The Let's Play Archive

Final Fantasy VIII

by Cool Ghost

Part 64: Part Sixty-Four: A Revelation

Part Sixty-Four: A Revelation

Here we are, waiting for Selphie.

This is a good question. We still don't really know much about Edea's plans.

And we're running out of time to chase her or fly around visiting people.

Now, let's see what everyone's thinking.

Irvine still just wants to ingratiate himself to Selphie. Nothing interesting here.

Quistis, though, has a question.

: Ellone...inviting Squall back to the past, whereas the sorceress searches for it... Could it be that the sorceress is trying to make that journey into the past, too?

From what we know, this is a reasonable deduction. Maybe Ellone just owes Edea 100 Gil, but I somehow doubt it.

Zell also has a question.

: Was she actually waiting for this opportunity? Hmm... Wonder if she was living a normal life before all of this?

Cid didn't really give much of a read on this before he skipped town. The point here is, other than "interesting fashion sense", "laconic", and "has a propensity for puttin' icicles where they shouldn't be" we don't know much about Edea.

And Rinoa has something on her mind.

: I can't stop thinking about it... I can't come up with an answer, either.

But, she won't say what it is.

There's nothing else to do here, so let's move it along.

If you try to leave, Selphie shows up.

: Thanks so much for coming all the way out here, everyone.

Well, we'd never finish the game if we hadn't.

This is Irvine's grand gesture.

Seeing what happened to her home has strengthened Selphie's resolve.

Now, it's personal.

Rinoa also has something to say.

The camera moves to let you know it's serious.

She has some misgivings at this point - it's also reflected in how she's holding herself.

"All of a sudden" is right. The last time we went up against Edea, Rinoa jumped in headfirst. But that was a defeat, Trabia was a defeat. She's looking at a lot of defeats, and it's not clear we'll win this time, either.

My point is, she's scared.

: (If someone can come up with something, that'd be great...)

Squall doesn't have a lot of faith in other people and their thinkin' ways. He's very cynical about that stuff.

I think we've covered it before, but Squall acts to hide his fear from himself and others.

He turns around to look at her while he thinks this. He's taking this personally.

: (I grew up in Garden. I'm a SeeD. Do you understand?)

Rinoa is an outsider on this, too. She's the only one here without a professional stake in fighting the Sorceress. She could always just go back to Timber.

: You have to voice your feelings, or else I won't understand.

I don't think it would be in her character for Rinoa to ditch on the SeeDs here because she's uncertain about the mission, but she has to ask. It also shows how close everyone has gotten - she's not trying to argue them down, or yelling at Squall the way she did back in Timber.

: Unlike others who were all talk, you took to your weapons and fought...

There's another thing - he's answering her.

: And now you're saying all this? What happened to you?

He's honestly hurt here, I think, and he doesn't understand everything.

: I guess...I'm getting scared.

The stakes are a lot higher now than they were in Timber, or even Deling City. That's why she's saying this now.

: I...feel like we're on the same know?

They've gotten close over time.

: Once I catch up, I wonder... Is everyone safe? Will they welcome me with open arms?

This is, I think, understandable. It's a bit of a reprise of what she did back in Deling City, too. Rinoa has never particularly loved fighting, and she can't run from her problems by throwing herself into the work the way Squall does.

And now she's worried that one of them will die.

: Will we all make it back together?

He might not be the one you'd expect here, but Irvine is the person closest to her situation here, being the only other non-SeeD and person to express doubt about the whole situation.

: Someone might not be there. Someone you love may disappear before your very eyes.

Compare, of course:

And a very different conclusion:

Irvine is the character who works to give this speech. Remember that he faced his fear in Deling City, too, just like Rinoa.

Now, it's time for a story.

He takes a shot.

Here, it bounces off the rim.

Whether or not Irvine makes the shot here can change, depending on how many battles you've won. Under 200, it goes off the rim. 200-249, it goes straight in. 250 or more, and it'll hit the rim, but bounce in.

This is a very visual story, the kind that can only be told in a visual medium.

: It was around the end of the Sorceress War, so I guess it couldn't be helped. Anyway, that's where I was.

There's some children for ya.

