Sunday, October 25, 2015

The Plot Spins Round. Right Round. Like a Record, Baby.

Again, Ellanjay are trying, trying to convince me that something is going to happen, something that will actually matter and not just be another Big-Lipped Alligator Moment in a series full of them. And again, I'm crossing my arms and going, "Nope. Not going to do it. Maybe you could have fooled me back in the single-digit books, but not anymore."

So we begin with Mark running, running, running like a constipated wiener dog. Yes, I did do that as an excuse to post a link to a Weird Al song; I thought you guys were used to that sort of thing by now.

Anyway, Mark's thoughts are basically, "Gotta rescue my friends and think some more about how evil Nicky is, despite the fact that most of the disasters were caused by the loving God I claim to worship, while Nicky has been trying to play clean-up and prevent even more deaths by make crucial repairs to the infrastructure." Again, the only objection the RTCs have to a global dictatorship that ruthlessly crushes dissent is that Nicky is ruthlessly crushing the wrong kind of dissenters. They would have no problem having a global dictatorship run by an RTC, one that ruthlessly crushes anyone who doesn't agree with them. Just look at the theocracy/dictatorship Token Jew has set up in Petra, where you either do as Token Jew wishes if you want to stay in the last safe place on Earth or he sics God on you. Again, it's the problem we keep coming across in this universe: it's not so much killing in the name of your faith that RTCs have issues with; it's that you're killing in the name of the wrong god.

Then we get to this paragraph, aka further proof of just how much Ellanjay suck at the craft of writing.

Mark chanted the words softly as he ran, moving his feet to the words. He had never been much of a singer, and his cousin John had made fun of him in church once. Mark smiled at the memory. John had been killed at sea by a giant wave, and Mark had never really gotten over John’s death. Sure, he had gone on with his life and tried to help others come to know God, but John was always in the back of his mind. What would have happened if he had stayed with the group, instead of heading east and getting drafted by the GC?

For those of you wondering, John was a character who died a few years into the Tribulation, some time when the series was either in its teens or early twenties at the latest. I'm not going to look this up to be sure, because I have entirely too much worthless information taking up room in my cerebral cortex as is. Suffice to say, if you guessed that this is the first time since John's death, that his name has been mentioned, again, congratulations and hang your head in shame. Because you, like me, know entirely too much about this series. Because seriously, this is shitty writing. Even Dan Brown would know you can't write a line like "John was always in the back of his mind" as though that makes up for the countless pages where he hasn't even been mentioned. But like I said before, Dan Brown may be a hack, but at least he delivers on what he promises. You know you're not going to get high art with Dan Brown, but at least you get a somewhat entertaining potboiler to pass the time with.

Anyway, Mark prays and we cut to Lionel and Chang who are trying to help them out.

Lionel clicked on the computer’s world-time function and saw it was 3 a.m. in Wisconsin. If the GC carried out their plans, they would catch his friends in the middle of a Bible study, trying to get the Web site running again, or worse, sleeping.

I suppose if I wasn't lazy, I could do the math and figure out what time it is in Petra while Lionel's doing this stuff. But I am lazy and very bad at math, so I won't.

I will raise an eyebrow at the "Bible Study at 3 a.m." bit, because who the hell is awake at 3 a.m.? But then again, sleep deprivation is a common tactic among cults. Seriously, I haven't done more than a cursory glance at the list in the link, but even I can tell that RTCianity pegs out the cult-meter. If any of my readers want to go to the link and pinpoint which traits RTCianity, as depicted in the series, shares with cults, be my guess. Because like I've said before, I'm lazy.

Chang does a bunch of stuff trying to override the GC's computers, because it's been indicated already that Ellanjay consider hacking to be magic. But then again, from what I've heard the people involved with the show CSI: Cyber seem to believe the same thing. But I suppose they couldn't have a series based on a bunch of nerds redirecting websites so they show pictures of dicks or something.

