What If Young Xehanort Isn’t Young Xehanort?

What If Young Xehanort Isn’t Young Xehanort?

When we discussed the potential retcon of Young Xehanort’s departure from Destiny Islands, I promised we’d look at a much more convoluted possibility.

Now it’s time. What if Young Xehanort isn’t really Young Xehanort?

To be more precise, what if the time traveler in Re:coded’s secret ending, Dream Drop Distance, and Kingdom Hearts III is not actually Xehanort’s younger self?

This theory is usually presented in the opposite way. Theories before Kingdom Hearts III questioned whether Young Xehanort could actually be someone else who had been possessed by Master Xehanort, while newer theories sometimes suggest “the boy in black” isn’t really Xehanort or is Xehanort from another worldline.

That first possibility never sat well with me, since Master Xehanort’s own reports clearly make him the boy who grew up on Destiny Island. It also hinged on Young Xehanort appearing to be the most innocent of the Xehanorts, which we can safely say Kingdom Hearts III refuted.

Kingdom Hearts III itself contradicts the second possibility, as it draws a clear line between “the boy in black” and our current Master Xehanort.

Master Xehanort recognizes the line from his chess match with Eraqus when it is said again in the present, and he and Eraqus take on their younger forms before fading away. This leaves no room for doubt that the boy playing chess with Eraqus in the flashbacks is Master Xehanort’s younger self.

Kingdom Hearts III - Young Xehanort in Scala Ad Caelum
100% Master Xehanort’s younger self

This leaves us with the problem of Young Xehanort the time traveler.

Ahead of Dream Drop Distance, Ansem travels back through time to Destiny Islands, where he finds Young Xehanort and gives him the power of time travel. Young Xehanort then travels forward through time for the events of Dream Drop Distance, bringing other incarnations of himself along.

Young Xehanort says he has not yet left Destiny Islands, that his experiences in the future will lead him to seek the outside world even though he won’t consciously remember his time travel. As he has not yet begun wielding a Keyblade, he is able to do so for the final battle only because Master Xehanort possesses him.

Yet in Kingdom Hearts III, we see Xehanort was younger when he began his Keyblade training, and Young Xehanort the time traveler is able to wield his Keyblade without his older self’s interference.

It could be a retcon. That’s the simplest explanation. But really, the contradictions all come from things Young Xehanort says in Dream Drop Distance. What if he’s lying?

What if he’s not Young Xehanort at all?

There are a few things that set Young Xehanort apart as different. First, of course, is the problem of his age, which is where all these questions come from. His behavior in Kingdom Hearts III is also unusual. Chess Xehanort, Ansem, Xemnas, and even Master Xehanort are all sympathetic to some degree, while Young Xehanort remains cold and mocking to the end, taunting Sora with the knowledge that his abuse of the power of waking will cause him to fade. For that matter, why does he, the youngest Xehanort, know so much about the power of waking and how Sora is using it?

And let’s not forget everyone’s favorite burn from Woody, in which he guesses no one has ever loved Young Xehanort. This line gained a lot of attention from fans, but it’s interesting that it shows up in a game that doubles down on the friendship between Eraqus and Xehanort, as well as Eraqus’s unconditional forgiveness of his old friend.

A Young Xehanort who hasn’t met Eraqus yet? Yes, Woody’s line makes sense. But a Young Xehanort who is older than his chess-playing past self, only a few years separated from their promise to be there for each other? Something about it feels off. Maybe he’s just forgotten, since he’s already turned to darkness. Or maybe he’s a different person entirely.

Let’s dig into the mechanics of how this would work.

Normally, you gain the power of time travel by shedding your physical form. Somehow, Ansem (as the robed figure) was able to transfer this ability to Young Xehanort by traveling through time to meet him… which doesn’t make a lot of sense.

As revealed in Kingdom Hearts III, the other incarnations of Xehanort all still need to give up their bodies to travel to the future, which is why they need Replica bodies. It does not, therefore, appear to be a loophole where one Xehanort giving up his body meant any incarnation of himself could travel through time.

If the brown robed figure’s meeting with Young Xehanort was necessary only to tell him the plan and set him on his path through the future, maybe it doesn’t matter is they were the same person or not.

Interviews about Young Xehanort’s role in Dream Drop Distance describe him as “a ‘portal,’ summoning Xemnas and Ansem each time they appeared.”

This implies that Xemnas and Ansem could only travel to points in time where Young Xehanort was, yet the rules of time travel only say you must have another version of yourself in that time. And they did: Master Xehanort himself, re-formed in the present.

