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 Indoctrination Theory. 

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PostSubject: Indoctrination Theory.   Tue Jan 08, 2013 6:32 pm

This thread is a
vitalization and continuation of an Indoctrination Theory thread started
on the BSN (Bioware Social Network) by community member Byne.

Key Theories of Indoctrination

Harbinger's Attack Theory

theory roots itself in the beginning of Hammer Squad's run towards the
Citadel Conduit, when Harbinger is trying to destroy the squad and
protect the Conduit. Shepard is knocked unconscious when the laser beam
narrowly misses but wounds the Commander.

The basis is that while
Shepard is lying unconscious on the battlefield, they are hallucinating
getting up and making it to through the beam and up onto the Citadel.

This is the most strongly supported theory by in-game evidence and the strongest explanation for the endings.
Elevator Theory

This theory roots itself in the scene after both Anderson and Illusive Man die in the control panel room.

basis is that Shepard does indeed wake up and make it through the
Conduit, reaching the control panel room with a final showdown involving
Anderson and Illusive Man. Bleeding to death, Shepard tries to reach
the console again to activate the Crucible but faints and is lifted by
an elevator to the exterior of the Citadel to meet Catalyst.

There is some strong supporting evidence for this theory but also strong evidence that disproves it.
Illos Run Theory (developed by Byne)

theory roots itself in the beginning of the final push against the
Reapers on Earth in London, during the scene where the Hades Canon must
be taken out by Shepard's squad. Cortez's Kodiak is shot down shortly
after dropping Shepard off. The scene bears some resemblance to the
Illos level of Mass Effect when trying to reach the Conduit.

basis is that the Kodiak was shot down before Shepard could disembark
and Shepard is lying under rubble, hallucinating the whole scene from
the Hades Canon onwards.

This is probably the weakest of the
three 'main' theories behind indoctrination because there is not a lot
of supporting evidence behind it.

Key Evidence
This is all IN-GAME evidence that has been analyzed by the community to support (or debunk) the viability of Indoctrination.
Meeting Catalyst
is one of the most controversial scenes in the Mass Effect 3 ending.
There are many things that can be taken from this scene alone that help
support Indoctrination.

First is the location of
the connection point between the Crucible and the Citadel Tower. This is
where the elevator takes Shepard and 1-3 'choices' are presented. The
central beam is the connection point between the Crucible and the
Citadel Tower. There is a large 'error' with this scene.

Shepard is standing in the total vacuum of space without a proper environment suit or helmet.

This image, provided by
ceruleancrescent (I think), depicts the docking point of the Crucible to
the Citadel. The white arrow is the direction of the Citadel Tower, the
Crucible is docked at the base. The green and red circles are where the
Crucible beam connects with the chasm into the base of the tower. The
yellow circle is the approximate area of the partial tunnel Shepard
walks down. The two blue arrows indicate the front and back of the
Citadel Tower. Some have argued that Mass Effect fields created by the
Citadel create an atmosphere in that area, but the only areas on the
Citadel with an atmosphere are the Wards.

Citadel Wiki Entry on the Wards

"arms" of the Citadel, known as the Wards, constitute the residential
and commercial sectors of the station. Densely populated, housing
millions of residents from many galactic species, the Wards are akin to
Earth cities such as Hong Kong and Singapore. Numerous skyscrapers rise
from the superstructure, sealed against vacuum, as breathable atmosphere is only maintained to a height of approximately 7 meters.
Unlike the Presidium, there is no artificial day-night cycle; as a
consequence of this, commercial activity rarely ceases, and residents
work and rest according to personal need. Barla Von appropriately dubs
the area the cultural heart of the Citadel, and therefore of Citadel
space. The Wards are policed by the Citadel Security Services (C-Sec),
whose offices and custody suites are located in the Lower Wards. Flux is
a popular night club, also located in the Wards.

There are several other
key points with this scene that will be summarized and gone into depth
in other threads or in later posts in this thread.

  • If Shepard reaches this point with a Low EMS, Catalyst will only
    present a single option to Shepard; Destroy (Destroyed Collector Base)
    or Control (Collector Base Intact).
  • If Shepard's EMS score
    is in the 3200 and up range, all 3 choices should be open. Catalyst will
    describe Destroy as the worst option and Synthesis as the best option.

  • Destroy and Control are colored in the Paragon/Renegade scheme, yet
    Anderson is shown on the Destroy option and Illusive Man on the Control
    option, which is a reversal of the Paragon/Renegade scheme.
  • Catalyst is in the form of the young boy Shepard sees in Vancouver in the beginning.
  • Shepard is very 'out of character' and does not show any initiative to question Catalyst's words.

