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"Isaac, it's me. I wish I could talk to you. I'm sorry. I'm sorry about everything. I wish I could just talk to someone. It's all falling apart here. I can't believe what's happening..."
—Nicole's message to Isaac Clarke.

Nicole Brennan was the Senior Medical Officer on the USG Ishimura during the Second Aegis VII Incident in 2508, and an initial survivor of the Necromorph outbreak aboard the Ishimura. Two years prior to being assigned to the Ishimura, she had entered a romantic relationship with Isaac Clarke. During the last hours of her life, Nicole tried to help as many survivors as she could - even attempting to halt the Necromorph outbreak[1] - before eventually committing suicide.

After her suicide, she became a hallucination manifesting from Isaac's Marker-induced dementia, constantly manipulating and influencing him through his love for Nicole and his feelings of guilt over her death in order to further the Markers' agenda.

Biography[]

Medical Career[]

"Isaac... thank you. [...] For just... pushing me to do this. I mean, if it weren't for you I never would have made it this far, because you made me stick with it."
—Nicole thanks Isaac for pushing her to accept the Ishimura position.[2]

Nicole Brennan established a career in neuropsychiatry[3] and became a medical officer in a psychiatric facility on Earth where she specialized in helping patients leave the Church of Unitology. In 2505, Nicole was assigned to Unitologist Octavia Clarke, whose mental health deteriorated due to the absence of her husband, Poul Clarke, during his extended tours with the Galactic Union Merchant Marine Corp. During her therapy sessions, Nicole met Octavia's son, Isaac Clarke, an engineer employed by the Concordance Extraction Corporation, and the two began a romantic relationship.

DS2 Nicole Thanks Isaac

Nicole thanks Isaac during a video call.

In 2507, a position for Senior Medical Officer opened on the USG Ishimura, roughly a year before the legendary Planet Cracker's scheduled decommissioning. Isaac encouraged Nicole to take the position; while Nicole was content with her life, Isaac insisted that she would regret it if she didn't work aboard the Ishimura before she was decommissioned. With Isaac's help, Nicole was convinced to apply and accepted the offer.

DSR Killed Them Yourself

A recording of Nicole and Isaac's argument following the death of his parents.

Before Nicole's departure, Poul Clarke returned from his tour. Believing his return would be therapeutic for his wife, Nicole had Octavia released from the psychiatric facility to go back home with her husband. Upon leaving on the Ishimura, Nicole called Isaac and thanked him for helping her get the position. Isaac was happy for her despite her being gone for six months.

However, sometime later, Octavia's mental health declined again, resulting in her murdering her husband before committing suicide. Isaac called Nicole and, in his grief, blamed her for their deaths, causing her to angrily hang-up on him and leave him even more devastated.

Second Aegis VII Incident[]

"Terrence, I know the Marker is responsible for the outbreak. I need to understand how. [...] You loved Amelia. As much as I love Isaac. But if I can't cure this outbreak, I'll never see him again. Please, help me."
—Nicole begs Dr. Terrence Kyne to help her end the outbreak on the Ishimura.[4]
DSR Nicole and Mathius

A holographic recording of Nicole confronting Captain Mathius about Mercer's treatment of Brant Harris.

Aboard the Ishimura in 2508, after the ship arrived at Aegis VII, Nicole was responsible for examining Brant Harris, a patient from the Aegis VII Colony suffering from Marker-induced dementia. While Nicole's treatments were seeming to improve his condition, the Unitologist doctor Challus Mercer insisted that Harris' delusions were "religiously significant" and was able to get Harris transferred to his care for his own experiments. After Mercer's experiments caused Harris to kill a miner on the ship, Nicole confronted Captain Benjamin Mathius about Mercer's immoral and dangerous treatments of Harris, a concern that was quickly brushed off by the Unitologist captain as Mathius instead accused her of having bigoted views towards members of the Church.

DSR Nicole Treats Patient

A holographic recording of Nicole treating a wounded patient during the early stages of the Necromorph outbreak.

