I dedicate my very first character analysis to the amazing Liara T’Soni just for the fact that she is one of my favorite characters in the gaming universe! For me, she is what makes Mass Effect tick. She is the character that helps ignite the story surrounding the Protheans and their involvement with the Reapers. But more importantly, as a character, she carries a very complex aura that deepens the Mass Effect story and transforms her from a simple supporting character to a symbol of something more meaningful.
Introduced in Mass Effect, Liara is a young maiden. At only 106, she is an expert on Prothean artifacts and is the one that introduces the information of the Reapers’ violent cycle. But because she is so young in asari standards, her theories aren’t taken seriously despite her determination.
And now she has been swept into a brand new scenario and she has no idea how to wrap her head around it. Not only is she an alien on a human military vessel, she’s an alien that is directly related to a powerful being that is openly supporting Saren. Liara is faced with contempt and distrust from the other occupants on the Normandy.
Except for Shepard.
The bond that grows between Shepard and Liara immediately creates one of the best relationships in the game, regardless if the player romances the asari or not. It’s obvious that Liara is enamored by the commander, and that loyalty was what solidified my love for her character. She’s not just interested in their newfound mission. She’s interested in Shepard as a person, a Spectre, and as the human that interacted with the beacon.
“Either you pay me or I flay you alive… with my mind.”
The events that occur after this begin to mold Liara into a more complex character.
Her transformation in Mass Effect 2 didn’t surprise me. It was heartbreaking and I hated it, but it didn’t surprise me. For two years, the world has believed that Commander Shepard has been dead. When we find Liara on Illium, she is cold and detached. Her new profession as a broker has undoubtedly shot her into the hidden world of criminals and blackmail. This new Liara is now easy to anger and use threats to achieve her goals, and for a while, it’s difficult to understand this transformation.
The ties that bind Shepard, Liara, and Liara’s hatred for the Shadow Broker only strengthen their relationship, even if it is veiled with negativity. Liara’s ultimate devotion to you is exposed. She was the one that retrieved your body and handed it over to Cerberus. Even if you never once initiated a romance with Liara, this news is absolutely stunning, and it shows the lengths that she will go for you.
Her transformation into the Shadow Broker is highly important. Because not only does it reiterate just how much Liara has changed, it retains one important thing about Liara that never changes: She wants to be useful. She has constantly believed herself to be a burden to Shepard, someone that needed rescuing and comfort, and she sees herself as a weak figure because of it. Her new role as the Shadow Broker gives her the ability to be useful, something she has always wanted.
Combining Liara and Shepard’s reunion with the choice to remain on Hagalaz instead of joining with the Normandy kind of makes their meeting bittersweet, and it adds tremendous depth to their relationship. I remember yelling at my television because I wanted Liara as a crew member. Not to mention I wanted little blue children. Right then.
“I spent two years mourning you. So if we’re going to try this, I need to know you’re always coming back.”
When Liara is introduced in Mass Effect 3, it is obvious that she is a very mature and respected individual. Not to mention that it’s a bit of a relief to find her on a dig in Mars instead of threatening people with information. It seems that Liara has found a sense of peace with herself. There are only a few things to focus on in the 3rd game: The events on Thessia and the ending.
Liara’s self-derived insignificance intensifies after the events on Thessia. She feels guilty for not having done enough. What is important about this moment is the fact that both Liara and Shepard can now empathize with each other over the loss of their homeworlds. I felt a sense of guilt about leaving Earth after the Reapers attacked, and it’s no secret that Liara feels the same way, perhaps even more because of her research and involvement with the Protheans.
Not only is she feeling guilt, but she’s overcome with disappointment. A Prothean beacon had existed right under her nose for years, and she was let down by the lack of information. Throughout the series, we’ve been led to believe that all of the answers resided with the Protheans, when in actuality, the hope has rested solely on our shoulders. Liara’s faith has been damaged.
And things only escalated from there. As the end of the game approached, it became obvious to me that survival was just… unlikely. That has been the message throughout the whole series, but as the story progresses, everything simply becomes clearer. What happens if Shepard dies? But more importantly, what happens if Shepard lives?
Liara remains a solid presence as the end approaches, relentlessly strong, and I see her as an anchor to Shepard, whereas it would be so easy for her to simply break apart. This is only enhanced by the Extended Cut, and the absolutely painful scene where Shepard sends her crew back onto the Normandy. During this moment I remembered my promise from the second game, that my Shepard would always return to Liara, and I was determined to do that.
Because damn it, I want my blue children!