If I hadn’t mentioned this before, I played Mass Effect 2 before the first game since I just got the second game as a random gift. Chronologically, Liara was Shepard’s first love but in actuality Miranda was. However, for everyone’s sake I’ll just start off with Liara.
I originally intended Derek Shepard to romance Ashley, but I was quickly turned off by xenophobic tendencies and her cheesy love for poetry. Consequently, I went for Liara instead because she was the only other love interest available plus I’m not cheating on Miranda since this was all in the past. All I really wanted to do anyway was to get the paramour achievement and see the romance scene, but I never expected that I’d actually grow to care for Dr. T’soni’s character. It was those small moments that reeled me in, just like the time when Liara couldn’t tell Shepard was joking about being dissected in a lab and the brief banter between squad mates that exposed Liara’s innocence. The confrontation scene with Liara and Ashley was hilarious. It was funny to see how Liara made it awkward for Ashley by naively insinuating that Ashley was jealous. I brought Liara with me on Noveria so that she would have the opportunity to confront her mother Matriach Benezia. Witnessing Liara’s final moments with her mother made me realize how much I was attached to her character. I felt like Derek had to be there as her protector.
The scene before Ilos marked how much Liara changed Derek’s personality. All he wanted to do was hook up with an Asari during the first part of the game, but now he’s grown to care for the young Asari and he even hesitated when Liara was leaning on to the topic of sex. During this part of the game, I was telling myself “I’m screwed, I thought no other character would top Miranda” and that just signifies how great Liara’s character is. From then on, I knew it was love for both Liara T’soni and Derek Shepard.
At the time of Shepard’s “death” and the events between Mass Effect 1 and 2, Liara teamed up with Shepard’s future love interest Miranda Lawson. We see them working together as one force to retrieve Shepard’s body back. However unlike Liara’s personal motives, Miranda was more concerned of Shepard as an asset for Cerberus. We can’t really blame Miranda since she did not get the chance to know Shepard yet since he’s “dead” as of the moment. Even if Miranda was not driven by love to restore Shepard back to life, her efforts are as commendable as Liara’s.
Liara’s love for Shepard as a friend and lover is evidently seen during Mass Effect: Redemption as she battles through waves of enemies just to gain a bit of hope that she might see her beloved again. In the end, she gives Shepard’s body to Cerberus even if she knew they were a sketchy organization. At that point, anything was worth seeing Shepard alive again.
At the beginning of Mass Effect 2, Shepard awakens to see Miranda Lawson by his side. They initially start their relationship with a fair amount of distrust since they were both strangers from one another. However, as time passed Derek and Miranda were able to work together as they set aside their differences.
On a side note, I originally played Lair of the Shadow Broker after the Suicide Mission but I decided to do it as soon as I was able to go to Illium during my canon import run for various purposes. So, Shepard and Miranda’s relationship still remains professional as he embarks on chasing the Shadow Broker with Liara.
There were a lot of tense moments around Liara and Shepard, especially when Derek tackled Vasir out of the window and Liara just ran past by him. Eventually, Shepard called her on this and we see how much grief Liara went through for two years mourning his death. At the same time, Derek was getting curious about who Feron is and why he’s so important to Liara. By the end of the LotSB, Shepard took all the paragon interrupts to comfort Liara and kissed her after the fight with the Shadow Broker. However, Shepard chose to take it slow and just start over with Liara but not in a way where he completely closes the door on future possibilities.
As for Miranda and Shepard, I completed Miranda’s loyalty mission first out of the rest of the squadmates but only pursued her after the Reaper IFF mission. With Liara, Shepard was drawn in by the innocence of the young Asari. What drew Shepard in towards initiating a relationship with Miranda was…
Okay, I’m just kidding. I guess Shepard enjoyed the challenge of breaking Miranda out of her cold and professional shell. It was particularly enjoyable to watch Shepard and Miranda playfully banter which eventually led to Derek kissing her. We also get to see her softer side, when she talks about her sister and when she asks Shepard to promise that he won’t die. I was even surprised when she brought up love during one conversation. What’s funny was when Shepard said “Who said anything about love? I just wanted to get you into bed,” I actually thought I made the wrong dialogue choice and panicked that the game wouldn’t autosave. Luckily for me, Miranda was receptive to Shepard’s sense of humor. Also, some people find Miranda’s engine room scene very tasteless but I think it’s the most exotic romance scene in the game aside from Jack’s. That definitely adds the spice to any relationship. Well I guess after everything that’s happened with Shepard, it was nice to fall in love all over again with someone new.
However, it’s hard for Shepard to deny that he still has lingering feelings for Liara. Aside from that, there’s guilt within Shepard knowing Liara did everything she could to find his body. How about Miranda though? did she not give Shepard his life back and knowingly risked her life by quitting Cerberus? Now that the Reapers are approaching, would Derek choose to reignite a former flame or continue to fuel the fire he has now?
