hello this is a fun educational video & essay about why balthier took ashe’s ring. i hope you’d think our leading man has more tact in his flirting than to snatch a widow’s wedding ring just because you think he fancies her.
who does that. sorry he didn’t take it because he had a big pirate crush on her. he took it because she was fidgeting over it like a pining fishwife contemplating mass genocide a la nethicite and let’s just say He’s Been Here Before.jpg
i spliced together two scenes while doing research for my fic, and stumbled across this expression of his that i cropped in on; you can see after she gazes down at her ring, makes complicated noises, and breathes about vengeance while holding nethicite that balthier quickly puts two and two and two more together–i’ve got a bad feel about this
scoob fran. then, upon leviathan, his fears ring true - doctor cid is involved, and there’s no way he’s going to run any longer like a fucking baby. put on your big boy shoes ffammy. no, not those shoes. not those. those are ugly. you’re gonna wear those? fine.
next, we have the scene immediately following leviathan. surprise! ashe is yelling about power even more in a frenzy because everything sucks and she’s getting mega-screwed and i’d be hella fucking mad and wanna blow up everything too if all these fucking men kept tryna screw me out of literally anything while shitting all over my country. i reeeeally slowed down the balthier zoom-in here, because as ashe goes off on her lovely dalmasca-poem that makes murder sound very pretty, while holding the empty shell of a completely spent dawn shard in her hand, that ring stands out again and he regards her intensely and briefly; at :55 you can see a (v subtle) eyeshift gaze, where i believe he’s simply processing the connections between her and his projected, justifiable fears from the past. it’s as though he’s watching someone become enamored with nethicite’s power all over again. his voice in this entire scene is just dripping with a knowing bitterness that i’m surprised no one (read: vaan) is like hey balthier r u ok u sure seem to Know A Lot And Have a Lot of Feelings About It but i guess he’s too dashing for anyone (read: vaan) to call him out. he’s lucky he’s so pretty.
remember, balthier keeps it a secret for a long time from this point that he was involved with draklor (i like to coin it as his Actor’s Secret but that’s because i’m a big balthier nerd); “i’m just here to see how the story unfolds” is no lie at all. he keeps his past a secret for quite a while, only until, quite frankly, he can’t keep it in any longer the closer they get to the capital. and that’s when they have that heart-to-heart and balthier literally fucking cries lol .
and so, he takes the one thing from her that he thinks he has some semblance of control over without blabbing to the entire empty stockroom in the back of the bazaar ASHE DON’T FUCKIN DO IT YOU’RE REMINDING ME OF MY DAD AND IT’S FREAKING ME OUT PLEASE STOP. he uses it to anchor her. he tucks the ring safe away so that ashe doesn’t have something tangible to remind her of an anger that is already so vibrant within her already. balthier made the right decision here, without asking anyone, without thinking, and yes it was rash and yes it was controlling and yes it was a dick move from everyone’s perspective but his, which he chooses to not share with anyone, the wily fucker.
additionally, balthier is still a gentleman about this whole thing. the last clip i attached is the body language. ashe puts down the nethicite to take off her ring, and i’m sure balthier is patting himself on the back here because aren’t they already off to a grand start and he’s a genius bla bla yes we know balthier, fran has bumper stickers for the strahl that read my child is an honor roll student.
he doesn’t go all piratey and snatch it from her as soon as the ring touches his hand. she drops it. she lingers. she hovers. her hands itch to take it back. none of this feels right to her. it sucks. why does everything have to suck ashe. i dont know im sorry. and then, only then when she pulls her hand completely away, does balthier take it. he gives her the chance to change her mind. she doesn’t. good. he’ll hold on to that little trinket nice and tight until they all help her fulfill her duty. and they do. (spoiler alert)
thanks for tuning into a balthier feel. i hope this helps with any confusion you had. and if you didn’t have any confusion i hope now you do.