The Missing Link
In space, no one can hear you scream. In a Spoiler topic, no one can hear your Twilight Princess virginity wither away. Just so we’re clear, in case—you know—the title of this thing didn’t sink in, this will reveal just about every secret that Twilight Princess has to offer. Granted, it won’t be everything, but you’d have better finished the game or truly not care about knowing the plot to go any further.
The spoilers begin…
Wait for it…
So as I was thinking about what to put in the actual… content of this article, I got into a rut. Pretty much, if I were to just tell you all the things that involve that thing we call plot, pretty much I’d be giving you a spoilerific, top secret version… of that review I already did earlier for you guys. Immediately it was red flagged as boring and consequentially blackballed… but what else am I to do? Well, thankfully enough of my friends, colleagues, enemies, and gophers have gradually finished the game to spark interesting conversation about several of the more intriguing aspects of the Twilight Princess… and so instead of talking about mere facts found within Twilight Princess (something I’ve been evilly doing to you guys in non-spoiler topics… something that you guys haven’t caught me doing*), I want to talk over with you all some theory and speculation about just what happened in this game… because let me tell you, Twilight Princess is one trippy game!
Before I begin, please note that my word is not the final say on this. These are a lot of preliminary ideas jotted down for the purpose of discussion. Moreover, Twilight Princess is perhaps the most ambiguous Zelda game to date; suffice to say, a gamer will have more questions about the game AFTER playing it than before he or she even picked up the controller. As such, disagreement is not only welcome; it’s encouraged! I’m interested in hearing your thoughts about the game, both compliments and criticisms about it as well as comments and critiques of the ideas I’m presenting. Please, if you disagree, say something! It’s all good. The Wallet Monster will not come and get you.
The World of Hyrule
Let’s face it. Hyrule is big. Bigger than big. Bigger than the biggest big you’ve ever thought of. Okay, not quite that big, but you get the idea. Literally, it takes 16 minutes just to make a loop around Hyrule Field on foot… and five minutes on horseback, and that’s much less than the size of Hyrule from end to end. And in that big world, you’ve got lots of familiar places. You’ve got Hyrule Castle Town, Kakariko Village, the Lost Woods, Lake Hylia, the Gerudo Desert, Death Mountain, among others… all those places we know and love. However, before anyone tries to match up the world map with Ocarina of Time geography, think again. If you look at both the Wii and GameCube versions of the maps (which are mirror inverses of one another), your best shot at replicating a map from any other game is with the GameCube version; it matches Ocarina’s map relatively well. However, it’s not exactly a bed of roses. The Temple of Time and the Lost Woods are well out of place, both effectively located south of Lake Hylia when they should be north. No matter how you slice the dice, the geography isn’t an exact match here, and so you might as well just proclaim the whole thing to be a brand new, never-before-seen-ever map than try to adapt it from something we’ve seen previously.
Beyond this, however, one of my friends inspired me to realise something rather significant about Twilight’s world. In this game, Hyrule is divided into smaller regions of management called provinces. (Canadians, you’ll feel right at home in this discussion.) There are six provinces in the game, but really there are only four of significant interest. The Desert Province and the Peak Province… they’re really nothing more than territories at best. Of course there are those renegade goblin-like warriors hanging out at that desert encampment… and there’s Bigfoot, but I don’t think any of them would consider themselves to be Hyrulian whatsoever, so none of them really count. As such, we can wipe them off the map. This leaves four: Eldin, Lanayru, Faron, and Ordona Provinces.
If you look closely at the first three of those words, you can actually make out the goddesses’ names in them. Eldin has the Goddess of Power in it, Lanayru has the Goddess of Wisdom, and you can tell that Faron is based off of Farore, the Goddess of Courage. Now, while we cannot say for certain why these have the goddesses’ names in them, a good theory was put forth that these were the first three provinces of the kingdom of Hyrule, suggesting that Ordona Province—and thus Ordon Village—is perhaps the newest settled or acquired province of the kingdom. This might very well solve the pointy ear problem (or lack thereof) in Ordon.
