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David Archer

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~ David Archer

David Archer is the main antagonist of the game Mass Effect 2 DLC Overlord; the brother of Cerberus scientist Dr. Gavin Archer, David was born an autistic mathematical savant with a number of unique abilities including rapid calculation and eidetic memory. However, like many individuals on the autism spectrum, he also suffers from an aversion to loud noises and other unwanted stimuli, resulting in disaster when he becomes a participant in Project Overlord.

He is voiced by actor Jesse Gervais.


Mass Effect 2: Overlord

David's early life remains unknown, though it can be assumed that he was left in the custody of his brother Gavin, given that he was present on Aite before anyone considered him for use in any of Cerberus' secret projects. Though Gavin did care for him at least to some extent, he was too wrapped up in his work to pay much attention to David, only interacting with him when he needed to make use of his eidetic memory as a means of recording important notes; also, he failed to account for how loud noises around the base would upset him, only remembering to supply him with earplugs when David himself suggested it.

At the time, Gavin was in charge of Project Overlord, an attempt to exploit the religious tendencies of the Geth by creating a figurehead similar to Saren and Sovereign, capable of commanding and - hopefully - controlling them. With this in mind, they had created a Virtual Intelligence to serve as an "Overlord," but communication between the VI and the captured geth had proved to be something of a stumbling point; eventually, this proved such an impassible obstacle that the project was on the verge of being scrapped by the Illusive Man. Gavin was desperate for anything that could save his brainchild from premature cancellation - and found it in the form of David. With his ability to comprehend and perfectly replicate the geth speech patterns, David could easily communicate with them, and even command them; believing that his nature as "a living computer" made him the ideal final component for the Overlord, Gavin incorporated David into the VI program without his consent, attempting to justify this breach of ethics by claiming that David might enjoy the experience.

Unfortunately, Dr Archer had once again failed to account for his brother's sensitivity to sound: upon being installed in the VI and connected to the geth neural network, David couldn't cope with the extreme sensory input, and upon finding himself unable to shut out the stimuli, he suffered a catastrophic panic attack. Seizing control of all geth, mechs and surveillance systems across Aite, the VI/human hybrid went on a rampage that ended with most of the base personnel dead except for Gavin, and then set out to transmit himself off the planet - apparently in an attempt to escape the noise. However, according to Gavin, this would have resulted in David essentially becoming a sentient virus infecting the extranet, randomly turning electrical devices across the galaxy against their owners in what he termed "a technological apocalypse."

When Shepard arrives on the planet, Dr Archer explains the situation, but avoids mentioning the fact that he essentially forced David to merge with the VI program, effectively escaping his blame for causing the disaster. Indeed, he claims that David volunteered for the program. For much of the mission, players have no reason to suspect otherwise, for the Overlord can only communicate in electronically-distorted screams and roars, and it's not until later that these noises can be translated as "Quiet! Please make it stop!" However, once Shepard has finished shutting down the Overlord's defences across the various Cerberus facilities and descends into the Overlord's lair at Atlas Station, David directly interfaces with Shepard's cyborg implants, uploading memories and visual data directly into his mind in order to show the Commander the events leading up to his forced merging with the VI platform (likely in another attempt to call for help).

When the Commander reaches David's chamber at the bottom of Atlas Station, David attempts to upload his program to the Normandy ship, intending to broadcast himself across the extranet from there (the game over for this boss battle showing David effectively overwriting EDI in the process). However, after a boss battle, Shepard is able to deactivate of the rogue VI program and frees David from its effects - also revealing the emaciated body of David cruelly strung up in the machinery. Once the depths of his actions have become clear, Gavin Archer arrives on the scene in a desperate attempt to explain himself to a shocked and disgusted Shepard.

From here, the player is given a choice to either shut down Project Overlord for good or reluctantly allow it to continue: If Shepard stops the experiments, David is subsequently removed from Gavin's care and taken to Grissom Academy, an Alliance educational institution for gifted children; though Gavin attempts to resist by pulling a gun on Shepard, the Commander easily disarms him, warning the scientist that any attempts to recapture David will end in his death. However, if Shepard decides that Project Overlord is too important to abandon despite the death toll and the cruelty inflicted, David is given medical treatment and remains in Gavin's custody, doomed to continue his role as the Overlord as soon as he's recovered.

Mass Effect 3

If Shepard delivered David to Grissom Academy in the previous game, he can be encountered there in 2186 during the Cerberus attack on the school. Having recovered his health and sanity over his time at the academy, he is able to assist his fellow students, Octavia and Isaac, in maintaining a kinetic barrier generator keeping Cerberus troops from getting at them. When Shepard arrives, he is able to calm his fellow students by vouching for the Commander's trustworthiness, and also gives the Commander access to a room containing a M-96 Mattock or M-22 Eviscerator in it. If EDI is present, David recognizes her as the "Normandy Computer", and apologizes for attempting to hack into the Normandy's systems. If Garrus is present, he identifies him as "Normandy Crew" and also apologizes. After escaping Grissom Academy with Shepard's help, David goes with Kahlee Sanders to assist in building the Crucible, where his unique theories on interstellar cross-modulation prove very useful to the program.

However, If David was left in the care of Cerberus, Gavin explains that Cerberus were eventually able to keep David's emotions in check and were able to get some useful data on controlling the geth in the process. Unfortunately, David became less and less responsive, until he simply stopped reacting to stimuli at all, prompting Gavin to disconnect his brother's life support as an act of mercy.

If Shepard never dealt with Project Overlord, then Gavin Archer informs Shepard that Cerberus dealt with David's attempted breakout by simply nuking Atlas Station.



  • The apparatus to which David is connected to may be a reference to Stanley Kubrick's A Clockwork Orange, in that the Ludovico technique used on Alex uses similar apparatus, most notably the 'eye opening' wires.
  • In Grissom Academy, David gives Shepard access to a room which he says contains "guns... lots of guns". This may be a reference to the film The Matrix, which contains the same quote and also concerns being trapped in a virtual reality.

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