~ [size=130]Forgiveness[/size] ~
Lightning startled and knocked his rear bumper against a tire rack; he had been watching the news of his defeat on the plasma screens mounted in his pit-stop garage while the rest of his crew were tidying up outside. He reversed to see a baby blue Porsche – it was Sally.
“Oh, I’m sorry,” she apologised. “Did I interrupt you with the…”
“Oh no, no… y-you scared me, Sal…”
His girlfriend flashed a coy grin. “I scared myself scaring you scaring me…”
Lightning groaned. “Ha-ha, you’re hilarious.”
The two cars looked at the screen: Brent Mustangburger , Darrell Waltrip, and David Hobbscap were having a spirited post-match analysis of Lightning’s surprise blunder during the first race.
“It looks like Lightning will have his work cut out for him in the next race in Porto Corsa. But let me tell ya, he’s one tough hombre…” Brent chatted enthusiastically.
“I don’t understand - Lightning had it in the bag. Why would he let Francesco pass him on the inside of that last turn before Rainbow Bridge? It just doesn’t make any sense,” remarked David, brows furrowed.
“If you observe him just before he made that move, he was talking to his pit chief. Something tells me he’s been given the wrong directions,” said Darrell. “Let’s look at the footage again…”
Lightning turned away from the screen and muted the TV, his eyes dark and narrowed.
Sally reached out a tire and touched his fender. “I overheard you talking to Mater…”
The red stock car didn’t say anything, but his lips were crinkled up in a scowl. Sally pressed on. “Hey, I know you are angry right now, and you have every right–”
“The hell I am!” he exploded, punching his tire against the wall – Sally gasped and withdrew her tire. A pregnant pause stretched between them, then he closed his eyes and muttered, “Sorry… I just…”
He looked at Sally, into her huge, turquoise eyes. They could see right through him. She was always perceptive, a good listener and ever ready to offer honest advice. He remembered how she was not afraid to speak her mind when she overheard him flippantly making that promise to take Mater on a helicopter ride; she was always willing to stick up for her friends. And she knew him all too well - he might as well just tell her what she already figured out.
He gave a deep sigh and turned away. “It’s just that… ever since Mater’s been on this trip, he’s been…” He waved his tire absently. “Him.”
Sally looked at Lightning intently. “What do you mean?”
“I mean he’s such an idiot!”
The word echoed in the silence of the garage. Lightning immediately felt a tinge of regret for describing his best friend as such, but he was too incensed to stop. “He’s… he’s been making a complete klutz since we got off the plane – giving a running commentary during the sumo match, making googly-eyes at Bernoulli… he didn’t know what wasabi was, or where Brazil is, or who’s Lewis Hamilton – he doesn’t know anything! And now he just ruined my first race, chasing some imaginary girlfriend and talking about karate demonstrations and all… that.”
Sally didn’t say a word during his outburst, she just regarded him quietly. Finally, after he finished his rant, she ventured slowly, “Lightning… Mater doesn’t know better. He’s never been outside the country before - he was trying his best to impress your fellow contestants, but… he just doesn’t know as much about the world as they do. It’s a good thing you stopped him from taking that mound of wasabi, I can’t imagine what would have…”
“He’s ignorant, that’s what he is! Not to mention he made a total fool of himself leaking oil…”
Sally grimaced. “I’ll admit, I didn’t see that one coming…”
“It’s not funny, Sal!” exclaimed Lightning. “He embarrassed me in front of everyone! I can’t believe I let him join us on this trip, I should have just left him back in Radiator Springs.”
“Did you mean it, Lightning? That you don’t want his help? That you don’t need him?”
“Yes! I mean – no, I mean… I don’t know!”
“Look, I know you’re mad that he cost you the race. It was unprofessional of him as your crew chief. But you shouldn’t have dismissed him and hurt his feelings like that.”
“Come on Sal, flamethrowers? Ninjas?”
“I’ll go have a talk with him, but that was no way to treat Mater like what you did just now. You know he gets hurt easily, and everyone makes mistakes. I’m sure he’s sorry and he’s probably feeling awful now. Mater has always stuck by you, and he’s your best friend…”
“Oh, for the love of Chrysl… Sally, I wish he wasn’t!”
Sally blinked and suddenly her eyes turned hard and moist. “Well, he’s my friend, Lightning. And no matter what you think of him - you’re his, too.”
She turned and drove out of the garage, leaving the race car alone.
I watched my much-anticipated sequel to one of my favourite Pixar movies, Cars 2, recently. While I enjoyed seeing the first movie’s characters again (along with the new ones) and the spy-themed shenanigans, I felt there was a distinct lack of ‘emotional moments’ compared to Pixar’s other movies. Now I understand that Lasseter and Lewis just wanted to cut loose and have some fun with a not-so-serious action flick, but that doesn’t mean that they couldn’t have included a few more character development scenes in lieu of all the confusing exposition and repetitive car chases. Like Rio, another movie I enjoyed on a personal but not objective level, it had a lot of wasted story potential.
So I thought I’d try and write how I would’ve done the plot, but rather than rewrite the entire script, I figured it would be easier and neater to suggest imaginary scenarios which didn’t take place in the movie, but would’ve made the various characters’ interactions and story arcs more meaningful and enriching.
This is the first of a trilogy of one-shot vignettes I will be releasing over the course of this weekend. ‘Forgiveness’ takes place after Lightning lost the first race and berated Mater for it, to the point of getting personal. I felt the way Pixar handled it had the scale tipped in favour of Mater. Lightning’s anger was not unwarranted; Mater basically acted inconsiderately and thoughtlessly throughout the whole movie to the point of being out-of-character (The Wasabi scene being a good example), yet Lightning is the one made to apologise, the message being “It’s okay to be a twat, if people didn’t accept it, then it’s they who need to change and not you.” This runs contrary to the moral of the first movie, which was “If you’re a twat, then you need to change for the better.”
So I rewrote it such that the Wasabi incident never happened, and added a few details to portray Mater as simply being naive and unsophisticated in front of Lightning’s friends, which is more forgiving and empathetic towards his character. I implied that he does make an effort to impress Lightning and his colleagues, but his ignorance about the world-at-large fails him. I also included Sally as part of his crew, because I felt it was a waste for them to leave the first film’s female protagonist out of most of the sequel when they could’ve used her as his ‘voice of conscience’ in lieu of Uncle Topolino (who I felt was an unnecessary character, although I liked his little tale of Luigi and Guido’s backstory).
Do comment and let me know what you think of my alternate version, and if you like it, Fave it! If you didn’t like it or you thought I could’ve done better, let me know too (but keep your criticisms constructive!).
And regardless what you think, thanks for reading this! Look out for the 2nd one-shot tomorrow and the 3rd one on Sunday.