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Headscratchers / Mass Effect 3 Reapers And Protheans

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    Do the Reapers only take out one galaxy, or do they go to many? 
  • It would be very stupid if they only did the Milky Way, as there are very likely many space faring species in other galaxies. While galaxies would take a long time to get to, we know from the Codex that Reapers manage 30 light years per day (half again as fast as a dreadnought). Applying to Andromeda (Messier 31), it would take around 85,000 days or 232 years to reach there. That order of magnitude is certainly not beyond the reach of Asari or Krogan life spans, let alone Reapers, and even Humans could manage colonization given minimal attention to cold sleep. Other galaxies would take longer (Messier 33 would take 249 years). At one point however the Codex mentions that some Reaper tech appears to violate known Physics. At that point all bets are off. Sovereign said to Shepard that basically time is not at all a problem to Reapers. Remember in Mass Effect, Sovereign is trying to allow the citadel to be used as a relay to get his buddies back from "dark space", maybe they're actually in the next galaxy, with its own citadel style relay to get back to the milky way. In that 50,000 cycle, between it, is it possible the Reapers "hibernating" is actually them reaping other galaxies?
    • There's never been any indication that they go to other galaxies. Most likely they just hibernate, unless Andromeda will say otherwise.
    • For all their intelligence, the Reapers are still bound to their own programming. They were created to solve a problem that happened in the Milky Way, therefore, that's what they do.

    Detecting a Reaper on Rannoch. 
  • The Normandy is equipped with IFF device, in the Mars mission it is shown that EDI is capable of "detecting Reaper presence". Then why is it that no one is aware that a Reaper is present on Ranoch? There are a lot more questions about IFF, like how the Salarian are able to equip their dreadnought with IFF but human can't (considering it is on the Normandy), but I just like to know how Normady couldn't detect Reaper presence on Rannoch.
    • The Rannoch Destroyer could have been in some kind of "silent mode" to keep it from being detected until Shepard and co. got close enough to tag it with the targeting laser. Also, there were geth jamming towers all over the area that could have made detecting it from orbit more difficult.
    • Reaper IFF does not allow one to detect Reapers. It lets one masquerade as one to defeat the Omega-4 Relay. Also, the Reaper was deep underground and not active, whereas the ones over Mars were moving and putting off massive emissions that could be easily detected. Its the difference between using a thermal scope to spot a moving vehicle through its hot engine and using it to try to find a vehicle whose engine is not active and still cold.
    • So, a Reaper can become inactive yet still be able to send signal to control the whole Geth armada?
    • A truck can shut off its engine while still being able to send radio transmissions.
    • The Derelict Reaper in the 2nd game could indoctrinate AND turn humans into husks despite being dead. So why not?
    • The Derelict Reaper wasn't dead, quite so much as it was unconscious. The core was still perfectly operational and much of its functionality was still in operation. The inactive Reaper on Rannoch is probably a similar example; just because the systems that comprise its consciousness aren't fully online doesn't mean that the entire Reaper is shut down.
    • On Mars, the Reapers weren't trying to hide; you could look out the window and see them. On Rannoch, the Reaper in question was hiding under an entire Reapertech military base.

    Discrepancies in Prothean physiology (Major spoilers) 
  • Mass Effect 1 established a rather surreal image of the Protheans on Ilos by showing statues of them as spindly, long-limbed humanoids with tentacle faces. Mass Effect 2 continued this in their codex entry with a husk-like, but otherwise identical, Prothean. The Collectors were established as being mutated beyond recognition as Protheans. Mass Effect 3's codex page retains the husk-prothean image, but Javik's appearance is immediately recognizable as being inspired by Collector anatomy. In short, if the Collectors are so drastically mutated from baseline Protheans, why do they look virtually physically identical?
    • First of all, there's no real evidence that the tentacle-faced statues were supposed to be Protheans of Javik's species. They could have been anything. They could have even been one of the "lesser" species incorporated into the empire. Second, the Collectors only resemble the Protheans in the most extremely superficial ways. Going by Javik's appearance, the original Protheans did not have chitnous skin, glowing eyes, no mouths, armor plating and insect wings. If a human were covered din armor, grew insect wings, had glowing eyes and no mouths, that would be an example of "drastic mutation".
    • This is supported by statements made by Javik that the ruins of Ilos are not Prothean at all. He mentions that the ruins on Ilos were from a previous civilization, the Inusannon, and that the Protheans built on top of the ruins of that previous civilization.
    • I think the tentacle aliens were maybe the leaders of the Prothean empire, and the Javikans (it's as good a name as any) were the soldiers. It would therefore be natural for the Reapers to use them as the template for the collectors, as they are more physically powerful. And/Or all the tentacle aliens were used to make a Reaper.
    • Javik does mention the Protheans building on the ruins of older races. It's possible that the statues belonged to an earlier cycle, and historians just got it wrong.
    • In one of his conversations Javik outright states that the Protheans built over the previous civilization on Illos.
    • Though he also makes clear, in the very same conversation, that "Prothean" referred to numerous species, rather than one.
    • That doesn't reconcile the fact that the creatures in the Beacon visions that were slaughtered by the Reapers and turned into Collectors were the tentacle-bearded humanoids, though.
    • The beacon could have just been trying to tell whoever found it to go to Ilos.
    • What makes it even more confusing is the art books depict protheans with tentacle faces also.
    • The new Protean appearance is a retcon, based on the appearance of the Collectors who most likely became repurposed Protheans only after their appearance had been set in stone. The tentacle-face was scrapped because it would have required completely new motion-capture work and animation to get the strange physique to work correctly; having those long, pseudo-tentacular limbs climbing ladder for example would have required more work than the character was worth.
    • Word of God states that the tentacle-protheans were actually Javik's race's predecessors; they were essentially the "protheans" to the Protheans. (I can't find the link, not now)
    • The statues are statues of the Inusannon, quite possibly looking at their somber appearance represent them after Reapers had their way with them. A stark reminder for the remaining Prothean populace on Ilos that this is your future if you cannot defeat them?
    • This is actually the result of a retcon. As of Mass Effect 1, those statues were originally meant to represent Protheans. The mechanical tubes and vague appearance were because the artists, animators and writers didn't have an agreement on what the Protheans looked like. Then along came the Collectors of Mass Effect 2 who were heavily altered Protheans, which the game lampshades. In Mass Effect 3 they had to work backwards from the Collectors when designing Javik and the other Protheans. When the issue of the statues on Ilos came up, this was retconned to be the Prothean's predecessors/precursors the Inusannon.

    Why did the Reapers wait to attack the Citadel? 
  • They couldn't get a vanguard in to bring the whole fleet down at once, but Vigil told us the core of their strategy in his time was capturing the citadel and locking down the whole Mass Relay network so that every system was isolated and they had access to the Empire's full records of every planet and species. I can't think of any reason they didn't even attempt it until the off-screen attack at the end of the game. Well, except that it would have worked and Shepard's mission would have failed before it began.
    • Because it wouldn't have worked. The Citadel has the ability to close its arms, making access impossible. It's unlikely that the Reapers would want to risk destroying it, seeing as it houses their boss (which they may or may not know) and the key to the next successful invasion (which they definitely do). It may even be that it is literally indestructible. Plus, attacking the Citadel would have instantly rallied every council race under one banner, since they're fully aware of the Citadel's strategic importance.
    • Admittedly, there is a single problem with that theory: Later, the Reapers seemed able to get into the Citadel without problems. I would guess that there was another attack from inside the Citadel, perhaps by sleeper agents, perhaps by TIM, that gave the Reapers some control over the Citadel.
    • Why would they want to attack the Citadel? Everybody and their dog is fleeing to that place from the invasion — a place that was in no way hidden, that they know better than anyone. It's a perfect set-up: destroy the civilizations, let the refugees flee in one place where they can be easily mopped out in the end, instead of scattering all over the galaxy into tiny enclaves. Three guesses which is more efficient solution in terms of completing the harvest in least time with least energy spent.
    • Because in the first game it was established that they can shut down the entire mass relay network from the citadel, which prevents the races of the galaxy from gathering enough forces to present a legitimate threat and traps them in whatever cluster they happened to in at the time. In other words, they could have easily averted the entire game and effortlessly won the war in one strike. At the end-game they take it so easily that it happens off-screen and is over by the time word of the attack gets out. They still don't close the relays, but this may be to bring all the fleets into one doomed battle (even with them all together they can't win without the Crucible) or a final test by the Catalyst.
    • The difference is that in previous cycles nobody knew the Reaper's were coming, so taking the Citadel allowed them to plunge the galaxy into chaos. This time around Shepard found out about them and put a stop to them, so they don't have that advantage anymore. If they shut down the relays the local forces there would know what was going on and could just mine the entrance to the relays, or kill themselves to stop the Reaper's using them to make more Reapers, or any other scenarios that would inconvience them. They don't shut off the Mass Relay network because leaving it open gives the organics hope that they can win, allowing the Reaper's indoctrinated agents to deal with them and get them into a position that suits the Reaper's purpose.
    • All the ideas above likely have some bearing on the decision not to attack the Citadel. Remember, the final assault was after the the Alliance might have recovered a way of taking control of their husks, which understandably seems to have worried them. There's also the fact that they've just wiped out the homeworld of the last major species, meaning their plan and take out the last remaining major centre of government makes sense at this point.
    • Technically, the Reapers did try to capture the Citadel early on. Cerberus attack, anyone? They were surely indoctrinated by that point, and it's possible Udina was as well. It seems the Reapers wanted to avoid a direct assault on the Citadel (probably to avoid the risk of destroying it as mentioned above), but must have deemed it necessary after they found it's the final piece of the Crucible.
    • Which doesn't make the situation any better, because they were able to move it without harming it. If that hadn't happened, we could have assumed that the Reapers felt it might be too costly. But after they just waltz in and take the thing, it only makes their earlier precautions seem like overcautiousness.
    • By the time they "waltz in and take the thing", they have thoroughly exhausted galactic defenses. The Reapers spend the entirety of ME3 pulling a Divide and Conquer war; keeping the various races separated by forcing them to focus on defending their own worlds. If they'd attacked the Citadel at the start, the combined forces of all the races of the galaxy would have come together to defend it. Instead, by the time they attack the Citadel, the turians are exhausted from the war on Palaven, the Alliance is busy trying to not get exterminated on Earth, the asari homeworld is destroyed, the geth and quarians have weakened each other with their pointless war, Citadel Security's been put through the ringer by Cerberus, etc. etc. And whoever isn't wiped out is busy halfway across the galaxy building the Crucible. The galaxy at that point is weak enough that there's nobody left to put up a fight when they stroll in and seize the Citadel.
    • That's base speculation. For one thing, before the game even starts, we know that every species was too busy defending its own territory to help do anything else. It isn't until you show up and personally solve their problems that they even have a fleet to spare (or, in the case of the quarians/geth, have a fleet at all). By the time the Reapers actually show up to take the Citadel, they're not pushing against a weakened galaxy—because the galaxy was at its weakest before Shepard began gathering allies. The point where the Reapers take the Citadel is specifically to protect it from the forces Shepard had just gathered.
    • Only if you assume that nobody has been dying in the wars that have been waged between Reapers and everyone else in the time that Shepard's been gathering allies. It's made pretty clear several times that people are throwing more and more support behind the Crucible because as the war wages on, everyone's dying, all the defensive forces people have are being wiped out, and what started as a silly "You want me to throw my forces at your plan when I have my defense to think about?" is instead rapidly becoming the only hope anyone has left. Getting allies for the Crucible was difficult because as far as anyone else was concerned, it was just a human project to defend Earth, and they had much larger priorities to think about (namely, saving their own worlds) to care about what they perceived as Shepard's selfish plan to ensure the survival of his own planet at the cost of everyone else. If the Reapers had hit the Citadel instead, every race has a stake in that and would have thrown their immediate support into defending it.
    • And again, that is a severe violation of Show, Don't Tell. Furthermore, that has nothing to do with how the Reapers come in and take the Citadel earlier. Show us that the Citadel is being constantly defended. Show us that the other races are willing to drop whatever they're supposedly doing in order to come to the Citadel's aide. When the Citadel goes dark during the Cerberus attack, only Shepard, who happened to be there, did anything about it. If the Citadel was being so rigorously and staunchly defended, where were the council races' reinforcements? How come the Salarian councilor comes to you instead of the fleets you're speculating were ready to come to their aide? Even if we assume that they were waiting for a full-on attack rather than an attack from within, Cerberus didn't even put up a pretense that things were working normally. In Real Life, if NORAD went out of commission for even a few minutes, the entire US military would effectively lose its mind. We've actually almost gone to nuclear war several times in the past because of this. And lastly, even if we assume people have been suffering heavy casualties or whatever throughout the war, there's no reason why none of those fleets still wouldn't be defending the Citadel to their dying breath. That's where their seat of government was, and we know for a FACT from the first game that if the Citadel fell, the Reapers would control the relay network and everyone would be screwed. So, with all of that in mind, no—that plot point still fails.
    • You missed the point. I never said that there ARE huge fleets defending the Citadel. I said that there WOULD BE huge fleets coming to the rescue of the Citadel as soon as word hit the extranet that the Reapers were bombarding the Citadel and killing everyone. It would stir up a hornet's nest that would bring the fury of the galaxy to bear against them. One guaranteed way to unite a divided people is to threaten something that all of those people love, and in this case, that is the Citadel. This changed as the war dragged on, because there wasn't much left to defend with. The Asari councilor even says as much when she talks to Shepard after Thessia falls; that the Crucible is their last hope. When Shepard tells her that the Crucible can't work without the information Cerberus stole, she loses hope and starts talking about "continuity of civilization".
    • As for the Cerberus attack earlier, that was rather explicitly an assassination attempt, not a conquest. Assassinating the Council is one thing; successfully conquering and then holding and defending the Citadel against a united fleet is another thing entirely. The Reapers are only really capable of precision strikes like that through indoctrinated agents, such as Cerberus. An assassination attempt by terrorists does not merit pulling the fleet away from their respective warzones; it's what Citadel Security and agents like the Spectres exist for. An armada of Reapers showing up through the Widow Relay and attacking the Citadel is on a completely different threat scale than Cerberus.
    • Finally, as to the point of shutting down the Relay System, that also gets back to Show, Don't Tell; as it is, we've never actually seen this. We've only been told this is something they can do; at no point in the history of the series has the Reapers' ability to disable the Relays ever actually been used as a plot point in modern galactic civilization. As we do not know the full extent of what the Protheans did when they sabotaged the Citadel, we don't know how much of the Citadel's Reaper functionality is operational, or how long it would take to bring such functionality online. Supporting this point is the fact that, as many have decried, when the Reapers DID take control of the Citadel, their vaunted ability to disable the the Relays was still never implemented; the Crucible and the invading fleets came through just fine. People have argued back and forth about WHY the Reapers didn't shut down the Relays, when the real question is whether or not they even COULD. They could before the Prothean sabotage, but for the modern conflict, we've certainly never seen it.
    • I didn’t miss it. I specifically said that the claim is shot to pieces when the Citadel goes dark and NOBODY comes to its rescue. As I said, it’s Show, Don't Tell: if we’re supposed to buy that a large number of fleets are on “standby” to come running if the Citadel is in trouble, why are YOU the first person alerted and the only one who shows up to help when there’s even a HINT of trouble at the Citadel. As I mentioned before, if NORAD or the Pentagon went dark in real life, the US military would mobilize every available unit to figure out what the hell happened, and WE’RE not even at war. The argument of “it was assassination, not outright war” is BS. It was a SIEGE; even if assassination was the goal, they still CAPTURED the Citadel. Again, Show, Don't Tell. What you're saying is speculation based on out-of-context rationalization. But this is a BIG plot element because it was the entire FOCUS of the first game. It needed to be addressed directly, not hand-waved or speculated. As for the “we don’t know how much of the Citadel is Reaper-operational” theory, that is still a crappy explanation. It renders the entire plot of ME1 moot (as it destroys the tension and purpose of Sovereign’s attack) and it’s once more something that should be SHOWN.
    • Again, I never said anything about a large number of fleets being on "standby". There are no such standby fleets. There are, however, many fleets engaged in combat with Reapers that could be pulled away to defend the Citadel if the Reapers had focused their attack there instead of spreading out their forces to engage everyone simultaneously. Best case scenario, they would succeed and take the Citadel, and the martyrdom of the Citadel would be the rallying cry that unites the entire galaxy in a single move. The original plan of taking the Citadel as the first move of the war only works because it's a surprise attack; without the ability to blitzkrieg the galaxy during the chaos caused by the loss of the leadership, taking the Citadel means nothing. Without that, there is no gain in conquering the Citadel except for a Relay-disabling ability that has been PROVEN not to function properly.
      • This is almost pure Fan Wank. All the way through the game, you run into Turian, Asari, Salarian and even Quarian leaders who do not consider the galaxy as a whole to be a priority over their local conflicts. The Asari and the Salarians in particular cry to Shepard about 'their own borders' and how they can't spare even a few ships for what the Alliance is planning. The game hammers home that when the chips are down, neither of these races has the guts (or even the real ability) to fight in the way the Turians and Humans do. Even the Turians' military might is little advantage against a Reaper invasion, and they have the biggest, most experienced military of the Council races by far. Primarch Victus even says that without Krogan infantry support on Palaven, the Hierarchy would never be able to support the Alliance to retake Earth with their fleets because it would weaken their defence too much. Also, the Relay-disabling ability DOES work. That's why Joker tells Shepard they have to 'unlock the Relays surrounding the Citadel' in order for the Alliance fleets to come through. Sovereign had already locked them, otherwise Shepard would never have had to reverse that.
    • Not everything needs to be shown. Some things can be assumed, and the Citadel is one of those, because that point was NOT the focus of the first game; the Citadel's ability to disable the Relays has nothing whatsoever to do with the first game at all. The only time it was ever relevant is in how the Reapers conquered the old cycles, and that method was closed to them as a result of the first game. The focus of the first game was the Citadel Relay's ability to bring the Reapers out of dark space and into Citadel space for a surprise ambush that kicks off the war by destroying the leadership. Preventing them from popping a surprise war on an unprepared galaxy, wiping out the Council, and following through with the immediate extermination of everyone else was the central focus of the first game. The only reason the war in ME3 is anything less than a one-sided curbstomp is because the Reapers were delayed, and because technology like the Thanix Cannon that would not exist without the reverse-engineering of Sovereign is now available. Had Sovereign succeeded in opening the Citadel Relay, rocks would fall, everyone would die, and ME2 and 3 never would have happened. I do not see how the fact that they never take advantage of the "disable the Relays" functionality we've only heard mention of here and there in any way invalidates the fact that if Sovereign succeeded, the war would be over before it began.
    • Those are called "standby fleets". A fleet that could be pulled away from somewhere else to come to the Citadel's aid are standby fleets. Let's not be semantic here. And this assumption that destroying the Citadel would be a "rallying cry" is speculation, again. You don't know what would happen anymore than any other fan. For all we know, destroying the Citadel could affect morale. And finally, where in the series is it stated that the Relay control doesn't work? Who said it? When is it said?
    • And yes, it NEEDS to be shown. Because the Conduit was the main MacGuffin of the first game. The entire point to Sovereign's plot was to get Saren in the Citadel to keep it open long enough for Sovereign to open it and call the Reapers through dark space. Then, we're explicitly told that the Reapers would cut off the leadership of galactic civilization and shut down the relay network. The last two things are still very powerful tools at this stage in the war, surprise attack or not. Claiming that shutting down the relays wouldn't be effective without the ambush is like saying destroying supply lines wouldn't matter in Real Life conflict. And again, the scariest thing about the Citadel is that it isolated entire star clusters from each other. Cutting off the head of governement is brutal yes, but the Reapers then had the ability to isolate and destroy each cluster one by one at their leisure, since only they could use the Relays. Nowhere does it state in the narrative that this was disabled, and even if it was, that makes stopping Sovereign somewhat less meaningful.
    • And nowhere in the narrative is it ever suggested that the Relay control still functions, either. You keep throwing Show, Don't Tell around, but we've only ever been told that the Citadel can do that. When have we been explicitly shown that the Citadel still possesses this functionality? Even when the Reapers controlled the Citadel, the Relays worked just fine. If the Citadel truly possesses the power to disable the Relays, why didn't they? Because we don't know the full extent of the Prothean sabotage, anything and everything that we have been told the Citadel should be able to do should not be assumed to be something it can do if we never see it for ourselves.
      • Incorrect. Shepard has to unlock the relays to allow the Alliance fleet through, because Sovereign 'locked' them. That's proof that the functionality WAS still working.
    • No, but we were told that was the Reapers' goal. That's part of what they used to defeat the old cycle. So, we know it happened—therefore, if something changed, you have to demonstrate that it changed, not speculate it. Claiming, "But they never said that X did/didn't happen" is the creed of Fan Wank theory.
    • We know the Citadel still possesses that functionality because both Sovereign and Shepard used it. When Shepard talks to Joker after Saren's death, Joker says that Shepard needs to open the relays before the Alliance fleet can come in. It seems odd that this is never addressed afterwards. Sure, you can fan wank it away by saying the Council somehow changed that later, but nothing ever says they did. It's unlikely that Vigil's data file got rid of it, as Vigil says it only gives temporary control over the Citadel. It's more likely the writers ignored this plot point because it was inconvenient. Not only might it allow the Reapers to stop the use of the Crucible, it also opens up the possibility of the Council races finding some way of locking the Reapers out of the network. The fact that this is nowhere ever even mentioned, even as a failed strategy like those discussed in the "Desperate Measures" codex entry, makes it seem like the writers, again, just kinda decided to ignore that whole thing.
    • It could be that the Council simply disabled the function altogether after Sovereign's attack in order to avoid something like that happening in the future. Temporary control over the Citadel aside, Saren revealed the console through which to control the Citadel to Shepard and thus such knowledge became common, at the very least, to the Council. With this in mind, they probably assembled a crack team of engineers to figure out such a process should it ever happen again...
    • Except for the fact that nowhere in the the trilogy has they ever showed or told us that the council did that, and if the council could disable it surely the reapers will be able turn it back on .