: And out of all the kids there, one was very special to me.

At this point, a little girl in overalls toddles in.

: I really liked this girl, and it made me so happy just talking to her.

I think Irvine's lost the thread on why we should kill the Sorceress...

Little Irvine runs out from the grown version.

And the two run off to play war.

Now for a quick trip back to the present.

: You guessed it.

: You guessed it...

Well, we just saw the place! That's cheating!

Where they're going with this is probably pretty clear at this point. We're going into one of the most infamous scenes in Final Fantasy VIII. For my part, I don't think this is a perfect plot point, but I do think there's a lot to it that's glossed over, forgotten, or ignored.

We're back in the past now.

: It just kinda sucked that I was the only one who remembered...

There they are.

: That is just sooo weird...
: Huh?

Another kid runs into the scene at this point.

: That was...

Everyone files out of the room to set off fireworks.

As they do, Squall shows up as a ghost. I don't know why Squall is a ghost and Irvine isn't. Just go with it.

While we're here, the party theme, "Ami," plays prominently during this sequence:

The menu is available, but it's not very informative.

Before we follow everyone, let's check out this area. There's another kid here.

This isn't the first time we've seen this kid, nor is it the first time we've heard "Sis" mentioned:

In case you'd forgotten, this guy showed up right after Ellone left with the White SeeDs.

He vanishes after we "talk" to him.

But he re-appears in another room.

Again, he says something about Sis and disappears.

Let's see what's happening with the kids outside.

First, though, there's another chat with the striped-shirt kid.

Squall is pretty put off about this. I mentioned before that this kid is the young version of Squall, and seeing him wringing his hands about some girl stands in pretty stark contrast to present Squall.

That's not front-and-centre right now, though. We're heading down to the beach, but let's take a moment to enjoy the ocean view.

And then we can head down to join everyone on the beach. Well, everyone except Rinoa, who I imagine is feeling pretty left out right now.

: The ocean! The lighthouse!
: We did set off fireworks!

There's all our pals, settin' off fireworks on the beach.

Fuck off, baby Zell.

Thank you, unnamed child.

: If I remember this, does that mean I was there, too?
: ...We all got in big trouble.
: Then...what about my parents in Balamb...?

Zell's adopted!

: Yep, that's probably it.
: I...was here...

There he was.

And here comes that blonde kid (you can see him in the fireworks scene) to hassle him again.

: Who's THAT!?

This line makes no sense unless Selphie can see what's happening.

: Oh my goodness!

Again, doesn't make sense unless she can see this.

: Seifer... My archenemy...
: WOW! He was there, too!

We're ghost Squall again.

There's a line for each of the kids.

Things haven't changed that much.

Also present: Irvine Kinneas.

That's everyone.

Oh, and then I got paid.

Nice squat, Zell.

: Except for Rinoa, we were all there.

This must be extremely awkward for her.

: Heeey that means...

There's one person who hasn't said anything out loud this entire time.

The player already knows this, but there you go.

We're back here.

Young Squall doesn't have many interests.

: I was always waiting for 'Sis' to come back.

It was technically a spoiler when I identified the kid earlier, but now it's explicit.

The kid is hurt, but he's trying hard.

We know, though, that this got warped over time.

: (...I didn't turn out ok at all.)

He's been facing this for a while now. This is giving us both the original motivator for Squall's behaviour and a reminder that he's lying when he says he's fine on his own.

: Elle...Ellone. So, Ellone was 'Sis'. She was a bit older than us, and we all used to call her 'Sis'.

This gives us a link between Squall's story and Laguna's. Also helps to explain some of Ellone's stuff, like calling Quistis "Quisty".

: Yeah...

So, all the SeeDs (and Irvine) were in the same orphanage when they were very young. That's a standard childhood friends situation, but it's not the most important part here, and it's not huge for their relationship dynamics. We're not done here, though.

: I'm not sure what the meaning behind all this is, but we were definitely together.

We cut back to the beach at this point.

: She's the one that takes us back to Laguna's period.

Laguna is a guy.

: ...She said she wanted to change the past. I don't know why...
: There can only be one reason for that.
: She must not be happy with the present.

