The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, XXII.— The Country of the Quadlings
Tonight's Soundtrack: Wu Tang Clan, "Protect Ya Neck"
So it’s the Final Boss Battle, hurray! Dorothy and friends against their most implacable foes yet, the stunning Hammer-Heads! Bizarre, belligerent, and big-necked, the Hammer-Heads represent all that our heroes have left behind. They are unreasoning, unsympathetic, and xenophobic. It will take the entire team, with all their newfound skills, all the heart, brains, and courage they can muster, working in concert to defeat these powerful shadow versions of themselves.
Will it buggery. Straight away, Dorothy uses her cheat codes and they skip the whole thing.
* * *
It’s a strange thing. Because on the one hand, the Winged Monkeys and the Golden Cap that commands them are practically the only continuity that Baum maintains, so it seems churlish to be disappointed that he brings them out in Dorothy’s most frustrated hour. At least he remembered, y’know? But on the other hand, come on. Why come up with such perfect antagonists if our protagonists don’t even need to engage with them? Dorothy didn’t earn the Golden Cap. She picked it up on a whim. It seems that all of Baum’s ingenuity has gone into creating this climactic problem, and none into solving it.
Why is that unsatisfying? I mean, it should be the opposite. Our heroes win - that’s what we want. Why are we bothered by getting what we want? Why should we waste time with paragraph after paragraph of figuring stuff out? The cool part was seeing the Hammer-Heads and how bad ass they are! We’ve done that; let’s move on. Or get ferried by monkeys, as the case may be.
For me, at least, it’s this: skipping the conflict lets Baum get to what he wants. He wants to show you Hammer-Heads, then show you more cool stuff and get to Glinda’s place. He’s using his power as the author to move pieces around. To send Dorothy "home".
Toto doesn’t even get a bark in.