Yet I decided to take this one step further and look at the governmental structure of these provinces. I figured that these provinces were very much like the provinces of Canada or the states of the US… settled areas with full-fledged governmental bodies that are all subservient to the crown at Hyrule Castle (which, ironically, isn’t in a province… Washington D.C., anyone?). But when I thought about this, I found out that something didn’t add up. Eldin has Kakariko and all the Gorons. Lanayru as Hyrule Castle Town (which is not bound to the castle, according to the map) and the Zoras. What… does Faron Province have? Okay, you’ve got the lamp oil salesman and his bird. And the Light Spirit. And monkeys. But really, there’s no settlements there. Ordon is in Ordona; there’s no town in Faron… So why wasn’t Ordona Village just classified to be an annex to Faron Province? Seems a rather simple reasonable question, no? My supposition here is that, even though we don’t see them in the game, the Kokiri are still out there… somewhere… just beyond the trees. After all, this is the Lost Woods. It’s some good hiding grounds for them… and obnoxious Skullkids. Grr.
En route to Dungeon Seven, the City in the Sky, you end up in the Hidden Village (as the map so proudly declares). Once Link goes sniper mode and clears all of the bandits out of town (the Hawkeye/Bow combination is such a beautiful weapon!), all that is left of the town is this crazy cat lady, no less than 25 felines, and the obligatory Cucco. The old lady gives you the story that her village used to serve the Royal Family of Hyrule… and that they were given a very special mission to wait for the one to come with the Rod of Dominion.
Okay, time out. Something’s fishy here. I smell a Sheikah. Let’s go down the checklist here. You’ve got this group of people serving the royalty of Hyrule. Check. You’ve got some crazy lady who is much braver that she really should be. Check. She keeps prattling on about some sort of task given to her that she must see through. Check. The only thing that we don’t see are crazy get-ups like Impa’s or Sheik’s… and the word “Sheikah.” (However, to their credit, the Triforce plays a very integral role in this game, yet nowhere in the game text does the word “Triforce” get said either.)
But are they Sheikah? The jury is out, but TML thinks yes.
Speaking of this, just what is the deal with the ghost town motif in Kakariko Village and the Hidden Village anyway? What year are we in, Doc? 1885? Honestly, I felt as if I just stepped out of the medieval era and into a bad Will Smith movie.
The Triforce(?) and the Twilight
I found it very weird in this game that never do you actually see the word “Triforce” anywhere in the game text (at least, not that I’ve found). Ganondorf clearly has the Triforce of Power; he shows it to us when we finally get to his lair in the tower of Dungeon Nine, Hyrule Castle. And there he alludes to the fact that Zelda herself is in possession of the same “absolute power those chosen by the gods” have… which makes me think that she has the Triforce of Wisdom. The argument is more convincing when you consider that, unlike all of the other people of Hyrule, she didn’t turn into a spirit when the Twilight stuff invaded her land. Some people will argue that the mourning shroud causes her to not turn, but I honestly don’t think that the shroud is of any significance other than a piece of clothing. (After all, she does reveal her face to us while standing within the thick of the Twilight junk.) I really do think that the Triforce of Wisdom is hers… and it’s that which kept her from turning in the Twilight.
And that brings us to Link. Link doesn’t turn into a spirit form either. He still exists in the real world as a wolf, not being sent off into some secluded place where only spirits live… reinforced by the fact that the spirits themselves cannot see him. Why the discrepancy? I might be going out on a limb here to suggest it, but I believe that this is an indication of Link having the Triforce of Courage. He has a Triforce image on his
But even then, I get weirded out about Dungeon Eight, the Palace of Twilight. That is clearly the Twilight Realm… yet Link doesn’t automatically turn back to a wolf when he enters. He only does so when he gets hit by that dark crystal dust that Zant put all over the place. (Presumably this is the same stuff that Zant used on the Twili to change them from bluish-happy Twili to reddish-angry Twili. Who knows?) We’ve also seen Link retain his wolf form in the world of light after meeting Zelda for the first time. AND we’ve also seen Midna show her true form in the world of light (a.k.a. Hyrule) once the Twilight leaves Hyrule, but not before… so there has to be something to do with the Twilight’s departure to change the rules like this. Or maybe it has to do with the magic Zelda invoked upon Midna after being cursed by Zant after Dungeon Three, the Lakebed Temple… or maybe it has to do with the Master Sword? This one is one of those questions that really can never be truly answered, but there is definitely something that makes the Twilight Realm not all of what it appears to be on the surface.
