While I have over 30 playthroughs of the original trilogy, something about the Mass Effect Legendary Edition remaster has made Thane’s storyline hit closer to home than I have ever felt before. There are a lot of subtle changes in Mass Effect 2 and 3 that put entirely new perspectives on familiar narrative arcs, and because of that, I found a new level of peace when struggling with my Multiple Sclerosis.
For those that may not know, Multiple Sclerosis (MS) is a disease where a person’s immune system eats away at the body’s nerves and the protective covering surrounding them. This disease disrupts the body in a variety of ways, some we are still discovering. For me, I can go from being able to run two miles to not being able to leave a wheelchair; it just depends. Sometimes I can’t even get out of bed because the crushing pain in my lower spine is too much and it feels like I’m being gutted from behind. While some that have MS can experience a life symptom-free, that’s not the case for everyone. For me, it’s been a battle to Hell and back, but Thane’s unique introduction into the world of Mass Effect actually has offered a calm that I wasn’t expecting, especially after so many playthroughs.
Spoiler warning for a discussion centering around Thane as a character and his specific storyline.
Thane Krios is a Drell assassin that players will meet in Mass Effect 2. He’s not your typical assassin, though. Instead, he offers a spiritual perspective and insight specific to his species. When players first meet him, he takes out his target. To Shepard’s surprise, however, he offers a reverent prayer for himself over the “wicked” before moving on. When he accepts Shepard’s invite onto the Normandy, he explains that he’s not concerned about it being a “one-way trip.” The reason being is that he has an incurable disease that is unique to the Drell, a disease called Kepral’s Syndrome. While not like MS, this lung disease does eventually cause symptoms that can (and do) lead to death. His calming manner of discussing his own illness and desire to contribute to the world as best he can before he goes hit me like a dropkick to the chest.
In my day-to-day life, I do my best to soak everything in. Between the lesions on my brain and seizures that sometimes happen, I’ve had more than a few close calls with my own reaper. It makes me terrified, honestly. There have been days where I thought, “This is it, I don’t think I’m not going to wake up tomorrow.” I’ve panicked and pleaded with my husband not to let me die if I stopped breathing. Or couldn’t stop seizing. Those moments where I was terrified I was missing out on even more when I would have memory wipes that can sometimes last a full day. It makes me appreciate the day-to-day, but it also makes me impatient in a way that is uncomfortable.
I’m always looking for the “next accomplishment” because I want to get as much life done if my time is as limited as it feels, as limited as doctors have told me in the past. I step on a lot of toes because I want to help, I want to feel useful, and like I’ve made a positive impact. While the intent is good, the result oftentimes ends up with those around me being annoyed, feeling isolated, or feeling like I’m a bull in a china shop. I’ve spent so much of my past living to die, that now I’ve found myself dying to live in a way that I still haven’t processed quite yet. But playing through Thane’s story in Mass Effect 2 and 3 with the remaster has given me a fresh perspective that I wasn’t ready for, but one that I desperately needed.
As he reached out to his son to right the wrongs that have damaged their relationship within the game, I felt my own shortcomings with friends and those closest to me. As he selflessly helped those around him, despite grave danger to himself, I felt a strange sort of strength. He didn’t let it dim his light and his ability to do good, and I want to do the same. I want to be open and honest and free with my love regarding those around me, something that I think we all struggle with. I want the calm and acceptance that he has because that acceptance doesn’t come with resignation. I’m not my disease, just as he wasn’t his. There’s a power in that, and it feels incredible.
Video games, am I right?
This series keeps surprising me. I just entered into a 34th run of the franchise with my second go at the Legendary Edition, alternating between both Shepards. In all of that time, I continue to uncover new aspects of the game, new consequences for actions, and new details that I have seemingly missed. The Legendary Edition takes those discoveries to a whole new level, adding details that were never there before through visual upgrades, and making much-needed quality of life changes to make it a smoother ride for all. To be able to play through this series that feels like home and still find new ways to be excited is a treat, and that’s a big reason why the N7 community is stronger than it’s ever been.