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Final Fantasy 6 --- Questioning Arvis's Motives

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Obvious and unnecessary spoiler alert

First of all, hello world. You may have seen me around in Twitch chat, but I've managed to land a job that makes it difficult for me to catch those streams live, and I felt the need to run this idea past the beloved Archengeia and his wonderful host of followers. I came up with this idea watching the VOD for part one of the "The Best Games Ever" series, so I may be repeating something others have said or spouting easily disproved nonsense, in which case I'm truly sorry.

To the point, now, Arch made a point to talk about Arvis when he is first encountered, and how the surroundings in his house are good for establishing his character as well as a touch of worldbuilding. Although Arvis is about as minor a character as a named NPC who exists purely for story can be. However, Arch gave much more benefit of the doubt (any) to Arv's motives than my cynical nature will allow.

As a matter of fact,I believe Arvis to be a double agent in the service of the Empire, or at least in the service of Gestahl.


Keep in mind that this hypothesis is based on the assumption that Terra was sent to the Esper intentionally to set the pre-WoR. You might be able to convince me that this first interaction with an esper was accidental, which could debunk this idea, but I seriously doubt this due to Gestahl's knowledge of Terra's origins and his tactical mind, nevermind the fact that his manipulation of Terra and the party AFTER this point is fairly obvious. He knows of the Espers' strength in and connection to magic, and wants nothing more than that power to be unleashed, preferably with his exclusive control.

The first scene (of only two, I believe on second thought I believe he's in three scenes, though the one after the three scenarios hardly counts--I don't think he has any lines, at least no striking ones) scenes featuring Arvis begins with Terra awakening from unconciousness. Upon hearing her stir, he comes to care for her and explains that he's removed the slave crown and that she may not have memory of events during her enslavening, and possibly may have total amnesia of her life permanently although that is not made entirely clear IMO. After some time, (what is probably) a mob of Narshe citizens show up at the door to retrieve her, presumably to ransom her to the empire for Narshe's continued safety from occupation and war.

What's strongly implied by this scene is that Arvis rescued Terra, and did so before she was found by anybody searching for her did, perhaps before the mob chasing her down had even formed. After he saved her, she was both unconscious and stable enough for long enough that he was comfortable leaving her alone in the next room rather than watching her condition like a hawk, as one might do after rescuing somebody and removing a device that overrides the power of her brain in an almost certainly barbaric and unhealthy way. He also is cognizant of the slave crown, how it works and how to safely remove it. While you could see these as simply subtleties in characterization that are par for the course in FF6, if you're willing to make some assumptions it's entirely possible those things are not just convenience or Deus ex Machina to keep Terra safe.

It could be that the reason Arvis was the first on the scene is that he was tailing the raid party from the beginning, or at least since it passed the city zone of Narshe. His punctual response would lead to the entirety of Terra's time spent out cold in his presence. He also would have been there when she lost consciousness, and therefor he knows she's not out due to injury or illness, but rather stressed to the point of passing out by what the Esper did to her and her magitek lackeys, so he shouldn't need to deliver much first aid or hover over her monitoring her condition. I admit my upcoming points about the slave crown are mostly speculation, but a device like a slave crown would probably be somewhat dangerous to remove or install, since it is directly changing the way the brain works via override. These could include things like serious brain damage or brain death, traumatic states of altered thought in the vein of a "bad trip" on psychedelic drugs, triggering latent mental health issues or illnesses, seizures, and likely much more. Even if there are no complications,  the trauma of having your conscious mind ripped from yourself and then snapping back into place would be scaring and perhaps lead to violent behavior. All that is to say I believe he has been trained on how to remove the crown with minimal risk. Contrary to Arch's ideas on the subject, I can think of several good reasons for Gestahl and the Empire to keep the technology of the slave crown strictly in the hands of their military, and few reasons not to do so, none of them being very good except that they might sell it for money. Unfortunately, Gestahl cares about power, not just money, and the tactical advantage of the slave crown is worth more than the empire would ever earn selling it to consumers. Arch also stated that Terra's killing of Emperial troops is likely Kefka testing out the effectiveness of the first slave crown, and that the slave crown is likely to have been invented by Cid, meaning it would have to been created sometime during Terra's lifetime, and there would hardly be enough time for the technology to become ubiquitous or well know, even if it wasn't being played close to the chest by the empire. Additionally Narshe is geographically very far away from Vector; indeed it is probably as far as any two cities on the world map. Even the chance of word of mouth about slave crowns spreading to Narshe is somewhat slim, but granted not impossible by any means. It would be very impractical to have trade between the two nations, though, and so even if slave crowns WERE well known, citizens of Narshe are unlikely to have ever seen one.

That's plenty of crazy detail and reaching inferences in the first scene Arvis appears, but it's not over just yet.

Terra leaves through the back, across a suspension bridge, over the town. Obviously she is seen, and the mob makes a move to cut her off and prevent her escape. Locke is seen to enter Arvis's abode through the back door, compeltely failing to surprise Arvis in doing so, indicating that the two of them have some sort of relationship. Funnily enough Locke is exactly the target a double agent would find desirable, i.e. a go between and courier for the returners and their allies. Arvis tells Locke of Terra's flight in order to inspire him to help her. I suspect Arvis meant to send Locke to his grave; he had seen the size and manner of the angry mob while Locke had not, and despite convincing Locke to go after her he refuses to go himself, trying to distance himself from Terra as much as possible (though you could argue that's simple cowardice.) I would also argue that some part of Locke was aware of that deception, but unfortunately he is not in a place to care or pay much attention to the finer manuerisms of Arvis. On top of his quiet death wish, Locke has a burning desire to protect women, especially women in Terra's position, for reasons that should be obvious if you've ever picked him up in the WoR. Perhaps Arvis even knows that to be Locke's weakness, which would indicate that he's managed to form such a strong bond with Locke that he would open up about that tragedy. I'm been way too verbose about it, but the point is that Locke likely should have died when he squared off with the mob, and was only saved by the intervention of a literal army of moogles. This threat of death does not exist for Terra, as the mob's purpose is to take her alive as a bartering chip for the empire, and so there was never any risk of her being killed--in fact, Arvis may have even wanted to set up Terra to get caught, knowing there was no reason she'd be caught.

