The Ending: Understanding the ending depends on how you regard the significance of the death of Aeris and the extent of the powers she and Sephiroth possessed. It also requires some thought as to the symbolism of the game and the true meaning of Midgar. Aeris only died in a physical sense when Sephiroth stabbed her. She was an Ancient and possessed of tremendous powers. It is arguable that she actually wanted to die physically so her spiritual self could merge with the lifestream and heal the planet. In fact Bugenhagen pretty much says this when they take him to the Shrine where she was killed. Bugenhagen: "Holy... the ultimate White Magic. Magic that might stand against Meteor. Perhaps our last hope to save the planet from Meteor. If a soul seeking Holy reaches the planet, it will appear." Sephiroth's physical body spends the entire game in the great North Cave. It is only his psychic self our heroes encounter until the end. Sephiroth's plan was to use meteor to inflict a wound upon the planet, the life stream would rush to that spot, he would absorb it all and become godlike. Once Sephiroth dies at the end, Meteor heads for Midgar. Midgar is the "wound" of the planet all along. Characters throughout the game talk of the cries of the planet growing stronger in the years Midgar/Shinra have been sucking Mako out of the planet. Remember early in the game the only place that flowers grow in Midgar is in Aeris church. With the glimpse of Aeris we see in the final moments it is implied that her consciousness had merged with the life stream and the combined power of Holy and Meteor generates enough force for the corruption of Midgar to be healed. This is maybe what the ancients meant by the Promised Land, a place where the life stream and the physical world meet and create paradise. So again arguably Aeris does "reincarnate" at the end as we see Midgar ablaze with flowers. She undoubtedly had the power to live on in a non-physical form, and maybe thats what Cloud meant when he said, "I think we can see her again" in the final cinema. The Jenova Project: - What was the Jenova Project? The Jenova Project was an attempt to create humans with the powers of the Ancients. Sephiroth is actually the only one who can be considered any kind of success. Even then he was flawed as we later find out Jenova was no Ancient, but actually an enemy and destroyer of them. Cloud's flashback in Kalm, Professor Gast's Icicle Inn records and several meetings with Hojo confirm this. The Jenova Reunion Theory is Hojo's related idea that no matter how small the pieces, Jenova will try and reunite as a whole, which explains why all the Jenova injected clones and Cloud are drawn to the same place. That's why they first go to Midgar where Jenova is stored then follow Jenova's body to him at the Great North Cave. - Exactly how old is Sephiroth? It's tricky to work out Sephiroths exact age, but it's certain that he must have been in his mid-twenties before he was "killed" five years ago in Nibelheim. As Professor Gast was still around for Hojo's initial experiments at the Mansion, Sephiroth is older than Aeris. Although a date of thirty years ago is not exact, it seems to fit with Gast and Hojo's chronology. - How do you know Hojo and Lucrecia are Sephiroth's parents? Hojo calls Sephiroth his son when he takes control of the Sister Ray and just before he mutates himself. Justifying is actions he says: "My son is in need of power and help. ...That's the only reason." Although he refers to a woman he impregnated and offered to the Jenova Project, it is only in the secret scene in the Waterfall Cave that we find out its Lucrecia. - What happened to Sephiroth after the Nibelheim incident? And what was his plan? Sephiroth fell into the Lifestream at the bottom of the Mako reactor, presumed dead he actually floats in the Lifestream and ends up in the Great North Cave. In the sequence where Cloud hands the black material over to him, he is shown to be hanging, eye's closed, in some kind of trance. The Sephiroth they have encountered is actually just a projection of his will. Cloud says it himself: "I wasn't pursuing Sephiroth, I was being summoned by him". They don't actually encounter the "real thing" until the final battle of the game. It is his psychic projections and possessed cloned body that tells them how he intends to achieve supreme power in the Temple of the Ancients sequence and other meetings. Sephiroth: "You stupid fools. You have never even thought about it. All the spirit energy of this Planet. All its