GARRUS & SHEPARD
This is one of the more complicated pairings that I enjoy simply for the fact that it is a pairing that is neither canon or fanon but both at the same time and yet neither depending on how one plays the aforementioned games of Mass Effect. As such this review will be slightly different than those previous.
When it comes to the Mass Effect trilogy of games, choices and their consequences were one of the shining aspects of it excluding of course the horrendously underwhelming ending that many a fan are still raging over to this day. One of the first choices to be made in the game is the choice of whether Commander Shepard is male or female. While eighty percent of players have chosen male, I happen to like the idea of Shepard being a lady. Not because of appearances, because again that’s just one of many other choices to make, or even her wonderful voice actress but because… Well, honestly, I like the idea of someone like Shepard, a human woman, uniting an entire galaxy against impossible odds and a near unstoppable threat of godlike proportions.
Frankly, it’s been done to death by male characters in countless media before.
One of the other many choices available to the player, and by extension Shepard, is what is known as the “Paramour” option insomuch that if the player so chooses, they can have Shepard pursue a romantic relationship with certain viable candidates in the game. Unfortunately, Garrus Vakarian doesn’t truly get this chance until Mass Effect 2 and spends most of the first game in a form of mentor and protégé relationship with Shepard.
Another reason that I like the idea of a female Shepard more than a male one as how often do we really see a female character, particularly one in a setting as epically science fiction as Mass Effect, that takes on such a role with a character who quickly, if not instantly, becomes one of the most favorite characters in the game? More than once I’ve seen and read various people confirm that Garrus Vakarian is the “Ultimate Bro” for the male Shepard, but for the female equivalent…
Well, that’s where things turn interesting.
Garrus Vakarian is a turian, an alien whose race is both highly disciplined and militaristic in their culture and Garrus both emphasizes this while at the same time, being something of a black sheep amongst his people. Garrus’ conviction has always been for justice to prevail and… honestly, there’s no better way for me to describe him than as the alien equivalent of Batman with an actual sense of humor and a willingness to follow rather than to lead when it comes to Shepard and their relationship. That’s not to say that he won’t take the lead when appropriate but considering that the both of them are from two entirely different species, one that even has the risk of suffering a severe allergic reaction to the other in certain conditions, he’s… skittish.
It’s actually kind of refreshing to see this from a guy who cracks jokes about going into a quarantine zone wherein his people specifically are falling ill and dying to a plague but will do so regardless because, quote “If you need me, I’m not going to let a cough keep me back.” In the start of the romance pursuit, Garrus admits that sexual relations between turians often start out as a form of stress relief and that if Shepard is game then so is he seeing as there’s no one else in the galaxy he respects more than her.
The next conversation that followed by him confessing that while he’s never considered the idea of a cross-species relationship, and that even calling it that doesn’t help as it makes him feel dirty and clinical neither of which he likes. He even goes so far as to say that he knows that Shepard can find someone closer to home. If pursued further, Shepard will reveal that she doesn’t care about having someone closer to home but that she wants someone that she can trust. Garrus admits that he can do that and that he’ll do some research promising that it will either be a night to treasure or one of a horrible interspecies awkwardness thing.
If the player chooses the option of allowing Garrus to back out, Shepard will say that she doesn’t want to pressure him into anything. Garrus will then admit that while he may not have a fetish for humans, it isn’t about that but about them. Shepard, he feels, is the only true friend he has left in the galaxy and he doesn’t want her to worry about making him feel uncomfortable. Nervous yes, particularly when she’s driving, but never uncomfortable.
At the end of Mass Effect 2 during the night before the attack on the Collectors’ Base, Garrus confesses to her that he’s seen so many things go wrong, his work at C-Sec and what happened with his people on Omega being the forefront of his mind, and that he just wants something to go right for once.
That line, amongst several others, was what really sold this pairing for me more than any other in the franchise. I can count on one hand the number of times I’ve seen a pairing wherein the guy is the one confessing his own nervousness towards the relationship as a whole but still be a strong, supportive character both for the main storyline and the pairing itself.
Of course, most of this comes in the form of Mass Effect 3 wherein there are plenty of moments that display the affections of Shepard and Garrus, the most prominent being the DLC content of the Citadel. The crew of the Normandy is given a brief bit of shore leave at the Citadel and Shepard herself is given an apartment the likes of which could best be described as beyond her usual payroll. After a series of events that led to a… side-quest I guess you could call it, Shepard and her crew, both old and new, have a party at her place.
This whole segment in the game is mostly a series of fun conversations to be had with crewmembers throughout the apartment but dang if Garrus isn’t one of the funniest of the bunch. Most of them are of him and Zaeed, a former mercenary, discussing ways of upgrading the apartment’s security for his honey’s protection. A direct quote might I add. Shepard tries to stress that everything will be fine and Garrus argues that fine is good for anyone else but not the love of his life, and Shepard, thinking he’s not truly being serious, tells him and Zaeed to have fun.
Methinks she forgot of the time wherein Garrus confessed that the places he considers fun to fight through are gardens, electronic shops, and antique stores but only if they’re classy.
It’s only later that she finds out that he and Zaeed took it seriously and started to arm the apartment in a variety of ways that frankly were both alarming and amusing. This including but was certainly not limited to weaponized wall fixtures, a hot tub timed to go to thermonuclear temperatures, and a coffee maker turned bomb.
The most amusing thing about most of these is that the a few of them, particularly the ones that Garrus worked on, can be disarmed via the code “I HEART GARRUS.”
They may not be the most conventional couple by any means but dang if they’re not the most amusing one of the entire series.