Shadow’s story is depressing.
Born Clyde, he became a thief in his later years. We don’t know why he chose this profession, but he seemed pretty confident – cocky even. He, along with his partner Baram, too the name Shadow. They dubbed themselves “The Greatest Train Robbers of the Century”. Pretty grandiose. Yet, they were successful; they found a million gil. But this was the beginning of his problems…
Yet, the authorities were closing in on them. On the way, Baram wounded himself. Baram, too cowardly for capture, was brave enough to die. Only, he wasn’t brave enough to kill himself. He begged Clyde to kill him. Clyde couldn’t do it. He decided to run.
We first meet Clyde brooding in a South Figaro Bar, this time as Shadow. Ironically, he takes the name of an organization abandoned. He carries this guilt. His reputation as a bounty hunter is ironic. Edgar replies:
kill his best friend for the right price
Did he ever kill before? Where did he get this reputation? Maybe he made it up to save face for his past. The shame and guilt continue, and he drinks it away in a bar.
He travels through a forest with Sabin and Cyan, much like the one he and Baram fled through. Is it the same forest? The Phantom forest? Did they rob the Phantom Train?
Shadow: The Reaper is always just a step behind me…
Shadow may eventually meet Siegfried, who’s also robbing trains. But why is he on the train? Is he dead? Is this Baram’s ghost mocking Shadow’s profession? Even if it isn’t, Shadow can’t take the guilt. At some point, he might even leave your party, claiming he earned his fee. Always running…
The Gestahlian Empire hires Shadow for his services. But weren’t they the authorities after Clyde and Baram? If they were, why would Shadow with them? Maybe his guilt made him feel worthless enough to contract his services to the enemy. He assures Terra he feels nothing:
In this world are many like me who’ve killed their emotions. Don’t forget that.
Maybe he’s looking for Baram, and can find him at the Gestahlian Empire?
He finds his abandoned daughter Relm instead. He couldn’t shoulder the responsibility of raising a daughter. When reunited, he can’t bear to face her. He never reveals his identity. He’s brave enough to save her, yet not brave enough to admit he cares for her. He claims it was for his dog.
About Interceptor, Shadow claims the dog hates others:
Leave us. The dog eats strangers…
Get away. He bites.
No problem. The dog usually doesn’t like people, though…
Dogs can sense emotion. Shadow’s emotions are a projection of his hatred – not for humanity, but for himself. It’s bad enough he suffers nightmares of his past. But he experiences even more guilt after the Gestahlian Empire betrays him. They left him to die on the Floating Continent. He’s ashamed to have worked with the Empire. He feels unworthy to join our party but wants to do something, anything, to redeem himself. He decides to stop Kefka. Oh god. What if the Gestahlian Empire captured and experimented on Baram? What if Baram became Kefka? The horror of knowing he could have prevented this is too much for him.
Of course, the statues are still in balance by the time he gets there.
Shadow moves the statues, causing the World’s Ruin.
He fails. But we can wait for him. What if we don’t. He dies. If we do wait for him, he lives another day in shame. We can find him wounded in the Veldt Cave, the same place where he left Baram. He’s trying to die there. Still, we help him and he escapes. We meet him again in the Dragon neck Coliseum, drunk. He’s trying to forget all the pain, all the hurt, at the end of a bottle. But when we confront him:
“What’re you doing here?”
Shadow: The only thing I know how to do is fight…
“Why not come with us?”
Shadow: First I need to see how far I can get here…
He realizes that he has a purpose. When Kefka asks the party:
Kefka: And have you found your “joy” in this nearly dead world of ours?
Shadow: I know what friendship is… and family…
He has learned. Or has he? The guilt eats his soul regardless. He doesn’t run anymore. Everything crumbles around him. It’s a fitting end for him:
Shadow: “Baram… It looks like I can finally stop running… Come and find me all right?”
He thinks he’s making it better. But he leaves again in shame. He leaves his dog, his best friend. He leaves his daughter Relm with an aging caretaker. And he leaves his friends. All the people who waited for him. He helped us. But for a man wracked with so much guilt, it didn’t matter in the end.