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I've noticed that Thane has a ton of fans out there, many of whom choose him as a first pick for their female Shepard's romances. What I'm curious about is how they can reconcile [what I perceive to be] irresponsibility and willful negligence on his part. Let's get this party started.
Thane claims that because he's emotionless during a job and doesn't have a motive for his assassinations, he isn't to blame for the people he kills. I could entirely accept this while he was working for the Hanar, since he was given to them by his parents as a child (and thus had no say in the matter); however, after he started freelancing, he lost this excuse. We can see that Thane is still in charge of his own free will, so it's not as if he was brainwashed. Furthermore, he clearly makes a distinction between people who deserve to die, and everyone else - after all, he specifically chose Nassana Dantius as the target of his kamikaze mission, and he joins up with you to fight the Collectors in some last grasp to redeem himself. That means that if he kills someone who doesn't deserve to die, he knows it - but he does it anyway. I don't really care if every single person he's murdered was evil: the point is that he's denying his responsibility, hiding behind the cover of his spirituality. His analogy of his body being a weapon is a weak one - yeah, his body is trained and designed to kill people, but guns don't accept contracts on others, whereas he does. It's not pulling the trigger that makes him a coward, it's deciding to take on a job and agreeing to end someone else's life, and then pretending that he has no say in the matter. Saying that the targets are marked for death anyway is just as flawed a thought process - if that was the case, then it's not much of a problem to just kick back and let the Reapers do their thing, right?
About his family. Those who live by the sword, die by it - so for crying out loud, don't give your enemies a chance to hurt you through others! That's just common sense, and the Hanar specifically released Thane from his service for that very reason, to raise his family! As someone who's invariably going to make enemies of the worst kind, if you're going to let yourself get close to people, get close to others who can handle a fight and who are prepared to kill or be killed at any moment. Seriously, Thane is quite possibly the best assassin alive, but he's not professional enough to either (A) keep it in his pants, or (B) be man enough to put away his weapons for the sake of his lady love? I find it ridiculous to think that he couldn't find any other line of work, if he would just act in a mature and humble manner by giving up his pride as a skilled assassin and settling for a more mundane job. He claims that he doesn't have any other skill sets, but to me, that's just a combination of arrogance and stubborness, because what he's really saying is that he doesn't have any other finely-honed, peerless, completely mastered skill sets that make him stand out from the rest of the poor, honest, hardworking slobs in the galaxy. For a guy like him, learning a different occupation is a piece of cake if he's willing to start at the bottom rung. Certainly he has the strength and aptitude to apply himself to any number of other endeavors (surely his fans and I can agree on that, at the very least).
All right, so he realizes he made an error in judgment and got his true love killed and his heart broken. Then he goes and ditches his kid for a bit. Well, fine, okay, he's in mourning over his wife, emotionally traumatized, and regretting his past actions. But years pass, and what course of action does he finally settle on? He decides to go out with a bang and get himself killed without another thought for the apparently dysfunctional son he'd left behind. So much for learning from his mistakes. You'd think that with how much importance he places on his spirituality, he'd actually make progress with all that spent in meditation (punctuated by his mannerism whenever he's reached a stopping point in your dialogue aboard the Normandy SR-2). As it turns out, either he's kind of daft, or he needs a new religion, 'cause apparently all of that time musing and pondering the questions of life failed to provide him with the correct answers before Shepard shows up.
For the record, I think Thane is a superb assassin - or, more precisely (and as he would say), his body makes for a superb assassin's - but he really should have wised up long ago that he just didn't have the spirit to be one. When he realized that he couldn't be both a good father and a good hitman, he took the selfish option since it also happened to be the easier one. This would have actually been fine with me if he'd stuck to his guns, speaking bluntly (and metaphorically). In other words, if I'm tasked with taking charge of a team whose mission is to save all organic life in the universe, I'd feel a lot better having at my back a lethal assassin who happens to be a confident jerk, instead of a lethal assassin who's emotionally unprofessional, deals with denial and regret, and has a death wish but still wants to make it home in time to take his son out to a ball game. (Of course, a confident jerk of an assassin would have been relatively dull, which leads me to my final paragraph)
Let me make it clear that without contradicting anything I've said, I still think Thane is a valuable member of Shepard's team; I do find his story and personality to be intriguing and engaging; and perhaps most significantly, I'm really glad Bioware threw him in there, not least of all because I dislike him. After all, it'd be kind of silly if I got along with every random murdering stranger that Ceberus threw at me to forge into a cohesive team. If Miranda and Jack have to deal with one another, and Tali and Legion have to get over their inevitable prejudices, then it's nothing for Shepard to tolerate a drell who never really understood himself. It adds spice and sophistication to the game to have to work with a teammate I think rather little of, and it makes me appreciate the others all the more. In sum, I realize that all of the teammates have issues that need to be resolved (i.e. the Loyalty missions), but Thane seems to be the most guilty of having brought his troubles on himself (Jacob's dad was a scumbag and showed up out of nowhere, through no fault of Jacob's; Jack was basically a slave to sadistic masters she couldn't have done anything against; Grunt's a newborn Krogan and has no control over his raging hormones, etc etc). Plus, he never admits that he should be held answerable for his kills, for good or for ill.
So much for my opinion of ME2's poster boy; now it's time for Thane fans to respond. Defend your hero and convince me that I've misjudged him, I await your responses with sincere interest.