Xenosaga Episode III Part 19: A Jerk Planet for Jerk People

Previously on Xenosaga: The final giant robot has taken flight, everyone has their ultimate weapons (except Junior), and the last great Xenogears reference is in the can. Now is finally the time to confront the end of everything…

Technically this update picks up after Update #17. Abel’s Ark… uh… we don’t know if it disappeared or exploded or The Brews simply left, but one way or another, we’re out here in a section of space that is… rather crowded.

But Albedo gave us that hot tip that Abel and the Zohar have been transported to Michtam, so to Michtam we go.

You know you’re living in a JRPG when your destination, an entire planet, lights up.

But, as has been established since the second chapter of this little story, Michtam is a highly contested piece of real estate.

So, like always, we’re going to bypass this insurmountable problem through Tony’s cutscene-based piloting powers.

Zoom! For the final time!

It’s blink and you miss it (but immortalized in GIF form), but an ES or two we’ll be encountering shortly make a brief cameo on the battlefield.

Meanwhile, Margulis is having yet another chat with his boss, Heinlein.

“I don’t wanna leave! I like this stupid war!”

And Heinlein gets annoyed enough to…

Finally reveal himself as Wilhelm! Assuming you haven’t been reading this LP, this reveal is unexpected, and the only real “evidence” this was coming was a handful of references to Vector and Ormus working together.

There’s probably a comment here about faith and the fact that Margulis has been following Heinlein for at least fifteen years without ever seeing the guy. In practice, though, it just makes Margulis look like an idiot.

“That’s right. Are you surprised? You’ve served me well all this time, but it seems your faith was too strong. Overly strong faith clouds the eyes. You are no longer able to see what you should. But perhaps that is still good, in its own way.”

Or “Margulis is an idiot” is canon…

Story time!

Another reference to “Jesus Christ” without saying “Jesus Christ”. In case anyone has missed it, Ormus is absolutely future Christianity, albeit a division of it akin to Catholicism or alike.

“Ormus was born approximately 6,000 years ago. It began from the death of the man you worship as your Lord. Officially, it existed to convey the man’s existence to coming generations. But its true purpose… was to manage the "words" he passed on.”

Yeah, I’m not much of a Christian Scholar, but I’m pretty sure “magic words” aren’t covered in Sunday School.

Welcome to Crazy Town, everybody! “Lemegeton” was the name of the program from A Missing Year that could be used to summon and control gnosis. It was, essentially, the prototype for The Song of Nephilim. So what Wilhelm just revealed here is that Jesus could summon gnosis, and shared that knowledge with his disciples.

Gonna say that again: Jesus Christ could summon space ghost monsters.

And remember some of the gnosis we have encountered? Ipso facto…

Jesus could summon unicorns.

That’s the backstory for Xenosaga, everybody!

And I guess it’s incidentally the reboot command for the whole of the universe.

“Though it appears the man you call your Lord didn’t know that. Of course that was to be expected, for those were the words of Yeshua.”

So Jesus could summon a minotaur, but He didn’t know those same powers could destroy the universe. Why? Because of chaos (aka Yeshua), of course. chaos got some ‘splain’ to do.

“To protect the universe from dissipation, I created an organization to manage and watch over those words. That’s Ormus’s true objective. Not just the words, but also the artifacts of God, passed down from ancient times. All of them are beyond human control.”

So… Wilhelm isn’t completely a bad guy? He’s just a control freak that figured humanity couldn’t be trusted with holy (literally) power, so he founded an entire damn religion to keep everybody under control. Guess that’s one solution.

Wilhelm is a pretty terrible villain, but he earns my respect for getting bored with Margulis and just being like, “Yeah, your life is a lie. We done? I got places to be.”

And he continues to taunt Margulis with “You wouldn’t even know what to do with our home planet if you had it.”

“I got you this participation trophy. It has your name on it and everything.”

And then Wilhelm’s hired goons arrive.

And the scene ends with Margulis stuttering and Wilhelm commenting that Margulis is still at least worthy to hang out in the final dungeon.

Note that the Testaments seem to be moving in on Margulis. We’ll see if that has any impact on anyone’s next appearance.

Meanwhile, the Elsa has landed.

We arrived on the right planet. Planet. Does anyone have any idea if we’re even on the right continent?

“Let’s just go where the monsters hang out. That usually works.”

