After the Trinity Armour, you enter one of the game’s most frustrating cutscenes, not necessarily because of any content issues (although… yes), but because you’ll probably watch it three times, desperately searching for any details that change between views. I’ll spare you the worry: once you’ve seen this scene with Aqua or Ven, you’ve seen the whole scene, and even Terra only misses a few seconds at the end.
The trio come to chat, and before anyone else can say anything, Ven remembers the passes to Disney Town, and hands one out to each of his friends. It’s only then that he realizes what Scrooge said earlier: “He said to take two grown-ups.” It’s probably my favourite delivery in the franchise, Jessie nailed the realization, disappointment and irritation. But would you believe this isn’t the original punchline? I’ve heard that the original joke wasn’t “to take two grown-ups,” but “to take your parents.” No wonder Aqua replies, “You mean… us?” before laughing.
Aqua then turns the discussion to the fact that Ven ran away from home, and for some reason he replies not to worry because, and I quote: “That boy in the mask is history!” This is a bizarre statement twice over. Remember, not only did the boy in the mask not die at the end of the last scene, or even act defeated or subdued, but Aqua has no reason to connect Ven’s running away with the boy in the mask to begin with! This must be so confusing to Aqua players! At least Terra acts shocked, but he has his own reasons. He announces that the boy in the mask is named “Vanitas” and basically acts like Vanitas must still be alive, which is probably for the best because Ven’s line makes no bloody sense. Terra’s fairly forceful about Vanitas being a threat as well, which scares Ven a little.
Terra orders Ven to go home, and then Aqua inserts herself into the conversation using another poor transition – not as bad as Ven’s, but still weak. She starts insinuating that Terra hasn’t been doing what Eraqus instructed, and Terra says: “It might be a different route, but I’m fighting the darkness.” These are definitely the words of a trustworthy person. Aqua disagrees, and implies that she’s learned about some of the awful things we’ve been hearing about as Ven, like the incident with Maleficent (which is all we can confirm that Aqua knows at the moment). Rather than address these unclarified issues, Terra deflects them by accusing Aqua of “spying” on him, and he’s so upset at both her and Eraqus that he stomps off. Terra’s version of the scene ends here.
Um… Aqua? Do you… do you have a response to that? Maybe listing a few examples? Going over what he was doing and giving him a chance to defend himself? What about countering his accusations with your point of view?
…No? Nothing at all? You didn’t have any internal justification for doing this? Did the fact that it was “spying” just never occur to you and you’re just curb-stomped by guilt? Ooo, I didn’t believe it but we’re seeing a three-point Idiot Ball basket from outside the key!
Ven then has the nerve to call Aqua “awful” for doing this and she bafflingly replies: “Now you know the truth.” That… that you’re awful? Ven once again distracts our heroine-with-the-attention-span-of-a-kitten by asking if she was ordered to take him home? Y-yes? Of course she was? How is this part a surprise? How did you expect Eraqus to react to your running away but to send everyone he could trust to find you, if not to send someone and then to come himself? To make things even more confusing, Ven seems to blame Aqua for following Eraqus’ orders, I guess assuming that if he hadn’t ordered her to bring him home, she wouldn’t have done it? Personally, I don’t get that impression from Aqua, both because of familiarity with her from other playthroughs (though that’s a little outside of our scope), but moreover because Ven’s only other scene with her since running away was also of her trying to get him to go home? Much later on, we’ll see that Ven sort of antagonizes Eraqus for keeping him trapped at home, and maybe that’s where this anger is coming from? If so, why not bring that up now?
Furthermore, Ven specifically blames Aqua for following the orders as though her being Master has gotten to her head. What does her being a Master have to do with her following orders that any decent person would be following? Besides, if anything, being a Master should make her less likely to follow Eraqus’ orders than when she was an apprentice, not more likely like Ven is implying… right? Maybe being a Master is getting to her head (again: it’s out of our scope at the moment as we don’t know Aqua’s motivations), but surely an apprentice have had no choice but to have followed Eraqus’ orders?
The whole scene just doesn’t fully make sense? Terra being upset that Aqua was spying on him I get. That part’s fine. But the follow-up is laughable. Terra and Aqua don’t talk, I’m surprised Aqua had nothing to say in either her defence or in further condemnation of his actions, and Terra acting like Aqua’s spying cancels out any dark and evil things he’s done is just a joke! Meanwhile the stuff with Ven only confuses me!
