Why I Never Bring Zaeed on Missions

As part of a different discussion, I was reading a debate about whether Zaeed in Mass Effect 2 was or was not useless as a leader. One side paints him as an experienced warrior whose past exploits show that he places the mission ahead of individual team members. The other side points out that that’s exactly the problem.

If you’ve read pretty much anything I’ve written about him, you know I have no respect for the mercenary forced on us at the beginning of ME2. Had hubby and I known anything about the character we’d never have downloaded him in the first place. I don’t believe I’ve ever explained why, however. Rather than further derail the thread on which the latest debate is taking place, I thought I’d do so here.

The only knowledge you get of Zaeed is what comes from his stories and the way he behaves during his loyalty mission. His tales of past missions all end about the same: “…and I was the only one who survived.” Some might see that as dedication to the job he undertook but it tells me something quite different about him.

During conversations you have while pursuing the gent who dethroned him (and shot him in the eye, no less), you’re beaten over the head with the idea that said man has taken this mercenary group and turned it into an evil bunch of people with no conscience. Zaeed wants you to believe that he established the Blue Suns for goddamn Principles. Never mind the whole point of a mercenary group in Mass Effect is to do things that are illegal and/or immoral for money.

I have to think that the coup came not because the guy we chase into a gas-bottling plant (as far as I can tell) was greedy but because no one wanted to follow Mr. Massani any longer. If you routinely accept—and complete—missions no one else will, that’s great for business. If, in the pursuit of the cash and reputation those jobs bring, you let your team take bullets for you and repeatedly fail to bring a single member back, that’s bad for morale.

The principles on which Zaeed founded his band of brigands appear to be rooted in creating a galactic badass rep for himself so that he could recruit fools who would take a bullet for him…so that he could have their share of the rewards. I find him untrustworthy, selfish, and dangerous in a firefight. That’s why I put Miranda in charge of the fire team during ME2’s suicide mission and send him with her—with luck neither one of them will come back (though they always do, more’s the pity).

Nothing about Shepard’s conversations with Zaeed or his actions during the game lead me to believe he’d be a good leader. Despite his war stories nothing leads me to believe he’d be beloved by his men, either. Hell, he probably ran through green recruits so fast he never even knew their names. They’d be a Blue Sun long enough to be awed by the legend, thrilled to be picked for a mission at his side, and then dead.

While coming back alone again and again from missions no one thought could be done builds a reputation, it’s not one of leadership. The Suns who never went on missions with Zaeed likely gave him a 10.0 on the badass scale but I doubt a one of them would have volunteered to tackle one with him, regardless of the payout. All in all, their customers would have done better to hire Thane for most of the described missions to begin with.

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