as always, the below contains spoilers…
Previously, we’ve looked at the reactions the children in Mass Effect 2 have had to the poor choices of their fathers. This time, we’ll be looking at it from the other perspective.
Thane is considered by many the best father in the game. While he’s an assassin, the text of the game points out that this is just a very percise mercanary. He is a deeply spiritual individual, and the drell, his race, possess an ediec memory, so he often falls into moments of the past. He is a serene character, and the first time you hear about his son, it because Thane wants your help to save him.
Koylat, his child, has accepted a contract to kill someone on the Citidal, and Thane feels the boy is in over his head. He wants to stop his son from following in his footsteps.
I have been given him as an example by many individuals as the exception to the bad parents of the Mass Effect 2 galaxy. However, on closer inspection, the best parent in this universe isn’t very good.
Thane takes no responsibility for the actions of his past. He describes his body as seperate from his soul, with the spiritual, moral, intelligent aspect of himself as just along for the ride. His higher functions are seperate from his physical presence, and his life view is completely deterministic. The hanar, another alien species, taught him the skills and sent him on his missions, and he seems to press all responsiblity onto them.
Thane has a habit of dropping into very vivid memories, mostly about his wife, Irikah. He describes in poetic detail their first meeting and his love for her. She was central to his life, and he kept her as seperate as possible from his work. Eventually, some of his enemies found and killed her. He hunted down everyone involved in her murder and returned the same.
Koylat is not mentioned much in these tales, even though he was ten years old by the time his mother was murdered. Irikah was Thane’s whole universe, and Koylat doesn’t seem to be much more than a side product of this. While he slips into memory trances of longing for his wife, he never once experiences this sort of connection for his son. When Irikah was murdered, he didn’t stay with the grieving boy, but went on a quest for his own vengance. He hasn’t seen the boy in years.
His relationship with the younger drell is a history of neglect. Nothing was every about his son, until the moment where Koylat takes the hit, obviously emulating his distant and enigmatic father.
While Thane’s efforts to save his son are admirable, it is the first time in the boy’s life that his father has shown any interest, or made any effort solely for Koylat’s sake. Thane’s choices, in a career he felt he couldn’t step away from, in his refusal to learn new skills to support his family, in his reponse to Irikah’s death, are the examples that Koylat uses to shape his life. If Thane had been a different father, in any of those respects, Koylat may not have needed saving.
It is very tempting to present Samara as a father, considering Mass Effect 2 seems to deal heavily with father issues. Asari, her species, tend to indentify themselves as female. Their physical build looks like a human woman. They call the stages of their life Maiden, Matron, and Matriach, female titles. They refer to themselves using female pronouns and call their offspring daughters. They do not actually posses a gender in the human sense, however. They do not reproduced based on male-female pairings. Asari chose a mate, who provides half of the genetic material for a child, in a process called melding. This can be a member of any species and gender, but are usually reffered to as the father.
Samara has three pure-blood asari daughters, meaning both parents were asari. This means that the children had, in effect, two mothers and no father. In the lives of her daughters, Samara acts as a disciplinarian, in a very traditionally masculine sense. She threatens her children with physical force if they step out of line, a hyperboyle of father coming home and spanking the misbehaving child. This classical parenting role, the authorative figure as oppossed to the care-giver, combined with the lack of a genetically defined father, make it hard within this context not to call Samara Morinth’s father.
All three of Samara’s children are Ardat-Yakshi. They have a rare genetic disorder where melding kills their partners. They cannot have the asari version of sex without killing their partners. Samara’s children represent all the known Ardat-Yakshi alive during the story. Two of her daughters have chosen to live alone, secluded as hermits to avoid hurting anyone else. Morinth, Samara’s most intelligent and capable daughter, does not feel she should be the one to suffer for her genetic make-up, and travels the universe as a sexual predator, seducing and murdering her victims for her own enjoyment.
Samara became a justicar, a type of asari warrior monk dedicated to a very specific code of justice, to hunt down Morinth. The justicar plans to kill her daughter when she finds her. There is no talk of arresting, detaining, or treating the Ardat-Yakshi. It is implied that Morinth is too evil to be allowed to live.
It’s important to note here how responsible all other parents are in Mass Effect 2 for the behavior of their children. Miranda, for all her dislike of her father, talks about how the gifts he gave her made her as sucessful as she is. His drive for her shaped her own work ethic and outlook. Grunt was built by Okeer, and is very concerned about Okeer’s intent for him. Jacob is mad that the man he finds on Aiea is not the man who raised him as a child, who made him who he is. Talia is brought to trail for her father’s crimes, and can be found guilty for his treason. Thane’s son needs saving due to all the ways the drell assassin failed him.
Samara even expresses concern that because she insisted on melding with an asari, she is directly responsible for the genetic defect.
It follows that based on how the other characters are made into who they are by their relationships with their father’s, Morinth’s evil is Samara’s responisblity. She appears to have become a justicar because she feels Morinth is her wrong to right. If this is the case, this may make Morinth the worst parent seen in the game.
Next time, we’ll look at the man who would be the father to an entire species, in the most terrible way possible…