So basically the beginning of this week's selection is an action sequence, which as said before, would be suspenseful if a) I believed the character was in actual life-threatening danger (remember bad things only happen to the nameless damned who deserve it and to Butt Monkeys) and if b) I gave a shit. Since neither of these things apply, yeah, it's mostly just pages of action verbs to skim.
Vicki decides to go for the old decoy bit. She tells Mark to go help Tom and the others, while she tries to draw the GC's attention away from them. She drives and shots are fired, but honestly...like I said, I don't really care.
Then there's another sequence as Mark rushes in and rescues Ryan Victor.
Mark is running while carrying Ryan Victor, who is remarkably verbal for a child who I think is a year old. Granted I know there's a wide range in infant development and Ryan Victor isn't outside the realm of possibility, but I've got to raise an eyebrow. Besides, I love any excuse to pick on Ellanjay for their stubborn refusal to do any research.
Basically Mark runs for awhile until he notices a slightly-open manhole cover. A guy with a scraggly beard appears and is like "Come with me if you want to live," and Mark does because you should always listen to guys who look like Charles Manson, especially during the End of the World. I'm going to cling to the hope that Sewer Dude is a C.H.U.D. Yeah, I know it'll turn out that Sewer Dude is an RTC and we'll have yet another Conversion story where he lays out how he came to love Big Brother :whimpers: but let me have this.
Anyway, the GC finally forces Vicki to pull over and get out of the car. The GC's all "We got you now!" But Vicki continues to be all smug, knowing that the sun will soon come up and burninate all the heathens. She starts proclaiming about how this is the fourth bowl judgment from God and how they'll pay. Granted I freely admit I'm exaggerating for comedic effect but seriously, this is the kind of speech you hear from a two-bit villain in a crappy fantasy movie. For the sake of amusement, I'm going to picture Vicki being played by Jeremy Irons. Gotta do something to stay awake.
Anyway, the younger officer forces Vicki into the car and that's the end of that chapter.
And apparently I'm going to break the one-chapter-snark trend I had going for awhile. Because seriously nothing happened.
The next chapter begins with Mark following Charles-Manson-clone. Okay to be fair, they do finally reveal who the hell Sewer Dude is. I'd assumed he was yet another RTC and that was why he was helping them out (because the only good people are RTCs) but it turns out while the guy, whose name is Clemson Stoddard (have fun playing "Guess the Ethnicity/Background" with that one), doesn't have Nicky's Mark, he also doesn't have the Zod-Mark. Quelle horror!
Joking aside, this Clemson guy actually sounds a lot more interesting than our RTC protagonists. I know eventually he will say The Prayer and become an indistinguishable part of the RTC collective, but for now, I like him. Funny thing how new characters in this series inevitably stop being interesting the longer they're on stage. To say nothing of what happens when they accept the Zod-mark.
Anyway, Clemson went underground after the start of the big war, he says. I suppose I could devote energy to tracking down when exactly that was (because there have been how many nukings/acts of war in this series), but I'm entirely too lazy.
In spite of everything, Clemson has made a pretty comfortable shelter for himself. Here's his explanation.
“There used to be an oil-change place behind the garage. They leveled it after the disappearances, but since I owned the land, I just sealed it up without anybody knowing. Lamps are kerosene. I tapped onto an electric line for my computer and the freezer. Got enough food down here to feed you and your friends for quite a while.”
Okay, while in all honesty, I admit this sounds kind of cool, sort of like something out of the documentary Dark Days, and I do applaud Clemson for showing more initiative than the Tribbles (I can believe his underground hideout more than Bruce's), but I've got more than just a few quibbles here.
Being something of a Doomsday Preppers buff (please stop judging me), while I know the idea of tapping into the electric line is possible, basically it only works when there are electric lines to tap into. Shouldn't the infrastructure be gone thanks to the nukes? I keep waiting to hear about the solar panel array or wind turbines he's put in place to power his tech, but I have a feeling I'll be waiting in vain.
Also, while it's great he has electricity, I have to wonder how he is getting Internet? While Wi-Fi comes built into most computers, you still have to, again, have the infrastructure in place so you can use your Wi-Fi. As anyone interested in the off-the-grid lifestyle will tell you, while you can rig up your house to get water and electricity so you're not dependent on the grid, you're pretty much stuck when it comes to Internet. You pretty much have to be somewhat on the grid in order to get Internet, and you have to accept the fact that if whatever apocalyptic scenario you've predicted happens, kiss your Internet goodbye.
And of course, you do wonder where Clemson is getting his kerosene and food from. I suppose he could have rigged up a hydroponics or aquaponics somehow down in the sewers, but given Ellanjay's stubborn refusal to do any research, I'm going to guess that we'll never here any pertinent details about issues like how the heck the character is getting food/water or electricity or even what he's doing with his waste.
