Saturday, April 26, 2014

Telling us what They've Already Told Us

In addition to my annual watching of The Last Temptation of Christ, I also watched The Gospel Road for Easter. The Gospel Road is basically a Sunday School lesson as taught by Johnny Cash and while I'll admit it's not too dramatically compelling (my attention did wander), you could do a lot worse than have a Sunday School lesson taught by Johnny Cash. Johnny Cash was a man who knew suffering, after all. Still his version of Jesus, as an Aryan beatific hippie is a lot more interesting and probably closer to the truth than Ellanjay's TurboJesus. Bottom line: if you're a huge Johnny Cash fan, you might want to check it out. Me, I'd give it a three out of five.

It's certainly more compelling than the beginning of this chapter which involves the American Branch of the YTF recounting what had happened on their end to Judd. :massages temples: I suppose I should be grateful they didn't give the YTF a hive mind and make Judd
instantly know what happened thousands of miles away, but I'm not sure this is much better, with them wasting valuable paper telling Judd what the readers already witnessed. Then again, as Fred has put it, Ellanjay seem to subscribe to the sermon rule of "Tell them what you're going to tell them, tell them, then tell them what you've told them" which doesn't make for good storytelling.

The conversation doesn't start to get interesting until one of them mentions to Judd that Vicki went on a date with Chad. If they're referring to what we witnessed in last week's snark, I'm not sure that counts as a date, but then again, Ellanjay probably consider two people of the opposite sex sitting side-by-side to be a date. Judd responds by getting all pissy about it, which considerably lowers his already rock-bottom attractiveness score in my eyes. He's also mad about them making decisions without him, but Shelly's like "Hello, you're thousands of miles away. We don't have the time to run every decision by you."

Next section is Vicki talking with Judd or in other words, more telling what they've already told us. After she hangs up, she gets mad at Shelly for mentioning Chad and I have to admit, I like the conversation between the two. It's nice when the writers let them act like teenage girls for a bit and this little bit of pettiness is just what a teenage girl would do.

When Vicki told her that Judd had mentioned Chad, Shelly threw up her hands. “I thought you’d appreciate me stirring up the competitive juices.”
Vicki frowned. “I don’t need anybody competing over me. We don’t have time for those games.”

Vicki then talks about Cheryl. Cheryl, as you would recall, is pregnant and Vicki thinks they should place the child with someone older who can better take care of it. You know who might want to have a say in this conversation? Cheryl, seeing as SHE'S THE ONE WHO'S PREGNANT!

Next section is a Judd section and there's really nothing notable about it. I just wanted to talk about so I'd have an excuse to post the lyrics to Z-Van's song.

Hail Carpathia, our lord and risen king;
Hail Carpathia, rules o’er everything.
We’ll worship him until we die;
He’s our beloved Nicolae.
Hail Carpathia, our lord and risen king.

Z-Van's a rock star, right? Can you picture these lyrics in a rock song? I don't see many rock songs with the word "o'er" in them.

Next section, Vicki and the American branch of the YTF receive an email from Claudia, aka Natalie's roommate. She's all "I didn't believe at first, but now I'm not sure." And the American YTF, for once not being rock-stupid, wonder if this is a trap. But Vicki's all "What if it isn't?" And that's one of the key problems with this series: it has an identity crisis. It wants to be a thriller, and in a thriller the truth must be protected and shared with only the right people, yet it also wants to fulfill Christ's command to make disciples of every nation, which requires sharing the truth with everyone. Needless to say this identity crisis leads to a confused muddle of a message, which might explain why the characters spend more time smirking about how they've got it all figured out than they do evangelizing.

Judd and Lionel are wandering the streets of Tel Aviv*. The streets are packed with people as we get closer and closer, I'm assuming, to the infamous pig-riding part. But as Judd is watching the crowd and listening to Nicky, he sees a GC plane crash and is all "NO!" because Mac McCullum was on board. This might have had some impact if Mac had actually had any kind of influence on the YTF, but your average reader of this book is going to be baffled as to why to care seeing as it's not like he played a major part. Yes, aunursa, I know he was more important in the adult books, but your average reader isn't going to have encyclopedic knowledge of the adult series.

Next chapter, the crowd's horrified by the fiery crash as are Judd and Lionel. They keep wondering why Mac crashed and whether it was sabotage. Me, I'm surprised they care so much given that Mac and the rest of them have just received a one-way ticket to Heaven, complete with Super Special Awesome Upgraded bodies.

Next section, Vicki talks with Jim, who is working as a double-agent despite the fact it should be past time for him to head for the hills. He says he hasn't heard anything about Pete and doesn't know anything about Claudia. We also get yet another clumsy ethnic name: Kruno Fulcire. Have fun playing "Guess the Supposed Ethnicity."

Next section, Judd and Lionel continue to do Exciting!Walking!Action. In the hands of a better writer, one that had some chops at description, we might be horrified and uneasy at all the military patrolling the streets, but given that this is Ellanjay...yeah.