Junior reminds us that we’re working on accurate, if entirely vague, directions.

“Don’t wait for us. You’ve nearly died three times doing that exact thing,”

Same as it ever was.

“Shion is standing right here, Junior.”

Canaan is still being moody about that whole “my entire life I’ve been an unwitting spy” thing.

But don’t tell anybody about it or anything!

Okay, so, for the sticklers, NOW is when the last update occurs. After the little chat on the bridge, you’re free to roam around and do whatever. You’re technically parked on the surface of Michtam the entire time, but the UMN is always there to wander around the universe and blur the lines between virtual and reality. Was Dark Professor Monkey living on a virtual Pedea Island? Whatever. Point is that you can do whatever you want before officially setting foot on Michtam, but once you start the final dungeon, there’s no easy escape button to get back to the ship in five seconds. Just something to keep in mind.

Since we already completed all the sidequests last update, we’re hitting Michtam running.

Ziggy immediately has an adverse reaction to Michtam. He’s just upset about it, though, he’s not experiencing any crippling headaches like some party members.

“There’s no crying in giant robots! Let’s roll!”

The final dungeon officially begins now! For the clock watchers, we’re at 19:41 after all those sidequests and whatnot.

There aren’t even any monsters on the surface of this planet, but there’s a crashed spaceship.

That explodes. … Okay?

Oh, I’m sorry, it was detonated as a show of power from Richard and Hermann. Remember them? The loser duo that we beat back on the Ormus Stronghold, and then never saw again? Well, after being mentioned once in this plot, they’re back for a boss battle.

Considering their defeat back on Ormus Stronghold was about as ambiguous a defeat as whatshername with the split personalities from the same dungeon, yeah, I’m surprised they’re still alive, too.

Nobody even bothered to model portraits for these two dorks. You’re stuck with playing the DS version of Xenosaga if you want to see their faces.

Anyway, yeah, Richard is a religious nut, and it’s time to fight.

First of all, Richard and Hermann are piloting the last two ESes to be introduced, ES Gad and ES Joseph. There was a brief mention that these crafts were being prepared in XS2, so Richard and Hermann being “chosen ones” like the rest of the important cast was foreshadowed the tiniest bit.

Gad/Richard is weak to thunder, and Joseph/Hermann is weak to fire. Other than that, the only two against three (kinda four) ES battle in the game is pretty straightforward.

Initially, both Richard and Hermann are pretty weak. They’re not “random monster” weak, but they’re not exactly “boss” strong.

Hermann seems to have (thankfully) lost any healing abilities, but he does have the ability to pump up Richard’s Anima gauge.

That’s important, because Richard can actually be pretty strong if he attacks while in Anima mode. Hermann is never a physical threat.

But you’re certainly a threat to them.

Richard continues to portray an unhinged personality through his two minutes of screen time.

But he does get concerned if Hermann’s HP drops.

Richard and Hermann will probably enter Anima mode around the same time. Again, Hermann is always a joke, but you want to keep an eye on Richard.

See? Nearly killed MOMO in one shot.

And then Richard’s Anima-fueled special move, Naglfar, completely obliterates Jin. Under normal circumstances, you can easily avoid that outcome by whaling on Richard anytime he gets uppity… but I kinda wanted to see his special for the LP, so there you go.

But, as far as I’m concerned, after he shows the goods, it’s open season.

Oh, Hermann? You’re still here?

Overall, this battle is nothing. It’s a little “this is the final dungeon test”, but even if you skipped all the sidequests and went right from Abel’s Ark to this nonsense, Richard and Hermann are definitively not more difficult than Yuriev and Omega’s final form. I guess this boss battle is only here to clear the board of every last incidental Xenosaga character.

Also so a big scary black ES can pick up Richard and Hermann’s Anima reactors. Gotta catch all those Anima relics.

“Hey remember when that thing tried to kill us around the midpoint of XS2? Allen, back me up on this.”

Starter miniboss is done, time to begin this dungeon in earnest.

… Or not. First, a brief intermission so the party can discuss how creepy this abandoned planet has gotten.

What’s that, Ziggy?

Please buy Xenosaga: Pied Piper to learn more!

Oh yeah, I guess Ziggy never filled in the rest of the party on why he’s got such a mad-on for Voyager/Black Testament.

“It was a bad day all around.”

