Protesting the Poor Treatment of Thane
TL;DR: Thane's character swung from resigned with his coming death to determined and passionate about his life, and then back to the former. That's not development, that's flip-flopping.
In ME2, once recruited, Thane was cool and emotionless regarding his mortality. His wife had been dead for a decade, and he had been separated from his son during that period while he hunted down her killers. Revenge exacted, he took on the Dantius commission in the hopes of putting an end to his life. If reunited with Kolyat and romanced, Thane becomes increasingly distressed over the prospect of dying; he has people to love and lose, people who will mourn him when he dies. The culmination of the romance scene illustrated Thane's change in perspective; no longer was he resigned and unemotional about his mortality. In Mass Effect 3, romanced or otherwise Thane is back to the way he was at the beginning of ME2. This is wrong.
TL;DR: Keprals should have been curable, or the disease stabilized to extend Thane's life so that he could live long enough to receive the Hanar cure. Too much foreshadowing was made and all of it was ignored.
Keprals Syndrome to me was tipping towards the ridiculous when it came to Thane, just as the multiple rapes in Jack's history overburdened her already tragic childhood. It was more than enough that his wife was murdered as a result of his profession. The effect Keprals syndrome had in ME2 was much like Miranda's father, unseen and only spoken of in distant terms, a specter of the future. Time is important here.
Directly after being recruited, during the first conversation on the Normandy, Thane mentioned that the Hanar were working on a cure; he just didn't expect that he would live long enough to benefit from it. In Lair of the Shadow Broker, Thane's dossier showed that he was an eligible transplant candidate, but he refused; it is unclear when it occurred, so it is unknown whether or not he refused pre- or post meeting Shepard. But the important information here is that it was possible for Thane to receive a transplant that would extend his life. There would not need to be a miracle cure because there was already one in the works by the Hanar. In addition, the CDN mentioned a new medigel for the lungs that would revolutionize internal medicine; I hope I need not explain how this could immediately benefit Thane.
And yet, all that foreshadowing, dismissed. There was hope; not hope from desperate fans reaching for any half-baked scrap of information to support their claim, but hope born of game-provided evidence. This was a slap in the face. If Thane was always slated to die, why give any of it at all? Why have Thane mention that the Hanar were working on a cure? Why put in Thane's Shadow Broker Dossier that he was an eligible transplant candidate? Why release on the CDN information about a medigel for the lungs, when that information would only be of interest to a select group of the fan base? Why recognize the "Cure Thane in ME3" banner, giving more hope to fans? If this isn't trolling, I don't know any other name for it.
In the Mass Effect universe, Shepard was been brought back to life from unquestionable death. Mordin threw together a Genophage cure. Making those two things happen while stating that extending Thane's life wasn't possible despite all this information is simply contradictory and nonsensical.
TL;DR: If in ME3 Thane's romance was "bittersweet" someone, or a lot of someones, forgot the "sweet" part. This was not "satisfying".
At the end of ME2, Thane and Shepard had begun a relationship. Most of Thane's dialogue was not romance related; out of all the ME2 romances, the only other characters with less romantic dialogue are Samara/Morinth and Kelly (the VS too, I suppose, but they bloody made up for it in Mass Effect 3, didn't they?). During Lair of the Shadow Broker, Liara asks if Shepard is fighting for Thane, to spend time with him before the inevitable, that it is not how long they have together, but how they spend that time.
A beautiful, bittersweet sentiment. However, Thane and Shepard get almost no time together, either on-screen or off. After Arrival, Shepard is taken into custody for the next six months, three months longer than Thane expected he would be without symptoms. When found at Huerta memorial, he is in the final stages of Keprals syndrome. The difference in dialogue between a Shepard that romanced Thane and one that did not is minimal, and there is no option to ask Thane about a transplant (even though the game checks if LOtSB was completed) or the medigel for the lungs, or the state of the Hanar cure, or even the "alien medigel only of interest to the Hanar" that could be found during that one N7 mission.
With the exception of Jacob, all the other LI's get dates and special scenes and private moments. One kissing scene does not constitute as a romance continuation. If they theme was a bittersweet, premature end to a relationship, where was the sweet part? Not in ME3, that's for certain.
TL:DR: Both the death itself and the aftermath was done so poorly that it should not have happened. It was not beautiful, it was not touching. It was disgusting. And because the "romance" that came before it was so threadbare and unispired, it fails on the very fronts it needed to succeed at to be considered successful and satisfying to those who had no way to avoid losing a favorite character/LI.
I would say that the majority of Thane fans had accepted the possibility of Thane's death, despite all the alleged foreshadowing from the previous games and DLC. We had many other reasons than the obvious to pray that it wouldn't come to pass; in previous ME games, death has not been handled properly. Fiery explosions and heroic sacrifice are all well and good, but if no one in the universe remembers that a character had ever lived, why should I care if they died? In Mass Effect 2, during the Suicide Mission, Shepard shrugs and moves on no matter who died, even their LI. None of the other squad mates even mentioned that they had lost some of their number after the fact. This dismissive treatment was something we all feared more than Thane's death itself; he wouldn't just die, he also wouldn't be remembered. And that was exactly how it went.
Right after that tearjerking (/sarcasm) goodbye, does Shepard get to talk to anyone about losing Thane, romanced or otherwise? Does any other ME2 character mention him? No, but he gets his name on that wall!
If the aftermath of a character's death cannot be handled with as much care as the death was, then the character shouldn't die. Period. Why was Thane the only one fighting Kai-Leng? Why was Shepard and the others just standing uselessly with their guns drawn? Why does the nurse at the hospital mention that Thane needs more blood and then states more blood won't do any good?
Why do those who romanced Thane get the exact same Lair of the Shadow Broker goodbye letter, if they already romanced Thane? It understandable, that it was made available for those who didn't play Lair of the Shadow Broker, who didn't or couldn't go on the internet to look it up, but what did those who had already read it get? Nothing! Nothing new, more of the same and bitterly inadequate, given Thane fans are the only ones who are forced to see their LI die in game, on camera, with no way to avert it.
Thane's treatment, along with all the other ME2 LI's in ME3, was simply unacceptable. In no way, shape or fashion, was there a satisfying conclusion to Thane's romance. Like Jacob, Miranda and Jack's, there was simply not enough interaction between them and Shepard. They couldn't be on the squad? Fine. But what about video messages, or emails? Would a series of emails, non-rendered, text on a page from the absent LI have been too much to ask for to fill the gaps?
Bring back Thane. It certainly wouldn't be the first time, (Leliana, Shepard) that a character has been brought back from certain death. There is no salvaging what was given to us, it cannot remain in this form.
Edited by JECW, 15 March 2012 - 08:02 PM.