    Collectors in Reaper forces 
  • Now this is admittedly a very minor quibble, but I might as well ask. I was looking through the Codex (specifically, the "Miracle at Palaven" entry for the Reaper War section) when I found this sentence. "The Reapers did not understand the seriousness of the threat at first—those that detected the landing crafts sent husks and Collector swarms to intercept them, but little more." If the Reapers still have the Collectors and/or their resources at their disposal, then how come Shepard never comes across them? Or any Non Player Characters, for that matter. Yes, I am aware that the Reapers use those Oculus things as fighters, but I don't think that's what they were talking about.
    • It's a big war. It stands to reason that Shepard simply never found them. They canonically still are in the Reaper forces, so we'll probably get a DLC with them.
    • You wiped out the vast majority of them at the Collector Base. They are probably being concentrated in areas where they might be the most use, and as Shepard demonstrated, that's not against him/her.
    • "Collector swarms" refers to the artificial insect things that the Collectors used to paralyze people in colonies for abduction. Even if the Collectors are all gone, it makes sense for the Reapers to still have the template for the swarms ready at hand, and they make a very useful tool for breaking resistance.
    • Those are "Seeker Swarms", not Collector swarms. This troper figured the Turians killed all of the Collectors with their badassery while defending Palaven.
    • As of the Reckoning DLC, Collectors are alive and well and absolutely kicking ass, proving to be far more dangerous than the standard reaper ground forces deployed in the rest of the game. As for why they aren't deployed against Shepard, specifically, the best guess is that, as suggested above, there simply aren't that many of them and it is a big galaxy.
      • That's in a multiplayer DLC pack that is not stated to be canonically something that is happening during the war, the same way Quarians wouldn't be running around with Geth pre-armistice and Volus couldn't really be effective fighters (one hit that penetrates the armour and their insides would explode). Did some people seriously think the multiplayer was actually happening during the war? Volus, 'Awakened Collectors', mercenaries, Quarians, Geth, Krogan, Alliance, Asari, Salarians and Vorcha all running around together in squads, fighting Collectors, despite ALL of the Collectors being destroyed in Mass Effect 2? There certainly weren't any other stations or any planets the Collectors were hiding on.
      • Have to disagree with you there. In the Citadel DLC, you can listen to conversations among the soldiers who you play as in multiplayer, who talk about all the things that happen in multiplayer. Now, like you said, some of the events (ie, Quarians fighting alongside the Geth before the armistice), are unlikely to be canon, nor are they as good when played by a player. Still, the idea of multi-species squads running around during the Reaper war is not non-canon, as you even get a War Asset for soldiers doing that exact thing. As for the Collectors: again, conversations between the multiplayer soldiers mention them several times, and the Armax arena has them as enemies, which wouldn't make sense unless they were still around. "There certainly weren't any other stations or any planets the Collectors were hiding on." Um, how do you know that? We don't see every portion of the galaxy, and the Collectors could've been hiding in a completely unknown location. And even if they had only one base, do you really believe that every single Collector was on board at the exact same time? Paragon Lost shows that they had more than one ship, so it stands to reason that some of them may have escaped the Base's destruction.
      • Assume any battles involving Geth are happening after the Rannoch questline in a timeline where the Geth survive. As for the Volus they run some extra risks but do you really think no Volus has ever fought? Even with Turian protection they'd have to from time to time and they didn't have Turian protection for centuries. One breach of the armour could kill any species if the breach was in the right place, doesn't stop them fighting. The multiplayer is of variable canon (what with in-game choices effecting the lay of the land) but it is as canon as anything else.
    • The Reapers may create new forces from captured enemies but they need some ground forces to begin with when they start their invasion. Building-sized spaceships are ill suited to gathering prisoners for conversion. As such even if we do assume Shepard and company took out all the Collectors in the Milky Way in 2 then it would make sense for the Reapers to have a military force of Collectors in cryo with them out in Dark Space. These troops will have been unleashed on the Batarians in the first attacks and likely most of them died overrunning the Hegemony, replaced by the Cannibals and later converted forces. But a fair few will have survived to be deployed elsewhere.

    Reaper Strength 
  • In Mass Effect 1, it took two whole fleets to destroy a single Reaper, and even then, it took outside intervention (destruction of Saren's Sovereign-possessed husk) to make it vulnerable. That same Reaper also had weapons in each of its tentacles. Yet in Mass Effect 3, the Reapers seemed to be much weaker. For one, they only had one laser, mounted on their undersides. For another, they are visibly taking damage and exploding during the final battle. Is the Worf Effect in play here, or was Sovereign simply unusually powerful for a Reaper?
    • I believe that one, yes, Sovereign was an abnormally strong Reaper, but two, there are a lot more ships being brought to bear in Mass Effect 3.
    • Also, keep in mind that weapons experienced some revolutionary advances after analyzing Nazara/Sovereign's corpse. Thanix cannons and all that.
    • The original battle scene is flat-out wrong. Bioware confirmed that the animators making that cutscene were not in active communication with the writers and portrayed Sovereign as simply being too powerful.
    • While it was the result of poor communication, there is nothing to indicate that the original scene is non-canonical. It can be easily explained by the fact that no dreadnoughts besides Destiny Ascension that was surprised pants down took part in the Citadel's battle, as well as the fact that Thanix cannons adapted from the Reaper tech have been widely adapted to large ships in the intervening years.
    • Sovereign is a capital Reaper; the Reapers you're talking about are the relatively small Reaper Destroyers. Also, yes, Sovereign was very strong even for a Reaper; it's explicitly stated that four dreadnoughts equipped with futuristic reverse engineered geth and Reaper weaponry are able to kill one capital reaper.
    • Quite a few of the assets you find are research and intel relating to structural weaknesses in the reapers; way to bypass their defences and counter their offence. This is info the fleets fighting Sovereign would have no way of knowing, where as Sovereign likely knew the full capabilities of all the ships mustered against it. Knowledge is power.
    • Something that holds up with the idea of Sovereign being unusually strong is his position in the Reaper fleet, too. Being a solo act, he was probably designed to be particularly fast and tough. Or maybe they chose him for his position because he happened to be created during a cycle that was especially replete in resources and compatability. Either way, you would want a sneaky ship or a strong ship for his job, and since Sovereign happily monologues about himself the first time he and Shepard talk, it's pretty obvious what direction they went in.
    • Sovereign was definitely not strong for a Reaper; there's a reason that the average capital Reaper is explicitly called Sovereign-class (except Harbinger, who is the only abnormally strong Reaper). The reason we were able to fare better against the Reapers was mainly because of thanix cannons; they're standard issue on frigates and cruisers by Mass Effect 3 and essentially multiply the offensive power of a ship by six. We were still woefully outmatched (the Reapers were clearly winning before the Crucible was fired, and even the massive turian navy only takes out a few capital Reapers) but that doesn't mean we couldn't slow them down with a good Zerg Rush.
    • The Sovereign-class Reapers are called such simply because they heavily resemble Sovereign. That doesn't change the fact that Sovereign carried a main gun in each of his tentacles and was particularly resilient to concentrated fire from the remnants of the Citadel fleet and the combined might of the Third, First, and Fifth fleets of the Alliance. The only other Reaper showing such firepower and durability is, indeed, Harbinger himself. The other Sovereign class Reapers, meanwhile, have a single main gun and several are shown being taken out by groups of cruisers in the final battle. So it's safe to assume that Sovereign was one of the more powerful Reapers.
    • Just because two ships are of the same class does not make them equal; there's a fair bit of difference in power between most of the Council and Alliance dreadnaughts, but they're still all Dreadnaught class star ships. Harbinger and Sovereign may well be to the other Reaper-capital ships what the Destiny Ascension is to the Everest; technically the same class, but would tear through it like tissue paper.
    • Sovereign being more powerful than most other Reapers also makes sense given its job: as the Vanguard, it's expected to operate completely independently, in a galaxy that will most likely be entirely hostile to it should they discover its existence. Makes sense the Reapers would outfit it with extra firepower for that purpose.

