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Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Here's a way better ending for "The Santa Clause 2"

A scene from "The Santa Clause 2." Scott (Santa) asks Carol to marry him, while all the elves watch.
[spoilers for "The Santa Clause 2"]

[content note: grand romantic gesture that steamrolls consent]


Carol, from "The Santa Clause 2" (2002), deserves a better ending. So I wrote one.

Here's the premise of the movie (from IMDb):
Santa Claus has been working at his job for eight years now and Christmas is coming. Unfortunately, there's a SECOND clause on the card that got Scott into being Santa in the first place.

In order to continue being Santa, a job Scott has grown to know and love (and is very good at), there must a MISSUS Claus. With only 27 days and no prospects at hand, Scott begins the de-Santification process. His beard shortens, his weight lessens, and he becomes more and more human.
Santa needs to get married by Christmas Eve, or else he can't be Santa anymore.

Go ahead and watch the end of the movie (start at 1:45:21)

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"Where's Carol?" Scott called out.

"Scott!" Carol ran through the crowd of elves, past the machines and toys on conveyer belts, and into his arms.

"Carol, are you all right?" They hugged each other, and she was so happy to see him again. Last time they were together, he had told her he was Santa, and she had kicked him out of her house. She thought he was mocking her, joking around about the very personal story she had told him, about what Santa had meant to her as a child. But wow, it was real, and here she was at the North Pole, surrounded by elves. This would take some getting used to. Scott started to explain how he had to go start delivering toys now, but he was interruped by Bernard, the head elf.

"But Santa, aren't you forgetting something?" said Bernard. "You gotta get married!"

"Excuse me?" Carol asked, and she turned to face Scott, who suddenly looked very awkward. At that moment, everyone in the toy factory stopped and looked at him.

"Carol, I..." he looked at the floor, then at her. "...I cannot continue being Santa unless I find a Mrs. Claus."

Wait. What was happening? Why was he suddenly talking about marriage? He's kidding, she thought, but she saw all the elves staring, their faces incredibly serious. Oh my god, she thought, he's actually asking me to marry him. Because he needs a Mrs. Claus.

"Oh," she began. "So that's what all this was about... You just needed a wife."

"No."

"No?"

He looked a little embarrassed. "Yes."

"Yes?" she asked. So none of it was real. He just needed to find some woman- any woman...

"Yes, I was looking for a wife. No, I didn't figure on falling in love."

No one moved. Carol's mind was racing in all directions at once. What was happening? "You love me?" she managed to say. Scott nodded.

"This is all happening so fast," she said. She had known him for less than a month. They'd been on one date. One date! That's all! Is this really happening? She loved him too, but... no, this was too fast.

"Well there's no pressure*," said Scott.

Carol breathed a small sigh of relief. "Good."

"I mean, if I don't get married, I just won't deliver the gifts, and children everywhere will stop believing, the elves will lose their jobs, the North Pole will disappear, and Christmas will be gone.*" He smiled a little, as if it was a joke... Panic came over Carol as she realized the "joke" part was when he said "there's no pressure."

The elves continued to stare. They wanted her to say yes. They wanted her to get married right there. How on earth was she going to get out of this?

One of the elves, Judy, came and whispered in Scott's ear, "Get down on one knee." Scott got down on one knee. "Say, 'Carol.'"

Scott said, "Carol."

Judy continued feeding him lines. "You say this is happening all so fast."

"You say this is happening all so fast," said Scott.

"But you've known me your whole life."

"But you've known me your whole life," he repeated.

"When you were little and alone..."

"When you were little and alone, Santa..." Scott turned to Judy and said, "I can take it from here." He stood up and took Carol's hands. She felt nauseous. "Santa was always there for you. And I will be there for you, as long as you continue to believe in me. I know I'm asking you to leave everything at home, but I can guarantee you that this is worth it."

How was she going to get out of this?

Scott continued, "This place... this place is all about magic and love and wonder. And occasionally a thin-crust pizza and a movie and a long winter night."

And all of that would have been meaningful to her, if this was an actual choice. But it wasn't. He was just going to say whatever it took to get her to say yes. He wasn't taking no for an answer. And neither were the elves.

Was there any way to say no? What could she possibly do? She thought about her job as a school principal. She faked a smile and asked, "Is there a school here?"

Scott seemed to be caught off guard by that question. He looked around quickly at the elves, then said, "Yes, we have one, a school, but the elves need a new principal. Because as of late some of the elves have been acting a bit impish."

Okay, thought Carol, he just entirely made that up. The crowd of elves continued to stare, as if she was the one who held their fate in her hands, as if she would be the bad guy if she said no.

