Sunday, December 7, 2014

A Rare Show of Intelligence

Sorry to be late with the post. Let's just say yesterday was a bad day and leave it at that.

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.


:deep breath:

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.


Quasar said...

"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."

Um... I'm inclined to disagree. I think your standards for twists may have been impaired by reading this series.

When you immediately reveal (via truth-telling magic, at that) that the mole is a mole, even though we shouldn't talk about the mole but there's the mole it's a bloody mole I wanna cut it up and make guaca-moooole-y... (sorry) then it defeats the whole purpose of having a mole.

"We have a traitor in our midst!"
"My goodness! I hope this turn of events doesn't build suspense and tension for several chapters because we are unable to trust even our closest friends, eventually leading to an inevitable, yet surprising and satifying reveal!"
"No, it's Bob."
"Goddamn it Bob."

Okay, I admit, in a better story this could have been interesting in a "but do they know we know that they know we know?" sort of way, with
Lee and Brooke as a pair of psychological chessmasters squaring off against Lionel and Judd, each trying to lead the other into a
trap without giving the game away. As it is, though, I suspect a concussed chicken could outsmart the YTF.


"Luke says they should just kill them now."

In a more interesting series, I might think there was the slightest chance of that actually happening.


"Brooke pulls a phone out of her shoe..."

DING! Achievement Unlocked: 'Shoe Phone'. Your characters are now as competant as Maxwell Smart!

“And it makes sense that they couldn’t understand what I was saying about God,” Lionel said. “They couldn’t even pretend to believe.”

... or not. Can I have that achievement back? Maxwell Smart at least knew part of being a spy involved lying to the enemy.


"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."

Yeesh, not even their own characters are willing to accept this part of LaHayes theology. Nope, might as well give up.

Also, these marks are so bloody useless (both varieties). They can be faked, they can be covered... it's almost like they serve no actual purpose to the plot of this story and are included for no other reason than to fulfill some sort of pointless esoteric requirement OH WAIT

Mouse said...

Yeah I know, Quasar, but after over thirty books my standards are pretty low. I feel like throwing a parade every time any of the characters demonstrate any inkling of intelligence. This isn't even the first time they've had a heathen fake The Prayer: Marjorie Amherst did it in the part of the series with the lion-headed snake-tailed flying people killers. Also during the demon locusts plague a guy named Chris Traickin went around with a fake Zod-Mark. So yeah...

Firedrake said...

I'm reminded of the time in an RPG session when the GM wanted to attack a PC in his home.

"There are fifteen people piling up the stairs, carrying assorted weapons."
"Ah well, set off the explosives."

Every secret base should have hidden explosives.

I suspect that one of the reasons nothing important can happen in this series is that all the important stuff has happened in the main series. And to L&J, only the things dealing directly with the divine are important: one person's survival, or not, isn't interesting enough to make a story about.

As I see it, the committed RTC has spent so much time getting into the Christian™ mindset that he can no longer get out of it and understand a person who isn't Godly. Or maybe L&J are just really bad writers.

spiritplumber said...

And so, Joel ended up in Hell.

His personal Hell consists in being alone on a satellite with only bad movies for company.

Since he's awesome, he made the best of it - as his personal philosophy goes - and thus we have MST3K.