sincere: TOV: Yuri is posed mid-attack (the moves of the dance ;;)
Kay ([personal profile] sincere) wrote2010-11-25 01:48 am

Tales of Vesperia: Sodia

Let's talk Sodia.

There are, as far as I can tell, two major camps in fandom: There is a camp of people who think Sodia is perfect and she and Flynn should get married as soon as is physically possible, and there is a camp of people who think Sodia is a whorebitch who should die for what she did at the Enduring Shrine of Zaude. Then there are a few rare people who don't ship Sodia/Flynn and don't hate Sodia.

I'm in that last category and I think more people should be! I want to explain Sodia's actions to both groups.


Sodia stabs Yuri, our beloved main character, at the top of Zaude. He falls over the edge of the mile-high shrine and isn't seen for -- days, or something, it's not really made clear. Some amount of time.

Let's first look at why she did this.


Before Zaude

Fact: Every time Sodia has ever encountered Yuri, he is being an ass or getting away with murder. Sometimes literally, sometimes both at once!
- The first time they meet, Sodia is like "Holy shit, it's the criminal from the wanted poster!" and Flynn is like "No, leave him alone, he's my best friend :( " Against her better judgment, Sodia relents. Yuri then breaks into the magistrate's palace.

- The Flynn Brigade has barricaded Nordopolica. Sodia is manning the entrance to the Weasand of Cados so no one from Mantaic can get through. Yuri and his cohorts set shit on fire and terrify their mounts so they can illegally break through the barricade, making this a personal failure of hers, much to her agitation.

- Then they meet after Nordopolica, when Sodia arrives on the scene in time to see Yuri yelling at Flynn, who is just standing there without even mustering a word in his own defense, except to ask unhappily if Yuri will kill him, too, just like he killed Ragou and Cumore. Yuri says yes. He then escapes while Sodia desperately tries to engage Flynn, who is just standing there unresponsive.

- In Yormgen they meet again. Yuri takes Flynn off to the side so he can yell at him some more, over a mistake that has already hurt Flynn deeply. Then Flynn is so consumed with worry over Yuri that he sends his subordinates away to go help him at the Shrine of Baction instead of helping Flynn protect the crown prince.

- Yuri reacts with complete disdain to being saved by her, showing not an ounce of gratitude or appreciation ("Tell him not to stick his nose where it doesn't belong.") and actually being actively rude to Flynn ("Yeah, well, unlike your ~precious Captain~, some of us aren't perfect.") --How is Sodia supposed to know that's not sarcasm? And when Sodia tries to confront him over this behavior, Yuri says, "Whatever, I don't have time to listen to your bitching." (Paraphrased.)

- When the party saves Sodia on Heracles, she reacts to Yuri with the same scorn and dismissal that he gives to her. She says, "You don't belong beside my captain," and he says, "So what are you going to do about it?"

This is almost literally every time they meet before Zaude. Yuri practically demanded that she attack him. He goaded and angered her at every turn. Every time she tried to make him understand her problem, he dismissed her. He was a criminal, a murderer, and a rude bastard.

And, most damningly, she never saw him do anything to indicate that he gave a shit about Flynn.

Sodia had only ever seen Flynn's side of the relationship. She knows that Flynn deeply admires and cares about Yuri -- and that he's been torturing himself trying to think of how to justify Yuri's actions, bending over backwards for someone who's only abused his friendship to escape responsibility for his actions. Her beloved captain, the ideal of knighthood, acts differently around Yuri -- sacrifices his ideals to make excuses for Yuri, sacrifices his own safety for Yuri.

In Sodia's eyes this was a completely one-sided relationship: Flynn adored this criminal who had no respect for how much Flynn cared about him. Whenever Sodia saw Yuri he was hurting Flynn, and he didn't seem to care; whenever Sodia tried to talk to Yuri about what he was doing to Flynn, Yuri shrugged it off or outright insulted her or even Flynn -- or dared her to do something about it. He sounded guilty. He acted guilty. And Sodia had no reason to think he wasn't guilty.

That's why she starts forming this opinion: "Your existence hurts Flynn. Stay away from him."


At Zaude

Yuri and Sodia are at each other's throats, but between Flynn and the rest of Yuri's party, they keep them at heel long enough to go fight the bad guy. They go to confront Alexei, and Alexei shoots a laser at Yuri. Flynn shoves Yuri out of the way, and takes the laser through the shoulder himself.

