be an arguable alignment.

    3. krellen says:

      As a lawful good person in real life, I have to concur with the idea that most people just don’t get what “lawful” means. Also, alignments are tendencies, not absolutes. The Paladin is an abnormality in that its code is inviolate. That is not usual for alignments.

      The Justicar code is lawful to the point of ridiculousness. Justicars that won’t violate that code under any circumstance aren’t going to be labelled “good”; that sort of behaviour belongs to (extreme) lawful neutrals.

      For a really good example, I take Les Miserables (the musical; not sure this lines up so well in the book). One of the central conflicts in Les Miserables is Javert vs ValJean. These two men only differ in one aspect: ValJean is Chaotic Good, Javert is Lawful Good. But that difference creates all the strain and tension that drives the bulk of the story.

      In the end, Javert is not able to reconcile his previously strongly-held Lawful beliefs with the fact that Javert is provably a “good man”, and so suffers his crisis of faith that leads to his suicide. Because Javert valued his “rightness” – his Lawful nature – more than his “goodness”, he could not cope. But there’s no conflict over which is evil – both are good men, with good goals, doing what they think is right for society and those around them. The only conflict they have is over whether society and its rules trump individuals and their desires.

      America is Chaotic society founded on Chaotic ideals; it’s really not surprising that the idea typified by the Lawful alignment is alien to many of us, and poorly understood by most.

      1. ccesarano says:

        I don’t understand why Law and Chaos have to be at odds. Good and Evil characters? Yes. But just because Batman is Chaotic Good doesn’t mean our Lawful Good friend Commisioner Gordon can’t work with him. In fact, the two use their differences to their strengths! Commisioner Gordon relies on Batman to handle what he cannot within the confines of the law, but because they have similar goals Batman relies on Commissioner Gordon for backup and locking the criminals up.

        The problem is when people hear “lawful” they imagine “lawful stupid”, and when they hear “chaotic” they imagine “chaotic evil”, which is why a lot of people I played with in College stuck as close to Neutral as possible (or Chaotic Evil). The very notion of Lawful Evil made no sense in their mind and seemed contradictory.

        It’s really not all that complicated in the end. Do you follow a rule set? Yes, lawful. No, chaotic. Do you fight for the common goal or for yourself? Former, closer to good. Latter, closer to evil.

        Though this is a greatly over-simplified way to look at it as well. Still, I’d look at this as a starting point. D&D Alignments 101, so to speak.

        1. krellen says:

          Law and Chaos are at odds largely because of differing views on the rights of individuals. Law is willing to curb individual rights for societal good. Chaos is not. It is from this that stems most of the conflict.

        2. Integer Man says:

          Not sure Batman is Chaotic Good. I’d say more of a Neutral Good. He sure isn’t lawful, but he doesn’t disobey laws just for the sake of disobeying laws. He just ignores the law when it gets in the way of doing what he believes in.

          When I think of Chaotic Good, I think of V. That cat was messed up.

          1. ccesarano says:

            but he doesn't disobey laws just for the sake of disobeying laws

            And who says people that are Chaotic disobey laws simply to disobey them? I’d look at Chaotic as someone that feels they shouldn’t be bound by laws and is willing to break them, but if they are, say, Chaotic Good, they’ll likely obey the law someplace so as not to stir up trouble. Otherwise you start leaning towards playing someone that’s Chaotic Asshole.

            1. Integer Man says:

              Okay. So what’s the line of distinction between neutral good and chaotic good?

              1. ccesarano says:

                Neutral Good is what I’d classify most people as. People may obey most of the laws, but then they’ll pirate music or movies or something and try to justify it. That’s not chaotic, but it’s not lawful either.


                This could be more complicated than I thought.

                1. krellen says:

                  Most people are Neutral. They’re not Good, because most people do not make sacrifices (giving the change in your pocket isn’t really a “sacrifice”) for others. Friends and family don’t count, in this case; evil people will still care for their friends and family (either because they’d expect the same in return or because, as far as their morality is concerned, friends and family are just part of the unit of “me”).

