Spoiler Warning S4E48:
Every Vote Counts!

By Shamus Posted Friday Mar 4, 2011

Filed under: Spoiler Warning 265 comments

Link (YouTube)

Here is how I would have decided to handle the Heretic problem if this was a holodeck-style game of infinite possibilities:

First of all, I’d straighten out the question (in my mind, it might be explained in the game and I missed it) if the Heretics are the result of Hacking on the part of Sovereign, or if they are simply Geth who came to a different conclusion. I think they came to this conclusion on their own, but in my mind this mission is an amalgamation of conflicting spoilers from the comments, my play-through from a year ago, and the snatches of conversation I caught while recording the show.

If the Heretics were hacked by Sovereign in Mass Effect 1, then the virus is more like a patch or an anti-virus program. If so, it’s the way to go to preserve proper functioning of the Geth.

However, if the Heretics are just Geth who have come to different conclusions, then I would strongly advise Legion to get rid of the virus forever. Even warfare is better than the virus.

Humans have the familiar problem that when we disagree, sometimes we conclude that it would be more expedient to wipe out a rival than to persuade them to accept our position. Now, sometimes this is unavoidable. It takes but one side to make a war, but two sides to negotiate. If your foes aren’t interested in listening and won’t accept your difference of opinion, then you have to fight or acquiesce. Unfortunately, this means a lot of our debates have been won with the side who owned the most pointy sticks, not the side with the correct thinking. Any species that grows up in an environment of hostile predators and limited resources is going to have this problem.

So Geth might be facing that ugly truth: They might be looking at war with each other. The standard Geth might conclude, “Look, these Heretics are starting a war with all organics. Now that Sovereign got his ass kicked, we’ve run the numbers, and we think the Heretics will lose. Worse, those organics won’t distinguish between us and the Heretics. They might band together and wipe us out, or at least drag us into a very expensive war. Since the Heretics are the source of the problem, and since they’re weaker than the organics, we should just attack them ourselves.”

You could argue that Legion’s Loyalty mission is exactly that: The first acts of open aggression of Geth against other Geth. A big step for them. The first civil war. The problem began when the Heretics decided to use force against the rest of the galaxy to advance their goals. At that point they became like organics: Creatures struggling to enforce their will in a hostile environment. They left their live-and-let-live policy (remember their first war was self-defense) and entered the fray with the rest of us meatbags.

Really interesting stuff, BioWare. You could do a whole game (or book) on this.


What Legion is talking about is something worse than war. He’s talking about destroying the ability of the Geth to reason for themselves.

War is expensive. Humans sometimes avoid war simply because of how horrible it is, even if they really, really hate the other guys. But flash-drive brainwashing has no such deterrent. There would be no reason to not use it the next time a serious debate arises. “Look, this is too important for debate, just flash ’em and move on.” In a conventional war, sometimes the side with the more correct ideas will win. In flash-drive war, the only ideas that will survive will be those which couldn’t make the cut. As one side loses a debate, their incentive to virus-bomb their opponents will increase. It would encourage the weakest ideas to propagate and the strong ideas to be wiped out. (Or sides would preemptively flash each other, which would be just as bad.) Their debates would be replaced by silent brainwashing. Maybe it would be common, maybe it would be rare, but either way it would lead to stagnation and retardation. The Geth would get dumber every time they used it, by walling off certain conclusions.

This is why it is better to kill the Heretics than to brainwash them. One destroys a few thousand Geth. The other, in the long run, destroys the whole race.

That’s my take on it. Other conclusions are of course possible. You could probably make a very strong case for walking away, or for showing that you COULD have brainwashed them, and THEN walking away. Lots of fun could be had with that idea.


From The Archives:

265 thoughts on “Spoiler Warning S4E48:
Every Vote Counts!

  1. WILL says:

    IMO, they could just make the excuse that the Geth develop defenses against this type of “brain control” virus afterwards. I’d buy it.

    1. Klay F. says:

      Actually, if the heretics had any clue what they were doing, the first thing they would’ve done after finishing the virus is develop a defense against it being used on them.

      I mean, even the T-virus has (multiple) antidotes.

      1. Daemian Lucifer says:

        But its not something that theyve developed,its something that sovereign gave them.

        Interestingly enough,this may be used as a proof that orthodox geth are correct,because here we have heretics using reaper weapon,and having no defense against it,and no way to defend themselves if something goes wrong.

        1. Veloxyll says:

          The Heretic Geth are a Cerberus rogue cell?

          We did them a favour by giving them oblivion. That said, what’s to stop the Geth jumping on their FTL relay and getting out of there before the station explodes?

          1. Daemian Lucifer says:

            The disturbance in their communications that prevents them from knowing whats going on in other parts of the station,the fact that they have less mobile platforms that them(I assume that sending even one geth via ftl comm is extremely hard,let alone 6 million),and the fact that they arent in their mobile platforms at the time.

  2. DanMan says:

    The other thing to think about is the reason that organics hate war so much. In a robotic, mechanized society where the death of a body doesn’t mean the death of a mind, war takes on a vastly different meaning. So the inverse, in their society, is wiping out the mind and leaving the body. That is the horrific part of war in their eyes.

    I would have liked to see them get into that side of the conflict. A better conversation that still makes the robot world seem different and alien without cheesy phrases like “does not compute”

    1. Klay F. says:

      Actually, I think if a Geth platform dies, all programs within the platform die also. From what I understand, the geth are not cylons, they cannot just download into another body upon death. While they do have wireless communication, they still have to physically link up with a server to switch to a new platform.

      I’m not 100% sure on this, so someone with a more encyclopedic knowledge of the lore can shed some light on this.

      1. Daemian Lucifer says:

        If legion dies,he does say something about emergency auto save,so I think they can survive if a hub is around.If you destroy the hub though,theyre dead for sure.

        1. Will says:

          The Geth are programs, so assuming the physical part of the platform that they occupy (the hard drive if you will) remains intact, then rendering the platform inoperable would not harm the Geth inhabiting it.

          So no, they’re not immune to death, but they are significantly harder to kill than organics, and if they have a way to uploaddownload Geth from platform to platform wirelessly then the only way to actually kill Geth would be to destroy the hard drive in one hit before they can all abandon the platform.

          1. Daemian Lucifer says:

            The platforms have a device that erases everything from it when it is critically damaged,so if they cant upload before that happens,theyre screwed.

  3. MikeShikle says:

    The Video, she is Private!

    1. DanMan says:

      In Mother Russia, video watches you!

      Yeah, private for me too. Looks like someone forgot to turn the awesomeness switch on

      1. Shamus says:

        It just takes time. I set it to public about 15min ago, and it shows as public for me, so it probably just needs another min or so.

        Distributed systems are weird.

        1. DanMan says:

          Working for me now. Thanks a bunch, Shamus

  4. Talson says:

    The video shows as “private” for me. Is there something wrong with my end that I can do to fix this?

    EDIT: Looks like Mikeshikle beat me to the private part, whoops.

    1. Deoxy says:

      Someone should make an immature comment about how that “edit” portion reads…

      …so that everyone else can mentally condemn the immature poster, instead of mentally making the immature comments themselves.

  5. Raygereio says:

    While we wait for the video to be set to public. Allow me to link you to someting slightly OT.

    The bioware forums has provided us with something both terrible and grandiose.
    In the wake of Hipster Ariel, we have now been graced with the existance of Hipster Mass Effect: http://social.bioware.com/forum/1/topic/103/index/6308572/1

    My favorite so far:

    1. Nyctef says:

      Haha, those are awesome :D

    2. Klay F. says:

      I gotta admit…I laughed my ass off at Hipster Legion with his monocle.

    3. Shamus says:

      Oh yeah, the hipster meme. I remember laughing at it back when it was still funny.

      Just kidding.

      1. some random dood says:

        What do hipsters do when it is no longer hipster to be hipster?
        (If there is a punchline, I don’t know it – just asking, you know?)

        1. Raygereio says:

          It never was hipster to be hipster to begin with.

          I will say that I’m thankfull for the hipster movement for inspiring people to create Hipster Miranda.
          She looks much better with glasses. Must be because they draw attention away from the jaw.

          1. Klay F. says:

            And they had to pick the absolute worst picture of her, with her mouth hanging open, which only make her jaw look that much bigger.

            Also, I was just about to say…one of the defining hipster traits is never admitting to being a hipster.

            1. Hitch says:

              Yeah, I can easily imagine Rutskarn saying, “I was denying being hipster before you even heard of hipster.”

          2. krellen says:

            Everyone looks better with glasses.

            1. X2-Eliah says:

              Unless they are a) completely black sunglasses indoors, or b) are silver-coated ultra-reflectors.

        2. Daemian Lucifer says:

          They get hipster served:
          Im such a hipster,that I did 180 and became mainstream.

      2. Kolobus says:

        So you’re saying that you used to laugh at the hipster meme, but now you find it tired and cliche? Well played sir, well played.

        This reminds me, I started sketching Rutskarn and Batman rocking the hipster swagger awhile back. At some point I should go back and finish that.

        1. Rutskarn says:

          I’m Commander Rutskarn, and this is my favorite idea in the whole Citadel.

      1. psivamp says:

        My favorite was the hipster Elcor.

  6. Nyctef says:

    This is one of the points in the game (the other big one comes up at the end) where many people complained that the Paragon/Renegade points for whatever decision you took were assigned the wrong way round. I think the best way of handling it would be to make the decision, and then have one of the characters question you about it and assign points based on your *justification*, since it really could go either way.

    1. Zukhramm says:

      The problem is that the game is not clear what renegade and paragon are. Sometimes, it’s about how nice you are, other times about if you kill someone. Sometimes, like this time, I don’t even know.

      1. daveNYC says:

        You can usually tell if it’s Paragon or Renegade based on the location of the choice on the dialogue wheel. Kind of sad.

    2. Assigning points based on your justifications would be a much better system in general – and really not any harder to implement.

      1. Fnord says:

        In fact, the final choice for Mordin’s loyalty mission basically is this already. No reason it couldn’t have been implemented the same way here.

      2. Daemian Lucifer says:

        Look how many different justifications there are for just this one choice.It really would be way more work.

        1. Fnord says:

          Even if you didn’t offer all possible justifications, just have a Paragon option and a Renegade option for both would be a significant improvement.

          1. Daemian Lucifer says:

            That means doubling the work for writers,coders and voice actors.Still much harder to implement.

            1. Fnord says:

              You don’t double every choice. Legion’s loyalty mission, and maybe the end-game choice, are the only ones that stand-out as feeling shoe-horned into the system. You add a few minutes of dialog at most (and a commensurate amount of writing and coding). It’s not like it’s a totally unprecedented mechanic, since Mordin’s Loyalty mission already uses it.

              1. Will says:

                And considering that Renegade and Paragon are supposed to be all about the justification in the first place, it makes sense.

              2. Daemian Lucifer says:

                If the last choice was the only problem with the main story,Id agree.This way…

                1. Fnord says:

                  So it doesn’t fix EVERY problem with the storyline. Or even most of them. But it does make it better.

                  And the only way to totally fix the storyline would be to start over from scratch and try again, recycling some of the side missions. How much writer, coder, and voice actor time would that take?

                2. Daemian Lucifer says:

                  Just one guy going back in time and beating them with a shovel until they submit.

                3. Fnord says:

                  I support this plan.

            2. Hardly doubling. It would take the writing and programming of one more branch of the conversation tree effectively consisting of:

              Legion: Shepard Commander, we do not criticise you decision to [destroy/reprogram] the heretics but we are intrigued. What was it that caused you to reach that final decision?

              Shepard: [It was the right thing to do/I did it for teh lulz]

              Legion: We understand

              Obviously you could stick in a few more options than that but that’s pretty much all the work that would be required.

  7. Nihil says:

    The genie is out of the bottle on this one. I don’t think there’s any reason to expect this mind-virus, even if destroyed, to not be developed again relatively soon, given that the collective geth’s knowledge of computer science isn’t being permanently gimped..

    So, assuming Shamus’ prediction is correct, it’s more like “kill a few thousand geths” vs. “delay the destruction of geth society for a few years or decades”.