Scott leaned in closer to her. "Carol, I love you. Will you be my wife?" And all she could think was, no, no, no- but she couldn't see any way out of this. She was surrounded. They wouldn't let her say no. And there was no escape. She was at the North Pole, thousands of miles from anyone she knew.

Judy whispered, "Say, 'I will,'" as if to confirm everything Carol feared about their intentions to force her into this.

She looked at Scott. She would fake it. She would say what they wanted her to say, and then get the hell out of here as soon as possible. "... I will."

Scott looked overjoyed and wrapped her in a big hug, as the elves cheered. She felt sick.

Suddenly the whole place sprang into motion. Bernard yelled, "We only have 5 minutes- find Mother Nature!" One of the elves handed Carol a bouquet of red and white flowers that she had hastily put together. Another draped a long, white coat over Carol's shoulders. Scott was telling her, "I love you so much," but he never asked about what she wanted. Did he care that she had always imagined her father walking her down the aisle? Did he care that she would want her sister to be her maid of honor? Did it even occur to him to have her at least call her family first?

And he didn't even have a damn ring! How was that possible? He knew he had to propose to someone before Christmas, and he hadn't even gotten a ring? Come on! And somehow she would be the bad guy if she said no?

A tall woman- who was apparently named Mother Nature- rushed in to officiate. She hurried through the vows- "to have and to hold, for better or for worse, for richer or poorer, in sickness and in health, till death do us part"- and looked at Scott, who said, "I do" as he gazed at Carol adoringly. She turned to Carol, who looked down and managed to say, "I do."

"Then by the powers vested in me, by me, I now pronounce you Santa and Mrs. Claus." Carol faked a smile, and the officiant said, "Well go on now, kiss her!" Scott turned to face Carol. He looked so happy, as if he had no idea what he had just done to her. She reassured herself that she just had to get through this one kiss and then she would get away from him as soon as possible. They kissed, and the elves cheered.

The clock struck midnight. Santa had done it; he had managed to get married just in the nick of time. And suddenly, his hair turned white and a massive beard appeared out of nowhere. Carol was even more scared. How could she get away? How could she resist him, when he had magic so powerful? His magic had made her fall in love with him, but now it terrified her.

Everyone continued to cheer as Santa- Scott- walked through the crowd to his sleigh. It was time for him to go deliver the gifts. He sat down, then said to Carol, "Well Mrs. Claus, you might want to get some rest. You see, tomorrow begins vacation season for me, which means a three-month honeymoon for us." She continued to fake a smile, barely even registering what he was saying. She had to get out of here.

The sleigh lifted up from the ground, pulled by the reindeer, and flew away. Okay, thought Carol, it's time to find out what kind of transportation options this place has. She would need to ask the elves some sneaky questions.

The crowd started to disperse. "Judy," Carol asked, trying to keep her voice calm. "How does he fly like that? Is it safe?"

"Oh of course, don't worry, Mrs. Claus," answered Judy. "Our reindeer are very good, and the sleigh has just been upgraded with the newest technology. Actually, Santa's heading over to the garage right now for one more safety check. And we stay in contact with him throughout the whole flight using radios."

"Oh that's good," said Carol. "Can you show me where I'll be staying?"

"Certainly. Follow me."

As Judy led her up a set of stairs, Carol said, "Wow, this place is really amazing. So you elves make everything yourselves? Food, clothes, everything? Do you ever need to get supplies sent here?"

"That's right, we make everything ourselves. If you're hungry, I'll take you down to the kitchen- Jeff has been perfecting his glazed ham recipe for 500 years. I'm sure you'll love it."

"Wow, you have everything you need right here. So have you ever traveled outside of the North Pole?"

"No, don't need to," said Judy.

"Have any of the elves?"

"Curtis did just yesterday, actually. And I remember about 8 years ago, we had to send an elf team to break Santa out of jail. And maybe 30 years ago, the sleigh had a problem and someone had to go fix it. So for emergencies, some elves have left the North Pole."

"Wow, break Santa out of jail!" said Carol. "And how did they get there? Reindeer?"

"Jetpacks."

"Wow!" said Carol, but she felt even more hopeless. Jetpacks. She had no idea how to use a jetpack. How was she going to get out of here? She had seen snowmobiles outside earlier- but this whole North Pole town was underground, with a huge hole in the "sky" above it. She would need something that could fly. Reindeer, jetpacks... what else? The Tooth Fairy had brought her here; he could fly. But she couldn't ask for his help- even if she made up some story that convinced him she wasn't running away, he would know where she went, and he would tell Santa when people started realizing she was gone.

"Here's your room," Judy said. There was a huge bed in the center, with red and green sheets. "You can wear these pajamas. If they don't fit, we can make new ones for you."