Lionel is all upset by Chang's sudden plot-induced failure to hack into the GC. Chang tries to reassure him:

Chang put a hand on Lionel’s shoulder. “When I was in New Babylon, many times I felt like there was nothing I could do. But I realized the greatest thing any of us can do is pray and ask God to work out his will. You see, God really is for us. He wants to help us through difficulties. I used to think he should just take us out of them or solve them for us. But sometimes I think he shows himself greater by walking through our troubles with us. So let’s invite him to have his perfect way in your friends’ lives and in our lives too.”

If anyone ever doubts my assertion (and I don't see why you would) that the characters in this series are simultaneously genre-savvy and COMPLETE FUCKING MORONS! just point them to this paragraph.

Though it also doesn't take much to start making the obvious Cthulhu/Elder Gods reference. I know I've made said jokes before, but they just make it so damn easy! Because tell me that Chang isn't trying to hold onto his sanity by convincing himself that Godthulhu really does care about him, in spite of the overwhelming evidence that says otherwise. I'd make a crack about how at some point, two gin-scented tears trickled down the sides of Chang's nose, but y'know, RTCs would never do something as gauche as :gasp: enjoy alcohol or have heterosexual intercourse for any reason except procreation.

Mark keeps running and at some point, steps into a hole and injures his leg. I'd pretend to care, but even that requires more effort than I'm willing to put forth. What do youse takes me for? Someone who isn't lazy?

Fear not, Mark makes it to the camp and warns everybody. There's all this talk as they run for the vehicles to get away. Mark pours a bunch of lighter fluid all over the tribbles' computers then lights a match. I freely admit that my problem-solving when it comes to computers, is 90% Turn it off and On and 10% Panic if that doesn't solve anything, but even I have my doubts that flambéing the computers would keep the GC from recovering stuff off of the hard-drive.

From what I heard, it's all but impossible to completely destroy a hard-drive so that its contents can't be recovered. Given that the GC are pretty much hot on their tail (sorry for the terrible pun, but I couldn't think of any other way of putting it), I can't help but think that they'll probably quickly put out the fire and send what remains to forensics to collect any useful information, including the numerous folders devoted to giraffe porn. At least that's how things would play out in a series that wasn't basically a never-ending Idiot Plot.

The chapter ends with this little bit.

Each step was painful, but Mark managed to make it to the end of the row of cabins, lighting fires and getting away. He hobbled back past the main cabin as the fire whistled and cracked. Mark found his car, a diesel, and it chugged to life. He pulled out, the fire lighting up the forest behind him. He pulled onto the path and gunned the engine.

He came to a stop at the main road and pounded his fist on the steering wheel. “Take that, Fulcire!” he whooped.

Mark turned the wheel to the right and started to pull out but stopped. He couldn’t leave now. The GC would come back and see the fire, then go after his friends. Maybe there was something more he could do.

He turned around and headed back into the trees. He would figure out some way to delay the GC. Anything for his friends.

Again, I continue to cross my arms and say, "Nope, not going to fall for this." I know they really want me to get all teary-eyed and moved by Mark being willing to lay down his life so his friends can escape. Maybe they're hoping that their scene will go down in the great echelons of character sacrifices, right up there with Spock's scene, but I think it's safe to say that it won't. Comparing Spock's sacrifice to whatever awaits Mark--I admit I only did a cursory glance at the next chapter--but I think it's safe to say that comparing Spock to Mark is like comparing a dirty limerick scrawled on a bathroom stall to Shakespeare. :puts on bookie eyeshade: In fact, Yinsen's death in Iron Man was probably more moving, even though Yinsen might as well have had "Dead Meat" tattooed onto his forehead, given what a cliché he was. Heck, JJ Abrams shitty retread of Wrath of Khan* is probably still more moving.

Because I'm feeling generous and because so little happened, you guys are getting a second chapter.

Lionel is all "Oh noes" as Chang pulls up an image of the Wisconsin camp burning. But since the plot needs to move forward, Chang's elite haxxor skills are suddenly back. He somehow hacks into the GC satellites and makes it so that the GC can't communicate with each other. Because like I said before, one of the hallmarks of an Idiot Plot is that when it's important for the plot to move along, suddenly the characters stop being idiots. That was why, in last week, the GC stopped being so incompetent that the Keystone Kops point and laugh at them: because the plot needed them to be threatening in order for it to move along. And that is why Chang goes from being all derpy to being able to take out...okay, again because I'm lazy, but as I recall, the GC control all the satellites in the world, since they are a global dictatorship and all. So anyone have any idea just how many satellites Chang would have had to shut down? I'd look it up, but again, lazy.

