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Film Crit Hulk Smash: A Few Words On The Ending Of MASS EFFECT 3

You guys hated the ending of MASS EFFECT 3, but Film Crit Hulk loved it. 

Film Crit Hulk Smash: A Few Words On The Ending Of MASS EFFECT 3

WHEN MASS EFFECT 3 CAME OUT HULK WAS SUDDENLY INUNDATED WITH THE MOST COLUMN REQUESTS THAT HULK HAS EVER RECEIVED. SO MUCH SO THAT IT COMPLETELY DWARFS EVERY OTHER SUBJECT THAT HULK HAS BEEN ASKED TO DISCUSS BY... OH... ABOUT A HUNDRED TIMES. MAYBE MORE. THE WAY THE COLUMN WAS REQUESTED WENT SOMETHING LIKE THIS:

"Hey Hulk! You're a big story proponent and understand the mechanics of them and stuff so please SMASH the Mass Effect 3 ending because it was so bad!"

HULK SHOULD MENTION THAT IT'S NOT AS IF THIS WAS THE SOLE VOICE IN THE SENTIMENT. A NUMBER OF PEOPLE LIKED THE ENDING TOO, BUT IT IS SAFE TO SAY THIS ATTITUDE WAS THE MAJORITY. HULK HONESTLY HAD NO PREDISPOSITION ONE WAY OR ANOTHER, BUT WAS VASTLY CURIOUS WHAT COULD PROMPT SUCH REACTIONS. BUT THE WHOLE THING WENT ON THE BACK BURNER BECAUSE HULK'S BEEN BUSY AS HELL AND DIDN'T HAVE 30 HOURS LYING AROUND. BUT HULK FINALLY HAD A LITTLE TIME TO PLAY THIS WEEK! SO HERE'S YOUR COLUMN...

YOU WERE ALL WRONG.

IN FACT, YOU WERE ALL SO WRONG THAT IT MAKES HULK HORRIFICALLY SAD.

THE ORIGINAL ENDING OF MASS EFFECT 3 IS BEAUTIFUL, STUNNING AND POETIC. AFTER A LIFETIME OF WAR AND FURY, SHEPARD COMES FACE TO FACE WITH THE CATALYST (REPRESENTED BY THE FORM OF A CHILD, MUCH LIKE THE ONE SHEPARD HAD BEEN DREAMING OF ALL GAME) AND YOU HAVE A LONG, IN-DEPTH CONVERSATION ABOUT THE NATURE OF CYCLES. THIS IS RATHER APT, AS ALL THREE GAMES HAVE BEEN ABOUT THE NATURE OF CYCLES FROM THE VERY BEGINNING, WHETHER THEY TAKE THE FORMS OF VIOLENCE, REVENGE, LOVE, CREATION OR DEATH. IT WAS ALWAYS ABOUT CYCLES AND THE WAYS WE BREAK THEM, CONTINUE THEM OR HARMONIZE THEM. AND THUS, IN THIS CLIMACTIC MOMENT, IT IS RATHER APPROPRIATE THAT YOU ARE GIVEN THREE DISTINCT PHILOSOPHICAL OPTIONS ON HOW TO DEAL WITH THIS OUROBOROTICAL CYCLE. AND DESPITE SMALL DIFFERENCES, ALL THREE LEAD TO VERY SIMILAR ENDINGS.

WHICH IS THE EXACT POINT.