The database now updates to fill in some data on Pied Piper and Ziggy’s past. It is… kind of weird that the game withheld that information until now. Like, it wasn’t relevant at all before now, but it’s almost like Ziggy’s past (that is explained in another game) is somehow “locked” behind completing most of XS3.

Now we’ve got a proper dungeon going with multiple paths and random monsters milling about. Like most (all?) Xenosaga dungeons, usually you just wind up with two paths, one leads to treasure of variable quality, and the other is the way forward.

Like all ES battles in this game, the greatest “challenge” in these fights is that you are outnumbered, and might fall asleep during the lengthy attack animations of each turn.

I guess we’re fighting U-TIC mechs that vaguely resemble sharkticons? Take a bite out of Ormus.

I do like that this area does generally resemble a “real” city that has been destroyed and forgotten. There are ruined (but recognizable) roads, buildings, and even billboards. I don’t know if this area deliberately echoes maps from Pied Piper, but that’s at least a possibility.

At one point you can exit the ESes to explore an extra area and find one dull treasure. I might be wrong, but I’m assuming this area was relevant to Pied Piper, because otherwise it’s just a completely random building/walkway leading to an uninteresting consumable. Then again, it’s Xenosaga, so who knows.

Just trudging along, heading for some kind of spaceport.

There are some numbered hangars that must be exploded for treasure, a path forward, and absolutely nothing. Surprised they don’t hide any extra encounters behind these doors.

Past the hangar doors is a save point.

This is the final dungeon, so an easy save must mean…

Uh… something?

If anyone was curious about what happened to Michtam’s population, well, I don’t think they decided to carve salt statues of everybody and then leave.

Xenosaga inadvertently paints a picture of a very bleak universe. A host of gnosis turned an entire planet’s population to salt twenty years ago, and the rest of humanity never even thought to stop by and sweep up the place.

Remember the opening of XS3? We know about the last ship to make it off the planet.

Headache! And Shion’s necklace is strobing again.

Allen! You were supposed to be watching her! It was your one job!

It’s also the only path forward, so I guess we’ll follow your indistinct “something” directions.

What is it, girl? Is it the building? Do you want us to go in the building?


Could we use some proper nouns, Shion? You’re getting as bad as the ghost girl.

Oh, thank U-DO, an interruption.

I recognize that ES!

It’s Pellegri, everybody! She’s the last U-TIC/Ormus flunky left, so it’s pretty easy to see where this conversation is going to go.

Jin tries to Buddhism his way out of this encounter. Good luck with that, Jin!

As we learned earlier, that’s actually completely inaccurate, but let’s let Pellegri have her moment of knowing something her ex doesn’t.

Pellegri talks about how the Zohar and all that nonsense is Ormus property, so bugger off, Brews.

We’ll… discuss this comment in a minute. Kinda.

But what’s important is that Pellegri and Ormus in general blame the Federation for the destruction of Michtam, aka Bad Guy Hometown. Kind of a nice flip on the typical JRPG dynamic.

And, yes, it’s a short trip from “the Federation destroyed Michtam” to “Ormus then plotted to destroy Miltia as revenge”. War is the finest perpetual motion machine Man has ever devised.

Insert your own American Republican Party joke at your leisure.

We haven’t gotten to spend nearly enough time with Pellegri, but she’s apparently going full hog on her belief in Ormus and the whole “I hate the Federation” dogma.


Though she seems a bit jealous of Jin’s own freedom.

Ya know, if I were making a JRPG today, I’d make the villain literally “Fate”, because that concept seems to be no end of problems for JRPG heroes. However, Chrono Cross already beat me to the punch…

And you know how this goes.

We already fought ES Issachar during XS2, and this battle isn’t much more difficult. Pellegri’s robo form doesn’t have any overt strengths or weaknesses, so it’s a pretty routine battle.

Jin is still objecting to this whole mess.

I remember the last time I tried to tell my ex not to try to kill me with her giant robot. Long story short, my knees still creak when it rains.

Pellegri is stronger than the two doofuses we fought on the way in, but not by much. All these ES battles really feel muted after Abel’s Ark and its host of celestial monsters.

Hysteric Anima? Really, Xenosaga? One villainess in this franchise with an ES, and she’s got a move called “Hysteric Anima”?

Like all other ES bosses (starting with Yuriev’s Omega), Pellegri has an Anima mode and an accompanying special attack.