    Dead Reapers(some ending spoilers) 
  • Why don't the Reapers take better care to collect their dead? We know of at least two that were just left where they lay(the derelict reaper and the leviathan of dis), and given how old those two are, it's obvious that reapers have been getting killed during the harvests for a while. Thing is, these aren't just troops or war assets; these are living museum pieces. The whole point of harvesting is preserving species in reaper form; these reapers may no longer be awake, but they're still active in some form, and represent the continuity of species extinct for tens/hundreds of millions of years; don't the reapers place any value on that?
    • I think the Reapers are suffering from a severe case of Believing Their Own Lies.
    • Or they think "Meh, maybe that species wasn't worth it after all."
    • They may have simply failed to locate them. The Reapers aren't perfect and the galaxy is big.
    • To quote the main man: "LEAVE THE DEAD WHERE THEY FALL."
    • Bear in mind that a dead Reaper is still a powerful weapon, capable of indoctrinating those who stray near it. One of the reasons why the Batarians fall so easily is because a dead Reaper indoctrinated several officials who went on to sabotage their infrastructure.
    • My guess: the talk of "preservation" is either just PR or purely symbolic (like a plaque or other monument). Unless I missed something, a Reaper is no more "x species" than a leather jacket is a cow; Reapers are machines made of the liquefied bodies of the dead, not the dead beings/culture themselves, and they know it, giving only symbolic value for preservation.
    • In the "Synthesis" ending, it says the Reapers are using the knowledge of the species they were made from to help rebuild. Therefore the Reapers truly are, on some level, a preservation of that civilisation. They are simply incapable of disobeying their Prime Directive: to perpetuate the cycle and harvest organic civilisations.
    • Two. In millions of years of cycles they only lost track of two (that we know of). That's a pretty good success rate really.

    Reaper Reproduction 
  • How many reapers do the reapers make from a single harvested species? The games seem to imply one species= one reaper, but this seems horribly inefficient to me. Now, my estimates could be wrong, but based on sheer biomass, 11billion humans should be more than enough to make multiple capitol ships. Also, assuming it is one species, one reaper, the reapers should ultimately lose any war of attrition; maybe not in a single cycle or even a dozen, but sooner or later their numbers should dwindle. If it's one for one, then in this cycle they're only getting one(possibly two, we don't know what the batarians are being made into) capitol ship/s and at most, twelve destroyers. That seems a fair bit shy of the casualties they've taken this time around.
    • We don't have hard numbers on how many organics it takes to produce a single Reaper, or even if they only produce one Reaper per species. Saying that they only produce one Reaper per species is baseless.
    • Also remember that this cycle is not typical. The previous cycle managed to sabotage the Citadel to prevent the Reapers from using it to divide and conquer. They may only have lost a handful of capital ships in all the previous wars.
    • Perhaps they are making a lot of dreadnoughts each cycle, but are holding most of their number back. After all, had millions of Reapers appeared, there could have been a galaxy scale suicide from sheer hopelessness, and that would have been counterproductive. Or perhaps they are using most of the biomass for other projects... I wrote a small one-shot about that.
    • The average human masses less than 100Kg. So you're only talking about a billion tons. Squeeze the water out, much, much less. And the high gravity fields created by mass effect technology allow the production of hyper-dense armours - maybe even Neutronium. Spread that out over a several-kilometer-long Reaper, and you probably won't have much left.
    • Keep in mind that there are two types of sentient Reapers: Capital ships and Destroyers. Considering that destroyers are much smaller than capital ships, it's possible that the chosen species (in this cycle, it's humanity) are created into a single Reaper capital ship, while all other species are melted down into multiple Reaper destroyers.

    The Reaper Fleet is Too Small 
  • As weird as it is to be saying that. On a related note, does anyone else see a problem with how many Dreadnoughts are presented in the games, versus how many the Cycle suggests there should be? EDI says that it takes "millions, maybe more" organics to create a Reaper Dreadnought. Okay, we'll go with that. Let's be generous and assume it takes a billion organics to make one Reaper, accounting for rejects and collateral damage. Earth alone had eleven billion people pre-invasion, Palaven had 6.1 billion, Thessia 5.5 billion, Sur'Kesh 10.3, Tuchanka 2.1, etc., not even counting colonies. Assuming each cycle has roughly the same population, the Reapers should have more than enough material to make 20 or 30 Dreadnoughts per cycle. 100 million years since the Leviathan era, divided by 50'000 for each Cycle and... yeah, that would certainly be enough to "darken the skies of every world." Yet we only see around 200 at most at any given time. Either BioWare lost track of their math at some point, or the Reaper conversion process is extremely inefficient, to the point where it'd be a stretch to call it "preserving" anything.
    • As mentioned in the folder above, if you melt the human body down to it's genetic material, you won't actually have all that much left. Spread that over a several kilometre long Reaper, and suffice to say, you will need a lot of humans to make a full Reaper. I'm not saying that the Reapers wouldn't be able to make more than one capital ship per cycle, but 20 or 30 per species might be stretching it a bit. I think it would be more accurate to assume that they could make two or three capital ships with their chosen species and 20 or 30 Destroyers for the rest of the cycle. As for the size of the Reaper fleet, people are relying on a lot of assumptions when estimating their numbers. Firstly, the assumption that the cycles are always consistent. They wouldn't be; I believe Vigil mentions that it changes depending on the cycle, sometimes it could be 30,000 years between harvests, other times it could be as much as 70,000. The Inusannon cycle occurred 120,000 years prior to the current cycle, meaning that the Prothean cycle came after that higher end. Secondly, it also relies on the assumption that each cycle has roughly the same amount of species. In all likelihood, the earlier cycles may have had hundreds, if not thousands of spacefaring races that would've been turned into Reapers.
    • You're forgetting the fact that the organic biomass is only the core of the reaper. The rest, that Leviathan-like kilometric body, is something else, probably synthetic material.
Thirdly, in every cycle, the Reapers take casualties. They're not invincible, despite their claims to the contrary, and more than a few will be destroyed in each harvest. Taking all these factors into account, and estimating the actual number of Reapers becomes a lot more difficult.
  • There are two other issues. First, to all appearances, the Reapers need their raw materials to be alive - they preserved the colonists on Freedom's Progress and Horizon, rather than simply killing them and turning up with a vat of biomass. Now look at what's happening on Palaven when you visit Menae. There are fires the size of countries. Casualty figures are likely to be astronomical. Lots of wasted biomass. The other issue is that the Reapers are also spread over quite a wide area. The Mass Effect galaxy is very heavily populated, and most of the Council races are pretty old as powers go, meaning that they have some very old and thus heavily populated colonies. We don't see huge numbers of Reapers at any given time because the number of Reapers they have are spread out over dozens or hundreds of worlds, with others on deep space defence (those ones that harass you for scanning too often have to come from somewhere).
  • There is also the fact that the Reapers may not actually be committing their entire fleet, which just adds to the Nightmare Fuel. More Reapers may be hidden away in dark space, particularly in cases where only a single Reaper remains from its original species, since aside from being living warships, they are also a repository of the original species' genetics and history. It isn't all that uncommon for a Reaper to be picked off each cycle, so losing the last Reaper created from a species from a couple hundred cycles back means you lose all that information as well. The Catalyst used the words "preserved in Reaper form", indicating that they take this function very seriously.

    Cerberus working with the Collectors? 
  • Vega says his squad was killed because of a "Cerberus spy, working WITH the Collectors". How and why in the hell would Cerberus be working with the Collectors? Why would Cerberus work to sabotage the defense of a human colony when their whole objective in ME2 was to prevent the abductions?
    • Vega is not omniscient. You're currently fighting a Reaper-allied Cerberus, so he may have made the connection there. Or he could just be flat-out wrong.
    • The true goal of Cerberus was not to prevent the abductions, but learn as much about the Collectors, and by extension the Reapers as possible. It was strongly implied that the Illusive Man leaked Virmire Survivor's presence on the Horizon to the Collectors to cause the attack. In the loosest sense of the word, Cerberus was indeed working with the Collectors for a bit, albeit with the intention of destroying them and stealing their technology.

