Saturday, September 20, 2014

Poor Evangelical Tools

So Cyrus and his loyal rednecks are storming the hole-in-the-ground where Vicki and her friends are hiding out. Whatever will they do?!

Vicki's genius plan is to go to Cyrus's hideout and witness to the others there, while Cyrus and his band of mooks have their attention focused on Vicki's hideout. I know there are probably tons of holes in this scheme but given how rare we ever see any kind of strategic thinking in these books...I'm going to let it slide. Besides given that, to paraphrase a commentator, modern militia movements are heavy on the Red Dawn and light on the Che Guevera, it's possible this strategy would work.

While this is going on, Judd decides to talk to Lionel about whether he should stay in France or go back to America. Lionel is not pleased at the possibility of Judd staying and because I like to add more slash to the LB-verse, I'm going to assume it's because he wants to know Judd in the biblical sense and doesn't like the idea of competing with Foreign McForeign for the privilege.

Judd is like "Perryn's death really affected me and I feel like I owe his dad" and I'm like really? You saw Perryn for all of five minutes before he was murdered. You two never exchanged a word of conversation with each other. All you know about him is what other people have told you. So what the Hell, Judd?

Judd gets all emo and wonders just what they accomplished in Israel. I'm wondering the same thing, but then again these are the Heroes who Don't Do Anything. He talks about how they rescued Z-Van from the rubble of the earthquake, but that led to Z-Van taking the Mark and becoming one of the Legion of the Damned. I am like o_O at this statement. Is Judd saying the Christian thing to do would have been to let Z-Van die slowly from being crushed by rubble? But Lionel's like, "If we hadn't rescued Z-Van, Westin wouldn't have become a believer."

Judd then asks, "So why did God send us here?" Lionel says "For our protection," though given that all these disasters are affecting the entire Earth, I don't see how they're safer in France than they are anywhere else. Lionel stands by his decision to GTFO back to the states as soon as possible. Judd asks about bringing the French believers and Lionel, in a rare show of intelligence, is like "Which is easier, smuggling three people back to the states or a crowd?"

The section at long last ends with Judd wondering what he's going to do. Now, we cut back to Vicki.

What we have is an action sequence. I'm going to fast-forward through most of it, because like I said before, action scenes in these books are dull as hell because nothing ever happens. I know RTCs blanche at the thought of anyone's kids reading Harry Potter, but at least JK Rowling knows there has to be a chance of lasting physical and/or psychological harm coming to her characters. That's why her action scenes work whereas Ellanjay's can DIAF.

Vicki and the others are trying to get into Cyrus's hideout, when Tanya hears her father over the radio, causing her to pause. The others work at trying to break the prisoners out of the underground base while Tanya talks with her father over the radio.

I'll admit I don't like Cyrus as much as I used to, ever since he went into melt-down mode. But given how utterly unlikeable the protagonists are and how unlikeable their beliefs are, the reader is forced to side with anyone who doesn't immediately kowtow to the Tribbles simply because that's their only option. Granted what will happen to Cyrus is either he'll convert and lose what little shading his character has or he'll be punted into hell, after which Tanya won't give a lick about him, even though he's her father.

Tanya, following the RTC standard of aiming for emotional wounds, decides to talk about her slaughtered raptured mother. Cyrus mentions that her mother had some crazy beliefs and wanted to share them with her children, but he refused to let her tell them, and she being a good RTC wife obeyed him, writing them down in a letter. Tanya's like "A letter?" and Cyrus wins a few character points by giving a fairly accurate summation of RTC beliefs.

“Yeah. Doesn’t make much sense. Just a string of verses and some gibberish she copied from the radio. I do think God will accept her, even if she wasn’t thinking clearly.”

I like that last line. When a gun-toting redneck shows more compassion than your protagonists, something is wrong.

The chapter ends with Tanya going, "I have to find that letter."

The second chapter...more action scenes for me to fast-forward through.

Tanya and Vicki and the others are trying to get into to Cyrus's hideout and bust out the seven people he's imprisoned for being rebellious. Frankly I think it's rather kind of Cyrus to imprison rebels rather than doing what most militias would probably do which is shoot them. Again, they're a paranoid group of Christian/Hindu Survivalists; they probably believe mercy is one of those effete European possibly homosexual ideals.

I'll sum it up. Cyrus is storming Vicki's hideout but Vicki makes it out of his hideout with not only the seven rebels but the all important letter.

Once Vicki and the group of new recruits are safely back at their hole-in-the-ground, we get Exciting!TV!Watching!Action. What's on the news, you ask? Well, it's a discussion with a director, Lars Rahlmost (giving us the chance to play "Guess the Ethnicity!"), discussing his documentary on Nicky's resurrection.

The documentary also has a clip where an RTC preaches about how Nicky's the anti-Christ before being hauled off and killed on camera. I'm assuming Lars Rahlmost is supposed to be the GC's Michael Moore so I gotta wonder why was this footage included? If Satan's trying to recruit as many people as he can for the battle against God, he probably wouldn't want his propagandist sharing the sacred truth for the entire world to hear.

The chapter ends with Tanya reading her mother's letter and crying. If you're wondering, the letter's the standard altar-call kind of witness we get in every book, even though you'd think if her mother really wanted to influence her children, she'd cite Zod saving Israel from being nuked miracle or even just make a list saying, "Here's what's going to happen." Like I've said before, while these books are supposed to help young believers evangelize, they do a piss-poor job of it because the deck is stacked; unlike the readers, the characters of these books have seen incontrovertible proof of the existence of God. The readers will probably go their entire lives without seeing God swat aside nukes, so this fails as a tool of evangelism.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Dredging up Forgotten Characters

So Judd is a little shaken by Foreign McForeign's offer. So shaken that he makes a very contradictory statement that makes me go "What?!" in confusion.

Judd had known this man less than twenty-four hours, but he already felt like the father Judd no longer had.

Again, they've barely had any screen time together yet Judd is already thinking about how Foreign McForeign is like his father. I suppose it could work, if it was established that Judd was seriously traumatized by all the disasters he'd been through and therefore would latch onto any older male as a father figure, but Judd doesn't act the least bit traumatized. The End of Days seem about as dramatic as banging your elbow on the table.

