Six: The Mark Unleashed: Part 2

Jeseca takes Tom to some guy in charge.  I’m not sure precisely what he is in charge of, but at the very least, he’s in charge of Jeseca and this mission.

(Yeah, I guess because it’s The Future, she’s Jeseca, not Jessica.  My bad.)

They show Tom some footage of Elijah Cohen (proponent of the “dangerous” “Christian heresy,” explaining that The Leader is the Antichrist and the implant is the Mark of the Beast, and that anyone who takes it is going to hell.

Tom sensibly asks why they haven’t just killed him themselves already, and they say it’s because “it’s difficult for anyone bearing the implant to get close to him,” but somebody took that very up-close footage of Cohen preaching.  So why did they film him, and how did Jeseca get her hands on the footage?

So the solution is for Tom, who has “no religious inclination whatsoever” to go into “deep cover” in the prison and get close to the Christians, who will in turn lead him to Cohen.

My question is: why don’t they just torture the Christians?  They may constantly forgive the torturers, but I see no reason why they wouldn’t eventually break.

So Tom enters the prison.  For reasons that are never made clear, this “deep cover” assignment for a nonbeliever involved little to no religious training: Tom wanders past Jerry and addresses him as “brother” (which makes no sense, as Jerry is not a Christian).  This prompts another piece of sense from Brody:

Brody:  I don’t know who’s weirder: the implant morons, or these Jesus freaks.

Jerry:  I guess you don’t believe in heaven, then.

Brody:  Yanno what’s good about that?  I don’t believe in hell, either.

Amen, brother.  Also, gorrammit but Jerry is dumb.

Tom’s cell, too, is plastered with Bible verses on every available surface, and Tom’s eyes are drawn to the Parable of the Ten Virgins, which he can’t get more than halfway through before declaring it “boring.”

I think Tom would fit in around here just fine.  :)

This critique catches the attention of his cellmate, Luke, who has been lying on his (lower) bunk and reading his Bible in complete darkness.


Luke reads the second half of the parable (closing his eyes for part of it, so we get that he knows it by heart).  Then he asks Tom for an interpretation.  As you would.  Tom correctly guesses that the bridegroom is Jesus, but then goes right off the deep end into the most awesome interpretation in history:

Tom:  Christ only wants to deflower five virgins because the others forgot the oil.  Yanno, seems to me there’s some kind of message about sharing in there.  I mean, aren’t we supposed to share?  Maybe it should be called “The Five Selfish Virgins.”

Tom, I think I love you and I want to have your babies.

Luke chuckles at Tom’s amazing interpretation, and then we get some wild Christian magic: Luke knows Tom’s name without being told!

Luke:  I know things.  Like why you’re really here, and why you think you’re here.  God told me you were coming, Tom.

Heh, really?  That’s how God talks to people?

“Yo, Luke.  Some guy names Tom Newman is gonna be your cellmate soon.  Keep an eye out, ‘kay?”

At least now I can be sure that I’ve never heard from God, if this is how he makes his presence known.

Tom:  So, did God also tell you what the stupid story means?

Okay, now I know I love you, Tom.

Luke gives him the very distilled version (Jesus is coming back), and then he gets to explaining the difference between the implant and having Jesus on your heart.  Except he does it…very badly.

Luke:  When you’re talking about [getting] the Holy Spirit, you become more like the way Jesus wanted you to become.  More like him.  More unique.  More individual.  Opposite of the implant.

Tom:  That doesn’t make any sense.  I mean, everyone becoming more like Jesus?  I mean, c’mon—he’s just one person.

Luke:  He’s also God.  The god who made each one of us as a unique creation.  Sin destroys that, creates conformity.  Redemption in Christ restores that.  Brings us back to what God truly wanted us to be.

Tom:  Still, I gotta tell ya: sounds awfully close to The Leader.

Luke:  You’re just gonna have to figure that out for yourself, Tom.  ‘Cause if you don’t, you’re gonna burn in hell forever.

Tom:  Ooo, hell.  Frightened now.


And Luke, there’s no need to lash out at Tom with your little hell-threats.  It’s not Tom’s fault that you suck at explaining how your religion is different from the totalitarian leader running your world: the one who demands complete obedience lest he destroy you.

I surprised that Tom and Larry didn’t get along better.  Larry ain’t scared of hell, either.

Yanno, this whole thing is terribly confused, but I do like how Tom and Brody are have similar thoughts and motivations about the two primary belief systems of the world.  Jeseca aside, both characters value their individuality and worry about losing it under either system.


The next day, our four main characters have lunch together, and Luke reveals that God also told him that Tom is going to bust Brody and Jerry out of prison.  Which doesn’t make a ton of sense right now, since Brody and Jerry have exactly zero connection to Elijah Cohen.  Still, for lack of a better option, Brody’s ears prick up.

Later that day, Luke has a small-group session in his cell.  (This is seriously the most lax prison ever.  Sure, everyone!  Let’s just all go and hang out in my cell!)

As if it wasn’t evident enough from the previous scene with Tom, Luke turns out to be yet another smug, smirking dickweed for Christ.  He plays teacher to the students, including Jerry, who is kinda getting into it, and Brody, who seems to mostly because he has nowhere else to go.  Brody gets annoyed when Luke and Jerry start talking about nature and the stars and trees and shit being proof of God:

Brody:  You can’t prove God from nature.  It’s been shown to be impossible.  It’s the cosmological or the teleological argument and it was destroyed by Hume and Pascal—

Luke:  Pascal?  Oh, he was a Christian.  You didn’t know that.  Oh, I guess you don’t know very much at all.

Pascal was a Catholic, Luke.  And I know how you RTCs feel about Catholics.


Smirky bastard.

Brody:  Why don’t you tell them the other side of the argument?  ‘Cause you’re just like The Leader: it’s all propaganda.

Luke:  You’re right, Brody.  God’s existence cannot be proven logically or in nature.  It’s really just a subjective experience unique to each and every one of us.


Two possibilities: Luke is embarrassed that Brody had a counter-argument, and is trying to save face…or, once again, this movie has completely confused itself.

Brody is right, of course, so Luke moves on to his next “argument”: the god-shaped hole argument or, in other words, the idea that Christians know the thoughts and feelings of nonbelievers far better than we do.

Man, who says Christians are arrogant, amirite?

Luke brings up hell, and Brody chuckles.

Luke:  You know why you’re laughing?  It’s ’cause you’re scared.  You’re scared.  You know that hell exists and that, sadly, that’s probably where you’ll end up.

Christians are soooo not arrogant!  And they know this nonbeliever’s thoughts so well, too!

Fear of hell: Pascal would be so proud.

Brody, pissed off, storms out of small group, but later confronts Tom.  Tom, none too happy with the way things have been going (especially the fact that he has no way of contacting his handlers, especially Jeseca), spills almost the whole story, leaving out only the part about a manufactured escape in order to find Elijah Cohen.  Brody is wise to the fact that this can’t be all there is to it, but simply offers himself and Jerry up as accomplices in the great escape.  Tom drily observes that Jerry seems well on his way to a conversion, which might make him unwilling to leave prison.