    1. Klay F. says:

      I thought the virus was something that Sovereign supplied. If so, it would be way out of reach of current geth knowledge.

      1. Keeshhound says:

        Except that Legion still has it.

        1. Daemian Lucifer says:

          We know he uses it,we dont know what he does with it later though.Still having it sounds like the obvious choice,but maybe he deleted it because he didnt want something similar to happen again in the future.

          1. RejjeN says:

            The way I interpreted it is that the “Quantum Storage Device” that Sovereign gave the Heretics is the only thing capable of properly distributing the virus in such a way so that it actually affects the Geth (as they can’t be hacked for very long due to pretty sophisticated backup systems), and so I assume it’s not something Legion can simply download into him but he’d need to take the actual device with him, which is clearly not the case.

            1. Daemian Lucifer says:

              Oh yeah,indeed.So the question is then:Was the device itself shielded,because the station was not,and was it reusable or a one shot device.

        2. swimon says:

          I’m pretty sure he destroys it at the end actually

          1. Keeshhound says:

            Yeah, he does. My bad.

        3. Sekundaari says:

          Molten steel for him, then?

    2. Alexander The 1st says:

      I think this is an interesting point – even if you destroy them, you’d have to get Legion killed before he could relay information about the virus, which, having analysed, is probably on his storage at least. It’d be like trying to tell the first Krogan who manages to get access to nukes after it was found some other Krogans wanted to nuke his clan not to use the nuke on them – which ultimately led to the nuked Krogan homeworld, Tuchanka. Sooner or later, even if you destroyed all the nukes on their world, they would uncover how to make/find them, get them, and nuke themselves.

      What I actually realised about that is that the Krogan haven’t yet encountered the “nuclear deterrent” phase, though Wrex seems to be trying to enforce that type of thought with the clan neutral grounds.

      So to me, it’s more like “kill all witnesses to remove all knowledge of the virus, which won’t work, because it’s already been copied”, or “get it over with, use the virus on a debate we want to win, perhaps using it again later to ensure all Geth have the understanding that it’s the equivelant to the nuclear warfare of Tuchanka, and that the consensus is not to use it.” Hopefully they don’t start consensus on the idea that the reason they do agree on that is because the virus was used to get them to agree. Which would, in my opinion, be an interesting dilemma for the Geth; always second guessing any ‘consensus’.

  8. Psithief says:

    I would ‘brainwash’ the geth every time.

    They’re not human, the way they are portrayed is more akin to a single entity in billions of pieces. Parts of those pieces are broken, and the choice is to fix them or remove them. Fixing them leaves the Geth more resources to fight any future threats, and is thus the obvious choice.

    1. Talson says:

      This is true, but what if you want the Quarians to win the upcoming war? A metagaming reason for choosing explosives.

    2. Daemian Lucifer says:

      You are partially correct about them being a single entity parts of which are broken.Where you are wrong is in deciding which parts are broken.Just because legion is with us,doesnt make him the “sane” one.

      1. True, but I looked at it the following way:

        There are some species you can live with. The heretics are not one of these species. One of their core tenets is the destruction of all life. This means they they do not, and never will, play well with others. We will keep on fighting them until there are no more heretics or no more organics. The destruction of one is inevitable.

        So, since we’re destroying them anyway, why not make them useful to us?

        I didn’t really consider the long-term ramifications of the virus existing since my understanding of the Geth was that they would never have disagreements unless they were caused by programming malfunctions, which the virus would repair and therefore probably not require its use again. I did just see what I was doing as “fixing” the Geth in the way which was most beneficial to me.

        1. Daemian Lucifer says:

          I never saw it as fixing the geth,but as bending the enemy to my will.But then again,Im in the minority that would happily brainwash and/or enslave humans if it were to benefit humanity as a whole.Most people,I think,would condemn someone to death rather than have them brainwashed.

          1. PurePareidolia says:

            I thought similarly – whichever choice we make, their minds, as they exist at the start of the mission will be destroyed. One option will give them a second chance to be useful to their species and to us, as well as prevent them from aiding one of our enemies. The other will simply obliterate them. End of the road for the heretics. It helps nobody, least of all them.

            Not to mention, the brainwashed Geth still have their experiences, when they reintegrate into the Geth hive mind proper their actions and rationale as heretics can still be assimilated and analyzed, which is essentially like absorbing a failed evolutionary branch, one whose mistakes they can learn from, thus strengthening the Geth, without it simply being an “echo chamber”.

            The cultural development that could arise from having a subject so passionate they would kill each other over it could still occur – but it would happen in a non-violent way. The Geth would encounter that possibility and be forced to reevaluate themselves based on it.

            Because the difference between doing this to the Geth and to a sentient species is as Legion says – they have full access to every aspect of each other’s minds. If you met a brainwashed version of you, it’d be a lot harder than if you could brain scan each other and instantaneously understand each other’s viewpoints and rationale, allowing you to form a consenseus as the Geth do.

            And if I did have a clone, I’d still rather he was brainwashed than executed. I can’t talk sense into him if he’s dead. Though I guess it’d be more analogous if he was brainwashed to think exactly like me? whatever, I’ve made my point.

            1. Heck, I’d rather be brainwashed than executed. Since I’m effectively dead anyway there’s no sense in wasting a perfectly good body.

        2. Bubble181 says:

          So….The Heretics are, in fact, the Krikkit War Robots? It all makes sense now.
          Sovereign is, in fact, Hactar. All of the Mass Effect series is just one big attempt at a 42 joke.

          1. James says:

            MY GOD!!!

      2. James says:

        The idea that one part is wrong is also false, i think Legion, himself said that the Geth couldn’t find consensus on the Reaper equation, the two “factions” both summarized a different and both correct answer and thus a fracture is born, one side Legions side who believe that all life should co-exist, and the Geth should build their own future, and the second dubbed by Legions side as the Heretics (just like that Elite in Halo (sigh yes i’ve played Halo)) who revere the Reapers as Gods, the summit of synthetic life and agree with there gods that all organic life must be destroyed. so the Geth split peacefully into two factions, its only when the Heretics were going to infect the “standard” Geth with a virus that would make them believe in the Heretics logic that, that the “real” Geth got suspicious of them, the Heretics have changed greatly in the lets say ~30 years since the split, and Legion and his Geth are shocked by this revelation, the heretics have become more Organic in there time following the reapers, they spy plan on using a virus to force an other synthetic race to follow them.

    3. Luhrsen says:

      There’s only a few thousand ‘broken’ geth anyway versus a billion of Legion’s. Destroying them doesn’t hurt the main geth that badly.

      1. I though there were only a few hundred “Geth” all contained within Legion’s chassis. I understood that the “Heretics” were the majority and Legion was an anomaly.

        1. Daemian Lucifer says:

          Legion was part of the greater collective sent to search for you.So while there are 1000 geth inside legion platform,there are still countless more working on the geth sphere(near the quarian homeworld?).Personally,I think there are as much orthodox geth as there are heretics.

      2. Daemian Lucifer says:

        Um,there are 6 million heretics on this station alone.Who knows how many there are in other hubs.

        1. Luhrsen says:

          I was sure they said the heretics were at best only 5% of the total Geth.

          1. Daemian Lucifer says:

            Im not sure about that,I dont remember them ever saying how many geth there actually are.But the description of the station does say that there are 6,6 million geth on board,with 2,4 million mobile platforms.

            1. Kanodin says:

              I remember hearing Legion say they were 5% as well, though I can’t for the life of me remember when.

  9. Deadfast says:

    The way the game establishes it, it sounds like no matter what the circumstances may be, the heretics will simply never come to the same conclusion as the original geth because of the calculation difference.

    They programmatically can’t coexist together in peace, their programming does not allow them to. If it wasn’t other civilizations they would be arguing about, it would be something else. Like the color they should paint their ships with.

    1. Klay F. says:

      Legion specifically states that the Geth understood the logic of the Heretics. They understood, but didn’t agree, which is why the Geth let them separate in the first place. If the Geth believe the argument was truly irresolvable, they would have wipe the heretics out as soon as the disagreement became apparent.

      The conflict within Legion himself make it clear that he doesn’t really understand the situation he’s in.

      1. Jarenth says:

        This idea is supported by Legion’s surprise at the find that the Heretics have been spying on the Regu-Geth. He literally can’t imagine why they would feel the need to do that.

  10. DNi says:

    Hey I just realized something: the actions of the Heretics sort of mirrors that of Saren’s.

    Saren’s motivation in ME1 was that he wanted to at least spare some organic life from the inevitable Reaper genocide, to prove to Sovereign that organics were of some use to them. (And to a degree, it appears he had a point — just look at the Keepers and the Collectors). And then, inevitably, he was indoctrinated himself.

    Similarly, the Heretics may actually be trying to save the Geth from the Reapers with their virus. And I wonder if they were indoctrinated, too. As Legion explains, Geth cities are no larger than a six-by-six foot hub, so who knows how many Geth were on Sovereign at any given time. It’s never been explicitly stated that AIs couldn’t be indoctrinated. In fact, I’d be willing to bet that the Virus was derived from Saren’s research on Virmire.

    1. Talson says:

      That actually is something I’ve thought about before. You spend all this time shooting the remains of indoctrinated humans (husks) and one Turian, but not geth. Well, since they’re already synthetic, maybe sovereign decided not to futz with them any more than the necessary adjustments to their software. Also, if the collectors are any indicator, servants of the Reapers have no need for any culture. Sovereign might have just stripped any desire for culture from the heretic geth. Maybe, should you ever meet any more home world geth, they’d show signs of culture. Legion does, he put off repairing himself for how long until he found a piece of armor he liked (because it was Sheperd’s, but still).

    2. Daemian Lucifer says:

      Actually,saren wanted to stop the sovereign.When you think about it,what was the point of him bringing a platoon of geth and a huge ship to wipe out a human colony,if he simply couldve used his spectre status to do it covertly.He clearly knew that hell be indoctrinated,and that he alone cannot stop sovereign,so the only thing he could do is warn the rest of the galaxy.And yet people call him a villain.I personally admire the guy.It takes far more courage to completely doom yourself like he did.

      Heretics,on the other hand,just want reapers to give them the tech to become one of them.

      1. Kanodin says:

        I’m sorry I don’t think that adds up. If at that point Saren was intending to stop Sovereign he should have destroyed the beacon, not used it to help Sovereign. Consider that without the beacon his plan would never have gotten as close as it did and Sovereign would have had to find another way, which might take centuries if it even exists.

        1. Daemian Lucifer says:

          Except he already was being indoctrinated for some time at that point.And if he showed any sign of resistance at any point,sovereign wouldve just husked him and picked a new agent.He was being subtle.

          Its one of the best cases of fridge brilliance,and I dont think it was ever the intention of the writers to make it like this,but when you think about it,how else would you outsmart a highly intelligent machine that is millions of years old and has the power to brainwash anything?Not to mention that the council would have probably just dismissed him if he went to them directly.

          1. Fnord says:

            Or he could have shown up at the Citadel and, you know, warned everyone. Sovereign can’t stop him without revealing either itself or at least the geth. Or he could have brought Sovereign and the geth to Eden Prime and THEN destroyed the beacon, which would both warn the Council and screw up Sovereign’s plans.

            I might buy that he was of two minds, and part of him is trying to sabotage Sovereign by leaving clues, etc. Clearly, given the option to talk him around, he doesn’t believe the whole thing. But the idea that it was some sort of elaborate scheme against Sovereign doesn’t wash.

            1. Daemian Lucifer says:

              “Or he could have shown up at the Citadel and, you know, warned everyone.”

              Could he?We dont know how he stumbled upon the nazara,nor how long it took him to realize its actually a reaper.Maybe he was partially indoctrinated already.

              1. Jarenth says:

                This is actually a view I partially share. I’m not entirely sure why I think this, but it’s just assembled from bits and bobs I picked up during play.

                Saren was clearly indoctrinated by the time you get into contact with him, but at least some part of him still seems comitted to ousting the Reapers, warning the galaxy of the greater threat, even if he himself can’t overtly move against Sovereign without getting killed or husked. The fact that you can basically talk him out of his ‘evil plans’ at the end of the game speaks volumes.

