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Opinion: Nobody Asked - A Maniacal Engineer's Thought on Scarlet and Violet - Part 8: Cassiopeia and Clive

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Nobody Asked Maniacal Engineer
Cassiopeia blackmails the player
Having gone into a generalized look at Scarlet and Violet's ★ Starfall Street ★ story arc and given my thoughts on that in the last part, I’m now moving onto the two most important characters of this path, namely Cassiopeia (Penny) and Clive (Clavell). Cassiopeia serves as the “brains” behind Operation Starfall, while Clive fulfills more of a support and diplomatic role. The player, of course, is expected to be the muscle.

As previously mentioned, Cassiopeia shows up on the scene after literally hacking into the player’s phone, which already sets a bad taste in my mouth, and comes across as extremely manipulative. Her interest in Team Star is that she has “a history” with them, but until the end of the story arc, it’s supposed to be unclear exactly what that history is. Penny, on the other hand, is introduced merely as someone from Cassiopeia’s “supply unit,” and is tasked with rewarding the player and Clive with TM materials upon the successful raid of a base. Penny claims that she’s helping Cassiopeia as part of her independent study and is always very shy and timid. Now, personally, it doesn’t take a genius to figure out that Penny and Cassiopeia are one and the same, and that particular reveal, along with Penniopeia being the “secret boss” of Team Star felt about as surprising to me as Clive’s reveal that he was actually Director Clavell all along. And the game really isn’t subtle about that particular plot point.

How does this make sense...
Frankly, while I sort of understand what Penny was trying to accomplish, some of her actions baffle me. I don’t know why she didn’t just call the player normally and ask for their help, instead of literally hacking the player’s phone, which the game goes out of its way to tell us she did. Okay, I guess that establishes her as some kind of technical genius, but I’m sure there were better, and less intrusive and invasive, ways to show that. Furthermore, why she has to battle you after you’ve defeated all the Team Star Bosses also makes no sense. She’s convinced herself that the only way to save her friends is to completely disband Team Star, which means defeating them in a challenge. Her friends are her greatest treasure, and she’s shown a willingness to sacrifice everything to help them. And yet, when push comes to shove, suddenly she doesn’t want to give up Team Star? I have to wonder what the heck would have happened if she had actually defeated the player in that final battle. What would she have done? Also, if the other founders of Team Star had never met her in person before, how would Clive recording that battle resolve anything? It is such a paradoxical point, and I am pretty sure she wasn’t fully thinking it through.

Because Penny spends so much time hiding behind the Cassiopeia persona, she gets completely overshadowed in her own story arc by Clive. This rather dashing and hip fellow shows up when the player is approaching the first Star Base, and requests to join Operation Starfall. His motives for joining are unclear until the player arrives at the second base. At that point, he reveals that he is concerned about odd rumors regarding the members of Team Star, namely that their bullying is causing a ton of people to drop out of the school, and/or that they’re holed up in their bases, preparing for a “war” against the academy. But what he is most concerned about is the truancy of the members of Team Star, particularly the Bosses. He is on a mission to disband Team Star in the hopes that doing so will mean that he won’t have to expel all of its members due to class cutting.

Clavell learns the truth
As the story progresses, Clive provides support to the player during their assault on the bases, and, after the player has defeated the boss he shows up and has a conversation about Team Star. He tries to reason with the bosses, and has an open mind to listen to them and learn their side of the story. From what he sees at each base, it becomes more and more obvious to him that the Team Star Bosses are not trying to cause trouble, and, as he and the player learn more about Operation Star and the founding of Team Star, Clive begins to understand that everything he was hearing, and everything that the previous school administration had done, was wrong.

