Alright, from the last cutscene to this one there’s got to be a bit of an explanation. It’s really quite funny how it works out. So, Tantalus – the gang of Bandits riding aboard the Prima Vera – was hired by Cid (A recursive character in the FF series, more on that here), Garnet’s uncle and the Regent of Lindblum, to ‘kidnap’ princess Garnet from her Mother because Brahne has become a little… mad, we’ll say. Zidane, the fellow with the tail for those unfamiliar with the game (also the main character), is a part of Tantalus and he is ordered to kidnap the princess while the rest of Tantalus tantalizes the Queen and the Kingdom with a riveting performance of “I Want to be Your Canary.” The thing is, Garnet is not going to sit around and wait to be kidnapped! She’s a modern woman, if you will. So, she sneaks out of the balcony where her mother is seated to stowaway on the Prima Vera. Now, enjoy the cutscene and I’ll continue on the other side.
We’re back. Did you spot all of the themes? Let’s break it down: First, there’s the power play of Garnet physically domineering over Zidane. She has managed a bit of a role reversal here which is furthered by Garnet’s strange request (Garnet asks Zidane to kidnap her: Watch the scene here). She is not being kidnapped because her Uncle wants her to be, she is being kidnapped because she wants to be. She has taken control of her own life instead of sitting by and letting it happen. Of course, (if you watch the extra clip), you’ll see that she is still portrayed as helpless – she needs help from others, specifically those operating within the Patriarchy. But at the same time, we see the Patriarchy subverted by the ineffectiveness of both Zidane, to catch her, and Steiner, to protect her (The first six minutes of the extra scene features gameplay and dialogue illustrating the incompetence of men in Alexandria. In fact, one of the lines says “Wimps like you are the reason nobody relies on men in Alexandria” @1:52).
At this point, Zidane and Garnet have appeared on stage in front of the Queen (accidentally) and she is not ready to lose her daughter to the airship. We get an opening shot of the winged figurehead, our symbol of freedom but also of feminine freedom. This is followed by a ton of collateral damage as Queen Brahne attempts to keep the ship from escaping. Also note Zidane holding Garnet as the chaos ensues but poor Vivi is left alone. Another way Zidane and Garnet fall into the Patriarchal schema. Near the end of the cutscene we are also shown Steiner joining in on the ‘protection’ of Garnet.
This scene, and the next, lend themselves well to a Marxist analysis. As the hooks land in the airship and pull it catawampusly back, it swings into the surrounding buildings filled with nobles and the rooftops filled with peasants. We see here that the class distinction between the two is unimportant when one of a high enough class is involved. The Princess is the only life that matters to the Queen, the rest are unimportant and are treated as such. This is most evident when Brahne releases ‘the bomb’ – and no, this isn’t the 2000’s ‘da bomb’, it’s a bad thing (a bomb is a monster in the FF series that does exactly what you would expect, it explodes. For the different varieties of bombs through the game series, and an explanation of how they work, click here). As you’ll see in the next cutscene, the bomb explodes.
Boom goes the bomb, and look how happy Brahne is. This is the first time we see Brahne’s insatiable appetite for power. The explosion undoubtedly killed people on the airship and people on the ground. But! Through the smoke comes our symbol – the figurehead, a little worn-out and covered in soot, but persevering. It’s a bittersweet victory for our heroes however, as is shown on Garnet’s face and the soundtrack. We’re left with the Airship sinking and the eventual crash-landing into Evil Forest. And, no, I’m not making that up. It’s called Evil Forest. The creators are practically shoving the Man/Nature binary down our throats at this point, but to a certain extent it’s necessary.
Enjoy the crash-landing into the Evil Forest and prepare yourself for the next set of cutscenes!