    Taking Down Spider Reapers 
  • Okay, so in the battle to take back earth, the marines mention that Thanix missiles are the only thing they have that has a chance of killing the Spider Reaper. Um, guys, did you just forget that Shepard took down one on Rannoch via guiding the fleet to attack it with a targeting laser? Why not just do that again, especially with all the air support you've got? Sure you also have several airborne Reapers, but some should be able to get through. It gets worse when you then remember that Shepard not 20 minutes ago took down a Spider Reaper with a single Cain blast. Was that the only Cain? Why not just use those?
    • Shepard took down a Hades Cannon with the Cain. Hades Cannons are ground-based anti-air weapons systems, not Reapers unto themselves. The distinction was quite clear during the briefing. Shepard also cannot call down orbital fire on the Reaper because the space-based forces were a bit busy with the gigantic Reaper fleet overhead. Every single warship they had was tasked with simply holding off the massive Reaper force. Furthermore, Shepard doesn't have the special target designator needed to cut through the jamming like the one s/he had on Rannoch.
    • Yes, the Hades Cannon is a ground based anti-air defense system... Strapped to the back of a Spider Reaper.
    • The fact that it can be taken down by a Cain indicates that it is not a destroyer but simply some four-legged war machine carrying the Hades Cannon. Reaper Destroyers can tank direct hits by cruiser-grade weaponry and vehicle-portable Thanix missiles; a Cain isn't even going to scratch the paint. It looks kind of like a Reaper destroyer, but observed abilities paint it as something much less durable, much like many armored personnel carriers look outwardly like tanks but have nowhere near the armor or durability of a main battle tank.
    • If the Spider Reaper is just "some four-legged war machine", according to the poster above, that devalues the concept of the Reaper itself (which is supposedly those 'nation(s) unto itself' as established in the first game). A Reaper is a Reaper - no matter what they are, they're still skyscraper-sized entities that can deal a lot of destruction, and were supposedly being setup as Nigh Invulnerable. The introduction of the Cain in the final mission devalues their threat level. The questions you should really be asking yourself are:
      a) How does Cortez know that a Cain can one shot Spider-Reapers?
      b) Why does he not tell Shepard or anyone else about this at any point prior to this mission? Shepard sits through an entire briefing, and never mentions this once to Anderson or any soldier (hell, a soldier asks over the radio later on how they're supposed to take these things down).
      c) Why didn't Cortez and/or Shepard, at any point prior to this mission, pick up a Cain at any one of the worlds they visited? This one is more a gameplay/story problem - Bioware removed heavy weapons because they apparently broke the plot.
      d) Why does the Hammer operation insist on outfitting vehicles (trucks? tanks? missile batteries?) with cannons and spend time escorting them through "no man's land" when they could just as easily have done the same thing with a handful of support specialists outfitted with Cains? The Blue Suns specialize in heavy weapons - why not just send them to take out as many Spider Reapers as possible?
    • First: stop calling them "spider Reapers". That's not the correct term. They're Reaper destroyers. Second, how does that "devalue" the Reapers? We know the Reapers already use large, non-Reaper warmachines in the first place. Both their troop transports and their "supply" craft are non-Reaper craft, and they use husks extensively. Suggesting that that the Reapers using a weapons system that is not a Reaper somehow "devalues" them is not only incorrect, but silly. Hades Cannons are simply a large, four-legged weapons system used for an anti-air role. It is obviously not a Reaper unto itself, because, once again, a Cain can destroy them, when it has been shown repeatedly that it takes far in excess of a single Cain shot to consistently damage let alone disable a Reaper destroyer. The answers to all of the aforementioned questions you just asked is summed up by that simple fact: The Hades Cannon was not a Reaper.
    • "The Hades Cannon is an anti-aircraft weapon of Reaper design. It is a massive directed-energy cannon, capable of being mounted on the four-legged chassis of a Destroyer-class Reaper."
    • In the absence of more detailed information (and without fanwanking), it is logical to assume that the Spider-Reaper (the term being used to simply this discussion) is a primarily offensive-based entity - it has nothing to do with other support craft. The "devaluing" part comes from the information presented by the story itself - the Cain is shown to destroy these creatures in a single shot by aiming at their eyepiece. It's already known that the cannon is mounted on their back - that's not the point. It's the revelation that apparently anyone who can aim a Cain (or, as Cortez puts it, a heavy weapon) can put them down. That makes the whole "we have to escort tanks" mission completely pointless, and calls into question how these forces are so crippled if this whole battle could have been solved by a bunch of troops carrying Cain - it not only devalues the Spider-Reaper, but the entire point of the Hammer invasion. If this is the case, the questions posed earlier are valid, as they highlight the confusion and illogical nature of the final mission. That's the whole point of it being a "headscratcher".
    • I demand a canon source that states that the Hades Cannon is mounted on a Reaper destroyer. Not an unsubstantiated quote from the Mass Effect wiki. Otherwise, observed evidence indicates that the cannon is not a Reaper but a Reaper weapons system that does not have the same degree of defences as a full-scale Reaper. We've seen the kind of firepower needed to disable a Reaper destroyer in three instances: direct hits on vulnerable points by vehicle-mounted Thanix missiles, repeated orbital bombardment by cruiser broadside weapons, and a skyscraper-sized Thresher Maw. At no point do we see a man-portable weapon take down a Reaper destroyer in a single shot, and everything needed to take down the Reaper destroyers previously and afterward were in excess of the firepower exhibited by the Cain in that scene. The logical conclusion based on observed evidence: the Hades Cannons' defenses are not as strong as those observed surrounding Reaper destroyers, therefore they are not Reaper destroyers. And even if it is mounted on an actual Reaper destroyer, that is not an inconsistency; that simply means that the Hades Cannon renders the Reaper destroyer more vulnerable to attack, perhaps by drawing off power from its barriers.
    • Also worth noting: just because the Hades Cannon is capable of being mounted on a Destroyer's chassis, does not mean that the Hades Cannon in question actually was. This entire discussion is going around in circles and ignoring the point that answers all questions being raised: the Hades Cannon is not a Reaper Destroyer, it is an entirely different piece of technology. Reaper Technology does not automatically equal Reaper.
    • The thing is a destroyer chassis, which either means it is in fact a Reaper, or the Reapers had a bunch of them lying around doing nothing. They would not have the time to just build a bunch of anti air guns. They treat the destroyers like fodder anyway. Theres no 'canon' source because we see the cannon once, like everything after the Cerberus base, it gets a bit lazy. You can however see when the Hades cannon is dying, it gives off the same red sparks like the Reapers do.
      Cains, however are somewhat unique, "The M-920 Cain is a portable particle accelerator surrounding an array of dust-from element zero chambers. By subjecting its eezo chambers to extreme positive and negative currents fueled by antimatter reactions, the weapon projects mass effect fields that shear away at the target. The fields warp ambient materials with such explosive force that the impact produces a mushroom cloud". Reapers are tough, no doubt, but on the ground with severely weakened barriers, something that literally warps their armour would wreck them. Shouldn't be in one shot(thats why the second Cain should be used as well), but it would cause a crapload of damage.
    • How do you figure the Reapers didn't have time to do that? They had 50,000 years. You think they had a lot of cleaning to do instead? Anyhow, it's plainly not a Reaper Destroyer (the so-called "Spider-Reaper", a term never used in the game) as it is clearly just a big gun mounted on a set of legs, lacking the whole upper part of a Reaper Destroyer. As evidenced by the fact that you could take it out with a single shot from an infantry-portable heavy weapon, it lacks the defensive barriers and armour of a Destroyer, given that the only other time we saw a Destroyer taken on in combat, it took multiple volleys from an entire fleet of undistracted ships in orbit, and even then only succeeded due to having targeting assistance. Now, a better question, is why did the Thanix missiles need some kind of sophisticated guidance system that could be jammed externally, when they only needed to hit a giant stationary target a few hundred meters away? It looked like they could have about eye-balled that one without computer assistance.
    • Blame Marine training for the guidance system. Because Sir Isaac Newton is the deadliest sonuvabitch in space, the Alliance does not eye-ball their shots.
    • The thing is a destroyer chassis, which either means it is in fact a Reaper, or the Reapers had a bunch of them lying around doing nothing. They would not have the time to just build a bunch of anti air guns. Since when? The Reapers have the time to make Brutes, build more Reapers, establish entire deathcamps, and build a gigantic portal directly connecting London and the Citadel, and you're going to seriously suggest they don't have the time or resources to build anti-air weaponry?
    • Theres no 'canon' source because we see the cannon once, like everything after the Cerberus base, it gets a bit lazy. So you admit that there's no canon evidence that it actually is a Reaper. Thanks.
    • You can however see when the Hades cannon is dying, it gives off the same red sparks like the Reapers do. You mean, like all instances of large-scale Reaper technology? "Gives off red sparks" != "Reaper destroyer."
    • Also, the beam was interfering with the Thanix missiles' ability to lock onto the Destroyer in the first place. Who's to say that the target designator wouldn't have the same problem?
    • Well, it fires in a straight line, you don't need to target, just aim it.
    • Reapers split their power between three main sources: mass effect fields that allow them to stand on a planet, weapons and barriers. Increasing power to one decreases the power to the other two. Since the Reaper Destroyer on Rannoch could only be damaged when its main weapon was active—and thus had less power to its barriers—it's possible that the Hades Cannon (if it is indeed mounted on the back of a Destroyer) draws so much energy that it has nearly no power left for barriers and could then be defeated by a Cain.
    • The Hades Cannon platform does not appear to be large enough to be a Reaper Destroyer. It's big, but Reaper Destroyers are absolutely huge. Although there isn't a really solid scaling, the Hades Cannon looked like a Reaper Destroyer could sit on top of it and the legs would still reach the ground. The Hades Cannon appears to be a dedicated AA platform, probably nonsentient, that simply resembles a Destroyer. Remember, the Reaper on Rannoch was a Destroyer, and look how big that one was.
    • Harbinger was depicted in game as a re-skinned normal Reaper minus the central leg despite ME2 showing they had a different, more unique design. Since they're being lazy and reusing Reaper character models no matter if it doesn't make sense, the Hades Cannon reusing the Reaper Destroyer doesn't necessarily reflect any connection in canon. I checked the wiki, it's says they're Reaper tech, but not Reapers themselves.

    Accounts of the Prothean / Reaper War 
  • When asked about the Prothean strategy against the reapers, Javik says that entire worlds were sacrificed to the Reapers, by making them fight for each city, while the rest of the Prothean forces could gather and regroup on other worlds for counter offensives. Fine... Except how DID this regrouping happen? According to Vigil in ME1, the war started when the reapers activated the Citadel's relay, and then used it to override the entire Mass Relay network, isolating each and every solar system so the Reapers could crush them. So how were Prothean forces regrouping at various world when the Mass Relay network was inoperable?
    • Vigil has always been an Unreliable Expositor, as it pretty much tells you everything it knows about the Prothean/Reaper War is theory. The Reaper ability to override the Mass Relay network is only ever mentioned by Vigil and never, not even once, brought up or alluded to in the story. And the third game seems to forget about it entirely, because the Reapers never even try to utilize it. The point being: take your pick at how you want to explain it. Maybe Vigil was wrong about the relay network. Maybe it was right about that, but wrong about systems being cut off from each other. Or maybe the writers just plain forgot about it.
    • ...Yeah the ability of the Citadel to disable mass relays is alluded to. It's in fact outright SEEN. Saren shuts down the Serpent Nebula relay from the Mass Relay override atop the Citadel tower. Shepard uses the same controls to override said lock-out to allow Normandy and the Alliance fifth fleet to jump in and join the fight. Furthermore, according to Vigil, disabling the Mass Relays is one of the first things the Reapers did. Seeing as Vigil was created long after the initial attack of the Reapers, I'd assume it's not "theory". By then the Prothean would likely know if the relays stopped working or not. It's kind of a hard thing to miss.
    • Seeing as Vigil was created long after the initial attack of the Reapers, I'd assume it's not "theory". By then the Prothean would likely know if the relays stopped working or not. It's kind of a hard thing to miss. When is it stated that Vigil was created during the Reaper invasion? In fact, it's made abundantly clear that the second the Reapers attacked, the Ilos facility immediately "went dark". Vigil never explains how it obtained the little data it had on the Reapers actions, methods, and details of the war. It knows things, but we're not exactly what forms of investigation it used. So it could still very much be a theory.
    • Considering their entire plan hinged on what happened at the Citadel, they'd have to be more than a vague guess, since they dedicated their whole time and effort to building the conduit and reprogramming the keeper. Furthermore, if the Reapers didn't disable the network... why use the conduit at all? Why not use the regular relays to go to the Citadel and fix the keepers and not die of starvation on the station because their mean of transport was exactly one-way?
    • Because going through the regular relays requires them to have a ship that is spaceflight-capable after the Reapers have finished exterminating their civilisation. The Conduit, on the other hand, has much less stringent requirements. That being said, whatever reason the Protheans couldn't access the Citadel through the Relay Network is ultimately irrelevant. The Reapers were gone from the galaxy by the time the last Protheans made their jump. Even if the Reapers had the capacity to disable the Relay Network, it would have been back online by the time they left the galaxy; leaving the Relays disabled as they exited the galaxy would have prevented their use by the next civilisations to come along, screwing over the entire galactic cycle by disallowing the Relay Network and the Citadel from ever being used. As this is not what happened, we can assume that the Last Protheans used the Conduit for reasons completely unrelated to the Relay Network Killswitch.
    • Hrrm, the relays WERE disabled by the time the next cycle came around. That's why the Rachni war happened: Relays had to be manually re-enabled and people were doing it left and right, leading Salarians to wander into Rachni space and open the Rachni's relay letting them spill forth into the Galaxy. Turians watching humans re-activate relay 314 is what sparked the First Contact War. The Charon relay being dormant is why it got covered in ice and we confused it for a moon of Pluto and what cause Pluto to gain its elliptical orbit. Once the Relay was activated again, Pluto's orbit became circular.
    • Relays were dormant. That's not the same as disabled. If the Relay Killswitch could be defeated by something so simple as landing a ship on the relay and turning the Relay back on, the entire point of the killswitch would be moot. It would be a completely useless weapon, because as soon as they fired it, the races of the galaxy would just turn all the Relays back on. With the Killswitch supposedly being the game-ending weapon that guarantees galactic extinction, that would be a pretty glaring weakness.
    • Furthermore, the station can't have gone immediately dark - Vigil is equipped with sensors to detect indoctrination. Which would not have been possible if the station had never had access to reaper-indoctrinated people.
    • Not necessarily. We know Vigil was monitoring the Reapers somehow, and that other facilities also came up with V Is that could detect indoctrination. If we're speculating, it's also possible that Vigil figured out how to detect it from the way the other V Is were calibrated. Either way, though, it still makes Vigil's exposition unreliable. As I said, take your pick as to how much.
    • I always assumed that locking down individual Relays was possible, but locking down the entire network was not feasible, for whatever reason. The Reapers may have left the Relay network operational simply for the ease of their own logistics and movement, and did not care that the Protheans were using it; they were clearly and inevitably winning anyway. It is also possible that they left the Relays operational because that would make Prothean movements easier to predict and then counter.
    • Yeah, the Relay Lockout is a problematic plot element to deal with. Mass Effect 2 further muddles the issue with the introduction of the Omega-4 Relay. The Omega-4 proves that the Reapers can tune a Mass Relay to behave differently to their own IF Fs than to any other ship. Applied to the Lockdown, this means the Reapers should have the ability to shut down the Mass Relays entirely, preventing anyone from using them...except themselves, because they have a Reaper IFF that the Relays can be specifically tuned to. This alone would make the Reapers a completely unbeatable adversary, and seems to be a key element of the galactic extinction cycle. This wouldn't be a problem if it was only the Normandy traversing the galaxy; after all, it has a Reaper IFF, so it would be able to use locked down Relays. It also wouldn't be an issue if the Reapers never managed to gain control of the Citadel in order to utilise the Lockdown, but...they do. Ultimately, the only way anything makes sense is if the Normandy's Reaper IFF was either mass-distributed among the fleets and Crucible prior to the final battle, or if the Normandy herself opened the Relay every time anyone had to make a jump to bring the fleets in. Either way, this is the kind of detail that would really need to be shown; it's too obscure and easy to miss to expect the audience to just assume.
    • As I see it, there are three possibilities for the Relays being operational: The Council wanted to make sure the trick Saren pulled disabling the Relays couldn't be done again and somehow permanently disabled the Citadel's ability to do this. The Reapers deliberately left the Charon Relay open so the militaries of the galaxy could be funneled into one spot and defeated all at once, rather than a drawn out guerrilla war. Normandy's Reaper IFF was copied and used on all ships so the initial disruption in transportation wouldn't work, which may have been the tactic the Protheans used in the later years of their war.
    • The first explanation was never implied or shown. the third is stupid as how did they manage to copy reaper IFF to every ship in the galaxy when no one believes they exist. as for the second it doesn't explain why they didn't take the citadel earlier

    Making a Reaper (Unmarked Leviathan Spoilers) 
  • So at the end of the DLC when talking to Leviathan, or one of them at least, he mentions that Harbinger is the first Reaper, modeled in their image, as they are basically a biological looking and behaving Reaper. However, it then goes on to mention that all subsequent Reapers are made the same way, with Harbinger as essentially the template. Reaper-Destroyers notwithstanding, as they are established to be more numerous and made up of the "lesser" species of the cycle, all the capital Reapers have the squid look going? Why were the Collecters making a Human-Reaper? Is it perhaps the core of a Reaper, each species aspect being contained within the squid shell (which would certainly explain the lack of a Mecha-Cthulhu-Javik wrecking havoc)? Were the Collectors incompetent at building or confused their instructions, but considering they were controlled directly by Harbinger and had no free-will in order to screw up, this seems unlikely. Or is BioWare just trying to retcon stuff?
    • In Mass Effect 2 it was explained that the Human-Reaper was merely the core. The familiar Reaper shape is actually the outer hull, which in that case, had yet to be constructed around it. Even the Human-Reaper core was still in the early phases of construction, as it's only partially finished when Shepard destroyed it.
    • Concept art of Mass Effect 2 show ideas of how the core and the "traditional reaper look" would have combined.