wisdom.. knowledge... I will meld with it all. I will become one with it... It will become one with me. It's simple. Once the Planet is hurt, it gathers Spirit Energy to heal the injury. The amount of energy gathered depends on the size of the injury... What would happen if there was an injury that threatened the very life of the Planet? Think how much energy would be gathered! Ha ha ha. And at the centre of that injury, will be me. All that boundless energy will be mine. By merging with all the energy of the Planet, I will become a new life form, a new existence. Melding with the Planet... I will cease to exist as I am now. Only to be reborn as a 'God' to rule over every soul." And that's why he decided to summon Meteor, to inflict a huge wound on the planet. - Why did Hojo mutate himself? Hojo appears to have lost what tiny thread of sanity he may have possessed by the time our heroes battle him back in Midgar. He injects himself with Mako to make himself more powerful, this way he can kill them and allow his son Sephiroth to become the powerful God he is aiming to be. But Hojo's justifications are mostly just ramblings by the end; this is the most sense I've been able to make from them. - Why do the WEAPONS attack Midgar? Hojo explains exactly why they are attacking. He says in the North Crater right before WEAPON awakens ... "WEAPON, a monster created by the Planet. When the Planet is in danger, they awaken and destroy everything." To put it simply, WEAPON is the Lifestream's way of bracing itself against threats. Everything that WEAPON kills is one more bit of Spirit energy that returns to the Lifestream, further increasing its strength. That's why WEAPON attacks" - Are Jenova and Sephiroth the same person? This is complicated. Sephiroth who appears in the game is actually a reincarnation of Jenova. The "real" Sephiroth (or the first Jenova clone) died in the Nibelheim incident five years ago. Jenova's head ended up at the North cave and used Sephiroths body as a template to reform. It has already been stated that Jenova could appear as male or female. This is backed up by parts of the game where Jenova seems to be at least talking through the Sephiroth manifestation. But why would the game show Jenova and Sephiroth as two separate entities? Why would Sephiroth keep referring to Jenova as his mother? Why would Jenova bother pretending to be Sephiroth? Of course its arguable that Sephiroth always was at least partly Jenova, in the same way all the clones were. Sephiroth can maybe best be understood as an evolution of Jenova. Or if you like, Jenova's son, which of course, it was we know he is. Cloud Strife: - What's Clouds problem?? Cloud main problem was an arrogant streak, which became his greatest weakness. He wanted to be part of the gang, but he also felt superior. He was torn by the desire to belong, but also the desire to be the greatest. Cloud: "I used to think... they were all stupid." Tifa: "What?" Cloud: "You were all childish, laughing at every little stupid thing." Tifa: "But we were children, back then." Cloud: "...I know. I'm the one that was stupid. I really wanted to play with everyone, but I was never allowed into the group. Then later... I began to think I was different... That I was different from those immature kids." (Lifestream Sequence) When he found out he wasn't the greatest, the shame it induced in him made him cut himself off from his family and friends and much readier to believe his memories acquired from Zack were the truth of his life. - Why did he lie about his past? Cloud didn't lie, he genuinely believed what he was saying when he told everyone about the Nibelheim incident and being in SOLDIER. The effects of the experiments he underwent afterwards and his prior problems with shame and low self-esteem conspired to produce a split personality that was not healed until Tifa visited his subconscious in the Lifestream. For detailed proof of this refer to Zack and Clouds Escape from Nibelheim transcribed in the next section. - Why did he obey Sephiroth's commands and why did he freak out? Cloud is suffering from mental fragility bought about by his conflicting memories of the past few years. As Sephiroth undermines his confidence further, his self-doubt becomes crippling. The Jenova cells in Cloud allow Sephiroth some mental control over him as well (the pains and blackouts he has in the first half of the game as well as his realisation that Sephiroth was summoning him to the Great North Cave). His childhood also shows a boy who wanted to belong, but was