Mark, meanwhile, is watching and listening as the GC are checking out the burning cabins. Fulcire is there and you gotta give the GC credit for being hands-on in their oppression, sending the chief of security out to Podunk, Wisconsin just to round up one particular nest of terrorists.

But Mark has an idea. And if I have to point out the stupidity in his idea, please stop inhaling whatever it is you've been inhaling. It's clearly reduced your IQ to room temperature.

As the officers ran, Mark got an idea. Everyone was so intent on following orders that no one paid attention to the vehicles.

He pulled himself up and staggered to the last Humvee. After making sure no one was inside, he quietly opened the driver’s door. His heart beat like a freight train when a light went on and a ding, ding, ding sounded. He quickly found a button on the doorframe and pressed it, turning off the light and the sound.

Mark grabbed the keys dangling from the ignition, pulled them out, and stuck them in his pants pocket. One down, he thought.

Sad part is this isn't the first time the GC has fallen for the "Mess with their vehicle" trick. I would go through past posts and point out examples, but I'm starting to think that the only people lazier than me, are the writers of this series. I'll just say however many times it happened, it was stupid then and it's stupid now.

The plot skids to a halt with an Interlude from Judd and Vicki. I suppose it was put in because it gives Ellanjay an excuse to indulge in Exposition! Even so, you find yourself raising an eyebrow and being like "Really? You guys couldn't have placed this interlude somewhere where the plot wouldn't grind to a halt?!" Because were it not for the fact that Vicki's spoonfeeding us information that we'll probably need to know, I'd say it qualifies as a Big-Lipped Alligator Moment because it's completely out of tone with the rest of the chapter.

Basically Token Jew sent Vicki some stuff about the millennial kingdom, which she's reading to Judd.

“All we’ve been through has a way of changing your mind about a lot of things,” Judd said. “What’s in there?”

“Tons. For example, Tsion believes that in the one thousand year kingdom, God’s going to lift the effects of original sin.”


“Well, he says it’s going to be a lot like the Garden of Eden. All the people who rebelled against God and the bad angels will be gone.”

"And by gone, I mean suffering a fate that's supposed to be worse that Auschwitz, Tuol Sleng, a Stalin-era gulag, and pretty much all the POW camps of history combined, for all eternity. Because God is Love and there is no fear in love!" I picture Vicki looking all wide-eyed, a big Stepford Smile on her face.

Yeah we all know what a huge hard-on the Christian Right has about the Ten Commandments, but I can't help but think that the Ten Rules of Tuol Sleng probably speaks more to them. Because again, their only objection was that Pol Pot was killing and torturing in the name of Communism rather than Jesus. Though the Old Testament God may seem cruel and barbaric to modern readers, I still believe that even he would blanch at Ellanjay's depiction. Heck, at least Old Testament God, looked at in the light of the time and place he was worshipped in, was at least a helluva lot more consistent. Ellanjay keep trying to combine Old Testament God and New Testament God while paying lip service to modern depictions and the whole thing winds up coming across as, at best, incoherent.

1. You must answer accordingly to my question. Don’t turn them away.

2. Don’t try to hide the facts by making pretexts this and that, you are strictly prohibited to contest me.

3. Don’t be a fool for you are a chap who dare to thwart the revolution.

4. You must immediately answer my questions without wasting time to reflect.

5. Don’t tell me either about your immoralities or the essence of the revolution.

6. While getting lashes or electrification you must not cry at all.

7. Do nothing, sit still and wait for my orders. If there is no order, keep quiet. When I ask you to do something, you must do it right away without protesting.

