The All Too Familiar Case of Rebecca Thane

Rebecca Thane has been here too long to put up with your shit. She hates the runners, so repelled by the economic injustice of the dominant system that they choose to live outside of it, but somehow actually fighting against it is just a tad too far. She’s watched as the rich and powerful have killed her friends without reproach, and she knows that no matter what she does, she can ever rival the blood on their hands. She is not here to object, or to protest, or to run. No, like all good revolutionaries, she is here to win.

Unsurprisingly, Rebecca Thane is a secondary villain in Mirror’s Edge: Catalyst. She is introduced angry, yelling at your boss Noah for refusing to do anything other than sit on the fence. She has a point, of course, but the anger is what matters here, a telltale sign that she could take things “too far,” whatever that means. Never does the game ask if anger and violence are perhaps reasonable responses to society-wide systemic violence, even while you’re kicking dudes off skyscrapers.

Instead, Rebecca Thane is another Daisy Fitzroy, another Marlene, another black woman doing the work of revolution because somebody has to, and ultimately condemned by the text for her efforts. Mirror’s Edge: Catalyst is another in a long line of games that wants to sell the idea of revolution and condemn the politics of it. The back of box tagline reads: “Fight Oppression. Claim Your Freedom,” the game opens with a text crawl saying “Citizens have been made willing slaves,” and Faith’s first act is to break free of mandatory corporate surveillance. Fight Oppression. Sign up for Origin today.

Six hours later, the game ends with a monologue where Faith proclaims that by stopping Kruger’s plan they’ve “started something.” They haven’t brought about revolution, but they’ve lit a spark, and finally people can start to fight back. Somewhere, Rebecca Thane is sadly shaking her head. Does all the work of her and her dead friends really amount to nothing? Maybe in twenty years, Faith will have grown tired of the moral high ground when it doesn’t do a damn thing to bring progress any closer. Maybe Faith’ll meet a young runner herself, disgusted with how angry and violent she’d allowed herself to become, and maybe that runner will break away and declare that after years of accepting oppression, they’ve finally started something.

Maybe.