After the emotional intensity of the assassination – the creepy music, the endless obstacles, the successful and attempted murders – we get dropped into the cutest, most idyllic dream world scene yet. Laguna is recovering from the disaster at Esthar in the adorable village of Windhill at the home of tiny child Ellone and her mother Raine.
- A Galbadian soldier guarding the village mentions that Esthar is a country ruled by a sorceress. They kidnap little girls, looking for a successor to Sorceress Adel. Does this mean that sorcery is genetic? But not so much that the sorceress can give birth to a magical girl?
- Laguna’s Desperado limit break with a machine gun is hilariously over the top.
- Kiros shows up, having apparently been separated since being thrown off a cliff. This begs a very important question: Are there no communication devices in this world? There is technology to create a mobile building but not to call long distance?
- Julia, the singer that Laguna had a crush on, wound up marrying General Caraway. That means she is Rinoa’s mother!!
- Laguna has the cutest relationships. Little Ellone wants her mom to marry Laguna; she’s into it, but afraid of brining it up because she doesn’t think he would be satisfied living in a quiet town like Winhill. This is such a realistic concern, and it shows FF8’s mastery of romance once again (as previously discussed re: their care creating a love triangle between Squall, Rinoa, and Seifer).
Galbadia D-District Prison
Zell was also dreaming, but conveniently, he was Ward working as a janitor in a prison…this prison! The gang has been arrested for their attempted assassination, and Zell, Selphie, and Quistis share a cell. They escape their cell, recover their weapons, and begin an incredibly tedious section of the game where we run up and down and all around the floors of the very boring prison, pausing to switch GFs incessantly.
- Squall is being held separately, and Seifer is very excited to taunt and torture him. Sorceress Edea wants to know what SeeD is, as though there’s a secret behind their mercenary exterior, but neither Squall nor I know what they’re talking about.
- Seifer is excited to know that Squall saw him in his moment of glory, asking, “How did I look?” He loves being Squall’s nemesis, and let me be honest. The fanfic writes itself for this scene.
“This is the scene where you swear your undying hatred for me!”
- The fire dogs are awesome, and if you didn’t hate Galbadia already, the fact that they’ve apparently enslaved this cute lil guys is more than enough to make them our enemy. Maybe Selphie too, since she freakishly suggests skinning the fire dog and wearing it as a disguise.
- When the group rescues Squall, the fire dog squeaks, “Laguna” at him. Interesting.
- This whole section is just terrible. I am so relieved when the group escapes and leaves the corkscrew prison behind.
Galbadia Missile Base
After watching missiles be launched at Trabia Garden (sorry, Selphie), I sent the chaos team (Selphie, Zell, Irvine) to the Missile Base to prevent the same thing from happening to Balamb Garden. I’m not very invested in these characters, so I did feel a little bad when they assure each other, “Squall chose us because he believes in us!” …Sure.
They manage to mess with the launch, but can’t get out of the compound before the whole place explodes. RIP Selphie, Zell, and Irvine.
Squall, Rinoa, and Quistis basically teleport back to Balamb Garden, where they find the place up in arms as Garden Master NORG demands that the students find Cid.
- Squall gives very vulnerable reasons for wanting to help save Garden…in his head. His walls are breaking down internally at least!
- The group makes their way through a basement maze at Cid’s request, where they find secret tech that enables the Garden to…levitate. Sure.
- Everyone, including the headmaster, wants Squall to be responsible for flying the school. The whole storyline of Squall having leadership thrust upon him is a bit weird. He is competent, but utterly standoffish and rude. But he’s the hero of this game, so everything works in his favor. I shouldn’t complain, because it brings out his vulnerabilities, and I love it!
- Squall hates having nothing to do because he worries! Why, I also rely on being productive to avoid having to live in my own head. #relatable
- Rinoa asks for a tour, and I appreciate that the game remembers that she has never been here. It quickly devolves into another little quest, since Garden Master NORG is still pissed. He is a being unlike anything we have seen to this point, and he yells “Fushifuru” a lot. It’s…weird.
- NORG wants to give the sorceress Squall’s head to get her off Garden’s back. He doesn’t trust Cid because he’s married to Edea, which is fair! But Squall and co. kill him anyway.
- Cid fills in a few more gaps, explaining that Balamb Garden was created to kill sorceresses. Edea knew she might become one, but didn’t think it would actually happen. This implies that becoming a sorceress necessarily makes you evil. But why?
- A ship approaches the floating Garden bearing Sorceress Edea’s ninja SeeDs. This makes no sense, nor does the fact that Cid capitulates to their desire to take Ellone.
- Yes, Ellone! The little girl from Winhill is grown up (and is the woman Squall and Quistis saved in the training center after the SeeD ball). Squall finds her in the library, and she admits that she knows Squall is being sent into the past to live Laguna’s memories. She leaves, and Squall lays on his bed in the fetal position, overwhelmed with responsibility and fear.
“I’m not a child anymore. I have all the skills I need to survive. That’s a lie. I don’t know anything. I’m confused. I don’t want to depend on anyone. How can I do that?”
- We get our first flashback of baby Squall missing his Sis, and it’s very sad and cute!
That’s where we’ll end this section of my Final Fantasy 8 playthrough. Squall’s character is developing rapidly, and I love that his aloof lone wolf attitude is explicitly taken apart, revealing an inner child who is afraid of being alone with the weight of the world on his shoulders. I can’t wait to see what happens next!