The Missing Fairies
I mentioned this in the spoiler-free review, but I wanted to hit this topic again. Throughout Hyrule, it’ll be a rare day if you could come across one of our winged friends… or is it? What I discovered almost by coincidence was that all of the fairies in Hyrule are hanging out over in Gerudo Desert, down in the Cave of Ordeals. Like its analogue in Wind Waker, it’s a 50-level dungeon consisting of a single room on each floor with a few enemies in it. Killing them all opens the next floor down, and rewards shall be yours should you make it all the way!
But the most interesting part of this is that all of the Great Fairies, you know, those larger fairy-kin that have previously taken up residence all over Hyrule to heal you to full and teach you wonderful things, are living down at each floor that is a multiple of 10. Once you reach them, they will unlock the feature of releasing their personal fairy horde to one of the four springs in Hyrule where you met the Light Spirits. Now, some might not look into this very much, but I thought it was interesting that the fairies—or at least the lion’s share of them—fled Hyrule before the Twilight hit, thus allowing them to be safe deep within Gerudo Desert… that is until the Bridge of Eldin was dropped atop them! And so thus, it’s now Link’s mission to go tell the fairies that they can return.
Speaking of fairies, as a quick aside (to be turned into a much longer article later), I significantly appreciate that the fairies do not fill you back up to full health and instead are only worth eight hearts. You might disagree, and that’s cool. But we will be discussing that later! Promise!
The Glowing Sages
As I’ve mentioned in earlier articles, this game can be downright creepy and weird from time to time. Sometimes I have this need to storm into Miyamoto’s and Aonuma’s houses and make sure they haven’t been hitting the booze (or worse!) too heavily. (Need I mention the cutscene right before the Lakebed Temple? Moving on.) But seriously… the glowing sages of wonderment gave me vast amounts of concern that something weird was going on in some developer’s head. Despite the fact that they look like something out of Rayman (where all of their body parts are physically disjoint from every other part of their body), they glow… and they tell Link that he’s to assemble this object of pure and utter evil which is a portal to where all the evil people of the world were previously imprisoned. Nice. (These are the same sages that thought it would be a good idea to send Ganondorf, King of Evil, into a realm inhabited by thousands of people who were just like him earlier in life. Good job, guys!)
Those of you who were not sleeping during class when your Wii-fessor showed you this video would have noticed that there were at one time six of these guys (until Samuel L. Ganondorf killed one of those fill-in-the-blanks for good)… and even I was not observant to notice that the spires of the Arbiter’s Ground upon which they stood were imbued with the crests of the Six Medallions from Ocarina of Time. Could it be!? Gasp and egads, have the Ocarina of Time sages returned in their full glory!?
Try as I might, I have such a terrible time accepting that idea. First off, they all seem to be… well… mannish… for as mannish as glowing figures with detachable arms can be. Compare this to the fact that more than half of our beloved Ocarina sages were females (all of which had a little special something for Link… except maybe Impa… ewww…). Moreover, I have a hard time accepting that our Ocarina sages would… become something this… glowy. When Laruto and Fado died for their causes as Earth and Wind Sages in Wind Waker, they didn’t get the same makeover. I have a hard time seeing our Ocarina sages getting a treatment this… different. Plus there’s the fact that there was a seventh sage, the One Sage to rule them all, the One Sage to find them, the One Sage to bring them all and in the darkness bind them, Zelda herself. She’s not represented in that lot, and I reckon she should be, especially since Link to the Past seems to rely on this seven number rather heavily.