On the onset of the Necromorph outbreak, Nicole's workload was doubled as the Medical Deck began receiving numerous trauma victims, either as a result of dementia-driven violence or Necromorph attacks. She recorded a message request hailing for more help and detailing the staff's inability to handle the injuries that were beginning to overwhelm them, stating that the Ishimura command crew was leaving the medical officers in the dark about what was truly happening. Nicole was later responsible for inspecting four survivors from the Aegis VII colony who had snuck on board the Ishimura: Lexine Murdoch, Nathan McNeill, Gabe Weller and Warren Eckhardt. After a quarantine lockdown was lifted, Nicole accompanied the survivors to the morgue where she discovered that Captain Mathius had been killed. Nicole and the colonists then met with her coworker, Perry, who had been looking after several other patients, before they were attacked by Slashers, resulting in Perry's death. After escaping the creatures, the four survivors departed to find a way off the Ishimura while Nicole remained on the Medical Deck with a few security officers, knowing that other survivors would come to Medical looking for help.

DSR Nicole Slasher Autopsy

A holographic recording of Nicole performing an autopsy on a Slasher during the Necromorph outbreak.

In an attempt to cure the infection, Nicole studied the Necromorphs after recovering a limb from one of the creatures on the Medical Deck. A report from the Engineering Deck prompted her to travel there and examine a recovered Necromorph Slasher, confirming that the infection was related to Marker 3A and that she needed to speak with Dr. Terrence Kyne about it. She met Kyne at his hideout on the Mining Deck, and Kyne confirmed her suspicion that the Marker's signal was responsible for the outbreak.[4] Nicole then snuck into Challus Mercer's room on the Crew Deck, examining his notes on the Marker and learning how to communicate with its hallucinations.

Suicide[]

Nicole: "Just... stop. Stop all of this. Do you understand? These creatures, all the death. I know you're responsible. What do you want to make it stop?"
Marker 3A: "[Octavia] knew what was necessary. She offered everything she had, for everything we could give. Do you want to know what she knew, at the end? Bring the makers, and we will make you both whole again."
Nicole: "Makers...? Who do you... You mean, your creators? How the hell would I find them? They dug you out of the ground..."
—Nicole speaks to Marker 3A through an apparition of Octavia Clarke.[1]

Following Mercer's research, Nicole finally spoke to the Marker through a vision of Octavia Clarke, which initially disturbed her, although she pressed on and asked the Marker what it wanted to make the outbreak stop. The Marker, however, simply told her to bring its "makers" so it could begin a Convergence Event. When Nicole explained that she would not be able to find them, the Marker responded that she should instead return it to its pedestal on Aegis VII, stating that "if not the makers, then an architect will come".[1]

DSR Nicole Suicide

Nicole commits suicide.

Coming to terms with her belief that there was no hope left, Nicole decided to commit suicide. She sent a message to Isaac via video log, apologizing to him for what happened between them and expressing her love for him for the last time. She injected herself with a lethal dosage to avoid being slaughtered by the Necromorphs. As she streamed the transmission, Lexine and McNeill found her channel and attempted to communicate with her, but were too late and could only watch.[5]

Reunion[]

"It was my one bright, shining star in that darkness. "Isaac will find me.""
Marker 3A's apparition of Nicole to Isaac.[6]
DSR Isaac and Marker Nicole

Isaac sees an apparition of Nicole caused by the Marker's influence.

Refusing to watch the end of her final transmission and accept his girlfriend's fate,[7][8][9][10] Isaac journeyed through the ship in search of Nicole. As he battled the Necromorphs, Isaac received several brief messages from "Nicole" asking for his "help", a result of the Marker attempting to manipulate Isaac to further its goals of creating a new architect. "Nicole" made her first physical appearance to Isaac from a distance when he was instructed to obtain the Mining Key on the Ishimura's Mining Deck. She offered her help to open the door for Isaac while he defended her from the Necromorphs at a distance. Successfully doing so, she promised to find a way to him and ran, telling him that he would be the one to "put things back the way they were" and "make us whole again".