afraid to get involved. As he realises he may not be the man he thought he was but a clone he begins to find the idea of belonging to Hojo's group of clones desirable and pathetically asks for a number. When Hojo labels Cloud a failure and turns his back on him his fragile sense of self finally shatters. This all comes to a head in the Great North Cave sequence. Believing himself to be a failed clone given the identity of the kind of brave and popular man he had always thought himself to be (he actually says to Tifa: "I never lived up to being 'Cloud', Tifa... Maybe one day you'll meet the real 'Cloud'.") he basically has a severe nervous breakdown. Only through the actions of Tifa, who forces him confront and reveal the truth, does he allow himself to finally accept that although he wasn't the man he thought he was, he is still a brave fighter and loyal friend (The Lifestream Sequence). This coming to terms with himself and his past allows him to heal and reject Sephiroth's control. After the Lifestream sequence Cloud sums up what had happened to him thusly: Cloud: "I left my village looking for glory, but never made it in to SOLDIER... I was so ashamed of being so weak; then I heard this story from my friend Zack... And I created an illusion of myself made up of what I had seen in my life..... And I continued to play the charade as if it were true. I'm physically built like someone in SOLDIER. Hojo's plan to clone Sephiroth wasn't that different. It was just the same procedure they use when creating members of SOLDIER. You see, someone in SOLDIER isn't simply exposed to Mako energy. Their bodies are actually injected with Jenova cells...... For better or for worse, only the strong can enter SOLDIER. It has nothing to do with the Jenova Reunion. But weak people...... like me, get lost in the whole thing. The combination of Jenova cells, Sephiroth's strong will, and my own weaknesses are what created me. Everyone knew that. I'm...... Cloud, the master of my own illusionary world. But I can't remain trapped in an illusion any more...... I'm going to live my life without pretending." Tifa: "You're sure messed up, Cloud!" The final sequence of the last battle against Sephiroth is symbolic of Cloud ridding himself of the last molecules of Jenova and Sephiroth's influence on him for good. - Did he love Tifa or Aeris? It's my belief he truly loved Tifa. There isn't much in the script to back this up, but the way they spend the final night together alone before the assault on the Crater is suggestive of something more than just friendship. Tifa was prepared to give up her life to look after him when it looked like he would be mentally and physically disabled for life. Certainly during the Lifestream sequence its is implied that he had deep feelings for her he could never express at the time: "......a sealed up secret...... wish......Tender memories...... no one can ever know........." A large part of that sequence is devoted to him confessing his desire to be closer to her. Did the arrival of Aeris change these feelings? I don't think so. For sure Cloud felt very strongly about her, and they become very close in a short space of time. But I think her powers distanced herself from him as a romantic object. Aeris Gainsborough: - What was her relationship with Zack? Zack and Aeris dated 7 years ago, she calls him her "first love". When they visit Gongaga village they meet his parents and discover that he is missing. Also Cloud claims to have never heard of him and is confused that Zack was a SOLDIER first class, the same as him. This is probably the first inkling that Zack and Cloud are linked in some way. Also when he asks Tifa about Zack then she blusters and says she never heard of him, another clue that she is covering something up about the Nibelheim incident. Zack and Aeris dated for a short time and she obviously cared a lot about him. During the time Cloud and Aeris are together he is still partially living with Zack memories subconsciously inside him (the stories Zack told him about his when they were on the run together from ShinRa). So the part of him that was "Zack" drew him to Aeris, and maybe drew Aeris to him in some way. Remember when they go to the Gold Saucer on the date, she makes some cryptic references to "meeting the real Cloud". After she is gone and Cloud rediscovers his true self, he remains fond of Aeris, but I think he also rediscovers his true, long time love of Tifa. - Why didn't Shinra capture her earlier? An explanation is given when Cloud talks to Elmyra after