Six: The Mark Unleashed: Part 1

It’s always sad to see wasted potential.  Decent acting, a suitably spooky premise, a moody score, and the ever-popular addition of a Baldwin Brother.  And it’s all ruined by a world so poorly built (or should I say unbuilt) and a plot so damned draggy, that the movie is all but impossible to watch in a single sitting.  This movie is so confused that it appears to have confused itself.

Well, that’s it, folks—my critique of Six: The Mark Unleashed!


You know me—why would I say in four sentences what I can say in four parts?

And, shocking though it may be, there actually is some interesting stuff here.  Not very much of it, mind, and all buried under layers of boringness, but there all the same.

Six: The Mark Unleashed does itself no favors whatsoever by opening with a shot of Hitler.  No, really: after the credits, Hitler is the first person we see.

Yeah, we get it.  Hitler, the Antichrist.

And, and hey!  There’s Lenin.  Boy, they’re not into subtlety, are they?



Okay, that is unspeakably goofy—stock footage of Hitler, stock footage of Lenin, cheap old movie of Jesus.  Boy, Jesus sure was a white guy, wasn’t he?

But hey, on with the show!

We keep seeing the same faces crop up again and again here at Heathen Critique, and the first person we hear is one David White, who you may remember from when he was a pimply young teen, saving his parents from the horror of divorce by keeping their unhappy marriage together through the power of his prayers.

Presumably, this is in the not-too-distant-future (next Sunday, A.D.):

Brody:  I still remember…Saturday morning cartoons, must-see TV, news—fair and balanced.  I also remember the first and second Gulf Wars, the second Great Depression, school shootings.  And the music.  It’s the music I miss the most.  There was freedom then.  Freedom to do terrible things, but freedom all the same.

A refreshiongly multi-ethnic, wide-age-ranged group of people is watching a totally futuristic recording of a young woman, introducing them to the greatness of “The Community“: a system of living in which monogamy is obsolete, and everyone can “move among partners, male or female” (gasp!).  All because of the “implant” they now have.  (The Mark of the Beast, natch.)

Brody’s voiceover continues, and he tells us of his (as yet nameless) fiancée, who was “killed in the first Purge of the Leader,” in which 80 million people were killed in just one day in the United States.  (About one quarter of our current population.  Pretty impressive, though not one word is said about how they were killed, or why the Leader ordered this Purge, or why people are now so happy to join the Community (and, indeed, we will learn that many join willingly.))

Oh well, I’m sure such details aren’t important.

Oh oh: in case we aren’t freaked out enough by the spectre of homosexuality, we are now informed that the implant also functions as birth control (gasp! choke!) and that you need permission from The Leader to spawn.

Seems like micromanaging on his part.

Still, with both teh gays and teh pill, we now know it’s serious.

More backstory on Brody: prior to the Purge and the Community, he was a “designer, engineer, and test-driver for Chevrolet.”  Really, one guy does all three of those things?  Because they’re…kinda different.

But, now that the Tribulation is upon us (though I don’t think the word is ever used in the whole course of the movie) Brody has turned that skill set to different use, by pairing up with a young hacker named Jerry.  Together, they steal high-end cars and sell them on the black market: Jerry hacks the garage’s security system, Brody does the actual sneaking in and taking of the car.

(White and Downes have co-starred before: in The Moment After and the The Moment After 2 (“The Moment After That?)  More post-Rapture fare—let me know if you’re interested in seeing me critique those!)

(Speaking of the Rapture…this movie doesn’t speak of it.  So it seems that Six: The Mark Unleashed is taking a mid-tribulation position, as opposed to our old friends LaHaye and Jenkins, who are pre-tribulationists.)

We find that The Leader is on the radio pretty much all the time (which explains Brody’s complaint about music).  This reminds me of nothing so much as the MST3k episode Stranded in Space, which also featured a totalitarian government with a totalitarian radio show.

The Leader (on the radio):  Only by seizing what we want, taking what is rightfully ours and destroying those who get in our way, can mankind truly be fulfilled.

Brody (to the radio):  Well, I’m with you there.

The Leader:  What is that fulfillment?  The deification of mankind itself.  Each one of you can become God, as I am God.  Each one of you has my spirit in you, through the holy implant.

Brody:  But you always lose me.

Damn.  Okay, I…kinda like Brody.  He makes sense.  Most of all, Brody doesn’t align himself with the implant-havers or the Christians.  He’s staked out his own damn side.

Sadly, we all know what happens when a nonbelieving character in a Christian film is sensible and sympathetic.


Brody and Jerry take the car to their fence and, in what I can only hope is a moment of wit, drive past “Locust Street.”

Meanwhile, we are introduced to more characters: Dallas, who deals in black market goods, and Tom (John Winchester!), one of his suppliers.

Eric Roberts may get high billing in this movie, but don’t get attached to Dallas.  Is all I’m saying.

As Tom showcases his wares, we learn more about The Leader: that he “nuked the South all the way down to Cuba,” thus making the cigars Tom supplies that much more precious.

Tom:  I got more: five cases of banned DVDs.  You ever see Schindler’s List?

Dallas:  I never even heard of it.

Tom:  Well, it’ll make you feel like a hero.  There’s some real classics: Papillon, Braveheart, Lawrence of Arabia.

Dallas:  They any good?

Tom:  What do I look like, man, a film critic?


Do you see what I mean about this movie being confused?  Not ten minutes ago, Brody said he remembered both Gulf Wars, but Dallas, who has a good fifteen years on Brody, doesn’t know Schindler’s List?  Remember, none of these characters have the implant, and the implant doesn’t even have a basic memory-wiping capacity (at least, not for everyone).  So why doesn’t American Dallas know these movies?

(Another note on timelines: it can’t be that far into the future: Six came out in 2004, and Brody would have to have been born in the early 1980s, at the very latest, in order to have an independent memory of the first Gulf War.  So, again, what gives with Dallas not knowing famous movies?)

Tom’s little party is broken up by three agents of The Leader: two nameless dudes and Jessica, Tom’s ex-wife.  You see, Jessica opted for the implant and Tom did not.  Despite this (and despite referring to her as “Gestapo*”, and despite declaring that he would rather be shot than take the implant), Tom is clearly still carrying a torch for Jessica.

*See what I mean???  Tom knows what “Gestapo” means, but Dallas doesn’t know Lawrence of Arabia!

It is Dallas who is taken outside and shot—Jessica determines in approximately one second that he has been using a fake implant and only pretending to be part of The Community.  (Of course we don’t see this death—not only is this a Christian film, but it would necessitate an effects budget.)

Jessica also knows that Tom still cares for her, and is quite ready to play on this: She has an “assignment” for him…one that would allow him to see Jessica and avoid the implant and avoid death…

Cut back to Brody and Jerry, delivering the car to their fence, Tiny (the second huge-man-named-“Tiny” featured on this site!).  Like Dallas, Tiny had a fake implant, but Brody quickly sees that it has been replaced with a real one.

In another instance that I hope was wit, but was probably about padding out the running time, an “exciting” car chase ensues.  But it ends less excitingly than might be hoped…as the stolen car has almost no gas in it.  And so, Brody and Jerry end up in prison.

