I am writing this on Monday morning, before Tuesday gets printed. I’m revising (or correcting) some of my thoughts on the current plot device of the failed car chase. I (and perhaps others) have focused too much on the actual chase and the improbable escape attempt, seeing it only as a silly and amateurish action trope, without considering the point of the chase from a story point of view. Sure, I waxed unpoetically on the need for a really bang-up ending to this story, something that pulls the strings together and makes for a satisfying ending. But I didn’t connect the dots, until now.
What I should have realized is how important the failed attempt to escape is to the story’s conclusion. If Mark “and his friends” actually escaped, what would the ending be? Mark flies home; the Herp Hacienda gang goes back to studying snakes (I think); Professor Bee Sharp and Diana Daggers drive out of the picture in disgust, perhaps to unite with Dirty Dyer where they can forever plot revenge against Mark Trail; and Cricket Bro, now a broken and bankrupt man, is last seen on his knees in the sand of some ungainly beach, extending his arms to the skies and crying out “WHY!? WHY!?” as he is still unable to see he is the victim of his own arrogance and vindictiveness.
Well, that last part might actually happen, but for the rest, it is not a satisfying ending. No, Mark “and his friends” have to get caught so Rivera can properly stage the Big Ending (i.e. the denouement, as literary critics call it) to the story. There has to be a final resolution, like Holmes and Moriarty; Jason Bourne and the CIA; and Martin and Lewis. This might be a new experience for Trailheads who have endured many stories with loose ends remaining forever loose.
Accepting the premise of Rivera’s climatic car chase to drive the story to its conclusion, I make one belated suggestion: Instead of Sharp and Daggers racing around to the other side of the alley, a better plot solution (Oh, hindsight is always easier!) would have been for the Prius to turn into a blind alley, where the Mustang could then turn back and block any escape. So where will this end?
So, I’m not sure how today’s strip helps or hinders my mini-essay, above. Other than action for action’s sake, where are we going with this chase? Somehow, the gang gets out in front of the muscle car, once again! Diana Daggers must not know how to handle a high performance car, which makes me wonder why Professor Bee is not doing the driving, especially as he is at least not dumb enough to be driving at night with sunglasses on. And it’s his car.
Okay, what do we learn today?
- Mark is not the tough guy he (or we) thought he was. That should be a slap in the face to veteran Trailheads. We never even saw his Fists of Justice!
- Aparna finally makes her second car chase debut by stating the obvious, thereby taking over one of Mark’s standard memes.
- Mark is still under the delusion that they can shake a faster car less than 20 yards behind them, in full pursuit. But given Daggers’ driving, he might have a point.
- With all the time in the world (in his head) Mark puts his vast knowledge of Nature to work and comes up with another possible escape: We should expect to see a Toyota dealership pop up over the next hill, where the gang will somehow be able to slip into a parking slot and befuddle their pursuers yet again. Of course, Mark came up with the last failed idea, too.
- The mountain line in panel 1 looks like it is thinking “Yeah, sure!”