Thanks to X7Strife for the inspiration!
I no longer think Rinoa is Ultimecia, and Kitase never did, but if she were it would have led to a couple of chilling scenarios.
First, what is the Rinoa is Ultimecia theory?
[O]ne theory suggests that the evil Sorceress Ultimecia is actually a future version of Rinoa, driven mad by grief after Squall’s death, who intends to compress time as a way of regaining her beloved.
We know the theory’s non-canon of course. But if this theory were true, Ultimecia could have forgotten who she was from junctioning the GF Griever. Of course, there are flaws with this but just think about how the story changes:
Consider the horror in which Rinoa tries to stop Edea at the Presidential palace in Galbadia. Edea’s a shell for Ultimecia who’s desperately trying to fight for her existence. In a surprise twist, Rinoa’s trying to control (or rather suppress) Edea’s power with an Odine Bangle.
If Rinoa were Ultimecia, a version of her present and future self would be trying to control Edea. Each trying to take her mind and her body. All because Rinoa would be fighting against herself.
And Ultimecia’s well aware of this:
Edea renders Rinoa under her control like a puppet, and Rinoa placidly follows Edea out onto the balcony where she’s designated as a sacrifice for Edea’s coronation ceremony.
Only Ultimecia probably lost her memory as to who she was.
If true, a future version of Rinoa is controlling an empty shell to kill the past version of herself. And neither of the three are actually aware of what’s going on. Rinoa’s well aware of the existential fear she was experiencing, but probably doesn’t know why:
Rinoa: “I was scared…really scared. I was scared…I was really, really scared.”
What if Ultimecia was too?
Later on, Squall and Rinoa have a chat about Seifer:
Squall: “Rinoa…Seifer’s alive. He was in the parade with the sorceress.”
Rinoa: “…What does it mean?”
Squall: “Who knows…I may end up killing Seifer.”
Rinoa: “You’re both…prepared, right? That’s the kind of world you live in. You’ve had a lot of emotional training. But…Of course, I’d rather it not happen…”
Seifer eventually becomes Ultimecia’s knight. Seifer was also Rinoa’s love interest. It’s chilling that one child soldier (Squall) is explaining about killing another (Seifer) to Rinoa (the lover of the latter). It’s even creepier to know just how connected they would be to another.
Had the theory been true, Rinoa would have moved from Seifer to Squall, back to Seifer as Ultimecia. Like a time loop going full circle, for Ultimecia to relive her better times.
Irvine and Squall would witness killing the future version of the girl sitting right next to them. Rinoa would watch a woman die, but that woman would house her future self. And Rinoa wouldn’t know.
I like to have only Squall and Rinoa in the last battle. Thematically, the two share a bond (and the most character development) of defeating evil through the power of LOVE! AND! PEACE!
If Rinoa were Ultimecia, the tone of the battle changes. Now, we’d have Squall killing the future version of his girlfriend. We’d have Rinoa killing a future version of herself. And all this time, Ultimecia’s lost in time without friends. She wouldn’t even know the true horror that she’s the cause of their pain.
Or that, maybe her words trail off because she DOES finally remember (if the theory were real of course).
And even more spooky, would have been this scene of a Rinoa advancing towards him on a loop as if she were Ultimecia trying to steal Squall’s soul. You know, as if she was subtly bewitching him the entire time.
Sounds like a sad ending, uncharacteristic of a Final Fantasy game right? Consider that Final Fantasy XV ended with a similar bittersweet ending.
The theory would have made Final Fantasy VIII a lot darker than the rest of the mainline series. Of course, maybe this is why Kitase won’t explore this idea…