Part 36: Interlude 8 - Troi Syndrome
Wait, how do you get out of there if you DON'T hit X (or hit X not enough times)?
Yuna just sits and hugs her knees until the scene fades out, and she appears in Bevelle as shown. Yeah, it's really lame.
Interlude 8 - Troi Syndrome
I didn't mention it at the time, because I didn't want to detract from the flow of the scene, but the Stuck In The Farplane segment features what's probably the worst voice acting for Yuna in the entire game. It's really a shame, because it's kind of a vital part of her arc, and there's nobody else to carry the scene for her. If I could go back in time and fix one problem with the game, it would be that. It's an emotional roller coaster, and one little misstep can completely throw you off the rails.
There's also two different animations Yuna makes when reporting in at the end, one happy and one sad, depending on whether or not you pressed X to not despair. Neither is entirely appropriate for everything that's just happened, though, especially the happy one, which really plasters over the emotional violation she just went through with Shuyin. Feelings recorded in the dressphere passing to the user notwithstanding, what happened to her would be deeply unsettling, regardless of whatever came after. I combined the two poses in the ending to this update because I think it makes more sense for Yuna to be emotionally turbulent than either happy or sad. Exactly how she's feeling is a complex question, but we'll start digging through it soon enough; there's not much game left, after all.
But let's take a moment to consider female possession as a fantasy and sci-fi plot device. It's not common enough that I'd call it a cliché, or even a trope, but it's a well that's certainly been visited and revisited over the years, and it's one that can be done well or very, very badly.
THAR BE SPOILERS FOR OTHER THINGS AHEAD
The titular example is Star Trek TNG's Deanna Troi, a character with a whole host of problems which can fit under the label of Female Character Written By Males for Male-Dominated Audiences, but being both the show's resident telepath and token female sexuality representative, she also has an unpleasant habit of getting brain raped. The worst examples of this proclivity highlight the two primary reasons why female possession should be used as a plot device sparingly and carefully if you hope to be considered at all feminist. First, it transforms the possessed character into a passive agent, a victim, an arbitrary metric of the successful resolution of the plot. It's a common enough misstep in video games (see: any game involving rescuing a princess or a girlfriend ever) that nobody seems to watch out for it. Second, there's often that underlying connotation that the possessee was possessed due to some fault of their own, that they were not strong-willed enough to resist it or brought it on by risky behavior. Often it gets dressed up in obscurations like the character being particularly resonant to the emotions or brainwaves or whatever of the thing doing the possessing, but often, once you cut through the technobabble, all you've found is a long-winded way of blaming the victim.
Contrast this with what I would propose is an excellent example of the other end of the spectrum, an episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer from late in its second season. This episode shows the potential of the plot device through its liberal use of role reversal, and not just because the girl ghost possesses the boy and the boy ghost possesses the girl; in the middle of a story arc about one character repeatedly attempting to victimize the other, a victimized ghost possesses the aggressor, relives her victimization, and then forgives. It's poignant and powerful, but most of all it works because it forces each character to experience, for a moment, what's going on in the other's head, and that experience is realistically both difficult to understand and weirds them the fuck out.
So where does the end of Chapter 3 fall in this range? Well, it loses a few points for how quickly Yuna becomes completely useless, and how dependent she is on a boyfriend-shaped deus ex machina to get out of that stupid hole. But I'm inclined to give it a pass for a couple of reasons. First, for Yuna, getting infected by Lenne's feelings is just a moment of weakness, a dangling of the one thing she wants most right before her nose. Not only does Yuna's tenacity make her giving in to temptation more meaningful, I have a hard time considering her search for Tidus anti-feminist; while she's retooled her life around it, she's not seeking his approval or feeling unrealized without a man around, she's simply an active agent pursuing something she wants. And second, the male counterparts to Yuna's adventuring party - Nooj, Gippal and Baralai - are clearly having more trouble with possession than she is. Despite her momentary slip-up, she's still the second most self-actualized character that has to deal with mental intrusion (behind Gippal, who is just awesome) and I think a lot of that can be credited to how she grew through the events of the prequel and the intervening years. Still, if you get a little skeeved when she thinks, "Don't touch me," but can't actually resist, you can probably thank fifty-odd years of fandom for part of that.