Heroes Week Finale – Those Damn Paladins

It only seems appropriate to finish heroes week with one of the greatest paragons of justice and good in all of fiction. In the time it took me to start this post, I also managed to clean my living room, eat some hummus, and pour myself what I feel is a much-deserved glass of scotch (that last bit is somewhat subject to debate, of course). Interest has sufficiently waned.

Right. Paladins.

These sorts of heroes are the polar opposite of the Evil Overlord type of villain. Defining characteristics include an unprecedented need to champion justice and good, a strong moral compass, chivalrous ways, an unwavering loyalty to their cause, country, and king, and so on and so on. Honestly, they’re also the lapdogs of the heroic world, so there’s also that to consider. A fan-favorite, and very polarizing character, who also happens to become a Paladin is Final Fantasy IV’s Cecil. I’m prepared to take some grief on this one, as I know a few people who just really hate how Cecil turned into a Paladin. My opinion? It was all right. Good story arc and everything, but I’m not really a fan of the supreme goody two-shoeing of Paladins. Onward to example-explanation!

Cecil starts off as a captain of the Red Wings, but as a Dark Knight. Some of his abilities exchange HP for greater damage. This is interesting, as he sacrifices of himself to do harm while he is in this state. He is on a mission to reclaim the various crystals from around the world, which he carries out without many questions until a major crisis of conscience and so on and so on. The important part, however, is his switch to a Paladin.

Eventually Cecil faces himself. He must defend against the powerful onslaught from his former Dark Knight self, doing what Paladins do best: defending. Paladin Cecil survives, showing the error of his former ways. The truth of a Paladin is sacrificing for the protection of others and not to further one’s own personal strength, of course, as demonstrated by these two versions of one character. It’s only because of this transformation that Cecil is able to become the hero he needs to be to save the world (and the moon, I guess) from certain destruction at the hands of Golbez (and, you know, not some other dark force because that would totally be spoilers but if there were another final boss it would certainly be a real pain in the ass).

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