I just beat Mass Effect 3 for the first time. I did this after playing through 1 and 2, straight to 3. I now have no idea what the fuss over the ending is about. The ending makes perfect sense. The indoctrination theory does not fit as well as the actual ending does. I'll toss out a few things that apparently most of the millions who played it missed, and will field any and all questions. Most of my answers will be pointing to ingame lore and content. A few will be simply deduction. 1. Shepard isn't wearing "under-armor." Some have claimed his armor had been ripped off showing what is underneath. It is obviously his armor and it is just melted and ruined by the beam from the reaper. 2. Shepard's vision is blurred by blood just like when one is really badly injured in the game. 3. There is nothing mysterious about Anderson getting to the console before you. He clearly says he followed you, but arrived at a different point on the station. This is plausible since we're talking about a damn space beam zapping you from the surface to a rotating space station. And we're talking about a video game set in a fantasy world. 4. The whole scene with the Illusive Man is so poorly understood by people it is actually kind of sad. The Illusive Man had been experimenting with Reaper tech of mind control, and in the vids you watch at the Cerberus base you see him prepare to get implanted with that control tech. The black wisps you see in the corner of your vision and the strange behavior of Anderson is due to that control in IM's presence. Unfortunately, that reaper tech has actually made him indoctrinated although he doesn't quite realize it yet. 5. The "star child" is an AI (not VI) from a distant (early?) civilization in galactic history. This is a riff off of the old Battlestar Galactica story. Organic life eventually creates synthetic life, which eventually surpasses organic life. The AI did not like this (probably after warring/destroying his creators) and created the reaper system to direct organic galactic civilization and cull races before they became capable of creating very advanced synthetic life that would wipe out organic life in the galaxy. Essentially, through the reapers, he is allowing organic life a chance to exist. To continue allowing that chance, he has to prevent organic life from developing to that point of creating artificial life capable of sentience and overwhelming organic life. Thus, the three new alternative options are presented given that Shepard has managed to show a capacity for unity and overcoming adversity that previous civilizations had lacked. Rather than the start child "ignoring what Shepard accomplished," the child is offering three new options PRECISELY because of what Shepard had accomplished. The control option is okay, although it technically enslaves synthetic life like EDI and the Geth, denying them of the very freedom that Shepard has been fighting for life to have. It's a hypocritical option but likely will be the Canon one. The Synthesis is the ultimate paragon option, essentially doing the same thing that Legion did for the Geth, but for all life everywhere. The Destroy option is really a short-sighted solution, as new artificial life will eventually be created by someone and wars between synthetics and organics, with synthetics ultimately winning, will happen again in some new form. Questions? Bioware needs to hire me to defend this ending. I think it was actually pretty inspired, and a strong finish to a wonderful trilogy.