Thursday, July 24, 2014

Final Fantasy 7: Dance, Puppet, Dance

After the death of Aeris and the fight with Jenova - Life you receive the only words Jenova ever speaks directly: "Beacause, you are......a puppet." (sic) This is after Sephiroth really hammers Cloud with some heavy existential remarks, like "Oh, so you have emotions now?" and other lines that clearly question Cloud's humanity. Yet though the player has every reason to doubt Cloud's sanity (given his odd episodes since the beginning of the game) and his control over his own mind (given his two recent awful Will Saves (and one good one) against Domination), we have no reason to really believe he's purely a puppet. Yet Jenova's claim injects the seed of doubt into ourselves as well as our hero. It's kind of like playing FF4 with Kain as the main character instead of Cecil.

After leaving the Forgotten Capitol you eventually make your way to Icicle, a town whose primary purpose is for you to discover Aeris's past: that Aeris is the daughter of Ifalna and Professor Gast, and that Gast was killed by Hojo. We also learn more about Jenova, about how it wasn't an Ancient at all but an evil alien of some sort that could take the form of dead people--an ability it has been using a lot recently, and will do so even more very soon. Jenova also had the ability to drive people mad and turn them into monsters, which sounds exactly like what happened to Sephiroth.

I think it was this house that solidified my belief that Jenova was the real villain with Sephiroth as the puppet but, again, I now think it's more complex than that. Regardless, it's clear that Hojo knew that Jenova was not an Ancient over 15 years before the Nibelheim incident.

After crossing the glacier and over the mountain Cloud's party reaches the Northern Crater, the location of a massive planetary wound. This is interesting to me, since the map of the world is square, so if you journey up the map to the northern most point you suddenly find yourself in the south. It makes sense traveling east and west, but for some reason this planet has only one polar cap. However, the "northern" location has nothing to do with the cold here, it turns out: it's cold here because the Lifestream is focusing all of its energy in the area to heal the massive wound, causing the surrounding area to be sucked of warmth and life.

Anyway, in the crater you find lots of the black-caped Reunionites who have somehow shambled their way to one of the toughest places to reach in the world. Good for them! Yet Jenovaroth is there just slicing them down and tossing them into the Lifestream. Is that how Jenova gathers its cells? Hm...

Jenova's illusory powers come into full effect here, once again trying to send Cloud into an existential crisis. Cloud seems like he's having none of it, going so far as to tell the group, "As long as we know it's an illusion we don't need to be scared." Yet the truth of what happened at Nibelheim lends credence to the lie of Cloud's creation, and ultimately leads to Cloud accepting the lie.

Accepting that he's a puppet, Cloud starts begging Hojo for a number, for identity. When he refuses, labeling Cloud a "failure," Cloud fully succumbs to the existential crisis and ends up handing the Black Materia over to the preserved body of Sephiroth.

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