This week's selection begins with a Lionel perspective. And I've got to give Lionel a few words of advice, before plunging into the snark. And my advice is: enjoy being onscreen while it lasts, because next week, whatever wormhole is after you, will suck you up again and you'll go back into some weird netherworld without anyone seeming to know or care that you've been missing for God-only-knows how many chapters. It goes without saying, but your friends suck. If I was still doing polls, I'd ask whether you'd taken up the mantle of Butt Monkey in the kids version of Left Behind (seeing as the previous titleholder is dead), or whether Ryan's Butt Monkey status transcends the grave and the laws of time and space as well. Ships may sink, cities may fall, but Ryan will always be the Butt Monkey of the LB-verse. If he had lived long enough to grow up, he'd be Ted from Scrubs.
Lionel spends his section talking with Zeke. Once again, Ellanjay try to convince us that character development is actually taking place, by having a character talk about it, rather than putting in the effort to show it. I'd say they're going from A to Q without showing us any of the steps in between, that they're just shouting "Q!" and hoping we don't notice, but even just shouting "Q!" would still involve more effort than what we actually get.
Zeke volunteered to stay at the computer with Lionel, and they had a good talk. “Must be kind of hard for you with all the excitement over Judd and Vicki.”
“I expected it,” Lionel said. “I don’t know which was harder, running from the GC these last few years or keeping up with Judd’s love life.”
Yeah, Judd's love life has really been exciting, the kind of excitement only found in a James Bond movie. I mean just look at the nonstop action/sex he's had...Okay, I think I've been sarcastic enough. Probably could have made my point in a more concise matter if I just posted a link to this gif.
Judd wrote the book on love. They called it All Quiet on the Western Front.
Okay, sorry for that joke. As an act of penance, I'll follow it with a Statler and Waldorf clip because that's what you should do when you make such an obvious, corny joke.
But seriously, outside his Obligatory Love Interest, the only girl that seems to have caused a stirring in Judd's Ken Doll undercarriage is Nada and as I recall, Judd did the "I'm dumping you for Godly reasons" shtick with her. After which, Nada died, leaving him free to pursue Vicki.
I suppose I should stop posting links to Metatron from "Dogma," because I really need to stop running a joke into the ground, but again, even Alan Rickman as a sexless angel is still had more charisma/animal magnetism than Judd. A chair has more charisma/animal magnetism that Judd!
Lionel then goes through the Obligatory Litany of Deaths where he lists everyone he knows who has died aka Ellanjay's futile attempt to convince us that the characters really are suffering. If you guessed when reciting the litany, he leaves off Ryan, again, congratulations on being familiar with Ellanjay tropes. Were it not for the fact that Ryan, after being saved, promptly forgot about his unsaved parents (we weren't given much insight into them, but chances are they were decent people, as opposed to Adolf Q. Stalin-Pot), I'd feel sorry for him.
Lionel does admit that he still doesn't understand why he lost his arm, but takes comfort in the fact that God is still working. And we get this paragraph:
Lionel nodded. “I guess that’s one thing that changed while I was away. Before the Rapture, I thought about God in terms of him being way out there and us down here trying to do stuff for him. When I became a true believer, I realized he wanted to be with us, helping us. But I still thought living for God meant doing stuff for him, trying to convince people he’s there and he loves them. All the pressure was on me to perform, you know? If somebody didn’t become a believer, I felt responsible, like it was my fault.”
Fred Clark already touched on this in the post where Rayford mansplains about Abortion, but if anyone still had any doubt that RTCs view spreading the Gospel as less of "beggar telling another beggar where they found bread" and more like the Spanish Requirement of 1513, that paragraph should have put all doubts to rest. Because their mindset is very similar to that of the Spanish Conquistadores: it doesn't matter how half-hearted or half-assed your preaching is or even if the people you're preaching it to understood what the hell you were talking about (it never seemed to occur to the Spanish Conquistadores that the inhabitants of a continent thousands of miles from theirs, might not understand Spanish), so long as you've done the bare minimum, you're off the hook and therefore, you can't be held responsible if those heathens die horribly and burn in hell for all eternity.
