Bad Parenting from Mass Effect 2: Not the Man They Thought I Was Back Home

as always, the below contains spoilers…

Last time, we looked at how Miranda and Grunts fathers expected too much from them in Mass Effect 2.  This week, we’ll look at fathers who disappointed their children.

Jacob Taylor

Jacob is one of the more moral members of your crew.  He is a member of Cerberus, but apart from being a member of the conspiracy, there’s no major stains on his ethical history.  He often speaks up as the voice of a paragon choice, and generally urges Shepard to do the right thing.  In a crew of contract killers, escaped convicts, war criminals, and vicious mercenaries, he seems almost out of place.

Jacob’s loyalty mission starts when he receives a distress call from the Hugo Gernsback, the deep space freighter his father was aboard.  The ship vanished 10 years ago, so he’s surprised to find the beacon now, but he asks Sheppard to investigate.

When you arrive at Aiea, the planet sending out the call, you find the wreckage of the ship.  The logs indicate that Ronald, Jacob’s father, was promoted to acting Captain after the crash.  The distress beacon was damaged, and it would take time to repair.  There was food on the planet, but it was toxic, and eating it impairs higher brain functions, robbing those who eat it of the majority of their decision-making capabilities and therefore free will.  A decision was made that the crew would eat the local food, and officers would eat the ships supply to extend it long enough to activate the beacon.

Then things started to fall apart.  Ronald divided the women on the crew amongst the officers, as pets and play things.  The male crewman who rebelled were chased out into the jungle.  When the beacon was complete, the officers argued over whether they should turn it on.  Some wanted to stay, the kings of their tiny tribal paradise.  Fighting broke out, and in the end, Ronald was left standing.

And he didn’t turn on the beacon.  He stayed, living in his juvenile fantasy.  He eventually turned on the beacon because the ships stores, even when only one man ate them, would only last so long, and the men who had gone into the woods were returning.  He could only hold them off so long.

This is not the father Jacob remembers.  He was brought up by a good man, who taught him how to make the right choices, to do the proper thing.  When they confront his father, Jacob is not pleased.

He is furious when Ronald says that it is all true, that he looked after his own needs before those of his crew.  All of Jacob’s illusions of a good moral man are destroyed. 

It is interesting that Mass Effect 2 felt the need to take this from Jacob.  His father is one of the very few listed as a positive influence on his children, and there’s no reason this needs to be taken from him.  The story line could still exist, with Ronald being a military officer, or a senior Ceberus operative.  The fact that it was his father, and not a father figure that was chosen, says something about the themes explored here.  In Sheppard’s galaxy, a good father is a lie.  When a father’s morals are tested, when he is given a chance to do something terrible, a father will.


Tali’Zorah is a quarian, a race of nomadic aliens who have been at war with the Geth for years.  The Geth were originally domestic AIs that rebelled against their creators and sent them from their home world.  Tali’s father, Rael’Zorah, is one of the Admirals of the Quarian Migrant Fleet, a top ranking official in their government.  Tali’s loyalty mission occurs when she is accussed of treason, and summoned for trial.

Tali is confused, and has Sheppard return with her.  They find that she is accused of bringing live Geth into the Migrant Fleet.  Tali is furious, as she only brought inactive pieces of Geth technology back to the fleet at her father’s request.  He was within his rights to have these materials brought aboard.  However, the Geth occupation of her father’s ship is too much evidence for the Admiralty board to take her at her word.

She is allowed to go to the Alarei, her father’s vessel, to search for evidence and destroy the Geth.  If she dies in the process, her sacrifice will clear her name.  If she succeeds, she should have what she needs to clear her name and her father.

However, as you explore the Alarei, it becomes obvious that Rael had constructed live Geth, and was testing them for ways to hurt and kill them.  Not only has he breaking Quarian law by his actions, but there are the greater moral implications of the fact that he is doing tests on sentient beings to determine how to hurt them the most.  To put this in to context, if these were not different species, but two different nations of human beings, this would be a terrible war crime.  The recordings you find also indicate that Rael purposefully kept what he was doing from Tali.  He did not want her to know what he was doing. When his body is found, Tali weeps over it. 

Of the fathers examined so far, Rael is the first to receive any sort of forgiveness.  Tali begs Sheppard to cover up her father’s crimes when they return to the trail.  She admits she knows what he did was wrong, but she does not want his reputation tarnitioned, does not want him brought to task for what he did.

This does not absolve him from his status as a poor father.  He still broke the law of his people, even if you cover for him.  He still decieved his daughter, and used her as an acccessory in his crimes.  He was still a war criminal, who tested new ways to injure captive sentient life in a lab setting.



There are some very interesting parallels in these two-story lines.  Both fathers were major, positive  forces on the young lives of their children, shaping them into two of the more morally upstanding members of the Mass Effect 2 squad.  Both found a major betrayal by their fathers in their adult life, and both acted in an emotional extreme.

Jacob was furious, lost in anger.  He disowned his father, stating that this was not the man who raised him as a child.  He wants his father to pay for his crimes, and depending on your alignment, with his life.   He judges his father based on what Ronald has done recently, and sees the acting captain of the Hugo Grensback as a different main than the figure from his childhood.  They are not the same, and he looks at Ronald as a stranger.

Tali is lost in sorrow, and forgives her father.  She wants to ensure that what he did does not come to light, and wants the world to remember the myth of Rael, not the man he turned out to be.  She wants him remembered at his best.  Her relationship with Rael is different than the one Jacob shares with his absentee father.  She still sees the best in him, and feels that people who had all the facts would come to the wrong conclussion about the admiral.  The difference could also be that Rael had already paid for his crimes with his life when Tali found him, and as such there was no further punishment was necessary.  She was closer to her father, emotionally and professionally, and would suffer more personally if his crimes came to light.

It is also interesting to compare the two emotional responses to Miranda and Grunt’s intellectual relationships with their fathers.

Jacob and Tali appear on-screen with their fathers.  Tali may only have recordings and the corpse of Rael, but they react directly to the spoken dialogue and images of their fathers.  They are closer, based on the way they are presented. They see their fathers as people, and react to them personally, although on opposite emotional spectrums

Okeer is seen with Grunt, but Grunt never gains consciousness before Okeer is dead.  While Okeer is proud of his accomplishment, Grunt never recieves the benefit of being able to interact with the older krogan.  His relationship is almost religious, where he treats Okeer as a deity, wondering what Okeer wanted, and intended.  His tone when contemplating his father’s desires is always philosophical, a purely intellectual exercise.

Miranda never interacts directly with her father.  They are engaged in a great strategic battle, like a game of intergalactic chess.  She talks about how she feels about him, but it is always distant, and usually refers to how she felt years ago.  She seems to view him as a rival, someone to be between, but she doesn’t interact with him.

next time: The Sins of the Father: Thane and Samara

About renegadefolk

The second best Renegade Folk Hero to come out of Stettler, he is a well known liar. Look at him, in that profile picture. He cannot play t
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2 Responses to Bad Parenting from Mass Effect 2: Not the Man They Thought I Was Back Home

  1. Pingback: Bad Parenting in Mass Effect 2: Those Alone « Joey On Games

  2. J says:

    Interesting analysis. I never made these observations. Keep it up!

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