I settle for nothing but the best.
~ Miranda Lawson.
I'm an excellent judge of character. I think you'll find my assessments to be right on the money.
~ Miranda Lawson.

Miranda Lawson is one of the major characters in the Mass Effect Video Game Series. She is a genetically engineered human specimen created by the wealthy business tyrant Henry Lawson, until she ran away from him and began working for Cerberus. While with them, she was the manager of Project Lazarus, the project responsible for bringing Commander Shepard back to life.

Miranda serves as one of the main characters of the Mass Effect: Foundation comics, the deuteragonist in Mass Effect Galaxy, a major protagonist in Mass Effect 2, the tritagonist in Mass Effect: Redemption, , and a supporting character (if she survives Mass Effect 2) in Mass Effect 3. In Mass Effect 2, she serves as one of the game's party members.

She is voiced by (and facially modeled after) Yvonne Strahovski, who also portrayed Sarah Walker in ChuckKate Morgan in 24, and Batwoman in Batman: Bad Blood. 

Background

Miranda was "created" by her arrogant father Henry Lawson, who in Miranda's own words did not want a daughter but rather a dynasty. Abused and pressured by her father constantly, Miranda was left with deep self-loathing and feelings of inadequacy, worsened by the knowledge that her father had murdered her older siblings who had failed to meet his expectations.

When Henry Lawson made another creation named Oriana, Miranda refused to allow him to torture her as he had her, and so she ran away from home with Oriana in tow. Needing protection for both herself and her sister, Miranda was drawn into Cerberus, and under the Illusive Man's influence came to believe that Cerberus was a benevolent if not also somewhat ethically sketchy organization, unaware (at least initially), of the atrocities Cerberus has committed. Under the false impression that they are helping humanity, Miranda rapidly ascended the ranks and soon became one of the Illusive Man's top agents.

Mass Effect 2

After the Alliance ship SSV Normandy SR-1 is destroyed and Commander Shepard is declared killed in action by the Alliance and the Council, Cerberus begins reconstruction on his/her body to bring him/her back to life. This was the Lazarus Project, which Miranda was head of. She becomes a member of the second party, and a possible romance option for a male Shepard.

For her loyalty mission, Shepard must help her save her sister Oriana from Eclipse mercenaries seeking to return her sister to her father. After it is concluded, Shepard can convince Miranda to better connect with her sister, which she decides to do. 

Mass Effect 3

In Mass Effect 3 (if she survives the suicide mission in Mass Effect 2), Miranda is not a crewmate or central character, but makes an appearance. Shepard comes in contact several times, and later she's the focus of a mission. Her father Henry Lawson works with Cerberus (she's quit her position from Cerberus by now) and is torturing humans and turning them into husks. Appalled by her father's actions, Miranda goes out of her way to warn and save as many people as she can, risking her life in the process when she comes under attack from Shepard's assassin and former N7 Lieutenant of the Alliance Navy, Kai Leng.

Commander Shepard may or may not save her at this point, and if she survives, she'll help the fight to take back Earth, and can be contacted before the final assault. If she is in a romance with Shepard she expresses doubt that Shepard will come back alive, but he assures her that he will. Miranda begs Shepard to finish the fight and then find her.

Personality

Miranda: I may not have believed it before, but I don't have what you do. That fire that makes someone willing to follow you into hell itself. My father got me the best genes money could buy. Guess that wasn't enough.
Shepard: You always bring up your genetic tailoring. It really bothers you.
Miranda: This is what I am, Shepard. I can't hide it. The intelligence, the looks, even the biotics. He paid for all of that. Every one of your accomplishments is due to your skill. The only things I can take credit for are my mistakes.
~ Miranda to Shepard, lamenting over the nature of her existence

When first introduced, Miranda is shown to be very cold and standoffish, as shown by her ruthless execution of Wilson for his betrayal, and insisting that they leave the Lazarus station as soon as possible, calmly countering any arguments Shepard makes to waiting for other (unlikely) survivors, as she prioritizes getting Shepard off the station rather than risk waiting for anyone else. She is so committed to the mission of getting Shepard out alive that she declares everyone else (possibly including herself), to be expendable, though it should be noted that Jacob seconds this, saying that, without Shepard, the past two years of labor would have been for nothing. She also initially appears to be quite arrogant; when Jacob questions her, Miranda claims that she is never wrong and that he should have learned that by now. However, this is shown to not be a complete boast as the Illusive Man himself states that she isn't usually wrong. She is also shown to be very cautious regarding Shepard at first, worrying that he/she may become a liability to Cerberus's cause. Because of this distrust, she initially refuses to open up to Shepard, saying that she's not looking for a friend, but changes her mind after the crew has settled in to the Normandy, and opens up to him/her about her father after a couple of conversations.