    Terminal Ethnocentrism 
  • Based on what we've seen, it seems clear that the Prothean beacons were designed by and for Javik's people, rather than some other Prothean race. They require you to think like a Prothean to get meaningful data out of one, can potentially kill someone without a sufficiently strong mind and are designed around Javik's race's inherent form of communication. Now that's all good and well if you're not planning on other species using them, but if the point was to warn the next cycle about the Reapers then why wouldn't they make their user interface a bit more generic? The one on Thessia was meant for the asari to use, but the asari don't have the Cipher—it takes the presence of Commander Shepard (or Javik) to activate the beacon. Javik's remark about "communication still being primitive in this cycle" seems especially narrow-minded since it presupposes that other races will have evolved his race's innate ability. The Protheans bet the future of all life on the galaxy on the hope that the next cycle would be just like them.
    • For all we know, Javik could be right. Evolution in the ME universe seems to follow some patterns (like different races developing the same Biotic powers, and the general similarities between races we're used to take for granted). For all we know, their "empathic" form of communication is going to show up in the future. The asari in special seem to be on their way to something like that, or at least similar. And they did manage to take information from that beacon (since it's the reason they're the most advanced race of the cycle), even if they never unlocked the VI, somehow.
    • Exactly. The asari already have, and probably had back then, moderate psychic ability, just ability limited to intimate physical contact and only practical use being Vulcan Mind Melds. The Protheans made the logical, if erroneous, assumption that this weak psychic ability would increase to the point of compatibility with Prothean Empathic Psychic Technology.
    • Implicitly the Prothean empathic abilities are something that can be taught or otherwise introduced to other species, since Javik appears to be mildly surprised that the "primitives" haven't mastered this skill yet, and since the Prothean Empire spanned numerous different species they all must have been granted this ability for Javik's surprise can make sense. Or perhaps they measured how "advanced" different species were on the basis of whether they shared this ability or not, and only conquered those that did.
    • This is actually indirectly brought up as a problem with the Prothean approach to doing things. Whenever they encountered a new race, they basically turned them into more Protheans or destroyed them - the end result being a lack of perspective and diversity amongst themselves, which means that at the time none of them ever stopped to think 'what if they aren't like us?'. It's the same as a person writing a message for their descendants in the future, only for it to turn out that all of said to descendants just so happen to be blind. Hence Liara stuffing every mode of communication she can into her own beacon, since she not only has the Protheans' mistake to learn from, but also comes from a notoriously diplomatic race and very diverse group of friends during a cycle where differences must be accounted for all the time.

    Reaper Destroyers 
  • Reaper destroyers seem to be inferior to organic frigate designs. They have no point defence systems, no apparent secondary weapons, no torpedoes, and do not fly and shoot at the same time in atmosphere. Why are they lacking the same weapons organic ships of comparable tonnage possess?
    • Destroyers have only one primary weapon because that's all they need. Their point defence is "nothing below capital ship weaponry can kill me unless applied to my eye when it is opened to fire." Their secondary weapons are "I don't need them because my main gun can do everything I need to do." They don't use torpedoes because their main gun can cleave through most starship kinetic barriers like paper, and torpedoes are only used by fighters to bypass kinetic barriers. They don't fly and shoot because a large ship entering atmosphere has to direct a lot of power to keeping itself airborne. Remember that in Mass Effect: Revelation, a frigate entering the atmosphere of a planet had to redirect so much power that it was shot down by a single man-portable anti-air weapon. We only see a few ships actually fly and fight in atmosphere, and all of them are shot down very quickly. The Reaper destroyers land because that's the best way to operate on the ground, as it lets them keep at least a significant amount of power available to devote to defence, allowing them to shrug anything short of direct bombardment by half the Migrant Fleet, direct hits to the eye section with Thanix missiles, or the Mother of All Thresher Maws.
    • Well clearly the Reaper on Rannoch did need some other form of weaponry. Must have been embarrassing for that Reaper to keep missing while Shepard only dodged a couple of feet to the side every time. If it had anything else it probably would have wiped Shep out no problem.
    • A Reaper Destroyer isn't intended to fight individuals on the ground. This is kind of the equivalent of taking a B-52 into a dogfight, or tasking a tank platoon to shoot down aircraft. A Reaper Destroyer works well at tearing up ships, aircraft, tanks, levelling sections of urban landscape, etc. Its not supposed to shoot at a single human on foot.
    • Incorrect. Destroyers CAN shot right AT individual soldiers as demonstrated here at 14:29 : There is no reason for the Destroyer to miss with its godlike mathematical power of a machine, other than the game will be over if they do.
    • No one said a Reaper couldn't fire at individuals. The point was that a Reaper isn't optimised to fire at individuals. Even when a Reaper is engaging infantry, it is shown firing upon groups. All that video shows is that the Reaper's gun is not optimised for firing upon targets the size of humans, as demonstrated by the fact that it missed Shepard. The Reaper's main weapon simply isn't designed to kill individual infantry, anymore than a tank's cannon isn't designed to shoot down aircraft.
    • Reapers do have point defense weapons of some type. You can see the tracer fire coming off the one on Tuchanka when the turian fighters attack it.

    Reaper control points 

  • Why do the reapers choose ONE of their lesser members to guard some critically important point MULTIPLE times? Tuchunka: The reapers obviously knew the Shroud was important, or else they wouldn't have put a reaper right there. But it was just one destroyer, so it got it's ass kicked... by a worm. Rannoch: One measly destroyer was responsible for broadcasting and defending the Reaper signal to the Geth. It lacked the precision to kill Shepard with its laser. Shepard then exploited a newly discovered weak point that is presumably unique to destroyers and Alpha Struck it to death using the Quarian fleet. Earth: One destroyer guards the path to the beam until Harbinger shows up. It is destroyed using conventional weapons with relative ease (when compared to a Sovereign class Reaper). Yes, there was a massive battle going on and most of the big reapers were probably occupied there. But they could have spared at least a few other reapers to help defend such a vitally important area. Destroyers seem to be good at destroying, but only on their terms. Defending some critical point however, would be best left to a capital Reaper or multiple destroyers.
    • The Reapers only use a single Destroyer to guard critical areas, because for the most part, that's all they need. From what we know, no one is able to get near the locations in question until Shepard shows up, which ends up distracting them due to Shepard's status as The Dreaded and their priority attempts to eliminate him/her. For Tuchanka, no one was able to get near the Shroud while the Destroyer was there, not even Shepard. As for Kalros defeating it, no one was expecting that: the plan for calling her was to be used as a distraction. No one expected the Mother of all Thresher Maws to kill the Reaper. For Rannoch, the Reaper was hidden under a massive bunker from orbit, and until Shepard opened it, no one even knew it was there. Plus it took the entire Quarian fleet firing at the thing's weak spot to bring it down, and even that required a special device to cut through the geth jamming signals. As for missing Shepard, there's another folder right above that answers that question. As for Earth; if you pay attention to the radio chatter, no one is able to get close to the beam while the Destroyer is still there. To summarise, they are actually quite effective at guarding critical areas, hence why they're priority targets by opposing forces.

    The Necessity of the Cycles 
  • If the entire point of the Cycle system was that organic slave species kept developing AI's and AI's kept rising up in rebellion, why didn't the Leviathans or the Catalyst just use their overwhelming power to prevent anyone from building AI's? The Leviathans have the power to kill Reapers and the Reapers have been repeatedly capable of wiping out space-faring life for possibly a billion years. Would it really have been that hard to just force the organic species to stop, especially when it's made clear just how thorough their mind control powers are?
    • The Leviathans were lazy. Literally, that was their reasoning. They made the Catalyst to figure it out for them so they didn't need to bother doing it themselves, and it worked right up until the Catalyst attacked and wiped them out. As for the Catalyst itself preventing AI from being developed, that's the whole point of the cycle to begin with.
    • And nothing about that could say "just send a Reaper over and make sure they aren't building anything like that"? It really turned to galaxy-wide xenocide? If you can build an army of nigh-invulnerable xenocidal cyborg ships, I think you can enforce a basic rule of "no A.I.'s" without resorting to extinction.
    • The command given to the Catalyst wasn't "stop people from building AI's", it was "find a permanent solution to this organic-AI war thing" or "make it so that synthetics and organics will never fight each other ever again, period". Simply using military force to halt AI development isn't enough to do that. That's why the Catalyst went with the Reapers.
    • So what exactly about stopping people from making A.I.s doesn't accomplish just that goal? If A.I.s are prevented from being created in the first place, then you could never have a war with them because there is nothing to have a war with.
    • Because they can't stop AIs from being created. You don't think the Leviathans tried getting their thralls to stop or tried destroying the resultant AIs that were created? Or maybe they considered that AIs could prove useful as long as they are controlled and their creators aren't destroyed. The Leviathans created the Catalyst because they're arrogant; they're line of reasoning was probably "well, it happened to our thralls so we know what to expect, therefore it will never happen to us" and they paid the price for it. It's not that surprising, it happens to us primitive humans, you don't think the "Apex Race" would grow to be really egotistical? Besides, it may not even be possible for the Catalyst to stop creating AIs, after all, the quarians created the geth by accident, maybe similar scenarios happened during the time of the Leviathans.
    • Some may point out that the Reaper Cycles don't accomplish the above either. No, they don't, and the Catalyst admits as much when speaking to Shepard. The Reaper Cycles were simply the best plan it was able to come up with; a stopgap solution. It was still looking for a better solution all throughout the Cycles, and this is one reason it hands off the decision to Shepard: evidently, the Catalyst is unable to find this solution (or, perhaps the solution is literally impossible). Shepard is largely responsible for defeating its best solution, so perhaps Shepard can find a better one.
      • The Catalyst's entire Reaper solution was a stopgap - an experiment that it eventually locked down to (roughly) 50,000 year iterations. In every iteration of the cycle, things went almost exactly as they did before. The Catalyst was unable to find anything amongst the data to suggest that the inevitability of Organic-Synthetic conflict was correctable or preventable, and it was obliged to continue. It became aware of the Crucible, but at that point did not recognise it as a potential solution - only a weapon that might actually destroy its instruments (the Reapers). So the Reapers continued to wipe out the Crucible plans wherever they encountered them. Eventually (during our cycle), Organics were able to both complete the Crucible and dock it with the Citadel. The Crucible systems, not entirely understood by the races that built it (since the original design was way back in prehistory and had been continually modified), altered the Citadel station to allow it to become a massive firing array. The only question left was which 'solution' of those presented would be taken? The Catalyst allows Shepard to choose - even if that means destruction of the Reapers and itself - which solution is transmitted into the relay network.

    Surviving the Cycles 
  • If the Reapers wipe out all intelligent life in the galaxy every 50000 years why are humans (who have been around at least 100000 years) still alive?
    • It's not intelligent life, it's advanced life. Generally, this means spacefaring. So humans, asari, and all the other modern races were skipped last time. Javik will even talk about what they looked like during his cycle. One race, the raloi, had the misfortune of achieving spaceflight only a few years before the Reapers came this time around; 3 mentions that they've retreated to their homeworld and destroyed all their advanced technology in the hopes that the Reapers will ignore them.
    • They flat out mention that Parnack, homeworld of the Yahg, is being avoided by the Reapers for this reason.

    Why not park Harbinger in front of the beam to guard it? 
  • Seems to me like arrogance bordering on incompetence to just leave a mere destroyer to guard that beam in London. After all, the Reapers already know that a destroyer can be maneuvered around easily if not engaged, distracted and outright destroyed by a large enough infantry unit with enough heavy weapon support. Tuchanka taught them that 3 people can out maneuver a destroyer, while Rannoch taught them that a few lucky shots made by a target designator can cripple a destroyer. And I'm sure the few destroyers destroyed by Krogan reinforcements on Palaven would have further reinforced that vulnerability. So why didn't they learn from this and decide that next time they will use an invulnerable dreadnought to guard a strategically vital location? And once the Victory fleet showed up with the Crucible, why didn't Harbinger, their most powerful dreadnought decide to take the initiative and guard the beam itself - thereby guaranteeing that there is absolutely no chance to dock the Crucible?
    • Because the destroyer and the Reaper ground units surrounding the beam were doing their job adequately. The moment the beam was seriously threatened, Harbinger went down to deal with it, and massacred everything short of Shepard and Anderson. And the speed by which Harbinger responded indicates that they knew that if their limited rear guard force was actually overwhelmed, they could get a dreadnought into position to deal with the problem more than quickly enough.
    • Harbinger arrived a little too late to actually succeed in safeguarding the beam. This is proven by the fact that despite whatever happened to Shepard and the squad, Anderson still made it up the beam in full health. Their rear guard ultimately couldn't do its job because the destroyer is vulnerable, and got itself destroyed. When Harbinger showed up, the beam was just a sprint away. Had it been delayed by just a minute or two, an entire platoon might have made it up the beam. That is cutting it way too close. Had it been parked there in the beginning, there would have been no possibility of the beam being threatened at all, and therefore, those other dreadnoughts could have continued to focus on the Crucible.
    • Except there's no way for Harbinger to have known that at the time. Again, the rear guard were doing their job just fine; if you listen to the dialogue over the radio while Hammer is approaching the beam, you'll note that they're getting massacred. If Shepard hadn't been there, the Reaper destroyer would have routed Hammer. And when Shepard intervened, within minutes harbinger had responded and did rout Hammer. Only Anderson managed to get through before Harbinger finished obliterating Hammer and returned to the battle. Yes, they would have completely destroyed Hammer and prevented anyone from getting into the beam if they'd put a dreadnought in position, but that would require them to be omniscient and know that they would need to put a dreadnought there to stop a ground attack, when at the time a destroyer was perfectly adequate against what they faced. The Reapers aren't infallable. This is like asking "Why didn't the Germans have their reserve Panzers in position when the Allies invaded Normandy?" Because they didn't think they needed the Panzers there. It's the same thing here. The Reapers just didn't think they'd need anything more than a destroyer and ground troops to hold the beam, and excepting Shepard's presence, they were right.
    • The analogy to the Normandy invasion doesn't quite work here - the reason why the Germans didn't have Panzer divisions waiting for the assault era due to a lack of omniscience, it was because of a successful disinformation campaign by the Allies who convinced the Germans that the attack would be launched elsewhere. In this case, there really was no "elsewhere" for Hammer to attack - there was only one way to the Citadel and that was the beam. The Reapers would have known this the second they closed the Citadel's arms. And them being complacent about guarding it would fly anywhere else except on Earth with humans. The Reapers were so concerned by the possible threat posed by humans that they attacked Earth with their strongest forces first. They focused so much time and effort on neutralising Earth's military and industrial capabilities first, because they felt that humans were too dangerous to be allowed to operate in any capacity, while they were fine with patiently grinding down everybody else. For the Reapers to be this paranoid and thorough with humans initially and then underestimate their human opposition like that is baffling. Especially a human opposition spearheaded by Shepard.
    • Except that again, they did put a sufficient force in place to hold the beam. As noted above, Hammer was routing when they tried to push on the beam. The only weapon system Hammer had that could damage the Reaper destroyer was completely inoperable because of the beam. Without Shepard, Hammer would have been defeated and no one could have gotten into the beam in the first place. And when Hammer rallied, the Reapers immediately deployed their most powerful asset to land before hammer could advance to the beam and they were completely routed. It was only by sheer luck that anyone got through Harbinger's bombardment and made it into the beam. And even then Shepard barely survived. The Reaper defence wasn't "baffling," it was perfectly adequate to do its job.
      • Exactly this. People ask why 'only' one Reaper to guard the Shroud at Tuchanka, to transmit the Geth upgrades, or to guard the beam in London. All three were almost unstoppable if not for Shepard being there, couple with some extremely heroic actions. Otherwise, the destroyers there would've completed the exact mission they were there to perform. The one in London was literally massacring even the concerted attack Shepard was helping to spearhead, and was only brought down thanks to Shepard herself.

