maybe i'm this way because i'm scared

I know video games, especially RPGs, have to keep things interactive in order to keep the player engaged, but sometimes the little minigames the developers come up with are just weird. Like, how would anyone ever figure out the whole "picking the right instruments gets a better result" thing without a guide? Some of us (read: me) have zero musical ability and can't pick out a tune to save our lives, okay.

Anyway, this is one of those cases where the player's choice has an impact on Squall's reaction, but not the game as a whole. The only thing it affects is this scene, and not how Squall's relationship with his friends develops past this point. To that end, I feel that the "good" version of the scene is worth analyzing more than the alternative, because Squall does get along better with people after this point regardless. It's a slow build, but it's there.

That's not to say the alternate versions of this scene are without value. I think for alternate interpretations of Squall, they provide a valuable insight into his mind and how easily things could go poorly. But when it comes to strictly following the canon storyline, the good version is the only way to go for me.

This entire scene — from the concert to Rinoa's whole conversation with him — is an expression of how much Squall's friends care about him. That's something that's obvious to literally everyone but Squall. He's still freaking out about the whole being-in-charge-of-Garden thing and the last thing he wants to do is celebrate it, so the first thing he does is put up all of his walls and shut them all out.

So Rinoa has to ease him out of it. Comparatively speaking, she hasn't known Squall as long as the others, GF-induced memory loss or no, but Squall isn't hard to read. All he ever does is mull over things to himself and try to take the weight of the world on his shoulders to keep from reaching out to anyone. It doesn't take any time at all to learn that about him. She teases him, but I like to think that it's gentle, meant to pry him out of his shell rather than make him retreat further into it. (That, more than any ridiculous instrument-picking minigame, is what makes me think that it's very easy for the ensuing conversation to go multiple directions.)

Anyway, after Rinoa pushes him off onto the solar panels, Squall has a monologue that shows just how scared he is of opening up, more than anything we've seen yet.

Rinoa: We want you to talk to us a little more. That's all. Y'know, if there's anything you want to tell us, or anything we can do, don't hesitate to let us know. I know it's not easy but I wish you would trust us and rely on us a little more.
Squall: (Am I that untrusting...? Maybe I'm this way because I'm scared. Nothing lasts in this world. It feels great to have friends who believe in you, and adults you can rely on. That's why it's so dangerous, especially if you become used to it. Someday you're bound to lose everything. Everyone around you will be gone. Then what are you left with? Nothing. Nobody... It's so miserable. And it's inevitable. It's so hard to recover from something like that. I never ever want to deal with that again. I can't. Even if it means being alone... for the rest of my life.)

I'll get into this more in the next section, but we don't know exactly how much Squall remembers from the orphanage. The point is that he has trauma in his past that's stuck with him to the point that he's scared to death of letting it happen again. Everything he does is a defense mechanism, put in place to protect himself from any further emotional trauma. He can't get hurt again if he doesn't let himself feel anything, right?

But he can't do this all by himself. It's too much. And his friends know it.

The "good" version of this scene isn't overtly positive. Rinoa simply tells him he's a pessimist and that it's important to enjoy today, rather than worry so much about the future. To enjoy the company of the friends he has instead of fearing they'll leave him. And then... well, then we get what might be one of the most depressing lines in the whole damn game.

This kid is so screwed up he doesn't even think about his future. He can't see past SeeD. He's got Cid telling him it's his goddamn fate to kill the sorceress, and here we realize that Squall doesn't even have any dreams of his own. He's the perfect little killing machine, a SeeD grown by Garden to do its bidding, only he's gone and lost his own dreams in the process.

This game is fucked up.

There's one other thing I want to bring up — it happens a little after this, in Galbadia Garden's attack against Balamb. Squall and company face off against Fujin and Raijin, and Squall has to face some harsh realities he's not entirely ready for.

Squall tries to brush off the fact that they’re loyal enough to Seifer to abandon Garden and stay by his side, ensuring that he still has friends with him no matter what, but... it gets to him. It’s not just "circumstance," no matter how they were all raised at Garden. For Squall, who so openly rejects the help of others, seeing that someone like Seifer has people who care that much about him resonates with him, especially coming so soon after the concert at FH.

If it was "nothing special," then they never would have left in the first place. That's a hard pill for Squall to swallow, and harder still for him to realize that his friends would do the same for him.

ten: the past is the past

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Squall & Final Fantasy VIII are © Square Enix.
No infrigement intended. DIVIDE is © Larissa, 2014-2017.