As Shepard gets to know Miranda, her true personality is revealed; far from arrogant, Miranda is instead a deeply self-loathing woman whose years of abuse by her father as well as the nature of her existence as someone who was "grown" rather than born have left her feeling that she does not deserve credit for any of her accomplishments; her frosty personality and outward self-confidence are simply a facade to hide her insecurities. In her own words, she allows other people to use her talents as a way of finding her place in the universe. Her self-esteem only gets worse when she compares herself to Shepard, whose accomplished far more than she has with no genetic modification of any kind. As she points out to Shepard, while both of them were "engineered for greatness", Shepard was great before he/she was rebuilt, while Miranda's great because of it. 

Miranda often presents herself as apathetic or aloof, sometimes to the point of callousness. She is less than sympathetic regarding the Cerberus infiltration of the Migrant Fleet ship Idenna and subsequent killing of Quarians, claiming it was "nothing personal," and attempts to take a traumatized Veetor'Nara over to interrogation, even after Tali suggests simply taking his omni-tool data instead, though she does not protest if Shepard demands that Tali takes him for medical care. Additionally, her reaction to Shepard letting a plague victim choke to death when he/she has the necessary equipment to help him is a simple "I doubt he could have helped us anyway."

On a lesser note, despite referring to Omega as a "pisshole", Miranda is pragmatic about not being able to do anything about it, telling Jacob that Omega has been the way it is for a long time, and nobody's changing it any time soon. Still, Miranda can show empathy, compassion, and moral standards as the situation warrants, not the least of which is her objection to the Illusive Man's plan of keeping the Collector Base intact (a base that had liquefied millions of humans alive). Should Shepard destroy the Collector Base, Miranda applauds the commander's decision, and also outright resigns from Cerberus in response to the Illusive Man's ordering her to stop Shepard. Prior to this she also acknowledges that Cerberus' experiments do cross the line often, showing she is not blind to the fact that Cerberus is capable of wrongdoing even when loyal to them. In particular she admits without hesitation that Cerberus' cruel torture and murder of Biotic children at the Teltin facility was without question a mistake (though she also considers it to be more the crimes of a rogue cell rather than all of Cerberus). Miranda also abhors random and sadistic cruelty in general, vocally disapproving of the brutalizing of an inmate by a prison guard on Purgatory, and having sufficient empathy to warn a young man on Omega that he needs more than knowing how to use a gun if he wants to survive a battle. She also reminds Shepard early in their working relationship that all of the other members of the Lazarus Project besides her and Jacob lost their lives bringing Shepard back, showing that she does in fact care about the people under her command. This is shown again when she criticizes Joker for failing to stop the Collectors from taking the ship's entire crew. Should any of Shepard's crew perish during the Suicide Mission, Miranda expresses sympathy, and even sounds choked up when she tells Shepard that they have to keep moving.

In addition to all the above, despite being highly loyal to Cerberus for most of Mass Effect 2, Miranda is atypical of the average Cerberus member, being pro-human as opposed to anti-alien, and in fact laments how so many join Cerberus for no other reason than simple xenophobia. She greatly respects Mordin and the time he spent working with other Salarians in the Special Task Group, as well as having empathy for the Quarian Lia'Vael by agreeing with Tali's anger towards the prejudiced volus Kor Tun, who falsely accuses her of theft. She also has great respect for the Asari, describing Illium as a "cultural marvel" and says that humanity can learn a lot from them and their ingenuity. Further contradicting the idea that she is a human supremacist is her acknowledgement that her Biotics are "very advanced for a human", indicating that she recognizes that human biotics in general are not superior to those of the Asari and other alien races.

Nevertheless, Miranda's loyalty to Cerberus causes friction between her and some other members of Shepard's squad, mostly Jack, who snipes at and baits her regularly and even threatens to kill her during an argument over Cerberus' culpability in Jack's childhood torture. Even Garrus, who is otherwise friendly and accepting of most people, is wary of her, and will argue against making her the fire team leader if Jack isn't present, pointing out that half the squad don't even trust her. Miranda, however, makes a point that whether or not someone is well-liked doesn't matter when people's lives are at stake. Ultimately, most of the squadmates appear to ignore Miranda and vice-versa. 