And I mean that very literally.  They’re pulled over—BOOM—they’re in prison.  So, no trials in Leaderville?  I assume not, but it wouldn’t hurt to say so.  Also, everyone in the prison is subject to the following bizarre time limit: choose to take the implant within three weeks of arrival, or be killed.  This is true of car thieves, like Jerry and Brody, and Christians (we’ll meet them soon).  Also, is it a crime to be a Christian, all by itself, or have the Christians all been arrested on other charges?  Also also, why is bearing a false implant subject to immediate execution, but being a Christian allows you three weeks to change your mind?

Again, I’m sure I’m thinking about this way too much.  And way more than the writers did.

But I am now distracted, because THERE’S BRAD HELLER!!!

Like so many movie torturers, this guy loves his work.  He really, really loves it.  And in case that wasn’t just enough to convince Christian viewers that he is a Bad Guy, our torturer likes to get up close and personal with his victims.


Very up close and personal

Also, the torturer’s name is Preston, but I am amusing myself by pretending that it actually IS Larry, and he never did convert after being accosted by Jesus late that one night.  And got that high-paying job he always wanted.  ;)

And Larry, you know I love you, man, but that’s John Winchester you’re screwing with.  Best be careful.

Torture has apparently advanced in Leaderville: instead of actual physical tortures, you get wires attached to you and they send pain sensations to your brain—the feeling of being burned, of having skin peeled off (eww…), etc.  Tom is enough of a Manly Hero to insult his torturer, but he also cries, and I kinda like that balance.  (This is where the “Christians always forgive me when I torture them” line happens—Larry appreciates that Tom is honest about his anger.)

Out in the prison yard, Brody and Jerry and some other prisoners watch as six guys are beheaded.  Two interesting things of note here:

1.  This prison has both male and female guards, but only male prisoners

2.  They use the flimsiest plastic sheets in the world to hold the guys’ necks down before they are decapitated.


See?  (Also, there’s the mark, in red, on the plastic-holder-thingie.)

Back in Larry’s Torture Emporium, Tom is totally broken.  That is the cue for Larry to exit and Jessica to enter as the balm.  Now that Tom is in the proper frame of mind, he immediately agrees to the assignment.

Jessica:  They want you to find a man named Elijah Cohen and kill him.

Tom (sobbing):  He’s dead.  He’s a dead man.

Huh.  Elijah Cohen?  A man The Leader wants dead?  Sounds suspiciously similar to Tsion ben-Jewishguy to me.

We end the day with Brody and Jerry in their cell.  Hilariously, the totalitarian regime sees absolutely nothing wrong with their capital prisoners decorating their cells (and I do mean every single inch of the cells) with Bible verses in many bright colors of marker.


Yeah, the guards are real hard-asses here, aren’t they?

Time for Brody to make sense again!

Brody:  *sighs*

Jerry:  You sound depressed.

Brody:  I’m a little depressed.  Something about watching people get their heads chopped off brings me down.

Jerry’s…not too swift, is he?

But hey, at least he can read the writing on the wall!  (Har.)

Jerry:  Y’know, it says over here, “If God is for us, who can be against us?  He who did not spare his own son, but delivered him up for us all, shall not freely give us all things.”  What do you think that means?

Brody:  I’ll tell you what it means: it means if God even exists, he murdered his own kid.  They seem to think that was good.  So he’ll let all of us be burned, too.  I didn’t see him coming to help those losers, did you?  They got their heads chopped off, and God was nowhere in sight.

Brody kicks ass.

He is so doomed.

Next time: introduction of a Baldwin Brother!

Update Thingie

So, my initial plan was to do a few movies, then jump back into a longer book, then do my usual War-on-Christmas holiday book (and possibly, this year, another movie, as Saving Christmas is coming out on November 14th!).

But now that Pamela’s Freaking Prayer has gotten us into October, I’m thinking that a better plan would be to do another couple of movies, then my War on Christmas stuff, then start a new novel after the holidays.  (I’ll poll you guys to see what you want!)

And I’m pretty excited, because I have a comparatively-new, Baldwin-brothered film!  With an actual budget!

Oh, and you might see a couple of familiar faces



Second Glance: Completed Critique

Hey, Scotty!  Jesus, man!

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Pamela’s Prayer: Part 5

The next scene after graduation (I suppose we can assume that about a week has gone by) Frederick swings by the ugliest house in the world Casa Buckland.  It’s an unexpected call, and for a couple of unexpected reasons.

Frederick asks to start working at the Film Library full time!

Frederick:  Mr. Buckland, I’d like to start working full time at the library, try to help more with the ministry.  I really feel like this is what the Lord wants for me to do.  I talked it over with my parents but I know you have the final word.  Just wanted to let your know.

Ha!  The “just wanted to let you know” makes it sound like Freddy is just planning to show up Monday morning, whether Wayne agrees to this or not.  Just wanted to let you know!  :D

Wayne:  Well, this comes as a surprise.  I was thinking with you graduating, I’d be losing you at the end of the summer.  Now you want to stay on full time.

Um, yes, Wayne…he just said that.

(Also, insert your own “Wayne ‘losing’ Freddy” joke here.)

Despite his alleged surprise, Wayne needs no time to “think about it, pray about it“—he hires Frederick on the spot.

But Fred’s not done yet!

Freddy:  Oh, there is one other thing.  I was going to take a ride over to the rock formations and if it’s okay with you and okay with Pamela, I was wondering if she’d like to come along?

Damn, that Freddy has balls of solid steel.  “Hey, boss, wanna hire me for full-time, like now?  Also, can I date your only daughter?  Like, now?

Hilariously, Pamela looks to her father for permission, raising her eyebrows, as the plinkety-plink music of goofiness plays.

Next shot: Frederick and Pamela driving to the rock formation.  So one of two things happened: either Freddy and Pam murdered Wayne and are running away into the mountains forever, or b) Wayne allowed Pamela to go on a date.

Either way, my mind is blown.

I mean, honestly, what has changed?  We “know how [Wayne] feels about dating.”  NO dating, no matter what.  There was never any time limit or condition on this feeling.  Granted, Pamela is now a high school graduate and an official grown-up (I suppose), but she also lives at home and works* for her dad.

*It is never, for the rest of the film, established what Pamela does with her days.  Presumably, with Freddy working full time for her dad, her work is no longer required.  After all, Wayne and his dad ran the business alone for decades.  (And I remain shocked that this place can support not one, but two households.)  Anyway, we never see Pamela going to school or getting a different job, though she does appear to occasionally help out at the library (she brings the men lunch at least once).  So I guess, like the spinsters of old, the plan was always for her to live at home, cooking and cleaning for her dad and helping in little ways at his business, until the suitable man (quite literally) knocked at the door.

Anyway, even on her second not-really-a-date ever, Wayne is never far from Pamela’s thoughts.  Her very first words to Freddy, once they reach the rock formation, are:

Pamela:  My grandfather used to bring my dad up here a lot when he was a little boy.  Said that this was a good praying spot.

