Time: Past and Present (And Perhaps Future)

In order to fix Squall' present situation, he needs to analyze past situations carefully, whether it be his own or someone else's.

Much of the game's premise revolves around its conception of a time paradox; the primary antagonist of the game, Ultimecia, strove to merge the past, present, and future into one uniform time continuum. Ellone, the only person closest to what Squall calls a family, carries the ability to allow someone to view the past (1). This unique and rare gift is required for Ultimecia's plan (called "Time Compression") to fully succeed, thus creating and utilizing human puppets, such as Sorceress Edea, to carry out her objective, including chasing Ellone to different corners of the world. However, Squall and company are not simply fighting Ultimecia; they are also fighting against the attempt to halt time. And, as we have come to see in the game, time is linear, yet not (2).

Final Fantasy VIII's idea of time brings out aspects of cycles: coming back and forth between portions of time, life and death, reciprocating love, etc. The merging of past, present and future can be looked at as a representation of events coming full circle, representing itself through the history of several characters, and repeating until it's made right. However, time is not merely a cycle, but also a development and, in some cases, an improvement. This is what we we would refer to as a second chance.

There is an irony concerning Squall's closest comrades and, at some point, enemies as well. He, Ellone, Quistis, Seifer, Zell, Selphie, Irvine, and even Edea (Matron, at the time) had all lived happily together in an orphanage more than a decade before the start of the game. In fact, they were all probably friends. However, due to the juctioning of Guardian Forces, knowledge of this past is obstructed from Squall and company. The concept of erasure correlated with memories becomes even more highlighted when recalling Seifer's supposed death; in the heat of the discussion, Squall storms out of the room, screaming that he didn't want to become just a, "distant memory of the past" (3).

His friendships (or lack thereof) weren't the only relationship affected by time. Love, as a theme, began in a song long before the birth of Squall. "Eyes On Me" was written by Julia Heartilly, mother to Rinoa, in response to Laguna Loire's affections for her. Though once believed his feelings were unrequited, she confirmed her reciprocation in the sincerity of love. And what, precisely, becomes of this love? It stops. There is no sequel, no continuation. It ceases to grow and blossom for Laguna never sees Julia again. Destiny had plans for them, but certainly not what they expected it to be. Laguna leaves Galbadia, and upon detachment from the army, Julia believes him dead. Brokenhearted, she finds another. Through an odd turn of events, Laguna ends up in Winhill and bears a child with Raine Leonhart. Laguna and Julia's short-lived romance becomes a thing of the past, almost becoming completely forgotten. Almost.

As Squall travels back in time to see the past through the eyes of his father, his perspective for some of these events not only serves as a storyline device, but also becomes a message. Squall, son of Laguna, meets Rinoa, daughter of Julia, in what seems like an odd twist of fate. Perhaps bonds between people are so strong that they can carry over memory blockades and even lifetimes. After losing Ellone at least a decade before, it seems fitting that Squall is able to care for and open up to another human being once again. In this respect, love is given another try in a plea not to repeat its past mistakes. And, as Ellone finds out, the past cannot be changed; however, looking back at it is necessary in order to be able to make the right decisions in the present.

Ultimecia had stopped time once, symbolizing the halt of second chances. At the end of the game, Squall's ability to move on and progress forward (including the emotional aspect) allows him to put time back where it belongs: in its nonspatial continuum where life and love begin and end.


Footnotes
  1. ^ Ellone calls this ability "connect"

  2. ^ Time is an incredibly difficult and debatable concept to discuss, whether or not within context of the game. Thus, for lack of space and background, I will not further revel in it.

  3. ^ The reason as to why this happens is not immediately apparent until he speaks to Rinoa after she falls unconscious during the third disk; Squall claims that he does, in fact, care about what other people think of him. His mind had wandered off during the moment, placing himself in Seifer's position (a "what if..." situation), and had consequently produced this undesired effect.


About Antihero
Antihero is a fansite dedicated to Squall Leonhart, a fictional character from Final Fantasy 8. Started in August 2004, this site hosts a collection of analyrical essays and writings geared towards helping to understand the character on a critical level. All personal opinions are subject to debate. Also featured is an archive of images collected from various places over the years.
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To my brother, for allowing me to play this game on the console, otherwise I would not have. To all of my friends in the shrine community who have supported this dedication and up with its constant transformation. And to all of the visitors, old and new, who have come throughout the years: this site wouldn't be here without you.
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