why are you the president?
If you've gotten this far, you've probably noticed that aside from the first one, I've been avoiding the flashback sequences and the subject of Laguna in general. While working through the game in order works for most of what I want to talk about, it's not as effective with Laguna given the events of Disc 3. So this page is a catchall.
Truer words were never spoken.
Squall admits that he came to understand Laguna through seeing his past, even if he didn't like him at first. Laguna shows a lot of sides throughout the game, from deserting soldier to earnest town protector to worldwide journalist, and despite his distate for adulthood and all that goes with it, Squall can appreciate that Laguna's been through a lot. It's a bit of a leap that he's ended up as the president of a country, but given all the other ridiculous things Laguna's done it could be worse.
The million dollar question, of course, is if Squall realizes the connection between the two of them, and we could be here all day talking about that. I tend to think that he doesn't cotton onto it during the game, given that he's distracted with the whole Ultimecia mess, but that it wouldn't take him long to figure out afterwards with or without Laguna telling him. That said, there really isn't any evidence one way or the other within the actual game.
And that's something I've always loved about FFVIII. I can sit here and snark all day about how ridiculous the game is, but when it does subtlety, it does it really well. Squall's parentage is something that's obvious, but goes unsaid. The hints are peppered throughout the game, but it's never forced on the player. Just as it is for Squall, it's there if you care to look.
The other question — and this is the infinitely more important one — is when and how Laguna became aware of Squall's existence. It goes without saying that Squall's issues are rooted in his growing up in an orphanage and at Garden, and one would hope that if Laguna had had any clue Squall was out there, he would have raised him. After all, he screwed up pretty catastrophically on Ellone's account.
Laguna: It was a mistake to send Ellone alone back to Raine. Raine died, and Elle was sent to the orphanage. If I had only gone to Winhill with Elle... I would've been able to see Raine one last time. Raine was dead. Ellone, missing. My job kept me busy. I was left here thinking about this and that and before I knew it, all this time had passed.
I mean, I know it's necessary for the entire plot of the game to even happen, but you have to wonder how all that went down. Ellone was a child, so he couldn't have sent her back on her own; she had to be with an adult. I seriously doubt they just dropped Ellone off without seeing that Raine was heavily pregnant with Squall, who had to have been conceived before Laguna left. Downed communications or not, you kinda want to tell a guy his wife's pregnant.
I don't want to lay the blame entirely on Laguna's shoulders, because it really has more to do with how the game's written than anything else, but "my job kept me busy" is a shitty excuse, man.
Anyway, to keep this page from ending on such a depressing note, I like to think that Squall and Laguna had that talk after things settled down. Maybe it went well. It probably didn't. Either way, it's a relationship I think would be ultimately good for Squall, if he let it. He's too old for his father to have a formative influence on his personality, but that doesn't mean they can't form a bond of their own.
This subject is also covered over on Drafted.