    Crucible Control Panel

    This scene takes place
    before the meeting with Catalyst. Both Anderson and Illusive Man are
    encountered here for one last conversation before the end of the game.
    There are also several 'errors' with this scene as well as one large

    During points in Illusive
    Man's speech, 'oily shadows' will appear on the edges of the screen,
    often accompanied by a deep, vibrating sound that is associated with the
    Reapers. This strange edging has been mentioned by the Rachni Queen,
    who perceives sound differently from other organics, since it serves as a
    form of sight and communication for her species. She mentions the 'oily
    shadows' the Reapers create when trying to indoctrinate her and and her

    During this entire scene, Anderson and Illusive Man
    seem to take on the roles of Paragon and Renegade. Shepard can attempt
    to talk down Illusive Man in the same manner Saren can be talked down in
    ME1, resulting in Illusive Man committing suicide if successful.
    Anderson wants to destroy the Reapers while Illusive Man believes he can
    control them. Anderson will constantly fight the Illusive Man's
    indoctrinated logic and even say that he's been indoctrinated himself
    while Shepard seems oddly left out of the conversation except for key
    dialogues to sway the Illusive Man's opinion.

    The control panel
    itself is also a focus. It is located at the base of the Citadel Tower
    and is capable of opening up the arms of the Citadel when they are
    closed, however this seems to contradict events from Mass Effect 1. The
    control panel in the top of the Citadel Tower, in the Council Chamber,
    is known as the control panel for the entire Citadel.

    Sovereign had to link with
    the top of the tower to access the controls, after Saren reached the
    control panel in the Council Chamber to over-ride the modified Keepers.
    It is highly unusual that there is a secondary control panel in the
    opposite end of the Citadel Tower with the same functions as the main
    control panel, in a place that no organic has access to from anywhere in
    the Citadel (implied by Catalyst)

    The next portion of this
    scene is the elevator that lifts Shepard to the exterior area where the
    Crucible is connected, starting the meeting with Catalyst. The
    orientation of the hallway Shepard is dropped off in is unclear, since
    there is no view of the exterior of the Citadel anywhere to be seen. The
    assumption is that Shepard's head is pointing in the same direction the
    Citadel Tower is, yet the elevator at the Crucible console lifts
    Shepard up towards the bottom of the Citadel Tower, which either
    suggests that the elevator quickly switches around before reaching the
    exterior or that Shepard was, in fact, walking on the underside of the
    bridge connecting the Citadel Tower to the exterior ring that holds the

    Arguments Against Indoctrination

    keep in mind that many of these arguments are not set in stone, and
    they exist in tandem with other arguments that counter them. However,
    because these arguments hold their ground in the realm of serious
    analysis (ie: pose a significant mental road-block to the theorist
    wanting to prove the null hypothesis), they are included here. Please
    see the post entitled "The Catalyst's Solutions" further down in this
    thread for the counterarguments against these queries.

    explosion scene at the end of both the Destroy and Synthesis endings are
    a common topic of debate as to if Indoctrination is true or not.
    Shepard is on the Citadel when it explodes, standing in the EXACT
    epicenter of the explosion. Some say that Shepard fell from the Citadel
    and back to Earth, accounting for the rubble seen in the 'hidden' bonus
    scene. However, there are several flaws with this counter-argument.

    Shepard was indeed on the Citadel when it exploded, there is no
    possible way the Commander would have survived the vacuum of space. The
    Commander's armor suit is severely damaged to the point where pieces of
    it are missing. The Commander would have died without that or the helmet
    on. Even if Shepard somehow survived, the trauma of re-entering Earth's
    atmosphere would have destroyed Shepard's body far worse than what
    happened after the Collector Ship attack in Mass Effect 2. Though the
    breathing scene ending is the only seen if Destroy with 5000 and above
    EMS is chosen, the likelihood of Shepard surviving the explosion, let
    alone re-entry into Earth's atmosphere is extremely unlikely.

    further argument against Indoctrination is the Prothean VI discovered on
    Thessia. It has proven it is capable of detecting the effects of Reaper
    indoctrination, as it warns about Kai Leng shortly before he arrives in
    the temple. HOWEVER, this segment of the game can go both ways. The VI
    never says how much an individual must be indoctrinated to detect it.
    The Protheans trying to build the Crucible in their cycle were divided
    into two factions, a secondary sect that believed they could control the
    Reapers (sound familiar?). This secondary group turned out to be
    indoctrinated, yet the Prothean systems did not detect it until it was
    too late.

