As Tiara knows, I wrote the final part of my journal (Choice) at about 2am, so I (A) need to edit for coherent thought and things that have come to me since, and (B) will probably add more thoughts once I read through all your stuffs.
Believe it or not, I did manage to avoid the best spoilers in your emails and now I am pleasantly shocked to find that your choice, Becca, was Synthesis and I am eager to look into your reasoning and love that these choices were all "right" for us. When I first learned about the ending issue from Tiara, I felt that Destroy would be Molly's option (Control for Tarisa). Go down fighting! But Molly really changed and grew in ME3. She hardly punched anyone. And she worked so hard to bring everyone together ... If there was an option for a big old reaper show down, then absolutely she would have taken it – but at what cost? With the choices presented, no. No. Not Destroy. Even if only for EDI - and certainly for Legion if I had been able to let them live.
To me, Destroy meant everything. It was doing the reaper's job for them. Reaper technology was so ingrained into everything we do and are ... I couldn't risk the destruction of things I couldn't even fathom. And a lot of my decision came back down to the quarian/geth war. I had to kill the geth, but there was still reaper tech and geth bodies all over rannoch. I couldn't give the quarians that war, only to have some quarian kid get shrapneled in the face because he was playing with a dead geth when I happened to shoot the red thing. (The reapers seemed to just fall over, but Molly could not foresee that when she made her decision. “Destroy” implies destruction.)
Synthesis. I thought about it. It wasn't what I had imagined it to be. But in the end, this was not an option for me. A forced evolution, with results completely unknown. I wouldn't even know what that would make of the reapers. That option was... just too unknown for Molly to accept. Note too, though, that this was my major misunderstanding regarding the relay destruction - I misread and thought he said that Synthesis caused the relay destruction. When I understood afterward that the relays were always destroyed, I tried out Destroy, but Control remains my choice for Molly. In my head canon, she uses Control as her Destroy option, by offering the exposed neck of the reapers to the fleet. Control is likely for Tarisa (though now I’m thinking otherwise). I am teetering between destroy and synthesis for Ian, as I don't know how he will turn out.
Starchild: I wanted Molly to say to Starchild "Who the fuck are you? I need more information! You cannot have me decide the fate of billions without letting me ask more questions!" And yet, I accept that Molly didn't have the opportunity to say these things. That she ... after all this weight on her shoulders, just wanted an end. You could always see the battle going on outside and there were always ships - allied ships - exploding. It had to end... You could argue that time passed more slowly in there (which allowed Joker to pick everyone up), but the ships exploding seemed real-time enough. And she had to stop it.
History of the Repears: 37M years ago, the reapers were created by organics, with Starchild as their controlling force (VI ... not unshackled AI). As with every story we've ever seen with a superior technology, it comes to the conclusion that organics, with their crazy ideas and emotions, are too dangerous to themselves and to their creations. They must either be controlled, or destroyed. Starchild's conclusion is a mix of both. It destroys the species, but each species becomes a reaper itself to preserve that species. (Speculation: How individual are these reapers? We know they are not legion, like the geth. Harbinger certainly displayed self awareness and individual thought and I think the human reaper was his salarian science project. Perhaps, in future cycles, or during their time in dark space, the reapers would start to question themselves and their motives ... especially if one of them is made up of those plucky, rebellious humans...)
Starchild does not accept the argument that you've brokered peace between the geth and quarians, because that peace just happened yesterday and you, unlike the reapers, have not lived for millions of years to see such peace quickly or slowly fall apart. It does not realize that the reapers are interfering in their own process by leaving technology behind. (Note: I don't understand why so much prothean tech was allowed to remain, with everything else wiped out in previous cycles. I speculate that, after a century of fighting the protheans and finally wiping them out, the reapers just said "done. let's go home. Sovereign, Harbinger, clean that shit up." But Sovereign and Harbinger were delinquents...) They are forcing the enhancements and evolutions on the organics - which in turn ought to speed up the cycle.
But, despite all its knowledge, Starchild and its reapers are still computers, bound to 1+1=2 rules. Crucible - the epitome of resistance, created by so many species - is the "virus" or unshackling that makes Starchild finally aware that the cycle isn't working/needs to change. 1+1=3. It understands, finally, that organic life has to be allowed to make the mistakes and choose, because the outcome cannot be so easily predicted. And so, it gives you these three options... Because it cannot decide for itself. Presented with these choices, with or without having a concensus structure like the geth, the final choice had to be left to Shepard. Starchild could have just decided itself, but when it comes to the fate of synthetics, a synthetic cannot determine it for itself. It cannot self terminate if that protocol does not exist....
Mass Relay Destruction: It wasn't so much that the relays were destroyed and we couldn't get around that bugged me, but that the relays were destroyed and ought to have taken a shit load of people with them. But relays burning out. Okay I will headcanon that rather than the big old explosions. And Tiara pointed out that, while it will take longer, people can still get home. Considering the losses, even the turians might be okay with the food stuffs that Liara had made arrangements for and/or they can hitch a ride with the quarians (who would now be the dominant species in the galaxy).
Joker and the Normandy: I still have major issue with this. I gave a resounding speech to my people about fight or die. I may have even Kirrahe'd in there. I can't accept that - not only Joker would have fled - but my whole crew, too. They were all with me on the ground. Hell, Jack was just a few blocks south. Why not go grab her too? And Wrex? Logistically, the Normandy can't simply land on earth anyway. So it had to be Cortez picking everyone up. Or James, but we don't like it when he drives. And then rendez-vousing with the Normandy. I can accept that there was a big explosion and Joker had to get the hell outta dodge and that the other ships in the path likely got eaten*, but I can't accept the logistical fill in the blanks in between.
*But accepting that there was a big explosion that Joker had to run from means that the relays DID NOT simply burn out. An explosion that size would have detrimental effects on the nearby planets. And think of all the mutant eezo people that would result! Argh! I forced evolution anyway!
So in my headcanon, I can't have that explosion - no matter what colour - and I can't have Normandy crashing onto another planet. In my "happy" ending, the fleet destroys the reapers, with Hackett knowing full well that he's just killed his own daughter. "I am so proud of you, Molly," he whispers. Everyone in the fleet hears this and doesn't quite know what it means, but they have all heard the voice of the reaper. On the ground, Garrus and Liara looks up sadly.
The Normandy is still with the fleet and over the next few weeks, it's all about clean up and finding a way home for the stragglers. Some time later, Liara approaches Garrus and explains how asari reproduction works. He is flustered and embarrassed until she explains that she can allow her body to create a child from the union she and Molly shared and asks if he would be willing to help her raise the child in honour of its mother...
In my headcanon, there is an epic 20 minute cutscene prior to The Choice where I get to see my elcor tanks and Jack and the kids and Grunt and krogans on dinosaurs...
And imagining all this has me in tears -- the tears I'd expected as I witnessed the end.
Thank you both for the thoughts. Consider this journal my tribute to you :)