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Why I Love Ashley Williams

Mass Effect Ashley Williams

Don’t shoot me, just hear me out.

Now I am by no means saying this relationship, or this character, is perfect. It’s the not the case.

She has flaws. I would even say huge flaws, specifically in the first game. She’s tough to get to. Tough to get anything out of. And even when you do, often times it’s something you don’t necessarily agree with. I’ll even admit she’s a hard character to love. But, to me, that’s why it’s such a rewarding relationship.

You (Shepard) and she have no idea how much you need each other, and that’s really the beauty in it for me. She needs you to be there for her, and needs you to forgive her when she isn’t there for you. Because she fucks up. A lot. She will fuck up every step of the way, through every game. She isn’t there for you on Horizon when you need her. She’s suspicious of you when you reunite in the third game. She will continue to fuck up all the way through, until she comes back home to the Normandy. But it all stems from a place of hurt, not malice.

If you stick with her, if you love and forgive her through all of her mistakes, then you will have had a full emotional experience that I just don’t think you get from any other romance in Mass Effect. You will have been there for someone who was lost, someone who needed you and had no idea, and someone who didn’t want to admit it. And when she finally tells you she loves you before the final stand against the Reapers, it means so much more because of everything you’ve been through.

It truly is the deepest love Mass Effect has to offer, because it isn’t perfect. She’s not perfect, not even close. But if she was, she wouldn’t be Ashley Williams.


Mass Effect Romance

Hell yeah! To build on your argument, I always felt that Ashley was the most ‘human’ character in the series:

  • Turian mistrust: She is an alliance marine, in a military that still has officers who fought the turian hierarchy. She would have certainly absorbed their prejudices from the conflict and combined with her own insecurity over her family’s ‘honour’
  • Citadel distrust: As Ashley points out, in a heartbeat the Council would happily sacrifice humanity to guarantee their own survival. Fast forward to ME3 and that is par for the course (Asari and Salarians refuse to join the combined war effort until desperation sets in)
  • Alien distrust: Mass effect, especially ME1 and the novels, paint a galaxy that is in odd cold-war. The Salarians hack into everyone’s databases, the Asari are hypocrital hoarders of prothean tech and the Turians have considerable resentment over the first contact war.

How the writers handle it – lesser writers would have had Ashley’s personality remain locked over the series. Instead Bioware evolves her have over the series: she becomes more confident in herself. She learns the value of a united front against the reapers. She adapts to the real-politik of the universe and matures as an individual. She learns to put aside her mistrust.

Ashley may not be the best character in the series. But she is the most human.

Note: to respond to OP comments regarding Ashley ‘fucking up’, I beg to disagree:

  • Cerberus is the Mass Effect equivalent of Hydra: A surprisingly well-funded organization, with tentacles within humanity’s industrial-military complex, with pretensions towards being a ‘guide’ for humanity, whilst in reality advancing a warped-version of our species and killing anyone (even if they’re a human-citizen) who becomes a hindrance.
  • Ashley joining on Horizon wouldn’t make logical sense: Ashley, at this point in the series, is a sworn NCO of the UNSC Navy. She has sworn an oath to defend the interests of the Systems Alliance, which in turn is the appointed defender of humanity. Ashley joining Shepard would mean joining Cerberus, which would be the equivalent of Maria Hill / Sam Wilson joining Hydra just because they suddenly showed up with Captain America as their frontman. Or perhaps a US Marine joining ISIS, just because Chesty Puller suddenly showed up leading their army. It would be completely contrary to their principles, character, and training.
  • Ashley suspicion of Shepard in ME3: By ME3, we’ve seen what Cerberus is capable of – whether it is using reaper indoctrination to churn out troops, assassinating human admirals to outright destroying entire colonies and experimenting on the survivors. In a galaxy, where there are sentient machines that can brainwash seemingly sane and powerful individuals into serving their cause, surely the fact that Shepard worked for an organization that is cool with reaper Cerberus indoctrination would be cause for concern?

But again, the writer have had Ashley evolve over the course of ME3: If you talk to her enough, forge your ties and friendship with Ashley, come the final Citadel confrontation if you skip the paragon-interrupt, Ashley will on her own initiative believe Shepard and try to arrest Udina (hell, she may even take the shot)

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