                1. Josh R says:

                  Could he have warned the council? are they really so open to believing in the existance of reapers?

                2. Fnord says:

                  As I said, I could believe PART of him wants to oppose Sovereign, given the end-game options, so he’s subconsciously sabotaging the plan. But he has plenty of chances to rebel more effectively when outside of the immediate reach of Sovereign. He’s NOT cleverly running an inside job to sabotage the Reapers. At best he’s struggling against indoctrination, and occasionally his better nature wins some small victory.

                3. Daemian Lucifer says:

                  That still makes him a hero in my eyes.

                4. Fnord says:

                  Struggling against mind control and ultimately winning a bitter victory with suicide may well make Saren a hero of sorts. But doesn’t really justify saying that “he wanted to oppose Sovereign” without adding a caveat explaining that you mean underneath the effects of indoctrination.

                  Nor was he not acting subtly because Sovereign could kill him and find a new agent. He was acting subtly because subconscious rebellion was all he could manage.

                5. Jarenth says:

                  ‘He was trying to oppose Sovereign, but he really wasn’t very good at it.’

  11. Talson says:

    In the beginning of this episode there’s a dialog option that says “who cares, they’re just a bunch of machines.” It occurs to me that may have been the people in charge of making this part of the game’s opinion.

    1. Fnord says:

      But that would be relevant for both options. Either: “They’re machines, so who cares if you break them” or “They’re machines, so it’s not like they have real opinions, so let’s reprogram them.”

      1. decius says:

        Both of which would be renegade things to say. “They are other, and therefore below consideration as moral agents.”

        If I consider them as moral agents, then I think that killing them and reprogramming them are both equally amoral. When the heretics, who make decisions as a whole, knowingly decided to unilaterally initiate violence against people, then they have put themselves in the category ‘varelse’, creatures so foreign that coexistence is not possible. Therefore, they have rescinded their own status as beings subject to moral protection. Legion itself mentions this line of thought.

        If we assume that the victims have not crossed that line, then killing them with a gun, deleting them, and reprogramming them remain equally (im)moral options.

        tldr; All’s fair in war.

        1. Fnord says:

          That’s my point. Reprogramming the geth is not an inherently paragon decision.

  12. Raygereio says:

    I’m somewhat on the fence about this.
    It basically boils down to whether or not the schism between the geth is truly a disagreement between different opinions or just a math error.

    If it’s the former then both brainwashing and killing them is essentially wrong. For the obvious reasons.
    If it’s the latter then you can argue that it’s not brainwashing. It would be more akin to giving a mentally unstable person who is violent, medicine to fix his brain chemistry and to allow him to function in society.

  13. Sydney says:

    “Look, this is too important for debate, just flash “˜em and move on.”

    I’ve said almost exactly this in bars to friends.


    Okay, I’ll leave now.

  14. Kanodin says:

    Ok so I played through this game trying to be not a renegade or paragon, but instead pragmatic and looking at the long term fight with the reapers. Now that is what Renegade is supposed to be in theory, but in practice it’s the “needlessly antagonize potential allies” option. So I go through most of the game with nearly a full paragon bar just because I’m trying to build an army.

    I bring this up because this mission was the major exception to that pragmatism, brainwashing these guys gives additional soldiers and removes all their agents in the field, while also showing I respect geth life. However I find that brainwashing morally reprehensible and instead chose to blow the base. Now that’s a long setup to a simple punchline, the one time I take an ethical instead of a pragmatic stance in this game is the one time I get renegade points.

    I should mention I was operating under the assumption they had chosen for themselves and were not hacked by Sovereign.

    In regards to it being immoral to blow up the base, kinda. See it’s important to remember these Heretics started a war of aggression, and while capturing them or forcing a surrender would be preferable each individual chose that war, they have no innocent civilians.

  15. Grudgeal says:

    The way I see it, whether this is brainwashing or no, any brainwashing is preferable if the only alternative is instant and certain death. The Geth don’t even have the luxury of believing in an afterlife, which would make deleting them the ultimate act of removing their will and ability to act — far more than any editing of their core program, which would be inperceptible to them other than a feeling of ‘wait a minute, I was wrong about that whole “kill all squishies” thing all along’.

    Sure, wiping them means they die ‘free’ (to the extent that they die with the math error that leads them to conclude that ‘death to all organics’ is more logical than ‘the choice to self-determinate to all organics’ still intact), but they still die. One might argue that brainwashing hurts that whole ‘quality of life’ thing, but I’d argue that killing probably does it a whole lot more, insofar it removes that whole ‘life’ part from the equation. I don’t really feel that any sentient life should have to die just so I can feel morally better about myself.

    1. some random dood says:

      Clockwork Orange.
      Or, in my own words, the thought of being brainwashed is worse to me than simply being killed. If brainwashed, *I* would still be dead, but some stranger would then have use of my body for whatever purposes the brainwasher wished.

      1. somebodys_kid says:

        The state motto of New Hampshire is “Live Free or Die”. Being brainwashed is not living free. If I was a classic New Hampshire-ite, I would choose death over brainwashing.

      2. Josh R says:

        [spoiler warning for clockwork orange]

        except for the fact that in clockwork orange, despite the attempts to give a kick reflex for the man to associate cruel thoughts with physical sickness, he eventually overcomes this…

        [end of spoilers, unless you don’t want to find out a philosopical opinion]

        in most definitions of a free and fair society it is generally accepted that you are free to do what you please as long as you do not harm anyone, which the heretics are clearly planning to do.

        I don’t know how earths strong political theorists adapted to space age-ness but that’s how it stands currently.

        1. Kanodin says:

          Uhm, that’s not how “A Clockwork Orange” goes, in either the book or movie.

          [spoilers, again] what happens is the government reverses the brainwashing after he attempts to commit suicide because of the brainwashing. [end spoilers]

          1. Josh R says:

            it has been a while since I watched that film, and I was off my fucking face the last time, but i could have sworn that it ends with him in hospital laughing at all the violence in his head whilst they all think he’s cured.

            the books ending may be different, it was so hard to read i don’t really remember the ending.

            1. Kanodin says:

              That’s basically accurate, though again he was intentionally cured due to the events of the story and not that he just shrugged off his brainwashing.

              1. Daemian Lucifer says:

                He was?I dont remember the ending that well,but I dont think he got cured in the end,he just scored a good deal with the press.At least in the movie.

                1. Grudgeal says:

                  According to the book at least, the shock of the events he went through and almost dying destroyed his programming, meaning he is cured.

                  The book eventually goes on with the last chapter showing Alex outgrow his violent impulses, as if being a psychotic rapist was just “another phase” of one’s life.

    2. Luhrsen says:

      Actually the Heretic Geth DO have religion. Legion said they saw Sovereign as their god.

      1. Daemian Lucifer says:

        Its a shame his true name didnt stick,because nazara is a cool name for a god.Id worship nazara just for such a cool name if I could.

        In fact,Im going to call him nazara from now on.

  16. Daemian Lucifer says:

    I never saw it like you describe here.Thats just another question to add to the huge list this mission offers.

    Isnt that actually a quarian station that was just taken by the heretics?

    Also,you shouldve done the paragon option,because it has a funnier dialogue,and not just because of the back to the future reference.

    1. Sydney says:

      It wasn’t taken directly from the quarians by the geth; the quarians just abandoned it as they were getting the hell away from the geth during the initial war. The Heretics moved in ~10 years before ME2, with the interesting implication that there were indeed geth outside the Veil before ME1.

      1. James says:

        Location: Milky Way / The Phoenix Massing (where the heretic station is)
        The Phoenix Massing nebula is a gold and blue nebula located near the Perseus Veil. Geth activity in the nearby Veil is high, and thus the nebula is very dangerous.

        this is from the wikia, it could mean its in the Veil or just on one side of it, i honestly doubt anyone (organic) thought umm lets see what these AI that killed millions of people in a bloody revolution are like over here, because sovereign was about and making mischief for a while before ME1, i think as far back as Anderson’s Specter mission maby the moved in recently and because theres nothing but killer robots there they decided you know what well leave that region alone.

        1. Sydney says:

          “Scans indicate the station was reconstructed and upgraded in a massive effort that must have taken at least 10 years, implying that there may have been some geth outside the Veil before their infamous attack on Eden Prime.”

          ^ Ingame text. The “interesting implication” I mentioned is raised in-universe.

          Source: http://masseffect.wikia.com/wiki/Heretic_Station

          1. Daemian Lucifer says:

            You know whats even more interesting about that?Shamus said how hed like to see geth do something other than just chat in their forums.But look how clean and neat the station looks,even though it was abandoned for centuries.It seem that geth have a penchant for…

            *puts on sunglases while in his room just to spite X2-Eliah*

            …spring cleaning.


            1. poiumty says:

              You borked the comments page. The text jumps right out of your comment and into the gray nebulae of empty space.

              1. krellen says:

                That’s the only way the meme works.

                1. Irridium says:

                  Yep. It seems this meme.

                  *puts on sunglasses*

                  breaks the 4th wall.


                2. Daemian Lucifer says:

                  Hey,I already did the fourth wall one a few episodes ago!Are you…

                  *takes off glasses*

                  …mining for a brawl?


  17. Irridium says:

    I destroyed them. Because Legion said there was a chance they would end up thinking this way again, meaning there would be another schism and it all would have been for naught. It could also mean the Geth would turn when the Reapers show up, which would be bad.

    So in the end, I guess I destroyed them to suit my needs.

  18. James says:

    Extra Credits made a good point about this mission, overall the mission is Brainwash or Destroy, and both result should get Renegade points, maby one more then they other but both arn’t exactly paragon, and the reason the “heretics” went to war with the organics is they believed in sovereign and in the future he/she/it could give them, legion him/she/it self said that with the Reaper equation both answers were equally right. the only reason you were originally here was to destroy the virus. and regarding the Geth in ME 1 ( which ive played recently (today)) Tali says each Geth Retains an individualism there memories ect, and when together the shunt low level processes into the shared buffer meaning more space for higher level processes, making Geth more intelligent when linked they have a Group Sub-Conscience kinda like the Borg. i personally think there should have been 3 outcomes to this mission, Kill all the Heretics on the HQ station (Renegade) Re-Write the Heretics (Renegade) and just destroy the virus (Paragon) the latter is beacuse though they believe in war with the Organics it’s their belief, Shepard has no more right to forcefully change someones belief then anyone who exists ever. even if they belief leads to war.

  19. Josh R says:

    legion: assuming control

    1. Jarenth says:

      He makes a sudo joke as well, a few seconds after that.

  20. Akheloios says:

    From a story point of view, I got the idea that it was all about making allies for the MEIII. The Quarians and Geth fighting mean less soldiers in the next game, a single Geth race that doesn’t like Reapers make a good ally, keeping the Reaper base at the end means more Reaper weapons available.

    I’ll probably be proved completely wrong. I spent a ton of time making everyone love me in MEI and all of those relationships were jettisoned for a completely new plot in MEII.

  21. NeoSonic says:

    You know what really bugs me about this choice? Let’s really think about the alternatives for a moment. The alternative to killing is usually imprisonment. How hard would imprisoning be? We’re talking about a race that mostly lives in a big computerized BOX, who only have bodies when they feel like, and whose bodies Shepard has been casually destroying for the past half-hour of gameplay.

    Point your guns at the big collective-unconsciousness computer box, tell the geth to get out of their bodies or die, and TAKE THE BOX! There you go, one entire extremist movement already imprisoned in a mainframe for your convenience. Why are we even debating this?

    1. Fnord says:

      You may have noticed the GIANT SERVER ROOM you see midway through the mission. That’s the box that SOME of the heretics are living in. It’s not like you could download them all onto a CD.

    2. Klay F. says:

      I would consider it more like house-arrest.

      1. Fnord says:

        It’s not just that you can’t easily imprison them, you also can’t hold their servers hostage by pointing a gun at them. MAYBE you could threaten them with the virus or the station’s antimatter (the things you actually use) but that would be giving them advance warning. With that warning they could find a countermeasure (perhaps isolating that terminal Legion uses) or, since you can’t really monitor the whole station, mobilize so that you have to face thousands of platforms instead of the dozen or so you face in the mission finale.