                2. Atarlost says:

                  It’s not good either.

                  Unless they are pirating the products of evil people as a deliberate form of economic warfare. And concluded those people were evil before even thinking about piracy.

                  So, for example, I think DRM is evil. If I were to go around cracking DRM because it was evil I *might* be chaotic good. If I were to crack DRM for fun or profit and justify it because DRM is evil I’d be chaotic evil. I’d actually be on better grounds engaging in terrorism because the complication of profit is removed. So while Pirate Bay is mostly evil with maybe some neutrals and actual good people rare as drow paladins a group dedicated to stealing physical copies of DRM protected software and dumping them in Boston harbor would have a very good case for being chaotic good.

                3. Veloxyll says:

                  Actually, I’d say if you’re cracking for fun, not for the betterment of society (good), or for your own profit (evil); you’re neutral.
                  Though in your case, since you claim DRM is evil, then OPPOSING evil is traditionally viewed as a good act, which would push the Pirate bay further up the alignment scale. TPB is undeniably CHAOTIC, but I’d say they’re chaotic neutral rather than chaotic evil, because TPB isn’t acting with regards to its own profits.

                4. Abnaxis says:

                  IMO, this also delves into the conflicts that crop up when you have a LG palaind in a LE society. Should he fight the evil laws (slavery, for example) to help the people, or is that too chaotic?

                  Copyright is a broken law, favored by corporations with enough money to levy it for their own profit and to the detriment of society (in my opinion, at least). Now, I most definately consider myself in the CN camp, but if I were more LN or LG, do I have to buy DRM-saddled crap because my Lawful code justifies it? Is that not Lawful Stupid sort of thinking?

          2. Vect says:

            V in the comics is straight-up Chaotic Neutral if I remember. His only purpose was to bring down the Government (albeit a Fascist Neo-Nazi Government) for revenge.

          3. Kian says:

            The problem is, when you ask is someone lawful, it depends. Is someone who follows a strict moral code, which is at odds with society’s laws, lawful or chaotic? By the standard of ‘adheres to a code’, Batman is lawful. He has strict rules about what is and isn’t allowed (can’t kill for one). If you say they have to follow society’s laws, then what happens to a character that moves somewhere where the laws are different?

            1. krellen says:

              Society’s laws have very little, if anything, to do with being lawful.

              1. Kian says:

                That is the point I was trying to make, yes. Most of the arguments seemed to follow the belief that ‘following the law’ makes one lawful, according to D&D. Which is not necessarily true.

                The distinction between freedom of the individual and adherence to structures is good too.

                1. krellen says:

                  I’d say the two most obvious differences between Law and Chaos would be society vs. individual and routine vs. spontaneity.

                  I’d say, overall, Batman shows clear Chaotic tendencies; he doesn’t seem to overly plan his life, lets things flow as they come, and puts extreme importance on individuals (it’s from this that stems his “won’t kill” ideal). If forced to choose between saving Robin or saving Gotham, he’ll choose Robin. He’s chosen the Joker over Gotham time after time.

                  Of course, this varies by author. The real problem with pinning down comic characters (especially the oldest ones) is that they so often change.

        3. Sucal says:

          Mostly because I want to throw some fuel into the argument, I might as well make the inevitable link


          1. Alexander The 1st says:

            The “MMM…chocolate.” image makes me laugh every time I see it. Does that make me Chaotic Evil? Or do I just have a weird sense of humour?

  7. Dude says:

    Guys, guys, guys. You’re missing the point of the whole Samara recruitment mission: the background music!

  8. Groboclown says:

    You know, I wouldn’t care as much about the outfit Samara is wearing, but the placement of the subtitles makes it that, if I want to read them, I have to stare at her cleavage.

    1. Integer Man says:

      Hear hear.

      It’s actually a little more tolerable to me than the blatant camera angles on Miranda.

