Helluin (auronlu) wrote,

Choices in Final Fantasy X/X-2 (SPOILERS)

So I was just pecking at a heated argument for my next chapter, and was once again reminded about one of the perpetual tropes in Final Fantasy X:

In the time I spent on Babylon 5, I learned about choices and consequences and responsibility. I learned that we all have choices, even when we don’t recognize them, and that those choices have consequences, not just for ourselves, but for others. We must assume responsibility for those consequences. I and my fellow officers had to choose between what we were told was right and what we believed was right.

Er, yeah. John Sheridan is Tidus (a.k.a. "Hey You" or "You-Know-Who" in game dialogue, which means he's actually Voldemort. Nevermind.)

Anyway, my point: the "choices" trope.

We've got Auron's Greatest Hits (and I know you want to watch this again):

But leading up to that speech is some ambiguity. Of course, there's the whole "Auron, why didn't you tell them earlier?" conundrum (real answer: Because there wouldn't be a story). But it's more than that. Auron is utterly maddening when it comes to advice about choices and responsibility:

Right after that, they kill Seymour, bust out of Macalania Temple after Auron and Kimahri resist arrest, and the conversation picks up after they fall through the lake:

Auron: What now, I wonder.
Tidus: "What now?" You act first and think later, don't you? I mean, can't you be a little more responsible? We're all depending on you. You know?
Auron: A lecture?
Tidus: No, no, no. (Heh, heh) Just a suggestion.
Auron: You should place trust in your friends. But you can't expect someone to protect you all the time. You would do well to remember that.
Tidus: Is that a lecture?
Auron: It's advice.

Okay, so it's all good advice, if basic. One more tidbit, in which Auron explains his choice to bring Tidus to Spira:

Auron: Ten years ago...I honored Jecht's last words, and travelled to Zanarkand. I planned to stay there, watching over you. But when Sin attacked Zanarkand that day, I changed my mind. Outside the dream world, life can be harsh---even cruel. But it is life. He wanted you to have a shot at life. I saw it in Sin's eyes. That's why I brought you here, to Spira.

Conclusion: Auron, fed up with rules and lies and pilgrimage roads laid out in advance, has come to prefer Winging It.

He is utterly and totally committed to Winging It, so he attempts to nudge people towards useful information (a bit), and strongly encourages them to Wing It as well. For example, when Yuna decides to go confront/marry Seymour, he lets her, even though he thinks it's a stupid idea; he lets the party go to Bevelle to face punishment and trial for attacking Seymour, even though that's a stupid idea; and when Kimahri chooses to stay behind and sacrifice himself to save everybody, Auron attempts to honor that sacrifice and herd everyone away-- but of course, when they rebel and run back, he follows them.

I imagine Auron approved of Yuna very strongly when she stepped off the Tower of Light and prayed for an Aeon to catch her. Winging it done with style. 

So that's Auron. Tidus? He's a clueless naif, but he also refuses the choices being thrust at him and asks the right questions to MAKE choices. In the Hall of the Final Summoning, when Yunalesca is standing there telling them that a guardian has to sacrifice him/herself to become a fayth, nobody else calls her on it. Tidus does. He says, "Okay, that's a stupid idea; I want to know ALL the consequences and ALL the alternatives, and if I don't like 'em, I'll do something else." Only after Tidus enters her inner sanctum and starts pestering her with more questions does Yunalesca reveal that the Final Aeon becomes Sin. Presumably Auron would've told them if she hadn't, but he knew he didn't need to, because he had Tidus along to ask all the questions the others wouldn't. Tidus, trained the Auron school of Winging It, cheerfully kills off Yunalesca and then looks around for more choices.

Wakka's a fun foil. He has mastered the art of self-deception, as Lulu notes. He comes up with one theory after another to explain why Chappu may not be dead, so he doesn't have to face the consequences. When it becomes clear that Seymour is a bad egg, Wakka's all, "this can't be happening," still begging with Seymour to behave as expected. I'm reminded of Wakka's "Why is your lordship presently...present...here, sir?" conversation before Operation Mi'ihen, when Wakka was trying to reconcile his absolute faith in the infallibility of maesters with the visible evidence of his eyes that Seymour was endorsing a forbidden operation. Even Wakka's motto for the Besaid Aurochs shows his outlook about self-determination: "As long as we do our best, I can retire happy, ya?" The idea of striving for victory doesn't even occur to him until Tidus demands it. Wakka is really, really bad about choices, and it's cute that in X-2 his plot arc is "Can Wakka finally make his mind up about something?" 

