By the end of Toy Story 3, y’all probably thought Lotso was a no good, very bad bear, and we’re not saying we disagree. Corrupted by power and and an almost manic belief that all “owners” would end up hurting their toys, he threw away his chance for redemption and nearly doomed the toys to an incinerator. BUT! Perhaps Lotso was just the victim of a broken heart that could not be mended. Hear us out for a second while we make the case for poor old Lotso…
Lotso didn’t start out as the dictatorial commander of recess at Sunnyside. His backstory, delivered by Chuckles, clearly shows the real Lotso–the pre-abandonment Lotso who probably had a big heart, filled entirely with love for his owner, Daisy.
Lotso was to Daisy as Woody was to Andy. Boom, how’s that for perspective? He was probably a stand-up bear who felt like he could rescue friends from planes or stand up to rude neighbor kids, all because he knew that his owner loved him back unconditionally.
BUT SHE DIDN’T! How was Lotso to know that he had bestowed his love and dedication upon an imperfect (read: little kid) being who was not ready for the responsibility of such a tender, strawberry-scented heart? True, she was probably like five, so maybe he should have been realistic about what it meant when she forgot him in a field that fateful day. Perhaps he shouldn’t have taken it so personally–it wasn’t him, it was her.
Also, it was sort of her parents’ fault for leaving Lotso behind, because she was asleep, but, hey, DETAILS DO NOT UNBREAK A HEART!
Still, Lotso loved little Daisy so much, he went into Woody and Buzz mode and plodded miles and miles to get home to her, like any good toy would. Just like Woody in Toy Story 1, 2, and 3, nothing could keep Lotso away from his kid. They would be reunited, and things would go back to the way they were, because love.
With that knowledge, imagine how Lotso felt when he got home, looked through the window, and saw that he’d been replaced after, what like, a few hours? It probably felt like his heart turned into a black hole that was then sucked into a vacuum and then all that negative space was filled with sharks–no wonder he needs a cane now! It would be like if Woody got home at the end of Toy Story 2 and Andy was playing with another cowboy doll, and not a cool vintage cowboy doll who was the rootin’-est tootin’-est who had been there for Andy for so many adventures, but just any old cowboy doll. Ouch.
It’s no wonder now that Lotso is so controlling of play time and warns his toy followers that owners only lead to heartbreak. He’s protecting his little war-torn stuffed heart by not believing that an owner/toy relationship could be successful. In trying to protect himself, Lotso ended up getting a little (a lot) out of hand with the rest of the toys, but if you think about it, Lotso’s greatest crime was just loving TOO much, and that’s why our hearts go out to him.
(And, if you didn’t notice, we’re treating Lotso’s story like a thinly veiled metaphor for all break-ups. You gotta learn to love again like Jessie, otherwise you’ll end up tied to the grill of a trash truck like Lotso. Metaphorically, we mean.)