As always, massive spoilers.
Last time, we figured out that the one thing that seemingly makes a Xenoblade character like Meyneth or Zanza a god, the Monado, isn’t unique to gods. This makes it even more baffling that the party’s out to kill Zanza when they let Egil get off easy, but I have more questions yet to come.
At 10:52 Fiora declares that every living thing has the right to choose a path. She’s probably forgetting the thousands of Armus and Flamis and Krabbles and other living things that the party killed off for experience points. I’m sure some people think it’s silly or pointless that in Pokémon everything faints instead of dying, but Fiora’s line would make more sense if the party had only been knocking out animals far and wide all this time.
So Zanza’s baffled and astounded that Shulk has created a third Monado even though he’s a mortal, but his thinking’s pretty screwed up—if making a weapon that has the power of creation just by using the power of your heart doesn’t qualify someone as a god, what would? I guess Shulk’s a non-immortal god, but to consider him a regular person by this point in the story really defies explanation.
In any case, at 12:19 Zanza stands defeated and says the power of a god cannot be overcome. He should know that’s not true since he already killed Meyneth, but here the story throws me an even bigger loop than anything yet. Alvis’ voice interrupts and explains that Zanza’s power was limited by “the providence of the world.”
Hold it right there. What’s the difference between providence and fate? Like I mentioned in part 2, at 10:00 Fiora says fate isn’t set in stone and there are infinite possibilities. That should be the go-home line for a story about characters who defy fate, but if Alvis’ explanation holds up, then Shulk, Fiora, Melia, and company are only capable of defying fate because providence limited Zanza’s power. Is fate like B-tier destiny while providence is S-tier destiny that overrides it?
Also, where does determinism fit into this universe? Even Meyneth and Zanza, who created the universe (or maybe they technically didn’t, but I’ll go there in a few paragraphs), had to work within the existing framework of providence. So does providence control everything? If it does, then free will is only an illusion and all actions can be traced to the Big Bang or whatever you would call the creation of the Xenoblade universe.
…or does Alvis control everything? At 12:50 he says “I am Monado. I was here at the beginning and I will proclaim the end.” Is he a Calvinist Christian God? Is he the S-tier god to Zanza’s C-tier god? Is Alvis himself providence? Those were my thoughts, but then the next couple of minutes happened.
At 1:53, Shulk, having defeated the final boss even if he wasn’t in the battle party (he wasn’t in mine), is shown a vision of Earth. Alvis says this is his home, though whether he’s talking about Earth or that universe is left ambiguous—probably on purpose. If he’s talking about Earth, then Alvis definitely isn’t providence or God. If he’s talking about the universe, then he can’t be God but he might still be providence. Shulk watches the past play out: at 2:42 the ancient human-form Zanza hits the go button on a science experiment gone wrong. It’s like Ultima-Chernobyl or like if the Large Hadron Collider actually did what some people believe it can do—it wipes out the universe. Then it creates a new one where Meyneth and Zanza are gods instead of humans. As for what happened to the rest of the people on the space station at the time of the experiment, who knows?
But here’s my question: did fate—or providence, or destiny, or whatever we’re calling it—exist in this previous universe? If so, then why did providence limit Zanza’s power as a god so that he couldn’t destroy the world but did not limit the power of human technology so that it couldn’t destroy the universe? If destiny didn’t exist in the old Earth universe, then wouldn’t that mean that human Zanza pressing the button created the “providence of the world” in the Xenoblade universe that eventually overthrew him?
All I walked away from this with is that I don’t understand what fate, destiny, and providence are, what they do, what part of them the heroes of Xenoblade‘s story are out to destroy, and what part of them they want to keep. Providence is greater than fate. Got it. Fate isn’t set in stone. Got it. Shulk and company are felling a god and seizing their destiny. Got it. Is providence greater than destiny? Are providence and destiny set in stone? Are Shulk and company also seizing providence and fate, or only destiny? Is there a difference? I don’t know.
Maybe a better name for this post would be “Not Making Sense of Xenoblade’s Ending.” Next time, though, we cover the limited-bursts-of-omnipotence dilemma and why everyone from Link to Aladdin to the Dragonball cast to Bruce Almighty to Kyon to Shulk can never seem to use them right.