I think you're missing the point.

Go back to jail, Zell.

: You didn't even remember who she was!
: Hey, Selphie... That goes for you, too!

They'd all forgotten this except Irvine.

You get control back here, but can't leave. It's just an opportunity to get people's thoughts on the matter.

Quistis is freaked out by having forgotten part of her childhood.

Zell's a bit bummed out because he's adopted.

Selphie wants to check out more of her former homes.

Irvine's who we need to talk to here, bringing Ellone up again.

: Everyone was fond of Sis, but you, Squall, you kept hoggin' her for yourself.
: You sure have a good memory...

Why was this easier for Irvine to remember than it was for everyone else?

: ...This is really strange.

This is a weird way to phrase it, maybe a mistranslation. What he means is he thinks nobody adopted him because of how he was, but it reads more like he was adopted for another reason.

: Probably the same with Seifer, too. You two must have been at Garden by the age of 5 or so...

"You" is also weird. He means "the two of us."

This also puts Squall at the Garden right from its founding.

: Even so, he's never mentioned anything about growing up in an orphanage. And nothing about this has ever crossed my mind when I see him, either. Don't you find that odd...?

Well, Garden is kind of an orphanage, and the two of them aren't friends anyway. It might have just slipped through the cracks.

: That IS strange...!

There's a possible misreading here, it's one I've been guilty of myself, to do with the idea of them growing up together. I'm not sure how long they were in the orphanage, but it wasn't very long - it's more like they were in kindergarten together than anything. The game itself uses the language of growing up, and I think that clouds the issue.

: That's probably why I forgot all about my childhood. That's what I think.

Sure, that's reasonable.

: But I don't know what's up with you guys! It's so odd that you would forget!

Quistis is remembering something.

: Things didn't work out too well at my new home. So I came to Garden at the age of 10. That was when I first noticed Seifer and Squall.

Quistis being adopted before isn't super important, but it separates her from Squall and Seifer a bit.

: Seifer and Squall were always fighting.
: Yeah... Quistis always used to break us up.

Squall and Quistis forgetting stuff after she got to the Garden is more worrying than everyone forgetting their time at the orphanage.

: Yes! That's right! Seifer was a kid who always needed to be the center of attention. But Squall always used to ignore him... But eventually they would end up fighting.

It's pretty obvious even early on that those three knew each other forever, but I think they've forgotten some of the details of how they met or how far back they go is the point here.

I mean, this is the first scene of the game. Quistis is not unfamiliar with Squall or Seifer.

While we're looking at the first scene of the game, there you go.

: 'I gotta do my best by myself. Or else I won't be able to see Sis.'

Squall never completely forgot about "Sis" even though he forgot she was Ellone. He knows someone he loved left him, but not the details, so he can't quite get to the realisation that Ellone, a child, didn't leave him out of her own free will.

: I guess I was trying to take Sis... I mean, Ellone's place.

This is something new for Quistis. After being adopted away for several years, she had forgotten about Squall/Ellone.

: I tried, but to no avail... That's probably it! Even after becoming an instructor, I couldn't stop thinking about Squall.

I don't think this is true. There's a line in a little bit that'll give more colour to it, but I'm 80% sure Quistis is bullshitting. Wouldn't be the first time someone lied about their feelings in this game.

: It was my childhood feelings as a big sister that lingered... Oh well...

By the way, I think she's saying it to absolve herself for hitting on her student (i.e., conduct unbecoming) and to get out of Rinoa's way. Quistis gives herself some closure here. Her last few lines could be literally true, but it's not an interpretation I like.

Once she's done talking, she heads over to look at the ocean. You get control here again (but still can't leave), so let's talk to everyone - starting with Irvine.

He just says to talk to Quistis.

Zell's freaked out because he forgot a bunch of stuff, like being adopted.

: The orphanage was located... Hm? Hm? Hm?

Selphie's still thinking about where the place is. I admire her dedication.

We have to talk to Quistis to advance the plot.

: (Actually, I had completely given up when Rinoa came into the picture.)