Of course, part of me wonders if Foreign McForeign just wants a replacement for his dead son. Judd, word of advice: if he starts dressing you in his son's clothes and calling you by his name, run. Forget honor, forget dignity, time for some good old-fashioned GTFO.

At least that's what would happen if trauma actually affected people in these books. But apparently, Foreign McForeign desires neither a replacement son or Judd's nubile flesh.

“With your contacts in the States and around the world, you could be an asset to our group,” Jacques said.

I can't be the only one going, "Uh, what contacts?" But then I remember: even though they haven't been seen or mentioned for many pages, Judd is tangentially connected to Our Buck and St. Rayford. Everyone, good or bad in these books, recognizes the awesomeness of Ellanjay's self-inserts.

Foreign McForeign asks him to pray, saying that Lionel mentioned there was someone special waiting for Judd. Oh boy, more ham-fisted attempts to pair up Judd and Vicki even though they haven't been on the same continent for several books now. I think Nada had more screen time and more flirting with Judd, but since she's dead, that ship's sunk.

Judd shows a picture of Vicki and we can add another mention of Ryan to our counter. Once again, I ask myself why didn't I start a count after his death just so I can prove how little Ryan, aka the kids' series Butt Monkey, matters to his friends. But I'm too lazy to scroll through God-only-knows how many posts/books.

But Judd admits that the last time they were together, he was a real jerk towards Vicki. But then again, all the male characters in the kids' version seem to volley between either being a total jerk or being a non-entity with few if any discernible personality traits.

Foreign McForeign says that if she's said she's willing to forgive you, she must have feelings for you. Judd asks whether Foreign McForeign and his wife fought. Foreign McForeign says they did at first but the process of getting together knocks a lot of the rough edges away.

I suppose there are some disgusting sexual politics to take apart here, but compared with the adult books (for example, St. Rayford's treatment of Hattie), these are mild infractions. Plus, like I've said before, I like these rare moments where they try to develop character and not shove another disaster or sermon onstage.

Vicki has decided to leave and take Tanya with her. Mark is on board with it, but the rest aren't. Finally, Vicki decides she'll meet up with Chloe.

Vicki thought of several people she would like to talk with. Judd. Ryan. Bruce. Two of them were dead, and Judd was halfway around the world. A face flashed in her mind, and she turned to Becky. “Chloe Williams. She really seemed interested in me when we talked a long time ago.”

First of all, yet another mention of Ryan! Secondly, as I recall, but am too lazy to scroll through old posts to do so, wasn't the last time Chloe and Vicki were onstage some time in the single-digit books? I recall Chloe talking about how being separated from Our Buck made her love him more; as I recall, it was before they were married, so yeah. Word of advice, Ellanajay, stop doing the cute little trick where you dredge up characters the reader's long forgotten about because there's only so much space in your memory and no one has any discernible traits to make it worth remembering them. In fact, since Chloe runs the Magical Co-op that everyone must shop at, because of The Mark, we should have had more mention of her sooner. But I'm guessing that they think running a Co-op during the End of Days is light work compared with the work of manly men like Rayford and Buck who do, what exactly?

We get a brief interlude with Chang. Nicky's planning to nuke Chicago. That might be shocking if he hadn't already nuked nine cities in one of the single-digit books. Not to mention that said nuking of nine cities didn't affect anything, so neither will nuking one work.

Sam types up something for his blog, "The Petra Diaries." Needless to say, it's not going to upset Porn as the most studied thing on the Internet. But here's a small sampling.

Ben-Judah stood and spoke to us. Following is what he said in my own words. Dr. Ben-Judah asked us to think about the five most important events of history. See if you agree with him. The first event was God’s creation of the world. Second came the worldwide flood of Noah’s day. Third, the birth of Jesus Christ.

Uh, there's nothing in there about the Babylonian Captivity. It's a pretty important event in Jewish history; much of the Old Testament deals with the ramifications of it. I suppose you can argue it's not really world history given that it mostly involves the Jewish people and not the whole world, but given how The Old Testament shaped the New and how the Bible in general, whether you like it or not, has shaped world history, I still think leaving it out is a grievous error.

If you're wondering, the other two events of history are The Rapture and the Glorious Appearing three years later when TurboJesus returns, this time packing heat.

He talks about how after TurboJesus triumphs over every foe, they'll be peace on Earth, and more babble about how all this horrific suffering is our loving father trying to get your attention, even though He's proven he can witness to his people without killing them. There's really not much more to go into with Sam's message, just more talk about the 144,000 non-virginal evangelists. It ends with an altar call.

The chapter ends with Vicki observing the Mountain Militia approaching Colin's underground hideout. And I've decided to end my snark on one chapter for this week. I didn't know it would get so long when I sat down to write it, honest! Sorry about the post title: couldn't think of a decent one for this week.

Saturday, September 6, 2014

The Deus ex Machina is Strong with this One

So Judd's still hanging with the French Believers and while he does, he decides to browse through Foreign McForeign's photo album. Because peeking at someone's personal memories is A-Okay. There really isn't much to go into with this section, just that John 10:10 is mentioned. Once again, they neglect to mention that in that section, which is about The Good Shepherd, Jesus doesn't also say, "And if the sheep reject their shepherd, I will turn them over to the wolves to tear apart forever and ever."

Next section, all that happens is Sam decides to start a blog called "The Petra Diaries." I'm serious; that's all that happens.

Mark and the others are futzing around with night vision goggles when Colin essentially tells them to go to bed. Mark complains about being treated like a child, but hello, they are children. Still standard teenage gripe, so points for realism. The section ends with this little bit, which I'm quoting because I found it interesting.

Mark put his head back and pretended to sleep, but thoughts raced through his mind. Maybe it was time for him to leave, perhaps go to the other Wisconsin hideout or join a band of believers in the commodity co-op. There were a lot of ways to fight the enemy besides hiding below ground.

As he started out of the house, Shelly put an arm on Mark’s shoulder. “We’ll be praying for you.”

As I recall but am too lazy to scroll through old posts, Mark was the one who wanted to join a militia group earlier on in the series, so props for consistency. When Shelly says "We'll be praying for you," I'm going to assume she'll be praying for Mark to see the light and accept the Tribbles' ethos of doing nothing.

