hotandcoldaf: A Blastoise with glasses reading a newspaper (Default)
AF ([personal profile] hotandcoldaf) wrote2013-01-28 03:10 am

FE7 Meta- "My lord, I would swear my service to you."

Original Post on Tumblr

An analysis of Oswin's motivations in swearing his service to Hector, which kind of meanders on from there into contrasting him with Matthew. This one is really unfocused, I'm sorry.

From 14H: False Friends, after chapter completion:
Oswin: Lord Hector! A moment, please.
Hector: What is it, Oswin.
Oswin: Let us return to Ostia. The rumors... I've heard that... Lord Hector, I cannot approve of helping Eliwood...or Pherae...any longer.
Hector:What are you saying?
Oswin: We must think of Ostia's well-being. If Marquess Pherae was involved in a rebellion...
Hector: Oswin. You will take back those words.
Oswin: Lord Hector, I appreciate your feelings...
Hector: I know Eliwood's father very well. I'm telling you that he is a man worthy of our trust. You are in my service! Do you not feel you should follow my orders?
Oswin: ......
Hector: Heed my words, Oswin. You are my brother's vassal. Your duties to guard me come second to this. Return to Ostia, Oswin. You've done your duty. .....Thank you.
Oswin: .....My remarks about Marquess Pherae were improper. I apologize completely.
Hector:Oswin? Stop! That's enough! You need not bend your knee to me!
Oswin: My lord, I would swear my service to you.
Hector: Service...to me?
Oswin: Please accept my lance as your own. Then return it with your blessings.
Hector: Oswin, you...
Oswin: I am a knight in service to Castle Ostia. Until now, I have only offered my lance to Lord Uther. Yet...I now wish to offer you that same service. Please grant me that honor.
Hector: Oswin...

Totally and absolutely shocking revelation: this is quite possibly my favorite scene in the game. Most definitely in the top 3. There is just so much to love here.

Like, this is just such a deviously clever move on Oswin's part. I mean, this early in the plot, Oswin still doesn't really like Hector, much less respect him. And, yeah, this conversation earns him some major respect points, but definitely not enough to complete the transition from thinking of Hector as immature, irresponsible, selfish, violent, etc. to being all Yes, sir! with three exclamation marks like he is in the final chapter. More like getting up to "OK maybe he's not entirely immature and irresponsible. I guess." Which is. Not enough to swear loyalty on. But that's my point, he's not swearing loyalty to Hector for Hector's sake. It's for Uther's.

See, here's the thing, Hector's right. Oswin's duty as a knight dictates that he should return to Ostia. Oswin himself pretty much said so in advising Hector to return. Sticking with Eliwood's search for Elbert means aiding in what could end up being a rebellion against Ostia, that is not something a knight of Ostia should be willingly involved in. Hector's sticking with it because he's Hector and he does what he wants (and doesn't believe for a minute that Elbert's really on board with the whole rebellion thing), but that won't fly for Oswin, and probably neither would trying to say that his orders to protect Hector take precedence, especially not with Hector giving him a formal dismissal here. But Uther entrusted Hector's care to him, he can't really go back without Hector in tow, even if his on-paper obligations say that he should.

Solution: make the on-paper obligations match the personal ones by swearing fealty to Hector. Bam. Suddenly freed from the obligation of returning to Ostia, and he can have his cake of being a good knight and eat it (by which I mean do what Uther wants), too. Extremely deft maneuvering.

(At least until "what Uther wants" turns into "lie to Hector" ahaha whoops, but by that point being a good knight of Ostia would probably involve dragging Hector back to Ostia so the throne remains empty for as little time as possible, so the personal obligations to Uther were always going to win that one, anyway.)

What's also great is how this scene compares to the scene with Matthew in the first chapter. There, Hector straight up tells Matthew that he works for him and not Uther now, and when Matthew asks if he should swear a knightly oath, Hector tells him it'd be unnecessary. And then here, Oswin goes and swears a knightly oath entirely of his own volition and Hector just does not even know how to deal with it. It just says a lot about the differences between Oswin and Matthew and how they relate to Hector and their general attitudes. I mean, it's not like Matthew's any less loyal than Oswin is. (If anything, a spy's work demands more loyalty than a knight's, y'know?) They just approach it differently. Oswin's very rigid and personally-focused, while Matthew's more... freeform about it, I guess you could say.

You can see this in their B-support, too, where Matthew asks why they're still following Hector around all of creation when, when you really think about it, it's not really what's best for Ostia, and Oswin's reply is that he's sworn to serve Hector, and so he will, even if it is a huge pain in the ass. Because, I mean, Matthew likes and is used to Hector so much more than Oswin does. I wouldn't go quite so far as to call Hector and Matthew friends, but they've clearly spent enough time in each other's company that they're pretty comfortable with each other, while Hector and Oswin are both really, really prickly with each other, all mutually being "man I really don't like that guy but I guess I have to tolerate him being around, so annoying".

So it's not really a huge deal when Hector drags Matthew into his service, but when Oswin swears his service to Hector of his own initiative, it's, well. Shocking! Hector is not expecting anything like this in the least. I mean, look at how freaked out he is here. Nothing else in the game elicits quite this same "holy shit what is happening I'm not sure I'm OK with this!" reaction. It's just the last possible thing he would've expected Oswin to do and he just cannot even.

It's just. Fantastic, OK? Best characters. Best house. Best subplot. I love it so much. So much, you guys.