Previously on Final Fantasy VIII: Squall because the de facto leader of Garden in the absence of anybody better suited to the task. Despite generally never talking to anybody or forming any personal connections with a single other person in Balamb, everybody looked to him for leadership. It’s kind of like the kid in class that doesn’t have any friends, but hasn’t done anything to make anybody else actively dislike him becomeing class president, only in a slightly militaristic setting. Well…to become class president, you’d have to get voted in. This was more like a void in leadership opening and that guy just manning up. It’s still strange.
_It seems like it was yesterday…Rinoa was hanging off the side of Garden like her life depended on it…Zell and Irvine left her there to go tell Squall that Rinoa was in trouble…Squall snapped at them like the incompetents they are and said that hundreds of people were depending on him to help them, not just Rinoa…oh wait, that was actually more like an hour ago in gameplay time. Enter disc 3 and, oh, how the worm has turned. Wait, is that right? Lemme go check…
“The worm has turned – Something that you say when someone who has always been weak and obedient starts to behave more confidently or take control of a situation” – The Free Dictionary
OK, so what’s actually happened in disc 3 is the exact opposite of that. Squall went from having to coldly turn his friends aside for the needs of the Garden at large, to saying “Fuck Garden, fuck everything, my friend is in a coma.” And the best part? The friend he coldly turned aside was the same person in the coma. The best part, part two? These two things happened almost back-to-back in the narrative. If you made a novelization of FF8, the chapter where Squall told Zell that lots of people were counting on him, not just Rinoa, and the chapter where he shirked all other responsibilities to carry Rinoa on his back to Esthar would only have the chapter where they fight Edea between them.
The best part, part 3? Rinoa isn’t even really his friend as much as his client that he’s forced to hang around all of the time. Seriously, if they were really friends, wouldn’t Rinoa have asked Squall herself to borrow his ring an hour ago? It’s not like it’s his wedding ring or something. Ah well, I guess it’s easy for a relationship to go from “acquaintance” to “BFF potential mate” when the status tag shifts from “Conscious and able to rebuke” to “Comatose and unable to resist.” Huh…that makes Squall sounds extremely creepy. Fuck it, it’s not like the writing is going to do anything to rebuke that idea. It’s not even clear enough to prove he’s alive, for Christ’s sake.
_Some other narrative stuff happened between the beginning of disc 3 and Esthar, but I forgot about them because I had the Rinoa GF junctioned to my back for a pretty long time. Edea did join my party to help find the fabled lost civilization of Esthar, though, and that was pretty baller.
_Esthar has such a sophisticated camouflage system that the whole city visibly flickers with static every 10 seconds or so and it’s noticeable at great distances. Also, if you get close to where the city limits are, a door opens up in the sky. Doesn’t require a lot of work, just approach it and it shows up. No wonder nobody was able to find these guys until now.
_For a place that isolated itself from the outside world, everybody in Esthar greets the party pretty hospitably. They pretty much jump at the offer to help Rinoa, this random comatose girl whom they’ve never met before, for no compensation. Now, I didn’t quite catch everything…but apparently, to help out Rinoa, we’ve gotta go into space…sounds legit to Squall, as long as there’s some slim hope of helping out Rinoa. Space travel usually cures people of undiagnosed problems.
_Out in space, Rinoa is taken over by Ultimecia, who was mentioned by Edea at the beginning of the disc [but not by me in this diary until now…oh yeah! She was at the orphanage with Cid…turns out, he was hiding out there during the big garden battle. Thanks for the leadership, guy]. She goes all “Cloud giving Sephiroth the Black Materia” on Squall, having 4 different, semi-translucent glowing images of herself slowly shuffle to the bridge to disable the seals on an evil sorceress who has been kept locked away in space for the past 17 years. Rinoimecia accomplishes this rather easily, too. Given the amount of time it took her to disable the first seal from the command board, there must have been a huge, flashing button that said “RELEASE” on it, because that bitch didn’t seem to have to spend any time navigating windows or sub-folders or entering in any commands.
