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So You Just Beat Final Fantasy VII Remake – An Ending Breakdown

by May 20, 2020 2 comments

Congratulations. You made it. You just reached the credits of Final Fantasy VII Remake and no longer need to avoid spoilers. But there’s a problem: what the hell just happened? With this article, I hope to define what we know so far, walk through the events as they’re shown, and outline what’s been theorized within the community.

First and foremost, let’s examine the Whispers. Red XIII states the Lifestream’s flow (i.e. the cycle of life and death) is fixed from a planet’s birth to its death. Those who try to alter that flow are disrupted by Whispers.

Red XIII: “Whispers. Perhaps best described as arbiters of fate. They are drawn to those who attempt to alter destiny’s course and ensure they do not.”

Tifa: “Like capital D… ‘Destiny’?”

Red XIII: “The flow of the great river that is the planet, from inception to oblivion.”

Tifa: “And you’re saying that that flow is somehow… fixed?”

Red XIII: “Yes. For it is the will of the planet itself.”

Though currently unexplained, yet possibly related to the Whispers, Aerith is now clairvoyant. The extent of her foresight is unknown, but throughout the game she exhibits knowledge of things she was never told. Examples include knowing Sephiroth is alive, knowing Marlene is Barret’s daughter, and knowing Red XIII is a child within his species.

At the end of the Midgar highway, the party is surrounded by Whispers. When they howl, Zack’s last stand is shown. Zack is the original owner of the Buster Sword and plays a pivotal role in Cloud’s past. He was hunted down and killed by Shinra while protecting a comatose Cloud before the events of the game. The scene is a one-to-one recreation of his last stand as it was shown in Crisis Core, except now we see Whispers are among the Shinra troops. Given Red XIII’s previous definition, Whispers are present because Zack is dangerously close to altering fate. The scene ends and the party proceeds to challenge Sephiroth at Aerith’s request. They seek to destroy the concept of fate itself. As they fight, the party receives visions of key moments from the original game.

Barret: “What the hell did I just see?”

Red XIII: “A glimpse of tomorrow if we fail here today.”

However, destroying fate has unimaginable consequences – Zack is shown surviving Shinra’s assault. As Aerith claimed earlier, changing fate will change who they are.

Aerith: “I’m asking you to help me. I know that, together, we can do this. But if we do… We’ll be changing more than fate itself. If we succeed… if we win… we’ll be changing ourselves… I guess… maybe, that’s why I hesitated.”

It’s time to bring our attention to one small, important detail: a bag of potato chips. The snack in question flies into view during Zack’s ending scene and features an altered version of Stamp, Shinra’s propaganda canine. Throughout the game Stamp is portrayed as a beagle, however, the Stamp that appears here is of a terrier breed. This is hotly theorized to be a hint that what we see of Zack takes place in an alternate timeline.

stamp comparison

With that in mind, let’s walk through the ending:

At the same time the party fights Sephiroth, Zack fights for survival against the Shinra army. The two conflicts are connected across time and space through the Singularity. When Cloud lands the finishing blow on Sephiroth (who earlier was shown to have absorbed the Whispers), it causes a ripple effect (the explosion we see around Midgar from Zack’s perspective). Life and death are no longer bound to fate. The Whispers dissipate into a golden rain that showers Zack, the residents of the Sector 7 slums, and the Leaf House (which is to say both spacetimes are showered). Later, at the same spot where the party departs from Midgar, Zack and Cloud approach from the opposite direction. Their presence is felt by Aerith. She becomes fearful of the possibilities they’ve created.

It’s not clear yet how these two conflicts became connected through the Singularity. However, theories have begun to form around the Stamp discrepancy mentioned earlier. To aid further discussion, let’s use Stamp’s breed to differentiate the possible timelines we’ve seen so far. The Beagle timeline is where the majority of Remake takes place. The Terrier timeline is where Zack’s scenes take place. A big thank you to forum user Suzaka for coining these fantastic names!

Theory #1: Intersecting timelines

In this theory, the timelines exist independently. They intersect in unexpected ways and time is not parallel across them. For unknown reasons, the Beagle and Terrier timelines intersect at the Singularity. The defeat of the Whispers allows for Zack to survive in the Terrier timeline.

intersecting timelines diagram

Theory #2: Diverging timelines

In this theory, the timelines diverge from a source. They branch in unexpected ways, but time is parallel across them. For unknown reasons, the Singularity connects two points across time. The defeat of the Whispers allows for a diverging timeline in which Zack survives.

diverging timelines diagram

Theory #3: Timeline overwrite

There is only one timeline in this theory. It does not unexpectedly intersect with or branch into other timelines. For unknown reasons, the Singularity connects two points across time. The defeat of the Whispers allows for Zack to survive, but the past is consequently overwritten to avoid paradoxes.

overwritten timeline diagram

Regardless of which theory is correct, the key takeaway is that Zack is alive somewhere. For how long or in what ways this’ll affect future FF7 titles is up to speculation.

One final note on Sephiroth: in Japanese, Sephiroth uses the pronoun “watashi” for himself, which is a formal way to say “I”. He started using this pronoun after meeting Jenova five years before the events of the game. Jenova is an alien life form and Sephiroth’s “mother” of sorts. However, the Sephiroth that appears in Chapter 18 uses the pronoun “ore”, which can be used to imply familiarity. This is the pronoun Sephiroth used before he met Jenova. The Final Fantasy VII Remake Ultimania even highlights this detail. It’s possible the Sephiroth in Chapter 18 is altogether different from the one fans are familiar with. Furthermore, this new Sephiroth speaks of a threat that will bring an end to both himself and Cloud. After his proposal for allyship is denied, he leaves with a warning:

Sephiroth: “Seven seconds till the end. Time enough for you. Perhaps. But what will you do with it? Let’s see.”

The real question is what will we do with the time between now and the next FF7 title? It’s been about a month since release and I’ve talked more about dog breeds in that time than I have in my entire life prior, so at least we can rely on discussion being interesting. Know something I missed? Have I lost the plot entirely? Let me know in the comments below or on the forum! Thanks for reading.

2 comments

  1. bbv
    #1 bbv 23 May, 2020, 13:15

    What a shitty ending..

    Reply to this comment
  2. CancerAyy
    #2 CancerAyy 24 May, 2020, 01:35

    What a shitty interpretation of an ending. Did you suck nomuras dick with your writing skills

    Reply to this comment

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