    Another argument against the Indoctrination Theory is
    the fact that arriving at the Catalyst with the lowest EMS rating
    presents the player with only a single option -- Destroy (if the
    Collector base was destroyed in ME2). Why would this option be the only
    one to exist, ever, if Destroy implies that Shepard breaks free from
    Indoctrination? Certainly, it implies his/her death, but does it also
    definitely imply the death of the Reapers? And if it does, why would it
    ever be presented to Shepard, regardless of the certainty of Shepard's
    impending death? Concurrently, if the player arrives at the Catalyst
    with the lowest EMS rating (and the Collector base was saved in ME2),
    the only option given to the player is Control. While this, at its most
    basic level, seems to support indoctrination, Shepard still dies with
    said EMS rating. What would be the point of Harbinger extending the
    option to Control to an organic about to die/be harvested?

    If the
    limited choices are presented because of a direct correlation between
    EMS rating, then why bother to have the meeting with the Catalyst at
    all? If Harbinger is aware that Shepard hasn't got enough military
    strength to help him sustain the indoctrination attempt, why bother
    bringing up to meet the Catalyst? The Reapers do not seem to be inclined
    towards any sort of emotional parlance -- one could argue that bringing
    an assuredly defeated (and soon to be annihilated) Shepard up to meet
    the Catalyst for an abysmal, empty, and sour single choice
    may be a
    bit... sociopathic. A final way to prove to Shepard that all his/her
    efforts have been in vain. But why bother? Such emotional manipulation,
    in this sense, does not fit the Reaper modus operandi. Reapers operate
    upon efficiency, at all times. Engaging in manipulation of an already
    obsolete hero does not beg efficiency.

    Another potential
    road-block to the indoctrination theory is the destruction of the mass
    relays that the Catalyst tells Shepard will occur, regardless of choice
    or outcome. If indoctrination was the ultimate goal of Harbinger, why
    would the mass relays be destroyed in a Control or Synthesis ending? How
    would this serve the Reapers?

    A final real-time argument against
    the IDT comes directly from BioWare itself. BioWare's wording about the
    endings suggest a lack of intention about IDT:

    "Building on
    their research, Exec Producer Casey Hudson and the team are hard at work
    on a number of game content initiatives that will help answer the
    questions, providing more clarity for those seeking further closure to
    their journey. You’ll hear more on this in April. We’re working hard to
    maintain the right balance between the artistic integrity of the
    original story while addressing the fan feedback we’ve received. This is
    in addition to our existing plan to continue providing new Mass Effect
    content and new full games, so rest assured that your journey in the
    Mass Effect universe can, and will, continue." -Dr. Ray Muzyka"

    line of reasoning also poses an excellent challenge to the
    BioWare/Player Indoctrination sub-Theory. If BioWare's intention was to
    allow the player to experience indoctrination firsthand, why only
    present the possibility of one choice (thereby negating the potential to
    experience indoctrination)? After all, even though in reality, we can
    play the game multiple times to achieve the endings and outcomes that we
    desire, if Mass Effect was reality, Shepard would only have one chance.
    One chance, one choice, and no hope of respawning to try again
    (Cerberus implants excepted)...

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PostSubject: Re: Indoctrination Theory.   Tue Jan 08, 2013 6:37 pm

Codex Entry on Indoctrination

"indoctrination" is an insidious means of corrupting organic minds,
"reprogramming" the brain through physical and psychological
conditioning using electromagnetic fields, infrasonic and ultrasonic
noise, and other subliminal methods. The Reaper's resulting control over
the limbic system leaves the victim highly susceptible to its
Organics undergoing indoctrination may complain of
headaches and buzzing or ringing in their ears. As time passes, they
have feelings of "being watched" and hallucinations of "ghostly"
presences. Ultimately, the Reaper gains the ability to use the victim's
body to amplify its signals, manifesting as "alien" voices in the mind.

can create perfect deep cover agents. A Reaper's "suggestions" can
manipulate victims into betraying friends, trusting enemies, or viewing
the Reaper itself with superstitious awe. Should a Reaper subvert a
well-placed political or military leader, the resulting chaos can bring
down nations.

Long-term physical effects of the manipulation are
unsustainable. Higher mental functioning decays, ultimately leaving the
victim a gibbering animal. Rapid indoctrination is possible, but causes
this decay in days or weeks. Slow, patient indoctrination allows the
thrall to last for months or years.

During the conversation
with Anderson and Illusive Man, Illusive Man will force Shepard, against
their will, to raise their pistol and shoot Anderson. Anderson will
take the shot in his lower left abdomen, but there is no blood spatter
or a bleeding wound and Anderson seems unaffected by the shot.