The conversation quickly turns serious: Pamela discusses the fact that her parents were in their thirties when they met (why she brings this up is anybody’s guess, though it does make me wonder if Wayne and Sarah both waited for their wedding day, when they were both in their thirties, to kiss anyone).  Anyway, Freddy takes this as an invitation to ask how Pamela’s mom died.  (????)  Pamela reveals that Sarah died of an amniotic fluid embolism, a very rare pregnancy complication.  I’m a bit confused as to why this information is presented to the viewer now, as opposed to, say, at the beginning of the movie, right after Sarah’s death.  Unless, of course, the idea is the assure Freddy and the viewers that although Sarah died in childbirth, it was nothing that would affect Pamela’s ability to spawn.

Despite this sad line of conversation, Pamela states that she has enjoyed herself on this odd little “date.”  This leads to our next montage, in which Freddy appears in every facet of Wayne and Pamela’s lives: working at the film library with them, attending church with them, watching a Christian film with them.  (Where are your parents, Freddy?  I know you have them, because you mentioned them.  Don’t they ever want to spend time with you?)


Hawt date

This montage apparently covers quite the passage of time, because we leave the montage at “December 1990,” at War on Christmastime.  To review, Pamela was born in January of 1969.  Which means she is just about to turn twenty-one.  Which means it’s been between three and four YEARS since she and Freddy started courting.

Holy schmoly.

And now I have to wonder if they have ever spent any time alone together since that sad rock formation “date.”

We know it’s the War on Christmas, because a jarring, all-bells version of “O Come, All Ye Faithful” jangles in the background as Wayne fusses ineffectually with some ornaments.  Freddy pulls up in his truck (he’s been driving it since graduation, so I assume that it’s his, bought with his after-school earnings).  Honestly, it’s not the vehicle I expected from a prepster like Freddy.  I would have figured him for a Volvo wagon kind of guy.  Freddy looks a bit nervous and uptight, almost as if he had something important on his mind…


Really, with that hat on the wall and that plastic bow on the door?  Boy, don’tcha miss the eighties?

It’s worth noting that even after working for him and courting his daughter for this long, Frederick still calls Wayne “Mr. Buckland.”  He compliments the decorating scheme, which sucks more than a little bit, but Pamela did it, so Freddy is no fool.  Since Pam is still making some last ornaments in her room, Freddy has the opportunity to pop the question…to Wayne.

Freddy:  Mr. Buckland, there’s something I’d like to ask you.

Wayne:  Sure.

Freddy: Mr. Buckland, I’d like to ask you for your permission to marry Pamela.  I love her very much, sir, and I know she’s the one the Lord has for me.

The one the Lord HAS for him?  That is just so weird.  Did the actor miss a word or two?  I would have thought the phrase would be, “the one the Lord has in mind for me,” but that is not what Freddy says.  Anyone ever heard this one before?

Anyway, Wayne gets the slimiest look on his face, and the weirdest tone in his voice as he quizzes Freddy:

Wayne:  How do you know that, Frederick?


I say “quizzes” because that’s what it sounds like: like a teacher asking a student a question to which it is certain the student knows the answer.  Like a parent asking a child, “What do we say?” when the child forgets a “please.”

Frederick:  Well, when I was younger, I told the Lord that I wanted to marry the girl that he wanted me to.  So I promised him that I wouldn’t kiss a girl until my wedding day.  And if I did that, if I waited, he’d show me who the right girl was by bringing me someone who did the same thing.  I know Pamela’s that girl.

Wayne turns away and smirks the smirk of someone who has been proved to be Right All Along.  Pamela trots down the stairs into the living room and we see the passage of time by the fact that she has chopped her long hair off.  You can see the true love between Freddy and Pam as they have the following deep and tender conversation:

Pam: Hi.

Fred: Hi.

Pam: How are you?

Fred:  Good.  How are you?

Pam:  Fine.

Given this proof of deep and abiding love, Wayne signals his assent with a nod to Freddy, who just pops the question (again), right then and there, in front of Wayne.  (He doesn’t even get down on one knee, the jerk.)

Freddy:  Pamela, I was just talking with your father.  I love you very much and I want you to be my wife.

Pamela smiles, and immediately looks to Wayne, who nods his assent.  Good thing too, because we wouldn’t want Pamela to make a decision for herself or anything.

Freddy: Pamela, will you marry me?

Pam:  Yes.  I’d love to.

And Wayne immediately comes over and hugs them, and he kisses Pamela (on the forehead) and shakes Freddy’s hand.  And since he steps between Pam and Freddy and hugs each with one arm, the two lovebirds don’t even come within 18 inches of each other in this whole scene!  What, no firm handshake?  No high five?  No friendly thump on the shoulder?

Kidding aside, you know what’s really sad?  Pamela never says she loves Frederick, in this scene or any other.  She says she’d love to marry him, but that’s…not the same thing.

Next scene: “November 8, 1991,” (a Friday, so presumably the wedding will be the next day, Saturday, because we’re at the rehearsal).

Wait a second.  Freddy proposed at War on Christmastime, 1990.  Now it’s November of the next year.  So it took eleven months to plan this wedding?  What the hell, WHY???  They’re getting married in the same church they’ve attended for years, with a guest list of…I guess you could say ones of people.


After the miming of the walking back up the aisle, Wayne corners Freddy.

Wayne:  How you feeling?

Freddy:  Good.  I feel like the most blessed man on earth.

Wayne:  That’s how I felt the night before I got married.  I had so much joy in my heart I couldn’t contain myself.

Jesus, Wayne, could things be about someone other than you for, like, FIVE MINUTES?

No.  No, they cannot.  Wayne proceeds to give some nice, depressing advice to the young groom—that he only had two years with Sarah before she died, and you never know when your time is up.


Oh well, Freddy takes it in stride, and we cut to Wayne and Pamela, praying on her bed one last time.

It’s actually a pretty sucky prayer: Wayne basically just asks God to make sure Freddy and Pam stay Christians.  The attempts to tug at heartstrings continue, as Wayne gives Pamela her mother’s cross, and they stare at each other a lot.



Is it just me, or does Jessica look way happier to be there than the bride or the groom?

(Also, Jessica just generally looks happy and well-adjusted.  Not that I expected the movie to show her crying in the corner of the church or anything, but it looks like her one youthful regret isn’t stopping her from living a happy life.)

So, are you wondering about the word “obey”?  I am!

Minister: Do you take Pamela to be your lawful wedded wife?  To love her, honor her, provide for her, and lead her always in the name of our lord Jesus Christ?

Freddy: I do.

Minister:  And Pamela, do you take Frederick to be your lawful wedded husband?  To love him, care for him, respect him, and submit to his leadership in the name of our lord Jesus Christ?

Pamela:  I do.

So, no “obey.”  “Lead” and “submit,” though.  And I doubt Freddy could lead a drunk to a pub, just sayin’.

And here we go, you guys—THE MOMENT WE HAVE ALL BEEN WAITING FOR!!!

Pamela’s (and Freddy’s) First Kiss Ever


Here we go!



Wait, what?

Yeah, yeah, yeah…as usual, we don’t actually get to see a kiss in a Christian film.

A Christian film about kissing.

Pam and Freddy leeeean in—and cut to Wayne’s giant, smirking face.