Aqua is taken aback by Ven’s accusations and Ven stomps off, promising to find Terra, and Aqua just lets him go. You’re now left in control of Ven to find the big guy. Geeze, where to go? Thankfully, the world is linear, at least from here until Ven ultimately gets directions at town square. There, Ven gets caught up in a gaggle of Unversed attacking a young child: the original self of Zexion! Ven naturally comes to the rescue. This fight is mostly here to keep Ven’s scenario from ending on a dull note, so you’ll be relieved to know that it doesn’t end Ven’s scenario at all, and so fails at its objective. Ven’s scenario actually ends with him walking down a hallway! But I’m getting ahead of myself.
After the fight, Ven runs into Even, who is looking for the boy you just rescued. He identifies the boy as Ienzo, and we learn that Ienzo is an orphan adopted by the people at the castle. He also appears to be nonverbal at this point in his life, which is a trait I don’t believe I’ve seen in games before (remember, Ven himself was mostly silent but did technically speak from time to time), but I might be overlooking something. Ienzo must have started to speak somewhere between here and the next few years, because remember that in the KH2 Secret Reports, Ansem wrote down that Ienzo was the one who prompted the study into the heart and was fairly insistent about it. I wonder why? In fact this whole scene seems odd, which makes it even stranger that by the end of the game, we won’t have learned a single additional thing about Ienzo… or anything about most of Ansem’s apprentices, come to think of it. Geeze, first Days and now BBS! If you don’t want to talk about these characters, why do you keep teasing us with them? The only conclusion I can draw is that we’re supposed to compare Ienzo’s adoption with Ven’s, which is… wobbly, but not bad, but could they do it without leaving so much dangling about Ienzo in turn?
After an unintentionally hilarious bit where Ven seems to be empathizing with Ienzo only to abruptly change the subject in less than a breath, Even gives Ven directions to the end of his story. Even then says that he has a feeling they’ll cross paths again. Yeah, for like a week in Days, if you count Roxas. Real important foreshadowing right here. Okay, okay, it’s hard to say if this is supposed to be foreshadowing for KH3 since KH3 isn’t out yet, but it’s hard not to see it as referring to the already-released Days. What a strange scene this has been.
Going through this scene allows Ven to learn the Reversal ability from KH2, finally a freely available ability just like I’ve been saying it should have been in the first place. Granted, it can’t be used with any errant press of a button. Reversal has to be carefully timed to just before your opponent attacks, but I think that’s a nice way of balancing it out. Personally I have a lot of trouble getting it to work (though at least it shares a button with Block and Dodge Roll, so even if you fail, you still avoid the enemy attack), but it does trigger accidentally from time to time, and that’s worth it too.
Even directs Ven to search for Terra in a nearby “Outer Garden,” a different room from the “Garden” from earlier in the world. Thanks, Square. This place is packed with Unversed on a regular day, but today we jump directly to cutscene. Terra is standing in the middle of the garden. It’s easy to miss, but he’s standing next to a door concealed by a waterfall. This is done because the door is shut in Ven’s scenario, but not in his. It’s about as subtle as a hidden door could possibly be without being outright invisible, and I’m a teensy bit disappointed that they didn’t employ similar tactics for other blocked passageways, even though I understand it would have been an unnecessary hassle.
Ven catches up with Terra and offers to go with him, wherever he’s going. Terra refuses, but says that “When I really need you, I know you’ll be there.” Ven asks, “Why wouldn’t I?” and Terra gets all cagey all of a sudden, and Ven doesn’t realize what’s suspicious about these two statements until it’s too late and Terra has already left. Man, these three were right at the front of the line when they were handing out reflexes, weren’t they?
Unfortunately, Ven is now standing in the middle of one of the busiest rooms in the game for enemies, and they all start spawning around him. Once you fight or have dashed your way out of the room, it’s back to town square where Ven’s scenario simply… ends, with the following cutscenes. I suppose that’s still narratively surprising in its own right, but we haven’t ended a world without a boss or set piece battle since R/R’s walks of shame to the Conquerer’s Respite!
