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Warning: This article contains SPOILERS for a few past Pixar films along with the opening scene of Toy Story 4.
Toy Story 4 is just under three months away, and recently Pixar hasn’t been shy about pulling back the curtain a bit on what to expect from the long-awaited comeback of Andy’s gang of childhood toys. The upcoming animated sequel will also mark the return of Bo Peep, a shiny porcelain sheep-herder who was a loving confidant to Woody up until the studio decidedly cut her out of 2010’s Toy Story 3 – or perhaps just forgot to pencil her in?
Now, Bo Peep seems to be getting her redemption story in Toy Story 4, as the character has traded her bonnet and pink dress for a badass (but still feminine) take on her character. This includes her wearing pantaloons, a pink bow and using her crook as a powerful weapon instead of a mere accessory as she shows Woody around her new way of life, which seems to be between an antique store and lively carnival. She certainly has a prominent presence in the marketing for Toy Story 4 thus far, and now there's been speculation that this is because she is being developed into the next Toy Story villain.
But could Bo Peep really be the crook (pun intended) that Woody, Buzz and the gang will ultimately face in Toy Story 4? I certainly think there's a good case for it! Time to break this theory down.
Bo Peep is introduced in the first Toy Story film as a porcelain doll who is part of a lamp belonging to Andy’s sister, Molly. This already makes her a bit of an outsider to the other toys, but she is often used as a “damsel in distress” to Woody’s adventures during play time. The pair share an undeniable connection with one another, as she’s often thought of as Woody’s love interest. But then, something happens between Toy Story 2 and 3 that makes Bo Peep disappear from the cast of characters in the animated franchise.
Perhaps she is given away? That seems to be the way Toy Story 4 will fill in the gaps in the beginning of the film (which was recently shown at CinemaCon). The story will be set up by showing Woody and Bo Peep’s final exchange before they reunite in the upcoming movie, which includes her telling Woody that she’s okay with being given away and her asking him to come with her. He doesn’t, as his loyalty stays with Andy, though Toy Story 3 famously ends with the now-college-aged lad giving his childhood toys away to a toddler named Bonnie, who they belong to in the new movie.
Toy Story 4 will see Woody getting separated by Bonnie when he runs after her new craft project, Forky, who is having an existential crisis about his purpose. As Woody tries to rescue Forky and bring him back to Bonnie, they will come across Bo Peep. She will introduce Woody to her new lifestyle as someone who has taken control of her narrative as a toy, who roams freely without the need of one child and seems to help other forgotten toys find a home without an “Andy” to call their own. She seems to tempt Woody to adopt this life as well and the movie seems to center on a decision for him to either stay with her or again remain loyal to his kid.
Bo Peep has already been rejected before by Woody, so what if she’s not willing to take no for an answer this time? What starts off as her giving him the illusion of choice by using persuading words like “sometimes change can be good” and “kids lose their toys everyday” (which she utters in the trailer) is actually entrapment. Her story arc could easily become an origin story of the next Toy Story villain. As the other toys go out to save Woody, maybe they end up needing to confront and rescue Bo Peep. It would be the ultimate showdown if the last installment of Toy Story revolved around Woody and the gang face off with a character they love and once called a friend from the past.
The Toy Story franchise is certainly no stranger to pulling the old friend-turned-foe switcheroo. In the second film, Stinky Pete was painted as a new friend to Woody before he tried to force him and Jessie to be shipped off to a toy museum in Japan. This formula was used again in the third movie when the once welcoming Lotso tried to keep the toys from going home in order to keep them safe in the confines of the preschool, where they wouldn't be given away or replaced. Based on this track record, when toys face abandonment, something seriously cracks, and we know Bo Peep has received this treatment already.
Pixar has used this plotline in two other of their recent releases too! In Coco, Ernesto de la Cruz is introduced as Miguel’s hero, but winds up being the film’s villain, and in Incredibles 2 Evelyn is set up to be on the heroes' side before being revealed as the movie’s main baddie as well. Would Pixar dare use this familiar formula for its third release in a row? I think it’s certainly a possibility!
The villain that seems to be set up in Toy Story 4, a doll named Gabby Gabby, just doesn’t seem to hold as much emotional weight to the toys as Bo Peep would as a villain. Plus, her tragic backstory has already been revealed. She’s a vintage doll that was manufactured with a broken voice box and she has some creepy ventriloquist dummies who do her bidding. This story certainly has the makings of a sinister evil plot - such as attempting to steal away Woody’s working one so she can be finally loved by a child perhaps?
But it’s actually more predictable than Bo Peep’s potential as a villain because we don’t know yet what happened to her between Toy Story 2 and today. That’s 20 years of backstory we may learn and could play a bigger role in the story, then what’s being revealed by Pixar. Even if I’m right, Toy Story 4 could still be a really interesting and unique addition to the franchise, and there could still be a ton we don’t know about where it goes.
We of course won’t know for sure until Toy Story 4 hits theaters on June 21. What do you think? Do you think this theory will play out in any way in the upcoming sequel. Feel free to tell us your thoughts in the comments below.