If, like me, you have deep-seated childhood traumas about women being possessed by malicious spellcasters while spooky music plays, then you should also find this next sequence a nice reminder of Disney’s Sleeping Beauty. I’m also rather tickled that I received my SeeD salary while a mind-controlled Rinoa slammed Squall against the wall, as you can see below (sort of). That glowing thing is in fact Rinoa, with a ghostly shimmer effect, and Squall’s leaning against the glass just to her left.
But yes, to clarify, Rinoa “wakes up” in the medical bed, unseals it, and then starts tossing staff about as she makes her way through the Moon Base, setting off the alarm as she does so. Squall attempts to restrain her, but whenever he gets near her she just slams him against the nearest wall. (Except for one bit, where I was successfully able to block her progress entirely, but I’m afraid that you can’t change the present just as with the past…)
In the control room, Ellone and Selphie stand idly by while Rinoa deactivates the first of two seals on Adel’s Tomb (this world has really bad issues with computer permissions). Selphie commands Squall to do something, but after he gets clonked, she doesn’t bother to step in. And let’s not forget that Ultimecia walks right past Ellone, her number one target!
(It’s fine, though – she captures her about five minutes later anyway.)
Meanwhile, on the moon itself, the monsters are still gathering for the impending Lunar Cry, creating the image of an unsettling eye.
A magical tube/tunnel/wateryblob of some sort extends from the moon and begins to transport the monsters through space, heading towards the planet’s surface. Let’s not get bogged down by any scientific considerations about the likelihood of this sort of thing actually working, or the time it would take – it’s magic, okay?
Squall, concerned with Rinoa’s attempts to free Adel, heads off through the Moon Base in pursuit. In the locker room, he finds a prone staff member, who calmly talks about not letting Adel free if you stop for a chat. Rinoa dons a suit and heads out into space through the airlock, and Squall’s too late to stop her. The president of Esthar, who’s back from investigating the Tomb, passes you on the way, and when you return from the airlock, he asks you to look after Ellone before his aides drag him to safety.
Rinoa reaches Adel’s Tomb and deactivates the last lock. I’m actually not sure how much of this villainy is actually necessary, given that the Lunar Cry brings Adel’s Tomb back to the surface anyway, not to mention that the Moon Base where the other lock is located gets blown up too. All the same, Adel smirks evilly as her prison is deactivated, and Ultimecia abandons Rinoa to a slow death in the endless void of space.
Presumably Ultimecia needs to use someone as an avatar to keep track of what’s going on in this particular timeline. Does she possess Adel at this point, or wait until the point where Adel gets freed at the start of Disc 4? I’m not entirely certain, but there’s certainly a big gap between where Rinoa gets dropped and Adel breaks out.
Squall’s distraught as he sees Rinoa fly off into space, while Piet’s more concerned with not being in the Moon Base when the Lunar Cry piledrives it. After Ellone tentatively agrees to help Squall see Rinoa’s past, they board an escape pod.
Down on the surface, the Lunar Cry reaches Lunatic Pandora, and we (sort of) see Adel’s Tomb enter the floating crystal pillar.
Piet informs Squall that Rinoa’s life tank has a very short duration, and Squall reaches new levels of frustration that he’s never experienced before. He begs Ellone to help him, and she finally sends him back to Rinoa’s past.
While they do that, we also get to see the Lunar Cry destroy the Moon Base. It’s a shame – I did quite like that place. Oh well.
In the first of the Rinoa dreams, we see what happened when Irvine tried to take her back to General Caraway after picking her up from the D-District Prison. Rinoa points out that Squall will probably never try to escape if nobody orders him, and forcefully shoves Irvine back into the car/van/whateverthatthingis and turns it around.
The next vision shows Rinoa asking Zell to make her a copy of Squall’s ring. When he presses her on the matter, it becomes clear to him that Rinoa has feelings for Squall, though she attempts to deny it.
We already know the details about both of these scenes, but I do like that we get to see Rinoa’s perspective without Squall present, for once. While she does tend to bounce off Squall when they’re attempting to communicate, it’s clear from both these scenes that she both cares about and understands him, at least to an extent.
However, this wasn’t what Squall wanted to see. He presses Ellone, who tries to find the more recent memory Squall was after, and we see the moment where Rinoa spoke to Seifer after Edea’s final defeat in Galbadia Garden. This time, we hear her deliver instructions to Seifer to recover Lunatic Pandora, promising him “dreams” again.
