Final Fantasy VI : Part 5
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When we last checked in with our spastic spritely heroes, Ryan guided star-crossed lovers Guile and Kyan from meeting Gau in the Veldt to smushing all of their heads into one romantic diving helmet for the trip through the Serpent Trench. (Serpent Trench also sounds like a scary nickname for a vagina, so no wonder everyone finds it frightening.) Oh, and Twiggy, Edgar, and the Sunflowardly Lion walked through a cave. Twiggy--surprise!--moped some more.
We pick up on the Black Screen of Meta-Game Commentary, where Winona is waiting all by his lonesome to have his own adventures. I have to say, I'm more than a little dismayed at how terribly my Winona Ryder reference held up in the--Jesus--eight years since I first made it. There are probably people reading this who don't even know who that is, let alone that she dabbled in shoplifting! So for you young'uns out there, just pretend his name is Lindsey Lohan or something. I'm sure that reference will stand the test of time.
Our moogle helper walks over to Winona and gives him the ceremonial poke in the butt to get things started. We are reminded that Winona has "worked hard to stymie the efforts of the Imperial troops," whatever that means. Has he been short-sheeting their beds and tying their shoelaces together? "But now," the Text God says, "he desperately needs to escape..." That shouldn't be hard, right? Right?
We cut from the BSOMGC to the streets of South Figayro, where Winona is on the run from an Imperial guard. Shockingly, all Winona has to do is "hide" around the corner of a house, still in plain sight, and the inept guard gives up and turns around. To himself, he whines, "Nuts! Gotta get to Narshe on the fly..." I wouldn't have figured Winona one to use "nuts" as an expletive, but I've been wrong before. After I spend entirely too long in the menu, upgrading all of Winona's gear from the stuff that magically appeared in his bags after Edgar bought it hundreds of miles away, Winona enters the house he's been "hiding" behind.
Turns out this is the home of Duncan, Guile's dead mentor. Duncan's wife, who doesn't seem all that broken up about her entire family being dead, tells Winona with no prompting that he should look for a secret passage under "the rich man's house." So there's only one rich man? It's Mitt Romney, isn't it? This secret passage should be in the "drafty room," Mrs. Duncan says, since a rich man would not have any drafty rooms otherwise. If he did, he'd just buy a new house.
|But Winona has the best knock-knock joke to tell them!
Winona takes his leave of the "grieving" Mrs. Duncan and checks out the item shop, which is also free from Imperial soldiers. We're only three minutes deep here, and I can already tell that these guys are terrible at enforcing their occupation or finding fugitives. How hard would it be to post a guard at every building? A merchant near the sadly elixir-less clock calls Winona a thief, to which he huffily responds, "Hey! Call me a Treasure Hunter, or I'll rip your lungs out!" That's...extreme. I think Winona would benefit from therapy.
Worse still, Winona decides to get in a fight with this man who dared point out his chosen occupation to his face. The merchant--on the battle screen a fat man covered head to toe in silk like a trader out of Arabian Nights--slashes Winona for five piddly damage, and Winona responds by stealing his Plumed Hat. Yes, he picks a fight with a man for calling him a thief, and during the fight, steals from him. That is a special level of cognitive dissonance. Not content with the hat alone, Winona also steals the man's clothing, revealing a weirdly skinny man underneath those merchant's robes. The merchant puts his hands over his crotch to hide his shame, even though he's still wearing underwear.
Winona, with a little twirl, changes into his "treasure hunted" clothing. "These are a little tight, but the price was right," he says. How on earth could those clothes be tight? The merchant could have been hiding an elephant under there. And Winona is a stringy little beanpole himself. Whatever, game. The merchant, now labeled "B.Day Suit" even though he isn't totally naked, cuts bait and runs. You sure showed him, Winona! I bet he'll never call you a thief again!
South of the item shop, Winona finds a house with an old man who demands cider of him. I expect him to mug grandpa and tie him up in his own attic after that last display, but Winona ignores him. In the basement, however, he finds his grandson. "My grandfather was a servant for the richest man in town," he exposits for no reason. Weirder, he adds, "Merchant, right? You may proceed." I think Winona was probably supposed to come here first, find the kid who refused to let him pass because he looked too shifty, and then beat up the poor merchant. But he didn't, so I'm sticking with my "Winona is a sociopath" narrative. Also, this makes no sense anyway. "Hey, you're wearing a robe that doesn't really fit you and my grandpa used to be Mitt Romney's butler. Of course you can walk through our basement!" What is this kid's deal?
Winona brushes past the idiot child and leaves via the back door (which is a reversal for him). All this really accomplished was getting him past the guard in the Magitek armor who's blocking the alley, which tells us that Winona's actually completely authentic merchant costume was only good enough to fool a dimwitted kid and not a dimwitted adult. No, to fool the dimwitted adults, he'll need a different costume, namely the garb of one of the Imperial soldiers. Why didn't he just rob one of the guards in the first place? Because--look over there!
|Winona visits the South Figayro adult toy store.
On the western side of town, Winona finds an Imperial officer in a lime green getup. Well, he doesn't want to be all brown and drab while he's sneaking around town--why even bother if he can't be conspicuously fabulous? The officer calls him a "blockhead," and though he doesn't know him at all, that is tough but fair. Winona, looking for any pretense to be an asshole again, picks another fight over this 1950s insult and steals this man's clothing, too. After another pirouette, he is the spitting image of the officer, who looks exactly like the merchant once he's down to his underwear. This time he complains that his pilfered disguise is too big, which I can at least fanwank into something resembling sense by saying an Imperial officer is probably a little beefier than twinky little Winona. Not that the man's trembling, almost nude sprite conveys that at all, but it's the best I can do.