Lionel further proves my conclusions correct by saying that "I know I need to reach out as much as I can, but the past few years have taught me this is God’s battle. He’s the one drawing people to himself and fighting the enemy. If I talk with someone and they don’t become a believer, I feel sad, but I don’t feel guilty. God really is in control.”
Yeah, the Christian Right loves to talk about how they're totally the heirs to Bonhoeffer, but you just know that if they were dropped in a Polish village just down the road from Auschwitz, at some time between the years May 1940-January 1945, their response would probably be to distribute the World War II equivalent of this Jack Chick tract. Or they'd work towards rallying the Polish people to vote Republican in hopes that a Republican President will someday down the line appoint judges who will someday overturn all those nasty Nuremburg Laws.
We do get a semi-decent passage where Lionel talks about how he sometimes forgets that his left arm is gone and will reach for stuff with it and sometimes experiences phantom limb pain. But like everything else, that is quickly brushed aside. Besides, Zeke has a present for him.
Zeke walked to a storage closet and pulled out a box. He laid it at Lionel’s feet.
Lionel gasped when he opened the lid. Inside was a plastic replica of the lower portion of his arm. “How did you—”
“As soon as I heard what happened, I went looking on the Internet and through our sources at the Co-op for what they call prosthetic devices. Then I realized I had most of the materials right here, so I went to work. The hard part was making a mold for the plastic. I must have tried a dozen times before it came out right. Go ahead— try it out.”
I suppose I could ask where exactly did Zeke magic up the materials needed to make a mold. I'm guessing as for the plastic, he probably could have just helped himself to some abandoned whatchamacallits, but my main quibble is that something someone jury-rigged together out of melted Tupperware or whatever, probably wouldn't be very helpful as a prosthetic. About all something like that would accomplish is, that maybe this way Lionel wouldn't have to fold or cut up his left shirt sleeve. The idea of him holding anything with it...no, just no.
But I shouldn't be too surprised. Given that Ellanjay failed to see the rise of cell phones or Internet porn becoming ubiquitous, I'll guess that it's too much to expect them to have heard of prosthetics created by 3D printers.
Lionel's section ends and he disappears off the face of the Earth, possibly becoming one of the 4400 for all I know. The next is a Vicki section but absolutely nothing happens, so let's deal with Judd.
If you guessed all that happens is Exciting!Phone Call!Action between Judd and Chang, congratulations. You should know by now that Ellanjay will take any opportunity they can to either indulge in their phone lust or tell rather than show.
Chang says that for some reason everyone's obsessed with hiding underground and escaping the sun plague, rather than just burning up like God wants them to. Okay, I admit, I am exaggerating for comedic effect, but really, it never fails how Ellanjay and their surrogate characters, are shocked that people freak out and panic whenever a horrible disaster happens rather than bending the knee and accepting Cthulhu, I mean Jesus, into their hearts.
Yeah, I'm not sure which aspect of Ellanjay's theology is worse: that they believe that Zod does all this horrible shit because he loves us and look at what you made him do! or that they genuinely believe that those brutes should kiss Zod's feet and be grateful for inflicting never-ending torment on them.
Yeah, I'd intended to just provide a necessary link, but I think a quote is needed. YMMV, though.
It was very simple, and at the end of that moving appeal to every altruistic sentiment it blazed at you, luminous and terrifying, like a flash of lightning in a serene sky: ‘Exterminate all the brutes!’
Nicky, continuing to show more initiative and compassion than our plucky heroes, continues to keep the government running, which says a lot about the quality of his infrastructure. The fact that in the face of all this shit Nicky and his crew haven't just thrown up their hands and headed for the hills, says a lot about the kind of people they are. They're certainly demonstrating more compassion than Our Heroes, in that they continue to work and do what little they can to help their citizens.