ALL THREE PATHS LEAD TO THE SAME SYMBOLIC UNDERSTANDING OF THE PURPOSE OF DEATH AND RE-BIRTH. IT IS THE ONLY CORE TRUTH OF FATALISM. FOR ONE PATH THERE IS VIOLENCE WHICH LEADS TO THE MASS EXTINCTION OF SYNTHETICS (ROBOTS), DEVASTATION AND COLLATERAL LOSSES IN THE NAME OF VICTORY. THEN THERE IS THE PATH OF SACRIFICE WHICH ENDS IN HARMONY AND MASS CORPORATION WITH CONTINUED THREAT OF UNREST HANGING OVER IT. AND FOR THE LAST PATH, HULK, EVER THE SYMBIOTIC ADVOCATE, FIRST CHOSE THE SYNTHESIS ENDING WHERE BOTH FACTIONS UNITE IN A MIXED SYNTHETIC-ORGANIC RE-BIRTH (AND WOULDN'T YOU KNOW IT, BUT THE COLOR WAS GREEN). THE IMAGERY OF EDI AND JOKER STANDING THERE IN THE NEW EDEN IS UTTERLY PERFECT. HULK DIDN'T NEED ANY MORE CLOSURE BECAUSE THE SYMBOLIC IMAGERY OF EVERYTHING MADE SUCH SENSE. AND WHILE THE NORMANDY LANDING ON THIS EDEN CERTAINLY MAKES THE MOST LOGICAL SENSE OF THE SYNTHESIS ENDING, THE EDEN IMAGERY WORKS BRILLIANTLY FOR THE OTHER TWO AS WELL. ONE WITH THE NOTION OF VIOLENCE SETTING US BACK TO TECHNOLOGICAL-ZERO AND STARTING US OVER IN THE NEW CYCLE'S UNCORRUPTED EDEN. AND THEN AGAIN WITH THE COOPERATION PATH WHERE THE NEW EDEN REPRESENTS A LAND OF PERFECT HARMONY. BUT IT IS IMPORTANT TO NOTE THAT ALL THREE ARE USING THE SAME IMAGERY TO MAKE A VERY, VERY SPECIFIC STATEMENT ABOUT HOW HUMAN NATURE CYCLE-SOLUTIONS BRING US TO THE SAME PLACE. ALL GO TO THE NEW MYTH FOCAL POINT. AND THE ONLY DIFFERENCE IS OUR INTENTIONS AND THOSE INTENTIONS MEAN EVERYTHING BECAUSE THEY REFLECT OUR VERY HUMANITY AND PURPOSE.

TO BE HONEST, HULK THOUGHT IT WAS ONE OF THE BEST VIDEO GAME ENDINGS THAT HULK HAS EVER SEEN. IT WENT FOR A BRIEF, BEAUTIFUL ARTICULATION OF EVERYTHING IT EVER NEEDED TO SAY ABOUT ITS CENTRAL, DRIVING THEME. BUT EVEN IF IT DIDN'T DO IT FOR YOU IN THAT SAME EMOTIONAL WAY AS IT DID FOR HULK, THERE IS NO DENYING THAT THE ENDING IS A SINGLE, ECONOMIC THOUGHT AND PURE EXPRESSION OF THE CREATORS.

AND YOU HATED IT.

HERE ARE MOST OF YOUR REASONS (AND YES YOU SOUND LIKE THIS GUY).

OKAY HULK IS GOING TO DO SOMETHING THAT HULK RARELY DOES... FUCK THIS GUY. FUCK HIM IN HIS BIG STUPID FACE. THIS GUY IS PRETTY MUCH EVERYTHING WRONG WITH OUR CRITICAL PERSPECTIVE IN SOCIETY. PLUS HE IS WRONG IN JUST ABOUT EVERYTHING HE SAYS. NO RESOLUTION WITH THE CHARACTERS?... UM... THE ENTIRE GAME TAKES 30 HOURS OF CATHARSIS IN SAYING GOODBYE TO CHARACTERS. THERE ARE EVEN FOUR DISTINCT "THIS IS IT, HUH?" MOMENTS WHERE WE SAY GOODBYE TO THEM AND PROCESS WHAT THEIR ENTIRE RELATIONSHIPS HAVE MEANT BEFORE THE FINAL BATTLE, SO... YEAH. HULK HAS NO IDEA WHAT THE FUCK HE IS TALKING ABOUT. YOU DON'T ACTUALLY NEED AN EPILOGUE TO SHOW WHAT EVERYONE IS DOING FROM THAT POINT ON TO HAVE "RESOLUTION." THAT IS NONSENSE. AND THE FACT THAT HE WOULD BE MORE SATISFIED BY THE MICHAEL-BAY-ESQUE "ISN'T DESTRUCTION GREAT?" ENDING WHERE THEY ARE SITTING ON THE BEACH WITH CARCASSES EVERYWHERE IS VERY TELLING OF THE FACT THAT HE PROBABLY HAD NO IDEA WHAT KIND OF GAME HE WAS REALLY PLAYING. BUT THERE IS ONE THING THAT IS VERY TELLING WHEN IT COMES TO THIS GUY'S RANT. HIS MOST POPULAR WORDS ARE "GIVE US."