Again, I know according to Ellanjay the prophecies are immutable (i.e. can't be changed) but as many more eloquent have pointed out, that doesn't necessarily mean the characters can't be doing stuff, like trying to feed, shelter, and clothed those who have suffered as a result of the myriad disasters. But like I said, the Tribbles don't even bother to do that.

Okay, I admit I've been ignoring Vicki because not much has been happening (she tries to escape but fails is basically all that happens), but now I think we might be getting somewhere. Don't hold your breath though. Excitement must have done something terrible to Ellanjay when they were kids because they sure hate it.

The Survivalists are sitting down to eat, when Ty basically says he's starting to wonder if Vicki's right. Others pipe in and Cyrus goes into full meltdown mood, firing a shotgun and dragging Vicki off.

The next chapter begins with Cyrus dragging Vicki away. Several of his cult confront him, saying that he's crossed the line. Naturally Cyrus doesn't listen. His cult members try to shoot him but Cyrus made sure their guns only had blanks in them.

But just as one of the protagonists is under the threat of lasting harm, Ty leaps on his father, allowing Vicki to escape and meet up with her friends.

Judd, meanwhile, feels a little guilt over the death of Perryn, Foreign McForeign's son.

Judd nodded. “I can’t help but think that your helping us kept you from your son.”
Jacques pursed his lips. “I admit I have thought the same thing, but my wife brought up a good point. Perhaps my helping you was God’s way of sparing my life. If I had waded into that group, my son and I would both have died.”

:grinds teeth: If you had waded into that group, to use your words, you, just like your son, would be in Heaven. You guys should be doing what Perryn did: seizing every waking moment to win converts to your side. At least that's what you would do if you had actual courage as opposed to alpha male posturing.

So other French RTCs talk about their memories of Perryn and I have to admit, it's not a bad scene. Like I've said before it's nice when the writers ease of the expository gas and allow the characters time to react and feel something about the latest events. More and more, I like Perryn and wish to add him, posthumously, to my list of favorite characters. While he's not as awesome as Taylor or Hasina, he's still pretty cool in that he did what the RTC characters in these books only occasionally think about doing.

Perryn's mother (who hasn't been given a name because she's one of those silly womenfolk) reads Perryn's favorite passage. For those wondering, it's part of 2 Corinthians, chapter four. I'll spare you and not do a bigass quote, but I will note just how Ellanjay completely miss the point because that's what I do.

Judd wiped away a tear and wrote the reference down on a scrap of paper. Those verses perfectly described how every believer had to live at this time in history. He couldn’t wait to send the passage to the others in the Young Trib Force.

So apparently Paul's second letter to the Corinthians wasn't meant for them; he, like every writer in the Bible, was writing about some indeterminate point in the future. Thank goodness, Darby and Scofield came along to set everyone straight. :eyeroll:

The chapter ends with Vicki at the hideout. But uh-oh, Mark's pissed.

“That doesn’t excuse what you did. I can’t go on without saying or doing something, and that’s led me to a hard decision.”
“Which is?” Vicki said.
“We can’t stay together and not be accountable.” Mark looked at the others. “And it’s clear I’m the one who has the problem with this.” He took a deep breath. “Either I need to leave or Vicki needs to go.”

Frankly, I can see Mark's point: Vicki did endanger their entire group with her "Witness to the Crazy Survivalists" plan. Then again, witnessing is what they're supposed to do. But don't worry, Vicki. Mark will eventually realize you're a main character and therefore he will back down.

Again, snark is skimpy. I don't know if or when I'll stop doing three-chapter snarks but here we are.

The chapter begins with Sam walking around. He talks to Naomi and we get more exposition. Apparently Token Jew is going to show up and deliver another message. I'm guessing in another chapter because I flipped ahead and didn't see him in this one. So we have that to look forward to.

Judd talks to Chang. Apparently the Greek Believers managed to escape a trap thanks to Deus ex Machina. But then again, the Deus ex Machina basically drives this entire plot. If your wondering, the archangel Michael blinded the GC plane so they couldn't stop the Believers from taking off.

Judd turns on the news and we get more from Leon and Nicky. Leon does the standard "Bwaaah! Bwaah! Those Jewishy Jews will suffer!" speech which I'm assuming Ellanjay put in there to diffuse accusations that they are anti-Semitic. "How can we be when the only characters wanting the extinction of the Jewish people are bad guys!" Nicky, if you're wondering, plans on laying siege and starving the people of Petra out rather than further attacks. Not a bad idea but given that the Deus ex Machina is strong with this story, Nicky will be as weak and ineffectual as a paper parasol umbrella is in a hurricane.

Vicki mopes and decides that Mark is right that she should leave. Cue dramatic prairie dog. I still say this will, like everything else, come to nothing.

The chapter ends with the French Believers holding a memorial service for Perryn. For those wondering, here's the passage that closes out the chapter and this week's snark.

“Do not blame yourself, Judd. God is never surprised at our suffering or at death. He knows the end from the beginning, and though I don’t understand, I do trust him.”
Judd nodded and leaned against the building.
“I want to ask you a question. Think about your answer. Your presence here is not by mistake. And I sense in you—and in your friends—the same spirit in my son. A desire to follow God wholeheartedly and tell others of him.”
Jacques took hold of Judd’s shoulders. “Perhaps you were sent here by God to finish the work Perryn began. Would you consider staying until his vision is complete?”

I can't be the only one who thinks this passage between Foreign McForeign and Judd reeks of Ho Yay. Again, why is it that RTCs are some of the best creators of Ho Yay around?

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Bonjour, you Cheese-Eating Surrender-Monkeys!

The chapter begins with Judd wandering around with his backstage pass, looking for Westin. While part of me is pleased that the heroes are doing something heroic in trying to save someone, part of me wonders why. Westin's said The Prayer; if anything happens to him, he gets a one-way ticket to Heaven. Shouldn't Judd steal a microphone, go on stage, and preach to the heathens until the GC drag him away?

Also notable about this first section: he overhears the villains committing torture. Not fake torture, like depriving Chloe of food for a few hours, but actual torture. Basically Z-Van keeps shoving Westin's head under water and trying to get him to convert. It's not much by way of torture, if you ask me, but I am desperate for any crumb of suffering here.