      The funny thing about it is that there is a pretty big difference between the way she acts and the way she dresses. Hence the hilarity behind “Why didn’t you tell me this was like that???”

      1. Ringwraith says:

        Remember that Justicars rarely venture beyond asari space, so it’s probably a culture difference that makes it seems odd.

        1. eri says:

          “What, you mean your culture isn’t based around space hookers?”

          Yeah, that’s much more plausible than fan service.

          1. Ringwraith says:

            I think someone mentions it in the first game, the asari being almost objectified only really came about after coming into contact with other races, as it was something that doesn’t exist within asari society itself.

            1. krellen says:

              Liara mentions the stigma about her race being space hookers and how it makes her uncomfortable because she’s such a virgin prude.

              And then she takes a level in badass in ME2.

              1. Avilan says:

                She takes a level in badass already in ME1, really. She is a very capable fighter, she’s just not happy about it. And in the (Canon) comic books set between ME1 and ME2, she has to embrace her warrior side to keep the Shadow broker from getting Shepard’s corpse.

                She basically becomes who she is in ME2 because she sacrifices who she is to save you.

      2. swimon says:

        I don’t like Samara and I really don’t like the obvious fan service in ME2. That said I do find it interesting how Samara is both this deeply religious paladin and dress very revealingly. It’s interesting because to us that seems weird since we associate religion with chastity but in the ME universe the asari makes no such assumptions (having essentially no taboos about sex). It was an interesting idea and they actually made something about that whole “we aren’t embarrassed by sex” beyond “all of us are strippers”.

    2. Someone says:

      Hey, I just figured out a great way to cut development costs. Just give all talking NPC’s huge pornstar boobs and you won’t have to worry about facial animation!

      I accept MasterCard, Paypal and Yandex.Money.

      What really creeps me out about Samara are her those huge puppy-dog eyes. They look so creepy and weird.

      I guess the designers just decided to make “tremendous orbs” a running theme of the character.

      1. bit says:

        Extending to how she is on the ship; there are SO MANY sexual jokes you could make about that big blue ball she meditates with.

  9. Hitch says:

    Mass Effect 3 needs to include an inexplicably bad-ass recruitable Volus team mate.

    1. Integer Man says:

      And an Elcor love interest.

      1. Dude says:

        And a Batarian chef.

        1. Josh says:

          And a Vor’cha… dog?

          1. ccesarano says:

            All jokes aside, I would really love to see an ass-kicking Volus on the team. I love them ugly little buggers.

            1. X2-Eliah says:

              Only if he gets the Miranda-cam treatment. 90% of conversations with that Volus = staring at his abdomen or bum.

            2. Kavonde says:

              I’ve wanted a volus companion since ME1. Always liked ’em. And maybe you could have Grunt hurl him like a cannonball!

              1. ccesarano says:

                “Nobody tosses a Volus!”

                Maybe they can get John Rees Davis to do the voice.

          2. somebodys_kid says:

            And a Hanar starship mechanic…

            1. Integer Man says:

              Don’t forget the Vogon… er… Krogan Poet.

            2. Irridium says:

              You should be able to recruit Blasto.

              1. eri says:

                Don’t forget Jar Jar Binks.

                1. somebodys_kid says:

                  I’ve been trying since 1999 to forget him.

            3. Alexander The 1st says:

              I want to recruit a Reaper in end-game.

              Maybe you get a paragon interrupt if you save a “baby” reaper, and then he joins you in the fight?

              Renegade interrupt has you killing the human trying to attack it.

          3. bit says:

            And a Rachni comedian.

          4. Sucal says:

            Vorcha Diplomat

          5. Veloxyll says:

            I hope that we get to team up with Blasto, the first Hanaar Spectre.

            1. krellen says:

              You do realise that was a movie advertisement, yes?

              1. Bret says:

                Hey, they made movies based on Shep’s life.

                1. Dude says:

                  Don’t forget the VI! (Thane’s loyalty mission, but what the heck.)