WE ARE TRULY IN A "GIVE US" CULTURE. WE WANT INDULGENCE. WE WANT NOTHING TO DO WITH STORIES. NOTHING TO DO WITH ANYTHING. YOU CAN ARGUE THAT VIDEO GAMES ARE GROWING IN POPULARITY BECAUSE THEY "GIVE US" THE THINGS WE WANT IN TERMS OF EXPERIENCE INSTEAD OF HAVING SOME KIND OF RELATIONSHIP WITH SOMETHING WE CAN'T CONTROL. IS THAT IT? WE CONTROL VIDEO GAMES? WE MAKE THEM GIVE US WHAT WE WANT? WELL BECAUSE OF THAT PERSPECTIVE, THEN IN THE END THE FUROR OVER THE ORIGINAL ENDINGS PROMPTED MASS EFFECT 3 TO RELEASE EXTENDED ENDINGS WHERE THEY SIMPLY TACK ON MORE IMAGERY EXPLAINING IN MORE DETAIL EXACTLY WHAT THEY ALREADY EXPLAINED. THE FANS BASICALLY INSISTED WE NEEDED AN "AFTER EDEN" WHICH IS SO THEMATICALLY WRONG IN SO MANY WAYS. AND TO HULK, THIS FALLS IN LINE WITH THE INFAMOUS, UNNECESSARY ADDED EXPLANATIONS THAT HAVE FORCED THEIR WAYS INTO GREAT WORKS OF ART: THE ADDED DOCTOR EXPLANATION IN HITCHCOCK'S PSYCHO, OR THE WAY THE PRODUCERS FORCED SPIELBERG TO "TAKE US INSIDE THE SPACESHIP" IN THE RE-RELEASE OF CLOSE ENCOUNTERS OF THE THIRD KIND. IN META TERMS THIS WHOLE SITUATION IS DISTURBINGLY LIKE ANNIE WILKES' FORCED RE-WRITING OF SHELDON'S STORY IN MISERY. PERHAPS IT IS HUMAN NATURE TO CRAVE MORE THAN WHAT WE ARE GIVEN, BUT IT IS ALSO OUR RESPONSIBILITY TO SAY NO TO THIS KIND OF INDULGENCE WHEN WE CAN. ESPECIALLY WHEN THIS INDULGENCE THREATENS THE PURPOSE OF ART AND THE CREATORS' RIGHT TO MAKE THE STATEMENT THEY SEE FIT. IT IS SO VERY IMPORTANT FOR A SELF-AWARE, CRITICAL SOCIETY TO ALSO SAY NO WHEN IT IS NECESSARY... AND THIS TIME WE DIDN'T.

WHICH BRINGS UP THE ADDED FOURTH ENDING THAT WAS PUT INTO THE GAME AS WELL FOR PEOPLE WHO DIDN'T LIKE ANY OF THOSE ORIGINAL THREE CHOICES. THERE'S A LITTLE TWO MINUTE BLIP WHERE YOU CAN DECIDE THAT THOSE THREE ENDINGS ARE STUPID AND SHOOT THE CATALYST CHILD... AND THIS RESULTS IN YOUR AUTOMATICALLY LOSING THE GAME AND THE REAPERS HARVEST YOU AND THE ONLY THING THAT REMAINS IS LIARA'S MESSAGE ON USING THEIR STORY TO HELP BUILD THE CRUCIBLE NEXT TIME, SAYING SOMETHING ALONG THE LINES OF "LEARN FROM OUR FAILURE." THIS ENDING IS PERFECT BECAUSE IT IS AIMED DIRECTLY AT YOUR REJECTION OF THE ORIGINAL ENDINGS. IT SHOWS THAT REJECTION OF THAT CENTRAL CYCLES-BASED IDEA IS ESSENTIALLY A NON-COMMITTAL TOWARD LIFE ITSELF. THEIR STATEMENT ABOUT CYCLES IS SOMETHING THAT IS SO INTRINSIC TO OUR PURPOSE THAT TO REJECT IT IN THE NAME OF SOMETHING ELSE IS TO SIMPLY LOSE. THUS, IT'S THE ENDING YOU ACTUALLY DESERVE.

"Why are you so angry, Hulk???"