Lionel, meanwhile, is walking through the crowd, praying for some kind of help. He gets his answer when he notices a Believer reading the French edition of Buck Williams's "The Truth." Why this believer is dumb enough to print up contraband from a forbidden website and walk out in the open with it is beyond me. But I've accepted that both sides, good and evil, are dumber than dirt. He agrees to help Lionel but says he needs to find his son first. I look forward to finding out this Good Samaritan's name because given Ellanjay's tin ear when it comes to naming characters, it's going to be something unbelievably foreign. In fact, I'm surprised they didn't name a character, Foreign McForeign. That's what I'm going to call this character until he is given a name.

So Judd is trying to rescue Westin. And to my surprise, we get a brief mention of that previous scene where Judd caused a Morale Monitor to be trampled. Granted, it's only a line but I'm surprised just to see it mentioned again. He wonders if he'll have to hurt a guard to get Westin out of Z-Van's clutches. If you're wondering, the answer is no. Westin does all the dirty work, beating up the guard and forcing him to drink something that renders him unconscious, thus leaving Judd morally as white as snow. There is another action scene with more guards coming in, but since all action scenes in these books are boring as hell, I'll just spoil it for you: Judd and Westin slip away.

The second chapter begins with Mark and the others watching Z-Van's concert. Z-Van has set up a guillotine and is calling the RTCs out.

“We have at least one with us tonight who has not taken the mark of our beloved leader. Who, as it turns out, still believes in the tired, lifeless God of the Bible. The God of legends and fairy tales and death and destruction. A God who, if we can believe those stories, wiped out the earth with a flood and then says he loves the world. A God who allows all manner of suffering. A God who demands perfection.”

I know not everyone who reads my blog gets my fan-love for Z-Van, but once again, Strawman Has A Point. To paraphrase aunursa, according to the RTCs, God gave his people the law knowing they couldn't possibly follow it and has spent centuries punting them into Hell for not following the law.

No Z-Van song lyrics for you this time, sorry. But after his song, Z-Van stops flying and unveils a statue of Nicky and demands that people bow before it.

Judd and Westin run. They find Lionel standing by a car and meet up with him. I'm going to assume that this car is Foreign McForeign's ForeignMobile. Because remember, he's foreign. That's all the personality traits he needs.

So Foreign McForeign is speeding away from Z-Van's concert and offers to take them to meet the French community of RTCs. I'm a little surprised that Ellanjay are willing to admit that a bunch of Cheese-eating Surrender Monkeys can become manly RTCs. After all, isn't France invoked as a bogeyman in their literature (i.e. "If we don't do this, we'll soon be all Godless and European, like France.")?

Oh and we finally get Foreign McForeign's real name. Are you ready? drumroll His name is Jacques Madeleine. I knew his name would be so French it might as well be superFrench and Ellanjay didn't disappoint. I'm going to keep calling him Foreign McForeign though, just for funsies.

Mark continues to watch the concert, watching as people accept the Mark and are therefore, damned forever. But an anonymous soul, who shows more guts than the entirety of the Tribbles, comes on stage and preaches to everyone. Naturally the chapter ends with him getting guillotined in front a cheering crowd, but still, give him credit for actually believing in The Great Commission as opposed to the Tribbles who smirk about how they've got it all figured out.

I'm throwing on a third chapter as a treat for y'all. Besides, the snark was looking skimpy.

The chapter begins with a brief interlude from Vicki. Vicki is, for those of you who've forgotten or don't care, trapped in some weird Survivalist underground prison. Somehow she convinces the lady redoing the duct tape not to duct tape her hands behind her back. And she does because a group of paranoid survivalists would care about the comfort of their prisoners and not just give them a bullet between the eyes.

Meanwhile, Judd and Lionel are at Foreign McForeign's house. Foreign McForeign decides to tell us his story.

“In my country, the disappearances did not create as much confusion as it did in the rest of the world. We lost less than one percent of our population. But many of us have been searching for answers for years. Some turn to astrology or strange religions. Others seek answers in psychiatry or use drugs to dull their pain. Many don’t want to think about what happens when we die, so they pour their lives into today, the now.

So in addition to being effete, secular, limp-wristed, and possibly homosexual, the French also hardly have any children. Because in case Ellanjay have forgotten, EVERY KID UNDER TWELVE DISAPPEARED DURING THE RAPTURE TOO! But I guess maybe they figure a bunch of cheese-eating surrender-monkeys don't care about their kids.

But then again, according to this comic, Captain America really hates America . If you're wondering why I posted that link, there's really no reason, just something I post whenever someone brings up the whole French are wusses meme.

Anyway, to sum up Foreign McForeign's story, the Rapture happened, then the Wrath of the Lamb-quake, then he saw The Light.

After Foreign McForeign tells his story, he receives some sad news: apparently the anonymous soul who did what the Tribbles only talk about doing (witnessing to the heathens) was his son, Perryn. Foreign McForeign hasn't fully embraced the RTC ethos of not feeling anything because afterwards, he starts crying. Or maybe that's supposed to be proof that Foreign McForeign is all poofy and French because manly men don't cry.

They turn on the news and hear Leon talking about the use of the guillotine at Z-Van's concert. But we do get a rare show of emotion from one of the characters that isn't French.

“That would have been me,” Westin whispered. “It should have been.” Wails from the next room saddened Judd. There was no denying that evil forces would stop at nothing to kill followers of the true God.

Like I said, why did they rescue Westin again? He and all the RTCs should seize every public moment to win souls to their side by preaching until they're carted away. But that would require actual courage, not alpha male posturing.

I'll sum up Vicki's part of the plot: she tries to escape but fails.

And that's enough for this week.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Judd Thompson: Too Dumb to Live

If the snark seems kind of weak regarding the first chapter, it's because once again, nothing happens in these books. I know I say that a lot but I continue to be awed by the way, despite numerous acts of God and Satan, nothing really happens. It takes a special kind of talent in order to drain inherently interesting events of any excitement.

