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You'll have to forgive me, but I'm pretty new to the Mass Effect trilogy. For whatever reason the series passed me by back in the day, but I've finally been able to catch up and see what all the fuss is about thanks to the recently released Legendary Edition.
I'm very happy to say that I can totally see why you all love this series so much. Mass Effect is a little ropey in places, sure, but wow - what a story. What characters! I'm about halfway through the much-improved Mass Effect 2, and I'm utterly hooked. Still, I have one small issue I feel I have to raise: Ashley Williams is just the worst. Like, the wooooooorst. She is human tennis elbow. She is the middle-aged woman on Facebook who shares Minion memes and posts about immigrants taking our jobs. She is the personification of a living room wall with "live, laugh, love" painted on it.
We meet Ashley towards the very start of the first game, and she swiftly joins the crew. She makes a solid first impression, to be fair. The only survivor of a devastating Geth attack? Awesome, who doesn't love a bad-ass! She also rocks that pink armour, which I'm assuming was her choice to wear and not some Alliance-mandated sexist garbage. I'd hope space is a little more progressive than that (although one-and-a-half games into the trilogy it clearly is not).
Things started to take a turn for the worse when she joined the crew of the Normandy and basically started bitching about every single thing every non-human did or said. Had I willingly allowed a racist onto my ship? I was beginning to fear I might well have. Her rampant xenophobia coupled with her apparently biological need to kiss my ass at every turn had me wondering if she was worth keeping around.
Then I got to Virmire, and was presented with a choice: do I rescue Ashley from unwinnable odds and leave my other human squadmate, Kaiden, to die? To my surprise, I wrestled with this. Kaiden seemed fine enough, but a little boring. My assumption was that if I saved Ashley, I'd start to see her develop as a character. I believed that if she stayed alive and continued to work with a team of aliens, she'd become less of a thunderingly racist space Karen. I was wrong.
Ashley Williams is the worst kind of racist, because she earnestly believes she isn't one. She's exactly the kind of person that will start a sentence with "I'm not racist, but" before going on some horrendous "Earth for the Earthlings" bullshit while the rest of the Normandy politely look away. Hell, at multiple points she openly compares aliens - all aliens - to animals. What the f*ck?
I'm hoping by the time Mass Effect 3 rolls around she will have confronted this glaring character flaw, but based on what I've seen and read online, that isn't really the case - at least, she never acknowledges the things she's said and done, even if she starts acting less openly racist by the time the finale rolls around. I'm starting to wish I'd done things differently on Virmire.