This eases the burden on the writers because they don’t have to create an array of suspects, all of whom would have to have logical motivation. They only need to set up means, motive and opportunity for one person, and the audience isn’t likely to notice, because we’re never invited to suspect everyone.
As I watched the movie, I didn’t figure out who the villain was until the heroes figured it out, which is ideal. As with all the best villain-reveals, I was able to instantly flip my perspective and re-evaluate everything I’d seen, seeing how everything the villain had done, none of which seemed villainous at the time, could easily take on a sinister interpretation. Let’s go back and look at each of her previous appearances.
We first meet her, she gives Mayor Lionheart the badge to give to Hopps and gets shoved aside.
- How it reads at the time: This is an amusing side character, and we’ll probably never see her again.
- What we see in retrospect: We see her humiliation and anger.
- How it reads at the time: We like Bellwether for sticking up for her fellow underdog.
- What we see in retrospect: She wants the case to go forward to serve her sinister plan.
- How it reads at the time: We’re getting more of a sense of her grievance at this point, but it still just seems like an interesting character note. If anything, it makes us wonder if Lionhart is going to be the villain.
- What we see in retrospect: She’s leading them to where the mayor has the predators caged up.
- How it reads at the time: She innocently puts Hopps forward and doesn’t realize what Hopps will do.
- What we see in retrospect: She hopes Hopps will blame all predators, and she’s very happy afterwards.
- How it reads at the time: We like her. In fact we side with her over our hero.
- What we see in retrospect: Oddly enough, our reading of this scene doesn’t change. Bellwether genuinely likes Hopps, and really wants to help her. Prey must stick together, after all.
Next time, we’ll look at another element that sets up the finale.