And from there, we go out in space…only this time, REALLY out in space. Like…Rinoa and Squall in spacesuits, floating around. Poor Rinoa gets used by Ulti to go release seal two from the prison itself out in orbit of the moon, then just gets…left there, adrift. Pretty cold, Ultimecia. We haven’t even seen you yet, but based on your actions, you are pretty mean. Squall comes up with a brilliant plan to rescue her: “I’mma go into space in my space suit, grab her and then get back to Earth via random happenstance.” It goes off without a hitch as they find a working spaceship adrift about 20 feet from where he saved Rinoa.
_Great part on the ship: when Rinoa asks Squall to give her a hug as an affirmation of life, and Squall flat out refuses. It’s a great characterization of Squall that while he was able to open up to a comatose Rinoa about his feelings and thoughts, once she’s able to actually hear them and communicate with him, he immediately has trouble showing his feelings and emotions again, even after carrying her on his back and drifting out into space to save her. The fact that he went out alone into the cold black of space to save her is proof that he obviously slightly cares about her, but he still can’t properly express himself. It makes me think back to Squall’s “Talk to a wall” line earlier in the game: He actually communicated better with Rinoa when she was a wall. I really do love some aspects of FF8.
_After some exterminating of aliens of the spaceship, we’re treated to some automatic dialog between Squall and Rinoa while the full, vocal version of Eyes On Me plays. This part is alright, mostly because it would be better as a standalone scene rather than a part of a full story that involves all of the relationship building and characterization we’ve dealt with up to this point. The best example of this is a part where Rinoa has her arms draped around Squall’s shoulders while she’s sitting in his lap. After all that she just went through, being possessed by Ultimecia, left adrift in space, becoming a sorceress…she just wants to be held by someone and feel safe. It’s kind of sweet and touching…until this:
Oh yeah…every time Squall got frightened, his parents dropped on by the orphanage that he grew up in to hold him and make him feel safe. God damn, woman.
_After landing back on…Earth? After landing back on FF8PlanetWorld, Esthar soldiers arrive and say “Hey…Rinoa is a sorceress, those powers are dangerous. We’re gonna freeze her, kay?” Rinoa agrees to this because she fears the power now residing in her, and Squall…well, after carrying her halfway around the world and going into outer space to save her, naturally he…stands around and lets her leave. Sure, he came to his senses pretty much right afterward, but he still let them leave. So after getting her back, we’re already saving Rinoa again. Strangely enough, we storm into a restricted area, chop some shit up, and leave with Rinoa in tow to very little resistance. Curious…
…until we find out that Laguna of all people runs Esthar. Turns out he ended the previous ruler, Sorceress Adel, who is very evil and previously trapped in space, and was elected president for his action. He didn’t even campaign! Not only that, but he didn’t run Esthar into the ground! …although he did let Dr. Odine, a completely ethics-less researcher who was not above kidnapping in the name of science and worked for Adel before going turncoat for Laguna and co., continue his research…up to present day! Laguna also does a bad job of connecting with what-is-most-likely his son in Squall. GG Laguna.
_We get together and a course of action is formed: Ultimecia, she of the immense power in the future, must be stopped in the present. A plan is concocted: Ultimecia is trying to compress time. We will…allow her to compress time so that we can go to the future to defeat her…our plan for defeating Ultimecia…is to allow her to succeed in her schemes. The way we will make our way to the future via time compression is friendship, love, and believing in each other. This is pretty much exactly what Laguna says. “Believe in your friends, and you will arrive in the future.” How they know this is a mystery…unless, of course, compressed time and the ways to navigate it is common knowledge in Esthar. I would’ve loved to have been there when they figured this shit out.
“Man…we’ve compressed time hundreds of times now, and we haven’t figured out a single way to come out on the other side, still able to function in a time compressed state.”
“…how about friendship?”
“…I’m only going to try this out because nothing else works, and I want to be absolutely certain it doesn’t work before I bring up the fact that you suggested this as a possible solution to every colleague we have and we all laugh in your stupid fa…oh, god dammit, it worked?!”
_But…before friendship and love…I did a bunch of side quests and card playing! We’ll get to that stuff next time though…
–Final thoughts for the day– Friendship and courage > Knowledge and scientifically tested hypotheses.