We also get our first proper sighting of Ultimecia herself, controlling Rinoa unseen. Ultimecia notices that she’s being watched, and the dream comes to an end. If Ultimecia reacted to our presence, does that mean we changed the past? Or, erm, future, given that Ultimecia resides there? Alright, fine, let’s not get into that again.
This seems to take a lot out of Ellone, who falls to her knees back in the present. She then comes to a realisation of how important the present is. She recognises the look in Squall’s eyes and decides for one last trip to the past – the most recent past, where Rinoa is floating in space.
As Rinoa’s life support runs out, Ellone helps Squall to call out to her. He encourages her, telling her that he’s right there with her, and with both his support and the sight of his ring, she awakens from her stupor. Squall, on the escape pod, decides to go out himself and save her, with no particular plan, and Piet just straight-up calls him an idiot and declares that he’s going to die.
You then get an odd little sequence where you need to move the camera to the right spot within the time limit to catch Rinoa. It doesn’t tell you the controls, and I’ve forgotten how I handled it the first time (I have vague memories of failing), but I worked out that there’s a button to speed up your movement this time, and it was easy enough from there.
Rinoa thanks Squall as he holds onto her, but there’s just one problem – they’re lost in space, and have no fuel left. What could they possibly do now? Squall didn’t really have a plan when he jumped out of the escape pod, and now they’re both, as Piet predicted, going to die together. The only thing that could really save them now would be for a long-forgotten spaceship, that still works and has fuel, to float up behind them.
So Squall and Rinoa float on over to this handy spaceship, and together they find a way inside. Fortunately there’s air, and they get out of their awkward spacesuits. As they head further in, Rinoa’s overcome with gratitude, and Squall quickly reverts to his old persona. She reminds him that the spacesuits were in the way before, and opens her arm for a hug. Squall seems confused by this, so Rinoa clarifies that she wants a “real big one”, just to remind her that she’s still alive.
Unfortunately, while I thought this was a particularly sweet moment, Squall doesn’t agree – he sternly reminds her that they’re still in a bad situation, and rejects any notion of cuddling. Rinoa agrees with his reasoning anyway, understanding that he doesn’t want to become “other people’s memories”, calling back to his outburst in Galbadia Garden on Disc 1.
I both like and dislike this scene. I know, Squall is Squall, but after all of his displays in Disc 3 so far, this really was time just to admit his feelings and give her the comfort she needed. I’m also not sure we needed more surly Squall at this stage – we get it, he’s afraid of people, but the entire section leading up to this was specifically showing him getting past that.
All the same, I guess I can allow it – it’s not so jarring that it pushed me out of the world, and I was still able to accept that Squall would act this way, but it was mildly disappointing all the same.
Grouchiness aside, I think this is a great sequence. There’s something about this section in the Ragnarok, with the unusual Propagators and their quirky theme, that rubs me the right way. It’s good to have Rinoa and Squall working together as a team without anyone else cramping their style, and despite the monstrous creatures wandering about, it felt quite cosy being inside this spaceship after floating through space.
Sorry, what’s that? “What are Propagators?” Oh, right, for those who don’t know, this spaceship is inhabited by eight mini-boss monsters, divided into four pairs of matching colours. They like to charge you down if you enter a room and don’t pay attention, so you need to be careful about how you move about the ship. Worse yet, they have a habit of returning from the dead!
There’s a panel in one of the rooms that has a log from the old crew that explains, in a laboriously over-complicated way, how to defeat the creatures for good. Fortunately, Rinoa’s on hand to dismiss their baffling explanation and summarise it as “kill them in pairs that have the same colors”.
Once you’ve successfully dispatched the hostile beasties, you can access the cockpit. Squall’s concerned at the prospect of trying to fly it, while Rinoa notices that someone’s trying to contact them over the radio. It’s Esthar Airstation, and Rinoa’s so relieved that she gives Squall a brief hug.
The Esthar traffic control is amazed to be in contact with the Ragnarok after seventeen years, though I’m not sure if they understand that this isn’t the old crew they’re talking to. I presume they are aware, but it doesn’t entirely sound like it at first.
I actually really enjoy this scene. The way Esthar Airstation calmly guides Squall through the process of flying back to the planet is both triumphant and well thought-out, far easier for me to get behind than all those sequences where characters jump into a new vehicle and manage to drive it with no problems. Unfortunately, this happens elsewhere in FFVIII (Selphie does it a few scenes later), but right now we get to enjoy a bit of logic.