Thus leaving us to conclude that the most important thing about Pamela’s first kiss ever is how it makes her father feel.


But I’m serious: remember how I said in the very beginning that the film lied about this being Pamela’s story—that it is really Wayne’s story?  Well, Pamela goes to kiss her husband, we cut to Wayne’s face…and we never cut back to Pamela and Frederick.  We don’t get any reaction from either of them. We never do get an answer to Jessica’s question: “So, what did you think of kissing–did you like it?”

From Wayne’s face, the very next shot is of Wayne arriving home after the wedding.

And how Wayne spends the evening of his daughter’s wedding day.

This is Wayne’s story, not Pamela’s.

The music of sadness plays as Wayne unwinds from the wedding: he removes his snap-on bowtie and wanders around the house, gazing longingly into Pamela’s Pamela-free bedroom.  (Dude, creepy!)

Her changes clothes, then, inexplicably, makes himself a huge dinner-for-one, including TWO baked potatoes and TWO dinner roles.  Then he fills an entire sink right to the top with soapy water in order to wash his one plate and glass.

Wayne, buddy, did you not just come from a wedding party?  Eleven months of planning, and nobody thought to have a reception, or any kind of meal at all?  What the hell?  Shouldn’t Wayne have enough appetizers and dry chicken to last him a month?

Makes no sense.

A smaller point that also makes no sense: why didn’t Wayne invite his mom to spend the night at his place, or, better yet, spend the night at her place?  That way, they could hang out and keep each other company and maybe have a good cry and not stare at Pamela’s empty room together.

But no, I guess Grandma (Pamela’s primary caretaker growing up, let’s remember) is on her own.

A bigger point: this really illustrates how empty Wayne’s life is.  He’s been single for almost 22 years.  And in all that time, it seems that not only has he not had a single date, but he doesn’t have a single friend.  Just like with Pamela, we have no idea of anything about Wayne.  Other than protecting his daughter’s lips and watching Christian films, what does he like to do?  What are his hobbies, his interests?  Who does he ever hang out with other than his daughter, his now-son-in-law/business partner, and his mother?



Wayne reads for awhile as the music of sadness continues, and I wonder if Wayne is trying not to think about how much hot monkey sex his precious daughter is engaging in at that very moment.  Heh.

He heads upstairs and gazes into Pamela’s room again, but levels up this time and goes to sit on her bed.  (Dude, stop creeping!)  Finally, he goes to his own bed, sheesh, and just as he is finishing his gazing at Sarah’s picture…the phone rings!

It’s Pamela, who sees nothing at all weird about calling her father on her wedding night.  In fact, she wants to pray with him…”one more time.”



Wayne:  Okay, if it’s alright with Frederick.

Daughter, are you properly submitting to the headship of your husband?  You have been married for almost four hours, after all.


But I guess that first kiss that he waited a lifetime for, didn’t have that much impact on Freddy, either, as he is perfectly fine to let Pamela chat with her dad ON THEIR FREAKING WEDDING NIGHT I AM NEVER GETTING OVER THIS.

And Pamela asks that this time, she be the one who prays.

It is so sad that she had to wait until she was a married woman of 21, to be able to pray for herself.

Pamela:  Dear Lord, thank you so much for my daddy.

Well, that’s it.  That is officially Pamela’s Prayer.


We flash back over scenes that we might have forgotten, given that this movie is nearly one whole hour long (then again, it has taken me five installments to critique it, so…).  Sarah heads to the hospital with the basketball, Wayne feeds the baby, Wayne signs “Happy Birthday” to his daughter before demanding to know what her private birthday prayer was, Jerry asks out Pamela, Jessica and Pamela chat, kids laugh at Pamela, Pamela confessions her sinful transgressions to Wayne, Wayne shows Freddy how Christian films work, Jessica has sex, Pamela settles for Freddy, Wayne prevents Pam and Freddy from showing any physical contact, even though they have just agreed to marry, and Pam and Freddy marry, both looking like they’re standing in line at a bank.

Wow, Pamela does have a lot to be grateful for.

Or not.

So, the montage is it.  Roll credits.

And the mystery remains unsolved.

What did Pamela think of kissing?

Rock on, Jessica.  Rock on.


Pamela’s Prayer: Part 4

Later, after a montage of Freddy learning the ropes at Wayne’s Christian Film Emporium and Purity Mastery Hub, Wayne is all set to watch a new Christian film with Pamela.  Now, I will happily admit that I was a big nerd in high school, and really did go out to the movies with my parents for fun, but even I think that sounds like the most boring thing in the world, unless you are using the film for Bad Movie Night.

Pamela actually blows Wayne off!  Not because her father is a smug blowhard who drives her up a wall or anything, but because Jessica has a boyfriend and Pamela is sad.

But lo!  The next day, a teary Jessica shows up at Casa Buckland (which, not to be a jerk or anything, but it may just be the ugliest house on the planet).  And she tells Pamela a sad story:

Jessica:  Last night, we went out for pizza and then we took a drive.  We stopped and parked and made out and it was great.  Then he said our relationship had reached a turning point and if we really loved each other we should…  I can’t believe it happened.  If I had said no, he would have thought that I didn’t love him.  Oh, I should have known better after what he did to you.  I feel so guilty; what am I gonna do?

Let’s be clear: the movie in no way wants us to think that this might have anything, ever, to do with the word “rape.”  This is not about the dangers of date rape, but the dangers of dating a guy, or dating any guy, because he might, one day, guilt-trip you.  And hell, for once, I agree with a Christian film when it comes to sex: I don’t think it’s rape, either.  No matter her feelings of guilt now, Jessica didn’t say no at the time.  Jerry’s a manipulative dickweed, but he’s not a rapist.

And speaking of manipulative dickweeds, Wayne learns of the event that evening from Pamela…

Pamela:  She just wanted Jerry to love her, Dad, she didn’t want anything bad to happen.

Wayne:  What are you talking about?

Pamela:  Jessica…*sighs, sinks into chair*…went out with her boyfriend.

Wayne’s purity translator immediately alerts him that “went out with” means “had sex with.”  We know this because the music of sadness and regret begins to play as Wayne, too, sinks into a chair.


You can tell by the look on Wayne’s face that he is coming to terms with the fact that Jessica’s entire life is now ruined forever, because she had sex with her boyfriend.

Pamela:  She feels so guilty, she won’t forgive herself.  What can I tell her?

Well, my first instinct is that she should make sure Jessica used protection, and if she didn’t, the window is still open for the morning after pill.  But I have a funny feeling that my first instinct is not very RTC of me.

Wayne:  The Pharisees brought a woman caught in the act of adultery to Jesus.

Consenting sex between a boyfriend and girlfriend isn’t adultery, Wayne.  Just so we’re clear.

Wayne:  They said, “The law of Moses says to stone her.”

“But not the guy.  Because guys can have as much sex as they want.”

Wayne:  Jesus knew what they were up to.  He said, “He who is without sin, let him cast the first stone.”  One by one, they all left.  Just the woman remained.  Jesus said to her, “Did anyone condemn you?”  She said, “No one, Lord.”

“And you should know that, since you’ve been standing here this whole time, Jesus!”