Illusive Man is killed and either Shepard sits down with Anderson or
alone in front of the console, Shepard will place a hand over their
lower left side, exactly the same spot where Anderson is shot. Shepard
is suddenly bleeding profusely from this wound

After waking up from
Harbinger's attack, the landscape behind and around Shepard seems
strangely devoid of debris (like downed gun-ships and several MAKOS).
The surrounding area is also strangely blurred beyond recognition and
buildings seem to be either missing or very far away, especially in the
direction Shepard just came from. There also seem to be less bodies than
there should be on the battlefield.

James Vega will comment on
hearing a humming sound down in the shuttle bay during a short
dialogue. The Normandy's engines run silent or at least very quietly (as
commented by Tali from ME1), so the humming's origins remain a mystery.
Video link provided by Murasame

The pistol Shepard
picks up after Harbinger's attack requires no thermal clips or
reloading, though you can reload the pistol. The pistol is suddenly gone
after going through the Citadel Beam. Shepard will pick up the pistol
again after taking a few steps down the hallway. The pistol disappears
again after Illusive Man dies, then Shepard will suddenly be armed with
it after the conversation with Catalyst.

When Shepard wakes up,
you will hear Coates speaking with a woman about Hammer Squad. According
to Coates, none of Hammer Squad made it to the Citadel Beam. Coates
must have a view of the area from somewhere yet does not see Shepard get
up and limp towards the beam. No survivors from Hammer Squad or anyone
who has view of the area seems to realize Shepard is up and moving.

contacts Shepard after reaching the Citadel and claims to have come in
behind Shepard... yet, if you swing Shepard around to look behind them
while heading towards the beam, you will see no one behind you. Anderson
also mentions 'we' as if others with him made it to the beam as well.

the second and third nightmare, the 'oily shadows' will appear in
semblance of human figures, surrounding the Vancouver boy. Shepard will
also hear the voice of either Kaiden or Ashely and any other companions
that have died during ME3.

Circumstantial Evidence

has no dialogue in the game and leaves the Citadel beam after Shepard
regains consciousness. Harbinger's voice actor from ME2, Keith
Szarabajka, is not credited specifically for Harbinger in the credits,
only for Additional Voices.

A heartbeat can be heard in the audio track when Shepard/Player makes their decision at the end of the game.
Audio extracted by Predalienguy - ME3: Heartbeat

On both the battlefield
and the hallway we see piles of corpses. The ones seen on the
battlefield are to Shepard's left (and right I believe) and lack any
distinction, just mostly textures of what appears to be the Phoenix
armor and a couple of others seen from Mass Effect 1. These bodies
reappear again in the hallway on the Citadel.

Some of the bodies are
more distinctive models, though we also see Alliance Marines added to
the pile. The features on the models are flat and generic and do not use
the face system in Mass Effect 3 like it does for all NPCs. This pile
of bodies also appeared in the Collector Ship when it was disabled.

route to the control panel appears similar to areas Shepard has already
been, like the Collector Ship, the Shadow Broker's Ship, and several
Cerberus bases and facilities.

Anderson makes it to the console
before Shepard despite the lack of any other connecting routes to the
room. Though he does mention the shifting walls, when Shepard sees them,
there is no connecting pathways hidden or revealed. Illusive Man also
comes in from behind Shepard from the same route Shepard took. There is
no where in the room to hide or enter from aside from the door Shepard
came through.

Disproven/Debunked Evidence

trees seen after Shepard wakes up after Harbinger's attack don't seem
to bear much significance aside from simply populating the area. They
appear out of place among all the chaos, but their purpose seems to have
no deeper meaning

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PostSubject: Re: Indoctrination Theory.   Tue Jan 08, 2013 6:39 pm

Indoctrination Throughout Mass Effect

ending of Mass Effect 3 has been subject to much talk of controversy,
ridicule, and out-rage since word has spread across the internet.
Countless articles and postings in various sites, including BSN, have
cropped up to either fuel the flames or seek an alternative to what we
were given.

Indoctrination was one of the theories that appeared
and caught fire across BSN and has captured much attention, both
negative and positive... and not without merit. Indoctrination is not
based on pure fan-base speculation or the distraught emotions of players
confused and upset by the endings of Mass Effect 3. The Indoctrination
Theory is based upon an analysis of in-game events that support
indoctrination all on its own.