Sodia's heart stops beating.

Her top like, three priorities are making sure Flynn is okay, and then her fourth priority is glaring at Yuri. But Flynn is okay. He's alive, he regains consciousness pretty quickly, and I'll bet you anything he's more concerned about Yuri than himself. Where's Yuri? Is he okay? What's going on?

Of course she was angry. It was Yuri's fault that Flynn was hurt. And Flynn was worried about Yuri. It happened just like she'd predicted. This one-sided disastrous friendship had gone so far that Flynn would have died for someone who had never, ever shown any sign of valuing him.

Sodia follows Yuri's group to the top of the tower. She finds Yuri alone. No one can see them. She impulsively races for him, draws her blade, and stabs him.

And immediately she sees his face, her hands, the sword, and she realizes what she's done. She'd let herself be blinded by rage and frustration and Yuri's own taunting of her. She'd gone from a protector, someone who reacted to uphold the law and defend innocents, to a murderer who acts as if she's above the law, breaking it to suit her personal desires. Vigilante justice. She'd sunk to his level.

Note that in the PS3 version, Alexei shoots Flynn after the fight on top of Zaude; Flynn is conscious at the end of the big cutscene. But there's a more emotional impact because you don't have the fight with Alexei and a big cutscene between the dramatic shot and her reaction.


After Zaude

We know that Sodia has been brooding over this. Everyone thinks Yuri is still alive. Flynn believes it, Estelle believes it. Flynn sends out ships into the ocean to look for him. Sodia is the only one who knows that Yuri wasn't just knocked off that tower. He'd been run through when he fell. The reason he hadn't surfaced was because he was almost certainly dead. Because she'd murdered him.

She struggled with that alone. She probably still believed she'd been right about him. But the action, itself, was wrong. The action made her no better than him.

When Witcher decided to go find Yuri and get him to help Flynn, Sodia believed that they were going on a fool's errand. But she couldn't think of anyone else who they could turn to; she'd given up hope. When she sees Yuri alive, she's obviously shocked -- and she's withdrawn, troubled, and defeated. And that disgusts Yuri more than anything else. He outright taunts her for it ("Wow. Could you be any more worthless? [...] Everything you've done -- what did you do that for?"), right there in front of everyone, trying to force a reaction out of her. But even though her tepid response doesn't satisfy him, he doesn't tell anyone what happened.

Yuri giving her nothing to ease her conscience is much more devastating for her than it would be if he'd told everyone what she'd done. If he told them, the burden would be lifted off her shoulders -- if he attacked her, he would prove her right. (Which, he implies later, is part of why he isn't doing it. Suffer for what you did; he's not making it easier for you.)

So when he goes out, she follows him. And this is the first of their two conversations where Yuri gives her a chance to understand him.
SODIA: Yuri Lowell! Why?! Why didn’t you call me out for my actions that time? I… I tried to kill you…
YURI: Oh, I’m not letting it go. But I don’t have time to deal with someone who gave up on everything.
SODIA: I haven’t given up…
YURI: No? So why haven’t you gone to help Flynn, even alone? You wanted to protect him so badly you’d kill me. Why won’t you protect him now?!
SODIA: I…I can’t protect him by myself… Please…save him… (looking down) Please…
YURI: You don’t have to tell me to do that.
SODIA: Please…
YURI: You know, there’s one thing I agree with you on.
SODIA: ?
YURI: I’m a criminal. I could be killed any time. Flynn is the perfect knight. A perfect leader. He doesn’t need a criminal by his side.
SODIA: …
Yuri glances at Sodia over his shoulder.
YURI: I’m just standing in until the right person comes along.
SODIA: Yuri…

Holy shit! It's like halfway through that conversation, Yuri finally decided to be honest with her about something. And, to tell the truth, it's probably something that's very difficult for him to talk about: Yuri thinks Flynn is a hero, and he's just some worthless criminal. He really thinks that Flynn deserves someone better than him. He has Flynn on the same pedestal that she does: he believes that Flynn is the person who's going to save the world, even when Yuri is literally doing that. That's nothing. What Flynn is doing is important. He doesn't ever want Flynn to be hurt.

