Contrary to what you might assume, I’m not interested in the “defense” of the endings. This is what got my attention:
The Reapers’ goal was to find a way to stop the spread of Dark Energy which would eventually consume everything. That’s why there was so much foreshadowing about Dark Energy in ME2.
The Reapers as a whole were ‘nations’ of people who had fused together in the most horrific way possible to help find a way to stop the spread of the Dark Energy. The real reason for the Human Reaper was supposed to be the Reapers saving throw because they had run out of time. Humanity in Mass Effect is supposedly unique because of it’s genetic diversity and represented the universe’s best chance at stopping Dark Energy’s spread.
The original final choice was going to be “Kill the Reapers and put your faith in the races of the galaxy in finding another way to stop the spread with what little time is left” or “Sacrifice humanity, allowing them to be horrifically processed in hopes that the end result will justify the means.”
To which I just want to say: if this isn’t some joke, thank the Spirits they scrubbed it. The clever way the Mass Effect setting uses dark energy as “space magic” is one of the reasons I fell in love with it in the first place, and abusing it as described above would have been deeply disappointing. There’s something insultingly stupid about the idea that a bunch of moderately advanced civilizations could contribute to anything on interstellar or, god forbid, intergalactic scales, let alone influence a cosmological phenomenon in any measurable way.
Another thing that makes me cringe is making humans even more special. In fact, it would go all the way into centering the trope of The Chosen One not only on Shepard, but on the whole of Humanity. It’s bad enough as it is. More would be murder. Not to mention the idiocy of even trying to correlate genetic diversity with the “spread” of dark energy.
Now, if you’ve spent some time around me, you already know that my capacity for suspended disbelief is nothing short of miraculous. Yes, I laughed heartily at the “classified” distance of Menae from Palaven (that was just ridiculous). I also laughed at the description of the star in The Illusive Man’s window, given in Retribution (not ridiculous, but so painfully wrong). But I didn’t laugh at that horrid Mordin’s joke about ingestion. And had this been the rationale behind the purpose of the reapers, I wouldn’t have laughed at that either. I’d have been camping with the haters.
Strange as it might be, I prefer a vague, ambiguous, dreamy ending that doesn’t really explain a thing, to a clear-cut, straight-forward ending that explains everything in a shitty way. Sure, involving the dark energy with the ending in some smart way would have been awesome. It has been foreshadowed, and I’d hoped the hints were aimed at some means of fighting against the reapers. The mystery of Dholen was promising. (But if you go looking it up on ME wiki, be warned: their “explanation” is all wrong and I hope it’s the work of some overenthusiastic contributor who thinks that mass effect can only decrease mass because that’s the effect we’ve seen the most often, and not taken from the codex. Wish I could be sure it wasn’t. Anyway, you couldn’t accelerate the aging of a star by lowering its mass. Only by increasing it.) A nice way to use this would be to, say, have the choice to blow up entire systems along with the reapers and anything they’d come to reap in them. No doubt I could come up with more, given enough time and candy.
But. There is one thing I do like about this scenario. It’s not a new thing; it’s been brought up in Bioware forum discussions, and it’s been on my mind since I’d first played ME1: the origin of the reapers. I like the idea that the first reapers came to be as a result of an absorbicide. (And yes: if you look it up and end up at some random place within The Elder Scrolls lore, you’re on the right track.) This is not necessarily in conflict with the actual resolution, so I think I’ll keep it as personal headcanon.
Come to think of it, this entire theory – about reapers “saving” the galaxy from a buildup of dark energy – is something that’s been brought up fairly often in ME lore discussions. Perhaps it’s too late to mention, but I have no idea if that quote is authentic at all. Phrases like “Dark Energy’s spread” make me wonder. Hah.