This line is why I think Quistis was lying earlier. This little aside gives me the sense that she's still a little into Squall, but she had an out on that by saying she was pretending to be Ellone. Of course, this isn't a very important point either. It's mainly here just to say Quistis isn't gonna come on to Squall any more.

Then she gets mad at him for listening to her talk to herself.

I don't think Seifer was ever that into Squall.


: But whenever he sees Squall, his inner feelings start to boil, and...

I'll say it right now: this is a bad line, and it doesn't need to be here. Seifer and Squall are childhood rivals, always have been, and this guesswork psychology doesn't add anything to it.

: Is that why he's always pickin' fights with Squall?

Honestly, I'd say it even cheapens things a bit. Like I said, Quistis's whole thing about being a sister comes off to me as a lie, but now they're trying to explain Seifer being a dick. Sometimes a dick is just a dick, Sigmund.

Anyway, now we're back to something important. They've forgotten a bunch of stuff, not just being at the orphanage.

: We grew up together as kids... How's that possible...?

And there's that phrase, "grew up." Which most of them didn't do, only Squall, Seifer, and Quistis. There's a bit of ambiguity in the phrase (he might only be talking about the three of them) or it might be a bad translation.

Anyway, Irvine's going to explain some things for us.

Here's another thing about this people don't like, but the reasoning is pretty clear. Basically, this is the first time that someone mentions this directly in a mandatory scene. It comes up at other points around Balamb Garden, but they're optional lines that you can easily miss or forget.

: The GF provides us its power. But the GF makes its own place inside our brain...
: So you're saying that the area is where our memories are stored?

GFs give you brain damage.

From some of the discussion around Balamb, this is supposed to be fairly well-known among SeeDs as an idea, but it's also ignored. It makes logical sense that people wouldn't mention it much - someone outside Garden probably doesn't know a lot about GFs or GF criticism, but if you miss those early lines when the idea shows up, it's an ugly surprise at this point

That's about the size of it. GFs will fuck you up.

Cid raises child soldiers to kill his own wife. There is absolutely no way he doesn't know about GFs, he just doesn't give a shit.

Irvine has a point here. Being Galbadian, he wouldn't have used GFs.

: Well...? In my case, I hadn't junctioned a GF until recently. That's why I remember a lot more than you guys.

Of course, Selphie, being from Trabia, also wouldn't be a heavy user.

: Your first experience with the GF was when you came to Balamb Garden, right?
: ...Yeah.

So why did she forget? Did she really just have too much fun at Trabia?

There's an intermission here where we can talk to everyone again.

Make no mistake, everyone at the top knows about GFs.

: Especially when your life revolves around battles...

Irvine has a point here. Remember how Squall was reluctant to fight Fujin and Raijin in Balamb? Well, in a few years he'd have forgotten they were ever his allies.

Talking to Selphie, she does a little pose.

: I have a confession to make!

For whatever reason, the scene moves back to the orphanage here.

: I found a GF inside one of the monsters I defeated... I junctioned that GF for a while. So I have experience with GF, too.

And that's why Selphie forgot about the orphanage.

...Among other things.

: It must be the GF's fault. ...What should we do?

Squall here with the best possible answer.

I feel like this is a common kind of plot point, where you find out something bad is going to happen if you continue on as you have been, and you need to make some changes - be heroic, or use the power of friendship or whatever.

But this isn't that kind of story. Squall's got a point - it's GFs that make the SeeDs able to fight the sorceress. Friendship and positive thinkin' aren't gonna keep 'em alive.

: That way we'll always have something to remind us!

Selphie's a little more solution-oriented, but she's still aware that there's no way around the GF.

: Are you sure that's what you want!?

Zell is mad about this. He wants to do the right thing and have everything work out well for everyone.

: Maybe...that's for the best.

He realises pretty quickly that Squall's right, though.

: What's important to me now is having the power to protect my parents in Balamb. They adopted me. There's no way I'm lettin' go of that power!

And he resolves himself to face the future, rather than hanging on to the past.

: Hey...

Quistis has something to say.

There's one more memory to come out of this sequence.

In the Japanese, it's not "Matron" but ママ先生, mama-sensei, which is more like a respectful-but-childish way of referring to a mother. She's talking about the woman who ran the orphanage.