We find out that the crash killed Mac, Abdullah Smith (He was formerly a Muslim, I think. Don't ask why the Anglo-Saxon last name with an Arabic first name), Hannah Palemoon (I'm told she's supposed to be Native American), and everyone's super-hacker, David Hassid, whom I will continue to call David Hayseed.

Z-Van is pissed off. He wants Judd and Lionel off the plane and wants to go back to Jerusalem. Me, once again, I wonder this: WHY, GIVEN THAT Z-VAN AND HIS ENTIRE CREW (minus Westin) HAVE THE MARK, WHY AREN'T JUDD AND LIONEL CURRENTLY BEING GUILLOTINED?! HE KNOWS THEY'RE RTCS; THEY'VE TOLD THEM, SO WHY?

The chapter ends with Vicki watching television and seeing the GC drag Pete from the bushes.

I'll throw in one more chapter as a treat. Vicki watches Pete witness to the people dragging him away. I suppose it should be all inspiring and all that, but why would a reporter shove a mike in the face of a traitor and ask if he has anything to say, thus giving him the opportunity to grandstand and all that?

Westin apologizes to Judd but promises that he'll find a way to get them back to the states. Oh and we also finally hear why Z-Van hasn't turned in Judd and Lionel.

Z-Van smirked. “I thought I could get you two to see the truth. I was going to make you GC poster children, you know, two kids who were once Judah-ites who did a 180. I was going to prove to everybody that people like you could be rehabilitated.”
“I guess there’s just no hope for us,” Judd said.
Z-Van clenched his teeth. “You’ll regret not turning. You’ll see how powerful His Excellency is in Jerusalem. I know what he’s going to do, and it’ll prove once and for all how wrong you are.”

I've said it before and I'll say it many more times before this series is finished: Good only triumphs because Evil is dumb.

Judd flees, but escapes without a hair on his RTC-head being harmed. He jumps into a taxi cab with Lionel that is being driven by a man named Sabir. Sabir is described as a Middle Eastern man with graying hair and glasses, a step up from the usual descriptions Ellanjay give. Once again, I'm going to assume that Sabir is a Palestinian Christian just to spite Ellanjay, who probably assume Middle Eastern=Palestinian and Palestinian=Muslim.

Cheryl and Vicki talk with Cheryl telling her story. Cheryl grew up in an orphanage which was closed after Zod slaughtered all the children under twelve. Later, she lived with some roommates and met this guy named Thomas. I'm going to assume that Thomas was the guy who knocked her up and left her. Thomas eventually abandons her and she winds up on the streets, surviving on soup kitchens and GC shelters. She got sent to the GC prison after getting caught stealing food and that's where she got saved.

Vicki finally asks her what she thinks about the baby. Cheryl says she's still confused but would be open to adoption. I can't help but note that an option which rhymes with smabortion hasn't been mentioned. I thought for sure it would be so Ellanjay could have an opportunity to sermonize against it, even though if she aborted her baby, it would get a one-way ticket to Heaven and be spared horrific suffering. In fact, Cheryl could get an abortion, then pray for God to forgive her, and be free and clear in God's eyes, right?

But fear not, the dreaded word isn't mentioned and that's where I'll leave you today.

*I must admit, I thought they were in New Babylon. I'm sorry if I've caused any confusion with that assumption.


Brin said...

We’ll worship him until we die;
He’s our beloved Nicolae.

Did they throw this in as a pronunciation guide? I know there's no way I would've known how Nicolae was pronounced if I hadn't happened to catch a few minutes of the Left Behind movie once as a kid. (It was my very first exposure to Left Behind, long before reading any decons, so my only reaction was "Nicolae Carpathia's a pretty name. Shame it apparently belongs to the villain.")

aunursa said...

Don't worry, they're all safe and sound. It turns out that the plane crash, which happens at the end of Book #8, was staged in order to allow Mac, Hannah, David, and Smitty (formerly a pilot in the Jordanian Air Force) to escape the employment of the Global Community.

aunursa said...

To clarify, no one was onboard the plane. Remote control.

Headless Unicorn Guy said...

I suppose I should be grateful they didn't give the YTF a hive mind and make Judd
instantly know what happened thousands of miles away, but I'm not sure this is much better, with them wasting valuable paper telling Judd what the readers already witnessed. Then again, as Fred has put it, Ellanjay seem to subscribe to the sermon rule of "Tell them what you're going to tell them, tell them, then tell them what you've told them" which doesn't make for good storytelling.

Don't forget the EllandJay/LB trademark of "as-you-know" idiot conversations over the phone.

Firedrake said...

I certainly prefer Johnny Cash's apocalypse to the L&J one.

Scansion. Songs work better when you know about it.

Evil in these books has to be dumber than Good. And that takes a lot of work. I recommend drinking heavily. In fact I'm going to picture all the evil guys in these books weaving from side to side, looking around blearily, and agreeing to practically anything if only people will stop shouting.