The “portal” description comes up again in Kingdom Hearts III, this time about Master Xehanort. The protagonists say Master Xehanort is a portal due to his time travel. What this means is unclear, but it could mean that as long as he is alive, his past selves would always be able to return to the future. As the most future Xehanort, he is the anchor that allows the others to travel through time.

But if Master Xehanort is the true “portal,” then Young Xehanort was never actually necessary for Ansem and Xemnas to move through time. He’s merely the one who told them what they had to do.

As long as he had the power of time travel and had a future self at the same points in the future as Xehanort did, an impostor could masquerade as a Xehanort and travel through time with the others.

  1. Ansem, as the robed figure, travels back in time to Destiny Islands to give the power of time travel to his younger self and set him on the path necessary to fulfill their plans in the future.
  2. He finds a boy on the beach who resembles his past self and gives him the power of time travel. (If you traveled back 60 years, would you know exactly what your younger self should look like?)
  3. This impostor, pretending to be Young Xehanort, travels through the future to gather Xehanort’s other selves.
  4. Arriving in the future for the events of Dream Drop Distance, this impostor maintains the facade by speaking about how he has not yet left Destiny Islands in the past.

That brings us up to the final battle in Dream Drop Distance. Once again, according to Nomura’s interview, Master Xehanort’s consciousness arrives ahead of his body just as Mickey stops time, and so he takes over Young Xehanort’s body.

The assumption has always been that he was able to do this because Young Xehanort is his past self, but does that matter? When Master Xehanort possessed Terra, he took immediate control of his body. And yes, Terra-Xehanort was able to summon No Name. There is no proof that Master Xehanort taking control of Young Xehanort in Dream Drop Distance requires them to be the same person.

Now we need to consider the matter of the Keyblade.

Young Xehanort was holding a Keyblade that he originally wasn’t able to handle thanks to Master Xehanort’s power. Though the keychain on it is different, the Keyblade he takes out is Master Xehanort’s.

The Keyblade he wields, therefore, is explicitly No Name.

(While you could read that as saying it’s a Keyblade Xehanort used before inheriting No Name, we’ve never seen him use a different Keyblade, and since Terra-Xehanort wielded No Name, there’s no reason to assume he wouldn’t summon it here.)

In our favorite Re:coded scene, the “Destiny” secret ending, Young Xehanort reiterates the point that No Name has not been passed on to him yet.

Yet in Kingdom Hearts III, he does not fight with the weapons he uses in Birth By Sleep, but rather with his Keyblade.

Master Xehanort is present, so Young Xehanort hasn’t been possessed, but he’s still able to summon his Keyblade… a Keyblade that should be the same one Master Xehanort wields.

How is it possible for him to wield that Keyblade if he isn’t simply an older Young Xehanort whose departure from Destiny Islands was retconned so that he has already inherited No Name?

Don’t forget, there are other people whose younger selves could potentially wield No Name.

That Keyblade originally belonged to the Master of Masters, who then passed it on to Luxu. As of the Dark Seeker Saga, Luxu can no longer summon it, because he passed it on as part of his plan. However, if a younger version of either Luxu or the Master of Masters (or someone else who wielded No Name before Xehanort) traveled through time to the future, he should theoretically be able to summon his original Keyblade.

Speaking of which, Young Xehanort and Xigbar are paired several times. They not only appear together in Dream Drop Distance to explain the plan to Sora, but also in Re:code’s “Destiny” scene, which we discussed earlier. Is it a coincidence… or a hint?

Finally, let’s take yet another look at the trailer for Kingdom Hearts III’s Re:Mind DLC.

This trailer is the greatest threat to this theory right now, as we see Young Xehanort with his Dream Drop Distance and Kingdom Hearts III appearance, as well as silver eyes, talking about his tour of the worlds. This suggests he is, after all, just an older version of the boy who played chess with Eraqus.

However, he’s talking to someone who appears to be the Master of Masters. Since the Master of Masters disappeared and Luxu’s goal was to bring him back, he and Young Xehanort should never have existed in the same time. What if this scene isn’t showing Xehanort’s past, but something much further back?

Maybe we’ll get some more answers once Re:Mind is released, or maybe we’ll have to wait until the next saga. I don’t know if the time traveling Young Xehanort is Luxu, but I do think the best way to have the apparent retcon actually be a part of the story is if the time traveler isn’t Xehanort at all.

What do you think? Is there any chance that the two younger Xehanorts are in fact separate people? Share your thoughts and theories in the comments.

Tags: braig/xigbar, luxu, master of masters, young xehanort
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