Jetpacks, reindeer, snowmobiles that were stuck underground... even if she had some mode of transportation, she didn't even know where she was or where she was going. "The North Pole" ... where is that? Canada? Are we in Canada? And even if she could find a map, or a compass, or a GPS, or something, she didn't feel safe going out alone in the cold in the middle of nowhere. Sure, in theory she would be able to navigate to the nearest town, but she had never done anything like that before. She didn't have any supplies, she didn't even know what kind of supplies she would need. What did she have? Just her purse... some credit cards and cash...

Suddenly she knew what she had to do. Her only way out.

"I'm a little tired," she said to Judy. "Maybe I'll put on my pajamas. Could you get me some hot cocoa from the kitchen while I change?"

"Sure," Judy answered with a smile. "I'll be right back." And the door closed behind her.

Carol ran to the door and watched Judy walk away. As soon as she had turned the corner, Carol came out of the bedroom and rushed down the stairs, out the front door of the toy factory, in the direction she had seen the sleigh go.

She could see the line of reindeer standing there, in the distance. It wasn't too late yet.

Carol ran along the side of the buildings, hoping no one would see her. She stopped right at the side of the garage, trying to keep her breathing quiet. The sleigh hadn't left yet. Scott and his son Charlie were standing there, talking to an elf.

She gathered snow together into a ball, and threw it at the line of reindeer. One of the reindeer let out a scream, and Scott, Charlie, and the elf ran to see what the problem was. Carol ran, low to the ground, and got under the back seat of the sleigh.

"Dasher, we don't have time for this!" she heard Scott say. Then the elf's voice, "Santa, you really really need to go. The kids are counting on you. If you have any problems, just radio back to us. You really need to go."

"Okay, let's go," said Scott. Carol felt the sleigh shift as Scott and Charlie sat down in the front seat. Then Scott shouted, "On Dasher, on Dancer, on Prancer, on Vixen! On Comet, on Cupid, on Donner, on Blitzen!" and they were flying through the air.

Okay, she had escaped the North Pole. But what was next?

She'd have to sneak out of the sleigh at some point. Find a hotel. Call her parents. And tell them... oh, she wanted to cry, thinking about what had happened. They had been on one date. And then he pressured her into marrying him. Like he had no idea what kind of situation he was putting her in, proposing like that. Why couldn't he have said, "I promise we can get it annulled tomorrow, I'm not really asking you to marry me, I know it's way too soon for that, it's just this technicality in the rules for being Santa, and I really really need someone to do this for me"?

She felt the sleigh come to land on a building. Scott grabbed the sack of toys from the back seat, and presumably was on his way down the chimney. Carol peeked up over the side of the sleigh. Where are we? The sleigh would be stopping hundreds of times tonight; how would she decide when to get out?

Scott was back. He threw the empty sack down on the back seat, and the sleigh was flying again.

They landed on one roof after another, and on each landing, the sack reinflated with toys that appeared there by magic. She needed to wait til they came to a city. In the US. With public transportation. She would stop in a store and ask someone where to find a hotel. But would any stores be open tonight?

She heard Charlie's voice. "Okay, on to the suburbs around Brossard." Where on earth is Brossard? She had to wait until she was sure they were in the US.

She waited. They stopped at house after house, and she could occasionally overhear Charlie saying place names.

He said I had to marry him or else he can't be Santa and Christmas will be ruined, thought Carol. What a load of crap! What's it going to be tomorrow- "you have to gain weight or else Christmas will be ruined," "you have to have sex with me or else Christmas will be ruined," "you have to have a baby or else Christmas will be ruined"? He was already assuming she would quit her job and move to the North Pole. Seriously?

And after she'd been on just one date with him?

"Look!" she heard Charlie call out. "You can see the Statue of Liberty!" New York City, okay, she would definitely get out at New York City, she decided. She peered up over the side of the sleigh. But how to decide where to get out? She needed to find a hotel.

The stops were taking longer than usual; it must be that Santa was visiting many homes within each apartment building. I just have to pick one and get out, Carol thought. One with an obvious way of getting down off the roof. In her head, she heard the words, "He sees you when you're sleeping, he knows when you're awake." Tonight, she would get away from him, but he would find her again. "He sees you when you're sleeping..." And he knew where she lived, and where she worked. Maybe I should stay with my parents, she thought. She didn't want to be alone when he found her.

The sleigh landed again. Carol saw a roof access door that was propped open. She slowly got out and hid under the sleigh.

Scott was back, and a second later, the sleigh took off again. As Carol raced down the stairs of the apartment building, the words "he sees you when you're sleeping, he knows when you're awake" played in her head over and over. She had escaped, but for how long? What could she do? She never could have imagined she would be in a situation like this: Santa was real, and he had forced her to marry him.

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* This is an exact quote from the movie (as is most of the rest of the dialogue in this section). Thank you script-o-rama for the movie script.

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