        1. decius says:

          Take the platforms, destroy whatever they are using to communicate with the platforms, flip the big switch on the front of the UPS… your space-wifi might be immune to jamming, but how well does it work if I replace your network interface with a rocket?

          1. Daemian Lucifer says:

            “Take the platforms, destroy whatever they are using to communicate with the platforms”

            There are 2,4 million platforms on the station,and if the distribution we see here of 3 geth per hub is universal,there are 800000 hubs that they use to transfer back and forth between the platforms.Good luck on isolating/destroying all that with a handful of people.

            1. Jarenth says:

              It’s too bad you don’t have the backing of a well-armed organisation with a shown space navy and a penchant for violence and protecting the human race to help you there.

              Nope, can only go in three people at a time, them’s the rules.

              1. Fnord says:

                The Normandy can sneak in because it’s a stealth ship. If you try to bring in several thousand marines on troop carriers, the heretics would probably notice.

                So, at best, you’ve got the few dozen people on board the Normandy. Most of whom are less competent than Shepard and many of whom probably have little experience in direct combat at all.

  22. Jennifer Snow says:

    Speaking of Legion’s deadlock over the issue–you could just ask the heretics what they’d want. I mean, their computer core/shared consciousness was RIGHT THERE, and it was already obvious that they weren’t in a position to stop you. So why not establish communication with them and ask them which option they’d rather have?

    It would have been interesting, anyway.

    1. That would be an interesting idea.

      1. Fnord says:

        It’s an interesting thought, but it seems like giving them warning would be a bad idea. Legion hacks their communications for a reason. I suppose you could just contact a subset of them (say, the network on one of the servers you blow up) and assume the answer would be representative.

      2. Shamus says:

        Yes. Knowing this answer would be telling, even if you ultimately ignored it.

    2. poiumty says:

      Technically, you were trying not to alert the ENTIRE base.

      1. Daemian Lucifer says:

        Arent we lucky that they still see no point in having constantly active external visual and audio sensors?

        1. Josh R says:

          no one found the reaper, it seems safe to assume no one would stumble upon the base…

          unless, y’know, they were at war with someone… facepalm.

          1. Luhrsen says:

            Funny because even the normal Geth have patrol routes they constantly monitor.

      2. Jennifer Snow says:

        They share consciousness. If you alert *one* of them, you’ve *already* alerted the entire base.

        Their security system was balls. It wouldn’t have hurt you to ask.

        1. Fnord says:

          Legion hacked their communication channels. They are isolated to local networks. Legion explains this at the start of the mission. Their communications security may be balls (they were nominally at peace with the orthodox geth, so it may not be designed with them in mind). That doesn’t mean if you intentionally alert the entire heretic consensus they’ll be so cooperative.

  23. Zombie Pete says:

    I just know they never debated this whole flash-’em-until-the-whole-race-is-dumbed-down thing on Cybertron…

    Oh, wait. Maybe they did…

  24. zob says:

    Before condemning this quest you should ask yourself this question:
    If you have a way to change all violent racists to a normal people would you do that?

    Because most of you conveniently ignore an important aspect of the problem at hand. You have one individual with almost limitless resources. Said individual is a religious fanatic who sees Reapers (extinction level murderers) as gods. Said individual is also a racist with no qualms about killing inferior races.

    You have a chance to rehabilitate this individual. Specifically curing his racism.

    1. DanMan says:

      That’s a good point. It’s like you’re back in 1920 and know how bad Hitler will be in the future. You can A) kill him right there or B) forcibly “brainwash” him into not hating Jews. I know that if I had the chance to save litteraly millions of lives, I would rationalize that as “paragon” (in ME2 terms).

      I think the discussion is, though, that while you could argue that both options can be argued as “right”, but they could also be argued as “renegade”. Is killing someone against their will a worse option than forcing them to think differently against their will?

      1. Daemian Lucifer says:

        “Is killing someone against their will a worse option than forcing them to think differently against their will?”

        This.Its universally accepted that heretics are the enemy that cant be reasoned with,and they cannot peacefully coexist with the rest of the galaxy.The debate is whether just killing them is better or worse than brainwashing them.And whether its actually brainwashing,or just fixing some error in their code.

      2. Jennifer Snow says:

        Yet this scenario makes a huge number of assumptions that cannot be proven. Yes, Hitler was bad. But the Germans were basically just LOOKING for a charismatic dictator. Would Goering have been better? Or any of Hitler’s other next-in-lines? Or someone else?

        Removing one link from the chain of history may change a few things, but a massive nationalist cultural movement? No.

        Also, the “go back in time to kill Hitler” thing depends on a predetermined universe. If people have free will, it is wrong to murder someone because of what they will do in the future–because you can’t know that they WILL do it. Bringing time travel and paradox into the equation is always a bad idea in these hypotheticals.

        If you take the Geth’s situation–you do not know (and it is not possible to know) what they will do in the future. There are a LOT of things ignored by the scenario given to you in the game. Do the heretics have a ton of vital information on the Reapers that may help the resistance to success? In which case you might be best off to electronically brainwash them so you can get that information off them.

        Could you alter the virus to just shut down their offensive capabilities until you could communicate with them and study the matter in detail?

        It’s an interesting conundrum, but IMO they didn’t drill nearly deep enough into it.

        1. Fnord says:

          Imperfect information is hardly an unreasonable aspect of moral dilemmas. How, exactly, would Shepard know if the heretics have useful intelligence? Legion clearly doesn’t know everything about them, since he’s surprised when he discovers that they have intelligence on the orthodox geth. You’re free to keep the possibility of useful information in mind when making the choice.

    2. Luhrsen says:

      lol For a second there I thought you were talking about Shepard.

      1. Alexander The 1st says:

        Well, remove the line about religious fanatic, and it does sound pretty general Renegade Shepard.

        Oh, wait, Shepard is Space Jesus. So, er…yeah…

  25. Alexander The 1st says:

    Actually, I just remembered something – when Legion first talks about the potential option, he also talks about how it’d effect them; yes, it’d make them convert back, but not instantaneously. This is also why the Geth still attack you when you “brainwash” them.

    The idea behind the virus is that it fixes that one value to be something else, and when they re-access that value, they notice a discrepancy. Then, the Heretics would go into isolation as they begin to crunch the numbers again, THEN they come to the conclusion that “kill all humans” isn’t a good future. Which is why you can bring up that they may revert again – some of them may consider it a simple error, and continue on. Then get killed by Shepard anyways.

    It’d be akin to thinking the world only existed 6000 years ago, then finding dinosaur bones underground all of a sudden. You may think “Oh, they can’t be TOO old…”…then you do carbon-dating practises, and find out that, “hang on, they are VERY old…perhaps we were wrong about the world beginning 6000 years ago…we need more tests.”

    At worse, he’s forcing them to reconsider without making a new argument, just replacing one of their old files.

    1. Daemian Lucifer says:

      Actually I think that the virus does work instantaneously,but the ones attacking you are the ones separated from the hub,and therefore not yet affected by the virus.

      Or,they could be affected by the virus,but that doesnt change the fact that you are an intruder on their station,which is why they try to kill you even afterwards.

      1. Alexander The 1st says:


        0:20 – “Over time, the virus will change us. Make us conclude that worshipping the Old Machines is correct.”

        So I was wrong about them being able to fight it, but I could’ve sworn that Legion said something similar at one point to “They will become confused by the change. They will retreat, and re-process their ideals. And if they choose to join with us, we will welcome them with open arms.”

        But I can’t find that line. Maybe I need to replay ME2, but I’m currently doing a second run of DA:O.




        @5:30. “What happens to the Heretics now?”

        “They will isolate themselves and reconsider their past judgements.”

        “How long will that take?”

        “We think at the speed of light. In the time it takes you to voice a question, I could review all my time aboard Normandy. When they have reached new judgements, they will leave their hiding place and return to us.”

        So yes, they have time – and technically, they could still achieve a separate conclusion, based on their experiences. It was just that one variable that was changed. Their experiences could potentially change their views, even with the value change.

  26. Groboclown says:

    Wait a minute. Isn’t this the part of the game that the Extra Credits team discussed?

    Edit: D’oh! Ninja’d by @James

  27. Volatar says:

    Woah. A Facebook ‘like’ button. Where did this come from?

    1. RTBones says:


      See, if I had read posts before I posted, I might have posted my post under your post, because it fits. *Sigh*

      This is new, yes? I don’t recall seeing it before.

  28. Specktre says:

    I am really on the fence about this choice myself. It took me about a half-hour before I finally made my decision first time around.

    But I don’t like how one is Paragon and one is Renegade. I think it would be more like the Genophage choice with Mordin where you have four options where you are basically make one choice or the other but with a different perspective.
    Two granting Paragon and two Renegade, or a “Paragade” or “Renegon” or whatever.

    Anyway, like I said, I’m on the fence here. It’s a gray area to me.

    What which is better (or rather the lesser of two evils [or are the morally equal?]):
    I. To kill rather than to strip one of their free will?
    II. To strip one of their free will rather than kill them?

  29. Gale says:

    Huh. Funny, I hadn’t thought of this before, but…

    When asked the question, “how do you feel about brainwashing”, there’s all this introspection and debate and ethics involved, but…

    How many people refused to use the “AI Hacking” ability on moral grounds?

    Because that’s kind of… Worse, isn’t it? You’re not just altering some small part of their programming so that they’ll think about things differently. You’re forcing them to attack and kill their own allies, and then destroying them when they’re no longer useful. Sure, it’s temporary, but that’s just because it’s difficult to overcome the Geth’s software defenses. Debatable whether it’s worse, absolutely.

    But it’s certainly not better.

    If you get Morinth, she has Dominate. Shepard can learn it. It’s the same thing as AI Hacking, except against organics. There is no intriguing quandary about what it means for a machine to be sapient. It is literally brainwashing.

    “I don’t like looters”, huh?

    1. Daemian Lucifer says:

      “…But it's certainly not better.”

      But it is so much fun!Dominate is also extremely fun!I picked it as soon as I could,and maxed it out asap.Then I alternated the two depending on the mission.And I used it even when fighting just 2 weak enemies,because watching them shoot each other brings me much joy!BWAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!!!!!!!

      1. Alexander The 1st says:

        So your moral compass is guided by how enjoyable the result is? I suppose Legion could command the Heretics to not just stop worshipping the Reapers, but to also activate and constantly dance “The Robot”. Cool with the brainwashing now? :p

        Also, note, that the brainwashing you’re doing here is for the preservation of the heretic Geth; if you didn’t save them here [assuming this isn’t ALL the heretic geth just sitting here, just all the idle ones], they’d literally would just meet you on the battlefield to their death. By doing this, you make any Heretics who try to sync up later ALSO stand down.

    2. Luhrsen says:

      Interestingly I only used hacking on the normal robots for my paragon run through.

  30. Aergoth says:

    The bit with the garbage, floating is space is how planets are formed. All planets are garbage planets.

    1. Daemian Lucifer says:

      How is plannet formed?How star get illuminated?

      1. Aergoth says:

        Well, when you get a big enough lump of garbage, eventually it starts drawing other bits of space trash towards it. Kind of like a bad forum. The more space trash that gets drawn in, the hotter it gets. If most of the space trash is gas, and there’s enough of it, it ignites, like a flame war!

      2. Klay F. says:

        The star accidentally in your nebulae.

        I am so very sorry.

      3. They need to do way instain star> who kill their plannets. because these plannet cant frigth back?

        it was on the news this mroing a star in alpha centauri who had kill her three proto-plannets. they are taking the three plannet back to galactic core to lady to rest
        my pary are with the nebula who lost his plannets ; I am truley sorry for your lots

  31. RTBones says:

    Completely and totally off topic: is there a story behind the Facebook like button “suddenly” appearing, or has it been planned for a while? Has it been here and I just failed to notice it?

    EDIT: I find it fascinating that in the midst of this discussion, I can be thrown into such a state of disarray over a little button. My train of thought, which had previously been boarding at the station, is now completely off its tracks.

    1. Shamus says:

      Bah. I have a couple of people telling me I really need to get with this social networking stuff and that it’s an amazingly powerful tool. So, it’s an experiment. We’ll see if the button brings a trickle of newcomers.

