If I'm like most of America, then I love video games. The video games that I am mainly drawn to are the ones that have such engaging stories and expand on their universes so much that you spend countless hours trying to unravel every part of that story. In my own gaming experience, Mass Effect was one of the very first games that I played were I was so engrossed with the story that I couldn't stop playing it. From the characters to the beautiful world design to the overall story of the campaign, it was a practically flawless game series. But then came the third game. I for one loved the entire game. I also thought that the ending was a good way to send the series off and it ended on a high note. Granted, I played the Extended Cut, so some may argue that I don't know what the original was like. To fully experience this, I have seen the original on YouTube and can understand why fan outcry was so vast that BioWare had to release the Extended Cut. However, I feel that even with the Extended Cut, the ending just had some elements that were unsatisfying. So I firmly believe that there was a way to make an ending that every Mass Effect fan could have been satisfied with.
I know, I know.......here we go with yet ANOTHER way of how Mass Effect should have ended, but hear me out. It will take some explaining. With the ending of Mass Effect 3, you were offered three choices: Destroy, Control, or Synthesis. How you modeled your Shepard throughout the series is most likely how you chose which ending to go with. Either that or you just listened to the Catalyst explain all of the options and what consequences came with them. There is countless debate on which ending was the best ending to pick. I will openly admit that I chose Synthesis due to the fact that it seemed like the best way for all species within the universe to live in peace and then have access to unlimited knowledge that the Reapers possessed from all the previous cycles. Many will disagree with my decision, but isn't that the fun of Mass Effect? Making your own journey? But none of these decisions are satisfying enough, not on their own at least. There just had to be a little more.
When you get to the end of Mass Effect 3, some have speculated that this is the process of Shepard fighting off his indoctrination. This is very well possible, made clear by the evidence that many theorists provide. So why not create an ending that satisfies the beliefs of the theorists and those who believe that the ending was still you fighting on (like me)? Shepard was able to survive the blast that occurred while he was racing to the beam to stop the Reapers. I believe that Anderson was also able to survive and arrived before you as the game explains. However, many wonder why the Illusive Man was already there. What was the purpose of his presence? The answer is actually quite simple: the Reapers were going to use him to their own ends. His was already indoctrinated, so why not have him take Control? Since he already belongs to them and he doesn't have control of himself like he believes, this would provide the Reapers with no one to stop them. They could destroy the Crucible and use the Illusive Man's resources to locate the plans of the Crucible so they could destroy them too. This would prevent any future cycles from trying to stop them in the future. They would still resist, but what chance would they have without the Crucible? The Reapers decide to go away from this plan however. The reason is because they found a new source to manipulate: Shepard.
And why not? Saren made the point in Mass Effect that the Reapers were impressed with him and would offer him a spot among their ranks. Even on Rannoch, the Reaper you defeat tells them that they are more than aware of Shepard and what he is capable of. Why wouldn't the Reapers like someone like that as one of their pawns? So when Shepard finally reaches the beam and is taken to the area of the Citadel where he finds Anderson and the Illusive Man, they decide to play their hand. They use the Illusive Man to persuade him about the kind of power they can bestow upon Shepard if he would only join them. However, Shepard has a strong will and continues to resist. This is where the indoctrination theory comes into play. The Reapers have already started to try and make their way into Shepard's mind. The hallucinations of the boy during his dreams are proof of that. So the Illusive Man is trying to reach out to the indoctrinated part of Shepard's mind. However, Anderson is helping Shepard resist. Being such an influential person within his life, wouldn't it seem more logical for Shepard's remaining will to listen to the reason that Anderson describes? The Reapers begin to acknowledge this and have the Illusive Man shoot Anderson, but he still continues to linger on. Then you have to make certain choices. If the Illusive Man kills Anderson and then kills you, this means that the Reapers have given up trying to turn you and will settle with using the Illusive Man for their goals. However, they have one more trick to making you think they've stop trying to turn you. You can either kill the Illusive Man or convince him that he is in the wrong, prompting him to commit suicide. In Shepard's mind, the corruption is now gone, but the Reapers have actually begun their last attempt to draw him in. The Reapers put the projection of Hackett calling out to Shepard. So the Reapers use this to try one last time to get Shepard to do what they want. They know that he is a loyal soldier and will not abandon the mission. So they lead him up to meet the Catalyst.
They project the appearance of the Catalyst to be that of the boy who has been in Shepard's dreams. He goes through all of the options that Shepard can chose, and specifies that the best choice is Synthesis. However, Shepard starts to realize that this is a trick. This is the Reapers finally battle for his mind. If we remember back to Mass Effect, Synthesis is what they were originally trying to achieve with Saren. Also, he just witnessed the Reapers trying to use the Illusive Man to use the Control option. So, he knows that if he chooses either Control or Synthesis, the Reapers will achieve their goal, regardless of the choice that they make. So he makes the only choice he can: he must destroy the Reapers. But this shouldn't be such a bad thing, right? The entire goal has been this. Shepard realizes there is a catch: the Catalyst claims that Destroy will no only destroy the Reapers, but all synthetic life, which includes EDI and the geth. Also, organics would eventually recreate synthetics, leading to another cycle. Shepard refuses to let that happen.
If we remember back to earlier, Legion sacrifices himself to upgrade the geth. This causes Legion's conscious to be transferred into all of them. They know Shepard and view him as a trusted ally. Therefore, if Shepard were to reach out to them, they would listen. So Shepard tells the Catalyst that regardless of what decision he makes, there is always the possibility of the Reapers taking control or another form of synthetic life somewhere down the line coming into power just like the Reapers. This is not the way that the galaxy is meant to work; organics and synthetics are able to live together in harmony. So Shepard establishes a link to the geth using a special interface transmitter that they gave to him shortly after the events on Rannoch. He orders the geth command to contact the Normandy and tell EDI to shut herself down for 24 hours and that the geth must do the same afterwards. Then Shepard sacrifices himself and destroys the Reapers with the Crucible. The pulse is sent out all across the universe, ultimately destroying the Reapers. It doesn't destroy any other synthetic life though. This is due to the fact that since they are in a state of being shut down, they are already processed by the Crucible as being dead. This allows the Reapers to be destroyed and all synthetic life to remain with the universe. After 24 hours has passed, the synthetics reboot. All species return to their home worlds to rebuild from the destruction of the Reaper threat. All species will begin to try and understand each other better so that they can be a more unified galaxy. But they will never forget the soldier that fought for them all: Commander Shepard, who triumphed over the Reapers attempted of indoctrination and freed the galaxy of a threat that lasted millennia.