                2. Irridium says:

                  That pissed me off. I couldn’t interact with the VI when I asked Mouse to deliver it to my ship.

                  I wanted to talk to it dammit!

      2. daveNYC says:

        Just as long as there’s a dialogue choice that lets the Elcor and Mordin do a scene from Hamlet together.

    2. Tohron says:

      I was thinking that myself – there are Volus mechanics, so you could have a guy who made his own suit of power armor, with various special abilities (Power fist, anyone?).

      1. ps238principal says:

        Most likely he’d combine either an energy blade or a pair of blasters with an ability to leap about like the illegitimate offspring of “Episode II Yoda” and “Bouncing Boy” from the Legion of Superheroes.

        And he’d have lots of annoying quips about you being tall interspersed with breathing noises that make your sinuses close.

        1. Daemian Lucifer says:

          Somehow thinking about volus warriors makes me think about mulch diggums from artemis fowl series.

  10. zob says:

    Josh should’ve chosen “Don’t follow that order” at 6:27.

  11. Wolfwood says:

    It all depends if your moral code consider codify murder as a crime. lol Maybe Asari Justicars have the “License to Kill” Card that James Bond has XD

  12. 4th Dimension says:

    The next episode features the BEST character ever:

    1. eri says:

      It’s always a laugh when people who have never been or seen someone drunk or high before in their lives try to make characters who are just that.

      1. Dude says:

        But since this is a volus and not a human, the writers can look smug and say, “That’s how volus are when high. Suck on that!”

        1. Zerotime says:

          “This is how a fictional alien race is on a fictional drug that massively boosts a fictional ability.”

  13. Ringwraith says:

    I think the volus split open or something if they get taken out of their suits, they’d also suffocate if the change in pressure didn’t kill them due to being used to ammonia-based atmospheres.
    Also probably the reason why you never see a volus in combat, it’d usually end very quickly being ill-suited to any sort of combat, though this is why they are a client race of the turians, as they are useless at warfare as they have a society that was built up around trade, so that’s what they do for the turians and by extension all the other council races, manage trade and other financial stuff.

  14. Nyctef says:

    Great episode as usual.

    I love how you constantly assume everyone is 100% truthful, logical and knowledgeable and then blame inconsistencies on the writers :)

    1. Mumbles says:

      I want to make love to your comment.

      1. krellen says:

        That’s really weird. And nerdy.


        1. Fat Tony says:

          Nerdy, nerdy NERD NERD! (Why does mumbles only get golden posts halve the time???)

          1. krellen says:

            ‘Cause she’s lazy, apparently.

    2. Nidokoenig says:

      Well, if it was the writers trying to portray believable inconsistencies between what people think is going on, surely they’d have a couple of conversations where two people disagreed on some fact or other? Having, say, a Krogan and Mordin discuss the genophage, preferably without reaching agreement on the facts, would make it easier to believe that this world is inhabited by people who have to make judgements without all the necessary information and in light of their own prejudices. You only need to do that a couple of times before people will start assuming this is what’s going on whenever there’s another inconsistency in your world, deliberate or otherwise.

      Please feel free to tell me all the billions of times this has happened in the Mass Effect world.

      1. Bodyless says:

        Well you have these 2 conversations between miranda/Jack and Tali/Legion and i heard there was one planned between mordin and grunt but that got scraped sometime.

  15. Adalore says:

    Her eyes bother me! D:

    Also when you guys get around to showing the “Probe episode” you could roll it into a “Resource management” video, showing mass research, probity, and merchantising!

    … I still need to buy the space hamster.

    Also armor choices, show your fashion sense!

    Forgot to add… And you could have it sped up, showing a silly mass of probing done “Off screen” in 10x speed.