So who are they? I could see only one major alternative to them, and the key to this I believed was in the way Zelda presented her story of the creation legend in Twilight Princess. According to her version, the goddesses did not create the Hylians directly (a direct counter to the Ocarina creation story). Rather, they created a separate, unnamed race which the goddesses then tasked with the directive of creating the Hylians. This deviation from the classic story of Din, Nayru, and Farore struck me really oddly as there was no real reason to make significant changes to that story without reason. So I’m guessing that Nintendo actually included this new race somewhere within Twilight Princess. And there are two possibilities. You could say it’s the Oocca, but… I just can’t believe that a bunch of glorified Cuccos would be in a position to make the Hylian race, especially since the ones that do talk seem quite scatter-brained. My choice, rather, are that these six sages—who admittedly have been in Hyrule since ancient times guarding the Mirror of Twilight—are a much better candidate. After all, somehow they managed to capture Ganondorf and attempt to execute him in the Arbiter’s Grounds. After all, capturing Ganondorf is a feat that Link himself has not been able to do himself to date, so they’ve got to have some semblance of power to them. They seem a logical choice.
Zant and Ganondorf
And so speaking of Ganondorf, he got sent into the Twilight Realm where he appeared to Zant in the form of a god, allowing Zant to harness Ganondorf’s power in order to overthrow Princess Midna of the Twili. Yet other than this little bit of Ganondorf’s history, this is the most we see of the guy… until we get to the end of the game (and oh, what an end of the game it was!).
But Zant is really the one that takes centre stage in this game as the major villain, and Zant… well, I’m of mixed emotions of him. Up until the Palace of Twilight, Zant was awesome. He was intimidating, frightening, and always one step ahead of you… he was just as evil as Ganondorf, and I felt helpless in the wake of his power. Yet, tragically this feeling ends once you confront him for “the final time” in Dungeon Eight. When I walked into that chamber and looked into Zant’s eyes, it took only a mere number of seconds before Zant went from an ominous figure to a two year old with a bad temper tantrum. All of those “It’s not fair!” lines just made me want to slap him across the face! But seriously… does Zant merely have issues, or what’s the deal with this split personality? But before we answer that, let’s move onto Ganondorf.
Ganondorf is done with this let’s-let-Hyrule-live-in-peace-just-with-me-as-king thing. He wants Hyrule to burn and fall into shadow. He wants revenge and how! And he uses Zant in order to get him back to Hyrule to rule as king once again. And boy, how he defends that kingdom! (The final battle with Ganondorf is probably the most fanservice tucked into 20-25 minutes I have ever seen!) Yet Ganondorf isn’t finally put to death by Link’s sword, Zelda’s bow, or even Midna’s… hair… thingy… No, it’s by Zant committing hari-kari and finally causing Ganondorf to… die? What does happen to Ganondorf anyway? His Triforce symbol is no longer there… and the last we see of him is him still standing(!) only to disappear a few seconds later when the camera moves. Okay, so maybe they’re being dramatic, but Zant’s death… does what to Ganondorf again?!
The whole thing could be very symbolic (as I’m thinking the creepy cutscene told to us by Lanayru is supposed to be very symbolic), but I honestly think that there’s something more than that. I’m think that there’s some symbiosis that exists between Zant and Ganondorf that solves both of these problems at the same time. Zant obviously has use of the Triforce of Power; Ganondorf obviously has the power of Twilight at his disposal. This obviously isn’t just an issue of “Hey, you got some pork rinds in my caviar; hey, you got some caviar in my pork rinds” kind of deal. This is a true merging of those two powers combined into one. It’s as if the two of them shared the same spirit. This has two really nifty possibilities, I believe:
At the very least, it’s a definite possibility!
Link, Princess Midna, and Princess Zelda
Oh what complicated webs we weave. These three characters will complicate and confuse beyond believe, and whenever you think you’ve got those characters nailed, they go and do something unexpected.
So Midna’s a princess too… and she also happens to be on Zelda’s side (although it’s not apparent at first that she is). Her character (and maturity!) (and courage!) grows dramatically over the course of the game big time; she is, in fact, the most dynamic character of the game, stealing away the slot that is typically reserved for one of the big three: Link, Zelda, or Ganondorf. It’s because of this that Midna becomes a complicated character… and so her actions in the endgame likely have a very lengthy, drawn out, and elaborate rationale, so let’s see what happens when we dig in.