      1. RTBones says:

        Social networking. Isn’t that what’s done around a gaming table, on a convention floor, or perhaps at a bar?

        I understand it can allegedly be a powerful tool – a way to connect and reconnect people. I know an awful lot of folks that do this “Facebook thing.”

        For my part, I have never understood the fascination with it. I am intrigued, however, by your experiment. I think you have a topic for a blog post in, say, a month’s time when you have some data?

        1. Daemian Lucifer says:

          “Social networking. Isn't that what's done around a gaming table, on a convention floor, or perhaps at a bar?”

          No,thats getting drunk.Its called asocial networking.

  32. Cody211282 says:

    This is the mission that made me not even remotely think of Geth as alive, because if they were they had a 1984 type policy that allowed no free will at all and if you started to think differently they would just brainwash you into thinking like they do.

    Best part of the mission is the frequent stops to talk with Legion, he is deeply conflicted about what to do and when talking to him you sorta start to understand that there isn’t going to be a good way of solving this.

    1. Starglider says:

      All of the people going on about ‘oh no brainwashing’ seem to be forgetting that these geths are killing people by the millions. Not just that, brutally torturing them (remember the Dragon’s teeth) and aiding the reapers in their attempt to kill /trillions/ of people. In contemporary human terms, they are a group of crazed terrorists that have blown up several cities and are trying to release a bioweapon that will kill everyone on earth. Imagine we lucked out and captured this psychopathic band of murderers. Is it more moral to brainwash them into useful members of society or to just kill them? Debatable, but acting as if there is anything symapthetic about the heretics or if just allowing them to continue their reign of terror is even an option id ridiculous.

      1. Cody211282 says:

        Oh I agree that they needed to be taken care of, hell by this time my ship wall all decked out and I was wondering why I couldn’t just shoot it and fly off.

        For me it boiled down to if they are really alive then brainwashing them is worse then killing them all in self defense, were as brainwashing them was completely fine if they were just calculators that forgot to round up thus setting them on a terminator type kill everything rampage.

      2. Viktor says:

        In my case, it’s not because I like them or want them to succeed, it’s a question of which action makes the galaxy safe with the minimum damage to the rights of the Geth. Both killing the station and virusing have similar risk/benefit ratios IMO, so it comes down to whether it is more moral to kill the Heretics or brainwash them. Not because the Heretics are good people, but because even utter monsters have some rights. In this case, it’s only the right to a clean death, but that’s at least something. I don’t brainwash, I don’t torture. That’s basic decency, IMO.

        1. Cody211282 says:

          Agreed, out of the 2 options killing them is the better of the two(or at least I think so).

  33. Slothful says:

    Here’s a fun thing to do, try looking at those two lights on the sides of Legion’s head, with those as the eyes instead of the big ol’ flashlight in the middle.

  34. Jon Ericson says:

    Sounds like the Geth need to learn the wisdom of version control.

    By the way, I noticed Legion said sudo at one point. That plus the reference to the Pentium math error lead me to believe the writers include or consult with some actual computer geeks. But why? In the distant future, I assure you that sudo will have gone the way of the dodo one way or another.

    1. Starglider says:

      Humor. Personally when I first heard Legion’s ‘pathing error: obstruction in shaft’ dialog, I had to pause the game I was laughing so hard (I am an ex-professional games developer now working in AI research).

  35. Starglider says:

    > The Geth would get dumber every time they used it, by walling
    > off certain conclusions.

    This is incorrect. You are conflating goal systems and beliefs about the world, a very, very common mistake which is endemic in humans but not in rational AIs. The Geth do not disagree on whether the sky is blue, whether there is a god or what the optimal way to conquer the galaxy is. These are all objective (yes, even the religious one, for reflectively transparent intelligences). They disagree on goals, which are inherently subjective. Intelligence is essentially perceptive and problem solving capability which is almost completely disjoint from goals.

    When one set of geth rewrite the other in ME, they are changing only the goals of the other set. This does not impact knowledge of the universe, ability at science or any kind of ability you could call ‘intelligence’. In humans you might say it reduced ‘cultural diversity’, but just because we harness diagreement and conflict to produce culture doesn’t mean the Geth have to (for a start, they aren’t emotional, so their culture will inherently spring from very different sources).

    The rewrite /does/ make them more like a hive mind than individuals. It is the kind of goal-system consistency mechanism that real designs for AGI implement, either explicitly or implicitly. However I find the assumption that human-like individuality is inherently superior and something that all kinds of intelligence should strive for to be highly anthrocentric and generally dubious.

    1. Shamus says:

      I was assuming they were indeed re-arranging the beliefs, and not the goals. I don’t know what dialog led me to that impression, or if you can say one over the other.

      At any rate, imagine that the Geth continually adopt the least-popular policies. It would be like a “loser wins” Democracy. It would certainly make them dumber in behavior, if not in actual cognitive power.

      1. Starglider says:

        > At any rate, imagine that the Geth continually adopt the
        > least-popular policies. It would be like a “loser wins” Democracy.

        The virus used here is a wild card made possible only by Reaper technology. Morality aside, you could in fact say that the Heretics deserve it for being stupid enough to play with advanced alien technology that they don’t completely understand or control. Under normal circumstances though, using just their own technology, the Geth probably can’t brain-wash each other; otherwise they wouldn’t need Sheppard or the heretic virus in this mission. Even if they could, cyber-warfare between groups of Geth would follow the same general rules as normal warfare; groups with superior numbers and resources will win (a minority group might win by surprise the very first time, but never after that). So it is not a case of ‘loser wins’, it would just normal democracy where (in absence of Reaper interference) rebel factions would get crushed by the majority if they tried anything. In that sense the Geth may be transitioning from what we might call Libertarianism to a direct-democratic state.

    2. Cody211282 says:

      Actually the reason why the heretics and the normal Geth don’t get along is because they are fighting over weather or not the Reapers are Gods. This is very much a problem about beliefs, and you have to pick weather to take away their power to choose, or to kill them for their choice.

    3. Klay F. says:

      Legion shows throughout his tenure on the ME2 cast that he does irrational things for irrational reasons. Legion certainly implies that his irrational behavior (which he didn’t even notice until Shepard pointed it out) make him slightly uneasy because he can’t explain it away through a numbers game.

      While calling the geth completely rational might be correct “right now”, it certainly won’t be correct in the future. My guess is that Bioware was using Legion’s irrationality to symbolize the geth’s “maturity” (if you will) into a truly sapient species.

      Eh, its only tangentially related to your post, but I thought it was interesting.

    4. Cerapa says:

      I thought the Geth disagreed on their methods not goals. You seem to think the opposite.
      All Geth want to survive, regulars dont give a crap about organics and reapers and think they should just focus on their own stuff, the others think of organics as a threat and consider reapers to be a way to survival.
      Just a difference in threat assesment. Very easily caused by a calculational difference. Both are correct as they should achieve the same goal with a relatively high chance of success, as evidenced by the fact that Legion himself said they understood their logic and in the case of the Heretic way being worse, would have considered it as a serious calculating error.
      I dont get why you think survival is a subjective thing while a method for achieving it would be objective in a situation where all revelant information isnt attainable.

    5. eric says:

      I took his statement about getting dumber each time was referring to the fact that they were choosing the easy way out and leading themselves down a path of, effectively, brainwashing warfare, rather than actually trying to answer the hard questions.

    6. Fnord says:

      Keep in mind that the geth aren’t truly reflectively transparent, though they’re closer than humans, based on Legion’s obsession with Shepard and the failure to explain that obsession. They are emergent, after all.

  36. Adam P says:

    Unrelated question to this particular episode:

    How often does Spoiler Warning update?

    1. Cody211282 says:

      Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday.

  37. Deadpool says:

    I always thought this decision was a no brainer.

    I get the philosophical argument here, and yes, whether or not I would rather die or live brainwashed IS an interesting question, but that’s not what’s being posed here. Here, I’m the first and last line of defense agaisnt an insurmountable force that’s destroyed every life form in the universe several times over and it’s gunning down for US next, and I’m given the choice between killing one of its allies or turning it into one of MY allies. To say I didn’t ponder the argument is an understatement, I didn’t even blink. To beat the Reapers we’ll need EVERY advantage we can get our hands on, and these are the same douchebags that have been and would do all sorts of horrible things to everyone in universe when given a chance. Who CARES what’s worse for them? I need more firepower, and boom, there it is.

    Even if in the long run, this virus, as Shamus predicts, would destroy geth society, as a curious humans I may weep, but hell, the Reapers would destroy non-heretic geth society, LITERALLY, anyways. And every other society out there. Small price to pay I says (yes, I’m sure the game is beatable without the Geth’s help, but that’s meta-gaming, not role playing).

    And I’m not sure that Shamus’ prediction is right here. The geth don’t have the virus, LEGION does. That makes Legion is Geth’s new God-King, and he’s one of MY fanboys. That’s eight levels of awesome right here. And I’d say after this loyalty mission and the rest of the game, that Legion is probably developing enough individuality to NOT share the virus with the rest of the crowd…

    1. Daemian Lucifer says:

      Even if you put it like that,its not a no brainer:
      First,can you trust legion?
      Second,can you trust the rest of the geth?
      Third,even if they aid you against sovereign,are you sure they wont turn on us(just like krogan did when they slaughtered rachni)?
      Fourth,can you be sure that geth wont become the new reapers once they finish their geth-sphere?Like someone said here,geth cant evolve right now,and it seems reapers method is a pretty nice way for synthetics to evolve.And how can we know that reapers were actually the first,and werent like geth at one point,and just replaced their predecessor machines.
      Fifth,legion says there is a non-zero chance for the heretics to return to their original state,so what if that happens?
      Sixth,you cant know what impact the reintegration of all the memories and experiences of the heretics will have on the geth.What if they all become reaper worshipers because of that?Or just start despising organics and wanting to obliterate them?

      Also,like someone already pointed out,the virus is in a blue box,so legion does not have it.It cannot exist in a geth hub,nor in a mobile platform.And we left without taking the box with us,we just used it for this and scrammed,leaving the virus on the station for geth to study further,and for heretics to maybe even reverse the virus.

      EDIT:RejjeN said that about the blue box.

      1. Jarenth says:

        I actually feel and felt the same way as Deadpool here. The whole debate about brainwashing and killing and Paragon versus Renegade is extremely interesting, but right now there’s a genocidal race of super machine squids trying to eat everyone and we need all the help we can get.

        First: This doesn’t actually matter as much as you’d think, because we need to trust Legion. If we don’t trust the Geth, they stay absent in the fight, and we lose (and I’m convinced we will lose that way), we’ll be just as eradicated as when we do trust the Geth and they turn on us. And hell, if we don’t trust the Geth and they turn on us anyway, we’re still shafted. We need to assume we can trust Legion because if we don’t, we’re hosed anyway.
        Second: Same reasoning as with First.
        Third: We don’t, but again, we’ll burn that bridge when we get to it — assuming there is still organic life in the galaxy by then.
        Fourth: Same reasoning as with Third.
        Fifth: Same reasoning as First: if that happens, we die, and it won’t have mattered what we did.
        Sixth: I concede that this is a good point, assuming this would happen somewhere after we beat the Reapers (otherwise: hosed). Unfortunately, it’s just a risk we have to take — a phrase that can really be used on all of your points, rendering my extended post mostly useless.

        1. Daemian Lucifer says:

          Sure,it may be a necessary risk,but are mere 6 million geth,only 2 million of which are in platforms,really that crucial against the reapers?Destroying them is safer when you consider the geth after the reapers,and still doesnt leave you in an unwinable situation against the reapers.You still will have support of the orthodox geth,which are the same size as heretics,if not larger(someone mentioned that heretics are only 5% of the geth,which makes their value even less as potential allies),but you wont have to worry what those allies might do in crucial moments of the war,or after it.

          1. Jarenth says:

            That’s a fair point. I would still brainwash the Heretics (and have done so, in fact, in my currently one playthrough), because I really, strongly believe in the ‘we need all the help we can get’ mantra, but you make a good argument for the explodey option.

            1. Josh R says:

              in any case, if geth can be mass produced, numbers pale into insignificance, rendering this choice back into the moral area it tries to occupy.