Ven goes to report on Terra’s suspicious behaviour to Aqua. Boy, being a tattletale is “awful” but the moment you see something wrong, it’s all right, huh? I suppose I’d be fine with this if Ven acknowledged his change of attitude (and maybe apologized), but as it happens, the game only ever put you in a conversation with Aqua so that you could have a completely unrelated conversation, and Terra’s behaviour won’t even be brought up! Ven finds Aqua in town square, where she’s staring off into space (we’ll learn why in her scenario). Aqua then says she has to go on, and Ven offers to go with her instead of Terra, only to be rebuffed a second time. Why Aqua doesn’t take him home (she simply orders him to go) I don’t know, especially when she should know he won’t go home and she insists she doesn’t want to put him in harm’s way. The Idiot Ball hustle is going strong in this trio, and there’s no clear winner from any corner!
Aqua leaves Ven behind and upset, where he has a flashback about being beaten by Terra in a practice match. Here, Terra repeats Riku’s line from the end of KH1: “Giving up already? Ven, I thought you were stronger than that!” Jason Dohring did a fairly good job echoing the intonation of Riku’s famous line, I’m glad to hear it. This must be an early scene in the timeline, Ven isn’t talking much in this flashback. You can see Ven’s eyes low and sleepy through the scene.
After the training, Ven seems disappointed, so Terra and Aqua try to pep him up. Eventually, Terra stands up and quotes a strange little stanza while gesturing with his wooden practice Keyblade:
In your hand, take this blade
And so long as you have the makings,
Then through this simple act of taking,
Its wielder you shall one day be made.
We won’t learn the significance of this poem for a while, though Aqua remarks: “Who went and made you Master?” When Terra responds, we realize this was the scene Ven was flashing back to in the Castle of Dreams, when Terra declared that he wanted to be a Keyblade Master and that all three of them had the same dream. Terra then offers his wooden Keyblade to Ven, who grips it by the shaft.
This is all very sweet, and now that we have the context, it’s more clear why Terra was speaking “for” Ventus as I complained about in the Castle of Dreams, since Ven wasn’t speaking much at all. That said, I’d still think it was rude to put words in his mouth even if he were outright nonverbal. Also, everyone’s delivery seems a great deal younger in this sequence, or is it just me? I’ve already talked about my suspicion that they might have planned for younger models for Terra and Aqua at some point, and even if they didn’t, I think this scene would have benefited from some.
Back in the present, Ven is still holding Terra’s training Keyblade and reminiscing when two boys his age walk by. Ven drops the training Keyblade, and one of the boys picks it up: Lea, the original self of Axel. His companion is Isa, the original self of Saïx. Lea teases Ventus and produces two plastic-looking chakrums, and abruptly challenges Ventus to a fight. Ven asks why on earth Lea would do that, but gets no answer, and Ven accepts his challenge. You might expect this to play out as a boss fight, and maybe they intended to do so at some point (considering this is the only world in BBS (aside from the one we’ll be visiting next, which operates under different rules) that ends without a set piece battle at the exact end of the world!), but instead we get a jump cut to when Lea loses. After some banter from everyone, Isa tells Lea that they have to go, and Lea announces that they’re all friends now.
When Isa asks Lea about this behaviour, he announces that “Inside people’s memories, I can live forever,” which explains more about his personality than arguably a large chunk of Days. Then, the two of them stare hopefully up at the castle, asking if they feel ready. We never learn the particulars about their plan, but presumably they were planning on breaking into the Bastion, or some other circumstance that would later entangle them with Organization XIII. Unfortunately, this throws the whole timeline into confusion: what on earth were the two of them hoping to accomplish in the castle that didn’t include them in the original six members of the Organization, but somehow started in their teens, before the original six had even become Nobodies? We may never know.
Ven laments that he doesn’t know who his friends are anymore, and the world comes to an end. Your encounter with Lea gifts you with the Frolic Flame Keyblade, a new Keyblade for Ven emblazoned with the mascot from Lea’s chakrums (which Eamonn suggests is probably supposed to be a Final Fantasy-style Bomb enemy). It’s a pretty good blade for this point in the game, and worth equipping into the next segment: the second set of worlds.