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.
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.
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.”
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.