    Javik's lack of Armour 
  • Javik appeared to be wearing a black bodysuit under red armour. However, there is a part around his knees that is a very similar green-blue color to his skin. If it's the same color as his skin, why doesn't it match the color of the rest of his armour? If those are actually Javik's knees, why does his armor leave his knees exposed?
    • Like everyone else, Javik has shields. He's a biotic as well, so his shields are backed up by biotic barriers. Like everyone else, his armor is a backup to both of those. He doesn't wear a helmet either, even in vacuum, and the head is a more appealing target than the knees. It is odd, though.
    • Samara and Miranda both go into battle in a Spy Catsuit and Jack fights in a ratty pair of trousers and a belt across her chest. Compared to that a gap at the knees is nothing. Even Jacob, Thane, Liara and Kaiden wear less armour than most others. Biotics (krogan and turians aside) tend to favour free movement over heavy protection, presumably since they have their barriers at all times anyway.

    Sex with Javik 
  • This happened to me, and I wasn't even trying to make it happen... seriously, how is this even possible? How can an alien species from 50,000 years ago even have relations with a female human?
    • If it's comfortable for you to think that way, nobody said it was sex. They could have just slept in the same bed and done something embarassing. And even if it was, don't underestimate human creativity. The Everything That Moves trope exists for a reason: if it moves and is of the right size, probably someone, somewhere, has tried to sleep with it. Best not to think about it. Suffice to say there are obvious ways and not-so-obvious ways.
    • Humans are able to have sex with other alien species, and it's likely that Protheans' reproductive process is still just sexual intercourse. If Javik is a male and has... male genitals, then sex is possible. Even if Javik's Tab A isn't a perfect fit for Shepard's Slot B, there are other activities classified as sexual without needing penetration. Pretty much, as always, the biggest problem is getting Javik to agree to it, rather than the difficulty of the act itself. Also, I need to go manually remove those images from my mind with a spoon.
    • Additionally, if the internet has taught me anything, it is that no matter the size or shape, "Tab A" can ALWAYS be made to fit into "Slot B".
    • Well, when two creatures love each other very much, or are just very, very drunk.... I mean, come on, how the fuck do you think they do it? Even if they have completely different and incompatible biology in the physical sense, they can still stimulate erogenous zones until orgasm occurs. Put some bloody imagination into it. This is like asking how a human and a turian could have relations. That Javik is 50,000 years old is entirely irrelevant. Also keep in mind that most likely, they were both really drunk and might have just flopped around a bit without finding anywhere to deploy the troops, and then passed out.
    • It's also perfectly possible that Protheans reproduce in the same way as the asari, using their biotics.

    Why were the Keepers and Saren even necessary? 
  • If the Catalyst is the Citadel, why couldn't it have just activated the relay itself? Why bother with the Keepers and after they failed, sending in Saren and Sovereign to activate it manually? I mean, christ, that combined with TIM being a recycling of Saren makes me wonder if Mac Walters knows a damn thing about the series lore.
    • Just spitballing here, but perhaps the keepers and Saren were a more recent failsafe introduced as a response to heavy losses sustained in an earlier cycle. It's entirely possible that Vigil was an Unreliable Expositor and that the Protheans were only able to undo changes made by The Catalyst to hasten the harvest over the last few cycles out of frustration that previous cycles yielded less than optimal results. We can infer from the fact that previous cycles were aware of The Catalyst's existence that somewhere along the line, they may have interfered with its ability to directly launch the Reaper harvest, which in turn made the creation of the Keepers necessary. Another possibility is that the Citadel was not always The Catalyst's home (which actually seems likely) and that it was simply moved there in a later cycle without being given full control over its systems. This makes sense if you think about it - certainly any races to discover the Citadel would want to poke around in some of the station's black boxes, which, if they were linked directly to The Catalyst, could inadvertently trigger a Reaper invasion prematurely.
    • All indications are that the Catalyst does not directly control the process. It set up the cycle and then simply sat back and let things progress on their own. The Reapers and their cycle are an autonomous process that it doesn't oversee. Besides, if something came along that broke that cycle, the Catalyst is perfectly willing to accept that.
    • The problem with that idea is that his ENTIRE EXPLANATION of the relationship is "The Reapers are mine. I control them. They are my solution".
    • Which is very vague and non-specific. Observed behavior from the Reapers make it clear that the Catalyst, despite being in overall control, is hands-off and doesn't direct the Reapers itself. It could, theoretically, have intervened if it chose to, but it chose not to intervene in the Protheans' plan and the subsequent struggle against Saren.
    • Which choice would have Orcus on His Throne marrying the Idiot Ball, which was the entire complaint in the first place.
    • Indeed, the EC adds that he is the collective intelligence of the Reapers, which means he knows everything they know. Also, considering that in the control ending, Shepard replaces the Catalyst and has complete and utter control over the Reapers, the original Catalyst did as well. As an AI, he knows nothing of 'laziness'. We also see the citadel move at his behest, as well as Catalyst Shepard's. Then theres the whole elevator thing. Its just not explained. The Catalyst breaks the whole plot of the trilogy. from before the games even started.
    • "The Catalyst breaks the whole plot of the trilogy. from before the games even started." Pretty much this. Which is why I ignore the official ending and prefer Vendetta's explanation: the Catalyst is the Citadel.
    • This assumes that the Catalyst is always active, and that it has control over the Citadel itself. Three theories I have heard explain the Catalysts lack of action in ME1 is that:
    • 1) The Crucible is necessary for the Catalyst to "wake up", and it is otherwise just running the same subroutines that it runs every cycle. It is essentially a computer that has been set on auto-pilot up until that point, where it is responsible for insuring the Reapers stay on point (harvest the Galaxy of spacefaring races who use the mass relays). When the crucible attaches, it is essentially the same as hooking up a keyboard and mouse to a computer, allowing for you to offer input and change its calculations/routines (similar to how you can change the Heretic Geths' code in ME2 to correct their inaccurate calculations). It never has changed its code before since the crucible was never attached, and thus it myay not be able to act outside of its old subroutines. Thus it won't adapt well to changes in cycles, since it isn't programmed to adapt well (considering it has been using the same solution to a problem for a billion years). This theory is lent credence in Leviathan, where the Catalyt's creators basically describe the catalyst as a sophisticated but limited VI that is operating in the constraints of its programming.
    • 2)The Catalyst is essentially like a Car's computer. Though most modern cars have nearly all aspects controlled by a computer, we would not expect the car to turn on without some input, even though the car's computer is always on. The keepers would activate its control of the citadel in past, allowing it to summon the reapers to begin the new cycle. It likely used this solution either to A)hide from the sentient races, as an AI presence that was always active in the background may raise suspicions(exposing the Catalyst) or B)Save its power and energy, as we see that the Reapers hibernate and this may mean the Catalyst must do so as well. In previous cycles, the Citadel was always seized immediately. For all we know, this reflected the Catalyst coming online and directing the cycle. No one knew it was there since all of the organics on the station were wiped out, and the Mass Relays shut down so no one could approach it.
    • 3)The Catalyst is stored on the Citadel, but has no direct control over the structure without the Crucible in place. Similar to the above 2 theories, but instead the Catalyst is only able to control the citadel with its activation via the Crucible. Before that, it can monitor and guide the Reapers, but it is for the most part constrained as a passive observer, who set the mostly independent Reapers on a mission, and then stepped back. This could even be intentional, so that only when a race proved itself capable would it be allowed to affect things, rather than allow anyone to simply hijack control of the entire reaper fleet and mass relay network if crafty enough to hack the citadel. This is supported by the EC and Leviathan, as the Catalyst refers to the crucible as a power source that allows it to act in manners it normally could not, and the Leviathans state that the Catalyst is waiting for an anomaly to prove that the cycles should end.
    • This has been mentioned in the WMG for 2, but there's also the fact that even with the delay in the Reaper arrival from, well, Arrival, it apparently takes the Reaper fleet less than a year to reach Batarian space from wherever they're hanging out in dark space. For a species who have been around for tens of millions of years (at least), this is nothing. Why bother activating the Citadel Relay to dark space at all? If all it takes is a couple of months, why doesn't the Reaper fleet just mosey on over to the Alpha Relay when it's good and ready and take everyone by total surprise that way? Particularly once the Protheans disable the Keeper signal.
    • It actually took them over a millennium to reach Batarian space from wherever they're hanging out. Remember, Saren and the Geth were not Sovereign's first attempt at solving the problem with the Citadel Relay. The genocide signal's been active since earlier than the rachni war.
    • No, actually in a tweet Bioware said that the reapers have been on the move since the moment Sovereign was destroyed. If the reapers had been on the move since a millennium then they would be at a considerable distance from their origin with their relay to the Citadel, if that's the case, then why did Sovereign bothered to activate the Citadel since their buddies would arrive soon anyway?
    • So that would mean that it took 2-3 years for them to travel from Dark Space (Between ME1 and ME2, Shepard is on a mission for several months before he is dead for two years, plus his time working for Cerberus and his arrest) to reaching the edge of the Galaxy. Once there, they just would hijack the closest Mass Relay. It still seems pretty quick though.
    • Technically, relays can be moved. Whilst moving towards the galaxy from dark space, the Reapers could have brought the dark space-Citadel relay with them.
    • One wonders why the Citadel activates it and not the other way around. They however did not bring it with them, they could have just used to to fling themselves into the galaxy for a very nasty surprise.

    Why didn't the Reapers just... wait? 
  • Now I'm not looking for a Meta-Explanation here, I know that if the reapers didn't come through we wouldn't have a game. But... Okay, they wish to operate without knowledge or resistance until it's too late, right? So... why not just wait like... 150-200 years? By that point the only person who would be left alive to remind the galaxy of the reapers would be Liara, Wrex, Samara and possibly Morinth. (It seems to be implied that Wrex is kind of old by even ME1, so he probably doesn't have that long.) Even if Sheppard is like "The Reapers are coming!" to his dying day, he won't be listened to because the Reapers just wouldn't arrive. Look, I know they have their cycle, but it was already delayed by a few years- they wait fifty thousand before harvesting another species, are we really supposed to buy that they aren't patient enough to be like: "We're being prepared for, better hold of the invasion for just a little bit."
    • According to extra materials, the current cycle being left in the dark about the Reapers is something of an anomaly. Many cycles were successfully able to warn the next, but obviously even clear warnings didn't allow the previous cycles much more of a chance. For reference, Shepard is the only organic they consider a threat. Besides, who says a galactic invasion was a bad idea? They were winning the war, and the battle for Earth was a Desperation Attack with the remnants of the galactic civilizations using their greatest superweapon available. Quite frankly, with their superior numbers, technology, and durability, the Reapers always won, even against cycles better-prepared than Shepards, so don't blame them for assuming this one wouldn't be too different.
    • The last stand was a desperation attack but that was mostly due to the Citadel now being in Reaper controlled hands, which was the fault of Cerberus, not the reapers themselves, the Reapers are smart, with Shep leading the charge, he had foiled the Reapers plans to get through to the galaxy at large, not once, but three times, the Reapers know who they are dealing with, it would be a simple matter to wait for Shepard and those who took him seriously to die or fall into obscurity.
    • The Reapers are pushing to attack now because it's time to attack. They've been preparing to attack at this point and the assault is already behind schedule, and the only people who know about the real threat are Shepard's rather small circle and the Geth Consensus. In fact, the latter point is one of the single most compelling reasons to attack now: the Consensus is a force of perfectly rational synthetic intelligences that are fully aware of the Reaper threat and will take whatever steps necessary to defend itself from them, and giving them any more time to prepare than they already have is just going to make things worse.
    • Clever! The Geth didn't rush back into the arms of the Old Machines until the quarians attacked them in Priority: Rannoch. And by that point the Reaper invasion was already underway, so the genie was out of the bottle. Ironically if Harbinger had just delayed the invasion by another year or two, gambling that the quarians were going to attack the Geth eventually, the whole thing might have worked out in their favor. If the Geth rejected the Old Machines, then the quarians probably would have wiped them out. If the Geth embraced the Old Machines, then they would have mopped the floor with the quarians. Either way, the Geth are no longer a threat to the Reapers' plans.
    • I think if the Collectors had managed to snatch Shepard's body before Cerberus got to it in ME2 the Reapers might just have decided to wait another century or three before invading. When the Collectors failed, Harbinger felt they needed to step up the time-table.
    • Their advance man, Sovereign, had failed in a direct assault on the Citadel. The only reason the races of the universe didn't begin to prepare in that instance is because of the colossal idiocy of the Council handwaving away the threat. The Reapers' plans couldn't possibly account for that so they moved in.
    • It's casually stated here and there that the Reapers believe what they're doing to be for the benefit of the organics they destroy. If you want to get aa good idea why a few centuries would be a bad idea to them, look no further than the quarians and humanity. A few centuries is all it took to turn them from one of the most advanced species to some backwater hicks, and the humans vice-versa (in even less time). The Reapers' goal is to preserve each species at the top of their game, and if it sees humanity as capital ship material, who the hell knows what'll happen to this unpredictable-as-hell species in ten years, let alone a few centuries.

    Reaper Blackstar: What's with the handgrip? 
  • It just seems odd that the Reapers would make a weapon with a human-style handgrip and trigger when they could easily integrate it with a husk's body instead, like with the Scion's shockwave cannon in ME2. Otherwise, it's like they're just begging for someone like Shepard to pick it up and turn it against them. Also, if the Blackstar is such an effective weapon, why don't we see the Reapers using large-scale versions of it as anti-dreadnought weapons, instead of spamming Thanix beams all over the place?
    • Makes it easier for an indoctrinated soldier or techie to bring this heavy weapon into their base and blow up key personnel or armory.
    • It's also a one-shot weapon. In-universe it could be something the Reapers made recently and are testing. Given its destructive capabilites and only firing once, it's possible the Reapers intended this to be used by a suicide bomber tactic.
    • The Reapers don't always use integrated weaponry. The Marauders retain their Turian hands and carry separate guns with handles. And the Blackstar, even assuming it can be reloaded, is a rather situational weapon. You don't want to have a troop type only useful at long range, 'cos if the enemy closes they'd kill themselves with their own integrated gun. Better have it be something that any husk type can pick up and use.