Though she professes to be an excellent judge of character, Miranda is not infallible this respect, initially considering the Illusive Man humanity's best advocate before realizing his malevolence and power-lust, and being blindsided by her childhood friend Niket's betrayal despite evidence beforehand suggesting it (though it should be noted that both of these men had gained her trust by then, showing Miranda is susceptible to being manipulated). Either way, Miranda's loyalty to Cerberus gives her (at least initially), a somewhat rose-tinted view of the organization; though acknowledging that Cerberus does often cross the line with their experiments, she nevertheless believes that the good work of the organization outweighs the bad, and that their ultimate goal is advancing humanity rather than hating aliens or amassing power for its own sake. And though she admits that the torture of Jack and other biotic children at Pragia was a mistake, she also concludes (somewhat dubiously), that the cell's members had exceeded their parameters and were then shut down by the Illusive Man when he "found out", even though there is evidence to suggest that the Illusive Man had known all along about the extreme experiments, and had shut them down due to their failure rather than out of morality. Regardless, Miranda's naive appraisal changes when ordered to keep the Collector Base intact, showing to her that the Illusive Man cares more about personal power than helping humanity as a whole, prompting her to abandon Cerberus in disgust.

Miranda is deeply fond of her genetically identical little sister, Oriana, and has gone to great lengths to keep her safe. However, Miranda's protectiveness is initially done entirely from a distance, with her going so far as to avoid revealing to her sister that she exists. If convinced to form a connection with her, Miranda is so emotionally overwhelmed that she cries at the end of her loyalty mission. Either way, Miranda is fiercely protective of Oriana, and is utterly merciless in dealing with those who threaten her, including their father, who she kills for using Oriana as a human shield. 

From the Shadow Broker's files on her, Miranda evidently wishes to become a mother, but tragically is unable to conceive. 

Miranda can be a hypocrite at times; she frequently expresses disgust about how her father attempted to control every aspect of her life, and how she therefore couldn't bear to let him do the same thing to Oriana, yet during the Lazarus Project, she was perfectly willing to put a control chip in Shepard's brain as a safeguard (which she justified by the belief that giving Shepard free will was too great of a risk), and would have done so if the Illusive Man hadn't stopped her. At the same time, however, she's smart enough to realize this, and by the time the Reapers arrive in 2186, she deeply regrets having ever wanted the chip, to the point that she practically begs Shepard for forgiveness and says that she always regretted it. When assured by Paragon-Shepard that she can't keep beating herself up over the past, she replies 'I usually don't, but this was important', showing truly how sorry she is.

By the time the Reapers arrive, Miranda has become significantly warmer, having lost a lot (if not all) of her former ruthlessness and coldness. No longer under illusions about Cerberus' lack of scruples, she actively works against them, and also warns innocent civilians about Sanctuary being her father's facility.

Quotes

It was hard to be away from you. Surprised myself how... attached I got. I'm not good at attached.
~ Miranda to Commander Shepherd.

Gallery

Images

Trivia

  • Yvonne Strahovski was nominated for "Best Performance by a Human Female" in the 2010 Spike Video Game Awards.
  • The character's original surname was "Solheim", which was Norwegian for "Sunhome". However, the developers decided to change the name to "Lawson" to match to Strahovski's Australian accent.
  • Early concept art of Miranda portrayed her as blonde, likely to better resemble her voice actress whose face was used for her likeness, but dark hair was later chosen instead due to feeling that it better fit her "Femme Fatale" archetype.
  • Miranda was originally intended to be a romance option for both male and female versions of Shepard. 
  • Throughout her appearances in the second and third games, shots of Miranda's buttocks were employed to emphasize her sexuality. The frequency of these moments, and in particular how they would sometimes be used in scenes that did not call for them, drew heavy criticism from some critics and players, though they also inspired memes. 
  • The Shadow Broker's dossiers on Miranda reveal that she has been attempting to get pregnant but, tragically, is unable to. Though the cause of her infertility is never explicitly stated, it is implied that she was made this way on purpose by her father as part of his attempts to control her life.
  • Ironically, Miranda has several qualities in common with Grunt: both have an initial lack of self-confidence, feel they do not deserve credit for the things they were given by a mad scientist who genetically engineered them to be the best of their respective races, and are somewhat morally ambiguous. Both also have an appreciation for refined human works, such as Hemingway's writings and the works of Danish composer Nielsen. 
  • Miranda's claim in Mass Effect 3 that she is the "former Cerberus second-in-command" is somewhat inconsistent with her portrayal in other works, which depict her as high-ranked but never suggest she is literally second-in-command. In particular, her line to Shepard in the second game: "Cerberus doesn't tell me something is impossible, they give me my resources and say 'do it'." would suggest that Miranda takes orders from more than one person in the organization, which would not be the case if she were 2nd-in-command. 
    • Likewise, what she says afterwards "And they've given you even more: a new life, a new ship, The Illusive Man's personal attention", would also seem to contradict the idea that she is 2nd-in-command (as such a person would presumably have gotten their leader's personal attention as a consequence of being made 2nd-in-command or else already had it). 
    • Finally, the Shadow Broker's dossier on Miranda merely describes her as a Cerberus Officer, not literally second-in-command. Even her Codex entry within Mass Effect 3 itself, she is not described as second-command, rather as "high-ranking". 
Community content is available under CC-BY-SA unless otherwise noted.