Isaac reunited with "Nicole" again after Kendra Daniels revealed herself to be an EarthGov agent and escaped the Ishimura with the Marker. The two called the shuttle back to the Ishimura, forcing Kendra to eject from the shuttle in an escape pod. Isaac and "Nicole" then descended to the planet's surface to place the Marker back on its pedestal. Upon landing on Aegis VII, "Nicole" explained to Isaac that once the Marker was back on its pedestal, its signal would be amplified and Isaac would "see what can't be forgotten".

DSR Marker Nicole Pulse Blast

"Nicole" alongside the restored Marker as it imprints itself onto Isaac's mind.

After Isaac reunited the artifact with its pedestal, "Nicole" appeared and stood next to the Marker, thanking Isaac for his efforts, declaring that they were "whole" as the Marker implanted its replication codes and blueprints in the engineer's mind.

Shortly after this, Kendra appeared and forced Isaac to watch Nicole's final message in full, showing him that Nicole had been dead the entire time and that the woman who spoke to him was actually Elizabeth Cross disguised through a hallucination created by the Marker. Kendra also confronted Isaac about his repressed knowledge of Nicole's true fate, pointing out how his manipulation by the Marker was partially his own fault for keeping himself in denial and being unable to handle the fact that Nicole was dead.[9][10]

After escaping Aegis VII with the Marker's signal implanted in his brain, Isaac quickly began to be haunted by a bloodied "Nicole" on the escape shuttle.

DSR Reunion

Isaac succumbs to the signal in his brain and promises to build "a little something" for "Nicole".

Following the recovery of his shuttle by EarthGov, Isaac was found in a crazed state and taken to Titan Station, where he underwent medical examination. In addition to the repetition of phrases associated with Marker replication, the frantic scrawling of Marker symbols, and his paranoid outbursts, the doctors made a note of Isaac's continued obsession with Nicole as he vacillated between mourning her death and believing that she needed his assistance.[11]

Titan Station Outbreak[]

"I'm so cold, Isaac. It hurts. Where are you going? You can't run from the pain forever. Soon you'll beg for a way to end it all."
—"Nicole" pressures Isaac to stop ignoring her on Titan Station.
DS2 Intro Nicole Marker

"Nicole" and the Marker appear to Isaac during one of his interrogation sessions on Titan Station.

As part of Project Telomere on Titan Station, Isaac was used to build the massive Site 12 Marker for EarthGov with the information that the Aegis VII Marker had implanted in his brain. When a confused but lucid Isaac awoke on the Sprawl amidst a Necromorph outbreak following the Marker's construction, the Marker signal's influence in his mind - and, by extension, "Nicole"'s presence - was subdued at first due to the memory suppressants given to him by Director Hans Tiedemann. However, it slowly grew more influential as Isaac made his way to the Marker he had created and regained his memories, threatening to take over his mind once again.

Chapter 1 hospital

"Nicole" appears to Isaac in an elevator.

Throughout the course of the incident, "Nicole" manifested as a voice or images on a view screen. When she made physical appearances to taunt Isaac about his guilt and his "dark thoughts", she was covered in blood and with an eerie light shining from her open mouth and eyes. At times, "Nicole" became more disturbing and violent, making attempts to harm and even "kill" Isaac. While Isaac attempted to fight her off by telling her that she was nothing more than a hallucination of the Marker signal, "Nicole" insisted that he accept that she was "real" to him, pointing out how he could not ignore her presence despite pretending to not be bothered.

On his way to the Government Sector, "Nicole" grabbed Isaac by the throat and threatened to kill him unless he confessed who she really was to him and why he could not "let go".[12] Isaac finally admitted that he was still in denial because Nicole was his "everything"; he could not accept her death because, if he did so, he would have "nothing left" to live for. Satisfied with his honest answer, "Nicole" shed her haunting visage and appeared as she did when she was alive and released Isaac. Stating that "Acceptance" would be the final step that Isaac would encounter once he reached the Marker, "Nicole" believed that he was ready to finish his mission.

