The curious case of Lightning Farron & Hope Estheim PART I
[The false God Hope vs Lightning the savior]
I really think the Final Fantasy XIII story can be as deep as you want it to be. Why? Because the mythos of Nova Crystallis is huge! The data-log itself is a task to read and even the dialogues the characters have in Lightning Returns can be missed if you’re rushing (as you usually are) through quests before times up.
Oh but you don’t have to worry about that! No not at all because that’s why I’m here to point out most of the deep and down right amazing allusions that this story has to offer. And this will cover Lighting Returns because there is a LOT of stuff that goes on between our dynamic duo. But before that let me get something out of the way.
Hope is probably the most annoying he’s ever been in this game. I mean it! (there is a reason for it). Also as a reference these are the number of times the words Hope or Light has been mentioned in allusions or metaphorically.
Final Fantasy XIII: (Hope count) 40 times
Final Fantasy XIII: (Light count) 82
Final Fantasy XIII-2: (Hope count) 228 times
Final Fantasy XIII-2 (Light count) 130 times
Final Fantasy Lightning Returns: ARE YOU KIDDING ME?! AIN’T NOBODY GOT TIME FOR THAT!
Count how many licks it takes to get to the center of a tootsie roll pop its quicker! No seriously.
Oh and guess what? Since Square Enix initially wanted to make the XIII Universe be a part of XIII versus (now known as XV) and Type 0, the elements are still there. Type 0 doesn’t even wait, as soon as the opening to the story appears you get this….
[Oh is that shinning thing Etro’s gifts? Lets take a close look…hmm a red rose crystal and a green heart shape crystal. Where on earth have I seen that before….oh that’s right]
[I’m not counting Hope or Light references in Type 0. I enjoy living thank you]
So as you can see there is more than enough references to make you hate these two characters names. Although admittedly in Lightning Returns these two emotionless people don’t use allusions.
Like I said before in my Hope Estheim flaws post; both Lightning and Hope come from very different stances on destiny. Hope at the end of XIII despises Fal’Cies and even goes as far as to study everything there was to know about Grand Pulse history. In XIII-2 he says he graduated from the Academy very early (19 years old) and did it as a sense of duty as well as a way to repent for his L’Cie damage caused to the people. Even if it wasn’t all his fault, while Lightning is very much focused on one thing only.
Serah. No its not a joke, her entire life Serah has been her motivation for getting stronger not to mention the fact that its later detailed in the novel FFXIII Episode 0 that her father made a habit of never keeping his promises. And notes that when she met Snow for the first time this reminded Lightning of her father; and now this man was going to try to take her only focus in life.
You don’t believe me? Well if we take away Final Fantasy XIII or even XIII-2 plot of trying to reunite these two sisters, in Lightning Returns we get a very surprising revelation that at one point made it seem like it was the same old save Serah plot.
It actually was about Lighting having to save herself. Which matters as much as it involves Hope for two main reasons. First off I want to remind you that Lightning and Hope have been stripped of their emotions, in other words any memories they may have don’t have sentiment value. Yet the more these two interact the more lively they become. For instance by day 3 of a possible 14 days (13 is the original timeline but you can unlock 1 extra day) Lightning begins to act confused about Hope’s indifference.
It starts with Hope reminding her to not bother trying to save everyone just focus on certain targets. Then Lightning asks Hope if she keeps her eyes front will he watch the rear? Have her back?
He replies very politely that of course he will, that’s what he’s there for. This makes Lightning feel like something is different with him. And during the menu title sequence where you get a brief Lightning dialogue from current missions or quest you get this:
“I asked him, just like back in those days when the two of us were in the Gapra Whitewood of Coccoon, “will you watch over my back…?” But the answer I got from him was kind of cold. An unexpected loneliness suddenly pained my heart. Hope, have you already forgotten the bond we shared back then?”
Then when Serah seems to appear in the arc as a reminder for Lightning to keep doing her job as a way to get her sister back Hope makes the comment that she’s becoming less human and more of a divine God. This causes a small argument between them. The more you play the game the more tension these two have and considering how this game allow you to choose your targets in any order really you may have different conversations sooner or later depending on the scenario.
But here are the crucial ones that happen.
#1: Hope and Lightning’s goals
From the beginning of the game Hope has been by your side. Even if a part of him is not really him the memories and the conscience is still of Hope Estheim. Just as Lightning has no soul, Hope too tries to explain that he’s basically her coordinator that tells her where to go and who needs to be saved.