Rikku, an Al Bhed, learned from her father to make choices for other people, although she quickly eases up on that. When she first meets Tidus, she puts him to work (to save him, but still), then plans to send him off to Luca. When she shows up again, she's kidnapping Yuna to put her in the Summoners' Sanctum and keep her safe. She fails to shape Yuna's choices by force, and then has to tag along and hope that Tidus can succeed in changing Yuna's mind, instead. (Also notice Rikku's father saying he'll make Yuna quit her pilgrimage. CId's estrangement from his own sister shows yet another example where Rikku's family is all about deciding what other people do and being pissed if they don't.) Even in X-2, Rikku's dragging Yuna off to a new adventure. She's far less obnoxious than her father about it and far more willing to meet Yuna halfway and let her have some autonomy, but still, Rikku is Wakka's opposite, with LOTS of say about choices.

Lulu wants to shape other people's choices but can't. She forbade Yuna to become a summoner. When a flat-out No did not work, Lulu tried to head her off by going on pilgrimage with other summoners and get to Sin first. Lulu doesn't want Yuna to go on pilgrimage, but is determined to go with her, and even volunteers to become the Final Aeon when they learn what Yuna has to do. Lulu gives into what she sees as necessity, as when she tells Wakka before their fight with Seymour in Macalania Temple, "If Maester Seymour is at fault, it must be done."

Kimahri simply supports other people's choices, but wants them to be their own choices. (He tells Rikku to be Rikku, not emulate Lulu.)  He runs into a little trouble trying to be leader in the sequel, because making choices for others is foreign to his personality.

In FFX, Yuna states with maddening certainty that "I must do what other people want, not what I want." She chooses to sacrifice herself for Spira. At Tidus and Auron's urging, she defies Yunalesca, but she's a bit timid in her defiance, and confides to Tidus privately that "I'm no good" because she doesn't know what to do without the teachings to guide her. I'm not entirely happy about Yuna's "Your plan sucks" speech in X-2...

Yuna: Your plan is awful. Think about it. Its no different then what we did two years ago. We destroyed our own allies, we destroyed the Aeons who fought together with us at our side. We didn't have a choice then. We believed that was the only way we could save Spira. Do you know what it felt like to watch them die, right before my eyes? It was the only thing we could do, it was the only choice we had. I gave in. I accepted. I believed. I allowed it to be true. I thought.. I'd be able to go through with it without ever doubting myself. But I... It hurt so much.
Fayth: Forgive us.
Yuna: Everyone was so happy. "Great job Yuna. You did it. You saved us... all." There were to many smiles to count. And I know, that I was smiling too. But now... When I look back... The people who should be here aren't. The ones who should be smiling with me aren't here.
Auron: We had no choice.
Yuna: "We had no choice." Always "We had no choice." Those were our magic words. We repeat them to ourselves again and again but you know... The magic never worked! The only thing we're left with is... regret.

It seems to me that Auron and Tidus never told her "We have no choice" at the end of FFX, although I understand why she feels that way in retrospect. Also, she's glossing over the fact that the aeons begged her to release them from eternal servitude by killing them. But at the same time, in X-2, she's finally decided that there are always choices, and one just has to find them.

All of which is backstory and meat for the next chapter I'm writing. I wasn't pondering all this in previous chapters, but now I see that: 
  • My Lulu is still trying to protect friends by making choices for them.
  • My Auron is still letting people make choices, no matter how ill-advised, but occasionally gets fed up and says, "No, we're doing it MY way." He's still winging it, and he's more likely to put trust in friends than Lulu.
  • Rikku figures out what other people's choices are, even when they're not admitting them, and acts as co-conspirator. (She knew durned well what Auron was up to and invited herself along to keep an eye on things.) 
  • Wakka is finally making and standing up for his own choices. Even if he's still a master of self-deception about things he doesn't want to think about.("Funny how Auron's always hanging around with.... LALA LA LA LA LET'S GO WATCH SOME BLITZBALL" )
P.S. Userpic, actual npc dialogue from game = WIN. :D
This entry was originally posted at http://auronlu.dreamwidth.org/213223.html, where it has comment count unavailablecomments.
Tags: f: ffx, fic: multichapter: lhad, stuff: game discussion, stuff: writing process

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