At some point – he wasn’t quite sure when – Mario forgot about Peach.
It had been a long journey, punctuated by sleepless nights in his overcrowded balloon-ship. His new friend, Cappy, insisted on calling it the “Odyssey.” At first, Mario wasn’t nearly attached enough to his cramped, pimped out blimp to call it any kind of name. He just wanted to find his one true love.He wanted to try on new outfits, and new identities. He wasn’t even sure who he was anymore.
Bowser had done the unthinkable; he had finally made explicit what his ongoing pattern of naked aggression was really about. Before now, Mario and Peach could only speculate. Mario was convinced that Bowser’s primary motivation for constantly kidnapping Peach was his hatred of him. Every time Mario brought up this theory, Peach shook her head. For Mario, everything was about Mario. Peach had grown used to this.
The truth was, Bowser had an insatiable desire for Peach. This time, he declared his intent to marry her. Everyone around Peach was like, “Ohhhhhhh!” with looks of astonishment in their eyes. Peach was like, “Yeah…”
She was confronted with the potentially life-long forced affection of a giant dinosaur with an inferiority complex. He held her close, kept her locked away from others, he promised her a long, happy life with him, and he constantly showered her with gifts.
As Bowser stole her away from one kingdom to the next, Peach would often look back and notice Mario. He hadn’t a care in the world. He gleefully yelped as he jumped from block to block. Even when he had enough energy to crank up the old blimp, he couldn’t resist the siren call of those Power Moons.
This was not okay.
Ah, yes. It was the moment he found that flower that opened up to reveal its bouncy insides. He stepped on it and found himself instantly thrust into the air, spinning and floating, nearly weightless. It was at the peak of that jump that he forgot about Peach.
Cappy was a meddler. He kept trying to remind him of Peach’s plight, kept reminding Mario over and over that they needed to hurry, or else Bowser and Peach would be married by the time we found them.
Cappy, Mario thought, was naive. Mario had been through this before. Peach is always okay in the end. And after she’s rescued from this, she’ll be kidnapped again. This is like, her thing.
Cappy was aghast. Peach’s eyes dropped and Tiara’s brow furrowed as they both watched Mario fling him toward yet another bouncy flower. Cappy’s eyes met theirs as they were taken further away. He mouthed “I’m sorry,” but his mouth was less visible when obscured by a possessed frog’s brow.
Bowser wasn’t the only one whose true intentions were clarified by this Odyssey. Mario’s actions (in fact, his utter lack of true action) rubbed Peach the wrong way for the last time. But she couldn’t be mad at him. It was as if Mario’s empty “heroism” unveiled the utter lack of true heroism in her world. Suddenly she saw Mushroom Kingdom for what it was: a group of individuals, utterly free from one another.
Mario tried to win Peach’s heart back again, but his attempt was only half-hearted itself. Now that Mario had seen the world, he craved it again. Like Peach, he wanted to take his time. He wanted to stop, and smell, and jump, and spin on the roses. He wanted to try on new outfits, and new identities. He wasn’t even sure who he was anymore. Every new locale pulled him in a different ontological direction. He needed to get to the bottom of this. And like Peach, he wanted to do this alone.
Back at the castle, a dinosaur waits patiently for any one of our heroes dressed in primary colors to make their way up to him. He thinks deeply about the moments they could have together. He excitedly hovers in the air, practicing for that moment when they drop Bowser, once and for all, into that lava pit. And this time, the lava will do its freaking job, engulfing the Evil One in flames, melting his bones and scales in equal time. Yoshi will watch, rapt with attention, not out of personal curiosity, but out of loyalty to his fellow Mushroom Kingdom citizens. Yoshi chuckled at the thought.
His laugh was interrupted by the sound of scurrying. He heard a “whoo hoo!” and saw Luigi’s green hat crest the roof. Could it be?
Yoshi realized he was holding his breath. But at the sight of his trusted and oft-overlooked friend, he exhaled. He hopped, anxiously.
“Careful there, buddy! You’ll fall off!” Yoshi scurried in circles around Luigi. “Oh, buddy,” Luigi exclaimed calmly.
“What, did you think I’d forget about you? You know I could never do that.”
Yoshi and Luigi merged together into one, bounding off toward the horizon. “Let’s go,” he said. “We’ve got a kingdom to save.”