So Judd and the others are all watching the strangers roaming around their hideout and their response is to bite their nails and be like "Oh what ever shall we do!" As many have said before Worst Resistance Group Ever! It's fairly obvious what you should do in this situation: get the drop on them and take them captive. My five-year-old child advisor could figure that out.
Meanwhile, Chang is being questioned. Like every interrogation in this series, basically all that happens is the director asks him very nicely who the mole is as opposed to keeping quiet and doing a private investigation by an outside team, monitoring everyone at all times, and of course, making sure both their emails and phone lines have more taps than a military funeral. Like I said before, a shorter list would be of villains who were less effective than Nicky.
Anyway, Judd and the others finally corner the strangers and there's a long passage of them questioning them. I'm going to fast-forward through it because my almighty psychic powers that I've developed as a result of my familiarity with this series tells me that it's going to come to nothing like everything else. If you want to know the strangers' names, they're named Lee and Brooke. They've traveled all the way from Savannah, they're starving and they don't have the Mark.
The YTF, in a rare show of intelligence, do not automatically accept this story at face value and ask a few more questions. If you're wondering, Lee and Brooke's dad was an RTC, so naturally he was bamfed into Heaven at the beginning of the series. After losing her ex-husband (their mother and father had been divorced sometime before the Rapture), their mom started drinking, which is perhaps the only sensible response to any of the events in this series. Their mother was later killed in the Wrath of the Lamb quake.
The YTF look up everything Brooke and Lee told them and it all seems to check out. So then they ask, so why didn't you get the Mark? Brooke and Lee say they didn't get it because they felt like if they accepted it, they'd be turning their backs on their father, but they didn't accept RTCianity because they felt they'd be turning their backs on their mother. So yeah, right now, they're coming across as much more sympathetic characters than any of the Tribbles because you're only allowed to have shades of grey when you're one of the unconverted masses.
After hearing their story, they decide the sensible thing to do is send Lionel in to try to convert them. Lionel tells an abbreviated version of his conversion story then does the usual "good works won't save you" bit. Afterwards, Lionel talks about how it's a good thing they didn't take the Mark. Lee's like "Why?" And here's the provided explanation:
Lionel explained that taking the mark and worshiping Carpathia meant you had chosen once and for all against God. When that decision was made, there was no changing your mind.
Unless you're Joel who TOOK THE FUCKING MARK SO HE AND HIS BROTHER WOULDN'T FUCKING STARVE TO DEATH! NO I'M NOT GOING TO SHUT UP ABOUT JOEL EVEN IF THE BOOKS NEVER MENTION HIM AGAIN! WE MUST REMEMBER JOEL NO MATTER HOW MANY TIMES THE BOOK GIVES THE USUAL "HE MADE HIS CHOICE, NOW LET HIM BURN!" SPIEL.
Now that that's out of my system (for now at least), let's continue.
Lionel walks them through The Prayer and Lee and Brooke get all tearful and shit, but after they The Prayer, Lionel notices they don't have the Super Special Awesome Zod-mark on their foreheads. :Cue Dramatic Prairie Dog: Okay to be honest, that's a fairly decent twist. Lionel's like, "Let me go tell everyone the good news," and runs out of the room and tells the others.
The next chapter, the YTF discusses the situation regarding Lee and Brooke. Judd suggests that maybe they're just confused and mixed up, which is actually a decent theory given that in the LB-verse if you don't utter The Prayer with the precise amount of sincerity and passion, it doesn't work. But Lionel thinks that they did understand and that their behavior afterwards was a calculated act. He also bets that they have some kind of transmitter on them.
Luke says they should just kill them now. While the idea of RTCs exterminating the brutes is a horrible one, given the kind of framework this story operates in, as a pseudo-Tom Clancy-esque thriller where the truth must be protected at all costs kind of story, it makes a little sense. Besides it'd add much needing shading to the YTF's characters if they were forced to directly kill someone instead of sitting back and letting Zod do so in one of his many disasters. Like I said before, one of the many problems with this series is that it has an identity crisis. It wants to be a story about brave RTCs witnessing and getting out the truth to as many people as they can, yet at the same time it wants to be a thriller where the truth is sacred and important and can only be seen be the right kind of people.
Judd vetoes the "Kill them" idea and they debate some more. Lionel's like "I've got an idea" and tells the others to follow his lead. I'm going to assume that right now Lionel's holding the YTF's single brain cell because his idea is actually pretty cool. He decides to pretend that Brooke and Lee are members of the flock and that he isn't totally onto their charade.
While Lionel is distracting them, the other members of the YTF go and consult Chang asking if he knows of any GC agents that don't have the Mark. Chang's like "I don't know."
Lionel still hasn't given up on possibly reaching Brooke and Lee and takes them outside and leads them through a Bible study. The first few verses of John are quoted and Brooke and Lee do a pretty good job of acting baffled. Though then again, the trinity is one of those bits of doctrine no one has ever managed to successfully explain, so I don't think it takes much talent to act confused by it.
Judd contacts Vicki in order to get contact info for Chloe. Vicki is like "GTFO, Judd," after he describes their situation, but she puts him in touch with Chloe, who provides a list of safe houses so he and Lionel can work their way north.
The YTF continue to distract Brooke and Lee throughout the day. At the end of the day, the YTF pretend to go to bed, but then go and monitor Brooke and Lee via cameras. Turns out Brooke and Lee really do have the Mark, but they cover it up. Brooke pulls a phone out of her shoe and does the standard "Bwaah! They totally bought our story!" shtick we've come to expect from villains in this series. Brooke asks the GC to hold off on the raid, because the YTF had told her that more believers were on the way and hangs up.
Lionel is dejected and says this:
“And it makes sense that they couldn’t understand what I was saying about God,” Lionel said. “They couldn’t even pretend to believe.”
Ah, yes, the continuing nonsensical paradox seen in RTC lit where non-believers are both simultaneously ignorant of Christian theology (for example, going "Who's He?" at the mention of Jesus) yet simultaneously they also happen to know that there is a God but since they hate God and love Satan (because that's the stance of all non-believers)...yeah, need I say more?
The rest of the YTF continue to distract Brooke and Lee, by gathering stuff and talking about how the group of believers that was supposed to meet them (that doesn't exist) broke down and needs their help, sending out some of the South Carolina believers to go help them. The ones who aren't NPCs stay behind to distract them Judd tells his conversion story in a last ditch effort to try to save Brooke and Lee, wondering if it has some effect even on those with the Mark.
And that's where I'll leave you this week. Yeah, I suppose I could throw on a third chapter to pad out this snark, but it's mostly an action scene and I need to be at full strength to handle those, so this is it for this week. Have fun.