BECAUSE HULK TAKES THIS STUFF SO VERY SERIOUSLY. YOU REQUESTED A COLUMN IN THE FIRST PLACE BECAUSE HULK CARES ABOUT / LOVES STORIES AND WHAT YOU DIDN'T REALIZE IS THAT WITH YOUR RAGE WITH THE ENDING, YOU ACTUALLY WANT THE DEATH OF STORYTELLING. SERIOUSLY. YOU ASKED HULK TO RAIL AGAINST SOMETHING THAT OFFERS GORGEOUS STORYTELLING, SO REALLY YOUR PROBLEM IS THAT IT WAS BAD AT VIDEO GAME INDULGENCE. SO HULK JUST HAS TO SURMISE THAT YOU DON'T ACTUALLY WANT STORIES AFTER ALL. PERHAPS YOU WANT TO BE LIKE THE PERSON IN THE VIDEO ABOVE, SCREAMING ABOUT WHAT YOU ARE "OWED" LIKE SOME SELFISH MALCONTENT. YOU WANT TO BE INDULGED. YOU WANT OPTIONS. YOU WANT GLUTTONY. WE HAVE A WORD FOR THAT KIND OF VIDEO ENTERTAINMENT AND IT'S CALLED PORNOGRAPHY. AND IT'S PERFECT AT SATISFYING YOUR EMOTIONAL AND PHYSICAL IMPULSES SO HAVE AT IT.

MEANWHILE, THE PURPOSE OF ART EXISTS ON THE OTHER SIDE OF THE SPECTRUM. ART ISN'T ABOUT GIVING YOU WHAT YOU WANT, BUT INSTILLING IN YOU THE OPPOSITE. IT'S ABOUT MAKING A STATEMENT THAT WILL HELP YOU BE BETTER AT LIFE, GIVING YOU TRUTHS YOU MAY ACTUALLY NEED, OPENING AVENUES BEYOND YOUR OWN SOLIPSISTIC "CHOICE." TRUE ART NEVER INDULGES.

SO WHERE ON THE SPECTRUM DO YOU WANT TO FALL? IF YOU BELIEVE IN ART THEN YOU HAVE TO START ACTING LIKE IT.

LOOK... HULK KNOWS THE TONE OF THIS ENTIRE COLUMN IS HARSH. HULK HAS SPENT A GOOD DEAL OF IT YELLING AT YOU AND SAYING "WHAT YOU WANT" AND TELLING YOU THAT YOUR COMPLAINTS AREN'T VALID, AND THAT PRETTY MUCH SUCKS. HULK APOLOGIZES FOR THAT. HONESTLY. BECAUSE CHANCES ARE YOU ARE NOT LIKE THIS GUY IN THE VIDEO WHATSOEVER. YOU LIKELY EXIST ON SOME GRAY SCALE OF ALL OF THIS AND ARE JUST TRYING TO COME TO SOME KIND OF CATHARSIS ON WHY YOU WERE DISAPPOINTED. AND IN THAT YOU RALLIED AROUND A NUMBER OF IDEAS, ALL OF WHICH ARE FAIRLY LOGICAL. BUT ULTIMATELY ANY PATH THAT YOU GO DOWN IS LARGELY GOING AGAINST THE ARTISTIC STATEMENT BEING MADE BY THE GAME'S CREATORS. SO HULK'S PASSION AND ANGER ABOUT THIS ONE HAS A VERY SPECIFIC POINT.

YOU HAVE TO DECIDE WHAT IS IT THAT YOU WANT OUT OF VIDEO GAMES.

IF YOU WANT MASS EFFECT TO BE AN IMPORTANT PART OF THE CANON OF ART, THEN YOU HAVE TO UNDERSTAND THAT ULTIMATELY THE STORYTELLING ELEMENT IS GOING TO HAVE TO GO AGAINST THE INDULGENT NATURE OF VIDEO GAMES. YOU HAVE TO EMBRACE THE NON-INDULGENT PURPOSE OF ART. AND YOU HAVE TO BE OKAY WITH IT. YOU HAVE TO STRIVE TO UNDERSTAND WHAT IS PRESENTED WHEN WHAT IS PRESENTED IS THIS THEMATICALLY COHERENT AND BEAUTIFUL. YOU HAVE TO STRIVE FOR IT. IT'S THE ONLY WAY THE MEDIUM CAN MOVE FORWARD.