8. Don’t make pretext about Kampuchea Krom in order to hide your secret or traitor.

9. If you don’t follow all the above rules, you shall get many lashes of electric wire.

10. If you disobey any point of my regulations you shall get either ten lashes or five shocks of electric discharge.

Vicki then cites Isaiah 2, which makes me raise an eyebrow, because Isaiah 2 is all about peace and how it'll be a good thing when the fighting is over, but Ellanjay have made it clear that the people who long for and strive towards Peace are in league with Satan. That's why they're so terrified to drive through Amish country, because they know those shifty Amish are secretly packing bazookas inside their buggies. Since the world must get worse before TurboJesus slaughters us all, those who try to work towards peace or improve the lives of the deeply impoverished are secretly pistol-packers in league with Satan!

But I have a feeling if I were to point this out, they'd give a response akin to Hank Hill's from King of the Hill: It's Jesus Peace, not hippie peace!

Vicki also talks about Isaiah 65. In proper RTC fashion, she only brings up the verse about how everyone will live to be one hundred and ignores the larger context. Because Ellanjay take the Bible literally, you see.

But like I said, if any of the Tribbles actually decided, "Y'know maybe I should read the Bible for myself and not just rely on Token Jew to serve it up for me..." Like I've said before, chaos would ensue. Especially if they actually read any of the prophets', major or minor, works, what with their constant criticism of those who make their fortunes off of the appalling misery and suffering of others.

“Just think about it,” Vicki said, putting the pages down. “No more drug addicts. No more thieves and murderers. The stuff on TV won’t be so violent. Everybody’s going to know about God because Jesus will be the true King.”

Actually given that Ellanjay probably subscribe to the same mindset as Jack Chick, where what matters is whether you've said The Prayer with the precise amount of sincerity, not what you've actually done, there probably will be plenty of thieves and murderers in God's kingdom. Need I remind you that Judd and Lionel hitched a ride on a plane flown by a guy who cheerfully admitted to dropping a nuke on London and killing millions? And that neither seemed that bothered by it, because said pilot, Jerry, was now a good RTC and that somehow cancels out killing millions of people, whose only crimes were just living their lives?

Yeah...I know there will be a few on the Christian Right who object to me using Jack Chick to represent their beliefs, but I find good ol' Chick to be useful. The problem the Right has with Chick isn't so much the things he says as it is the fact that Chick just flat-out says it without bothering to clothe his naked bigotry in the proper dog whistles. That and he's unapologetically anti-Catholic and given that the Right now shares an uneasy alliance with the Catholics thanks to Roe v. Wade, they probably don't appreciate throwbacks like Jack Chick reminding people of the past.

After that bit, we cut back to Mark, who is bravely taking on the GC, by going to their Humvees and throwing their car keys into the woods. Because a Satanic NWO operates on the Honor System and believes that merely thinking, "Please don't steal my car," is enough to stop potential thieves. That's why they didn't just, I don't know, TAKE THEIR DAMN KEYS WITH THEM LIKE ANY SANE HUMAN WOULD DO!

But horrors of horrors! Mark triggers a car alarm. He takes one of the GC vehicles and tries to make a getaway, doing various action heroey stunts. As you probably guessed, because I was bored, I did mentally score the entire scene to Yakety Sax.

To wrap it up, the GC, in a rare show of competence, shoot out Mark's tires and the chapter ends with him being hauled off. But again, I refuse to be fooled! Nothing is going to happen! :peeks ahead: Okay, I did a cursory look ahead and apparently something does happen! Spoiler alert: it, like everything else, is dragged out over several chapters when it could have been resolved much quicker and it involves several angelic visitors, who basically just say "There, there." and LEAVE WITHOUT ACCOMPLISHING FUCK-ALL! And I am right in my assertion that even JJ Abrams shitty retread of Wrath of Khan was more moving than anything in this series!

*Okay, I admit that I was totally a Star Wars gal growing up and all I've seen of Star Trek**, are a few clips, the Wrath of Khan, and the two nu!Trek movies, but I'm begging some diehard Trekkie who reads this blog: Tell me that Kirk, in either the Original Series or movies, does actually demonstrate some good leadership abilities. Because the Kirk in nu!Trek...high on my list of tropes that really piss me of is the Informed Attribute. Don't tell me that Kirk is a natural-born leader then proceed to have his every action prove that he really sucks at being a Starfleet Captain and shouldn't be in charge of a stone, let alone a ship full of people. I imagine that TOS Kirk was an arrogant ass much like Tony Stark, but I do like to believe that he did have some genuine talent to back up his boasting and he was at least charming enough that you understand why people would want to be around him. But nu!Trek Kirk...seriously, someone smack the living shit out of that arrogant punk-ass kid.