That's why Yuri tells her later, he understands what she did. He said, it was an impulse, a desperate act to protect someone you care about. I know how that works. I'd do the same.


Extrapolation + PS3

Sodia finally got a chance to know Yuri -- and to realize that she's misjudged him. That Flynn's feelings for him are not one-sided. That their friendship is important to Yuri; that he's protective of Flynn, just like she is. She realizes that he grudgingly puts up with her because he knows that as much as Yuri hates her, he trusted -- and still trusts, despite her emo -- that she'd do anything to protect his best friend.

Maybe she even realizes that they're actually not so different.

And you don't see her realize this in the 360 version, although from their conversations, I knew that she was going to have to come to that understanding; she'd changed too much and learned too much about him to go back to the crazy. But you do see it for a fact in the PS3 version.

Sodia is the one who makes Flynn join the party after Aurnion is built, even though Flynn himself has been thinking about it again and again. She tells him to go with them, and we see a dramatic pan on Yuri's face while we're talking, so we know that this is something significant, more than just a surface conversation. When she says "You need to go with them to help everyone", what she's really saying is "I understand now that he's not the person I thought he was. I would never let you go with that person, but I see that he's actually a good friend to you and he'll take care of you."

Yuri told Sodia that he trusted her to do what's best for Flynn; this is Sodia telling Yuri that she finally realizes that he wants what's best for Flynn, too. Maybe it's because their conversations made her realize she was mistaken about him; maybe it's because she realized that she was holding Yuri -- or even Flynn -- up to impossible standards. Maybe it's both.


Therefore...

At the end of the day, Sodia is a good person with a fast temper and a deep obsession with Flynn, who made a stupid mistake to try and protect him, and struggled with regret and dealt with the guilt as best she could, and she actually did show signs of being willing to rethink her opinions, even in the 360 version.

Was her obsession with Flynn, her putting him on a pedestal, and her impulse reaction at Zaude healthy? lol no. Were her actions good? Obviously not. But they were the result of a long, long series of bad impressions, bad behavior on Yuri's part, and even outright deliberate taunting. Yuri practically demanded that she attack him if she really wanted to protect Flynn; he never did anything to convince her that she was wrong about him, partially because he agreed with her and might even have wanted her to help Flynn find a better love interest best friend.

Stabbing him was an impulse action, a moment of weakness and a loss of control. It's natural to regret it, and it's natural to react to that regret with introspection and, eventually, coming to terms with what that means.

Anyway, if everyone were healthy and did good things all the time, it'd be a pretty boring game. Conflicted protagonists, who aren't cast as villains even when they do shitty things like stab the MC, are awesome. And even though the 360 version left her character development implied rather than spelled-out, it's a big change for her, and a really good one.

While Sodia is far from one of my favorite characters, I think she's interesting and realistic, and she did something that, honestly, I think made the game better!
simargl: thoughtful (tyki)

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[personal profile] simargl 2010-11-25 01:49 pm (UTC)(link)
Thank you for this. During the game, I had a feeling Sodia would get a lot of hate and I was unfortunately right.

At Nordopolica when Yuri says he'll kill Flynn, it's obvious to us he's just being snippy but to someone who doesn't known him that would sound like a genuine death threat. From Sodia's POV, Yuri's been assassinating military figures and has threatened to do the same to Flynn, so why wouldn't she act?
cypher: (lawful good means hero)

[personal profile] cypher 2010-11-25 04:20 pm (UTC)(link)
Thank you for writing all this up! It's really helpful to see it all laid out like this. I liked Sodia a lot at the start of the game -- I have sort of a weakness for the ones who are trying to stick with the rules even when that makes them come across as the no-fun one -- and Zaude made that really hard for me. But looking at her interactions with Yuri as a whole, seeing only what she sees of him, really does make it a lot easier to see how she got pushed to such an extreme.

(Also, ffs, Yuri, why such a jerk to people.)

I agree with you, but...

[personal profile] gelsamel 2011-04-09 09:18 am (UTC)(link)
I think you're wrong in one section of this. I've always had the same view as you and I was puzzled and confused as to why everyone hates Sodia. But when you say;

"Yuri giving her nothing to ease her conscience is much more devastating for her than it would be if he'd told everyone what she'd done. If he told them, the burden would be lifted off her shoulders -- if he attacked her, he would prove her right. (Which, he implies later, is part of why he isn't doing it. Suffer for what you did; he's not making it easier for you.)"