Midna firstmost seems to be older than Zelda is; in the ending sequence, she almost seems to look at Zelda and, almost as if in a mentor’s position, tells Zelda that she’ll “do alright” if she keeps her attitude and wits about her. Yes, Midna eventually grows to understand and respect Zelda quite strongly… almost as if her and Zelda shared a sisterly relationship of some sort, with the Little Sis (Zelda) coming to bail out Big Sis (Midna) in a time of need. For what its worth, Zelda seems to be quite fond of Midna as well, and I have to think that them sharing their hearts and experiences for most of the game is an easy explanation, but more importantly quite telling of Zelda’s character. (Exactly how they shared their hearts is a debate in and of itself; whether it was just Zelda’s spirit seeping into Midna’s body or the lending of the Triforce of Wisdom, no one can say for certain. It could have very well been a symbiosis thing like Zant and Ganondorf for all we know!) Either way, in the end, Zelda practically begs Midna to keep the Mirror of Twilight intact, hoping that she and Midna will still be able to visit each other in the future.
And then we look at Midna’s perspective of Link, which has changed over the course of the game as well. Link at first virtually became Midna’s servant, subject, and slave, forced to do her bidding. (He was a wolf after all. He couldn’t quite just go home and live there peaceably.) Yet towards the end of the story, the two of them eventually became partners with one another. Midna helped Link save the world of light; Link helped Midna save the world of twilight. They both needed one another, and that dependency forged a friendship that seems to be very deep. I do believe that Midna, by the end of the game, had grown more fond of Link than we can ever tell, and you can practically read the words “love you” proceeding her line, “Link… I….”
In essence, Midna, through Link and Zelda, fell in love with the world of light. She saw that it was much better than she had ever imagined, thus dispelling all those myths about their former imprisoners. The world of light was… bright indeed. Yet she does the unexpected and neither confesses her deepest feelings for Link (nor Zelda, really) nor leaves the mirror intact. No, she severs the link between light and twilight for good. (I’ll have you know I literally cursed her out for doing that when I beat the game!) But why? Why destroy the link when the other world has grown so close to heart? I think that question has a two-part answer, one half of it quite apparent, but the other half requires you to dig deep to find. We’ll start with the easy half.
It’s easy to see that Midna agonisingly compares herself to Zelda. Whereas Zelda did not run from Zant when he invaded Hyrule (even though she submitted to him), Midna skipped town. She abandoned her people in the midst of crisis, allowing Zant to turn them into monsters that would eventually become Zant’s army. She failed the basic test of leadership, and those that depended upon her paid the price. She taunts Zelda over her “lack of leadership” in the early parts of the game, almost scoffing at her for making the wrong choice when it came to Zant, but soon enough she finds that she was wrong; Midna doesn’t come close to being as worthy a leader as Zelda is, and she knows it quite intimately. For Midna (or anyone), that is a hefty emotional burden to carry. She also has to consider that, in addition to that, her lack of leadership also burdened the people of a foreign realm, namely Hyrule. Zelda had to pay because of her negligence, because of her failure. Though she has vowed to do better, I think that Midna doesn’t trust herself to ensure her part of any would-be bargain that would keep the link open. I think that she believes that it is best for Hyrule if the Twilight Realm would simply disappear from everyone’s memories forever. As such, so she doesn’t burden those she cares about—Link and Zelda—any longer, she shatters the mirror after travelling through the portal.
This gives a hint at where the answer to this question, but I’m wondering if this is truly enough to cause her to go to such extreme action. At this point, depending upon what you believe Midna is like, the above reason might be sufficient or it might not. As such, my friends and I devised a second half to this answer that is much harder to find… yet I believe that it is plain as day once you see it. Granted, since this digs very deep and could very well be overanalysing the details, this part is prone to a little bit more error, but it covers a few key details in the ending sequence that you may not have picked up on.
Let me be very clear now so I don’t give out any mixed messages later. From a romantic standpoint, there is more indication of a possible pairing between Link/Ilia than there is with Link/Zelda… and Link/Midna supersedes them both. Other than the on the battlefield in the last fight with Ganondorf where Link and Zelda seem to have an implicit understanding of one another, an understanding deep enough such that it doesn’t even need words to communicate, there isn’t any hint of a possible romance that could occur in the game to those ends. However, I do believe that whatever relationship that IS shared between Link and Zelda (since one does seem to exist) to be important to discovering Midna’s actions since Midna is so often comparing herself to Zelda.