    Reapers Don't Know How to Aim Rockets or Ballistics (Thessia) 
  • On Thessia, at the very beginning of the mission Sheppard gets to an Asari post headed by Lieutenant Kurin. The perimeter is soon breached, an Asari blocks the breach with a biotic bubble and Sheppard has to get on the turret to shoot Brutes and Husks. When this fight is over there's a cut scene. During this scene, the reaper forces launch rockets at the biotic bubble. If we look at the rockets' paths closely, we can see their trajectory is curved, in both the horizontal and vertical planes. This implies guided flight. Why can't the reapers just aim to hit the area behind the bubble? Actually, if one of the rockets had just been aimed a little bit more to the right (seen from our perspective during the cut scene), it would have been able to fly over what remained of the original fence and hit behind the fence, right in the middle of the courtyard. In the cutscene this rocket hits the biotic bubble but the bubble is higher than the fence. For that matter, have the Reapers ever heard of mortars? It is true that there are major difference between a mortar and a bazooka. A modern fighting unit equipped with self-propelled rockets might not be able to accomplish what a unit equipped with mortars could. However, the Reapers are leagues ahead of us technologically: using a rocket as a mortar round should be nothing to them.
    • Husks aren't exactly smart. They rely more on their overwhelming numbers and toughness to win, and in a situation where that's not enough, they'll wait for an actual reaper to lend support. It's possible that whatever was firing the rockets just saw the Asari bubble and went "enemy = shoot" and would just keep firing until it was dead. Not the best explanation, but still.
    • Or, they knew exactly what they were doing. Even at that point, everyone knew Thessia was lost. The Reapers are all about breaking their enemies' spirits, so letting the commandos watch their defenses being whittled down, begging for reinforcements and being slowly overwhelmed by husks, would be more psychologically terrifying to others listening in than than just blowing them to kingdom come. Perhaps inefficient, but the Reapers have billions more soldiers on their side and all the time in the universe, so they wouldn't care.
    • Or, Hollywood Tactics.
    • The point is to break the blockade, not just kill Asari. Indeed the Reapers would prefer living Asari where possible, to huskify them. So aiming at the barrier is quite sensible.

    The Reapers haven't watched The Terminator 
  • Ok, by now we all know the reapers' plan. What I see as the biggest flaw in the Catalyst's logic is that it makes the assumption that organic life will conquer ftl travel sooner than it will develop artificial intelligence. Now, assuming this was to happen and the worst case scenario were to occur with the A.I. killing the pre-spaceflight organics that created it, would it not be possible if not probable for the A.I. to become itself spacefaring and potentially cause the destruction of galactic life halfway between reaper harvesting?
    • Presumably the Reapers kill off any synthetic races they find during their harvesting runs. At most, the pre-FTL synthetics would go undetected during the current cycle and then be wiped out 50,000 years later.
    • The Reaper vanguard's job is to make sure this doesn't happen. It keeps an eye on the galactic situation, and if a synthetic creation starts running amok, it would trigger the harvest early to deal with it. This is a common fallacy that a lot of people make when considering the Reaper's cycle: they assume that the Reapers are blind to the goings-on of the galaxy, when the Reapers have both their vanguard (Sovereign) and slave species (Collectors, controlled by Harbinger) to keep an eye on the galaxy for precisely this reason. Remember that the current cycle is an extreme fluke because Sovereign couldn't just call down the Reaper fleets early. In previous cycles the Reapers would just swoop down on any abnormalities and smash them flat.
    • That is flat-out wrong. Javik says that the Protheans were engaged in a galactic-scale war with a Synthetic species for much of their history, and were starting to make real gains when the Reapers came.
    • Which proves what, exactly? The Protheans were fighting a synthetic species, yes, but that synthetic species was not on the verge of winning and taking over the galaxy. The Reapers would be expected to trigger a harvest if it became apparent that synthetic life was going to take over the galaxy; that's the vanguard's job.
    • Moreover, as long as the Synthetic and Organic species are fighting themselves to a standstill, that just makes the Reapers' job easier. Once one of them seizes the upper-hand decisively, they can move in an smash both of them at their weakest.
    • The problem is that according to the Catalyst Synthetics always win.
    • So? The Catalyst is not a truly omnicscient and infalliable entity. The fact that you're talking to it proves that much outright.
    • Rather, the synthetics would always win eventually.
    • More specifically, that since Synthetics are vastly more efficient than any organic race, it would only take one genocidally intolerant synthetic race achieving victory to spell the doom of all organic intelligent races across the galaxy forever.

    Harbinger shooting the Normandy 
  • Different example, but same principle, when Shepard calls in the Normandy to evaculate his team in the Extended cut, why doesn't Harbinger take advantage of this and blast both his nemesis and the ship? They are sitting ducks, I seriiously doubt they would be able to withstand the attack for long.
    • That bugged me initially as well, but then I figured that Harbinger's priority at that moment was to stop everyone from getting to the Conduit and up to the Citadel (remember it wasn't just Shepard and co making a break for it, pretty much the entirety of Hammer was running for it as well), so Harbinger would have been focusing everything it had on the people charging the Conduit. Also note, that when Harbinger assumes everyone is dead, it takes off, which could mean that it was going after the Normandy to finish the job.
    • Or due to the Reaper IFF, Harbinger saw a Reaper standing right in front of Shepard and his crew and he leaves having assumed that it killed Shepard (the only person they have come to fear).

    The Reapers' Rachni Queen 
  • Two questions here: why was the Rachni Queen able to resist the effects of the Reapers' indoctrination? Also, she made it clear that if she had any more children, they would be able to help build the Crucible, so why were they immune to the effects of the Reapers' indoctrination when the Ravagers she'd given birth to before were more than happy to attack everything in sight?
    • Those Ravagers were heavily roboticised, so I'd say we weren't looking at Indoctrinated rachni so much as huskified rachni. As for resisting Indoctrination, no idea. Maybe a prepared Hive Mind can fend off Indoctrination (that is why the saved queen can help you, while the new queen if you didn't save the first one betrays you the first chance she gets).
    • Remember in the first game where the Queen tells you about "the ones who soured the songs of our ancestors". That creepy Russian scientist guy also said that the Rachni Queens are born with all the born with the memories of their fathers/mothers. I just assumed that the Rachni Queen you save had the memories of what was done to her people and had the time to figure out a way to dodge being indoctrinated.
    • The queens can probably resist indoctrination, but lesser rachni like workers, soldiers, and brood warriors can't. If what happened to the rachni queen is any indicator, Sovereign took control of various nests' lesser rachni and imprisoned the queen, using her to breed more warriors.
    • I think we can chalk it up to a mix of Genetic Memory and Hive Mind. Rachni queens carry the memories of their ancestors, which might give them a resistance to indoctrination; on top of that, their Genetic Memory also seems like an offshoot of their Hive Mind, and it's shown elsewhere that a Hive Mind is capable of preventing indoctrination from taking hold. It's what allows Shiala, who still is indoctrinated, to not be overcome by the Reapers' will. The rachni enemies that Shepard encounters are all husks, which are a mix of organic tissue and synthetic material because of Reaper interference. The Queen herself is still fully organic, as are the children the Queen produces after being freed.
    • We get at least a hint, if not outright confirmation, that hive minds are inherently resistant to indoctrination from Shiala. Assuming you helped Zhu's Hope out previously, she sends you an email revealing that they are fighting the invasion effectively because the Thorian's implantation has linked their minds permanently, and she also admits that she is still indoctrinated. I don't recall her exact words, but it is something along the lines of she is able to hear the Reapers' whispers, but the voices of the Zhu's Hope colonists are stronger and so the whispers can't affect her. As a result, it is safe to assume properly networked Rachni have an even stronger hive mind and are thus even more resistant to indoctrination. As for the queen herself, recall that Benezia was able to fight off indoctrination briefly. As the head of an absolutely massive hive mind, I for one think it is safe to say that Rachni Queens are by many orders of magnitude the most powerful-minded beings in existence, surpassing probably all asari matriarchs combined. The Queen from Noveria seems more annoyed and dismissive of indoctrination when we encounter her in 3 than concerned by it, and knowing how strong indoctrination is, any being that can consider it to be merely an annoyance is frighteningly powerful.
    • Here's a thought: the Leviathan DLC postulates that the titular Leviathans may have been responsible for the Rachni Wars due to the use of their own mind control. Of course, this conflicts with the previous games, as it was theorized in-universe that the Reapers were behind it. Yet, even in Mass Effect 1, the setting establishes that powerful hive minds seem to have an immunity to indoctrination, and the Leviathans would've had no reason to set the Rachni against the Council races. Here's my theory: who says it wasn't both of them? Sovereign may have attempted to indoctrinate the Rachni to serve as his underlings, but they resisted. At the same time, the Leviathans tried to take control of the Rachni for whatever reason (either to gain an army to help fight the Reapers or just to prevent Sovereign from getting them). The Rachni may have been able to hold off one form of mind control with no ill effects, but the combined strength of two different forms of indoctrination coming from two powerful species (and likely giving conflicting orders) drove the Rachni into a frenzy, thus causing the Rachni Wars. I'll admit, this may belong in WMG, but considering that the Leviathan mind control caused the creation of the Awakened Collectors, this seems fairly plausible.
    • I have a different theory; other mind control trumps indoctrination. The Thorian made it through at least one Reaping without being indoctrinated. Indeed Shiala notes at one point that she thinks she's still indoctrinated but the Thorian's own mind control is overriding it, even now the Thorian is dead and not giving any instructions. This does make a certain sense with how Reaper indoctrination works, as a kind of slow subversion of the target's thought processes. More powerful, more direct means of mind control, such as the Thorian and the Leviathans, simply override the effect. You can't hear the whispers of the Reapers 'cos someone is shouting in your ear. The Rachni Queen's mental signal may produce similar kind of result. However the cloned queen was indoctrinated before she was powerful enough to do so.

    Scions and Praetorians 
  • Why the absence of these enemies? Being made from Husks, there should be plenty of materials on hand for the Reapers to make more of them, and we know that the Scions, at least, are not Collector-dependent, as they show up on the Derelict Reaper.
    • Ravagers do the same job as Scions with greater mobility. Pretorians's limited effectiveness against Shepard's team likely resulted in them being phased out; Harvesters do a better job overall as close air support platforms.
    • Bigger question on my mind is where did all the mechs go? You'd think that with the Reaper invasion they'd be in higher demand than ever. Hell, they'd make perfect canon fodder for TIM's army.
    • Considering how unreliable they proved in the previous game, I wouldn't be surprised that TIM just refused to use them to guard critical installations, let alone have them deployed on strike ops.
    • The mechs return in the Omega DLC, having been rebuilt into much more mobile and dangerous Rampart Mechs.
    • Scions and Praetorians are now part of the Collector forces in multiplayer.

    Reaper Tech and Indoctrination 
  • Isn't anybody worried about people in the Alliance, Council, or other races being indoctrinated during the main story? The Reaper tech you picked up during the N7 Sanctum mission goes straight to Alliance researchers and nobody thinks that might be a problem? The Derelict Reaper from Mass Effect 2 proved that Reaper corpses with any kind of power can still generate enough juice to indoctrinate organics ... yet nobody seems to be bothered by giant Reaper corpses now sitting on Tuchanka and Rannoch?
    • The small Reaper devices are likely safe; the only Reaper devices encountered that caused indoctrination are large-scale objects like Reaper themselves, Object Rho, and the device in the mine. As for the dead Reapers on Tuchanka and Rannoch, those would likely be disassembled - explosively - and the areas around them would be marked as no-go zones until the Reaper is completely destroyed. Remember that once Sovereign was destroyed, there was no danger of indoctrination on the Citadel from the wreckage, and the derelict Reaper was still largely intact with a functional power core. The Reapers disabled on Tuchanka and Rannoch were completely destroyed with no intact power supplies, and indoctrination fields can only exist if the Reaper is still getting power and is intact, and both of those Reapers were very much not intact by the end.
    • In the Shadow Broker files it's discussed how some Reaper tech is being analyzed from distance using remote drones to avoid the Indoctrination effect. Most likely all these objects are treated as extremely hazardous materials, and no-one will approach them in person once they've been secured.
    • In the Leviathan DLC, the research lab has a rather large fragment of Sovereign on display. If questioned, the staff will reply that it is behind very powerful energy shields and that they have regular psych evaluations just in case that isn't enough. Apparently mass effect fields can block the indoctrination signal.
    • Even if they are isolated, if they are still capable of indoctrination the wreck on Tuchanka is right in the territory of the mother of all Thresher Maws. Imagine that thing being indoctrinated or huskified...
    • Again, if the Reaper tech is sufficiently damaged then it cannot indoctrinate. The Reaper's power core needs to be active to generate husks or indoctrination fields, and if Kalros inflicts sufficient damage to the Reaper, which is indicated when it attacks, then the Reaper will be completely inert.
    • There is no indication of how damaged a Reaper has to be to lose its indoctrination field; judging from the Derelict Reaper they don't have to be in a sapient condition do cause the effect. However, even if the field continues to excert influence, I doubt that a creature as simple as the Tresher Maw could be affected; it's not the type of creature to understand the complex ideas that the indoctrination influences on; at best a Reaper could guide it to attack specified targets, but since the Reaper is dead, there is nothing Kalros is likely to do besides what it has always done, which is to guard its territory.
    • Actually, Liara explicitly tells Glyph that the Krogan should avoid the area because the destroyer is still active.

    Reapers' attack on Sanctuary 
  • If the reapers have the Illusive man in their pocket via indoctrination, what is the point of their attack on Sanctuary?
    • They attacked at the point where TIM's research into Reaper control mechanisms got far enough that they believed he could end up becoming a threat. The real question is why they thought that if an indoctrinated person could not take control of them.
    • TIM might not have been able to gain control of them, but if the research at Sanctuary had been allowed to continued it might have ended up in non-indoctrinated hands. That would be reason enough to wipe out Sanctuary.
    • "Indoctrinated" does not mean "absolutely and totally under their control." TIM was indoctrinated to the point where he was useful if manipulated with subtlety, but he could still act overly on his own if he wanted to. Besides, the facility as a whole was a threat regardless; if the Alliance or any other galactic power found Sanctuary, they could use the research just as readily as Cerberus.
    • The man running the place for TIM ISN't indoctrinated.
    • TIM's investigation of Reaper code leaves a trail that could make the war more difficult for Reaper armada. He is leaving bread crumbs which will help others if not stopped. Just like Saren left bread crumbs which enraged Sovereign: the beacon, the Thorian, the Krogan facility on Virmire. Humanity has found a hero that gets those bread crumbs and uses it against the Reaper agenda, just like he did with the crumbs those damned Protheans left behind and also the secret weapon passed down through countless cycles and kept secret each time. The Reapers don't want peace, they want dominance. Anything else is a nuisance.
    • An alternative hypothesis: The Reapers attacked explicitly to give TIM the illusion that he posed a credible threat to them, thus reinforcing his delusion that he is not indoctrinated and working toward their ultimate goals.