Judd and Lionel are on Z-Van's plane on their way to Paris. Once again, I ask why the hell do they still trust Z-Van? To recycle a metaphor, it's like we're in a zombie movie and Judd keeps going, "Well, he keeps hungering for brains and trying to bite me. But I'm sure that doesn't mean anything." You can't say Judd's trying to convert him because we've already seen Z-Van take the Mark, which means he's officially damned for all eternity. There are no more chances for Z-Van!

You think I'm exaggerating about Judd's stupidity in trusting Z-Van? Hello and welcome to the blog! Let me provide just a sample of Judd's stupidity.

When a woman Judd didn’t recognize climbed aboard, Z-Van got everyone’s attention. “I want you to meet Gabrielle. She’ll be our backup pilot for Westin, should anything happen to him.” He smiled and Judd felt a chill. Was Z-Van planning something in Paris?

I'm not sure which is more irritating: the fact that the heroes of these novels are dumber than dirt or the fact that the villains are.

Judd talks to Chang, who says that the GC can't identify them because apparently those hats, which he must have gotten at the same place Clark Kent gets his glasses, hid their faces. We do get another mention of the Morale Monitor(MM) that Judd trampled. According to Chang, MM is in the hospital in critical condition. I wonder if that's the extent they'll mention this guy or if he'll be given a name and an obligatory conversion scene.

We get a section from Chang. Not much really happens with him, just him hanging around as the GC are like "Der our bombs didn't work." They wonder why and I headdesk. Aunursa, I know you probably don't read this blog anymore but if you do, can you help me out here? I thought Nicky's shtick was that he knew about the cockamamie prophecies and is slavishly following them because he believes for some reason that he can change the outcome. Granted that makes no sense whatsoever. I mean, if Nicky has read the prophecies then he knows how it ends, with his ass getting punted into Hell, so why in anyone's name would he follow them to the letter? I mean, if you received a prophecy saying that two years from now, you'll be stabbed to death while wearing a striped shirt, wouldn't you do something to stop it, even if it's just banning stripes from your wardrobe?

Chang had listened to conversations at the water cooler and around the office and wondered if any of his coworkers had ever considered God. Now, with the mark of Carpathia on every forehead, he grieved for them. He wasn’t any different than any of these people, except that God had broken through and convinced him of the truth.

God broke through and convinced you of the truth because you're an PC as opposed to all the nameless off-screen damned NPCs. But don't call Chang a heartless sociopath: he clearly feels bad that the God he serves will damn them for all eternity to a place of ever-lasting torment. Not bad enough to try to do anything, but still.

I'm fast-forwarding through much of this chapter because again, not really much to snark. Mark talks and thinks about maybe welcoming Vicki back. Vicki and Tanya work on escaping.

Judd is watching a video of Leon Fortunado giving his version of The Great Commission: Go forth and make disciples of all nations in the name of Satan. He empowers Z-Van and we end the chapter with this bit.

When the video ended, Z-Van stepped in front of the monitor. “You have seen what the Most High Reverend Father of Carpathianism has given me. You saw a little of my power onstage in Jerusalem. Tonight, you will see even greater things. Tonight, in front of hundreds of thousands, we will win the hearts of many, turn them to the true lord, and make a sacrifice to our king.”
Z-Van put out his hands and those seated went rigid. He whispered something, then opened his eyes, red as flame, and let loose an evil laugh.

So now that Z-Van is even more obviously evil, you're probably wondering what Judd will do. And the answer, according to the beginning of the second chapter of this week's snark, is not a damned thing. Word of advice, people, if you're ever in any kind of post-apocalyptic scenario with Judd, be it a zombie attack or something else, just throw Judd to the zombies and/or were-things or whatever and save yourself. In fact, if you find yourself on a deserted island with Judd, just get rid of him, even if there is enough food for the two of you. Because eventually something will happen and he'll doom you somehow. He's worse than Gilligan.

But in Judd's defense, he does pray for the guy he trampled, asking that God reach him somehow.

“God, I admit I don’t know what to pray about that guy,” Judd prayed honestly. “I didn’t mean to hurt him. You know who he is and I know that you’re kind and merciful. Please reach one of his family members or someone near him through the pain of this injury. Amen.”

Meanwhile, the Mountain Militia go on high alert. Vicki's friends have found the hideout and have come for her. But I'll fast-forward once again and say their attempts to rescue her fail. Cyrus drags her back under ground and ties her up with duct tape.

Judd emails Chang who basically says get away from Z-Van. He also emails Judd this conversation between Nicky and Leon. I'll only post a small snippet.

Carpathia: I want messiahs.
Leon: Messiahs?
Carpathia: I want saviors in my name.
Leon: Tell me more, Excellency.
Carpathia: Find them—thousands of them. Train them, raise them up, imbue them with the power with which I have blessed you. I want them healing the sick, turning water to blood and blood to water. I want them performing miracles in my name, drawing the undecided, yea, even the enemy away from his god and to me.

Okay, not entirely a stupid plan from Nicky's side: draw people to your team by doing miracles. Certainly makes more sense than Zod's plan which goes something like this:

1. Unleash horrific disaster guaranteed to kill most of the people you're trying to save.
2. ?????
3. PROFIT!

Under those circumstances, I would pick Nicky's side.

Ah heck, the snark's looking skimpy. I'll throw in another chapter.

Z-Van's plane finally lands in Paris and we get a little mention as to how the demonic NWO has changed stuff. Apparently, the Eiffel Tower is gone, but given that from what I've heard, Parisians hate the Eiffel Tower, they're probably happy. Oh and there's a statue
of Nicky on top of the Arc de Triomphe.

Thousands lined the sidewalks in front of the statue. Judd couldn’t believe after all the miracles and signs from God that people were still willing to follow Carpathia. God had given so many chances to believe the truth, but people chose against him.

Ah yes, Ellanjay's gospel, which can essentially be summed up as "He beats me but I know I deserve it and I'm really sorry Mister Lord for making you mad in the first place."

After they land, Z-Van says an eeevil prayer to Nicky and has Westin dragged off. I'll spoil it a little for you: Z-Van's genius plan is to drag Westin onstage at the concert and make him take the Mark. If Westin refuses, he gets the guillotine.

Judd and Lionel are locked in a room on the plane. They managed to escape in a scene that would read as suspenseful if the reader (i.e. Me) wasn't aware of the plot armor they were wearing. They bust out, lose the co-pilot, Gabrielle, and make it to the concert with one backstage pass. Lionel tells Judd to go backstage, saying that he'll try to find transportation for them.