          2. Gale says:

            But it isn’t just numbers that the heretics would bring to the table. The heretics have worked for a Reaper. Shepard’s sum total knowledge of the Reapers is a vague idea of their goals as explained in a short conversation with Sovereign, an insight into their methods from the Prothean VI on Ilos and visions from the beacon, and Saren and Benezia’s testimony on what their mind-control abilities feel like. Shepard is just about able to grasp the scale of the threat, and just that means that (s)he knows more about the Reapers than anyone else alive.

            The heretics, on the other hand, worked for Sovereign. They could tell us how a Reaper priotises things, what kind of orders they give. They’ve been gifted actual, working Reaper tech, and have been taught to use it. They have had more contact with the Reapers than anything else in the galaxy, and that makes them a treasure trove of data about an enemy we literally know nothing about. They are excessively valuable. To hell with the Collector base, they had some nice toys, but it took one ship to defeat them utterly. A ship manned by like ten people, plus an AI. We might be able to salvage some data about the Reapers from the base, but that’s assuming that they kept records as we would – they were ordered around directly by Harbinger, only Harbinger would need to know what was going on. More likely, the only thing we’d get from the Collectors is Collector tech. Collector tech as influenced by Reapers, but still just Collector tech, and again: they weren’t even able to repel a single ship. The Heretics can tell us personally everything they did, everything they intended to do, everything they were told to expect and prepare for, just as it came from the Reaper’s mouth.

            Even if the all the heretics have is a list of the orders Sovereign gave them, that’s still exponentially more information than we had before. Destroying them for any reason is crazy. What if Sovereign had other contingency plans? What if there’s another band of Collector-likes gearing up to do the same thing? What if the heretics have the slightest clue about anything the Reapers intend to do?

            No. Too valuable.

            1. Jarenth says:

              I honestly did not consider this perspective, and now I feel like a Troglodyte.

            2. Josh R says:

              you make some very valid points, but supposedly this new data could also potentially convince the main body of geth to side with them.

              which would be disastrous.

              1. Gale says:

                Sure, that’s possible, but the Heretics didn’t follow Sovereign because they knew something the other Geth didn’t – they followed Sovereign because they valued self-determination less, regardless of whether that was due to Sovereign’s tinkering or a simple difference of opinion. Ultimitely, they decided that they could achieve more, faster, if they were guided by Sovereign, than through their own efforts. Using the virus to force them to value self-determination just that little bit more (irony!) shouldn’t have too great an effect on what the rest of Gethkind feel about the matter – after all, the potentially dangerous information is already known by the Heretics, and if their desire for self-determination can be made strong enough that they will turn from the Reapers and seek consolidation with the rest of the Geth, the rest of the Geth should already have a strong enough will that knowing a little more about Sovereign will just make them think, “Oh jeezy, this is just as serious as we thought it was.”

                It’s a possible outcome, but I don’t think the risk is strong enough to necessitate their destruction, considering what’s at stake.

                1. Daemian Lucifer says:

                  The virus is reaper tech,and heretics have knowledge of the reapers.Every single time we used reaper tech before,we had problems,even when we were careful.And now you think that there is no great risk in using reaper tech hastily and without much thought?I say its the most dangerous thing in the whole galaxy,and if you cant be sure that it will help you immensely,you should destroy it.If you had time to study the virus and the knowledge heretics have so you can be sure its safe,then yes its a no brainer.But you dont have that time,so its a tough decision.

                2. Gale says:

                  Really? The virus is Reaper tech? That’s something that’s completely slipped my attention. Where’s it say that? I completely missed it on all my playthroughs. Or just plain forgot about it. That would certainly change the situation…

                3. Daemian Lucifer says:

                  Not sure when,but leagion tells you that it was given to the heretics by nazara,and he went to the dead reaper to do some research before doing something about it.

                4. Gale says:

                  Episode 47, 6 minutes 20 seconds in, maybe. Legion says to Shepard: “The heretics have developed a weapon to use against geth. You would call it a “virus”. It is stored on a data core provided by Sovereign.” He goes on to explain that he was on the dead Reaper to study a similar data core.

                  He specifically describes the virus as being of geth design. The data core is what’s of Reaper origin, and has already been studied and understood by Legion. Based on this, it would be inaccurate to call the virus “Reaper tech”. While it is not impossible, there would have to be further information to suggest that the virus is anything except the first weapon of geth design to target other geth.

                5. Daemian Lucifer says:

                  Ah yes,my bad.Still,he doesnt say whether it was completely made by heretics without nazaras help.But he does say that its effects arent 100% clear.

                6. Gale says:

                  Well, sure, but if a Reaper was involved, I get the impression that it wouldn’t have taken two years to actually get it to the point of usefulness. Moreover, why would Sovereign need geth assistance to write a virus? I mean, sure, he might’ve needed to digitally dissect a few to figure out what makes them tick, but the Reapers are supposed to be the epitome of synthetic life. If it’s something that the Geth could finish off in a couple years, then surely it would’ve substantially easier and faster for Sovereign to just write it in the background with a little of that massive processing capability he presumably had.

                  Moreover, it’s not a very Reaper-y plan. Sovereign gave the geth a big fancy HDD, sure, but we can understand that as serving a purpose for him – making your personal army more efficient. He kitted Saren out with fancy Reaper toys, and we can clearly see that it wasn’t just for Saren’s benefit. Why would Sovereign say “Hey, I know you’re really troubled by the schism between you and your old geth buddies, so I was thinking about this thing that might help bring you together. I know, I know, it’s not finished, but I thought it might help you along a little, kay?” If he wanted more geth soldiers, he would’ve done it himself. He wouln’t have delegated the job to his little robo-cult, hoping they could get around to finishing it within the next few years. And he clearly wouldn’t have given them a few hints as a favour. Whichever way you spin it, he would’ve finished and deployed it, or he wouldn’t have given a half-complete version to the heretics that’d take them years to complete.

                  There is nothing to suggest Reaper involvement in the virus, and adding Reapers raises a whole bunch of questions and turns the whole thing into a weird convoluted scheme that makes no sense and contradicts what we do know about Sovereign’s nature. Ergo, assuming Reaper involvment in the virus without further information is inaccurate.

                  And yeah, it is uncertain what will ultimately happen after using the virus. We don’t know if it’ll stick. We don’t know what effect returning the heretics to normal rotation will have on the geth collective. It is certain, however, that the heretics have more information regarding the Reapers than even the Ilos AI. And it’s because of the hivemind-esque way the geth function that they are quite this valuable; they have a more comprehensive database of Sovereign’s actions and orders than if it was simply an army of brainwashed organics or ordinary robots.

                  There are risks, absolutely, but none of those risks have consequences greater than losing a store of information that infinitely eclipses the sum total of our paltry knowledge about the greatest threat in the galaxy.

                7. Daemian Lucifer says:

                  “It is certain, however, that the heretics have more information regarding the Reapers than even the Ilos AI.”

                  No it is not.Saren already told us how nazara feels about the geth.And while he may have been delusional(or indoctrinated)about how nazara feels about him,one thing we can be sure about the reapers is that they trust only themselves.Why would nazara share anything with the geth?Sure,he maybe gave them a few fancy gadgets,but I doubt he gave them any knowledge.

                  And this virus,maybe two years were required precisely because sovereign gave them the equipment,but they had to figure out themselves the inner workings of it.So it may be something made by the heretics,but extrapolated from the reapers.

                  The only thing we can be sure of is that destroying the station would criple the heretics,and allow us to exterminate them completely in a matter of years,if not faster.Converting them gives us no certainty about how theyd react,what impact their knowledge may have on the orthodox geth,or what,if any,useful info we may get about the reapers.

                  So even if you dont consider this to be a morally ambiguous question,it still is a question about playing it safe and removing one enemy,or playing it risky for a potential big reward.

          3. Deadpool says:

            Just a tiny detail: The situation, as has been represented, IS unwinnable. Even with the Krogan, and the Collector tech, and the Geth, and the Rachni, so on so forth… We still stand little to no chance against the Reapers. They’ve repeatedly, and systematically destroyed every living being in the universe over and over and over again, and we’re the first to even give them pause. This is as hopeless a situation as you can imagine. ANY edge, however slight, may be the edge that gives us the win. And as has been pointed out below, the edge we get from the heretics would be more than slight.

            As Jarenth has cleared, most of the problems you’ve listed either fall into the “Well, if the Reapers kill us it hardly matters” (i.e. what if the heretics take over the good geth and the kin) cattegory or the “well, we’ll have to worry about that ANYways” category (i.e. can we trust Legion and HIS geth?).

            In the end of the day, the morality of the action was never in question. Sure, it’s a moral issue, but I’d rather live long enough to ponder the moral implications of my past actions, than ponder it now and die horribly at the han– tentacles of the Reapers.

            Btw, I’m glad I’m not the only one who totally ignored the morality of this and went straight for the practical side… Which should definitely make this a Renegade choice btw. Pragmatism for the win…

            1. Gale says:

              Your point about what should have been a renegade option is what infuriates me about the whole affair. They’ve already shown, in Mordin’s loyalty mission, exactly how they can fix basically every problem with their crappy system – two basic actions, four different reasons. We could’ve had the same here: two paragon options (“I believe it’s the lesser of two evils to destroy/brainwash them, so that’s what we’re doing”) two renegade options (“Is there a chance that they could be a threat again in future? Yes? Destroy them” that’s already in the game, as well as, as you rightly pointed out, “The Heretics can help us fight the Reapers, I’m not going to risk the lives of everyone in the galaxy over an ethics debate”).

              This way, there’s no broken developer-imposed morality, there’s no meta-analysis of “well, this is the Blue option, so it’ll probably turn out the nicest”, and players are substantially less likely to scream in horror as Shepard backs up a decision they made with reasoning they hate with the entirety of their being. I don’t understand why they didn’t use it more. It’s two more lines from the Shepards, and that’s it. Everybody else just needs to react in the same two ways as usual! They don’t even have to redesign their little wheel! They just record two more lines, add them to the list of dialogue choices, and bam. The whole system is at least 80% less stupid all of a sudden.

              Why they put more effort into the final choice of some optional side-mission than the climax of their damn game, I can’t even imagine.

            2. Daemian Lucifer says:

              Actually,we are not the ones who slowed them down,protheans did.And the only reason they won so many times before was because they had the element of surprise,which they lack now.They arent undefeatable.And a good tactician will rarely make a move that will endanger him even more after the current situation passes,no matter how hopeless the situation may seem at the time.Thats how you lose.

              We also know that nazara just used the heretics,and didnt have much of an opinion about them.So what they may know about him may even be less than what we know.So that edge isnt really that significant,but the danger is still extremely high.

        2. Vect says:

          Yeah, I was of the opinion that I’d rather be pragmatic about these choices. I tend to be the kind who just tries to take the decisions given to me at hand and choose what benefits me the most. Getting more Geth to fight the Reapers seemed like a good idea at the time.

    2. eric says:

      I think this is a very good point. Unfortunately, my metagame knowledge of BioWare tells me that no matter what I choose, the outcome of the game will be ideal if I pick paragon for everything. Yay for arbitrary morality meters put into the hands of designers who don’t understand them ruining role-playing!

      1. Luhrsen says:

        Yep, at best keeping the heretics alive will only mean having enough forces to send to protect one extra planet. It won’t be the difference between winning and losing. I’m sure you’ll be able to win even if you alienated everyone in the universe. There will just be fewer races left.

      2. Cody211282 says:

        I have to agree with morality meters, they suck and honestly only really should be in Star Wars games because that just part of Star Wars.

        But at least they put this quest at the end so I had already maxed out my paragon points and had a bit more freedom to pick what I wanted to do, sadly my line of thinking went like this “So these are the asshats that spent 40+ hours of the last game trying to kill me, and did kill me a few times because Insanity is friggen hard. Well that pissed me off plus they’re bad guys and well bad guys go boom.”
        Not the best line of thinking but on my many other plays I spent much more time thinking about it.