  16. bit says:

    I have to dissagree with you that the Justicars are inherently Lawful Stupid. Oh, yeah, they’re Lawful Stupid based on ILLIUM’s rule, but as stated, they almost never leave Asari space, which, considering how old the Justicars are, probably has laws specifically structured around them. Samara expects to have to kill the cop for detaining her, because that rule in the code was probably designed for forceful detainment, and because in Asari space the law, most likely, just isn’t allowed to detain her in the first place. Stupid in the eyes of an outsider, yes, but it’s an extremely dated and closed-culture kind of thing, not designed to be interact with the outside in the first place. And honestly, I actually kinda like how Bioware did that.

    Also, it’s possible that Samara is actually acting a bit more aggressive than needed, because as you find out while talking to her for and during her Loyalty Mission, she’s really, really obsessed. For good reason, of course, but still.

    Also, get to Thane already. Thane is sexy.

    Really sexy.


  17. Ramsus says:

    Oh god the probing. My thumbs hurt just thinking about it. I can’t wait for you to fast forward through the whole process and it still managing to take up a whole episode.

    Seriously, it is the worst mini-game I can recall at the moment.

    1. Tzeneth says:

      I hope when they do the probing they make sure to go by the Sol system and probe the 7th planet from the sun for that funny easter egg from EDI ;)

      1. Nidokoenig says:

        Remember that Stolen Pixels strip with the whole damn planet covered in probes? I’m thinking that, all over the 7th planet.

        1. Daemian Lucifer says:

          [EDI voice]Really,Nidokoenig?[/EDI voice]

    2. daveNYC says:

      ‘Game’ is not the right word to use. Nor is ‘mini’, really.

    3. Zaxares says:

      And that’s why I simply downloaded the ME2 Save Game Editor, gave myself 1,000,000 of each mineral, and never bothered mining any planets ever again. ;)

  18. Kavonde says:

    I don’t understand how people came to the conclusion that Samara and the Justicars are supposed to be Lawful Good. They’re a textbook example of Lawful Neutral, with Knight Templar tendencies. Maybe a few of their views lean Good (like protecting innocents), but they’re balanced by views that lean Evil (like killing officers of the law for arresting them). They’re completely and totally Lawful Neutral.

    1. That makes good sense to me.

  19. Milos says:

    You know with all the inconsistencies like joining the cerberus, NPCs acting out of character etc. I was getting worried the essence of ME1 was lost in the process. But now that you ended the episode in front of that elevator door I get the feeling everything will fit into it’s place.

  20. guy says:

    Heh, elevator running gag. One of the Citadel shopkeepers in ME1 was a volus and apparently pretty decent.

    1. krellen says:

      It was the best place on the Citadel to buy upgrades.

      1. ps238principal says:

        I’m Commander Shepard and this is my favorite store on the Citadel.

      2. Irridium says:

        Its a shame Bioware put him out of a job.

  21. ps238principal says:

    Re: the Volus

    Stereotyping aside, my biggest gripe is that this is the second game in the series and those mask-mustaches are still having clipping issues with their torsos.

  22. Lalaland says:

    The extremely small size of the hub levels in ME2 was a problem for me, it made everywhere seem like an airport terminal. There may have been a lot of empty space in ME1 hubs but it made the illusion of being on a planet easier for me. The citadel suffered from this in particular as the change of colour scheme from white to red/blue made it seem awfully close to Illium. THe Quarian fleet was just a series of rooms like everywhere else, why not stick in giant windows with space ships outside so it had it’s own character?

  23. X2-Eliah says:

    So what do the “Lawful” and “Chaotic” designations mean, then?

    Above discussions already said that Lawful has almost no relation to law; Chaotic doesn’t mean causing chaos (because that would be more of an evil thing), and where the heck does neutrality fit into that?