Indoctrination has been visible in
Mass Effect since the first game. Saren's will and ideals were twisted
by Sovereign after he discovered the Reaper ship, thinking he could use
it in a campaign against humans. Prior to their meeting, Sovereign has
been trying for the better part of 200 years to figure out why the
Keepers did not respond to its signal and open the Dark Space Relay, but
Saren provided the asset it needed to move forward with the Reaper

Throughout the first game, you see Saren's condition
slowly but surely deteriorate, though it becomes clear that his better
nature and will is fighting against Sovereign. Saren is aware of
Sovereign's affects on him and opens his research lab on Virmire to
study its affects, to see if there is a way to either prevent or maybe
even reverse its affects, but even that fails him. His obsession with
Indoctrination leads to him falling deeper and deeper into it. Saren's
beliefs and fears becomes so twisted by Sovereign that he believes that
salvation for the galactic community can only happen if they willingly
submit to the Reapers. Conversations with Rana Thanoptis and Lieutenant
Ganto Imness shed some more light on indoctrination's affects.
Sovereign used Saren as a catalyst to indoctrinate Matriarch Benezia.
She associates the effects of indoctrination to Saren, not Sovereign but
appears to be somewhat aware of what Sovereign truly is.

At the
end of the game, Saren gives his famous final speech and notes that he
had began to doubt Sovereign after Shepard's words on Virmire. Sovereign
implanted Saren to subdue his will and keep him in line, but even then a
full Paragon/Renegade Shepard can appeal to what is left of the true
Saren and convince him to commit suicide. However, it is all for naught
since it seems enough implants were put into Saren to allow for
Sovereign to fully control the turian's body, warping it into a
grotesque, geth-like avatar to kill Shepard.

Then we have the
Collectors, controlled through a central leader that serves as
Harbinger's avatar while waiting in Dark Space. Mass Effect 2 focuses on
two aspects; the disappearance of human colonies and Harbinger's
obsession with Shepard. Ever since Mass Effect: Redemption released, we
see that Harbinger attempts to obtain Shepard's corpse from the Shadow
Broker, only to be thwarted by Liara T'soni and Feron. Throughout the
game, Harbinger's dialogue is tailored specifically to emphasize the
point that Harbinger wants Shepard at any cost. The Collector's are
Protheans that have been heavily genetically modified and implanted with
Reaper tech to dissolve any free-will, making them a kind of 'husk' but
more intelligent than the ones made through the use of Dragon's Teeth
or direct exposure to Reaper nanites.

The Derelict Reaper is
another heavy example behind indoctrination. The logs of he Cerberus
crew that had boarded it to study it began to feel its effects within
days. Even though primarily disabled, the Reaper was still emitting an
indoctrination signal and it turned the research team in a matter of
weeks. The video logs show an interesting side effect when
indoctrination affects group. It causes memories of each individual to
blend together until they can't tell which is their own.

Shepard has been exposed to several devices and Reaper tech that is
known to or likely emits an indoctrination signal of some sorts. It is
already proven that the signal does not just come from a Reaper or a
Reaper device, but it can come from those who serve the Reapers like
Saren as well. Shepard has been exposed to devices like Object Rho from
Arrival, as well as other Reaper Tech devices. It is also highly likely
that Shepard's implants from the Lazarus Project are based on Reaper

Turning back to the ending of Mass Effect 3, as they stand
on their own, the unfolding events from the Hammer Squad run and onward
make no real sense. It is not 'art' and it breaks every rule of good
writing. There is nothing within the game itself that could logically
explain how the ending fits with the rest of the Mass Effect trilogy.

Indoctrination is taken into account, the endings begin to make sense.
Everything Shepard experiences after Harbinger's attack does fit the
signs of indoctrination. Shepard is extremely strong willed and firm in
their beliefs and ideals. The conversation with Anderson and Illusive
Man can be viewed less in a literal conversation and more as a symbolic
one. Shepard is personifying their will and the affects of
indoctrination as two people. Anderson is Shepard's will and idealism
with a Paragon nature and Illusive Man is the temptations of
Indoctrination with a Renegade nature. Through this whole conversation,
Shepard actually says very little and the few lines spoken are literally
a repetition of several of Anderson's lines. The scene plays out almost
parallel to the final encounter with Saren from ME1, right down to the
suicide if Illusive Man can be convinced.