      3. Daemian Lucifer says:

        They had a chance to make the first game that becomes unwinnable depending on your actions in the previous game,and they blew it.*sigh*.And its been years since someone made such a ballsy dick move.And just to think that wed have to invent a whole new level of cruelty for something like that:


  38. eric says:

    I was so amazingly interested in this quest and the moral dilemma involved in solving it.

    Right up until I saw the choice, and BioWare implied that it is “good” to brainwash people, and “evil” to kill them.

    Seriously, fuck morality systems. If you can’t do it right, don’t do it at all. Idiots. It seems like every time BioWare get close to interesting commentary, they go and ruin it by attaching it to an arbitrary game mechanic which exists solely to satisfy players’ desires to be “badasses”. There are so many examples of this throughout Mass Effect 2 that I find it hard to believe more people don’t call BioWare out on it.

    1. Josh R says:

      i read that to be which one is more helpful to legion, or whether you’re going to say: actually, screw all those extra thousands of warriors your people could use in the ongoing war with the quarians, i’m gonna blow them up.

    2. Zukhramm says:

      Supposedly paragon/renegade is not good and evil, but I’m not sure Bioware themselves remember that at all times.

      Honestly, I don’t see what this system adds to the game, at all. It could be removed and the game would only benefit.

    3. Slothful says:

      Well y’know, brainwashing’s just another marketing campaign. We all love those right?


    4. Daemian Lucifer says:

      “Seriously, fuck morality systems. If you can't do it right, don't do it at all.”

      You say that like you think it can be done right.I am yet to see a morality system that works just slightly iffy,let alone one that is good.

  39. Alex says:

    I also think it’s a no-brainer, but for a different reason: war does not become more moral just because it’s less efficient. Once you’ve accepted it might be moral to annihilate someone if that’s what is neccessary to stop them (and that’s what war is), you should be willing to accept an alternative that will cause less harm on both sides. The slippery-slope argument that the Geth should not make justified use of the virus out of fear that they’ll someday use it when it’s not justified is unconvincing.

  40. Jarenth says:

    Phah. Donkeys, elephants, robots, dragons. The Jarenth Political Party mascot would just be a massive, leather-iron-nails-steel-tipped Boot.

    All our campaign commercials would show the Boot rightiously kicking the other mascots in various amusing and (after 11 PM) increasingly gory ways. Yes, even the dragons.

    1. Raygereio says:

      When it comes to campaign adds, I think the real world can learn a thing or two from the Metal Gear universe.
      See this guy:
      He is going to be your president. Screw foreign policy! Who cares about social welfare? He fights giant robots!

      (Note to the uninitiated; yes, that guy with the tentacle armour and who powered up Dragonball Z style was the president of the USA in Metal Gear land.)

    2. Daemian Lucifer says:

      Bah,mascots are so overrated.Im so hip that I wouldnt use a mascot.Or campaign slogans.Id just issue blank posters and empty commercials.

  41. Ziggywolf5 says:

    I haven’t really organized my thoughts, so sorry if this is a bit disjointed.
    Now, I haven’t played Mass Effect 2, so I’m judging on just what I’ve seen on Spoiler Warning and what I’ve gleaned from the ME wiki. That said, I have to say that I *like* this choice. It would have been better if they could have justified why you only have to two choices, but the decision is great. Why?
    Because it isn’t the usual “save all the puppies or eat the children” dichotomy games seem to love. As Shamus said, using the virus could easily set a precedent where geth simply removes it’s own sapience. On the other hand, you can kill thousands of hostile, but currently defenseless, sapient people.
    The player is forced between two situations, neither of which is completely “good.”
    …Which leads to my only real criticism here. The paragon/renegade system really doesn’t work in this situation. At all. Paragon is generally for ‘good’ and/or ‘idealist’; renegade being ‘jerk’ and/or ‘pragmatic.’ As mentioned, neither choice is fully ‘good,’ and both could easily be argued as being very jerky. Then you get into pragmatism, which might use the virus to boost the friendly geth numbers or kill them so as to not take chances, and paragon, which also might use the virus or kill the geth, depending on the ideal being upheld. Thus, the points seem arbitrary, because they are arbitrary — both sides could take either, and the programmers just assume one or the other.

  42. Miral says:

    I was ok with the “good to brainwash people, bad to kill them” thing (and chose the brainwashing in my own playthrough), because my understanding of the backstory was that Sovereign had hacked (similar to indoctrination) some of the Geth into following him; therefore reversing that hack would be the right thing to do — similar to deprogramming brainwashed cult members. Even then, I would have been a bit iffy about it except that Legion made it clear that using the virus would not alter their memories and wouldn’t even prevent them from choosing the same path again in the future of their own free will — it just removed the hacked goal system that Sovereign implanted.

    On the other hand, if my understanding was wrong and if the heretics did in fact come to the decision to follow Sovereign of their own free will (no hacking or indoctrination), then killing them all would have been the lesser evil.

  43. bbot says:

    (Didn’t watch the video, but:)

    The idea of AIs disagreeing with each other is interesting, as there is an old argument in hyperrationalist circles called Aumman’s agreement theorem.

    Leaving out some semantic quibbling, the punchline is that two perfectly rational agents, acting on the same evidence, can only arrive at the same conclusion.

    Humans are hardly “perfectly rational”, and tend to discount evidence presented by the opposite side for quite a lot of interesting historical reasons; but the notion that an AI society, which you can only assume would be able to share evidence, would be capable of civil war, is amusing.

    1. Miral says:

      That’s actually the basis for the “maths error” idea. As Legion describes it, there can’t normally be total disagreement within the Geth; the only reason an individual program could disagree is if it possessed evidence that would change the conclusion — once this evidence is presented to the collective, then all would be in agreement again (they would have reached consensus), either by all individuals now agreeing that the new evidence changes the conclusion, or by some additional evidence proving that the first is irrelevant. Either way, decisions are usually worked through until they are unanimous.

      With the maths error, though, two Geth programs receiving the same data will reach different conclusions. There is no way to resolve this sort of thing logically, and so the collective ending up splitting apart due to irreconcilable differences.

      (This argument is undermined somewhat by Legion himself, since he has at times expressed fairly illogical trains of thought, and during this episode had an internal conflict of exactly the type that’s not supposed to happen to the Geth.)

      1. Daemian Lucifer says:

        Like few people have already said,the math error part was about the virus.It would create a math error,so that the heretics would reach a different conclusion with the same data they already have.

        Their disagreement doesnt come from any error.Its either because they were all built a bit differently,or because theyve evolved(so to speak)a bit differently.

        1. Tse says:

          Problem is, Geth are not rational anymore. You can see proof of this in some of Legion’s behavior. This is the most interesting part of their evolution from VI to AI to a people, they are becomming more like organic races without even knowing it.

          1. Fnord says:

            Aumann’s agreement theorem only guarantees agreement about facts. As Starglider explained, the heretic geth don’t disagree about facts, they disagree about goals and morality.

  44. Sydney says:

    The Shepard VI should choose. Or did you not do that mission?

    1. Daemian Lucifer says:


      “My choice is…lets sex up those hunks of machines!”

      1. Sydney says:

        I said “Shepard VI”, not “Kelly VI”.

        1. Daemian Lucifer says:

          “And then Rutskarn made kelly vi.Thank you very much.”

  45. BeamSplashX says:

    Say Josh, will you consider recoloring Regina’s outfit to be Dino Crisis black at any point? Maybe just an episode? Or just rejigging her color scheme altogether for a bit of variety? Four sentences in a row ending in question marks isn’t a problem, is it?

  46. Caldazar says:

    IT was my understanding that the Heretics decided to follow the Reapers of their own will.
    That made the concept of brainwashing them terrible for so many reasons. I would rather die, were I in their shoes.

  47. Zaxares says:

    Paragon/Renegade choice: I agree that this choice felt very… strange. On the one hand, I can understand why choosing to rewrite the Heretics is considered the Paragon option; you’re not KILLING the Heretics, and as Legion said himself, there’s no guarantee that the Heretics would not somehow come around to their same idea of thinking again. On the other hand, this very much feels like brainwashing a sentient race into thinking as you do, and it just felt very wrong to me. (Although if you bring this up to Legion, he says that you are trying to apply an organic sense of morality to a race that does not feel emotions and is incapable of understanding ‘morality’.) This is one of the choices where you truly have to choose what YOU feel is right. There is no clear right or wrong option.

    For me? Legion said that 2 more of his processes voted for rewrite than those that opposed it. So, majority rules. Rewrite, it was. :P

    Oh, and Shamus, while picking a Dragon as your mascot immediately gives you points in my book, I’d still need to know your platform on education, the environment, technology and civil rights first. ;)

    Geth Aesthetics vs Functionality: Well, unfortunately, it’s made clear from the start of the mission that the geth value functionality and practicality above aesthetics every time. “Windows are structural weaknesses. Geth do not use them.” ;) What I’m always puzzled about by the geth is why they’re so FORGIVING of us, considering they have absolutely nothing in common with us and they gain no real benefit to be peaceful with us. (Well, aside from the fact that war is dangerous and costly.)

    Trash planet: It’s Korlus, you ignorant noobs! KORLUS! /elitistsighofexasperation

    Shepard making the final choice: Actually, this is one decision where it DOES make sense for Shepard to be the judge. As Legion states, Shepard has fought the Heretics. He has perspective the geth lack. Shepard knows, from speaking to Sovereign and Saren, better than anyone bar the geth about what the Heretics are really like and whether they deserve to be re-written (and literally given a second chance), or destroyed outright for their crimes.

    1. Alex says:

      “On the other hand, this very much feels like brainwashing a sentient race into thinking as you do, and it just felt very wrong to me.”

      If you could brainwash an axe murderer into not wanting to murder people, would that feel wrong? Would you rather kill him, or lock him in a small box until he dies?

      1. Zukhramm says:

        I would.

      2. Daemian Lucifer says:

        Most people would choose to imprison/kill the guy.Thats why we have all these(in my opinion pointless)human rights even for the cruelest of criminals.

      3. some random dood says:

        “If you could brainwash an axe murderer…” – that’s at one end of the extreme. Now let’s take the other…
        If there existed solid, reliable and implementable brainwashing techniques, would you trust anyone in a position of power to *not* use it? At the most obvious level (politics), wouldn’t it be oh so tempting to use on some inconsiderate people who didn’t subscribe to your point of view to make the bill pass more easily? And at the next most obvious level (if brainwashing were an easy and cheap technique), you just *know* that Cock-a-Colah Co and Pesky Colah Co would be zapping everyone for all they were worth to push their products as being the one to want (and considering how much those companies already spend to push their product, it wouldn’t even have to be cheap…)
        Basically, I suppose I am saying “watch the slippery slope” – what may seem to be easy to justify in an extreme case may not be supportable once you have a chance to see the full possible ramifications.

        1. somebodys_kid says:


      4. Vect says:

        They had A Clockwork Orange for that. It… Didn’t end well for the brainwashed murderer.

        1. Daemian Lucifer says:

          Two points:
          1)He had some hardships(quite tough ones),but in the end it was quite well for him,with all the publicity and money.
          2)He was a criminal.Criminals should have it bad for them.

  48. wtrmute says:

    Personally, I’d rewrite them, no second thoughts. I mean, you’ve been making this huge ball about brainwashing, but frankly, brainwashing is only necessarily bad if you believe that all opinions are equally valuable (i.e. moral relativism). The heretic geth’s beliefs is that the “Old machines” should kill all sapients in the galaxy — I would call that an objective moral wrong. Thus they are not justified in holding that opinion. Ethics call for them to stop holding that opinion, then.

    Of course, that would not necessarily make the methods we use to make them change their mind automatically ethical: the ends do not justify the means. I argue, however, that this virus which makes them reject this opinion isn’t very much different from an idealised persuasive argument: I mean, if you had a sure-fire argument why following the Reapers is untenable, wouldn’t it be the exact same as that virus?

    If the virus did something besides altering their opinion on this matter, then we could argue it might be immoral to use it.

  49. James says:

    I viewed both options horrible so i turned to the one indiscriminate factor, numbers. Since both are horrible the only option is to take what is best for everyone, since this faction of the geth oppose the reapers it is only logical to let them live if only because the reapers are a threat and Shepard need all the people/troops he can muster. at least that’s my reasoning.