Though, in this battle, I didn’t wait around for her to use the special attack… so just pretend this image is of some crazy staff/spear attack that I’m sure she has.

And we’re done.

And we save the big explosions for the cinema after the fight.

I think Virgil has been the only person in this franchise with the brains to actually leave a damaged mech.

It’s the end of the franchise. She does.

“I told you, it doesn’t matter anymore. Each person must walk on their own path. Your path and mine, just simply did not cross.”

Jin begs for any reason for Pellegri to hold on and not go down with her ship.

But…

Not happening.

And one giant explosion marks the end of Pellegri.

So let’s talk about her! Pellegri gets her own denouement in this LP because Xenosaga had no idea what to do with the poor gal.

In Xenosaga Episode 1, Pellegri appears to be the “heart” of U-TIC. Margulis and Cherenkov both callously eliminate an entire planet, but Pellegri asks if that was necessary. When Albedo joins the cast, it’s Pellegri that queries, “should we really trust him?” Yes, Pellegri is basically there so Margulis isn’t simply talking to himself (or an anonymous grunt) while he hangs around the U-TIC command center, but her scenes do seem to portray a woman that is genuinely conflicted about her religion/organization taking drastic, deadly measures.

In Xenosaga Episode 2, Pellegri transforms into Margulis’s sadistic assistant. Like other battle secretaries on the villain’s side (Citrine, Orgulla), she appears as a proxy for her more villainous (and male) counterpart. Her command of Richard & Hermann represents her less like a caring woman in an organization of psychopaths, and more like… Doronjo. Note also that she has no significant interaction with Jin (though does in the anime).

In Xenosaga Episode 3, Pellegri is still as sadistic as her XS2 incarnation, but has now picked up a sordid (and presumably romantic) past with Jin. They apparently broke up because she was too devoted to her faith? Who can tell. While she seems to slip into Orgulla’s “inquisitor” role around Shion’s incarceration, at the end, as we’ve just seen, she’s a woman that laments her unyielding dedication to her religion. Though in this case her sympathies seem to only lie with her own sorry lot in the universe, and not the millions of people that have died in the Machiavellian name of U-TIC/Ormus.

Xenosaga does a fairly a miraculous job of keeping most of its cast consistent between games (which, again, were released over a period of years with a varying staff and goals), but Pellegri kind of slipped through the cracks somewhere. There is potential in practically every incarnation of the woman, but the lack of consistency makes a number of defining traits (like her relationship with Jin) difficult to parse.

At least Jin gets to be sad about his self-fridged ex, I suppose.

We now resume our explosion already in progress.

The black ES (hm…) grabs the Anima relic formerly in Pellegri’s possession and hightails it out of there.

Ziggy seems… concerned.

Really guys? Really? Jin just went through uncontrollably pleading with an enemy not to die… and we’re asking Ziggy if he’s okay? Bah!

Hey, that’s convenient.

“So it’d be really fitting if somebody brought it back to the exact same place after a hundred years.”

If there are any points in the future where you have to say “wouldn’t it have been convenient if Ziggy mentioned this earlier?” it’s because Ziggy has a partial memory of that time he literally blew his brains out. Everybody got that? Good.

Oh no! Ziggy and Canaan are falling into a mopey endless loop! MOMO! Deploy kittens!

“And a short walk from here.”

Kind of burying the lead there with it being “Ormus Headquarters”. I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but there’s kind of an Ormus link with everyone that is trying to kill us.

Just past the Pellegri battle, we get a prompt to skip the rest of this stupid city and go right to our destination. Don’t know why the map doesn’t just transition without a prompt…

Here we are! That spire on the left looks like it’s doing the “live long and prosper” thing.

Good, that dialogue box didn’t lie to us.

More monsters, more architecture to destroy.

That statue is actually hiding an Update File. As we learned last update, you want every last one of those things.

Great, now I’m going to spend all day going through old updates and trying to find hidden Zohars in the building textures.

Jin, I’m going to let this bit of obviousness slide because you’re having a bad day.

Canaan, when did you become the resident history buff?

Again, I only got a summary of Pied Piper, and not the whole script, but I’m pretty sure that Ziggy never actually learned that. Or if he did learn that, he probably should have shown up to the stage of his own death with a little more backup.