It's basically a more extreme version of the problem of Galbatorix from Christopher Paolini's Inheritance Cycle. For those too lazy to enjoy some world-class snark that helped me hone my snarking skills, Galbatorix is the Big Bad in a crappily written YA fantasy series. As you guessed, the big problem with Galbatorix, aside from the fact that he's barely in the series despite being the main villain, is that while the characters constantly talk about how evil he is, nothing Galbatorix does can be really described as evil, unless you count raising taxes and mobilizing his forces to fight a terrorist group that poses a threat to his rule to be evil. Heck, characters in the series openly criticize him and aren't immediately dragged off in the middle of the night by the secret police or skewered, which you'd think a horrible dictator would be more likely to do.
But as bad as Paolini's series is (and it only gets more incoherent later on when he attempts several Author's Savings Throws in an attempt to quell all the jokes about his series being Star Wars in Lord of the Rings clothing), I will give him credit in that Paolini probably knows he's writing fiction and doesn't believe that his crappily written fiction will actually happen at some point in the future.
Basically, Nicky and his crew are continuing to work and in order to do so, they've painted some of the windows on the lower floors of their building black. I suppose I should quibble, ask how black paint would stop Zod from killing people with the sun or even how they even managed to successfully paint it black, but given how rarely anyone shows any intelligence, I'll allow it. I'll just tell myself that they painted them at night, when the sun was gone. BTW, is there ever an explanation given as to why the GC don't just start raiding RTC compounds once the sun's gone down? Like I said, they've got a starving, desperate populace to feed, so it wouldn't be evil of them to decide to see if they can get supplies/help from those places magically spared from the sun plague.
But y'know there's a reason Jesus said "Do not store up treasures, where Welfare Queens and the 43% will steal what is rightfully yours. Instead, place your treasures in a nice tax shelter in the Cayman Islands, so you may hold onto what is rightfully yours.
Chang talks about how Nicky went outside to sun-bathe and I suppose we're supposed to find his anecdote about how Nicky wasn't harmed by all this and afterwards said "The sun, moon, and stars bow to me," to be scary, but I believe I speak for everyone when I say, "Go, Go Nicky Mountain Range, You Mighty Morphin Nicky Mountain Range!"
Okay, I realize not everyone's into that awesome bit of nineties cheese created for the sole purpose of selling toys to sugar-high eight-year-olds, so I'll provide another clip as a service to my devoted readers: "Go Nicky Go! Nicky B Badd!"
Yeah, I know he'll eventually get punted, but I have to take Nicky's side, simply because he's so much less repugnant than our so-called heroes.
Y'know when I set out to do this week's snark, I swear I had no intention of posting so many links. It's one of those things that happens. I like to believe that it lessens the pain somewhat, but I'm not sure how well that works.
The phone conversation wraps up and Vicki and Judd talk to each other some more. I'd snark the conversation, but in all likelihood, while I know they're trying to assert that Vicki and Judd totally belong together (probably because they're both equally boring), I think a conversation between a pair of eunuchs or aged schoolmarms would generate more heat/sexual tension. It's mostly a circle-jerk anyway.
Anyway, the chapter ends with Judd finding out that he's going on another long trip overseas for no adequately explored reason, because that's how Ellanjay roll. You never know what hijinks those Wild and Crazy Kids will get into next.
As you guessed, Judd agrees to go on this trip, provided that he's allowed to take Vicki with him. I suppose it's a sweet gesture, but I find myself wondering if there isn't someone else he could take with him. Y'know someone whom he has spent several books in the same time zone with. You know that Token Minority he's spent a lot more time with than he has Vicki. I believe this goes without saying, but Lionel, your friends suck. Were it not for the fact that you were such an asshole to Ryan in the early books, I'd feel sorry for you. Instead I'll close out this post and this linksapalooza with yet another link that I feel adequately reflects the problem of Lionel. I admit that theme is nowhere near as awesome as the Rockapella version, but I think we can all agree that Lionel is not worthy of the Rockapella version.