Saturday, March 15, 2014

The Man with the Plan

Okay so Natalie and Jim need to get the Shairtons, Maggie, and the new convert, out of a GC prison. Given what I've seen from the adult books, I'm not expecting top-notch thriller material; at this point, my expectations are so low, I'll settle for adequate. That said, here's their plan:

Jim invented a Commander Regis Blakely, who was stationed in Joliet. He e-mailed Deputy Commander Henderson a list of four prisoners he wanted to interrogate before the mark of loyalty was given. If Henderson bought it, Colin Dial would become Commander Blakely and retrieve the four.

So apparently all you have to do to get prisoners released to you is put "Commander" in front of your name. No one's going to bother to check and re-check and verify details or anything like that.

This, of course, begs the question as if it's that easy to get someone out of GC custody, then why aren't the Tribbles getting people released right and left? But then again, those other prisoners are NPCs so who cares if anything happens to them?

So Jim goes to the hideout and coaches Colin on how to act like a commander. Don't worry; all you have to do is act like a R. Lee Ermey stereotype.

Then we get into Jim's conversion story about how he was born in the wagon of a traveling show and his mother used to dance for the money they'd throw.

Just kidding...that little bit was me trying to enliven a dull story.

He was born in Glen Ellyn, a suburb west of Chicago, to parents who took him and his three sisters to church every Sunday. There's a weird mention about how he was a big sci-fi/horror fan growing up and I find myself wondering if this is some kind of Take That against that genre. Because we know people of Ellanjay's ilk tend to be opposed to fantasy (just mention Harry Potter and watch the sparks fly), but I'm not entirely sure about their take on the sci-fi/horror genre. I'm sure they hate Jason Voorhees but could they have anything against Star Trek?

Conrad asks, "Did your parents know you weren't a Christian?"

Jim nodded. “I’m sure. I’d argue with them about evolution and creation. They sat me down one night and said they were concerned about the direction I was headed, but I blew them off. I wasn’t a bad kid. I didn’t do drugs or run around. In fact, that was what kept me from really knowing God.”
“What do you mean?”
“I never really thought I was that bad a person. I didn’t need God. I didn’t even believe he existed. I went to church, sat in the Sunday school classes, closed my eyes when people prayed. I even took notes during the sermon sometimes. Other kids played the good-Christian routine, then went out and partied, but I didn’t. I figured if there was a God, he’d be okay with me if I just did what my parents told me.

So we have the return of the old "It's not enough to be good/You have to believe" trope so beloved by Ellanjay. But that always begs the question that if being Good was so easy that any old person could do it, then what does it even mean to be good? But I'm one of those heathens who believes that absolute morality (X is always wrong because....) simply can't work, so what do I know?

Basically what happened with Jim was this: the Rapture took his family and he found a note that his parents had written to God before they were slaughtered bamfed into Heaven.

Father, I pray again for Jimmy tonight and ask that you would open the eyes of his heart so that he would know the hope you want him to have. He doesn’t know about the riches of the inheritance he could have or the great power of your strength that can work so mightily in him. I pray that you would take off the blinders and help him see how much you love him. Jimmy could do such great things for you if he would only give his heart to you. Show him the truth. In Jesus’ name, amen.

Jim looks around and finds dozens of these notes lying around and I have to admit, if I were in his shoes, I'd probably break down too. Yeah, it's emotional blackmail essentially but in the heat of the moment, it would definitely elicit a response from me.

Jim then shows them a bunch of GC uniforms he's collected. Apparently he's been working for months, setting up the names of phony GC workers and the like. If you're wondering how he got the uniforms, he had a buddy who worked in a funeral home collect them from dead workers. Gotta give Jim credit: so far he's demonstrated more badass credentials than any member of the Tribbles. He's not as badass as Taylor Graham, but I'll take what I can get.

Next chapter, the plan goes off without the slightest hitch because dramatic tension and villain competence are tropes used by lesser writers, not the great Jerry Jenkins.

Judd and Lionel meanwhile try to contact Chang Wong but only get a hold of his stereotypes, I mean, parents. But his parents are like "We don't want you talking to our son," and hang up on them. Judd's genius plan, regarding Chang, is for him and Lionel to sit outside the bushes, wait for Chang to appear, then grab him and head for the plane. Again both the Tribbles and the GC could benefit from a five-year-old advisor.

The chapter and book ends with Natalie witnessing Zeke's execution via guillotine. I'll give them credit: it's hard to screw up something that dramatic. But I do wonder why the GC would give them so much time to grandstand, make prayers to God and all that. Out of curiosity, aunursa, are the executions done in secret or televised for the world to see? Because the smart thing to do would be to do them in secret (so the people don't see the brave RTCs bear witness to Zod) then put the heads on pikes for the world to see.

If you're wondering, the next book is Deceived which covers book 29-31. In case you're wondering how much more we have to go through, the For Kids! version of this series is 40 books long. :massages temples:


aunursa said...

So we have the return of the old "It's not enough to be good/You have to believe" trope so beloved by Ellanjay.

L&J would say that it's not enough to believe. You have to accept Jesus as Lord and your personal savior.

Firedrake said...

Yeah, they're usually down on Star Trek because while it may not have any magic or demons in it it also doesn't have God.

If being good is so unimportant in the grand scheme of things, what is the virtue in being good?

Of course the sentient cattle go gladly down the chute to the slaughterhouse, leaving notes to their family to follow them. It's much easier to control them that way. By the time they get twitchy at the smell of blood it's too late.

You're nearly three-quarters of the way there!

aunursa said...

aunursa, are the executions done in secret or televised for the world to see?

In Book #11 a global television audience tuned in to see Chloe lose her head.* I don't recall whether any other executions were broadcast on TV.

By the way, nice use of the Evil Overlord's list.

* An angel caused a blinding light that prevented the camera from capturing the precise moment.

aunursa said...

I think they would say that doing good is important, but that doing good doesn't get you into heaven. Since everyone has sins, all of your good deeds do not erase even one sin. And they would say that God is so holy that He cannot be in the presence of a person with ANY sin.

aunursa said...

It sounds as if this point in the Kid's Series corresponds to the end of Book #8 in the main series. So we'll be beginning Book #9 in which Nicky desecrates the Temple and two prominent RTC characters are killed.