(Can)’t Escape From Crossing Fate
THE FOLLOWING INCLUDES SPOILERS ON THE ENDING OF THE FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE AND EVENTS FROM THE ORIGINAL FF7. DO NOT SCROLL PAST THE CHOCOBO IF YOU DO NOT WANT TO BE SPOILED ON THE ENDING OF FFVIIR. YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED.
ONE LAST WARNING, I’M SERIOUS!
There are going to be a lot of thoughts and feelings on the ending of the Final Fantasy VII Remake as more and more people finish it. What was thought to be a series that would play the events of the original straight ends with the understanding that everything has the potential to be different moving forward. “The Unknown Journey Will Continue.”
In the words of The Hitchhiker’s Guide, “this was considered by many to be a bad move.” A lot of people are not happy with this ending, with some fans saying that it completely ruined the experience of the remake for them. I am not one of those people.
First, though, a brief synopsis on the ending of FF7R. As you play through the game, you start to notice some things. The most unsubtle are the Whispers, the ghosts that push the events of the story forward to match the original FF7. They stop Aerith from falling to her death in the church. Prevent Barret’s death when he gets kebobed by Sephiroth, and generally keep things just as they were in the glorious Playstation 1 days. The second thing you notice is that Cloud is having premonitions. The first thing he sees when he meets Aerith is her death during the Reunion. And Aerith seems to constantly know more then she’s meant to. She constantly makes comments on fate. She knows who Marlene is despite never having met her. And when Marlene and Red XIII make contact with her, they seem to understand something that we, the viewers, do not.
By the end of the chase out of Midgar, things really start to get turned on their head. Sephiroth shows up on the highway and spouts a bunch of nonsense. Then Aerith basically breaks kayfabe and tells everyone that their fates are being dictated by the Whispers, but that fate can be changed. Cloud and Co. square up and enter the portal Sephy walks through, then fight the Whispers. There’s a big one called the Whisper Harbinger, along with its three smaller Whispers: Rubrum, Viridi, and Croceo. They wield a sword, gun, and fist weapons, and if assessed, are described as “entities from a future timeline that have manifested in the present day. They fight to protect the future that gave shape to them.” My working theory is that these Whispers are the manifestations of Cloud , Barret and Tifa from the original timeline, trying to keep destiny on track. However, they are defeated — after Cloud calls one of the Whispers a bitch, no less — and destiny is basically unhinged. We can see that this has an effect on other timelines as well: Zack lives in his formerly-last-stand against Shinra, and Biggs (along with possibly Jessie, with her gloves on the table next to him) is alive as well. The game is called Final Fantasy VII Remake because the characters are remaking their futures into something different. There’s no “Part 1” in the name because everything changes from here on out. Classic Square Enix.
It’s wild! Sephiroth seems to know that his plan in the original game has failed, which implies some sort of time-travel. Aerith has the potential to live when she casts Holy. The only thing we know is that we don’t know anything about what could happen next. A lot of people have decried this is as a bastardization of the original Final Fantasy VII, a slap in the face of the fans that have played those games and wanted a repeat in HD.
I’m excited. I haven’t felt this kind of excitement about a narrative’s potential since the secret video in the originalKingdom Hearts. The original FF7 will always be there. But much like the Rebuild series of Neon Genesis Evangalion, this remake is a chance at something familiar but new.
Everything has changed since FF7 released 23 years ago. The world has changed. The creators have changed. We as people have changed. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with these directors, who are now different people, wanting to do something different with the story they originally told, or to say something new as their lives have changed. I know I as a creator have felt differently about the world and the stories I want to tell, even in comparison to a year ago, let alone two full decades.
Beyond that, a key critique I’ve seen of this remake’s ending is that it lessens the impact of the original’s story. “If the future can be changed, if Aerith’s death can be prevented, if Zack is allowed to live, then the story is lesser for it.” This is a perfectly valid feeling to have. I’m of a different mind, however.
In the year 2020, everything kind of sucks right now. A virus is ruining everything for everyone, and we’re in the midst of another economic collapse. I got laid off from my job, after getting laid off from a different job last October. I’ve felt more than a little helpless given the current state of affairs. It has truly felt like things aren’t able to improve for me and the people I care about, and at times has felt like this is just. How things are supposed to be.
“Defying fate,” can be a cheesy narrative device, especially in games and anime, but I carry a Gurren Lagann necklace around for a reason. The reality is that now, more than ever, I want to believe that a future that seems so thoroughly set in stone can be changed. That we can prevent terrible things from happening and create something brighter. I don’t know if that will be the position FF7R:2 — or whatever it ends up being called — ultimately takes. But wow do I want that to be the case. Sue me! I want Aerith to live. I want Zack to be alright. I want us all to be alright, and I want to believe that we can make that happen real badly.
We have no idea where the next Remake game is going to take us. Things could play out mostly the same, but with slight changes. Things could be entirely different. All I know is that just like the first time I played Final Fantasy 7, I’m going to do everything I can to try and save Aerith all over again. And beyond that, I’m going to do everything I can to help the people around me improve their lives in these extremely turbulent times. I needed a reminder that things can change for the better, and the ending of Final Fantasy VII: Remake gave me exactly that.