I’ve gotten a lot of surprise from seeing a Lazard on Tumblr, and I think a lot of that has to do with his role in the fandom. Now, please don’t misunderstand me - I love Final Fantasy VII. I do. I think that there are a lot of things in it that were just completely brilliant. That said, I do also think everyone needs to take a moment and be honest: FFVII has a story, and anyone who has ever read or written a story will have to admit that it is planned ahead. All the more so for video games. FFVII had a planned story, and things were worked accordingly.
Now, that is not a criticism! I’m a writer, fanfic and original. I understand the reasoning and yes, necessity for there to be a plot, and have it stuck to, for something as big as a video game series. There’s too many people and resources tied up in that to just change it on a whim. But it does affect things, because something has to give. Real life is never so neatly packaged, because everyone is the main character in their own story, and people don’t fall into neat categories. So, I’d like to take a moment to reflect on who Lazard Deusericus is in Crisis Core, and who I think he really should have been.
Lazard is not a good person in Crisis Core, nor does he have much in the way of sense. Or, if he does, then he’s quite possibly the real villain of Crisis Core.
That’s quite a big statement to make, but if you take a moment, you’ll realize it’s true. Lazard worked his way up in ranks in ShinRa, gaining the respect of SOLDIER and one would assume many of the others. Around the time he makes Director, he finds out that his father is the very man who signs his checks. He is the illegitimate older brother of the vice president. He grew up with his mother in the Slums - and we’ve all seen how horrible it is down there, so there’s no believing it was ‘easy’ for anyone. There’s no knowing what he was told growing up, but obviously it left out the identity of his father’s side of the family. And finding out deeply affected him.
He plays loyal to the company from there out, but clearly his anger begins to gnaw at him. I’ve seen the phrase once - on someone’s Tumblr, actually - “hate is like taking poison and hoping someone else dies.” That’s entirely too accurate. Hate is a horrible, horrible thing that I could rant on all on itself, but the focus right now is Lazard’s hate in specific. It blinded him, and whatever sense he had, it was consumed within that one single emotion. When Genesis started degrading, Hollander approached Lazard - we’ll assume he figured out Lazard’s own 'origin’ issues - and they created an alliance. By the time Crisis Core begins and the fans meet Lazard, Genesis has defected with the bulk of SOLDIER at Hollander’s prodding. The game itself opens, and not too far into it, Zack is meeting Director Lazard for the first time as he gets his mission to Wutai. Lazard goes as well.
Whether it was to really see the end of the war personally, or because he wanted to peek in on Genesis’ army, Lazard did go, and assessed Zack’s performance while they were there. His entire presence, however, is overshadowed by Angeal disappearing at the end of the mission. Sephiroth is the first to outright state that Angeal has deserted as well.
From there, time passes to where Zack (and thus the player) are more or less on their own, and Zack is asking the director for word on his mentor. I certainly don’t blame him - Angeal clearly meant a great deal to Zack, and he can’t comprehend what’s happening. At this point, it’s reasonable to assume Angeal may have left just to try and bring Genesis back. Genesis, however, is mentally and physically degrading and just together enough to remember he certainly doesn’t intend to return to the place and people responsible for his declining health, even if he could.
By the time Zack is sent to Banora, Angeal has found out about Project G, and quite likely more than the player. His best friend since childhood is mentally unhinged and succumbing to a slow, painful death because his very body is destroying itself. Why? Because before he was born, Hollander and Angeal’s mother tampered with Genesis’ genetics. Angeal’s genes are likewise altered, and he might have sprouted his two wings by this point. While in Banora, there’s a good chance of Angeal actually having witnessed his mother committing suicide, but he did know that she did - and was then more or less accused by Zack of killing her. Granted, the teen was more than a little shaken up himself, but that didn’t help the situation.
Given that Hollander is still alive, Lazard is undoubtedly still aware of all of these ongoings, and does nothing to step in and stop it. By the time Zack is promoted to First, Genesis’ troops launch an attack on the Tower itself, and soon after, Zack meets with Angeal again. Though he looks healthy, Angeal does have wings, which indicate something happened on a genetic level. Possibly degradation. The one good part is Zack meeting Aerith, but things keep going downhill from there.
Lazard sends Zack to Modeoheim. He knows Genesis and Angeal are there, and less than sane at the moment. He has to realize what he’s setting him up for. They’re not coming back to ShinRa, Genesis is openly hostile, Angeal is depressed and not thinking straight, and with Tseng there, it’s not like Zack can just let them walk off.
It’s not until Hollander’s escape from Junon, well after Angeal has been killed and Genesis is assumed dead, that it’s realized Lazard was a traitor. He’s noted as giving intel and funding to Hollander and Genesis’ operation, and runs off. That leaves Sephiroth in charge, abandoned by his only two real friends, betrayed by a man he respected and probably trusted at least somewhat as a superior, and having to decide how to handle it all. Of course, he puts the “SOLDIER” in “soldier on” and decides that since Genesis has been going after reactors, let’s go check out NIBELHEIM.
And we all know how that went.
Nevermind Lazard’s later attempts at redemption - a lot of that could be put on the fact that he’s been made into a clone of Angeal.
Was it all in the name of vengeance? It seemed so, certainly. But what does it boil down to? Lazard was hardly the only one on a quest for vengeance. However, the man was in politics, and one would assume quite intelligent. There were many more ways - safer ways - to see to his father’s downfall, without having to betray the men who looked to him and trusted his orders. If one wants to say he was lumping SOLDIER in with the organization, and saw that as needing destroyed, I’d like to draw your attention to one more thing that Lazard should - and likely did - know.
ShinRa was more than a power company. They were, by Crisis Core, the most widely influencing political power. The entire eastern world had come to rely on ShinRa for mako power, for protection, for steady jobs and for a stabilizing influence on the economy. If ShinRa was destroyed before any sort of alternative was in place, there would, at best, be anarchy. Quite possibly a collapse of economy, and a lot of people would suddenly be out of work. ShinRa was corrupt, and did a lot of horrible things, but they were a necessary evil. Did they need replaced? Yes. But the key word is replaced. You can’t just take out something that so many people rely on in one swoop, with nothing to fall back on, and “hope for the best” because it’s not going to work out well.
In conclusion, I’d like to sum up my musings by restating that canonically, Lazard was either the biggest idiot by thinking it was a good idea to use mentally unstable SOLDIERs to destroy his father’s empire, creating an energy crisis and sudden anarchy with the loss of a key political power that also provided most of the world with mako power, technology, and military might - or he was the biggest villain because he didn’t care what happened to the rest of the world, or the people who had trusted him, so long as his father and his company was destroyed in the process.
>>To Part Two