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I settle for nothing but the best.
~ Miranda Lawson

Miranda Lawson is one of the many characters in the video game Mass Effect 2 and its sequel, Mass Effect 3. 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. She is also the manager of Project Lazarus, the project responsible for bringing Commander Shepard back to life.

She is voiced by (and facially modelled after) Yvonne Strahovski, who also portrayed Sarah Walker in Chuck, and Kate Morgan in 24.

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, completely unaware of the atrocities Cerberus commits regularly. 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 Normandy SR1 unit is destroyed, and Commander Shepard is taken out of action, Cerberaus begins construction on his/her body to bring him/her back. 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 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, standoffish and uncaring, as shown by her ruthless execution of Wilson for his betrayal and calmly countering any arguments Shepard makes, prioritising getting Shepard off the station rather than risk waiting for (very unlikely) survivors and being 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 labour would have been for nothing. She appears to be quite arrogant; when Jacob questions her actions, she 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 her 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, however, her true personality is revealed; that of a deeply self-loathing woman whose years of abuse by her father as well as the nature of her existence 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. 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. In her own words, while both of them were "engineered for greatness", Shepard was great before he/she was rebuilt, while Miranda's great because of it. 

Miranda can often be quite apathetic, sometimes to the point of callousness. She is less than sympathetic regarding the Cerberus assault on the Migrant Fleet, claiming it was "nothing personal," and attempts to take a traumatised quarian Veetor'Nara over to interrogation, even after Tali suggests simply taking his omni-tool data instead, and seems mildly disappointed if Shepard demands that Tali takes him for medical care instead. 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", she is also pragmatic about not being able to do anything about, telling Jacob that Omega has been this way for a long time and nobody's changing it any time soon. 

However, 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, 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 definite respect for the asari, describing Illium as a "cultural marvel" and says that humanity can learn a lot from their ingenuity. Nevertheless, her pro-human beliefs and loyalty to Cerberus cause friction between her and a large portion of Shepard's squad, Jack in particular. The only clear exceptions to this are Samara, Kasumi and Jacob, the latter of whom has known her for years and is therefore a good friend. 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.

Although she can be ruthless at times, Miranda also displays very clear moral standards, 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. She also abhors random and sadistic cruelty in general, vocally disapproving of the brutalising of an inmate by a prison guard on Purgatory and having sufficient empathy to warn a random punk kid on Omega that he needs more than knowing how to use a gun if he wants to survive. Finally, Miranda is also deeply fond and protective of her genetically identical little sister Oriana, and has gone to great lengths to keep her safe, even going so far as to avoid revealing to her that she exists. By the time the Reapers arrive, she 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 her father's Sanctuary facility.

Miranda can also 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 realise 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.

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