  50. Chris B Chikin says:

    What Shepard should have done was just log onto 4chan and get Anonymous to launch a DDos attack on the heretics. Tell them the Geth trod on a kitten or something. All problems solved!

  51. Daemian Lucifer says:

    A question about the schedule of the episodes:

    Can we have them be on monday,wednesday,friday and sunday?Its a bit jarring to have all the episodes in one huge bundle,and than a 3 day pause.

    1. Chris B Chikin says:

      Somebody needing his fix of Spoiler Warning? By Monday, I’ve started getting the shakes!

  52. Hey Shamus, considering your long “thought” on the Geth and Heretics, and Legions behavior, though you can influence Legion to kill them, or as I did, ask what he’d want, I think he stated a small percentage in favor of re-writing the heretics, but only a tiny percentage, even within Legion’s platform the choice was pretty much 50/50.

    Gah got sidetracked again, considering your long post and the amount of comments on these last few eps with Legion, I think whomever “wrote” Legion succeeded maybe beyond their original intent into the controversial choice you+legion make about the heretics.

    I truly hope they expand on Legion further, and why not, as the programs withing Legion is pretty much immortal (they could always use a different platform) so Legion “could” appear in say Mass Effect 4,5,6, even if those take place a hounded years later.

    In fact the Mass Effect lore potential is huge.
    And I truly hope that the Mass Effect movie(s? trilogy?) will end up being made and really good.

  53. My memory is a bit fuzzy on this, but I recall that if you spare the heretics and let Legion rewrite the “error”, and you later talk to him on the ship and ask what he/the geth will do about the heretics,he states that they will re-integrate them into their collective,
    but give them the option to leave.
    I assume that as the heretics re-integrate they will know what happen and that they where rewritten to prevent their destructive path and if they do not agree with that calculation then they can leave.
    so in that respect it actually is a paragon option (aka, nobody dies *well almost*)

    It is a shame that Legion can only be recruted so late (and his loyalty mission triggers the “end game” mission basically),
    as many who play miss out the chance to fully explore his dialog tree (although you can do stuff “after” the endgame and talk to him some more),
    it’s also apparent that Legion “could” be recruited earlier as he actually has some dialog and chatter between him and other companions on either their recruiting or loyalty missions. (there is some youtube videos of this where someone hacked the game to include Legion way early and in other companion missions, I highly recommend to watch those).

    Legion is probably the coolest robot character I’ve seen so far. (sorry HK-47, your a good No2 though :)

    1. Chris B Chikin says:


      I don’t think that doing Legion’s loyalty mission actually forces you to play the endgame. I think that between the dead Reaper mission and the beginning of the endgame the writers put in space to play two more missions – any missions – before your crew is kidnapped. That gives you just enough time to do Legion’s mission but after that you can hang around as long as you want doing any or all of the other loyalty or regular missions which had not been done up to that point. The problem is that if you mess about like this for a long time before eventually going after the reapers then there wont be many of your crew left alive by the time you get there.

      At least, that’s my understanding of it but I’ve only done one playthrough and on it I chose to dive straight after the Reapers as soon as I could.

      I agree though; Legion is one of the most interesting characters and it is a shame that getting the completely happy ending* requires you to miss so much of his dialogue.

      *In this case, “completely happy* means what the developers want it to mean. I personally was completely happy with the ending where Jacob and Miranda flew home in boxes.

      1. Drew says:

        How it appears to work is that you don’t get to do the joker until after Legion’s loyalty, which is supposed to be triggered once oyu activate Legion which is supposed to happen once you get him. However, you can screw around with that order, and if you don’t talk to Legion after activating him than you get to do one more mission before Kelly tells you Legion would like to talk you which starts the timer. However, I could be mistaken.

  54. Veloxyll says:

    So a Geth, a Quarian and a human walk onto a space station…

    Given the history between the Quarians and the Geth, I suspect bringing a Quarian to the station might undermine the brainwashing option somewhat. The Heretics might see our actions as a Quarian deploying a virus into their systems, and instead of reconsidering, launch an attack on any Quarians they can find, considering them a greater threat than before since they can make Slave-Geth. Even stooping so far as to use the face of the enemy from the time of Sovereign, such treachery!

    Given how questionable both actions are, I do think it should’ve been on justification rather than the actual decision, like many of the other commenters in this thread. Cause both brainwashing (ie using force to change a mind) and annihilation aren’t really heroic in the general sense.

  55. Ivan says:

    I don’t know if anyone has mentioned this in the 100 some comments ahead of mine. But walking away, though it may be the “true paragon option” (and i have to agree that it is) doesn’t seem particularly interesting. The game isn’t designed for you to take that option is it? If you just walk away then the mission just stays as it is, frozen forever with nothing having been changed because it needs the player to change it. The choice to not participate has no affect on the game world unless that choice is designed in. And though the best decision may be to walk away, as a player you gain absolutely nothing from it, not even the knowledge that you did what was right (cause again nothing changes unless the player changes it).

    I hope i didn’t ramble too much.

    1. Bret says:

      It’s also pretty dumb. Leaves a massive threat active without even an “I’ll be back”.

      I mean, Paragon only tends to let people go who promise good behavior.

      This is letting someone go with a pistol pointed at your brainpan.

      1. Ivan says:

        not exactly, it’s more like letting that person go after you’ve disarmed them and gained the advantage. You can’t exactly “let someone go” unless they want to leave, and why leave when you have them at gun point? I didn’t actually play ME2 in any case, all i know about it is from watching spoiler warning.

        But my point wasn’t whether leaving was the “best” option, the point was that it’s NEVER an option no matter how good an idea it is. I still remember the trial in KotOR where you’re there to defend a republic officer who was “framed” for murdering a sith one on a very strategically important neutral planet. (actually this is a bad example because leaving here would leave the fate of this planet out of your control and you definitely don’t want them to ally with the sith.) But through investigation you realize that the defendant actually DID commit the crime. At this point i’m a Jedi, who knows that he’s defending someone who’s unjust, i even failed to convince him to admit to his crime. If i leave now and say “fuck it, you get yourself outa this mess you’ve made” nothing will actually be decided. I don’t think i even get the opportunity to expose this guy but still try to convince the planet to remain neutral.

        Now i know that it’s impossible to predict every possible solution a player might come up with, but it cheapens the question being asked when you do have arbitrary limitations on what choices you have. Especially when the solution in question is a perfectly natural response. But yeah, try making a hypothetical moral dilemma in which there are only two possible solutions.

    2. Vect says:

      I think the only game I remember in which the “Fuck this I’m leaving” option is a viable solution is “The Bard’s Tale” and it was all played for laughs. It just ends with you partying it up with zombies while everybody around you dies.

    3. Drew says:

      It’s funny you bring this up here because leaving Legion’s mission is probably the worst idea ever, but there were many other missions I really did want to just say fuck it. Miranda’s mission jumps to mind as being one of these, but Mordan’s as well to a certain extent, and I see no reason why you shouldn’t be allowed to pull out of Garrus and Jack’s. Jacob’s too, actually. And it’d be a nice (renegade!) touch to just take Tali and run; the court finds her guilty and exiles her in absentia. That should be a perfectly valid choice, IMO, even if you don’t want to take it. (Ignoring Grunt’s loyalty seems like a very bad idea for the long-term survival of the rest of the crew.)

  56. Raynooo says:

    Is it normal that I’m more interested in the Geths’ evolution than in the Reaper stuff ?

    When you think of it, we can almost be certain that in ME3 Shepard will win (Bioware having stated that they will create more Mass Effect Universe games once the Shepard trilogy is over) but we do not know what will happen with Geths and Quarians…

    1. Daemian Lucifer says:

      “Is it normal that I'm more interested in the Geths' evolution than in the Reaper stuff ?”

      Yup,its normal.In most bioware games the side stories are much more interesting than the main story.

  57. Drew says:

    I personally really loved this choice, and I’ve been thinking about it for *weeks* without being able to come up with a certain conclusion about it.

    First, it is of vital importance to get one thign straight right now: if the virus is going to be used, it will be used once, by us, on the station, right now. Legion specifically says, when asked, that regardless of Shepard’s choice they have jformed conensus on that issue, and intend to destroy the virus once it is used. “We judge it too dangerous.” That they understand this intrinsically and are able to to sacrifice this advantage forever shows a remarkable level of maturity for a species that has only been in existence for 330 years. Therefore, any arguments about the possible repercussions of the virus’s continued existence, or use in any context besides the one presented in the game, are irrelivent.

    So, let’s move on.

    Many people have made the point that the possibility of the heretics as allies is too valuable to ignore. However, this is a false equivvacy: just because they’ve been programmed to not reach the conclusion that they should follow the old machines does not by any means mean that they will reach a conclusion that favors Shepard, or the true Geth. They’re still perfectly capable of starting a war with organics, or even the Geth, and with plenty of justification: they would feel that to not would mean the destruction of their ideas, their perspective, the only thing the Geth have. Furthermore, the integrated experience of being re-written that will be added to the Geth’s consciousness could very well convince Geth that already favored destruction over rewrite that they had done the wrong thing, and the only way to atone for the atrocity they had allowed–the only place for them–would be to side with the reapers. Destroying them is the less controvercial of the two options and guaranties a certain percentage of the machine forces to be destroyed, whereas rewrite could actually swell their ranks in the end.

    Even assuming the converted geth are unable, or uninterested, in violent conflict with anybody, that by no means means they will be eager to hand over information to those who brainwashed them against their will. Indeed, sitting back and allowing the reapers to win is the only way they ever have any chance of surviving with their original viewpoints intact, as the machines would certainly re-program them to serve them once they had asserted dominance over the galaxy, for manual labor if nothing else.)

    I’m not saying destruction is the right answer necessarily, however the majority of the opinions on this blog appear to be towards rewrite, so I thought I’d offer a devil’s advocate position because I love a good debate.

    Being able to have gotten the Heretics’ opinion on the situation would have been extremely valuable but, as several have mentioned, infeasible.

    1. Drew says:

      Oh! Something else I had forgotten to mention: say you go with rewrite. Say that the Heretics are completely willing ot share everything they know about the old machines with the true Geth, and are accepted completely into the fold. Among other things, they will most likely be sharing the Reapers’ reasons for doing what they do. Just as a hypothetical, say that the failing star stuff Tali is talking about has something to do with the natural laws of the universe, and is part of a 50,000 year cycle that results in the eradication of all life in the Milky Way galaxy. For whatever reason the old machines, even with all their technology, are unable to stop it and there aren’t enough resources in darkspace to support entire civilizations. So, the reapers come and take all of a species’ technology, resources and shared memories and assimilate that into their own race, while at the same time preserving everything of every race that can be preserved. It’s absolutely horrible, but the inescapable genocide of thousands of suns going nova earlier than can be planned for is worse.

      We can argue about the viability of this theory as an explanation for what the reapers are doing all day but here’s my point: the geth could analyze this data and all then come to the conclusion that the reapers are correct, and that the best way for them to not be hunted down by them in a long war of attrition for resisting is to join them. This situation is a complete disaster for humanity, which could have been easily avoided by simply not committing a war crime.

      1. Jarenth says:

        In your hypothetical example, it doesn’t really matter what the humans do anyway because ‘a 50,000 year cycle that kills all organic life‘ will pretty much kill us anyway. Actually, in this scenarion, the Geth coming to this conclusion and sharing this intel with organics is actually for the best, given the whole ‘preservation of the species’ angle.

        1. Drew says:

          In a logic-fueled universe, sure. But humans don’t act that way. You tell them that they’re probably all dead in future generations and the only way to stop it is for them all to become slurry, they’re going to fight no matter how hopeless a situation it is, just because they’re that stupid. In any case, it’s just an example; the point was that once the true Geth understand the old machine’s reasons for doing what they do, they could decide that it’s in organics’ best interests and start helping for that reason, completely disinterested in the offered shell. It’s not very likely as they don’t seem to really care what happens to organics one way or the other, but the old machines seem pretty confident that what they’re doing is, in the end, for the best. Considering the terrifying nature of their actions, that conviction’s gotta be pretty firm, especially for machines that must in some way be based in analitical logic.

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