Then, there is Catalyst
and the three choices given (depending on EMS score). It is a common
agreement that this scene alone does not feel right in any logical sense
without Indoctrination to fill in the missing pieces. Catalyst claims
it controls the Reapers and they are a 'solution' to the problem of the
'created rising up against their creators' i.e. synthetics rising up and
wiping out organic life. The Reapers do follow a particular and set
pattern and though they are preserved organic material from past
civilizations, they are still machine. When all three options are open,
Catalyst's dialogue changes a little in some parts. The most notable
dialogue Catalyst has is about Destroy. Destroy is the only option that
is presented in a bad light. He will point out he is aware of Shepard's
intentions to destroy the Reapers, but insinuates that the Reaper's
destruction will result in the destruction of ALL SYNTHETIC LIFE,
including the geth. He also warns that Shepard's implants might be
enough to get them killed as well as saying that without the Reapers or
another choosing the 'right' solution, eventually the synthetics will
rebel and kill all organic life.

The three endings have their
own, very slight, variants depending on EMS. Control results in the
Reapers leaving Earth and the Citadel closing, presumably to moved back
to its original location. In Destroy, the Citadel blows up but with a
high enough EMS score, the 'secret' breathing scene is shown. Synthesis
results in the Reapers leaving Earth and the Citadel exploding as well.
All three endings result in the destruction of the Mass Relays and Joker
and the crew's crash on an unknown planet with the Normandy. Very
little makes sense except for the concept of indoctrination. All the
proof and evidence and support is there in the game and all the subtle
clues are there as well in Mass Effect 3's story that can lead to the
likely conclusion that Shepard falls dangerously close to being fully
indoctrinated towards the end of the game. Without any other cinematics
like the breathing scene, we do not know the other possibilities of
Shepard's fate with the other endings but it can be safely speculated
that because we don't see them is because Shepard has either succumbed
to Indoctrination or that Shepard died from their wounds.

is a viable theory because it has such a strong presence in the game's
story and Bioware developers have even admitted that indoctrination was
going to play a bigger role in ME3 than it has in the previous two
sequels, yet several ideas for its use were scrapped. It goes beyond fan
conjecture or simple speculation, it has always been a part of the game
from the get go and any true Mass Effect fan cannot ignore what has
been in front of us since the series first began.

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PostSubject: Re: Indoctrination Theory.   Tue Jan 08, 2013 6:40 pm

The Catalyst's Solutions

is an exploration of the Catalyst's proposed endings to Shepard through
the lens of indoctrination, as well as a discussion of the solutions to
the Synthorganic/technological singularity issue perpetuated throughout
the Mass Effect lore. The options and their ramifications will be
discussed, along with theory-projecting for each choice should Shepard
engage in either. Credit for this discussion goes to many of our
community members, namely LadyFalacia, GenLloyd, TH3Fish, FatalLogic and

Before we begin: A caveat

Let us
keep in mind at all times throughout this analysis that the Catalyst's
true intentions and the inherent veracity of its statements are deeply
questionable. It can, concieviably, be outrightly accused of lying at
certain points, and latently accused of being vague (at best) at all
others. Please keep this caveat in your thoughts as you read through
this discussion -- nothing the Catalyst says can truly be proven (or
disproven) through fact.


the ellucidation of the Control option, the Catalyst tells Shepard that
s/he will be able to assume control of the Reapers and, in doing so,
will become a part of them. Through the offering of this choice, the
Catalyst seemingly alludes to the concept that Shepard possesses the
mental fortitude and willpower necessary to keep the Reapers from
continuing the cycle of harvesting and destruction of appropriately
advanced organics in future cycles.

So, let us project. What
would happen if Shepard chose Control, especially with a low EMS
(implying death)? What would be the point of allowing Shepard to Control
if s/he is going to die? Does s/he, in fact, truly die? Is there a less
literal meaning being implied here? Will Shepard's consciousness
remain? Situation-projection follows (projections directly taken from
previous scenes from the environment in the run to the Conduit's beam,
as well as previous Control examples throughout the ME lore):

the Catalyst was lying about literal death, Shepard might "wake up".
Depending on EMS, depending on the reality of the Catalyst scene itself
(did it actually happen? Was Shepard truly transported to the Crucible
in some way? Or was it all in Shepard's mind?), s/he might wake up in a
reality after having truly assumed Control of the Reapers or s/he might
wake up in a reality where complete indoctrination has occured. In the
first projection, Shepard would become the next Catalyst. S/he would
have, theoretically, the ability to choose what fate will befall the
Reapers -- will s/he send them back into dark space? Will s/he turn them
against themselves in a civil war to destroy all of their ships and
tech? Or will s/he succumb to a fate akin to TIM's -- Control them with
the intent of using their tech to further galactic life?