In point of fact, the two specific concerns that he gave, namely Team Star causing students to drop out of the academy and that they were plotting against the academy, turned out to be perversions of the actual truth. While a bunch of students did drop out of the academy as a result of Operation Star, the purpose of Operation Star was not to cause problems for the academy, and was, instead, to stand up to the bullies who had been tormenting them. The people who dropped out of the school were the thugs who were now terrified of those whom they had once bullied. This is extremely good story writing, because it is incredibly plausible that, when viewed from the outside, Operation Star, and the fact that Team Star was now holed up in various pseudo-military looking bases would make it appear as though the members of Team Star were the aggressors. Combined with the ruffian like behavior of the grunts we meet at the beginning of the game and the giant menacing Starmobiles, it paints an incredibly unfavorable picture of the group. Given that the previous academy administration was all completely gone, and certainly tried to cover up the massive bullying scandal that had occurred under their watch, it’s no surprise that Clavell, aka Clive, would have only seen that one, highly skewed, version of Team Star going into the operation.

But this is where Clavell’s character truly shines. In spite of that one negative view of Team Star, he still tries to reach out to them and convince them to return to school. And, after they don’t respond to his message and ultimatum, he takes matters into his own hands. As I mentioned in a previous article, this perfectly builds on what we learned about Clavell right from the opening moments of the game, namely that he takes his job extremely seriously and takes personal responsibility to correct any mistakes or errors made by the academy. Here, despite the fact that it was a completely different administration, Clavell wants to make amends with Team Star, and he does so by trying to reach them at their own level. He goes in with one view of Team Star, but is not so closed minded as to assume that it’s the full truth. He doesn’t want to battle, though as his fight with Eri proved, he is no slouch at that. He is there to talk. He wants the Team Star Bosses to know that their voices and concerns are heard, and he is always sharp enough to take advantage of opportunities to learn more about the story, and find “ins” to convince the bosses to talk to him, such as Charlos the Charcadet for Mela, or Atticus’s compadre. When he learns about the bullying scandal and subsequent coverup, he is truly horrified, and it makes him more determined than ever to bring the Team Star bosses back “into the fold.”

Maniacal Engineer - signing off
This game is not subtle in the least...
Clavell’s brilliance doesn’t end there. Upon the defeat of the final base, and Cassiopeia’s confession that she has been the “big boss” the whole time, he figures out exactly who Cassiopeia is, and attempts to divert the player from challenging her. He confronts the player in the academy’s courtyard, takes off his disguise, and challenges the player to a battle, pretending to be Cassiopeia in order to protect both her and the player. Now, Clavell’s reveal that he was Clive the whole time was not as dramatic or meant to be as surprising as Cassiopeia’s reveal as Penny. In point of fact, the game gives the player the option to call Clive “Clavell” pretty much every time they meet, and, when he does make the ‘grand reveal’ there is an option for the player to say that they knew it the whole time. Nonetheless, his actions at the moment of the reveal continue to prove his absolute excellence as an educator. Not only is he trying to protect Penny, whom he knows has been through pretty much a literal hell, but he also wanted to be the one to confront and challenge Penny, instead of leaving it up to one of his students. He doesn’t want the player to have to deal with Penny’s sorrows, and would definitely have rather talked the situation out with Penny rather than battle her. But he is also smart enough to know that Penny was resolved to see Operation Starfall through to the end, and, reluctantly, after he is defeated in battle, asks the player to help save Penny.

His coup de grace after Penny’s defeat, reuniting her with her friends, or rather, uniting her with them IRL for the very first time, is what truly brings the story to a satisfying close. But I suppose I will be discussing that another time.
 
Maniacal Engineer

Maniacal Engineer

Bulbagarden Multimedia Executive
I thought the reason Penny hid behind her online persona was obvious--she has crippling social anxiety. This is probably what she was bullied for in the first place.
 
I thought the reason Penny hid behind her online persona was obvious--she has crippling social anxiety. This is probably what she was bullied for in the first place.
Yes, I understand that. What I'm confused about is how Clive taking a video of the player defeating a completely random girl that none of the Team Star Bosses had ever met before would have accomplished anything, and what she would have done if she had actually won that battle.
 
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