Grunt And Mordin Were Supposed To Have A Jack/Miranda Confrontation Scene In Mass Effect 2
A few months ago, we published a piece on how Mass Effect 2 was built around the suicide mission, as opposed to the other way around. Naturally, this led to the revered loyalty mechanic, where completing missions for each character determined whether or not they’d make it out of the Collector base and into the third game.
The thing is, this mechanic isn’t necessarily foolproof, as people currently playing the game for the first time will no doubt have discovered in the wake of the recently launched Legendary Edition. There are two major instances in Mass Effect 2 where you can do near irreparable harm to your squadmates’ loyalty, meaning that even after earning their trust and securing them safe passage to the series’ controversial denouement, you can once again doom them to death. In case you’re not clear on what I mean, I’m talking about the confrontation between Tali and Legion and the dispute between Miranda and Jack.
There are ways to get through both of these arguments without losing anybody’s loyalty – namely having enough Paragon or Renegade points to unlock a unique conversation option that can be used to keep the peace. If you play a more neutral Shepard, however, you’re likely to lose at least one person, and can potentially end up involuntarily sacrificing two – in fact, if the cut Grunt/Mordin fight made it into the game, that number could have very well been three.
“Yes, that’s right,” Mass Effect 2 writer Brian Kindregan tells me about the Grunt and Mordin scene rumored to have been cut during development. “So that wasn’t in the game? There was a beat where Grunt discovers the backstory of the Genophage and discovers Mordin’s role in it.”
Kindregan explains that the default reason for scenes like this being cut is usually just scope – having the time and money to fully develop and implement a third major confrontation is a lot to ask. If they just got Grunt’s actor – who Kindregan is quick to praise for his excellent work on the Mass Effect series – in for a voiceover session, they’d have to pay him again to organize a new one, which snowballs into other additional recording sessions, animation sequences, and so on.
“I could also see a second scenario where it just would become too complicated,” Kindregan says. “As I recall, the design of it was that once you had done the loyalty mission for both characters, this confrontation would fire between them. The reason, probably, that it’s almost always after Jack’s mission with her and Miranda is you get Jack much later than Miranda, so you’ve very likely done Miranda’s loyalty mission. But once you have both loyalty missions this confrontation happens, so I can see just the sheer math of figuring out when this unlocks and then knowing that every minute that passes after the crew gets kidnapped makes it more likely that they’re all gonna die.
“And then honestly, I would say that if you were pursuing a middle path and not going hard Paragon or Renegade, then those conversations would always suck for you because you would always lose the loyalty of one character. And so to have three of them means that we are you forcing you to lose – if you are in that unfortunate zone where you don’t have enough Paragon or enough Renegade – we’re forcing you to lose the loyalty of three characters that you’ve earned right before you go on the suicide mission. That’s pretty rough.”
Kindregan goes on to explain that guaranteeing this much death for anyone who doesn’t hardcore roleplay based on one side of the morality spectrum or the other probably started to feel unbalanced and unfair. Between the cost of implementation and just the sake of giving people a measured chance to save everyone, the Grunt and Mordin confrontation – while conceptually fascinating – had to be ditched. Kindregan also mentions one of his own ideas pertaining to the cut, noting that he doubts it was the actual reason, but stating that it probably at least played some part in the final decision.
“From a purely narrative standpoint, I would also say that – if I was Grunt, with his level of emotional intelligence, and I found out what he found out, I wouldn’t go argue with Mordin,” Kindregan says. “I‘d walk into Mordin’s lab, walk up to him, and he’d probably think I’m here to talk and he wouldn’t be ready for it, and I’d bash his head in. And then Mordin would be dead. Narratively there’s a pretty good reason for that to not happen.
“You could do it with Wrex much better. Wrex would have a more nuanced approach, but that’s not in Grunt’s manual.”
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