Wayne:  He said, “Neither do I.”  But then he gave her a command…

Pamela:  “Go and sin no more”?

Wayne:  *nods*

So, Pamela, give Jessica a command.  That should do nothing but strengthen your friendship!

Isis-sama asked about Wayne approving of a friendship between his pure daughter and sinful Jessica, who enjoys kissing boys.  But, to give Wayne credit (and I don’t like it any more than you do), he uses the nightly Pamela Prayer to ask Jesus to comfort Jessica.  Which, admittedly, is kinda sweet.

Still, though, I can’t help but feel that Wayne sees the silver lining in all this: Jessica now serves as a perfect object lesson for Pamela.  If you go out with a boy, you will regret it.  (It also doesn’t hurt this lesson that Wayne puts two and two together, realizing that Jessica’s Jerry and Pamela’s Jerry are the same Jerry.)


Next in our round of admittedly nice things, there is a snafu at the Christian Film Library and Kiss Prevention Center, as a film fails to arrive at its destination on time.  Wayne kinda scolds the pastor for not telling him sooner, but blows him off so he can attend his widowed mother’s birthday dinner.  Frederick, however, actually cares about the business, and after Wayne leaves, he grabs another copy of the film and drives it to the church, which doesn’t seem like a huge thing until you realize this necessitates a four hour round trip.

Damn, but that is some good brown-nosing.  Well played, Freddy.  Well played.

Wayne finds out the next morning, and, although Frederick tries to politely decline, pays him for the extra hours.

Wayne:  The pastor said four kids made a profession of faith after seeing the film.

I am so sure.

Wayne once again gives Freddy the Approving Nod.  Yes, he will do just fine for Pamela, just fine.

Yet somehow, I can only think that this is what is in Wayne’s mind…


Graduation time!  Jessica and Pamela enter together, and Jessica looks happy as a clam, so…I mean, honestly, she seems fine to me.  Looks like sex didn’t tarnish her forever, after all.  Go figure.

Pamela and Freddy catch each other’s eyes across the gym, and exchange nods and smiles.  Pamela turns back with the oddest little smile on her face.


Is it just me, or does that look say, “Well, I could do worse…”

You guys.

You are seriously not going to BELIEVE what happens next!

(And the next installment will be up much quicker, I promise!)



Pamela’s Prayer: Part 3

The next morning at school, Pamela observes that “everyone is looking at me.”  This really doesn’t seem the case from the shots we’re given, but given Pamela’s status as the school’s Weird Girl, I’m willing to concede that there might be a bit of staring.  Because…dun dun DUN…Jerry has told everyone that he kissed Pamela!


Jessica informs Pamela that she heard from a friend of a friend of Jerry that Jerry and Pamela “made out for awhile in the living room [of Pamela's house].”  I suppose this qualifies as a big, juicy rumor in a 1980s Christian high school, but I remain unimpressed, given the goings-on at my sinful, secular high school.  ;)

(Jessica, by the way, is a total sweetie.  She’s upset on Pamela’s behalf when she discovers that the rumor is untrue, but she starts the scene happy for Pamela.  “So, what did you think of kissing—did you like it?!“)

Pamela tells the entire sordid, sinful tale to her father that night.  Wayne reacts…pretty much how one would expect.

Wayne:  So, Jerry told everyone he kissed you.

Pamela:  And I didn’t, Dad—why is he saying that?

Wayne:  Well, first of all, maybe the Lord’s trying to teach you a lesson.  If you’d obeyed your father, none of this would have happened.

Pamela:  I know.

Wayne:  You also deceived me.  You said you were going to the game with Jessica, which you did, but you met Jerry.  Now Jerry’s telling everyone he went out with you, which you did.  But what happened is another story.

Pamela:  I don’t know why I did it.  All the other girls were going on dates, and I wasn’t.

Therein lies the heart of the problem.  Pamela is unhappy.  She’s very unhappy and lonely.  And she’s trying to take steps to make herself happy and not lonely.  This is what happens when perfectly innocuous things, like kissing and going to a basketball game with a boy, are demonized and forbidden.  And like I said in the previous installment, this whole thing could have been avoided—not just by Pamela not dating Jerry at all, but by Wayne opening his mind this much and chaperoning the young couple to and from the game.

But no, this is really all about the Lord teaching Pamela a lesson—the lesson that you should never, ever, even ONCE question your parents on anything.  Never test boundaries, never find your own path in life, never think for yourself.  Because One Wrong Basketball Game, and it’s all over for you.

You see why I hate Wayne?  Pamela’s depressed—now, for multiple reasons—and Wayne’s only real response is…Toldja So.

Pamela begs Wayne’s forgiveness, and he gives it.  Prick.

Wayne:  Pamela, a kiss isn’t something you should just give away.


(Actually, this ties in with Lliira’s point about sex being an activity.  Hell, give away as many kisses as you want, Pamela.  Because, like love, kisses are not sugar in a bowl.  There are always more kisses.)

Wayne:  What does the minister say, just after he pronounces the couple husband and wife?  You may NOW kiss the bride.

Oh, please.  THIS is what Wayne bases his great dating philosophy on?  A weird interpretation of the phrase “now kiss the bride”?  Jesus, Wayne, the minister means, “now, at this moment, you may kiss the bride,” not “now, for the very first time in your life, you may kiss a woman.”

You see why I hate Wayne, right?

By the way, I do appreciate that dating and kissing and sex are sensitive topics, and television and movies don’t always Get It Right, despite best efforts.  And this whole horrible scene reminded me of a good scene that does get it right, from one of my favorite shows ever, Quantum Leap.

It’s from the episode Another Mother, in which Sam leaps into the body of a hard-working single mom, whose teenage son is struggling, much like Pamela, with his virginal reputation at his high school.  In one of the last scenes, Sam sits down with the boy, who thinks he is having a talk with his mom.

Sam:  I was a virgin when I was sixteen.

Kevin:  You’re a girl; you’re supposed to be.

Sam:  It doesn’t matter if you’re male or female.  And there’s no special age when it has to happen.  But there should be a special reason: when you love someone so much that making love to them is the most natural way of expressing it.

True confession: I actually get a little teary when I think about that episode.  Gets it just right.


After bedtime prayers, Pamela brings up the hot issue (other than Deceiving Her Father, that is): what does she do now?

Wayne:  You could do what Jesus did.  Remember when he stood in front of Pilate?  And they falsely accused him?  He didn’t say anything.  Jesus didn’t defend himself against the lies.  And Pilate was amazed.  You know why?  *doesn’t wait for Pamela to answer*  Because he saw the humble reaction of Christ, and it showed him who was really lying.  You could do the same.  Don’t say anything.  Don’t defend yourself.  Don’t get upset.  Just be patient and let the Lord have control of the situation.

Okay, I am sure that most of the time, in such a case as this, a girl protesting with the truth would only confirm the boy’s story in the minds of most high school kids.  But I have a hard time with the idea that whoever doesn’t defend themselves is telling the truth by default.  In this exact situation, it’s probably the best plan—no doubt this stupid kissing rumor is already dying because, c’mon, it’s a rumor that two teenagers kissed.  Even a Christian high school has to be able to do better than that in the rumor mill within a day or two.