Aeris abduction by Tseng. Cloud: "It's amazing how she's avoided the Shinra for all these years..." Elmyra: "The Shinra needed her. So I guess they wouldn't harm her." Tifa: "But, why now....." Elmyra: "She brought a little girl [Marlene] here with her. On the way here, Tseng found them. She probably couldn't get away fast enough. She decided to go to the Shinra in exchange for the little girl's safety." Its also implied that Tseng has a crush on Aeris when you overhear Reno and Rude talking at the Gongaga Reactor, which may explain his reluctance to hurt her. But when Aeris was younger? Hard to believe Shinra couldn't have got hold of her if they truly wished. Tifa Lockheart: - Why did she not talk to Cloud about their conflicting memories? Tifa is also worried that her memories have been messed up. Although she never saw Cloud at the Nibelheim incident, she can't fault the fact he knows exactly what happened. Also she remembers growing up with him and is not sure is Cloud is the Cloud she grew up with, one who was made five years ago and given some of "her" Clouds background or that it is the real Cloud and her own recollections of what happened are in error. Just before they descend into the North Cave they are barraged by illusions fro Sephiroth where he tells Cloud he was made piece by piece from Jenova cells to be a clone of him. Then shaped using Tifa's memories, Tifa who could never remember what happened after Sephiroth wounded her has no way of knowing this is not true. Sephiroth: "Cloud... Don't blame Tifa. The ability to change one's looks, voice, and words, is the power of Jenova. Inside of you, Jenova has merged with Tifa's memories, creating you. Out of Tifa's memory...A boy named Cloud might've just been a part of them." Again, it is not until the Lifestream sequence that she realises Cloud was at Nibelheim all the time. - How did she end up in Midgar? After she was wounded, Zangan her teacher took her to Midgar. See the Letter from Zangan in the next section for the full story. Barret Wallace: - Why does everyone in North Corel hate him? The people of North Corel spurn Barret; he was the one who championed the cause of ShinRa in setting up a reactor at the original Corel (now the Gold Saucer Prison Town). It is slightly confusing when Barret returns to North Corel as he is blamed for destroying that town. But Barret actually comes from Corel a town he now believes to be "... here no more. Heard it got buried... in just 4 years." Plus the reactor is nearer North Corel as well, so maybe North Corel is the result of people moving up to work nearer the reactor, and when it shut down and the desert began to envelop Corel, most of the rest of them moved to the wreckage of North Corel to carry on trying to make some kind of living. Anyway, this revelation is told to us by Barret at the Gold Saucer ropeway station. Later in the game, if Barret, Cid and Nanaki manage to stop the train hitting North Corel, Barret will be forgiven. If not, they spurn him again. - Whose child is Marlene? Marlene is actually Barret's friend Dyne's daughter. When he confronts Dyne in the Desert Prison. Dyne is clearly mad and starts saying that he must kill Barret and then Marlene so they can join his dead wife. After Barret fatally wounds Dyne, Dyne says these final words. Dyne: "Think about it... Barret... How old was Marlene back then...? Even if I did go to her now... she wouldn't even know me... And what's more... Barret.... These hands are a little too stained to carry Marlene anymore... Give that pendant to Marlene... It was... Eleanor's... my wife's... memento... wow... Marlene's... already..... 4...... Barret.... Don't... make... .....Don't ever make Marlene..... cry..." (Then Dyne throws himself to his own death.) (Nanaki) Red XIII: - How did he end up in Hojo's hands? Alas, no one sees fit to tell us. When they first rescue him from Hojo's lab he dismisses their questions. When he returns to Cosmo Canyon again there is no talk of how he left it. It seems possible that after Hojo murdered Gast he found records of Gast's visit to the canyon and went there to acquire a new specimen. But that is speculation on my part. - If he's the last of his kind, how did he have kids? This is unfortunately one of those massive plot holes you could drive the Highwind through. It is explicitly stated he is the last of his kind and the last protector of Cosmo Canyon. Perhaps the rebirth of the planet at the end caused more to appear, but its seems silly that someone didn't spot the contradiction and just