    Legion and the Reaper Code 
  • What does the code do and how does it allow the geth to achieve 'true' consciousness? What IS true consciousness? The geth as a whole seemed pretty to have a good grasp of awareness even if it was different from how organics think. What changed that the geth were no longer hundreds of programs interacting and is now an 'individual'?
    • The difference seems to be that, while a regular Geth program is non-sentient, the Geth as a whole only attaining self-awareness through the consensus, a single Reaper-upgraded Geth program is complex enough to be self-aware. Each single Geth program was upgraded to the level of EDI. Before the upgrade, the Geth as a race was self-aware, but each individual unit was not, they were basically a hivemind, now each unit is a "person".
    • Pretty much this. In order for the geth within a single platform to actually reach mental functioning comparable to a human, geth platforms must operate in large groups so that their network can handle basic functions more effectively and free up processing power for higher functions. Legion was unique in that they had enough geth programs within one specialized platform that they could operate independently. The Reaper codes allowed individual geth programs to become as aware as a true AI, letting them graduate from being simply VIs working in concert to actual individuals.
    • Well, if that is the case, then what happened to the ones inside legion, exactly. As I recall, he had over a thousand programs. If they are all still inside him, even if they are each complex enough by themselves to be their own individual, why does he refer to itself as "I" when there are still so many conciousnesses inside him? Furthermore, isn't it a bit of a cop out for him to accept the reaper code when the geth determined in the previous game that the reason they rejected the reapers is because they wanted to achieve their level of sapience on their own terms?
    • Legion uses the Reaper code because of the giant Reaper armada invading the galaxy, which is happening immediately after the quarians destroyed so many geth that overall operating capability within the entire Consensus was hampered to the point that the geth were reverting to baseline survival protocols. The geth don't have time to play around with developing their own tech at this point. The Reapers are here. They need those upgrades now.
    • We assume, sure. It's still weird Shepard doesn't have the opportunity to bring up the change in attitude, though.
    • I'm pretty sure that Shepard does/can bring it up to Legion and that his response is exactly what the person above you said - the Geth accepted the code out of desparation and that they were now under the influence of the Reapers because of the indoctrination that caused by part of the code and by the Reaper in their fortress (or whatever it is).
    • I would assume that the consensus now has the ability to implant individual entities in each Geth casing as seen fit which might lead to internal social climbing such as Geth soldier upgrading to Prime bodies. Originally, the Geth did not want the Reaper led change and so turned their back against it, but desperation and fear of genocide changed their moral imperative to survive. Once the change was incorporated, they were enslaved by the Reapers which leads to Legion's desperate cries to help him and his people. This helped their evolution and they couldn't turn their back on the possibility especially with the looming Reaper invasion. Mankind should never have evolved the atomic weapon but once the possibility was realized, we couldn't deny its allure. All life focuses on its evolution and its survival. The Geth are no different.
    • Remember what Sovereign said in Mass Effect 1:
    Sovereign: We are each a nation, independent, free of all weaknesses.
    • And Legion in Mass Effect 2 says that the Reapers are made up of many consciousnessess, like the geth, the difference being that the Reapers can also think independantly and individually. With the addition of the Reaper code, so can the geth.

    Why take the Citadel 
  • For that matter, is it ever explained WHY the reapers/cerberus tried to "kidnap" the Citadel? were the reapers going to use it as some kind of instant whole planet harvester?
    • Because TIM informed the Reapers that the Citadel was the Catalyst, the final component needed to activate the Crucible. The Reapers moved it to Earth orbit, where they had a large force that could protect it.
    • The Citadel IS the Catalyst, and as the endings shown, as soon as they attach the Crucible to it the Reapers lose. They weren't so much capturing it to use it as they were capturing it to ensure you couldn't instantly defeat them. In more meta terms, imagine how boring the game would have been if you battled long lines as you waited for the Crucible to dock uncontested with the Citadel, and then have a nice chat with the virtual boy before sacrificing yourself.
    • My charitable interpretation is that the people on the Citadel were the ones who closed the arms when the Reapers approached it (there are probably now security protocols in place to prevent them from pulling a Sovereign and using the Citadel to shut down the relay network). The Reapers then moved the closed Citadel to Earth orbit, where it would be protected by a Reaper fleet from any attempts to get the Crucible through. What really puzzles me is why the Reapers didn't fire on the Crucible after it docked with the Citadel, or even mid-docking.
    • Considering how much energy is being put out by the Crucible, I think they're worried about what kind of damage it could do to the Citadel if it were to be destroyed and all that energy was released.
    • I agree. The Crucible is said to be incredibly powerful and to require enormous amounts of eezo. In Arrival, we see that an exploding Mass Relay has the power of a supernova. If the Crucible exploding had even 1/1000 of that power, it might still have been enough to destroy the Citadel and all Reaper forces present. Given that the Citadel hosts the Catalyst, it probably didn't want to risk that.

    Taking the Citadel 
  • Allright, so at some point the reapers decide to get the citadel back, and do so with such an humiliating ease it apparently took them five minutes top (So no one on the citadel apparently could do the smart thing and close the arms, WTH?). No one ever wonder about what happened to the millions of people on the citadel (though dead or huskified are pretty safe bets).Then the Reapers...I don't know, tow, I guess, the whole whooping citadel through the nearby relay (damn those things are hardcore, that one just shallowed a space object a hundred time bigger than himself). Then they took it to Earth, probably because the plot say so. That whole sequence headscratch me so hard I probably just bore a hole in my skull.
    • First, why would it be a stretch for a Relay to move the Citadel? There's never been an established upper limit to what they can move. There's also no evidence that the Reapers took it over in "five minutes top." We just learn that while the Fifth Fleet is storming the Cerberus base that the Reapers took the Citadel and moved it. Third, there's no indication that the Reapers did anything to the people on the Citadel; from what we can see inside the Citadel's closed Ward arms, there's still plenty of orderly traffic moving around. Most likely what happened, judging by TIM's presence, is that Cerberus took control of the station's control systems and moved it per Reaper orders to Sol. Somehow.
    • It'd be a stretch because the Citadel is FAR larger than the meteor that Shepard destroyed the Alpha Relay with, which was way too big for the relay to throw/cast(judging by the fact that the Alpha Relay apparently tried to do so before it was destroyed).
    • No. Mass relays do not automatically attempt to send anything through them if they approach. Any object passing through the relay has to communicate to the mass relay first to tell it where it wants to be sent or even if it wants to be sent.
    • It's possible that the Citadel can move by itself, if directed by the Catalyst or the Reapers. It is the single largest concentration of Element Zero in existence, and the heart of the Relay Network after all. It could just use the Network as a guidance system, and make the jump under its own power.
    • The Reapers' takeover of the Citadel is triggered by TIM informing them of its nature as the Catalyst. They took it and moved it into Earth's orbit, where they had ammassed a large force that could protect it. They held it for the short time between Shepard's assault on the Cerberus base and the big battle on Earth, so only a few days at most. That's too short a time for them to completely kill or huskify the entire population. As for the Citadel being moved, we don't know if Mass Relays can move themselves, but if they can then the Citadel (the largest Mass Relay in the galaxy) probably could relocate itself.

    The Citadel and Relay Network 
  • What happened to everyone on the Citadel when it was taken by the Reapers? A lot of my favorite characters were on board! Aria, Bailey, Liara's dad, possibly Dr. Chakwas and Mordin, the Council (love to hate 'em), Kolyat, Kelly, Dr. Michel, all those other lovable background Non Player Characters...
    • I really wonder about this too, because you can see traffic still flying around on the wards, which makes me wonder if everyone in the wards is still there and going about their business as if nothing happened.
    • There is no canon fate for any of them AFAIK, but it's perfectly possible that at least some survived. The Citadel is a massive structure, and even after the Reaper attack it still had plenty of structures left standing to hide in. Also, the Reapers held it for a couple of days at most, which is a very inadequate time to flush everyone out.
    • As Vigil explains in the first game, once the Reapers take control of the Citadel, they have total control over the Relay network. The Prothean Empire, and the civilizations of the previous cycles, were defeated — in part — because they could no longer make use of the Mass Relays around which their society was built. Reinforcements? Impossible. Communication? Impossible. So why on earth do the Reapers allow the use of the Relays once they've claimed the Citadel towards the end of the game?
    • Because the Catalyst wanted the fleet to reach Earth in the first place to challenge the Reapers.
    • I'd be more willing to go with a handwave that the Crucible itself had some sort of jamming signal to prevent the Citadel from being used to its full extent. The Catalyst, after all, tells us that it couldn't even conceive of "another solution" until the Crucible had docked, so the idea that it wanted the Reapers to be challenged seems implausible at best. Until it's altered by the Crucible, the Reapers were doing everything in their power to reap as they would normally reap. And, regardless, that there's no attempt to either explain or question why the Relay Network hasn't been shut down remains a pretty glaring omission. I honestly have to wonder if the writers simply forgot what the Citadel was capable of in Reaper hands.
    • We actually do get an explanation for why they can't control the network way back in the first game. They control it by controlling the Keepers, and the Keepers no longer respond to their commands. Sovereign had to physically interact with it to try and activate it's own relay, and they may well have simply not had time to get it up and running at full capability yet. Since we never find out how they took it, they might have just gotten an indoctrinated agent on the controls and flown it there under it's own power (it was established early on that the races living there have no idea what 90% of the stuff on it does), then the attack comes as soon as they get it parked.
    • That the Keepers no longer respond their signal is irrelevant if they have indoctrinated followers capable of activating the command console, as Saren attempted. They must have already have had a Reaper physically interact with the Citadel to fly the thing to Earth, after all. That being said, the entry on the Crucible's "Inferometric Array" mentions that the Crucible is, indeed, capable of tuning into the command switches of the mass relays....
    • So that sounds like they used the Crucible to turn on the mass relay back to Earth, which I suppose would explain why that's the only place you can go.

    "Chemistry of Life" 
  • I understand that in this day and age, biology is the go-to magical science, but how does Javik's "biochemical touch" even work? How does it distinguish between neurotransmitters and hormones of various unrelated races, allowing him to detect their feelings? How can he detect traces of Grunt - and his emotions - in the cargo hold, after the entire spaceship has been refitted and presumably UV'd, scrubbed and chemically cleaned to oblivion? Why not use something like "individual biotic aura" for Javik to feel? Biotics are already well-established within the ME universe and, at least for me, would be much easier to swallow than the bio-Technobabble.
    • There's no evidence that the ship was scrubbed in any way. Hell, judging by the interior of the ship, they were still pulling bits of the Normandy's old guts out and replacing them. And "individual biotic aura" makes even less sense considering what we know about biotics.
    • In fact, there's evidence for the ship not have been scrubbed (or completely taken apart, for that matter) at all, like the roaming space hamster and the lost ship models.
    • The whole point of Javik's ability is to give the Protheans an aura of mystery and otherness, and to demonstrate that there are still major holes in the current Cycle's understanding of the laws of the universe. Like with the "space magic" of the ending, you are supposed to get the feeling that there's still so many undiscovered things in the cosmos.
    • The Alliance only made sweeps for Cerberus bugs, as stated by Traynor. So, aside from retrofitting, there is no scrubbing otherwise.
    • I have problems with this too, but most of the stuff Javik identifies can be discovered in a lab from studying individual cells. Species and sex can be determined from the DNA, age can be approximately deduced from telomeres and the amount of biodegradation, and maybe one can make very rough guesses at the specimen's lifestyle from the exact composition of the cells. Emotions from direct touch to a living subject are even easier to detect. I've got nothing on extrapolations of emotions from minor cell samples, though. Maybe Javik just made some generic guesses about Grunt's personality based on him being a young tank-grown krogan. I don't think the writers really thought this one through — they probably just went by Rule of Cool, just like the Synthesis ending. And no, explaining it as biotics wouldn't solve anything, it would be a Voodoo Shark. Biotics are not a universal plot hole plug like the Force, they are an application of mass effect fields for pseudo-telekinesis. They have nothing to do with the "walking biolab" abilities Javik displays.

    The Crucible and the Conduit 
  • Ok, many aspects of the ending give me a serious headache, but for now I'll stick to two major problems:
    • 1. Did the Reapers influence the design of the Conduit? I keep on getting confused whether or not that is the case. If they didn't, then why would the designers make things so damn complicated by making it activated by the Catalyst and thus make it have to merge with the Citadel? Unless I missed something...
    • Conduits are simply scaled down versions of mass relays, nothing more nothing less.
    • 2. Why would the Reapers build a Conduit ON EARTH leading directly to the Citadel? Why give the resistance's ground troops access to it? If it was so that the Reapers could send up their own troops to defend the Citadel, why does Shepard not encounter any resistance (not counting the Illusive Man) aboard the station at all? Unless either the Catalyst was somehow manipulating things or the Conduit just somehow formed on its own or moved to Earth from Ilos, it really doesn't make any sense (of course, it's definitely not unique in that sense).
    • Shepard and Anderson theorize in the game that the Conduit was used to transport humans to the Citadel for "processing", presumably to create a new Reaper. Using a Conduit is far more efficient than having to carry everything up via ship. The Reapers also had no reason to guard the interior of the Citadel simply because they never thought anybody would be able to reach it.

    Harbinger's design retconned? 
  • In ME2 Harbinger had a unique design with a large crest, but in 3 he loses the crest and is just a normal Reaper with yellow eyes added and the center leg removed. I presume it's due to the developers being lazy and reusing a normal Reaper model, but this leave a question; which design is canon, 2 or 3's?
    • I'd guess 2's since it fit 3's statement they're the largest Reaper and 3's uses camera angles to somewhat hide the lack of crest. But a picture in the Extended Cut, which wouldn't have technical limitations to not, depicts them as 3's design. Was that just for in-game consistency?


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