Just not sure this is a Great Life Lesson About Being Like Jesus.

The next day, at school, Jerry’s Friend (And we have a name!  It’s Andy!) asks Pamela out to the next game.  Pamela almost tells the truth about not kissing Jerry, but stops herself just in time.  (Boy, good thing too—Andy actually looked interested in what she had to say, and might have believed her, and we couldn’t very well have that, could we?)  Taking an example from Jesus, Pamela declines going to another high school basketball game.

(The first time I saw this movie, I didn’t realize it was Christian Entertainment.  Thus, I thought that Andy was actually going to be a good guy, and that the conclusion of the movie would be for Wayne to allow Pamela to date such a nice fellow.  And I thought this almost exclusively because Andy looked so interested in the truth in this brief scene.)

When school lets out, Pamela spies Jerry talking to another girl!  Gee, how…ominous?  Insulting?  What are we supposed to be feeling here?

Oh well!  Cut to the next scene (“August 1986“), and Pamela’s grandfather (remember how he had a bad heart?) has died.  This is an important plot point, for reasons which will become clear in a moment, but to me, this scene is important because Jessica is attending the funeral so she can support Pamela, and it is just more evidence that Jessica is an awesome friend.


Jessica and Pamela: BFFs

Of course, with his dad dead, Wayne is left to run the Christian Film Library all alone.  So he does the only natural thing: he trains his daughter in how to run the family business.

HA!  Just kidding!  Actually, Wayne puts up an extremely professional-looking advertisement at Pamela’s school, so he can train some other kid in how to run the family business.


And it is immediately spotted by…a mysterious boy we have never seen before!


And okay, okay, I can admit it when I’m wrong—Wayne has an interview with the boy (Frederick) and tells him that Pamela has been working with him after school, helping with the “book work.”  Frederick’s job would be to “help back here with the films.”

Fair enough.

The job would be every day after school for three hours.

DAMN, Wayne.  Work the boy to death, why don’t you?  I’m being serious here—this could lead to some serious spare change for Frederick, but what if he wants to play a sport or join a club or hang with his friends.  I mean DAMN.  I had an after-school job in high school, too, and you better believe it was no “every day for three hours” bullshit.

Here is Frederick’s interview speech:

Frederick:  We just moved here this summer from Seattle.

Phew!  Boy, it’s sure a good thing that Freddy escaped that den of iniquity while he’s still young!

Sorry, didn’t mean to interrupt the kid (and I will continue to call him Freddy because it pleases me to do so.

Freddy:  Let’s see…I’m a senior, and I became a Christian when I was nine years old.  I’ve been wanting to work in a ministry, and when I saw your sign at school, it looked like a good opportunity.  I don’t know much about film libraries but I’m willing to learn.  I promise to work real hard and try to do the best job I can.

Wayne hires him on the spot.

Two additional notes here.  One, Wayne is VERY PLEASED at Freddy’s “I became a Christian when I was nine years old” line.  We immediately cut to Wayne, nodding with this smug and satisfied look on his face.


I hate Wayne.

Two, there are multiple posters for Christian films plastered on the walls, including one for this movie, which looks FRICKING AMAZING AND I NEED TO SEE IT.

Hmmm…a new boy in Pamela’s (very small) world.  Could things be looking up for her?

We shall see!




The Pretender: Completed Critique

If you come to Jesus, come all the way.


Part 1

Part 2

Time Changer: Completed Critique

“Sin abounds!  The Lord is not feared!  Morals have replaced Christ, and with liberal teachings!  Families are in disarray, no authority, no respect!  The world lives without Jesus while the church seems to be filled with professing Christians who do not follow the Lord they claim to believe!”


Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Fireproof: Vehicle Rescue

Inquisitive Raven is back with more insight into how Fireproof fails in its depiction of firefighters!


So, in my last post, I discussed some general matters regarding this movie and how actual fire services work. This time I’m going to tackle the vehicle rescue incident with the train.

Okay, on to the first incident. Our hostess sets the scene:

The next day, two cars of teens (two boys in one car, two girls in the other) flirtatiously drag race to the local pizza joint…with predictably disastrous results. The girls (of course it’s the girls; don’t be silly) get their car stuck on the train tracks, and both are too injured to move.

I should note here that what seems to have happened is that the two cars collided taking a turn. I’m also going to attempt to be charitable and assume that the reason the girls are the ones stuck on the tracks with the serious injuries is not so much an assumption of female incompetence as a need to make Caleb look more impressive reassuring the victims.

Back at the station, the call comes in. “Public Safety to Engine One, Battalion One. Respond to [incident location], 10-50 I Rescue, Time Out XXXX.” There are some things that seemed a bit off to me about that dispatch. Unless Albany uses numeric codes for types of incident, that’s the most unhelpful dispatch I’ve ever heard, and our dispatcher came up with doozies, like “sick person” which doesn’t really narrow things down beyond “not trauma.” Seriously, if that was Haverford Township, the dispatcher would have given a quick thumbnail description of what we were being dispatched to, e.g. “accident with possible injuries” or maybe “MVA with possible injuries.”

Another thing that struck me as odd is that they apparently refer to the ladder as “Battalion One.”  Um, really? Battalion chief is apparently an actual title in the Albany Fire Department, although oddly it shows up on the history page, not the organization page. Given that, I would assume that Battalion One would be the battalion chief’s command vehicle (probably an SUV if chief’s vehicles I’m familiar with are any indication). At any rate, calling a ladder “Battalion [number]” seems weird, and most places I’m familiar with would dispatch such a vehicle as “Ladder [number].”

Inside the fire house, Caleb comments “That’s close by” (No, really?) then starts handing out vehicle assignments. Two comments here: 1) the only people who really need to know where the incident location is are the apparatus drivers, one of whom is Caleb, and assuming that both of them are reasonably experienced, he shouldn’t need to point out how close it is. Since presumably everyone is local, I’d expect even the non-drivers to have a pretty good idea where the incident location is. If it’s not obvious to the drivers where the incident location is, well, at Manoa, the ambulances (and I assume the fire apparatus) carries maps, and there’s a map of the township (with hydrants marked) on the wall of an alcove at the back of the engine house. I’d be shocked if this place didn’t have a similar arrangement.    2) This is a professional outfit; I’d kinda expect everyone to have fixed vehicle assignments anyway, unless one of them is covering someone else for the shift which doesn’t appear to be the case, so there’s no need to tell anyone which vehicle to get in.

Remember in the last post, I mentioned weirdness with the turnout gear? Here it comes.  Either the boots and trousers are set up on the engine house floor, or someone pulls them off the apparatus and sets them up while the camera is focused on the protag, so when the camera shifts to the people gearing up, they’re already on the floor next to the apparatus. Turnout coats are visible on the apparatus itself. What the audience is seeing only makes sense with fixed vehicle assignments, and then they’d have to swap the turnout around at shift change because the crew members aren’t all the same height, build, and presumably shoe size. At the extremes, my sister, who is about five feet tall can’t wear turnout sized for a six foot tall dude and vice versa.