In the second to last scene of the ending sequence, we see Link riding on a horse through the forest. Now if you’re like me, you probably thought that this represented Link riding back to Ordon Village. However, after doing my homework after a few rumblings of rumours that this was not the case, I found out that my belief was wrong. Link is not riding toward Ordon; he is riding away from Ordon. (The camera is positioned directly south of the Faron spring, pointing north.) This is reinforced by the fact that a few scenes earlier, you see Ilia at the edge of Ordon Village looking incredibly sad. Could she have just been rejected by Link for some reason or another? At the very least, she might be feeling that deep down. Armed with this information, I began to wonder just where Link was thinking he was going if not back to Ordon, and truth be told there’s not a lot out there he could do. The Gerudo Desert is empty, the Yetis are happy by themselves, I doubt he’s heading to the Gorons or Zora, and Kakariko is a virtual ghost town… which leaves nowhere else but Hyrule Castle Town. And that place only has two significant spots: Telma’s Bar and Hyrule Castle. Now I do know that Link was a member of that resistance group that helped him track down Dungeons Four through Seven and helped him in Nine, but honestly… what more are they going to do for Hyrule? The throne has been restored to Zelda, the land is at relative peace, and things are mostly back to normal. They’re no longer needed, and as such they’ve likely disbanded, and that means… that Link is going back to Zelda…
Now again, there’s likely no romantic interest here at this point. However, having just gone through nine wicked dungeons, several insane boss fights, and saving two princesses despite the fact that he was ONLY supposed to deliver a small tribute to the throne in the beginning… that’s what you could call a significant change of plans for Link, and arguably Link has probably been affected by those ordeals. Link probably looks at himself and realises that he can no longer be content with just being a rancher; he’s got responsibilities now… obligations even. He’s a hero, chosen by the goddesses, and he needs to act like one. He needs to be one. His sword and bow must be of service to Hyrule. And Link seems to be of the mind that he not only has to do that, he wants to do it. The solution? Head back to Hyrule Castle and serve as a swordsworn for the princess. However, this hits home a significant point that isn’t brought up elsewhere in the game. We don’t see all that much dialogue occur between Link and Zelda, but for Link to simply go to Zelda and offer his aid without any rhyme or reason to do so… that seems a bit out of character for even me. (Were that the case, he’d probably be content guarding Ordon Village from harm.) He doesn’t even know the proper protocol for doing such a thing, and I imagine Link is quite unfamiliar with this whole knighting thing and courtly thing anyway. So, there’s obviously a connection that he shares with Zelda, some moment where Link and Zelda hit it off as friends with one another, to explain Link’s motivations for leaving Ordon Village.
And so we look back to Midna. She’s feeling rather puny when compared to Zelda now, and what’s more, the man she likes has this friendship with another woman he barely even knows… that is better than her in every way. (A similar point could theoretically be made for Ilia as well.) I bet some of you have experienced this very case in your own lives with someone you might have liked at one time or another, and the thought is depressing. I’ve been there myself. That mood will gnaw at your core and force you into inaction. And so what does Midna do as her last action? She does what she thinks is best not for herself, but for Link. She willingly (although sadly) steps aside and lets Link be with the one that he truly wants to be with, whomever that might be, Zelda or otherwise… thus potentially paving a Link/Zelda (or Link/Ilia, Link/Aisha, et al) relationship post-game after some length of time. This, however, makes Midna truly a tragic character worthy of a Greek play about her. She’s paying a penance by denying herself Link, she’s watching as she herself pushes Link to be with someone else, and she’s facing a difficult rule ahead as her people have to trust the woman who believes herself untrustworthy. Truly, Midna is a character that pulls at the heartstrings.
So that’s the story as I see it. But tell me, what do YOU think?
* Don’t believe me? Just look back at a few topics:
74 Messages from the Gossip Stones about “Twilight Princess Explained… Maybe? (Goron-sized Spoilers)”
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