Squall’s Dead

The Spoony One | Feb 18 2010 | 

Quite a few of you (or maybe just one very persistent person) have sent me a link to a site called Squall’s Dead, which posits a fairly well-reasoned argument that, well, Squall dies when he attacks the Sorceress Edea on her parade float. In that scene, she impales him with a roughly four-foot long spear of ice through the chest– an injury it seems unlikely anyone could survive. Indeed, I raised the bullshit flag when, in the next scene, Squall awakens in some mobile, drill-shaped Galbadian prison hale, hearty, and with nary a scratch on him. At some point, I guess I just had to let it go, because we’re talking about a world where Curagas and Phoenix Downs exist specifically to raise the dead.

But anyway, the argument suggests that nearly everything following Squall’s mortal wound is a fevered dream as his consciousness slowly loses its grip on memory and reason. The first argument is that, from that scene on, the game doesn’t make any fucking sense whatsoever, from the Sorceress’ bullshit nonsense “time compression” plan, to the mass-amnesia that caused every main character to conveniently forget that they spent their entire childhoods together in the same orphanage. I have to admire the somewhat circular logic: the story is complete rambling, frothing-at-the-mouth idiocy, because it’s the product of a nightmare in Squall’s rapidly-deteriorating-to-braindead mind.

The major evidence is the balls-out trippy dream sequence at the very end, when Squall has killed Ultimecia and royally butt-fucked the space-time continuum. The literal interpretation is that the time-stream (which has been scrunched into a ball like so much aluminum foil) is rather messily re-straightening itself, and it probably doesn’t help that Squall’s entire plan centered on thinking really positively that everything will just work itself out. No, really. They decided to fix the completely-screwed timeline with optimism. Always seemed to me about as pointless as trying to clean used toilet paper. Baby, the damage is done.

The other interpretation is that Squall’s mind is in its final throes, and in its last moments is failing to recall faces, descending rapidly into chaos and jumbled, manic flashes of traumatic memory. Squall desperately tries to replay his memories, focusing ever-harder on the obscured faces, and only having them slip away. And in hindsight, it is rather evocative of Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, and if I gave the authors of this game the slightest amount of credit, I might have bought this theory. But I don’t.

Look, it’s cute. I’m proud that you came up with it, and really, it’s better than what was intended. I can appreciate you finally realizing that FF8’s plot is so bad, you’ve invented a better one as a coping mechanism. But it doesn’t really work. Other stories with “crackpot” theories like this (Minority Report, Total Recall) hold more water, and were likely pitched as alternate endings. But look at the story you’re telling if the “Squall’s Dead” theory is true: Squall attempts to assassinate the Sorceress, fails, gets impaled, dies, and…then what?

He’s dead. The dream is ultimately meaningless. Nothing really happens in it that impacts the “real” world. Maybe Squall gets some internal closure, but so what? The Sorceress wins, rules the world, has her would-be assassins summarily executed, and evil triumphs. Hardly a fulfilling close to the story, wouldn’t you say? Not much of a story; a bunch of untrained, untalented pissant mercenaries attack the most powerful, evil sorceress in history and get completely annihilated.

Huh. Okay, I’ll admit that does sound more likely.