As they’re on their way to the scene, they spot the crowd. This would be a good time for the cops to already be on the scene, buuut I don’t see any sign of them. Our intrepid crew spots the car on the tracks. Our hero (ha!) calls it in, and asks them to contact the railroad dispatcher to stop all trains. Good move on his part, but given this movie is firmly ensconced in the “everybody has a cell phone” era, I find it difficult to believe that this is the first time 911 Dispatch has heard about the car on the tracks, and they should either have already gotten the railroad dispatcher on the line (or given later developments, be in the process of doing so). In fact, I’d have expected the dispatcher to notify the fire company of the car on the tracks, not the other way around.

They pull up to the scene, and Caleb assigns couple of people to handle triage, while he checks the driver of the car on the tracks, after shooing away the crowd, which is, y’know, the cops’  job. It’s probably important that she’s conscious so he gets to be all manly and reassuring for her.

This gets me wondering, do any of these guys have any kind of EMS training? Philadelphia requires every vehicle to have at least one EMT on its crew. All the full timers in my sister’s town are required to have at least EMT qualifications; most of them are paramedics. A lot of members of my old company have both EMS and firefighter training.  One thing all these outfits have in common is that the fire services also run ambulances. Which, based on the city government’s webpage, does not seem to be the case with Albany, so I suppose I shouldn’t count on them having anything more than first aid.

He also assigns someone to run a line of hose. This is actually reasonable although it leaves one guy to get the extrication tools. Having fire suppression standing by at an MVA is accepted practice.  I am a little bit concerned that all they have for fire suppression is water, but Albany doesn’t seem to have any foam pumpers which is what I’d really want on hand when the main fire hazard is gasoline. But hey, you use what you’ve got.

Round about the time they’re getting out the extrication tools, someone hears a train whistle. Caleb gets back on the radio to yell at 911 Dispatch about the fact that they can hear a train coming and repeats his earlier instruction to contact the railroad dispatcher at which point he finds out that 911 Dispatch can’t reach the railroad dispatcher. Um, dude, you’re wasting time here. If you can hear the frakking train, it’s too late for it to stop. Worry about getting the car off the tracks.

Somewhere in here, the cops do show up. I didn’t hear them arrive, but they do appear in some shots doing crowd control. The firefighters’ first attempt to get the car off the tracks involves simply shoving it. When that doesn’t work, they attempt to hook up a chain to haul the car off the track, presumably using the ladder as a tow. Good idea, too bad a) Idjit there wasted time with 911 Dispatch,  and b) it’s the second thing they try, or they might have managed to pull it off. So with no time for anything else, they attempt to lift the car off the tracks. And here again, we see where a larger crew would be useful. If they’d had two four person crews like I think they should instead of five guys, they might not have needed bystander assistance. If they had needed it, they would have needed less. But hey, this gives the filmmakers a chance to show a military dude being all heroic and stuff. Seriously, they make a point of getting a nicely framed shot of military dude stepping up to help. After he runs up to help, a guy in a suit, a random black dude, and a cop join in, but they don’t get such nicely framed shots.


Now, I’m going to point something out here. Remember in Part 4 where our hostess says this about Caleb taking off his mask and coat:

Now, I am about as far from being an expert on firefighting as it is possible to be, but is it really advisable for Caleb to take off his oxygen mask and his firefighting jacket, and put them on the unconscious kid?  Doesn’t Caleb need them more at this moment?  I mean, I keep thinking about being on an airplane—secure your own oxygen mask before assisting others.  Because if Caleb is injured or collapses from smoke inhalation, they’re both screwed.  Isn’t it better, instead of wasting time fumbling with the gear, to get them both out as quickly as possible so the kid can get medical attention?

She’s right, and more on that in the next installment when I go over the fire call, but here’s the important point: to borrow a line from Jim MacDonald at Making Light, “Your first job is not to add to the number of people needing to be rescued.” They are not paying attention to that rule.

That is an official rule, btw, although it’s not usually phrased that succinctly. A large chunk of the first day of my EMT class was spent hammering it into our heads. There comes a point with the train bearing down on you where you drop the car and run. The rescuers overstayed that point big time. Fortunately, they succeeded in getting the car and themselves clear of the tracks because if they’d failed, they’d be dead; the occupants of the car would be dead; and the train operator would at the very least be injured since I think a car on the tracks would be enough to derail the train.  Running in such a circumstance may not be heroic, but it reduces the probable casualty count by the number of would be rescuers.


Okay, passengers saved and derailment averted. We get a couple of quick shots of the extrication, but the important thing is our hero (Ha!) talks to Christian dude after everything is over. Makes sense given what the movie is about, but I’m gonna go over the what’s shown of the extrication. Before I do though, a correction to my last post. I said there was a guy at each scene who wasn’t wearing turnout. That’s not quite accurate. He’s shed the coat, but at this scene at least, he’s wearing everything else. At the fire scene, the coatless guy has also shed his helmet.


Military Dude is assisting Christian Dude who was too close to the train for comfort as two EMS responders come up to the car and one climbs through an open window into the back seat.


Okay, remember in the last installment, I mentioned that Manoa’s ambulances carry helmets and heavy jackets as protective gear? This is why; MVA rescue scenes tend to have a lot of broken glass and shredded twisted metal, especially after the vehicle rescue techs get done with the cutting tools. The firefighters at this scene break out the cutting tools and take the roof off the car. Two EMS responders are visible in the back holding spinal stabilization on the patients necks (the reason they’re in the back seat), while a third has just finished covering the patients with a blanket, presumably to protect them from debris. The EMS responders are in short sleeved uniforms, and none of them have donned additional protective gear. This isn’t a problem for the guy next to the car. He can back away from the danger zone. The two guys in the car can’t go anywhere, and they should have at least put on coats. The Manoa ambulance jumpsuits are a) long sleeved, b) worn over our street clothes, and c) heavier than the uniform shirt seen here, and I still have probably put on a coat before getting into the back seat. They tend to make the shortest people on the crew get in the back to take spinal stabilization. One look at the state of the roof should show why.

There are some other things that seem to have been neglected. Before climbing around (and into) the vehicle and cutting it apart, they should have braced it so it can’t shift position while they work on it. Suspensions are springy, y’know?  And the state of the tires is iffy. I don’t expect them to show the process; it would take too long, but they could’ve had a chunk of wood or a jack sticking out from under the car to show that it was done, and I saw no sign of anything like that.

collarThere’s a long spine board, and what could be a bag of cervical collars or a bag of basic EMS gear (commonly referred to as “first-in” or “jump” bag). I don’t see anything to stabilize the spine below the neck before removing them from the car, which should be laid out with the long board. Also, honestly, I don’t think that bag is long enough to contain flattened collars.  When the firefighters take the roof off the car, the patients don’t seem to have been collared. I will note for the record that there is a push to reduce the frequency with which EMS providers immobilize the spine, but given the driver’s report of neck pain, and the passenger’s lack of responsiveness, this seems like one of those occasions where spinal immobilization is indicated.

I can’t think of anything else to say about this, but if people have questions, I’ll try to answer them.

Next up the fire call, and, boy howdy, is it a train wreck. Our hostess did a pretty good job of eviscerating it, but it’s worse than she thought.


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