Lightning makes it very clear that her goal is to find Serah. While the story tries to briefly explain Lightning’s sleep during XIII-2 I feel like I got to get something out of my chest.
Lightning was very selfish. Yeah I know blasphemy. But when you find out Lightning reason to ‘voluntarily’ go to sleep during XIII-2 was because she felt Serah’s death was the last straw for her. And in return felt guilt of losing her only family, you can absolutely understand Lightning’s suffering. So why do I think she’s selfish?
Because A, Caius with Etro’s heart pretty much got his way and did nothing to combat that and B, she gave up.
So why am I being so harsh? Because Hope makes her look like a secondary character when you find out what he had to endure. Oh Etro, I can’t believe I’m bashing one of my babies but I need to address it because its valuable to understand.
First off while Lightning goes to sleep Hope is left as humanity’s leader as explained in the novel Tracer of Memories. But even before then, honestly Hope had to watch Lightning, Snow, then Serah and somewhere between AF 10 his father passed away. So Hope REALLY had a ten year gap of watching his family and friends leave him one by one, not to mention having no guidance and relying on will alone to continue to fight. He lost everything and still kept fighting, even during the novel when the phantom drove him insane he still managed to contact Snow and warn him about the fake Lightning and of the real one’s return.
Okay its over, that really didn’t feel good. But it was necessary, because now that you know this much it brings in the following part that takes place in the Ark during Lightning Returns.
Hope finally reminds her that its not just about Serah anymore. That yes Serah is important as anyone and that people’s lives are what is at stake here. So naturally Lightning decides to argue with him which I need to express I was laughing when this happened. These two have no emotions right? So when I saw this I couldn’t help but keep quiet. Also if I never mentioned this before Hope is to Peeta what Lightning is to Katniss. She doesn’t deserve him.
See what I mean? Hope gives in and Lightning drops the conversation. And to make a point really quickly, Hope talks a LOT. Like if Navi from Zelda Ocarina of Time had a cousin that was morphed into a sassy little silver haired kid you would get Hope. So what happens after this little argument.
Hope doesn’t talk to you for one day. I’m not even joking. If you just stick to the main missions during day 11-12 depending on what missions you do first of course Hope only talks to you to remind you when its 6 AM.
And from here on out or at least after this Lightning gets mad (again no emotions right) whenever Hope says something casual. Like this.
Hope: So the boss turned out to be someone you knew- Oerba Yun Fang. You once fought alongside her, many years ago.
Lightning: You do realize that you did too right? Yet you sure make it sound like it has nothing to do with you.
Hope drops it and doesn’t say a word until you leave the temple. If you played the game you know Hope isn’t really at fault here, but it does bring the second part that i’m going to continue later on which covers the main point of these two.
#2: PLOT TWIST: Bhunivelze chose Hope while Etro chose Lightning as their vessels by force
Lightning and Hope are partners through the first game. The second game divided both of them physically, but Hope brings up seeing Lightning appear before him in a dream state. So if anything together or apart they still are in sync as always. She’s fighting in Valhalla in the skies while Hope is protecting the people from down below. So why did Bhunivelze pick Hope of all people? The novel Tracer of Memories explains that after the God of Light’s awakening it grew tired of people refusing to lose despair. Why? Because so long as Hope Estheim was in charge of humanity people still clanged on to…(growl) hope. So naturally Bhunivelze made sure Hope was wiped off the earth and decided to torture him in the process. Because hey why not?
Then out of some sense of symbolism and curiosity Bhunivelze decided to keep Hope as its personal vessel for when the world is reborn, as Hope Estheim’s body Bhunivelze could guide humanity into a new age of peace. By peace of course I mean no resistance or will to act. Just robots basically.
While Etro forced Lightning to protect her after losing her strength. No better than Bhunivelze who was her creator and bitter enemy. So why did these two deities decide to chose two people that coincidentally represent the lovely imagery and metaphors I sooo loved to count for you? (insert sarcasm)
Because it was all part of destiny. Which again Hope and Lightning view similar but approach their fates differently. Which made me a bit confused when I saw this.
I almost dropped my controller when I saw this shit. I mean when I FIRST played the game I was livid. But by the end I immediately understood and actually felt sorry for Lightning because all these scenes with Lumina represents her own heart calling out. Lumina is part of her soul she threw away when Claire decided to become Lightning. It wasn’t Bhunivelze that did that, she was her own enemy. But Hope vs Lightning? No I really didn’t think it would happen.
But then it did.