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Pre-Crisis Final Fantasy VII All content for Before Crisis and Crisis Core focusing on the 8 years, leading directly up until the events of Final Fantasy VII.

View Poll Results: Zack's "price of freedom" was
always meant to be his own life. 5 50.00%
had meant to be the lives of the ShinRa troops. 0 0%
something else entirely/other 3 30.00%
I like turtles. 2 20.00%
Voters: 10. You may not vote on this poll

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Old 05/03/2017   #1
f a n c y
Default What Zack meant when he said, "The price of freedom is steep." and general ethics, I suppose.

Salut mes amis.

Been chatting up this lovely (and talented!) authoress from FFnet by the name of TrisakAminawn and she brought up an interesting point concerning Zack's last stand.

Just to give a bit of context, we were talking about ethics and morals and how most folks rarely view themselves as the villain of their own stories, even as they do what most would consider evil things (specifically, the examples we explored were the first English colonies in the Americas and the Nazis of WWII). In our back and forth, Trisak brought up this point about the meaning behind, "The price of freedom is steep."

TrisakAminawn wrote: Fighting for Shinra doesn't make all the people Cloud kills over the course of the game evil. Fighting the Wutai War doesn't make a villain of Angeal even though it was an evil war. And Zack's final battle in Crisis Core is just--he knows his opponents aren't evil. He used to be one of them, and Cloud did, and they were both good kids, and watching his people die fighting terrorists and monsters was the worst thing back then--but he still kills them. Because they're trying to take his and Cloud's freedom away. He's willing to pay that price.

...

Zack is in a weird place where his experience of pain and guilt is central to his own arc, but from outside those points in his storyline he's expected to be reliably upbeat, and it's really hard to tell how seriously he's going to have thought through any specific thing, or how much a given death is going to shake him. He seems dumb and shallow a lot, but he isn't always. But I tend to think that, not having amnesia in the way and not being as naturally good at anger as Cloud, killing Shinra troops has to bother him.

I mean, I always thought dying doesn't make much sense as the 'price of freedom;' he didn't go into that fight *intending* to die, he just knew he might. So the price he was talking about might as well be that paid in other people's blood, rather than his own.
I had always assumed that the price Zack had always been prepared to pay was his own life in order to protect Cloud, but this interpretation left me fascinated, so much so that I thought I'd bring this over to my favourite FFVII fanatics and get a few thoughts. And, after getting Trisak's blessing, well, here I am.

Last edited by f a n c y; 05/06/2017 at 10:37 PM. Reason: Told me her pronounce preference lol.
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Old 05/03/2017   #2
ChipNoir
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I'd say the price being paid is suffering.
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Old 05/03/2017   #3
f a n c y
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Just general suffering on both sides? Or the hell Zack and Cloud had been through since the Nibelheim incident?

Hehe, sorry, I'm feel like I'm being nitpicky, but these sorts of thing honestly hold my fascination! T_T
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Old 05/03/2017   #4
ChipNoir
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FancySycamoreTree wrote: Just general suffering on both sides? Or the hell Zack and Cloud had been through since the Nibelheim incident?

Hehe, sorry, I'm feel like I'm being nitpicky, but these sorts of thing honestly hold my fascination! T_T
The former. The price is that you can't ever give up, no matter how beaten down, or how painful it is.
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Old 05/03/2017   #5
Minato
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No, I think he knew he was gonna pay for his and Cloud's freedom with his life when he staring down the army and delivered that line.
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Old 05/03/2017   #6
Unit-01
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FancySycamoreTree wrote: Just general suffering on both sides? Or the hell Zack and Cloud had been through since the Nibelheim incident?

Hehe, sorry, I'm feel like I'm being nitpicky, but these sorts of thing honestly hold my fascination! T_T
Yea I feel like it was more directed at him and Cloud and what they had suffered, but in general it doesn't just need to apply to them.

Also just considering what Zack was trying to do by the end of Crisis Core.. which was get to Aerith I don't think he intended to die.
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Old 05/03/2017   #7
Shademp
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Because the game hasn't raised the issue before of Zack feeling remorse for killing Shinra grunts, I don't think we're intended to interpret his "slaughter" of foot soldiers as part of the price that is paid. One can certainly make that interpretation if one wishes, but it wouldn't be an extrapolation based on the game's themes and Zack's feelings as they have been exposited.

