Thanks to brodhi for the inspiration!
Of course, if you find extra meaning in the Squall’s dead narrative, go for it. I still think it’s interesting, and can add something to Final Fantasy VIII. But, for all of those who believe that it’s unsalvageable, let me lend your intuitions a psychoanalytical twist.
First, what is the Squall’s Dead Theory?
At the end of disc one, Squall and Friends face Edea on a parade float in Deling City. After the fight, when Edea seems defeated, she conjures an enormous ice shard and propels it through Squall’s chest. Squall stumbles back and falls off the platform. He sees Rinoa above, reaching to him as he falls. Squall closes his eyes and dies. The entire remaining game time, from the beginning of disc two to the second half of the ending movie, is a dream.
A dream, a fantasy, a vision, or whatever you want to call it. The “dream” is basically an extension of the “your life flashes before your eyes” concept. The entire dream takes only a matter of seconds, but for Squall it passes in real time. For Squall, it’s about the endless possibilities he could have seen realized.
According to the author, this would take shape as what Freud would call “Wish Fulfillment”.
Wish fulfillment is the satisfaction of a desire through an involuntary thought process. Wish fulfillment can occur in dreams or in daydreams, in the symptoms of neurosis, or in the hallucinations of psychosis. This satisfaction is often indirect and requires interpretation to recognize. According to Freud, wish fulfillment occurs when unconscious desires are repressed by the Ego and Superego. This repression often stems from guilt and taboos imposed by society. Dreams are attempts by the unconscious to resolve some repressed conflict.
So far, it’s looking like this is what Squall is having: hallucinations of what could have been. He’s awake, but fading out of consciousness. He has guilt from failing his mission, including not confronting his personal demons. Perhaps his dreams are attempts by his unconscious to resolve a conflict of some sort. More specifically:
Who is the Sorceress Edea? What are her goals and motivation? Where do her powers come from? Why was Seifer in the parade with Edea when he was reported executed? Who was the girl (Ellone) that Squall and Quistis saw in the Garden training center? Who is Laguna and why did Squall, Selphie, and Zell all have the same dream about him? And, most importantly, who is Squall? Who were his parents? Why did they leave him at the orphanage? Where does he come from, and what would he have done with his life had he not died?
However, there’s a problem. Wish fulfillment is the instinctual seeking of pleasure and avoiding of pain in order to satisfy biological and psychological needs. But as Freud found out, not all dreams are pleasurable. He found four main areas with the pleasure principle had problems:
- children’s games;
- the recurrent dreams of war neurotics;
- the pattern of self-injuring behavior traced through the lives of certain people;
- the tendency of many patients in psycho-analysis to act out over and over again unpleasant experiences of their childhood.
- Squall has dreams about children games, and plays cards with whoever will take his challenge;
- Squall has trauma as a mercenary. I’m sure the rest of his adventures would count as post-traumatic stress disorder;
- unknown, N/A;
- Squall has memories of painful childhood experiences. He still doesn’t know Raine is his mother. He still doesn’t know Laguna is his father. And even we don’t know too much about his friends, so how should we expect him to?
Wouldn’t he rather have a dream introspecting about the past, than to dream about the future?
By modus tollens, we can see Squall is not solving problems to satisfy his ego. Occam’s razor suggests “entities must not be multiplied beyond necessity”. Therefore, he may not even be experiencing a dream at all…