    1. Zak McKracken says:

      “Lawful” has a relation to law, only not necessarily the law of the state you’re currently in. It means having rules about stuff and behaving according to them. This might be a religous codex, the law of your home country, some paladin code of honour or whatever.
      Chaotic means not following any such code. One day you’ll act like this and anothr day completely different, however it suits you. So one day you’ll help an old laydy across the street, next day you’ll steal her crutches because you need them for something that seems more important right now. One day you’ll tell someone who tried to rob you to get away because you feel like it, next day you’ll beat them half-dead for being such an asshole. While a lawful character would at least try to treat all robbers the same way, according to his law, or moral codex or whatever.
      I think that’s the difference. And “neutral” is somewhere in between. Sometimes it’s better to go with the rules, sometimes it’s OK to break them. I think the transitions between lawful-neutral-chaotic are fluent, so a neutral character can tend slightly towards either pole, without completely abandoning the other.

      1. X2-Eliah says:

        Uh-huh. So what’s the difference between Chaotic and “good today, evil tomorrow”? Because on that definition, strictly chaotic evil and strictly chaotic good seem more or less impossible.

        1. swimon says:

          There are a lot of different views of what constitutes lawful and what is chaotic and they quickly get confusing. The worst example IMO is in Planescape: torment where a race who follow a strict moral code that even extends to their language is supposed to be the embodiment of chaos since they really hate slavery, no really.

          Personally I like the interpretation that law versus chaos is categorical imperatives versus utilitarianism. In other words lawful means that you follow a certain code (most religions for example) whereas truly chaotic people have no problem killing 10 to save 100. In ME2 Samara is lawful (stupidly lawful and rather evil IMO but lawful nonetheless) and Mordin is chaotic.

        2. Will says:

          Chaotic Good is basically the freedom fighter; standing up for morals and freedoms, individual rights and liberty. Basically everything the USA is supposed to stand for. The Chaotic Good character fights for whatever course he feels is right and just, regardless of what others think.

          Chaotic Evil is someone who is out for himself, and only himself. He doesn’t care if someone gets in his way and he doesn’t care if he has to leave a pile of bodies in his wake. Chaotic Evil doesn’t actually exist in the real world all that much as it’s a very significant outlier, but psychopaths come close.

          There have been a lot of words written on the subject of D&D Alignment, a google search will probably reveal more about the philosophical consequences and exploration of D&D alignment than you ever thought existed.

        3. krellen says:

          Law and Chaos are methodology – how you go about getting there. Good and Evil are goals – what you’re trying to accomplish.

          Think of it less as “Law” and more as “Order”. Lawfuls like things orderly, neat, and dependable. Chaotics prefer spontaneity, change and disorder. Neutrals don’t really care one way or the other, so long as they get there.

          Good strives for the best for all people in all things. Evil strives for the best for one’s self (or close associates that, morally, count as “self”), regardless of effects to others. Neutral strives for the best for one’s self, so long as it’s not too harmful to anyone else.

          A Chaotic Good will lie, cheat, and steal, if he believes that will ultimately end up with the greatest good for the greatest many people – Robin Hood is sort of an archetypical Chaotic Good. Chaotic Goods will not opt for directly selfish and harmful actions; the story book Robin Hood did not kill the people he robbed, and he did not rob those that could not afford to do without a little less.

          Chaotic Evil, on the other hand, just wants what’s best for him (understanding that Evil can still love and have close companions for whom they will sacrifice – just because their actions are on behalf of someone else doesn’t make them not Evil) and will not consider even for a moment how that affects anyone outside his immediate circle. A Chaotic Evil Robin Hood would rob everyone, indiscriminately, taking every possession from them for the betterment of himself and his crew, whether they were rich or poor.

          Neutrals want what is best for themselves, but they’re not willing to sacrifice anything and anyone to get it. A Chaotic Neutral Robin Hood would probably rob rich merchants (most take for the effort), but not the King’s taxmen (too much trouble with guards and such) nor poor peasants (who wouldn’t have enough to be worth the effort).

          A good way to keep the difference between Law and Chaos in mind is to reflect on the archetypical differences between Dwarven (Lawful) and Elven (Chaotic) society.

          Dwarves are honour-bound and tradition-minded. A Dwarf follows the craft of his father, who followed the craft of his father, who followed the craft of his father. It is viewed the height of gauche for a dwarf to desire something different from his birth-assigned lot in life. The son of a smith who wishes instead to be a miner is viewed with great stigma; he is breaking tradition and conformity and carving his own path.