I think you're wrong.

I agree that he finds it disgusting that she had withdrawn like that, but he isn't trying to devastate her or punish her for her actions here. I see Yuri as a character who instantly understood what she did and why she did it, in fact this is shown throughout the entire game, he has an amazing ability to understand and empathise with the other rational characters. He understood her resolve and instantly saw her regret (implied by the framing of the animation) to see her question her resolve because she made one mistake in hubris pissed Yuri off, but he wasn't punishing her by 'Not easing her conscience' he was encouraging her to stop being so depressed.

Their later conversation is confirmation of this. "No? So why haven’t you gone to help Flynn, even alone? You wanted to protect him so badly you’d kill me. Why won’t you protect him now?!" he says. This isn't an admonishment, it's encouragement disguised as admonishment. He is trying to show her that to go back on her beliefs, ideals and resolve just because she let hubris get a hold of her once is wrong.

Back at their first conversation:

Yuri says "Wow, could you be any more worthless?"

On the surface this is a simply insult, but as we soon see it's connected to the next thing he says. Indeed Sodia takes this as an insult at first ("What did you say!?" she says.)

He goes on to explain the previous statement: "You give up already? Everything you've done, what was it all for?" Everything is the key word, he is referring right there to her stabbing him. Yeah, the other stuff too, but more specifically the climax of her resolve (albeit resolve blinded by hubris).

She knows what he is talking about: "I did it all for Commander Flynn. Even that one time..." she says.

"Heh, you talk about doing it all for Flynn, but you're just whining. You gave up." and then the key phrase, his whole point for everything he says to her: "You forgot your resolve". He isn't punishing her for stabbing him, he honestly doesn't give a shit about her stabbing him because he understood why she did it. What he gives a shit about is that he got stabbed ultimately for nothing because after stabbing him she gave up! She instantly realised her mistake but then instead of making Yuri's death mean something to her goal and her resolve she pulled back and gave up on herself and she gave up on Flynn.

Yuri knows how a real knight should act. Afterall he is an ex-knight and he admires and respects Flynn too. The final line that ties this all together is in their other conversation; "I’m just standing in until the right person comes along." -- In this context, if it wasn't obvious before then it's obvious now. This refers to Sodia herself. Yuri is encouraging her to be the Second-In-Command that she should be, 'stop being such a wimp', 'where is that resolve I saw' is the type of thing he is saying. For her to give up after making a mistake, to become depressed and withdrawn, to lose her resolve. Those things take her further away from Flynn, she becomes less like the ideal knight, less like the perfect leader and thus less "The right person" to be Flynn's partner and Second-In-Command.

His admonishment is actually encouragement but it's only partly for her sake. The other person's sake it is for is Flynn's. Yuri knows Flynn deserves better than him and yet the person closest to being appropriate for Flynn has done a 180° turn.

I'm talking solely from experience from the 360 version, but if anyone looked past the surface of individual comments this interaction is actually very obviously implied, it's not like it's even subtle or anything. But I think people who hate on Sodia are missing the entire message of the game and the ideals that Yuri follows. Sodia is not only a confirmation of this message but also a litmus test to the player, it seems most people failed that test.

Though, about the two major camps... I don't really see anyone thinking Sodia is perfect or anything... it's 99% pure blinded hate. In most fandoms it's usually two camped like that but with Sodia she is pretty much The Scrappy and everyone hates her.

Re: I agree with you, but...

[personal profile] gelsamel 2011-04-09 09:29 am (UTC)(link)
I should also say, further confirmation of this is Yuri's interaction with Raven/Schwann before Zaude. When you factor in how Yuri treats and interacts with the other characters (generally trying to better them passively) it isn't a surprise that when he confronts Sodia he admonsishes her in a way intended to cause her to have her own revelation rather than him just giving the answer straight to her.
ext_768614: (Default)

[identity profile] jdongg.livejournal.com 2011-05-06 02:40 am (UTC)(link)
I never really liked Sodia as a character and I still don't like her after playing the PS3 version, but your post is logical and definitely let me view her from a different perspective. Awesome read!