Did Zack KNOW, without a shadow of a doubt, that this was his final showdown? Maybe, maybe not. Either way, he's going through a lot of trouble for the freedom of him and Cloud.

Going only by the number of characters on screen, Zack got pretty close to winning. A manned helicopter + three grunts was all that remained at the end? If he had only had a little bit more power, or if those last few men hadn't shown up, then maybe...

"A single grain of rice can tip the scale. One man may be the difference between victory and defeat." -Emperor, Disney's Mulan
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Old 05/03/2017   #8
Minato
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That helicopter was there from the beginning, and has gonna continue to have visual on him regardless of what went down against the three guys. He wasn't getting outta there carrying Cloud along.
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Old 05/03/2017   #9
Shademp
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I have no doubt that Zack was capable of cutting down helicopters, be it with his Buster Sword or by using magic. So I consider my "grain(s) of rice tipping the scale" notion reasonable.

Admittedly, there is room for interpretation. In the FMV, we see two helicopters. In-battle, we see three helicopters. Then at the end, we only see one. Did Zack destroy helicopters during the battle, even though we can't reach them in gameplay? Maybe, maybe not.
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Old 05/03/2017   #10
LicoriceAllsorts
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Much as I love Zack, he always struck me as a bit of a simpleton - more brawn than brains. He never seemed particularly troubled in his conscience about killing people, except towards the end, in pre-inferno Nibelheim, when he showed an inkling that he was killing on the orders of a entity whose motives and objectives he didn't even begin to understand. He could whoop like a kid at a funfair while mowing down whole squadrons of Wutai warriors, but then find he couldn't bring himself to kill the lone helpless survivor, for reasons he himself didn't really understand. In other words, he wasn't exactly what you'd call self-aware. Moreover, he had no problem killing as many Shinra soldiers as he needed to in order to get himself and Cloud out of Nibelheim.

Did that line mean anything? "The price of freedom is death?" "Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty?" "Sometimes you gotta kill other people if you want to stay alive?" For what it's worth, I don't think Zack was deliberately going out there to sacrifice himself any more than Aerith went to the Ancient City to sacrifice herself. I think both of them were brimming over with self-assurance and were confident they could defeat their enemies single-handed. Both of them had at least some reason to think so. Plus, they were young, and when you're young you always think you're invincible. I think Zack's death came as a big surprise to him.
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Old 05/03/2017   #11
f a n c y
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Thinking about it, could it be that the "price" Zack was paying was the fact that he was essentially now an enemy of the company that he had serviced with a passion for years? I mean, I suppose his loyalties were sort of sketchy ground considering all that he had endured with his mentor...and then the Hojo thing...bleh. But that distinction that he was now on the other side of enemies must of been felt with finality as he faced that army of troops. I mean, to be on the bad side of an entity as powerful as ShinRa is huge.

Right, I agree with the sentiment that Zack never intended to die and daresay that he honestly thought that he had a decent shot at getting back to Aeris.

Man, them Zack feels

Also, I need to convince Trisak to join this forum lol.
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Old 05/03/2017   #12
Clement Rage
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Price of freedom: Everything he's had to do since breaking out of Nibelheim.

All he wanted was freedom, and he's had to work so hard for that simple goal, he's been hunted across three continents by the army, the Turks, monsters, robots, Genesis...

I always read that helicopter flying away as being like the uruk hai at the end of the Fellowship of the Ring. "You guys did all the hard work, now he's dealt with, you three get the prize of finishing him."
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Old 05/03/2017   #13
LicoriceAllsorts
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Yes, I agree - the price of freedom is that you have to keep defending it every minute of every day from those who would take it from you.
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Old 07/04/2017   #14
MichelleBeegle
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Something else I think.
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Old 07/05/2017   #15
Random Nobody
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It's a good point, but to be frank, that's more thought than has ever gone into FFVII's writing. Despite touching subjects of imperialism, terrorism, trafficking, late capitalism, mass murder, and so forth, none of it is really extrapolated to any meaningful (or realistic) extent.

If it were, it'd be a very different type of story populated by a far less sympathetic cast, because almost every one of them is a villain in their own right.

...Particularly so in Crisis Core.
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