remove any references to the state of Nanaki's species. However further exploration (thanks to bobtheguitar) reveals that Bugenhagen contradicts his prior assertion, telling Nanaki he might find a mate while adventuring with Cloud. Also several people agreed with a theory I had but wasn't sure if I should include as its quite "icky". Basically Hojo implies strongly that he is planning to breed Aeris with Nanaki to create a longer-lived child. So Nanaki can obviously breed with two legged human types. As his grandfather is also a human type this would seem to be the case. Cid Highwind: - Why was Shinra's Space program abandoned? Cid: "You know Shinra developed a lot of technological gadgets during the meaningless war, right? Now it's a Mako company, but in the old days it was a weapons manufacturer. Well, they came up with a Rocket Engine. There was so much excitement about the thought of going into outer space. Our dreams got bigger and bigger. They put a major budget into it and made prototype after prototype! Finally, they completed Shinra No. 26. They chose the best pilot in Shinra-- no, in the world-- me. I mean, come on. And finally we get to the day of the launch. Everything was goin' well... But, because of that dumb-ass Shera, the launch got messed up. That's why they became so anal! And so, Shinra nixed their outer space exploration plans. After they told me how the future was Space Exploration and got my damn hopes up... DAMN THEM! Then, it was all over once they found out Mako energy was profitable. They didn't even so much as look at space exploration. Money, moola, dinero! My dream was just a financial number for them! Look at this busted Rocket. I was supposed to be the first man in space with this." This all comes out when you first visit Cid, later of course we find out Shera saved his life by stopping him launch a faulty rocket. This is a useful speech as it helps in fixing the date of the War on Wutai and Shinra turning over to Mako above everything else. Vincent Valentine: - How did he end up becoming a mutant? After he discovered Hojo was experimenting on the pregnancy Lucrecia he confronts him in the Mansion Lab. Hojo knocks him out and pumps him full of Jenova, causing Vincent to become prone to mutation under stress (his Limit Breaks). The full story of Vincent, Hojo and Lucrecia is explained in the secret scene at Waterfall Cave. Yuffie Kisagari: - Why is she so obsessed with Materia? If you have Yuffie in your party and visit Wutai you'll hear the story of how Wutai was crushed in the past by Shinra. Yuffie is angry at her father (Godo) for allowing Wutai to be subservient to Shinra and he tells her to respect him and his way of handling things. She calls him weak, he calls her a miserable daughter. She tells Cloud the following: Yuffie: "...I've been hearing that ever since I was little. Before I was born, Wutai was a lot more crowded and more important...You saw what it looks like now, right? ...JUST a resort town...After we lost the war, we got peace, but with that, we lost something else. Now look at Wutai...That's why... if I had lots of materia I could..." ..bring glory back to Wutai. After their battle in the Pagoda Godo confesses he is still keen to fight off Shinra, he is just waiting for the correct time. He sends Yuffie off with Cloud and the party to learn, fight and return stronger.. and hopefully with all their materia as well! Cait Sith: - Who controls Cait Sith? Cait Sith is controlled by Shinra employee Reeve. Reeve is in charge of the Housing in the undercity slums. He is first seen in the conference scene, when Cloud and the others infiltrate Shinra Headquarters. Later, although he gives the team a run around, it appears his social conscious gets the better of him and he decides to help out, while reporting back what Shinra is up to. Cait Sith: "...Alright, yes, I am a Shinra employee. But we're not entirely enemies...Something bothers me. I think it's your way of life. You don't get paid. You don't get praised. Yet, you still risk your lives and continue on your journey. Seeing that makes me... It just makes me think about my life. I don't think I'd feel too good if things ended the way they are now." This results in his removal from the Headquarters later in the game after Rufus is killed. From here he oversees the evacuation of lower Midgar, and can be seen in Kalm in the final cinema. At the same time he is also controlling Cait Sith and arguing a lot with Barret about the rights and wrongs of his eco-terrorism and the welfare of Marlene.