Acceptance[]

"Follow the light, Isaac. I'll be waiting for you at the Marker."
—"Nicole" to Isaac after he has used the Noonlight Diagnostics Machine.
DS2 Nicole Convergence Waiting

"Nicole" waits for Isaac at the Site 12 Marker after he has used the machine.

"Nicole" continued to appear to Isaac in a helpful manner, offering encouragement and advice on how to reach the Marker. Though Isaac remained uncertain about his subsequent actions, "Nicole" assured him that he would know what to do "when the time comes".[13] Eventually, Isaac reached the Marker's chamber and witnessed the start of the Convergence Event. When he asked "Nicole" what the Marker was doing, she simply told him: "What it was made to do. Isaac, you have to make us whole."

"Nicole" guided Isaac to the "dark machine" that Nolan Stross had mentioned, which would allow them to proceed towards the last step. Isaac then used the machine, stimulating the Marker's influence in his mind using a needle inserted through his eye, and causing him to see a message in Marker symbols telling him: "The world must end".

DS2 Time to Die

Isaac and "Nicole" embrace at the base of the Marker for the last step towards Convergence.

After Isaac killed Hans Tiedemann at the base of the Marker, "Nicole" embraced him for the final step, thanking him and declaring that it was "time to die". She explained that Isaac, the maker of the Site 12 Marker, must embrace death so his body could be absorbed for Convergence, which she described as all of humanity being "reborn" and "made one". Isaac then entered a state of limbo, battling the phantom "Nicole" inside his mind as she urged him to "give up" and accept his fate, and eventually destroying her along with the Marker, thus freeing himself from its influence.[14]

Personality and Traits[]

Real Nicole[]

"Why can't I see you again, Isaac? I loved you. I always loved you."
—Nicole's last words.[15]
DSR Nicole Last Words

Nicole tells Isaac that she loves him in her final message.

Nicole was a strong and capable medical officer even in the midst of chaos. During the events on Aegis VII and the USG Ishimura in 2508, Nicole remained dedicated to her job and to the welfare of crewmen and colonists alike. Compassionate and friendly, she befriended the likes of Lexine's party in spite of their position as stowaways who broke the no-fly order issued by Captain Mathius. She also appeared to dislike the Unitology religion deeply, as indicated by her determination to help her patients leave the Church[16] and her comment about what she saw as "fucking Unitology brainwashing".

Her knowledge of the Necromorph outbreak was little at first, though she became determined to learn more about the creatures and the Marker in an attempt to cure the outbreak. She tried to remain calm and stayed vigilant throughout the outbreak, maintaining a somewhat calm posture. Convinced that the infection was not a "small outbreak", she tried to design a cure to combat the recombinant nature of the Necromorphs. In the face of her own experiences with hallucinations and dementia, Nicole maintained a great deal of her composure and even attempted to speak with Marker 3A and fruitlessly plead with it to bring an end to the outbreak,[1] ultimately only breaking down and accepting that all hope was lost moments before her suicide.

Nicole's final message to Isaac implied that, despite there being trouble in their relationship due to Isaac's outburst after the death of his parents, she forgave him and loved him unconditionally, wishing she could have had the chance to talk to him before her death.

Hallucination[]

"If you're not ready, a miracle must be as terrifying as a nightmare..."
—The apparition of Nicole to Isaac on Aegis VII.[17]
DS2 Nicole Ghost Concept Art

Concept art of Nicole's apparition in her bloodied form.

As a hallucination, "Nicole" appeared somewhat cold as she influenced Isaac during his encounter with Marker 3A. Though she told him that she loved him and wished to be together with him, she brushed off his attempts to apologize to her for their argument about his parents' deaths, instead appearing much more interested in the Marker, along with showing Unitologist beliefs.[18] She calmly guided Isaac during his mission to reunite the Marker with its pedestal, using the term "Make us whole" to mean the two of them finally being together again; by allowing himself to "see" and be implanted with the Marker's signal and replicating instructions on Aegis VII, Isaac would become "one" with "Nicole" and together they would go on to build Markers.[1]

Due to Isaac's dementia caused by the Marker's mental blueprint, "Nicole" continued to appear after he left Aegis VII and after he was confined to a psych ward on Titan Station.[11] Her face now dripping with blood, she appeared friendly or hostile depending on Isaac's mental state and whether or not he attempted to fight off her presence.[6] Following the construction of the Site 12 Marker, the memory-erasing drugs allowed Isaac to remain lucid for a time, leading him to attempt to avoid her until he was forced to reveal his true feelings: that he felt he could not live without her. After this confession, "Nicole" reverted to her "alive" form.

