Posted 29 October 2012 - 07:01 PM
There's a lot of details revealed at the end about the aliens and their intentions but I have the feeling that there's also something... ironic, creepy and dark about Earth's victory, when you combine it with many other aspects.
"You hear our voice, New One, now listen well... Long have we watched...and waited. So many promising subjects, so many failed efforts. And now, after untold trials, the new one emerges to face the rigors of our collective... An enduring physical form, paired with an equally adept mental capacity - the rarest of traits, finally withing our grasp."
According to the High Ethereal (keep in mind that it can be a blatant lie), the are abducting and experimenting to achieve the union of physical and mental powers. However:
a) Despite the abductions/experimentation they hadn't achieved yet before any worthwhile results with humans-
b) It presents the invasion as a 'test', like other races were tested before being conquered and changed to serve the Ethereals on their quest.
"Behold the greatest failure... of the Ethereal Ones... We who failed to ascend as they thought we would. We who were cast out. We who were doomed to feed on the Gift of lesser beings... as we sought to uplift them... to prepare them... for what lies ahead.
The Ethereal's quest is that they 'failed to ascend' by their creators/conquerors and were discarded and without their creators they were 'forced' to conquer less powerful races to prepare them for the future (sequel), either meeting their creators or some uber race.
The hunt draws to a close. It was not a vain undertaking... but a necessity, as our physical form has grown... ineffective. Our search for the perfect specimen was driven by our own crippling limitation, and now, at long last...
The implication is that they were discarded by the 'Ascended' because of their physical limitations and they're looking for perfection. However, following this logic the perfect specimen should be superior to the Ethereals and prove it by defeating them.
This is not your path! This is not your propose! You need our guidance to hone this power... without us, what are you?
This would mean that either the High Ethereal would be expecting for mankind to fail the test or if it proved to be the superior species to acknowledge and accept the role of the Ethereals in the process. Or, as it says, we can be superior to the Ethereals but we're nothing without Alien Materials, Elerium, etc., and from Shen's and Vahlen's comments there's already a lot of considerations about the good and bad effects of such advanced technologies on the hands of mankind. Or even your own Psionic soldiers cruel laughs when killing aliens with Mindfray and how the High Ethereal's comment that the Psi powers made the Sectoids cruel. And without an external enemy after the defeat of the aliens...
Now, take this a step further: when XCOM goes on its final mission it has unknowingly been following the aliens' plan to determine the value of humanity. It was anticipated by the aliens for Earth to create such a force that would challenge them. After the Ethereal conquest XCOM's research on armor, weapons, psionics, etc., would be most invaluable for the Ethereals to use humans as frontline troops. And if Earth defeated the invasion, now they know humans have what they need but are left powerless with access to alien supplies - the explosion of the Temple Ship is meant for humanity not to have access to its technology, unless all of the Ethereals in the universe were present in the ship or the rest of their forces can't react on time.
This is a lot of speculation but that last phrase from the Ethereal really made me think about it the first time I heard it. What do you think?