By this time, I take it that everyone who has played FF8 and has access to the internet knows about the theory saying that Squall is dead. If you haven’t read about it, go here to do so, because even though it’s complete nonsense, it’s still a super fun read. What it basically says though is that Squall died at the end of disc 1, and everything that happens is just him visualizing what his life could have been like. It’s being backed up by stating that there is no wound after he wakes up, that he meets weird creatures afterwards, and by a lot of talk going on in the game about death and the like. As I mentioned; it’s fun to read, but that’s it. I don’t think Squall is dead at all, and what happens actually happens. Here’s why.
First of all; it’s a Final Fantasy game. It might be the fact that it’s the first title to have realistic proportions during the entire game that people link it to our own reality, but it’s still just a fantasy world, and of course it’s filled with fantasy creatures. So much for NORG and Moombas being weird. The wound is gone? Well of course it is! Edea is a sorceress, and she wants to know what Garden is about, so why the heck would she kill the best source of information she has? A.k.a. the leader of the party that was hired to kill her, and who is standing right in front of her. Who says the icicle killed him anyway? It’s not like it pierced his heart, seeing as it went through his right and not left part of the chest. We don’t know what happened after he fell from the parade wagon and until he wakes up. He could have been healed, or maybe it was all just a grand illusion Edea made to trick his comrades into believing that he’s dead meat. It was then a stupid idea to lock him up inside the same prison as them though, but hey, a sorceress can make mistakes too.
Now that this major point is out of the way, let’s take a look at what happens after he’s been rescued by the others. We start meeting new species in the game, and the garden also flies. Is that really so weird though? No one had access to the lower levels of the garden for obvious reasons. And since Cid wasn’t really in on it when it was built, he didn’t know anything himself. The Garden flies, and it’s awesome! Let’s just embrace the mobility.
Okay, at this point I want to state, that I think FF8 is a tale about growing up. Nothing more and nothing less. Let’s focus on Squall, since he is the main character. He starts out as an orphan after Raine dies and Laguna doesn’t even know about him. While he’s at the orphanage, he finds friends, which we get to know is not only Ellone, but also the others from the game. Ellone was the one he held very dear though, so when she left, he felt abandoned and alone in the world, which traumatized him for many years to come. It took a very persistent Rinoa and his good old friends to get him out of that mental state many years later. Until then though, he believed that it was best to work alone, since you couldn’t lose anyone you didn’t have. He didn’t block the kindness of the others because he wanted to, but because his trauma made him believe it was the best thing to do for his own well-being. So he grew up in Garden with the other orphans, and they used GF which almost completely wiped their memories of each other, making Squall become even more alone and isolated. That poor guy!
Those years were the school years. You do as you’re told and just go with the flow. Don’t we all know that feeling? School was actually an easy time, where everything you did was already planned for you, and it was the same shit every day. Then the exams start…! In Squall’s case, it meant going on a real mission where he could eventually end up dead if mistakes were made. But didn’t we feel the same during exams? Like we’d die if we made mistakes? He pulls through though, and eventually passes the exam, no thanks to Seifer. This is where his life really takes off. He’s not just a student anymore with a daily routine inside Garden. No. He now has to make decisions himself, and even decide for others. This is the time in his life where he’s becoming an adult. He gets confused, sad, angry, and overall just freaks out. Isn’t it kind of understandable? Seifer might have been killed by Edea at this point, and the talk about death is getting to him. He’s well aware that it’s part of life though, and also a part of the job he and the others are doing. The talk they all have about death is nothing more than that; it’s just talk, and not foreshadowing anything.
So they fail the assassination and Squall is presumed dead, while in fact he’s being interrogated by a very alive Seifer, who wants to know what SeeD are, because Edea demands to know. At this point it’s safe to say, that Seifer is the embodiment of the teenager who already chose the wrong path in life. While in prison, they meet a Moomba, which is the first time they meet a different species. The next one being NORG. There aren’t many intelligent species in FF8, but it would have felt weird if there were none at all, so why this is such a big deal in the theory, I really don’t know. Again, this is a fantasy world, and Squall is finally leaving his safe nest to explore said world, just like Cid wanted him to, so of course he is going to encounter other species now.
This could be referring to how it is when you move out from home. It’s not like we don’t meet weird people while growing up, but when we have to be on our own, it’s the time in our life that we take more notice of what is going on around us, and how other people impact us. This is also the time when Squall starts opening up to the others, showing them that he cares about them and is actually happy to have them around. He is opening up to the fact that he can’t do everything alone anymore, and actually wants and needs the help of his comrades, which he never realized that he holds very dear. While this is happening, we are barely on disc 2, and whatever happens from that point is just Squall experiencing and adjusting to his new life. The others need to get used to it too, but as long as they are all together, nothing can get in their way.
As for the Laguna part, I don’t think of it as just a fun part of the game where you get to play as the quirky father of the protagonist and experience the past. Laguna isn’t part of the theory, seeing as he is unimportant if Squall would actually be dead… but he’s not, so Laguna is important to me. It’s not stated whether or not Squall finds out who Laguna is and vice versa, but I kind of take it that they do figure it out eventually. I can imagine that it would be important to an orphan to find your roots, and that is what Ellone showed Squall in the visions. The others have probably accepted that their parents are in fact dead and that there is nothing to go look for, except Zell who states that his adoptive mother will always be his mother, no matter what.
Now for the last part. The ending is a very big part of the theory about Squall being dead, especially the brief shot of him not having a face. But does that mean he is dead? No, it just means that he doesn’t know who he is at this point. His memories are blurred because he has a hard time remembering and accepting what has happened. The battle is over, and he’s once again alone and confused, thinking he’s lost everyone he loves again. Until Rinoa finds him in this state and gives him the love he deserves and needs. The final part is not heaven, like the theory states it is, it’s simply Squall having found happiness with the one he loves, which is not only Rinoa, but all of his friends. Even Seifer is now free of the sorceress’ claws and doesn’t feel the pressure of having to become a SeeD to find his true place in the world. His place is with his gang, and they were never really evil to begin with, they just didn’t know what to do either.
Squall experiences many bumps in the road during the game, and some are bigger than others, but a bump in the road doesn’t kill you, or else we’d all be dead before even turning 20, be it in our world or FF8’s world.
So in a good old fairytale style, the world has been saved, and everyone is happy. The end ~