As deluded as some of the people on Doomsday Preppers are, they've given more thought to practical concerns than anybody in the LB-verse. Maybe I shouldn't obsess too much over these details, but like I said, since they've given me nothing else to occupy my mind, I have no choice but to nit-pick. Plus, all this off-the-grid survival information might possibly come in handy for their readers. Since y'know Ellanjay believe all this stuff will actually happen.
Okay, enough nit-picking, back to the story.
Mark, no doubt seeing a chance to make a sale, is like "So why don't you have Carpathia's mark?"
If you guessed, Clemson's response is pure weaksauce (because Ellanjay can't imagine anyone having a good reason to disagree with them), you're right. Here it is:
Clemson scowled. “He’s creepy, don’t you think? All that coming back from the dead business. Killin’ people for not puttin’ one of his tattoos on. I’m gonna ride this one out—that’s what I’m going to do.”
Uh, most people wouldn't call Nicky coming back from the dead in full view of a whole crowd of witnesses to be creepy. Wouldn't most consider that proof of his divinity while scientist-types would scramble to try to figure out how that's possible?
But I suppose Ellanjay couldn't have Clemson give reasons that would actually make sense. Like point out how Nicky's words and actions don't line up. But then again, the only character who did that was Taylor Graham. For those of you who've forgotten, here's what he said:
"I know you all want to tell people about Jesus and do good stuff so God will like you and all that. I've told you before, if that rings your bell, go ahead. But I've seen what the GC does to good people. They're destroying everything I know and love. They talk peace, but they're armed to the teeth. They talk freedom, but they send people to prison. Oh, sorry. They call them reeducation camps."
Like I said, it's for that reason that I continue to insist that Taylor and Hasina aka the Power Couple of Awesomeness aren't really dead. They just knew that Judd-turd wouldn't leave them alone unless he thought they were, so they faked their deaths and escaped to a more awesome series. I will preach their awesomeness and believe in the power of Discontinuity until I die, dammit!
Mark, again spotting a potential sale, asks him about Token Jew. Clemson, though clearly believes in that Faith by Works heresy, is like, "Yeah, I've read some of his stuff. Not really into religion though. Just try to live a good life and help people."
The section ends there, but again, anyone who knows Ellanjay tropes knows how this will play out. The most likely scenario is that Clemson will drink the Kool-Aid and join the collective, but Ellanjay could possibly go with option B where Clemson dies Unsaved and Mark never gives a passing thought to what happened to them. It's hard to predict what will happen next in this series :eyeroll:
Anyway, we briefly cut back to Vicki and I'm deliberately fast-forwarding through her part. It's not because nothing happens, it's more the nature of what happens. Basically, Vicki watches everything, including the GC officers, burn up with the same dispassionate response the Right gives whenever an unarmed black kid is shot.
Her section is thankfully over pretty fast and ends with her praying.
Vicki fell to her knees in horror. She covered her face as the smoke and smell of the fire reached her. “God, help me get back to Ryan and Cheryl and the others and let them be all right.”
Again, if you weren't already convinced that these characters are pretty much sociopaths, I'm not sure whether to admire or be frightened by your naivete. Because as many will point out, Vicki only thinks about the characters who have names, the characters she knows WILL BE BAMFED INTO HEAVEN IF ANYTHING BAD HAPPENS TO THEM SO WHY THE FUCK IS SHE NOT PRAYING FOR THE UNCONVERTED?!
Anyway, we cut back to Mark. Mark asks Clemson to look after Ryan Victor, while he goes and helps his friend. I have to say, for someone who is supposed to be Unsaved and therefore, hardened evil, Clemson is being damned nice in taking in Mark and agreeing to look after the baby for him. Why it's almost as though Ellanjay's belief in Total Depravity makes no sense at all. Ellanjay's beliefs being riddled with inconsistencies? That's unpossible!
Anyway, another passage of Vicki watching everything burn and not giving a rat's ass. Back to Mark.
Mark joins up with Vicki, Marshall, Tom, and Cheryl, and they watch dispassionately (I need to get a thesaurus because I am so overusing that word) as the officers are burned up and reduced to ashes in the hands of our loving Father in Heaven. :goes outside to scream a little:
Okay, in their defense, Mark and the others do try to save the officers by urging them to take shelter with them, but y'know it's more because all that agonized screaming hurts their ears and while it's amusing the first few times you watch an Unsaved get reduced to ashes, it just gets tedious after awhile.
Vicki's like "Where's Ryan Victor?" and Mark offers to take her to him. While they walk, Vicki briefly reflects, thinking about how this is like the story of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, and how God saved them from the fiery furnace. Thing is, maybe I read the story wrong, but as I recall weren't the people throwing them into the furnace in the first place depicted as bad guys? Plus this little circle-jerk feels wrong because as stated before, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego were willing to stand for God and face the consequences, while the Tribbles bow to Nicky and tell themselves that they secretly bow to God.