There is a lot of rubble around the cathedral courtyard, but there is a treasure hiding back in there. We’ll get that shortly.

In the meanwhile, may as well save and shop. The big ol’ front door is locked, anyway.

Accessing this shop plate updates the shop for the final time. Now you can purchase the best ES equipment available, and now (even with having to retrace your steps through this dungeon) would probably be the best time to tackle the Omega ID hidden boss of last update.

Oh, speaking of last update, did you notice something about this update? We haven’t faced a single battle outside of the ESes this entire dungeon. Know something else? All of those cool super weapons and accessories we earned last update? None of them work while in an ES. All those sidequests, and we didn’t earn a single item that aids ES combat. We will eventually hit the on-foot section of this dungeon, at least, but it won’t be this update.

Anyway, we have to navigate around the rubble to find the church’s side entrance.

And once we’re inside, we’ll immediately exit out the other side entrance…

To grab an accessory that increases our earned gold (credits) per battle. That will be useful for buying new ES equipment or KOS-MOS’s ultimate weapon.

Okay, now we’re going to go into the cathedral proper and check out this altar.

Yeah, ya knew this was coming, didn’t you? Hi, Voyager.

I’m sorry, this is less of an altar, and more like a pulpit. Get ready for the Book of Erich.

Juli had Ziggy’s profile at his introduction (and we, the audience, heard it all by proxy), but I think this is the first Ziggy mentions his miserable past to his fellow Realian Justice Warriors. I like to think that Junior has the immediate realization that he’s been kind of a dick to the “old man”.

“Look, you already killed my real family, and this story has apparently forgotten all about MOMO, so there’s nothing you can do to hurt me now.”

Voyager is still pissed that Ziggy would rather be dead than immortal. … And I guess he wound up as an immortal anyway.

“Nah, that’s alright. I don’t look good in a plague mask.”

What’s this?

Gasp! It’s a good thing Junior decided to actually bring Canaan along on this trip, or Voyager talking about this nonsense might be completely wasted!

And Ziggy learns that Canaan has been his old buddy Lactis all along. This would probably have been more interesting if Canaan and Ziggy interacted before this moment, like, ever.

So, naturally, Canaan starts referring to Ziggy as “Captain” like back in the Pied Piper days. This is probably more dramatic for anyone that played Pied Piper. Also, I really hope the original translation is “senpai”.

“We trusted you… uh… uh…” “It’s Canaan.” “Yeah! Canaan!”

Canaan’s betrayal would be a lot more dramatic if (choose one):
1. Canaan had been with the party since the beginning (like Episode 1).
2. Wilhelm didn’t already have near omniscient knowledge of what the party was doing at all times (before Canaan even met everyone).
3. Wilhelm didn’t already have super powerful Testament goons that pop up whenever they feel like it.
4. The audience didn’t already know about this “betrayal” for hours.
5. Canaan was remotely relevant to any event in this game.

Voyager uncharacteristically softens the blow by pointing out that Junior and like half the party were engineered for specific purposes (Junior – weapon, KOS-MOS – weapon, MOMO – old man guilt).

Canaan saved Junior’s life fifteen years ago… and I guess they’ve spoken a couple of times since then.

“Hey, Voyager, why are you such a dick?”

“I became a Testament to escape the fear of death, and to obtain eternal pleasure. It had nothing to do with you, Jan Sauer.”

Skulking around in a black cloak doesn’t exactly strike me as “eternal pleasure”.

“The reason I concern myself with you is extremely simple. I just want to enjoy my eternal life along with you.”

You just said!… Oh, never mind, you confused little man.

Again, Voyager has major issues with Ziggy’s suicidal rejection.

Gee, ya think?

“… On a silly little cell phone game.”

Oh, Black ES belongs to Black Testament. That makes sense.

I don’t know why Xenosaga didn’t go the extra mile and have Voyager reveal that he was responsible for Ziggy being cyber-resurrected just so he could kill him again. We obviously blew past the idea that this plot might be subtle around when it was revealed Jesus could summon goblins.

Oh snap!

“I’m gonna boss fight you so bad!”

BEHOLD THE GLORY OF THE ES DAN!

ES Dan is appropriately more difficult than the jabronis that exploded earlier. In fact, if you missed the shop update, ES Dan might completely slaughter your party right out of the gate. Testaments don’t shiv.