And that's enough for this week.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Cherry-Pickin'

So for those of you waiting with bated breath, biting your nails wondering whether Lionel's genius plan would work, I'll go ahead and spoil it for you: it does. They do try to inject some suspense by having Judd trip and a Morale Monitor realizes he doesn't have the Mark, but both he and Lionel make it to Sabir's Magical Cab with nary a bruise.

So Judd and Lionel are still like "Oh whatever will we do? How will we get out of Israel?" while Sabir's like "We've gotta pray." But before I tell you the magical coincidence that saves Our Heroes (because the plot parts for Ellanjay's characters like the Red Sea for Israel), I wanna linger on a small part.

Y'see in a struggle with the Morale Monitor, Judd managed to knock him to the ground and last he saw him, the guy was being trampled by panicked mob. I didn't bring it up previously because I thought it, like everything else, would never be mentioned again, but to my surprise, they actually have Judd reflect on it. I know kids, I'm scared too.

Judd glanced at Lionel. “We should pray for that Morale Monitor at the hotel. I might have killed him.”
“I saw what happened,” Lionel said. “You didn’t mean to hurt him.”
“Yeah. So why doesn’t that make me feel any better?”

Now, in a well-written series, this would be delved into a little more. Judd has, through his own actions, killed someone. Yeah, you can argue it was an accident but killing is something that most humans are hardwired against so I think he'd feel some guilt regardless. But something tells me, this will be the last time we hear of an inkling of guilt from Judd.

But anyway, they call Westin and it turns out Westin caused Z-Van's plane to malfunction so it looks like Our Heroes will get out of Israel.

Now, for the fun part where we hear more about Tanya's heretical beliefs.

Tanya frowned. “I don’t understand. My dad says God’s really ticked off at the world for being so bad. That’s why he’s killing everybody during Armageddon.”
“God is angry at the evil in the world,” Vicki said, “but his judgments are to wake us up to the truth. He wants people to give their lives to him and accept his forgiveness. That’s why he sent his Son.”

Raise your hand if you can't see much of a difference between Tanya's and Vicki's beliefs because I sure can't. Both Tanya's and Vicki's god is someone so evil that the Old Testament Jehovah would blanche at. If I had to choose, though, I'd say Tanya's makes more sense. At least it's consistent with God just being flat-out pissed at everyone good and bad. Again, with Vicki's, they keep claiming God is one of love but he's doing his damnedest to kill us all so He can torture us forever.

But anyway, more on the conversation between Tanya and Vicki.

“My dad says Jesus was a great prophet. He was going to set up his kingdom on earth, but when people killed him, God left that job up to us.”
Vicki scratched her head. “Does your dad believe Jesus came back from the dead?”

Okay, starting to see where Tanya's group diverges from RTCianity, but I am still firmly on Team Tanya here. Whereas the RTCs believe it'll all just get worse until TurboJesus comes back and fixes everything for us, it's clear that Tanya believes that we must actually work to help establish Heaven on Earth.

Tanya shrugged. “I guess so. He says we all come back in some form or another. If we’ve done more bad stuff than good, we come back as an animal or some kind of plant. If we’ve done more good than bad, God lets us into heaven or we become angels.”

And here's the part where I go "Huh?" I thought that the Mountain Militia were Christian Survivalists who believed slightly different things about our Invisible Sky Daddy, not Hindus.

Further reading, it appears Ellanjay are doing a Take That once again against those who believe you can be saved through works. But it's been proven many a time not only do Ellanjay Skip Verse Ten they also ignore the entire Book of James whose central thesis is "Faith without Works is dead." You can't pick on someone for cherry-picking verses in the Bible when that's what you do!

Tanya then mentions her mom who heard the all-inspiring word of Darby and Scofield God and disappeared during the Rapture. Vicki, who never fails to exploit emotional wounds, takes her opening and starts talking to her about how God can't tolerate a single sin even though he created us and thus made us sinful creatures to begin with.

Since the chapter doesn't end with Tanya saying the magical Prayer, I'm going to assume she's still one of the Legion of the Damned, despite her desire to tell her father, Cyrus, all the stuff Vicki's telling her.

Next chapter, Vicki decides to try to convert Cyrus's entire crew. Basically she walks him through the entirety of Pastor Vernon Billings's video.

I tried, how I tried to find it, but Fred's Left Behind archives are down, and I can't. The one I was looking for was basically where Fred points out how Ellanjay cherry-pick verses from 1 Corinthians. Here's the verses Vicki points out.

“‘But let me tell you a wonderful secret God has revealed to us,’” Cyrus read. “‘Not all of us will die, but we will all be transformed. It will happen in a moment, in the blinking of an eye, when the last trumpet is blown. For when the trumpet sounds, the Christians who have died will be raised with transformed bodies. And then we who are living will be transformed so that we will never die. For our perishable earthly bodies must be transformed into heavenly bodies that will never die.’
“‘When this happens—when our perishable earthly bodies have been transformed into heavenly bodies that will never die—then at last the Scriptures will come true:’
“‘“Death is swallowed up in victory. O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?”
’“‘For sin is the sting that results in death, and the law gives sin its power. How we thank God, who gives us victory over sin and death through Jesus Christ our Lord!’ ”

Now that you've read that quote, let me give you a bigass quote where I quote 1 Corinthians chapter 15 in its entirety so you can see the broader context of those verses.

The Resurrection of Christ

15 Now, brothers and sisters, I want to remind you of the gospel I preached to you, which you received and on which you have taken your stand. 2 By this gospel you are saved, if you hold firmly to the word I preached to you. Otherwise, you have believed in vain.

3 For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, 4 that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, 5 and that he appeared to Cephas, and then to the Twelve. 6 After that, he appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers and sisters at the same time, most of whom are still living, though some have fallen asleep. 7 Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles, 8 and last of all he appeared to me also, as to one abnormally born.

9 For I am the least of the apostles and do not even deserve to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. 10 But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace to me was not without effect. No, I worked harder than all of them—yet not I, but the grace of God that was with me. 11 Whether, then, it is I or they, this is what we preach, and this is what you believed.