SAY WHAT YOU WILL, BUT THE MOVIE INDUSTRY DOESN'T MAKE NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN RE-SHOOT THE ENDING BECAUSE IT DOESN'T INDULGE US... INSTEAD, IT IS DEEPLY MOVED BY WHAT IT HAS TO SAY AND GIVES THAT FILM "BEST PICTURE."

SO WHAT DOES MASS EFFECT ULTIMATELY HAVE TO SAY? HULK KEEPS HEARING THAT MASS EFFECT IS ABOUT CHOICE. IT ISN'T ABOUT CHOICE WHATSOEVER; CHOICE WAS SIMPLY THE NATURE OF THE MECHANICS. IN THE END, MASS EFFECT EARNED AN OPPORTUNITY TO BE ABOUT WHATEVER THE FUCK IT WANTED TO BE ABOUT AND MAKE THE STATEMENT IT WANTED TO MAKE. AND IT QUITE CLEARLY CHOSE TO MAKE ITS ENDING STATEMENT ABOUT CYCLES, WHICH IS APT CONSIDERING IT IS THE VERY FIRST IDEA PRESENTED IN THE FIRST GAME. AND IN THE END IT MADE A SINGLE, ARTFULLY DRAWN STATEMENT ABOUT THE NATURE OF CYCLES AND HOW THEY RELATE TO OUR LIVES IN A UNIFYING WAY... AND IF YOU THOUGHT IT WAS SOMEHOW WRONG, STUPID OR INCOMPLETE THEN, WITHOUT REALIZING IT, YOU SPAT IN THE VERY FACE OF THE ARTISTIC PURPOSE.

YOU DECIDED YOU DIDN'T WANT VIDEO GAMES TO BE STORIES, OR EVEN ART.

WHICH MAKES HULK ALL THE MORE SAD BECAUSE THE MASS EFFECT FOLKS INCLUDED A BEAUTIFUL BOOKEND ABOUT THE ARTISTIC PURPOSE AND WHY WE TELL STORIES AT ALL. AND THEY ENCAPSULATED THE ENTIRE JOURNEY WITH THIS BEAUTIFUL STARGAZER SCENE (COMPLETE WITH BUZZ FUCKING ALDRIN DOING THE VOICE) WHICH YOU CAN TAKE A GANDER AT FOR YOURSELF.

WE TELL THESE STORIES AS PART OF A CYCLE. A CYCLE THAT PERPETUATES GENERATION AFTER GENERATION. WE NEED THEM BECAUSE WE ALWAYS WANT TO LOOK UP INTO THE HEAVENS AND DREAM NOT JUST OF WHERE WE ARE GOING, BUT TO DO SO WE NEED TO UNDERSTAND WHERE WE HAVE BEEN BEFORE. HULK TRULY BELIEVES THAT STORIES ARE THE MOST IMPORTANT THINGS IN THE UNIVERSE BECAUSE THEY CONSTRUCT OUR SENSE OF PURPOSE.

AT THE END OF LAST YEAR HULK SURMISED WHEN WE WOULD GET OUR CITIZEN KANE OF GAMING AND HULK DIDN'T KNOW IF WE'D EVER GET THERE... WELL, FINE. HULK THINKS THAT WITH THE MASS EFFECT SERIES WE FOUND IT. THE UNIFYING THREE PRONGED ORIGINAL ENDING OF MASS EFFECT 3 IS A PURE ARTISTIC STATEMENT.

AND THE GAMER COMMUNITY AT LARGE PROVED THEY WEREN'T READY.

WE WERE ALL GIVEN A BEAUTIFUL, ARTICULATE, POETIC ENDING TO A GREAT STORY AND FOR MANY OF YOU, YOUR CHOICE WAS TO SPIT IN ITS FUCKING FACE.

SO WHEN WE GET TO THAT POINT IN THE CYCLE WHERE A BEAUTIFUL VIDEO GAME SERIES GIVES US ANOTHER POIGNANT ENDING, CAN WE PLEASE DO BETTER NEXT TIME?

WITH LOVE AND HOPE,

<3 HULK

Film Crit Hulk's photo About the Author: FILM CRIT HULK WAS CREATED IN A CHAOTIC LAB EXPERIMENT INVOLVING GAMMA RADIATION, TELEPODS, AND THE GHOST OF PAULINE KAEL. NOW HULK HAVE DEEP AND ABIDING LOVE CINEMA.
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