And he’s got wicked harsh attacks, brah.

Hey, remember when the ES Dan was introduced, and it teleported away before ES Dinah could counter with its X-Buster? Payback.

ES Dan adopts a similar defensive measure as Omega ID: after every turn, its elemental weaknesses and resistances shuffle.

Like with Omega ID, the trick is to ideally use your special attacks when they’ll do the most damage, or at least don’t use a special attack that will do exactly zero damage because Dan has a resistance up at the moment. You’ll also want to be equipped with an accessory that always shows resistance information, because guessing is terrible.

Oh, also like Omega ID, Voyager is prone to counterattacks, and will also counter allies attempting to help and adding extra attacks. Keep everyone’s HP high just to make sure they don’t die to an unexpected counter.

Uh…. No?

Just what I expected.

Here is Voyager’s big ol’ special attack. As you can see, it nearly completely wipes my entire party.

But I got a healthy amount of revenge a moment later. You were a flash in the pan, Dan.

Voyager’s Anima Relic makes its exit when the ES falls. Let’s see here… Virgil and Albedo already lost their relics before this dungeon started, then Richard, Hermann, Pellegri, and now Voyager. That’s six Anima Relics down. We’ve got four in the party, so there are only two to go.

ES Dan might be done, but Voyager is still here.

Why couldn’t this hooded jerk blow up with his ship?

But Ziggy is willing to help him along.

Not a scratch on him and whatnot.

Take off every Zig.

But… that doesn’t so much work.

Ziggy, you had one advantage over this dork, and it was a giant robot. Why did you leave your giant robot?

Well, we “killed” two Testaments with kindness… uh… Does anybody here have a secret past love affair with Voyager? Anybody?

Oh, he has a thing for redheads?

Again, this whole “everybody is calling each other by their Pied Piper names” thing would be a lot more relevant if we ever even had an opportunity to play Pied Piper. We’re hanging a lot of emotional weight on optional content.

Technically, you were his subordinate too, Erich.

Let’s make a deal: would you like to be… double immortal?

Canaan makes a good point: Voyager is immortal, but only by Wilhelm’s will. And we’re probably going to punch Wilhelm to death eventually, so…

This is a clever bit of story logic: Canaan/Lactis is the only person here (other than Ziggy) that knows Voyager got to be Voyager by betraying everybody else on the police force, so it makes perfect sense that Voyager would be afraid of someone similarly betraying him.

Yes, I suppose if Canaan is to be the ultimate spy, his brain would have to be linked to Wilhelm’s private dropbox.

Gasp! I’m glad we checked that datalog on Wilhelm’s favorite desk ornament, otherwise we’d have no idea what everyone is talking about.

Well, I’m sure the good guy offering a deal for ultimate power to the bad guy is an agreement with no strings attached.

Gasp! Wait, no, we already have a Red Testament. Orange Testament?

“Knowing what I’ve done, I just can’t bear to look Allen in the eyes again.”

“Okay, yeah, omnipotence sounds like a pretty good deal. I’ll bring you to Big Jim’s House of Cloaks later.”

“I guess I have to magically connect to your brain or something? Do you have a manual?”

This is what a Wi-Fi network looks like from the inside.

“It’s so shiny!”

Hey, how’d that work out for the last couple of villains that said that?

Whoops!

Don’t you log off now, buddy.

Pretty much all of fiction has prepared me for the day I am offered omnipotent holy power. Never try, because it always ends poorly.

It rhymes with “Binstant Beth”.

Ho ho, did you use some of that infinite knowledge to figure that out, genius?

And Canaan and Voyager both begin to fade away.

Shades of Pellegri’s death from earlier, Ziggy pleads with Canaan to not die, too.

“I had a good century of not caring going, and you’ve ruined it!”

Canaan sees this as the only way to atone for his crimes and escape his ultimate fate as a spy. I guess nonexistence is a pretty good way to get out of your job.

“I truly want another reason to exist. I want to protect… every one of us.”

Another reason to exist that lasts like sixty seconds…

“Have you considered just moving to another planet and not observing us?”
“Oh, that’s a thought… Wait, no, I’m dead now.”

Canaan’s final words (somehow delivered without lungs) are “I pray for the success of the mission.” I assume this is a significant phrase from Pied Piper, as it’s not uttered at all in XS2 or XS3.

