if you come here, you'll find me

I think the scenes after Squall and Rinoa return to the surface speak for themselves, but there are a couple things I want to touch on. Squall's tendency towards inaction is something that's come up several times throughout the game, but this is where he (rightly) gets called on it.

Most of the time, yes, it is absolutely right for him to let Rinoa make her own decisions and for him to stay out of them. She's her own person, and Squall's falling for her doesn't give him the right to decide her fate. (In fact, it would be nice if more relationships were portrayed this way, Squall's issues aside.) But friends don't let friends get themselves sealed away by a foreign government just because they've got a sorceress from the future possessing them.

So, y'know. Jailbreak time.

This is the most iconic scene from the game for a good reason, but I don't even think Squall and Rinoa are the most important part of it. For me, it's that it wouldn't have even happened if Squall hadn't listened to Quistis and the rest of his friends when they urged him to go after her. If he hadn't started to accept that maybe, just maybe, they were worth trusting, he would have stuck to his own stubborn decision and left Rinoa to her fate.

Now, the relationship between Squall and Rinoa is a topic of some debate, and has been since the game came out fifteen years ago. I personally think it gets plenty of development, it's just that the game doesn't beat you over the head with it and that some of its subtleties were unfortunately lost on many gamers. I love Rinoa's character for how natural she is as a teenager; both her and Squall really feel like the kids they are. They're immature and they act like it.

I've seen a lot of misogynism slung at Rinoa over the years (internalized and otherwise), along with people writing her off as whiny and annoying. But while FFVIII very much focuses on Squall's development, the Rinoa of Disc 1 never would have chosen to give herself up to the Estharians. And as I've mentioned on several pages throughout this site, I really do think she realizes early on that she has to treat Squall gently in order to get through to him without sending his walls back up.

In short, she deserves a hell of a lot more credit than she gets. Is her relationship with Squall one that's going to stand the test of time? Maybe it is, maybe it isn't. Again, they're teenagers, and their relationship blossomed in the midst of an extremely stressful situation, which can create emotions that might not otherwise exist. What is irrefutable is that they matter to each other a great deal, enough to move the unfeeling Squall Leonhart to otherwise unthinkable deeds.

And so we come full circle, to the flower field from the opening FMV.

Funny story: I've played through Disc 3 twice, but the first time through, I stopped before going into Lunatic Pandora. (There's more about this on the site page.) The second time, the time I actually beat the game, I found out that I hadn't seen this scene, either. It had always bugged me that I had no idea what the opening FMV meant, and that the game itself never bothered to tell you, so when I got to this part I was thrilled.

Anyway, if the scene in the Sorceress Memorial is the one where Squall lets himself comfort Rinoa and accepts it in return, then this is the one where he actually talks about how he feels to someone who's conscious. Of course, he lets her go on about how he should be the one to kill her if she goes evil while he decides to be her knight, but that's to be expected at this point.

Still, being willing to give up everything to remain at her side is huge. Squall's already done a lot for Rinoa's sake, and becoming her knight is just a hypothetical, but Squall's not the kind of person to make such a decision lightly. The same can be said about the promise he makes. After a life rife with abandonment, it takes a hell of a lot for Squall to promise that he'll be there for Rinoa. Deep down, there's probably a part of him that's still scared he'll lose her... but it doesn't matter. He cares about her enough that he's willing to take that chance.

And after everything Rinoa's done for him, Squall knows she'll keep it in return.

fifteen: why are you the president?

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