^ TIM can "control" Shep and Anderson because he's infested with reaper tech. The reason I put control in inverted commas is because it's not really control. It's a brute force exertion that restrains them physically. They're both still in full possession of their own thoughts, it's only the motor cortex that's being got at. Muscle control, nothing more and it's pretty crude at that. He can stop them in their tracks, force them on their knees and make them squeeze a trigger. That's all.
I think it actually says in the codex that any attempt to take over a subjects mind using reaper indoctrination tech has it's restrictions. For full mental domination it takes a *long* time with almost constant exposure to reaper tech. It can be done quickly but the trade-off is that the subject will be of greatly diminished capacity. If they tried that with Shep & Anderson then they'd be reduced to gibbering wrecks...which begs the question: why didn't they?
They couldn't because even loaded with their tech, even after six months of sitting next to a reaper embryo corpse and whatever that artefact on Palavan did to give him those freaky eyes--even then they still didn't have full control of TIM. Even at that point they could only *influence* him. Same with Saren. The guy spent *years* flying around in Sovereign's belly, was similarly infested with reaper implants and yet you're still able to sow doubt in his mind on Virmire and on the Citadel you can talk him into suicide.
And no, "indoctrination theory" doesn't help to explain it. Indoctrination theory makes even less sense than the official ending.
I think it works either way since you don't often have any say in what you dream about. Sometimes it's meaningful, sometimes not. It's open to interpretation.
And if we were talking about real life, that would hold. But since this is a narrative, its inclusion means it's meaningful, full stop.
I was talking in terms of roleplaying. As in how those dreams apply to *your* Shepard.
...because she hadn't witnessed the horror of a planet under a full Reaper invasion? Sorry, I'm not sure what you're getting at. I mean sure, seeing the kid in the vent and then again on the shuttle most likely had a crystallizing effect on Shep's subconscious, so the image came to embody everyone Shepard had lost, everyone still dying and Shepard's own insecurities and doubts. Call it the straw that broke the camel's back or the opening of the flood gates. The end result is the same. The kid just stuck in her mind. Minds are like that.
Mind you who's to say Shepard didn't have nightmares before that point? Any PTS she may have is never really addressed in the previous games, which is why the dreams feel like they're out of the blue.