And only stormy pinkness remains.

“Hey, the rest of the party is alive. And Voyager is dead this time. That’s a plus.”

“I’m sure he’s happier not existing.”

Oh yeah, that’s the second time someone committed suicide at Voyager. He just brings it out in people.

So let’s talk about the winners and losers from this bout.

Canaan… you know what I’m going to say here, right? He’s yet another XS character that got the tiniest bit of development, but then attempts to wring a big, dramatic finale out of a teacup’s worth of story.

Canaan should have been a main character. If he were actually “always there, observing”, it would mean a lot more to hear about his eternal spy status. As it is, though, he’s a guest in the party for a couple of key scenes, but he’s entirely missing for some of the bigger events (he didn’t bother with the time travel adventure, for instance). And when Canaan is around, it’s not like he particularly does anything. After his (admittedly promising) introduction in XS2, Canaan basically joins the party as a sentient USB drive, and when Jin pries the data out of his noggin, it’s the revelations of the data that takes center stage, not the guy that is finally unburdened by it. Then, in XS3, Canaan is revealed to be working with Shion, Scientia, and Miyuki… which basically paints him as the random go-fer of the good guys. That isn’t an all-seeing spy that has been bugging the party for years, that’s practically Allen.

And you know that when your part (unwilling spy) would be better played by Allen, something has gone terribly wrong.

So Canaan’s big moment saving the entire party from a villain that has been lurking around since XS2 only really feels earned if you consider Canaan to be 100% the same character that got much more development during Pied Piper. Which a healthy number of people never got to play. I suppose that brings us to…

Jan “Ziggy” Sauer has an interesting, highly relatable arc that, incidentally, ended in Episode 2.

Ziggy’s big deal is that, to put in mundane terms, he’s terminally (ha!) depressed over the traumatic loss of his family, and initially believes that life is literally not worth living. Over time, he “adopts” MOMO as a daughter, grows closer to the rest of the party (Junior, Juli), and finds a new reason to be happy and live. This culminates during the finale of XS2, when Ziggy decides he’s going to go through life-extending surgery rather than have his brain scooped out with a melon baller.

But, like so many sci-fi heroes, Ziggy always had a “deep, mysterious past”, so somebody had to toss that into the narrative. Voyager aka Black Testament aka Erich was introduced so that Ziggy’s crazy past could be front and center, and then we’d have an excuse to spend a lot of time in the present worrying about the past. Voyager exists exclusively for Ziggy’s benefit, and he works for that purpose.

Unfortunately, that purpose didn’t quite work.

Unlike Ziggy’s very human XS1-XS2 problem, Voyager and all the baggage he brings to the table boils down to a revenge story. At its core, this tale is the age old “cop chases a serial killer that incidentally killed cop’s family”. That archetype was likely done to death sometime after the prehistoric era, and, frankly, Xenosaga does nothing interesting with it. Yes, it’s great to see that Ziggy does have emotions and he’s willing to “go Junior” on one specific guy in the universe… but, that’s the man responsible for practically everything wrong in Ziggy’s life. It would almost be a more fascinating story if Ziggy didn’t give a damn. To be clear, I’m not saying Ziggy should be acting differently around the murderer of his family, simply that all this “I’m going to end you” talk reverts Ziggy from a unique “sad dad cop” adult character to… hell, the most obvious comparison would be Cloud and Sephiroth’s game-long rivalry.

Ultimately, Ziggy is a phenomenal character in XS1/XS2, but kind of devolves into a typical JRPG hero for XS3. The endearing daddy/daughter relationship with MOMO is largely ignored, and we’ve got a fairly rote revenge tale to finish before the curtain closes. Granted, it’s kind of a wonder Ziggy gets any spotlight at all in this labyrinthine plot, so maybe I should quit complaining. I’m sure the “perfect” (and imaginary) Xenosaga would have remembered Ziggy is a lot more than the sum of his tragic past, and that would have been a Ziggy worth explicit praising.

Post battle, the database updates, and the front doors of the church are now open. I’m sure you want to sit down and read the life and times of Voyager now.

So we’re at 20:39, and we’re going to call it for today. There’s still a lot more dungeon to go, but I’m going to need a week to recover from the loss of whatshisname. You know, with the hair? Hermann? Whoever that was.

Next time on Xenosaga: Nobody gets out of Ormus alive.

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