Chapter 13 telomere11

"Nicole" declares that it is "time to die" as shadowy tentacles sprout from behind her.

After Isaac used the machine to reactivate the Marker data in his mind, "Nicole" became engulfed in a bright light, appearing to him in an almost angelic form. At the base of the Marker, she embraced him and revealed what the last step, "Acceptance", really meant: Isaac must finally let go and accept that he had nothing left to live for, embracing death to allow the Marker to inherit the body of its "maker" in the Convergence Event. By letting go of his life, Isaac and all of humanity would be "reborn as one" through Convergence, hence the term "Make us whole".

Dead_Space_2_-_Nicole_Boss_quotes_and_atmosphere

Dead Space 2 - Nicole Boss quotes and atmosphere

In Dead Space 2, one of the messages written in Marker symbols that can be found alongside the Red Marker in the main menu background refers to Nicole as "Ixtab the Rope Woman", a deity known as the goddess of suicide by hanging in indigenous Yucatec Maya culture (interestingly, the same region where the Black Marker was found), who was thought to accompany such suicides to heaven. This appears to reference the role of Nicole's apparition in the story of Dead Space 2, where she similarly plays the role of a psychopomp, guiding Isaac in his ascension to the afterlife as part of Convergence; as Isaac has fulfilled his purpose of building a new Marker and must now succumb to death as the Marker's "maker", the apparition of Nicole appears to guide him in his journey towards accepting death, becoming a peaceful and almost ethereal presence after Isaac admits that she is the only thing he has left in his life, and telling him that she is there to "show [him] the way".

Death Scenes[]

Dead_Space_2_-_Nicole-Marker_Death

Dead Space 2 - Nicole-Marker Death

In Dead Space 2, it is possible for the hallucination of Nicole to kill Isaac, either during one of the two dementia scenes involving the hallucination or during the final boss battle of the game:

  • First Scene: During the first struggle, the hallucination lunges at Isaac as he exits a maintenance shaft and attempts to stab him in the eye with a needle while screaming "Make us whole!". If the player fails the subsequent quick-time event, the hallucination will kill him. If the player survives the attack, it is revealed that Isaac was trying to stab his own eye out as a result of his dementia.
  • Second Scene: During the second scene, the hallucination grabs Isaac by the throat as he gets off a freight elevator in the Sprawl's mines. It effortlessly smashes him against the walls before attempting to suffocate him, demanding that he tell her who she really is to him and why he can't let her go. If the player fails the following quick-time event, Isaac answers her question with, "You're nothing! You can't hurt me. You're not real. You can't hurt me!", to which Nicole responds "WRONG" before snapping his neck.
  • Third Scene: During the final scene, the newly-created Marker attempts to influence Isaac into committing suicide with the Nicole hallucination so it can "absorb" his body and complete Convergence. If Isaac comes into contact with the hallucination during the fight within his mind or accidentally wanders too close to it, it will grab him and scream loudly in his face. In reality, Isaac will shoot himself in the face with Tiedemann's Javelin Gun, allowing the Marker to "absorb" his body.

Trivia[]

Tanya Clarke

Tanya Clarke, who provides the voice and likeness for Nicole in Dead Space 2 and Dead Space (2023).