: She was always wearin' black...
: Let's see...

As they're pondering, a woman walks into their collective memory.

: Very kind... Long black hair... Yes, I really admired her.
: Wait... I just pictured her face, and...

There aren't a lot of chances to see her face, and it's not particularly recognisable due to being on the PSX, but I figured I should show it anyway.

: Look alike? Nah, that's not it.

You might recognise the name.

She's a bit of a public figure, I mean.

Edea being the one to run the orphanage also gives a little bit of insight into how Squall and Seifer ended up at Garden - she basically just handed the kids over to Cid.

: Matron... Sorceress Edea...
: Why is the Matron...?
: Why?

This is kind of a big question. We still don't know fuck-all about Edea's goals or reasoning.

But we have a job to do. It's interesting that this is coming from Irvine, who's clearly had doubts about the whole sorceress assassination deal since he learned her name.

: (...You're probably right.)

Squall agrees, though. This is normal Squall.

: ...Hear me out. SeeD and Garden were all Matron's idea, right? I'm not a SeeD, but I share the same feeling with all of you. SeeDs are supposed to fight the sorceress, right?

It puts them in a tough spot, just like it did Cid.

Squall's still got some doubts, though.

: (That's right... It was when I was being tortured by Seifer. He wanted to know what SeeD was. Matron should know... But Matron is Sorceress Edea. There's no denying that. What does this all mean?)

This has been a loose end for a while.

: Squall, you listening?

It's not the issue at hand, though, so we'll have to put a pin in it awhile longer.

Another change of scenery.

: Let's see... Oh yeah. I understand what Rinoa's saying.

Finally, we come to the point Irvine was trying to make to Rinoa, who has no context for anything that's been said for a while.

Irvine is reaffirming the decision he made in Deling City.

: I want to stay true to everything I've stood for. I'm sure it's the same for everyone. That's why I thought it would be best if everyone knew we would have to face Matron.

Irvine is the first person in the know on this stuff to be totally straight with the party.

: You've all heard this before.

This speech is not over.

: I don't believe that one bit. There weren't many paths for me to choose. Sometimes, there would only be one.

: That's why I value the path I chose... I want to hold true to the path that HAD to be taken.

: But I don't mind.

I like the sense of resolve here. Other stories use this kind of twist to make the goal redeeming a villain, and might take the connection between the characters to make the point of them growing closer, but this plays with it: they're still going to kill Edea; they're still going to use GFs; and this didn't really bring them closer to each other, they grew naturally as a team. The SeeDs still aren't terribly heroic.

: I'm here because I chose to be here. And more importantly... We all grew up together. But due to various circumstances, we were all separated. As a kid, you couldn't really go out on your own... There were no other paths to take... All I did was just cry. But...

We're finally back to the basketball court.

: We're not kids anymore... We're strong enough to take care of ourselves. Make our own decisions... We're confronting a big one right now. Do we fight Matron or not......?

This is the answer to Rinoa's question, basically.

Zell makes an indirect point here - Edea wants them dead, anyway, they don't have many options other than fighting.

Like I said, this isn't very heroic. It's pretty cynical, really, that they're not going to try to redeem her.

But, there we are.

Now, let's actually address Rinoa directly.

: It's up to you. We're gonna fight... I think it's the only way we can move on with our lives. If that makes any sense at all, come with us.

Everyone else is doing a little cheer or whatever, but I like that it's Squall who finally says this. It's an important sign of growth, that he's asking her to come.

Before she can answer, though...

...It starts snowing. I want to note, that line about being a gift from the faeries has always struck me as odd.

: Yo, you wanna go check out Edea's orphanage?
: I wonder what it's like now?
: We might find a clue.
: Clue? You mean as to why Matron turned out like this?

They may have decided to fight, but they still want to know.

: Despite what truth we find, it's not going to change the present. But... I wanna see, too.

He's a little more honest here, admitting that he wants to find out what's going on. Compare that to Deling City, where he said it wasn't his job to worry about the details.

And there's our next destination.

Everyone files out, as they do.

But Rinoa stays behind.

This is Squall's line. I don't know why there's no label.

And, fade to black.