Since the release of Skyward Sword, fans have been debating and theorizing about how certain events throughout the game, especially the ending, can be reconciled with the rest of the story. Zelda Informer’s own Alex Plant wrote a great article last November with his theories and interpretations about the ending. Although the debate around Skyward Sword has quieted in the months since it’s release, I’d like to propose my own theory for how the ending can be reconciled with the rest of the game. Obviously this article will contain spoilers, so be warned if you haven’t played this masterpiece yet.
So, as Alex lays out so well in his article, the time travel in Skyward Sword is the type that fulfills the future rather than changing it. Fate is inevitable and Link was predestined to do everything in the present so he could travel into the past and defeat Demise, something that had already happened thousands of years before the game began (time travel makes my head hurt). Throughout the game, there are hints that the characters’ actions in the past have already happened. For example, you can see Zelda crystalized in the Sealed Temple the first time you go these. Also, Impa has the bracelet Zelda gave her in the past throughout the entire game.
There are only two holes in this predestination time travel theory. One is the Life Tree, since you plant it in the past, yet it is definitely not in the Sealed Temple at the beginning of the game. Alex Plant’s explanation for this is pretty solid, that the Timeshift Stone’s powers of time takes precedence over the Gate of Time’s predestination. The other, much larger issue is the problem of Demise’s defeat; if he’s eradicated and sealed in the Master Sword in the past, how can he still threaten the world in the present? In order to answer this question, we have to closely examine his revival and subsequent defeat in the past.
When Ghirahim finishes his ritual, Demise appears from the Sealed Grounds in the first form of the The Imprisoned, the one without any arms or a halo. He then inhales Zelda’s soul and transforms into his more powerful humanoid form. After Groose catches Zelda’s falling body, he says an important line that’s the cornerstone of this theory:
“The old girl says it’ll take time for that grease wad to absorb Zelda’s soul completely! If you can take him down before her soul gets all sucked up into that… thing, you still might have a chance.” -Groose
Based on this, we know that Demise was not at full strength when he fought Link since Zelda’s soul was not completely absorbed. This makes sense when you think about it since Demise is essentially the god of darkness in the Zelda universe. In the ancient past, he fought the divine goddess Hylia and managed to severely weaken her before he was sealed away. Had Demise been at full power, even Link couldn’t have beat the Demon King.
Since Demise did not fully absorb Zelda’s soul, he must have still had some of his power sealed away. Link defeated him before he could reclaim that power, so what happened to it? My theory is that this remaining power is what keeps trying to escape over thousands of years, what Link fights in the present as The Imprisoned. Zelda went to sleep in the past in order to maintain the seal on this portion of Demise’s power. The Imprisoned probably would’ve broke free long before the start of the game if Zelda hadn’t been reinforcing the seal over all those years.
While we have no way of knowing how Demise’s power was distributed, let’s break it into thirds for the sake of argument. One third of Demise’s power escapes after Ghirahim’s ritual in the first form of The Imprisoned. Another third of it is released when Demise absorbs part of Zelda’s soul and transforms into his humanoid form. After Link defeats Demise, the last third of his power remains sealed in the Sealed Grounds for thousands of years. This power unleashes itself as The Imprisoned over the course of the game. Each time Link fights him, the seal weakens and The Imprisoned is able to access more of Demise’s power. Perhaps at first it’s 27%, then 30%, and finally 33% of Demise’s full power. Once again, there’s now way to know for certain what the numbers could be; I’m just using thirds because it’s simple.
This also explains why The Imprisoned always attacks the Sealed Temple. If he destroys the temple, Link could never travel to the past and defeat the humanoid Demise, ruining the predestination fabric of time. In order for Demise to be totally destroyed, Link needed to wish on the Triforce and send the Isle of the Goddess crashing down on The Imprisoned. After Link returns to the present at the end of the game, he’s fulfilled his destiny in the past and accomplished his goal the present. All the major plot points needed to occur in a specific way in order to ensure that Demise was totally eradicated. Impa used her knowledge of the past to make sure Link followed the exact predestined path, finally allowing herself to pass away once everything was fulfilled.
While at first glance, it appears that Skyward Sword’s ending ruins the rest of the game’s continuity, closer examination reveals that Demise was not fully revived when he fought Link in the past. By the end of the game, Link has eradicated two-thirds of Demise’s power in the past and destroyed the other third, The Imprisoned, in the present. This explanation seems to fit with all the other evidence for predestination time travel and makes the game fit together as a cohesive whole.
Do you guys agree or disagree with me? Is there a hole in my theory’s logic? Is this topic outdated? Leave your own comments and theories below.