Now that he can talk to the guards, Winona finds out from one that Kefka, "that clown," is getting ready to invade Narshe. What, again? I'm sure it'll go just as awesome this time.
After doing a little more shopping--a novel alternative to thievery!--Winona relieves one of his "subordinates" of duty, so he can walk past him to the South Figayro Grill and Taproom. From the soldiers hanging out here, he learns a great deal about Mitt Romney's mansion: the Imperial soldiers have a rotating guard duty; there are two tunnels underneath the mansion, one of which leads out of town; a "famous general who turned traitor" is under arrest there; and the property tax he pays for the place is absurdly low.
In one of the rooms upstairs, Winona finds another merchant, this one clutching a bottle of delicious cider. That's soft cider, you guys! We can't have people getting drunk in a videogame! Think of the babies! Winona just can't help himself at this point and mugs this poor sap too, taking not only his clothing and his dignity, but his cider as well. Winona is a total dick.
Back to the old man's house. Presented with this delicious beverage, the man squeals, "Ah! Cider! Glug, glug, ..." Yes, punctuated just like that. I sincerely hope he said "glug, glug" out loud, too. So much more fun that way. Grandpa is so contented that he tells Winona all about the secret passages in the manor of his former employer. I wonder if he got fired for being an undocumented immigrant. Or just because firing people is so enjoyable.
The old man instructs Winona to give the password to his grandson, but the dizzying effects of his totally non-alcoholic cider, or maybe just senility, make him forget what the password actually is. Helpful! The boy offers Winona three options: "Rose bud," "Courage," or "Failure." But you know who didn't forget what the password is? GameFAQs. Winona tells him the password is "Courage"--basically the opposite of the trait someone must possess to rob strangers and strip them naked--and the kid toddles off in the direction of a secret passage.
The camera tracks along the streets of South Figayro to show us Winona's progress from the old man's house to Romney Manor. He emerges in a small storage room full of pots, crates, elixir-filled clocks, and shelves of copies of How to Win Friends, Influence People, and Fuck over Unionized Labor. Winona, whose self-employment as a "treasure hunter" puts health insurance out of reach, stuffs the elixir in his pocket and moves on.
On the first floor, Ann Romney complains that the Imperials have converted her lovely home into a base of operations. They're using her $900 blouses for bandages! The horror!
I was just about to stop with the Romney jokes, but then Winona goes upstairs and meets him. He moans into, I'm sure, his glass of Perrier, "Oh, what have I done!? I betrayed the town, and I didn't even need the money!" And now I feel terrible. How could I have named this man after Mitt Romney? He's actually showing remorse!
Winona takes his leave of Mittens, whose life is just so hard, and enters the basement. For no reason that I can think of, he is given the option to change his clothes or continue on in his merchant garb. I keep him the way he is--for what he did for those clothes, he should at least wear them for more than five minutes--and start inspecting doors. At the first, he has a Don Knotts moment. There's no spyhole or anything on the door, but apparently he can see through it anyway. "I've seen her before..." he says to himself. "Of course! She's one of the Empire's generals!"
Sure enough, we temporarily leave Winona at the door and witness this general taking a beating at the hands of a couple of Imperial guards. "This's what happens to traitors!" one yells as he punches her in her spritely face. Let's ignore that abortion of a contraction and take a look at the general, who is surely Twiggy's identical twin from the opening movie. The Black Screen of Meta-Game Commentary removes her from her horrible circumstances so the Text God can tell us how great she is. "Product of genetic engineering, battle-hardened Magitek Knight, with a spirit as pure as snow..." Oh, barf. I guess that's why she was genetically engineered to be as Aryan-looking as possible? Because the Imperial Nazis wanted to reflect her lily white spirit? Ugh.
Snow White gets to keep her provided name, CELES, because I sat here for five minutes and tried to come up with a better Mary Sue name than that, and failed.
Back to the Romney Manor basement, where the guards, between punches, are gloating that Celes has been brought low by her treachery. One of them laughs maniacally at the camera, because beating women is hilarious. Celes, showing herself to be the primly dignified sub-species of Mary Sue, asks the guards, "How can you serve those cowards..." The guard tries to slap her mouth closed, but she goes on, "Isn't it true Kefka's going to poison the people of Doma, to the east?" How did she know that? I don't even think Kefka knew he was going to do that until five seconds before he did it. One of the guards delivers a goodbye punch and leaves her in the charge of his buddy, who says he can go for days without sleep. He tells Celes, heaped on the floor, to think about her crime, which I'm starting to think was being a woman with her own opinions.
As the first guard leaves the room, Winona watches from his perch in the rafters. Of the basement. Who builds a basement with vaulted ceilings? Mitt Romney? Oh. Anyway, he hops down and enters the room, where Celes's guard is sleeping in his chair. Oh ho ho, it's funny because he said he doesn't ever sleep! After Winona frees her from her chains, Celes asks, "What do you hope to peddle down here?" Because a merchant would totally be rescuing her. Winona, who forgot he was wearing those "too tight" merchant's robes, changes back into his Flik getup and introduces himself as a member of the Rebels.