Unfortunately, therein lies a contradiction. Arvis wants Terra returned to control of the Empire, but removed the slave crown before releasing her? That just seems like poor decision making. Perhaps the intention was for her to escape with Locke from the beginning, but then there would be no reason for Arvis to direct Locke in such a deadly direction, and Arvis likely could have done more to divert or distract the mob to facilitate the escape instead of trying to make it more difficult. Or, perhaps Arvis sent Locke in that direction so that he could be Terra's knight in shining armor and quickly gain her trust, and Arvis was also responsible for (or at least aware of) the intervention of the moogles to turn the tides. I believe the last conclusion to conflict the least with the facts of the plot and other parts of this hypothesis, but it is admittedly a very rickety and circumstancial explaination of things.

Finally, there're the events at Figaro, namely Kefka showing up to search for Terra. Why was he there so quickly after the flight of Terra and Locke? Many have argued that the Empire expected Terra to be unstable or escape, and that the empire wanted to use her to create a reason to go to war with Figaro. However, Kefka march to Narshe and begin hunting Terra's trail, as he likely had the resources to do. Rather he goes straight to Figaro to seek her out there. I have always believed that this detail indicated a spy in Narshe who used a carrier pigeon or some other way to communicate about Terra's escape to the empire. I didn't believe it was Arvis before, but rather that the spy was never shown to the player in order to stay in keeping with a spy's nature of secrecy. However, now with this new idea of Arvis being responsible, the story is even better thematically suited to the nature of spies, since the player has the chance to interact with one who is actively betraying the character and not even know it.


That's really all I have to say about that for now. I would probably do well to have kept it brief, but I'm too lazy to rewrite it to condense some paragraphs, so I hope it was readable anyway. If you want to change my view on this, that's one of my favorite things, so please feel free to tear this idea to shreds with merciless criticism and fact checks.

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I have to admit I rather like this theory. It would explain several holes, and personally I find the idea that Arvis sent Locke after Terra to get Terra into the Returners as part of his master plan entirely plausible. Under these circumstances Arvis either A: Had enough faith that Locke could escape with Terra or B: Was unaware of the level of peril both were in (both plausible explanations). Considering Gestahl's entire long term strategy revolved around this, this would make Arvis hilariously responsible for virtually the entire game. As an addendum; if you watched the whole thing (lord knows it's long) you know I mentioned a theory about Banon actually working with/for Gestahl, which has a few holes but fits better than it should. Switching that with Arvis actually removes several of those holes... and also quietly, horrifyingly explains what happens to Banon, the Returners, and the Narshe soldiers in Vector post-Thamasa. (I mean we already know what happened to them... but picture the moment of betrayal itself. Further, picture Gestahl finishing off Arvis once he's no longer useful. Tell me you couldn't see things unfolding that way.)

The Lorerunner
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[quote="The Lorerunner"As an addendum; if you watched the whole thing (lord knows it's long) you know I mentioned a theory about Banon actually working with/for Gestahl, which has a few holes but fits better than it should.  Switching that with Arvis actually removes several of those holes... and also quietly, horrifyingly explains what happens to Banon, the Returners, and the Narshe soldiers in Vector post-Thamasa.  (I mean we already know what happened to them... but picture the moment of betrayal itself.  Further, picture Gestahl finishing off Arvis once he's no longer useful.  Tell me you couldn't see things unfolding that way.)[/quote]

I decided to wait until I had seen that part before responding so I could know your comments about it. Then the vods disappeared from Twitch, and it took a long time for me to get that chance.

Anyways, I actually think Banon and Arvis could both be agents of the empire. It would name some amount of sense for the empire to organize their own rebellion to make manipulating the rebels as easy as possible, and the returners certainly resemble the type of sham rebellion the empire would create. In some ways it would cheapen the players' interactions with the returners if all of the named ones were spies, but it does seem to make sense now that I've considered it.

Also, my grammar in the OP was awful. You're quite a trooper for reading through it.

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The idea of Gestahl sending Terra off with the intention of her being freed, then joining the returners, THEN finding and stirring up more espers seems like quite a long shot. Remember, Tritoch was supposedly inactive, maybe even dead, as far as the empire knew. So counting on a reaction seemed implausible to begin with, let alone the long string of circumstances that it took to actually reveal more espers down the road. Gestahl may have been manipulative, but this would require precognition.

Also, Narshe becomes a huge wildcard here. If the moogles hadn't showed up, I doubt the Narshe guards would have been so forgiving with Terra. I don't remember anything about Narshe intending to use Terra as a bargaining chip. That's a huge gamble with something as valuable as the only human/esper hybrid.

Arvis, as a returner, would naturally follow Vicks, Wedge, and Terra anyway. Him being a double agent wouldn't be necessary to explain his being close by.

Ultimately, its a fun theory to speculate about, but kind of unnecessary.

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