The Resurrection of the Dead

12 But if it is preached that Christ has been raised from the dead, how can some of you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? 13 If there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised. 14 And if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith. 15 More than that, we are then found to be false witnesses about God, for we have testified about God that he raised Christ from the dead. But he did not raise him if in fact the dead are not raised. 16 For if the dead are not raised, then Christ has not been raised either. 17 And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins. 18 Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ are lost. 19 If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are of all people most to be pitied.

20 But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. 21 For since death came through a man, the resurrection of the dead comes also through a man. 22 For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive. 23 But each in turn: Christ, the firstfruits; then, when he comes, those who belong to him. 24 Then the end will come, when he hands over the kingdom to God the Father after he has destroyed all dominion, authority and power. 25 For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet. 26 The last enemy to be destroyed is death. 27 For he “has put everything under his feet.”[c] Now when it says that “everything” has been put under him, it is clear that this does not include God himself, who put everything under Christ. 28 When he has done this, then the Son himself will be made subject to him who put everything under him, so that God may be all in all.

29 Now if there is no resurrection, what will those do who are baptized for the dead? If the dead are not raised at all, why are people baptized for them? 30 And as for us, why do we endanger ourselves every hour? 31 I face death every day—yes, just as surely as I boast about you in Christ Jesus our Lord. 32 If I fought wild beasts in Ephesus with no more than human hopes, what have I gained? If the dead are not raised,


“Let us eat and drink,
for tomorrow we die.”[d]

33 Do not be misled: “Bad company corrupts good character.”[e] 34 Come back to your senses as you ought, and stop sinning; for there are some who are ignorant of God—I say this to your shame.

The Resurrection Body

35 But someone will ask, “How are the dead raised? With what kind of body will they come?” 36 How foolish! What you sow does not come to life unless it dies. 37 When you sow, you do not plant the body that will be, but just a seed, perhaps of wheat or of something else. 38 But God gives it a body as he has determined, and to each kind of seed he gives its own body. 39 Not all flesh is the same: People have one kind of flesh, animals have another, birds another and fish another. 40 There are also heavenly bodies and there are earthly bodies; but the splendor of the heavenly bodies is one kind, and the splendor of the earthly bodies is another. 41 The sun has one kind of splendor, the moon another and the stars another; and star differs from star in splendor.

42 So will it be with the resurrection of the dead. The body that is sown is perishable, it is raised imperishable; 43 it is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory; it is sown in weakness, it is raised in power; 44 it is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body.

If there is a natural body, there is also a spiritual body. 45 So it is written: “The first man Adam became a living being”[f]; the last Adam, a life-giving spirit. 46 The spiritual did not come first, but the natural, and after that the spiritual. 47 The first man was of the dust of the earth; the second man is of heaven. 48 As was the earthly man, so are those who are of the earth; and as is the heavenly man, so also are those who are of heaven. 49 And just as we have borne the image of the earthly man, so shall we[g] bear the image of the heavenly man.

50 I declare to you, brothers and sisters, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable. 51 Listen, I tell you a mystery: We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed— 52 in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. 53 For the perishable must clothe itself with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality. 54 When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come true: “Death has been swallowed up in victory.”

55
“Where, O death, is your victory?
Where, O death, is your sting?”[i]

56 The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. 57 But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.

58 Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.

Forgive me for the bigass quote and forgive me for not saying it as eloquently as Fred, but the broader context of 1 Corinthians 15 should make it clear that Paul wasn't speaking of RTCs being able to magically cheat death by being bamfed into Heaven by God in the last days; he was speaking of Death plain and simple, and he makes it clear it's coming for everyone.

For those of you wondering, I'm ignoring Judd and Lionel for a while. Vicki's a snark goldmine right now.

If you're wondering, Cyrus doesn't immediately take the bait, which makes me fangirl him. I don't love him the way I did Taylor :sniff: :sniff: but anybody who doesn't immediately kowtow to the tribbles is all right by me.

Cyrus put his fork down and looked at the others. “You all know that Beelzebub is at work in the world, and he has his disciples spreading doctrine of demons. I’ve taught you from the beginning that God punishes the wicked. Our job is to do the right thing. And I think the right thing is to keep this little Jezebel locked up where she can’t hurt anyone else.”

Vicki tries harder quoting again from the video, using Ezekiel 33:11. Don't worry, no bigass quotes this time.

“The God we pray to is a jealous God. He’s angry at people for their sin.”
“But don’t you see,” Vicki pleaded. “God hates sin, but he loves people enough to die for them. Remember the parable Jesus told about the son who went away and wasted all his father’s money?”
“The Prodigal Son,” someone behind her said.
“Yes, that’s it. But one of the main points of the story Jesus told was the love of the father for his rebellious son. He waited and waited, and when the boy finally came home, he didn’t punish him. He prepared a great feast and welcomed him. That’s the kind of love God has for every one of us if we’ll accept it.”

Vicki neglects to mention in the Tale of the Prodigal Son that the Dad didn't pitch the rebellious son into Hell if he refused the feast. She also neglects to mention that in the story, the Dad didn't unleash a series of horrific disasters in order to get his son's attention. In short, you fail, Vicki!

Cyrus has Vicki and Tanya hauled off. Tanya says The Prayer, gets the Zod-Mark, and that's where I'll leave you for this week. Sorry again for the bigass quote, but stuff needed to be said, dammit!

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Know the Words, but Not the Music

The beginning isn't really worth noting--just Samuel walking around, talking to people as the flames don't hurt them--but we do get evidence that Ellanjay have heard of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego.

Mr. Stein grabbed Sam’s hands and danced in a circle. “You remember the story of the children of Israel in the fiery furnace?”
“Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego,” Sam said.
“Yes. When the king looked into the fire, he saw four men instead of those three. The Lord was walking with them, giving them victory and safety.”

It's clear: Ellanjay know the words but not the music. I know you guys are probably getting tired of me pointing this out, but the tribbles repeatedly bow to Satan while claiming in their hearts, they bow to God. By that logic, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego could have just bowed to the statue of Nebuchadnezzar while claiming in their hearts, they bow to God, and remained free and clear in God's eyes just like the tribbles do.