          Elves are capricious and independent. It is a rare Elf that has any real relation to the craft of their parents. The daughter of an Elven smith is free to pursue the career of a poet, while the son of the Elven carpenter is encouraged to explore gem-cutting. In fact, an Elf that wishes nothing but to follow in the footsteps of her mother is viewed at best as an enigma, at worst as an aberration; Elves are actively encouraged to explore many possibilities and pursue many goals, and one that wishes to pursue a single, steady goal is viewed with suspicion.

          1. BanZeus says:

            Which makes wizard a really odd choice for favored class in 3E, IMO.

  24. Avilan says:

    I still watch this because I love the game involved, and really like the people (well as far as I know them, through this and Mumble’s blog).

    The negativity and nitpicking IS reaching levels of ridicule though; but then I am in the vast majority of players who not only found ME2 passable, but a damn good game and a worthy sequel.

    1. Zak McKracken says:

      I whatch this as a surrogate for playing the game (which I haven’t), and I absolutely love the nitpicking :) I also think the only way to improve something is through finding and exposing the mistakes and correcting them. So while the spoiler warning crew can’t make the game better (although it can be argued they already do…), they are delivering the error-finding part, which is not a small contribution.
      Please go ahead!
      I also should state that I enjoy SW more and more, and find it easier now to follow both the in-game story and the banter by the crew than in earlier episodes. Don’t know if you changed anything, but it’s working much better for me now!

  25. Zak McKracken says:

    Anyone else who had to think of Baron Harkonnen when looking at the merchant?
    He doesn’t really look similar, but something about him reminded me of Dune …

  26. Zaxares says:

    On the volus: Well, volus society is very much based around trade and exchanges of value, so it’s natural that most volus working in the wider galactic community would gravitate towards mercantile and financial professions. (Plus, you know, their physique means they’re ill-suited for more labor-intensive jobs.) They’re not necessarily greedy though. Barla Von and Din Korlack from ME1 make that pretty clear.

    Conversations with several people make it pretty clear that Illium, for all its fancy clothes and glittering towers, is just as much a criminal haven as Omega was. It’s just all white collar, maintain-the-appearance-of-clean-hands crime instead. It doesn’t really surprise me then that most, if not all, traders on Illium are involved in some kind of dirty business.

    On Samara’s lack of chest protection: It’s possible that Samara’s DELIBERATELY not covering up, you know. I mean, look at Rutskarn! She probably knows exactly what kind of effect it has on males and uses that to distract people both in combat and dialogue. ;)

    On justicars: The Justicar Order seems to be very much like paladins of St Cuthbert, to use a D&D example. They are concerned much more with punishing the guilty than with protecting the innocent. The difference here is that the justicars follow their own strict laws and consider themselves not accountable to any other legal system.

    1. Nidokoenig says:

      “paladins of St Cuthbert”

      Say what? A bunch of dudes who go around wrecking the shit of, for example, slavers, primarily for their own satisfaction rather than protecting the innocent, and they’re called the Paladins of Saint Cuthbert? Why does that sound so familiar?

      As for the chest thing, maybe she creates a small, focused biotic shield over that area, similar to how the Punisher has that big “put bullets here” skull logo on his heavily-armoured chest specifically to draw fire to where he can handle it. Or she just uses the fact that she’s a powerful biotic as an excuse to appear lightly armoured to draw fire away from civilians and onto her mighty ti-, er, shields. After all, the enemy is less likely to take hostages if they think they can bring her down themselves.

      Dunno why I’m replying here, anyway, we’ve all moved on to the next video. Damn these frequent updates!

  27. pip c says:

    re: intro
    ever hear of a paladin?
    yeah, i think i hate them too

    i kill you…. for justice! why? dont bother with the semantics.

  28. pip c says:

    vertical transportation device… thank god you didnt say elevator….. *vomit*

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