In the
second projection, where complete indcotrination has occurred, it has
been theorized that the scenario can progress in divergent paths. In the
first, Harbinger assumes direct control of Shepard. Who Shepard is, no
longer exists. Harbinger will either harvest Shepard, let him/her die,
or utilize him/her (through the manipulation of Shepard's high
reputation and renown as a war hero and leader) to achieve final organic
annihilation. In the second, Shepard will "wake up", indoctrinated, and
potentially still be trying to access the Crucible (implying a higher
EMS). In this scenario, the actions of Shepard's squadmates and military
forces come up for debate -- will they attempt to stop Shepard? Will
they be alive to do so? Will they, themselves, be indoctrinated after
such close exposure to Harbinger? Or, will Shepard be able to still hold
a semblence of self, even through the indoctrination? Will s/he truly
be able to send the Reapers back into dark space for time eternal, and
stop the cycle?

Regardless of theory-casting as to how the choice
would manifest in realtime, the Control option should present one thing
in a pristinely clear way to the player: Shepard is being (or has now
become) indoctrinated. Combine this awareness with the blatant cinematic
of Shepard turning into a husk-esque avatar when chosing this option,
we can see that something is amiss. Throughout the series, Shepard has
never strayed from the belief that the Reapers should be destroyed. At
all costs. Even himself/herself. For the game to even present this
option to Shepard is, arguably, a violation against the series' lore.
Against the Shepard that is canon to the game. Why now, at the end,
would Shepard ever decide to Control? Even with the most well-meaning of
intentions in his/her heart, Control means that everything Shepard has
ever stood for is lost. Within the blink of an eye, within the firing of
an electron -- the Reapers will have won.


the offering of this scenario, the Catalyst tells Shepard that
destroying the Reapers will also destroy all synthetic life, including
the Geth and EDI. The Catalyst also seems to imply that Shepard will
also die if that option is chosen, due s/he being 'partially synthetic'.
Regardless of EMS rating, it can be reasonably stated that the Catalyst
seems to be engaging in a serious dissuasion attempt of this choice.
Directly implying the death of Shepard himself/herself is one thing
perhaps not so entirely worrisome to Shepard, who has continuously
stated throughout the series that s/he is willing to die to destroy the
Reapers. But to imply the death of his/her synthetic friends? The death
of entire synthetic populations that Shepard attempted to understand,
integrate, and unite? Although not literally blocking this path to
Shepard, the Catalyst seems to be engaging in emotional manipulation to
dissuade Shepard from this choice.

Echoes are given here, to
BioWare attempting to confuse the player through the physical placement
of the choices upon the Crucible. Destroy is bathed in red, implying a
Renegade choice. Control is bathed in blue, implying a Paragon choice
(the placement of the Paragon/Renegade options are also switched in the
console versions [Paragon=left click | Renegade=right click] but remain
the same on the PC, so this aspect of the theory is questionable). To
further illustrate this point, BioWare goes as far to pick the two
avatars for the Paragon (Anderson) and Renegade (TIM) to represent the
images of each of the choices, conflicting the avatars with the familiar
colour scheme of the Paragrade constructs. The implications of such a
choice are difficult to ascertain, and present the most emotionally
challenging ones to Shepard (and the player) that could ever be given.
If the Catalyst speaks the truth, the geth will die. EDI will die. Joker
will be devastated. Shepard will die. The mass relays will be
eliminated (although the relays are destroyed in all endings, the
addition of this fact to this seemingly horrendous choice is highlighted
here simply because of its seeming insult to injury). Shepard's
squadmates (not to mention the rest of the galaxy) will have to live in a
tech-less reality. But -- the Reapers will be destroyed.

So how
does Shepard proceed? Is s/he brave enough to confront the reality as it
has been presented by the Catalyst, or see through (the potential) lie?
Some have argued that the fact that Destroy is presented as the only
option given by the Catalyst when Shepard has a low EMS and has
destroyed the Collector Base is evidence against the Indoctrination
theory, but community members TH3Fish and The Esoterocist have ralied
and provided an interesting counterargument, please click the spoiler
button for their analysis (paraphrased for brevity):

It is likely that the Reapers knew Shepard had a secondary assault team
waiting past the Sol Relay. Illusive Man fed the Reapers intel about the
Crucible so the Reapers moved it where they could protect it, Earth.

know Shepard will wait until an opportune moment to call in the
Crucible and it's protective guard. They have to assess his/her strength
(EMS). When they do, they make a judgement call; Do they indoctrinate
Shepard fully or not? This is why Harbinger leaves the battlefield to
protect the Conduit. Harbinger may have been intent on killing Shepard
at that point, we don't know if the Reaper purposely missed so that
Shepard was only wounded or not. The wounds, however, provide the
perfect opportunity to speed up the process and take control of Shepard
before the Alliance really has a chance to use the Crucible. The whole
Citadel scene would still be necessary to trick Shepard into calling for
the Crucible, laying a trap themselves to draw the weapon out, and then
either have Shepard indoctrinated or die before activating it.