The game’s theme song, Eyes On Me, starts playing while Squall sets the Ragnarok’s course and they begin to fly back to the surface. As the official wishes Squall and Rinoa godspeed from all of them at Ground Control, I really felt a great sense of relief. This scene, as far as I’m concerned, is mostly spot-on and one of the best-written parts of the game.
That’s not to say that there aren’t some, er, areas of concern. Note that they ask Squall to turn off the gravity generator to conserve fuel, by the way.
Once they’ve set the Ragnarok in motion, Squall directs Rinoa to the chair next to him, and advises her to put on her seatbelt, but she instead lands in his lap and holds onto him. Squall’s baffled by this, asking what she’s doing – “Why are you holding onto me like this?” Rinoa asks if he doesn’t like it, and he explains that he’s not used to it.
I think this is a much better exploration of Squall’s relationship with Rinoa than the parts where he just transformed entirely to loving her in the earlier parts of this disc. We can see that he’s lowering the walls he’s put up, and moreover his awkwardness around Rinoa’s more cuddly nature is not put down to him disliking it for once. It’s charming to see that simple admission, rather than his usual frustrated stream of thoughts where he never answers the person asking him.
What’s not quite so effective is when Rinoa asks if he never felt safe being hugged by his parents as a child. Unless you’ve quite forgotten, Rinoa, he grew up in an orphanage! There was quite a long sequence dedicated to that not very long ago. Admittedly, we don’t know when he was orphaned, but it’s still a bit of an insensitive question to ask him.
Squall’s not fazed by it anyway, and he almost completely breaks down his barriers and admits to his fears of losing that feeling of comfort again. Rinoa understands, and holds onto him all the tighter. She tells him that he’s the one who gives her the most comfort, but admits that he also annoys and disappoints her. This bit is perfect – I sometimes feel that Rinoa and Squall never touch on how he treats her, and there are moments where Rinoa seems to be acting like Squall’s just a really nice person all the time, so it’s good for her to acknowledge it, and especially that she tells him directly.
They also share a “Whatever”, which is funny at the same time as awkwardly reminding me of how Quistis used to have feelings for him and interacted with him in much the same way (yes, I know, she put it down to forgotten sisterly feelings, but I don’t buy it).
Squall also tries to banish Rinoa to her seat. I know, it doesn’t seem very nice of Squall, but he’s not a touchy-feely person and it would be unrealistic for him to completely change (like he did earlier in the disc). Possibly my favourite part is when Squall thinks to himself that she’d be safer in his seat. It reframes his apparent coldness as genuine care for her (albeit not quite the care she’s looking for right then). Yes, he’s not exactly being super-cuddly, but remember that Squall’s very much a functional person, as we saw in his early interactions with Seifer as he talked about his training.
Unfortunately, there’s trouble in paradise. Rinoa asks Squall if they’ll be able to stay together when they get back to the surface, and Squall says it’s uncertain, referring back to something Rinoa said earlier. However, that’s not exactly what Rinoa means, and Esthar Airstation calls again to clarify the issue. They’ve realised that Rinoa’s probably aboard the Ragnarok, and as she’s confirmed to be a sorceress, they want to take her into custody.
Rinoa talks about wanting the present to stay still so she can remain with Squall forever – I imagine this line was used in the theory that Rinoa might have become Ultimecia. Squall attempts to comfort her, but he’s lost and doesn’t know what to do.
I suspect that Squall’s decision in this next scene was made as an excuse to have him break into somewhere to rescue Rinoa, because it honestly doesn’t feel like what he’d do after all the threats he made to Esthar personnel up until now. When they reach the surface, the Esthar officials and soldiers take Rinoa prisoner, and Squall lets them. Rinoa has accepted her fate because she became aware of Ultimecia and her plans, but Squall doesn’t have a particularly pressing reason to go along with it. It’s the weirdest time for him to defer to authority, but I can allow it, just about.
On a side note, I like how the Esthar soldiers walk off-camera at exactly the moment they ought to be taking Rinoa prisoner and guarding her. This was the perfect opportunity to run off with Rinoa, Squall – those two officials weren’t exactly going to do much!
In any case, Rinoa’s taken prisoner, and on that grand cliffhanger, let’s have another break.