So after Manga Chapter 873, there were a few things about Pudding ‘saving the day’ that make me think…
Is Pudding actually setting herself up for an escape from Big Mom?
When Pudding’s plan is introduced, the Big Mom Pirates are more or less at their wit’s end. With no way to create the wedding cake, they know that Big Mom’s rampage will not end anytime soon, and that most likely means the end of their home.
Then Pudding comes rushing in with a grand solution, but her conditions don’t sit well with me.
First, she asks to go to her home town, where she may have more than few tricks up her sleeve in the case of a betrayal or escape. Also, if I remember correctly, her town was one of the first places that the Straw Hats encountered upon entering Big Mom’s territory, so i’d imagine it is one of the border islands. This means it is an advantageous escape point, as it is close to open waters rather than deep in Big Mom’s territory.
Then she asks for Chiffon to help her. Hmmmm why Chiffon? With the entire Big Mom family around, you would think they would have some other options beside Chiffon cake (although maybe thats a wedding staple – i don’t know). Additionally, Chiffon is not exactly one of the most accessible family members to them at the time as she is most likely with Bege trying to escape at the moment and has effectively betrayed the family.
On that note, keep in mind that Chiffon is not sympathetic to her family or mother at all at this point. A few chapters back, she even felt bad that she felt no regret for plotting her mother’s assassination, and Pudding is no dummy. It is very possible that Pudding is already assuming that Chiffon had turned on the family and is factoring that into her plan. Chiffon was already hated by Big Mom, so having her husband try to assassinate her is not going to go well for her. She has no reason to go back or help.
Another thing to keep in mind is that Chiffon is Lola’s twin sister and had to bear the brunt of Big Mom’s hatred for Lola, which is a big reason she is more loyal to Bege than her family & Mother. Pudding and Lola were close, so I can only assume she was also close with Chiffon or at least felt a kinship. When pudding was going through her wedding psychology stuff, Oda focused a lot on Lola and Pudding’s relationship, and how Lola was driven off by her passion to make her own decisions.
So with Lola in mind, what did we just see unfold in front of our eyes with the wedding? Pudding and Sanji were to get married, and instead the Whole Cake Island was destroyed, the wedding was ruined, they lost Germa, they lost Big Mom’s mind, and the wedding cake was ruined. If Lola ruining the Giant marriage earned a death sentence and eternal hatred from Big Mom, what does this mean for Pudding? Is she so dumb to think that her inability to pull the trigger and kill Sanji will come without recourse? Once Big Mom realizes what happened, Pudding can only assume to get the same treatment that Lola did, but probably even worse. We’ve seen Big Mom kill other siblings of hers for even less.
There is also a connection with Pudding and Chiffon with Nitro, who is the homie who wears a Capone Bege hat. Coincidence? I am not sure how it fits exactly, but it is suspicious to a degree…
So my theory is that Pudding is now in self-preservation mode. All of her moves are made to give her options to escape…. if Big Mom destroys the Straw Hat Pirates, she will bank on the Fire Tank Pirates possibly still being around, so she asked for Chiffon to be brought to her immediately upon capture. If the Fire Tank Pirates get away, she can try to repair her reputation as much as possible with her Mother by making the cake, or she may just be asking for the rare ingredients so she can take them and use them for funding when/if she bails.
Part of this is a hunch on the ‘?!’ on the final panel after Pudding says she wants to ‘reward’ Big Mom for getting rid of Sanji and the Straw Hats. Her wanting to reward Big Mom for doing something shows that Pudding sees herself ‘above’ Big Mom in some way, and that is why I think she’s on the edge of turning her back on the family. She doesn’t seem to be on the same page as Big Mom, and I think this may be her opportunity to make a proper split.
A small side theory here is that she may also have used her ability on Big Mom at some point and saw what happened when she was young with Mother Caramel. Could she be trying to set up the family to get eaten along with the wedding cake in some way? Could Linlin wake up at the end of this arc on an empty Chocolat Town Island just like when Mother Caramel disappeared? I’m not sold on this side theory, but it’s fun to speculate
In conclusion, I feel like Pudding’s plan to help the family is more of a set-up for her and Chiffon (and possibly the FireTank Pirates as well) to get out of Big Mom’s influence as quickly as possible. If any two people will be blamed for this, it will be Pudding for botching the wedding and Chiffon for not reporting Bege’s assassination attempt. Chocolat Town is on the border of Big Mom’s territory, and Pudding could also be tricky with the Wedding cake and high-tail it out of there. Pudding is re-living Lola’s nightmare, and she knows the only way that Lola was able to survive was escape, so that is what I am speculating is her true goal.