sufficient EMS, there's no need to bother completing the procedure, the
war is already lost, so Shepard/Player is only given one choice based
on what they did with the Reaper tech from the Collector's base. If you
blew it up, you'd choose the obvious Destroy option and if you kept it
the Reapers know you may be more inclined at the prospect of attempting
to Control them. It's a lose-lose for the galactic species as a whole no
matter what, so it's like the final insult by Harbinger to leave you
only one possible avenue and still give you hope that you might actually
win. The player is still being tricked because we don't know what
happens after each choice, aside from Destroy with high EMS. The
repercussions aren't there.

So, what happens if
Shepard picks Destroy? With a high enough EMS to access the 'breath'
scene in the rubble, implying that s/he is alive and has broken the
indoctrination attempt? Two general schools of thought pepper this
analysis: either Shepard has physically destroyed the Reapers through
this choice, or Shepard has merely broken the indoctrination attempt and
the final (true) battle with Harbinger to reach the Crucible awaits. If
Shepard has truly destroyed the Reapers, then it remains to be seen:
are the mass relays destroyed? Are synthetics destroyed? Shepard being
alive seems to negate the theory (read: lie) proposed by the Catalyst
that all synthetics will be destroyed, so does that mean all of the
other implied outcomes (synthetic destruction, etc) are false, as well?
If Shepard's choice of Destroy is merely a metaphor for breaking
indoctrination, then what will the Crucible's true function be? Will it
truly Destroy the Reapers? Will it leave other synthetic and organic
life intact? Will the mass relays remain?


this final scenario, the Catalyst tells Shepard that by sacrificing
himself/herself by merging with the energy beam at the center of the
Crucible, s/he will enable the 'ascension' of all organic and synthetic
life into synthorganic hybrids. As with Destroy, the Catalyst engages in
black and white manipulation for this choice, seeming to be trying to
will Shepard into chosing that option. When provided with this choice,
we are given a vision of Shepard himself/herself running into the green
(Saren) beam; a seemingly direct emotional provokation on behalf of the
Catalyst to get Shepard to self-align with that choice. The Catalyst
implies through omission that the geth will survive, that EDI will
survive, and that all life will be 'uplifted'. The galaxy will be better
off, wildly, than Shepard could have left it otherwise. The Catalyst
seems to be explaining the benefit of indoctrination, its true and final
purpose. But as with everything the Catalyst says, are we forced to

In ME1, Shepard watched Saren take this option. And as
with Control, it goes against everything that Shepard has stood for
throughout the series. Through the attempt at Synthesis via Saren,
Shepard has watched organics and synthetics remain at war. Why would
Shepard reject this knowledge, this awareness, when faced with the
Synthesis beam? Although Synthesis remains the least clearly explained
option within the endings, one thing can potentially be said with a
relative amount of certainty: Shepard is being indoctrinated if s/he
takes this choice. (Synthesis as an option unto it's own is being
discussed in another topic on this forum, please see this link
for further analysis.) As with the other choices, two general schools
of thoughts arise when considering what would physically occur should
Shepard take Synthesis as his/her choice.

Shepard physically runs
into the beam, and somehow (magically?) changes all DNA in the galaxy,
to become synthorganic. Essentially, Shepard has executed the final will
of Harbinger. And has, potentially, changed all life in the galaxy to
become Reaper-based. This is indoctrination at its most insidious
outcome: there can be no war, no need for the Catalyst's solution or for
the technological singularity, if there is only one species. Or, in
another school of thought, Shepard's run into the Synthesis beam
represents final indoctrination in real-time back on Earth -- s/he has
allowed himself/herself to become a vessel for the Reapers, a tool to
achieve Harbinger's will. The ramifications for this outcome have
previously been discussed in the Control option, and remain analogous to
the Synthesis outcome. Again, combining all of this crafting with the
final cinematic of Shepard resembling a husk before being disintegrated
by the beam with the lack of a 'breathing' scene in this choice -- all
of this should come together to hint to the player that indoctrination
is at play, and Shepard's final charge into the beam represents the
Reapers' final and complete victory.

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PostSubject: Re: Indoctrination Theory.   Tue Jan 08, 2013 6:46 pm

Information was lifted from several sites, as well as a a bunch of extras I put in myself Wink
Theory Crafting Hub
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PostSubject: Re: Indoctrination Theory.   

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Indoctrination Theory. 

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