  • In the original Dead Space and Dead Space: Extraction, Nicole's voice and likeness were provided by Iyari Limon. In Dead Space 2, Nicole's voice and likeness were instead provided by Tanya Clarke, who reprised her role as Nicole in the 2023 remake of the first game.[19]
  • In Dead Space, the first letter in the name of each of the game's chapters spelled out in order, "N.I.C.O.L.E. I.S. D.E.A.D.". This easter egg was so well-received by video game publications that later games in the franchise would follow the fashion and spell hidden messages through the first letter of each chapter.
    • During the scene in Dead Space 2 where "Nicole" forces Isaac to confess that he cannot accept her death because she is his "everything", the musical chords for the background track, titled "You Go To My Head", spell "D-E-A-D".[20]
  • According to Visceral, Nicole's appearance in Dead Space 2 was to serve as a look into Isaac's psyche. Her bloodied clothes represented Isaac's guilt of her dying, and the eerie lights with the audio effects were to represent his memories of Nicole and to reference the last video that Nicole made - the only thing that Isaac had left about her - as well as her voice, which sounded as though it was spoken over an audio log or a video. In accordance with her state as a hallucination, Nicole's RIG health bar appeared empty in Dead Space 2[note 1] and in Dead Space (2023)'s secret ending.[6]
  • It is unknown what happened to Nicole's body after her death; it is possible that she was infected and turned into a Necromorph. The hallucination of Nicole references this in Dead Space 2 when she mentions that Isaac never found her body, which prompts her to question whether she was transformed into a Necromorph.
  • Nicole was named after Dead Space executive producer Glen Schofield's daughter.[21]
Nicole DeadSpace

Nicole in the Dead Space Debut Trailer.

  • In the E3 Debut Trailer for Dead Space, Nicole appeared different from the final version. In the trailer, she had shoulder-length, brown hair.[22]
  • In the animated movie Dead Space: Downfall, Alissa Vincent met a frightened crew member that strongly resembled Nicole. She asked the crew member if she had a boyfriend, prompting the woman to nod in response. While this woman was most likely originally intended to be Nicole, with the woman's haircut resembling the one seen on the Nicole model from the Debut Trailer, the timeline of events during the outbreak as established in later media makes this very unlikely.

Gallery[]

Dead Space (2023)[]

Dead Space 2[]

Dead Space: Extraction[]

Dead Space (2008)[]

Dead Space: Extraction comic[]

Other[]

Notes[]

  1. This can be seen in Chapter 13 when she shows Isaac the way. Simply walk behind her to see this before she disappears.

Sources[]

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 Log:Negotiations
  2. Log:Thank You, Isaac
  3. The World and History of Dead Space
  4. 4.0 4.1 Log:Nicole and Dr. Kyne
  5. Dead Space: Extraction: Chapter 9: Escaping the Ishimura
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 Dialogue Differences in Dead Space (2023)
  7. Dead Space 2 - "Nicole": And when you received my final transmission, you couldn't bear to watch the end, could you? You knew what had happened, yet you went looking for me anyway. You knew deep down all you would find was death.
  8. Dead Space 2 - "Nicole": Why did you come looking for me if you knew I was dead, Isaac? Did you think I would forgive you?
  9. 9.0 9.1 Dead Space (2023) - Kendra: Nicole has been dead this whole time. And you knew, didn't you?
  10. 10.0 10.1 Dead Space (2023) - Kendra: You did this to yourself. Nicole has been dead this whole time. You just couldn't handle it, could you? Because if she's gone...
  11. 11.0 11.1 Examination of Isaac's mental condition
  12. Dead Space 2: Chapter 11: Down In The Mines
  13. Dead Space 2: Chapter 13: Government Sector
  14. Dead Space 2: Chapter 14: Marker Access and a New Threat
  15. Log:Nicole's Farewell
  16. Log:Anonymized Transcript
  17. Dead Space (2023)
  18. Dead Space (2023) - "Nicole:" And your parents? Your mother was a Unitologist. She believed.
    Isaac: She believed so much it killed her. Is this what she would have wanted?
    "Nicole:" If she did, would that make this easier?
    Isaac: Maybe it's a good thing I'll never know.
  19. List of actors from the official Dead Space Twitter account
  20. Dead Space 2 Soundtrack: You Go To My Head
  21. YouTube: Dead Space Creator Glen Schofield: Extended Interview | Ars Technica
  22. YouTube: Dead Space Exclusive E3 Loved Ones Trailer HD

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