So, now we reach the final chapter of our beloved trilogy. The galaxy is at the brink of destruction and this may be our character’s last moments alive. During this time, Shepard must ultimately decide who he wants to be by his side as the galaxy crumbles around him at the behest of the Reapers. Since Shepard ended his relationship with Liara, I expected that the game would just simply have Liara act like we were just friends since the first Mass Effect. However, I was surprised to find out that the relationship is still acknowledged even if Shepard chose to stay friends during LotSB. Shepard was actually very sweet and caring towards Liara during the first encounter on Mars. Well, it’s hard not to! Since she’s acting all “sweet” towards Shepard even if he let her down previously. These are just one of the moments when I realize how much Liara loves Shepard. When Shepard usually ends a relationship with a character, they’d simply go back to being professional or friendly. On the other hand, Liara would still act as if she still has lingering feelings but cautious enough not to act on it.
After boarding the Normandy for the first time, Shepard talked to Liara and I was surprised (yes, I get surprised easily) that she decided to bring up their relationship so early. My first reaction was: “Damn, this girl really cares and she does not give up! She must really love Shepard.” So there it was, an hour or less in the game and Shepard needed to make one of the most important decisions of his life. This was a really hard decision and I think I had to open Origin in-game just to talk to my friend about what I should do. Then an answer dawned on me, Shepard will always love Liara and throughout the game Shepard makes sure that she never doubts that. However I realized that while Shepard loves Liara, it was mostly guilt that was pushing him to reignite a relationship. Guilt for pursuing a relationship with Miranda when Liara did everything she could to recover his body. Giving Liara a relationship felt more like just compensation for her love and effort more than an act driven by passion. Shepard could never do that, it would only be unfair for both of them.
So after all these reflections, Shepard chose Miranda because it all goes back to this.
I’m sorry, you guys know I just had to do that. Okay foolishness aside, I came to a conclusion when I was thinking of reasons why Shepard should continue a relationship with either women. Liara evoked love but still more of guilt while thinking of Miranda only brought the memories of their playful banter, accomplishing missions side by side, and of course the engine room scene. The guilt to reciprocate all her efforts never occurred to Shepard because he was driven to reunite with Miranda by pure passion and love for her. Shepard had to let go of his “first love,” not without struggle of course (I’ll explain later on). With that resolved, Shepard was eager to finally see Miranda and reaffirm their relationship.
I was kind of upset with Shepard and Miranda’s mini meet-ups in the Citadel, especially with the fade to black love scene. Well, I guess Miranda had her fifteen minutes of fame with the engine room so I can forgive this oversight. Besides, I was still overjoyed and giddy to see Miranda despite these flaws with her story line. During the interim of these meet-ups, I was not so surprised this time when Liara gave Shepard a gift in his private cabin. Oh yes, she never gives up! No wonder the Asari people are great lovers. It was as if Shepard was still being given an nth chance to reconsider his decision. With all these encounters with Liara, it was hard not to say “Liara, will you please let Shepard move on in peace?” but okay I get it, first love syndrome. Anyway, Shepard warned Miranda about Kai-Leng and gave her resources because he wants her to be safe. I must admit that I was nervous doing the Sanctuary mission, hoping that I did everything right to ensure Miranda survived. Luckily, she did and I was satisfied with the sweet moment Shepard and Miranda shared before the mission ended.
During the mission on Earth, I was hoping that Shepard would reunite with all his squad members for the final battle (with Marauder Shields LMAO). However, he only gets to talk to them over holographic communications. Shepard speaks to Miranda for the very last time time and I cherished every moment of it. I loved how Shepard reassures her that this isn’t goodbye and that he promises to find her. For, Derek that was a promise that he had to keep no matter what. When it was time to bid farewell to Liara, I did not expect her goodbye to be so sweet and again she gives Shepard a massive feeling of love and guilt. Still, They both meant a lot to Shepard and these farewells were one of the most bittersweet moments in the game. I could truly say that Shepard had loved them both.
When Shepard was presented with the last decision by the Catalyst, he originally chose the synthesis ending because he believed that it was the best choice for everyone and nobody had to die but him. I remembered pausing before Shepard continued to walk towards the beam. I started crying because I could just picture Shepard telling himself over and over again, “I’m so sorry, Miranda… I can’t keep my promise to you this time.” So Shepard jumps into the beam and he thinks of Liara which is weird but okay, he loved her anyway. It’s sad to see Shepard and Miranda apart during the very end. However, I’m comforted in the fact that she’s not marooned in some planet like Liara. I did do another playthrough, where I chose destroy in response to being so distraught from the last ending. I guess Shepard was more of a renegade here, choosing to uphold his promise to Miranda above all else. Also in light of recent events and with this “Indoctrination Theory,” I’m not sure if I’m sticking to synthesis or destroy as my canon ending but that’s another story to tell.
Thank you for reading and taking the time to take part in the journey of three of my favorite characters. Rest assured, Commander Shepard, Liara and Miranda will never be forgotten.