The RTCs gathered in Petra are dancing and singing praises to Zod. But all is not well. Sam finds a boy with no Zod-mark who keeps scowling. Something tells me either said boy will be eventually given a name or he'll become one of the nameless off-screen damned. Either way, you must weep for the poor kid who, in his brief appearance, shows more clear-headedness and intelligence than all the RTC characters in the entire series.

The boy looked up, eyes wild like an animal’s. “I don’t understand. How can we be burning and still be alive?”
“It is the work of almighty God,” Sam said. “He has protected us.”
The boy stared. “Then why didn’t he protect my little brother and sister during the disappearances? Why didn’t he save my mother from the earthquake? Or my father from the poison gas?”
Sam tried to comfort him, but the boy stood. “I don’t want anything to do with a God like that,” he said angrily.
“Then why did you come here?” Sam said.
“Because I heard there might be answers. I listened to Micah in Masada, but he never talked about this!”
The boy wandered into the flames. Others without the mark cowered and wailed. Even with so much evidence of God’s power, some would simply not believe.

I could also point out that if the boy does surrender his identity to the collective and believes, he'll have to accept that his mom and dad are burning in Hell. I know y'all get tired of me bringing stuff like that up, but it needs to be said.

Token Jew then preaches but I'm afraid I can't find anything snarkable.

Last we left Our Brave Heroine, Vicki was captured by the Mountain Militia. Not much happens in her brief little section, just Vicki going "You can't keep me here!" and Tanya saying that their father won't let them leave the underground hidey-hole until Armageddon, which is three years away.

The chapter ends with the tribbles receiving news of this latest miracle and being surprised even though their own prophecy predicted exactly what would happen and you'd think they'd have it memorized by now and not be shocked. But anyway, I'll tell you what happens: water gushes like a geyser out of the Earth, extinguishing the flames. So onto the next chapter.

Chapter two, we finally meet Tanya's father, Cyrus Spivey, and we actually get some description as to what he looks like.

VICKI had wondered what Tanya’s father looked like. She pictured the man as tall with a commanding personality, someone others would follow into a hole in the ground and stay for three years. But this man wasn’t anything like that. He was short and round, with a squarish face and long sideburns. He wore a one-piece outfit that zipped up the front. Vicki gripped his pudgy fingers as he greeted her.

Maybe it's just me, but I'm totes picturing a redneck here.

Next section, is the American Branch reacting to the miracle. We do get some hint of potential drama as Mark threatens to kick Vicki out since she won't follow the rules. But I have a feeling he'll remember that Vicki's a main character and change his ways so it'll all come to nothing just like everything else in this series.

Judd and Lionel are still trapped at the hotel room, waiting for ex-Muslim, I mean Sabir to show up in his magical taxi cab and save them. Why did I call it "the magical taxi cab." Because somehow they believe once they get to the cab, they can totally get passed any kind of security checkpoint. The sad part is they're probably right given that the GC couldn't find their dick with two hands and a map.

Judd also receives a phone call from Chang telling them about the miracle in Petra and asking that they pray for believers in Greece. I'm going to assume that "the believers in Greece" line is another call back to the adult books, but I fail to see why I should care. I know nothing about the believers in Greece and therefore, have no stake in this. A good book stands on its own; you shouldn't have to read a bunch of auxiliary materials to understand what the hell is going on.

But horrors of horrors, the GC aren't completely stupid.

Judd punched in the call and heard Sabir’s voice. “I am at the front of the hotel. There are people lined up along the street to take the mark of Carpathia.”
“It would be suicide to come out the front,” Judd said. “There have to be side exits in a building this big.” “There are Peacekeepers and Morale Monitors at each exit.”
“Fire escape?” Judd said.
“Also guarded.”
Judd looked at Lionel. “We’re trapped. If we go out any exit, they’ll stop us.”
“Then we must pray,” Sabir said.

This would be suspenseful that is if we couldn't see a giant Deus ex Machina headed towards us off the port-valve because only Butt Monkeys like Hattie and Ryan suffer long-term consequences.

Meanwhile, Vicki walks around the Mountain Militia (MM) hideout. But horrors of horrors, Cyrus believes slightly different things about prophecy laid down by Scofield and Darby God!

“Petra’s been attacked?” Vicki said.
“It’s been wiped out along with everyone in it. The timetable is coming true. Armageddon can’t be more than a week or two away. A month tops.”
“But Dr. Ben-Judah said Petra was the place of refuge. Are you sure?”
Cyrus nodded. “God’s going to set up his kingdom with the faithful, and we’re going to be part of the 144,000. You’ll stay here until that comes true. If you want to become one of us, that’s fine. It’s your choice.”
Vicki’s mind reeled. If Petra had been bombed and the Jews and Judah-ites killed, Tsion was wrong.

So yeah, once again this Take That rings hollow seeing as the tribbles' beliefs have as much Biblical basis as Cyrus's.

Vicki tries to win some converts to the kingdom.

Vicki stood, but instead of following Tanya, she turned to the group’s leader. “I came here to help your daughter with food for her body as well as her soul. I believe you’re wrong about God and the timing of everything. In fact, I know you are. I’d like to tell you about him, and I’d like to see you get supplies. We’re not even close to Armageddon. It’s more than three years away. And I promise you, whether you believe what I’m going to tell you or not, I won’t tell the GC about this place. But you can’t keep me here. I have to get back to my friends and the others who are depending on me.”

And I know that I'm doing a lot of quotes in this post, but I've gotta share Cyrus's response.

Cyrus’s face flushed. “Are you finished?” Vicki nodded and he motioned at Tanya to take Vicki away. “In the Old Testament they stoned children for talking back to their parents. You’re not our child, but you’re under our roof now. We’ll decide what’s to be done.”

But this will probably like everything else, come to nothing.

But before we wrap up for this week, let's find out how Judd and Lionel escape. Is it stupid? You better believe it is.

Apparently though they prayed for God to save them, credit goes to Lionel who actually came up with the plan. His genius plan? Light a rolled-up newspaper and hold it to one of the sprinklers. When the sprinklers start and the alarm is triggered, escape during the commotion. The chapter ends on a cliffhanger so you'll have to wait until next week to discover if it works.