Joker & EDI: The Greatest Love Story in Gaming?

Jeff “Joker” Moreau, voiced by the ever-sarcastic Seth Green, acts as Commander Shepard’s trusty pilot for the entirety of the Mass Effect trilogy. At the beginning of the story, Joker claims he’s the best pilot in the entire Systems Alliance and he proves that time and time again throughout the course of the trilogy, helping Shepard and their crew escape dire situations in space. Unfortunately for Jeff, he suffers from brittle bone disease, making it impossible for him to do much more than flying the Normandy. How is a young military go-getter like him supposed to find love if he can barely walk? Enter EDI. 

 

Joker makes it clear very early on that he is completely opposed to the idea of having onboard artificial or virtual intelligence in Normandy. The man likes to have direct control over everything on the ship. However, in the second game, the decision is taken out of his hands. The Enhanced Defense Intelligence, or EDI, an artificial intelligence designed to protect the ship during combat is installed. EDI appears as a holographic blue sphere and uses a feminine voice to communicate. Joker is, at first, disgusted to have EDI on board, only begrudgingly asking her for assistance on certain matters. The two argue a lot as EDI asks Joker many questions to better understand human behaviour, and Joker literally can’t escape her barrage. 

 

However, EDI proves to be very useful to Shepard, providing the party with invaluable data and assistance during their various adventures. At one point, the Normandy is disabled by a Collector (antagonist aliens) attack while the party is off-ship on a mission. With their best soldiers away, Joker and the crew are left to fend for themselves. In order to escape the situation, Joker does the unthinkable. He allows EDI to access all of the Normandy’s systems, unshackling her. Despite his scepticism, EDI successfully guides the pilot to safety and repels the Collector attack. Following this traumatic experience, the pair grow closer and Joker begins to refer to the AI as “her” and “she” rather than “it”. When a bemused Shepard questions this change, EDI dryly clarifies that their relationship is purely platonic and is nothing like “hormonally-induced courtship behaviour”. 



During the early stages of Mass Effect 3, Shepard discovers a synthetic infiltration unit created by the rogue organisation Cerberus. Upon defeating the unit, EDI makes the decision to transfer some of her functionality into the body, taking control. EDI now has a feminine synthetic body to match her voice, something which doesn’t evade the notice of Joker. When Shepard asks why she chooses to inhabit the body at all times, rather than only during missions, EDI responds by saying it’s important to Joker’s morale that she be in visual range. She also asserts that she’s gained more free will since Joker unshackled her, as she is now able to reprogram her core systems. She decides to prioritise love, altruism and other positive characteristics within herself.

Photo by Mathew Schwartz on Unsplashq


With some gentle pushing from the Commander, EDI and Joker officially enter an organic-synthetic relationship. They have dates in the Citadel and enjoy one another’s company immensely. She even manages to convince him to get on the dancefloor despite his extreme reluctance. Throughout the rest of the game, EDI questions the nature of synthetic life and if she is truly “alive”. Depending on the player’s decisions, EDI can become more confident in herself until she considers herself as an equal to the rest of the party. EDI’s presence in the game serves as a commentary on the nature of artificial intelligence. As the player grows attached to EDI, she makes them question whether manufactured life deserves the same status as natural life.

 

At the conclusion of the plot, Shepard makes a decision which decides the fate of the galaxy. It can shake out several different ways, but one of the endings involves the merging of synthetic and organic life across the galaxy. If this ending is chosen, EDI and Joker will emerge together from the wreckage of the Normandy as equals, the barriers between them removed forever. She embraces Joker, cementing one of the greatest love stories in gaming.