**I keep thinking I should get into Star Trek but I haven't for the same reason I'm probably the only person on the Internet not into Doctor Who: the sheer amount of continuity intimidates me.


Firedrake said...

A giant wave sounds more interesting than most of the things that have happened. I bet it wasn't, though.

3am Wisconsin = 9-10am GMT = noon Jordan time (assuming the summer/winter time transitions happen at the same time in Jordan and the USA). Pah, we should have One World Time Zone by now!

I suspect quite a few RTCs do "Bible study" at 3am, two by two, with the doors closed, looking at the Song of Songs that is Solomon's. I mean there's only so much time left before No More Sex Ever.

Oh, CSI Cyber, how we love your assurances to your ageing viewer base that the Smart Guys can work out what's going on! (I can't embed an image here, but this is the one I'm thinking of.)

For an RTC it would be grape-juice-scented tears, I guess.

Lighter fluid (they allow smoking?) is basically light naphtha with a relatively low combustion temperature. It probably won't even penetrate the cases of the computers very far, and certainly won't deliver enough heat to the components to do any serious damage. The good way to destroy a hard drive is an arc furnace, lots of lovely electromagnetism as well as high temperature; if you can't manage that, smashing it with a sledgehammer will break the platters and put the data at least beyond trivial recovery.

("If they think you're crude, go technical; if they think you're technical, go crude. I'm a very technical boy.")

Satellites wouldn't have survived the atmospheric expansion from all that heat that was poured into the system.

I thought the point of those warning chime things was that you couldn't easily turn them off. Maybe it's a Special Police Model Car.

Please note the entirely unquestioned assumption that there will be TV in heaven. Because it wouldn't be heaven without TV!

Don't worry, Doctor Who only puts in continuity to keep the aged fans interested; it has nothing to do with the actual stories any more, which for the last few years have been more mythic fantasy than science fiction anyway. But don't get me started on that rant.

Anonymous said...

Just how lame does "The stuff on TV won’t be so violent" sound???

Oh, and "elite haxxor skills" should really be "1337 h4xx0r 5k1775" or something, but I can forgive you; I don't watch Doctor Who either :-)

Stardust said...

Old Kirk actually had charisma. He was also campy, in the kind of way the old Batman was; you forgive a lot for that. Sensible leadership? Excuse me, I need to throw a Bat-paradox* at this AI to make it explode!

But old Kirk actually, although I could be misremembering, listened to McCoy and Spock and genuinely liked him /even when they disagreed/ without needing an excuse of 'his planet was destroyed' to feel sorry for him first. He debated him with the goal of changing his mind and coming to a better understanding, not proving himself right and beating old pointy ears! Old Kirk was an idealist. New Kirk... is much more dark and gritty (in an immature 'haha boobies' way; the old 'I have to seduce this woman for information or she'll destroy my ship!' type plot was much more mature even if it was hammy) and therefore really loses everything that made old campy Kirk shine.

*OK, no bat-paradoxes in Star Trek. It wasn't quite that campy.

Blank Ron said...

Okay, it's been a LONG time since I spent any quality time around military vehicles, but I'm gonna go out on a limb here:
The 2 1/2-ton 6x6 trucks they used to cart us around CFB Borden were VERY military trucks. And they didn't have door chimers, or ignition keys. You don't want to imobilise your vehicle because you lost the keys, and you sure as hell don't want every enemy soldier within a hundred yards knowing that you're climbing out of your CAREFULLY CAMOUFLAGED VEHICLE. Hum-Vees are military vehicles, and I highly doubt that the GC bought civilian versions from their local Cadillac dealers. No keys, no dingers.

And as for 'hacking into the satellite network'? Which one of the hundreds? Does that include the military or intelligence ones that are designed to be unhackable (for obvious reasons)? What was he using, one of those uber-MacBooks they had in 'Independence Day'?

Seriously, there's more technological rigour in an episode of 'Fireball XL5'...