Anyway, Mark leads them to Clemson's place and they all climb in, but the chapter's not done yet. We haven't cut down that whore Cheryl for getting too big for her britches, what with demanding access to her child and acting like a Main Character!
Vicki's like "Why did you take Ryan Victor?" And Cheryl says this:
Cheryl sat in the dirt and buried her head in her hands. “I was so jealous of what Josey had with Ryan. I had done all the work and had gone through all the pain, and she was getting the reward. That little boy was part of me. I felt him growing inside me. Being that close to him was just torture.”
I've already ranted about how I'm totally on Cheryl's side in this debate, because like I said, Adoption isn't a magical cure-all. Many times it's the least-bad solution to a bad problem in that while it helps some, it doesn't completely solve the problem forever the way Ellanjay believe. But I have to admit to having some questions regarding the arrangement. I recall after birth, Wanda talking about how since formula is all but impossible to find, the baby will need its mother's milk. So I'm going to guess that Cheryl was breast-feeding Ryan Victor for some time, basically serving as wet nurse to her own infant. I'm not sure when she stopped (I'll go out on a limb and say that Ellanjay either don't know or care about the World Health Organization's recommendations on the subject), but for awhile, Cheryl was intimately involved in the care and upbringing over her child.
But at some point, things must have changed, in order to leave Cheryl so distraught. Maybe the Fogartys forced her to wean him at some point or maybe they wanted to enjoy their child without uncomfortable reminders that said child came with a history and strings attached. Again, like I said, even in situations where everything involving the adoption situation is done fairly (the birthmother is willingly giving up her child and has a say in how much future contact she has with the kid), the adoptive parents still have to accept that the kid does have another mother/father out there somewhere and that said family might someday want to make contact. So yeah, while I don't think what Cheryl did is a hundred percent on the up and up, obviously something must have gone wrong if she didn't feel she could simply sit down with the Fogartys and talk to them about how she wants more involvement in her son's life.
One of these days, I swear I'll stop doing so many lectures on how Adoption doesn't solve everything...I just don't know when.
Vicki, being the compassionate RTC, is like "We should have never let you get that close to him. If we could do it over again, we'd have sent you to another location."
Cheryl's like "I only want to be with Ryan." To which, Vicki just rolls her eyes and thinks about how Cheryl just keeps making excuses and won't apologize. Yeah, that sound you hear is me grinding my teeth. I know I should stop being shocked the sociopathy of the characters, but I just can't help it.
Vicki questions Cheryl further about her plans and Cheryl explains how she pulled off her scheme. Then there's this conversation and just tell me it isn't dripping with patronizing and sociopathic bullshit?
“Cheryl, you made a promise to Josey and Tom. You know you can’t give Ryan the kind of home—”
“I’m his mother! There’s only a little more than a year before Jesus comes back, and I can do as much for him as anybody.”
“I think you’ve ruined that now. How can we trust you when you kidnap—”
“My own son?”
“When you get so moody and won’t talk and then endanger all of us by kidnapping a member of the group?”
Like I said, I've done so many rants about how Vicki pretty much made all the arrangements with very little input from Cheryl, but I find myself wondering why didn't the Fogartys just adopt both Cheryl and Ryan Victor. As I recall, Cheryl is a teenage mother going through an incredibly rough time (which makes her so much more sympathetic than that preachy Elsie-Dinsmore wannabe aka Vicki) and despite what Ellanjay believe about how you should be tried as an adult as soon as you start getting hair around your pubes, countless studies attest to the fact that there are marked differences between a teenage brain and an adult brain. In addition to this, you'd think that a scared, pregnant teenager could probably use the stability that would come with having parents to look after her and mentor her. Plus, again there's the whole breast-feeding issue as well.
But yeah, if you guessed Vicki still shows little if any compassion/respect for what Cheryl's gone through, give yourself a No-Prize. The chapter ends with her silently praying this prayer:
Vicki watched Cheryl stare at the fires raging on the hillside. She didn’t know what to say and silently prayed, “God, please show Cheryl where’s she’s been wrong. Help her to see the truth about what she’s done and admit her mistakes. And give us wisdom with what to do with her. Amen.”
In an attempt to pry a truffle out of a pig's snout so to speak, I will commend Vicki in that at least she silently prayed this prayer instead of doing it out loud and using it to passive-aggressively needle Cheryl for her silly insistence on wanting to be a part of her son's life. Again, lesson learned from this series: the only kind of aggression acceptable for silly weak women to express, is of the passive variety.
And that's this week's snark. Wound up being longer than I thought. I don't have a set rule on length (it mostly depends on how much stuff there is to talk about in this week's selection), but I hope it wasn't too long and I hope I didn't come across as too dull and repetitive. I'd say next week will be better but I peeked ahead and we're looking at the obligatory Conversion scene. :whimpers: No point for guessing who the convert is.