Welcome to Mass Effect Indoctrination, a blog dedicated to detailed analysis of the Mass Effect 3 endings. Since the release of Mass Effect 3 this blog has become one of the definitive sources for information and analysis of the Mass Effect 3 ending and especially the "Indoctrination Theory".
However since the release of the Extended Cut a lot of the information that was on here needs to be revised. I will be archiving all the old analysis and re-writing the entire site to reflect the Extended Cut.
The old Introduction and analysis can always be seen here.
I am doing this as appose to simply editing the old analysis because I feel it should be kept for reference. If nothing else, going back and looking at the original interpretations and evidence is useful to see how Bioware originally presented the endings and the speculation that led to.
So the Extended Cut did not confirm or deny the "Indoctrination Theory". However the changes it presented do make a big difference to the theory. For a start there are a few areas in which it disproves certain aspects of the theory by filling in plot holes. It also adds a few new pieces of evidence along the way.
There are those that now claim the Indoctrination Theory has been proven false. This seems to based on two reasons, the first being that it now seems unlikely that everything after Harbingers beam is an hallucination. The second being simply that the Extended Cut did not confirm the Indoctrination Theory, since a core belief of many was that it would be used for the reveal.
Both strong arguments in my opinion. However don't count out the Indoctrination Theory yet. First off allow me to go back to a few comments I made in the original introduction. I said at the time that the Indoctrination Theory "probably only partially explains Bioware's intent; but I am also convinced the literal interpretation could not possibly be 100% true either."
This is still my position. I always argued that the Indoctrination Theory should not be taken as a "complete theory that has to be taken as a whole. Because I simply do not believe that is the case. It is quite likely in my opinion that some parts of the so-called theory contain truth while others do not."
So the fact that some parts of it seem to be discredited by the Extended Cut should not lead to rejecting the whole theory. Especially when Bioware made no effort to disprove other stronger pieces of evidence, added some other clues and the fact that some plot elements are still better explained by the Indoctrination Theory.
Also it is a stated fact that Bioware always intended the ending to be open to interpretation. We know they wanted "lot's of speculation" and they certainly got it. It is because of this intent I believe they not only refuse to come out and tell us if the Indoctrination Theory is true or false, it is why Mike Gamble said Bioware "don't want to be prescriptive for how people interpret the ending".
To confirm this beyond any doubt, Tully Ackland Community Coordinator at Bioware said this on the Bioware Social Network in response to a discussion in which some users were saying IT was dead and to let it go -
There are elements of Mass Effect 3 that are meant to have non-literal interpretations. The hope is that these things provide thought-provoking discussion about the themes of the story and the motivations of characters. As such, we would prefer not to comment on players’ interpretations of these elements, since it would ruin the enjoyment of such discussion by suggesting there is a single, concrete way of viewing them.I strongly believe Bioware intend elements of Indoctrination to be evident in the ending, and for people to interpret it in a multitude of ways.
And it is because of this, and my love for Mass Effect that I maintain this blog.
All worthy work is open to interpretations the author did not intend. Art isn't your pet — it's your kid. It grows up and talks back to you.
- Joss Whedon