My Mixed Feelings About the Ending of Fantastic Fustercluck (Borderlands 3)

Yes. Spoilers. I am going to discuss the ending, so I can’t really not spoil it. So, while it’s more about the experience of the weird world, you probably should play it first. Some spoilers for the main game as well, as I can’t discuss some things without mentioning one key plot point.

The two sides of Krieg’s personality we’ve been familiar with since the first trailer-slash-featurette, in which he meets Maya for the first time and bonds with her over killing a bunch of Rats together (I capitalized Rats to distinguish them from our earthly rats). We learn that there is someone sane within that body, but he has lost some amount of control to his psycho side. While the sane part controls most of the actions, the psycho side controls all of the communication. At least when there’s anyone around, as we learn from the echoes at Konrad’s Pass.

At the end of the DLC these two parts of his personality reconcile. Or concile. I don’t know. Sane Krieg finally learns that his psycho side has just been trying to protect him all along. Throughout the DLC, we’ve seen them as two separate characters, but now they merge into the character we knew from BL2.

While I would like to know how someone with mental health problems feels about this depiction, especially as how they have handled psychos throughout is probably the most problematic part of the franchise. I mean, I’ve killed probably thousands of them and if we now know that they are just like Krieg, with a secondary personality there to protect them from the harsh world, it just feels different to go back and kill some more. Or at least is should. Although, we actually already knew this from the Tannis echo logs from the first game. (The so-called bandits just seem to be protecting their villages, as we run in and kill them all.)

But here’s another thing I find problematic, but I’m not sure how problematic I should see it as: The boy wins the girl. Maybe. Krieg starts building his own fantasy world to replace the broken landscape of his mind. This includes a house for Maya into which she invites Krieg.

We know Maya is a hypercompetent Siren, who has saved worlds. While she died in a poorly written story of the main game (and it was great seeing her again). Is she now being reduced into being the prize at the end of the adventure for the male character? This is a trope we should be over as a society already. How can we see women as powerful if they are used this way? Especially, if this is the expected norm.

On the other hand, I never felt their relationship was really romantic. Sure, Maya was always friendly towards Krieg and Krieg definitely loved Maya, but I also felt that it was more about reverence than romantic love. He saw her as a perfect being, someone he could always trust. Losing her was a huge hit for him. Still, I didn’t feel like he desired her sexually. Her presence in his life was the thing he needed. Of course, a relationship like this in itself problematic, if one half of the couple is dependent on the other.

On the third hand, this is all in Krieg’s mind, so while it is a fantasy (within a fantasy) and we don’t really know if Krieg’s fantasy is even about a sexual relationship, I guess we can excuse it.

But here’s the thing: If Krieg really fantasized about living with Maya, wouldn’t it have been better to actually think about how Maya would feel about this? Wouldn’t it have been better to have them go on adventures and save exotic new worlds, the two of them kicking ass ’til the end of Krieg’s life? This approach would have fit Maya so much better and it would have circumvented the “women as prize” trope.

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