TEC: Chapter 25: More Arabs

Whew, boy.  It sure is nice to get a break from Daniel, so we can waste some time watching Murphy do things he has no training for expertise for.

Now, granted, Murphy was in the Army.  But that was during the Gulf War, so by the story’s timeline (2005), that was almost 15 years ago.  And Levi is a current Mossad agent.

Again, I think LaHaye and Phillips have lost faith (har!) in the excitement of their own story.

To the action: Levi and Murphy chase Arab #1 up the fire escape, and a point is made of Levi being winded by the time he gets to the top.  I thought Levi was this gym rat karate-do master, so what gives?  Abrams hears Arab #1, and blindly fires, missing because he is an idiot like that.

Murphy hasn’t even begun his ascent, but hears the shots:

Maybe there were more Arabs!

Yeah, Murphy has nothing against Arabs.  He just thinks they’re all evil supervillains who hang out on random Bronx roofs in the middle of the night, in case one of their comrades runs away from righteous do-gooders just happen to show up.

Hilariously, by the time Murphy gets to the roof, Arab #1 has Levi standing there with his hands raised.  Good work, Mossad agent!  Murphy distracts him, and Arab #1 still manages to flip Levi onto his back in the ensuing mayhem.

Damn, but this chapter is really committed to showing us how much awesomer Murphy is than Levi, isn’t it?

Arab #1 makes a break for it and tries to jump to the next rooftop, but doesn’t make it and falls the eight stories.  Hilariously and bizarrely, this makes both Levi and Murphy think that something must have happened to Jacob, down in the apartment, so they head back down, and turns out that Arab #2, the one Murphy punched out, also regained consciousness, and because he also wasn’t restrained in any way, he just peaced out.

Yup, these are crack agents for sure.  Like a well-oiled machine.  And is it just me, or did the crack team of Matthew, Jacob, Levi, and Murphy just fail pretty spectacularly?  Matthew is dead, Jacob is wounded, Levi got his ass kicked.  And Arab #1 is dead, but Arab #2 got away.  And all Team Mossad has to show for it is the word “Presidio,” and they only know what that means because Murphy read Phillips’ outline and Wikipedia bookmark.

But Murphy apparently sees things differently:

“I’m just glad I was here to help.  When I know terrorists are planning to do something to the country I love, how can I stand around and do nothing?”

Okay, now I’m sure they’re watching Team America and don’t get that it’s satire.

 

Oh, and all that taken care of, they head out into the alley to search the dead body of Arab #1.  They don’t find much, probably because they suck, except Arab #1 has a tattoo, a crescent moon with a star.  Levi thinks it’s an homage to “the flags of many Muslim countries,” but Murphy shows him (once again!) how wrong he is:

“No.  This is different.  Look closely, Levi.  In all Muslim symbols, the points of the crescent moon point to the right or up, with a five-pointed star or several stars.  This crescent moon is pointing down to a star with six points made up of two triangles, similar to the Star of David.  And look at the points of the crescent.  Three small lines are coming off each point.”

Yeah, that’s right.  Lily-white Irish-American RTC Michael Murphy just schooled Israeli Jew Levi Abrams on what a Star of David looks like.  That is a thing that just happened.

And to top it all off, Murphy then notes that the small lines coming off the crescent look like talons…which is course means that lone master assassin Talon is running a gang of Arab terrorists.

Because that makes all kinds of sense.

TEC: Chapter 24: Daniel Redux

So in the middle of the action of chasing Arab #1, we cut to another Daniel section.  Elderly Daniel is still in the lions den, and now, instead of flashing back to his eunucizing days (Oh, great), he flashes back to King Neb’s dream and his subsequent madness.

This is actually ground that was already broken by Greg Dinallo, so it’s kinda odd that we’re going over it again, but hey, it takes up a few pages, right?

And there’s not much to report that you can’t get by reading Daniel Chapter 4.  Back in the lions den, Daniel prays that God will keep him humble, unlike King Neb, whom God made insane, just because he felt like it.

Honestly, is there any wonder that there are people in this world who think that illness, mental or otherwise, is a punishment from God?  Because the Bible says so!

Man, that is so sad to think about.  I’m getting us back to chasing Arabs tomorrow, I am!

TEC: Chapter 23:Wikipedia and Well-Oiled Machines

After the terribly romantic, three-wheeled dinner, Levi has a “late appointment.”  Murphy offers to drive him, in a rental car, to this super-sekrit Mossad meeting.

After dropping off Isis at the hotel, of course.  Because this is all “men talk,” remember.

Bob Phillips proudly takes up Jerry Jenkins’ mantle of Provider of Travel Minutiae:

Murphy drove north and then turned east on 62nd Street to the FDR Drive.

“Michael, take the toll bridge over to Randalls Island Park and then highway 278 into the Bronx.  I need to meet my contact near Hunts Point Market.”

But Phillips also knows to stick with his strengths: regurgitating useless trivia…

Murphy had been to Hunts Point on one other occasion, on the way to the Bronx Zoo with some friends.

Murphy has friends?

They wanted him to see one of the largest food distribution centers in the United States.  He remembered them saying that it provided produce and meat for more than 15 million people.

Yes, Murphy always enjoyed hanging out with his good buddy, Wik I. Pedia, Esq.

Not to be outdone, part-time Mossad agent Levi Abrams is deep into useless trivia, too:

“Did you know that a number of famous people came from the Bronx? … Regis Philbin, Carl Reiner, and even Colin Powell.  I met him in Israel.  …  I also heard that the movie actors James Caan and Tony Curtis, along with Bobby Darin, the singer, and Ralph Lauren, the designer and perfume guy, lived there.  I think Al Pacino and Neil Simon came from the Bronx, too.”

What a story, Levi.

In a move of almost unbelievable stupidity and selfishness, Levi instructs his civilian friend in a rental car to make a series of painfully obvious signals to Levi’s spy pal, Jacob, in another car.  They hop into Jacob’s car, where Levi casually informs Jacob that civilian Murphy can be absolutely trusted with all their terrorism-fighting secrets.  These secrets include the names of the terrorists we met in the last chapter, including Asim, who “looks like a short Saddam.”

I’m frankly surprised that all Arabs don’t look like Saddam to these guys.

The only other information is that a vague attack is vaguely planned for New York, but they haven’t been able to decode anything else yet, because I guess they suck.

Then the guys go around the block to find the third sekrit squirrel Mossad agent, Matthew.  Sadly, Matthew has met a sticky end from a terrorist knifing, and Jacob concludes that they need to go after the terrorists RIGHT DAMN NOW, in the middle of the night, in an unfamiliar neighborhood, without backup.

Except for Murphy.  He wants to go.  And they let him.  Even though Murphy doesn’t have a gun and they don’t have a spare.

And it’s no problem, really, because the terrorists live in a building on that very block.  Again, you’d think that would be a great reason to stay put and call in reinforcements, but no, they all just barge up there and break in.

Abrams rounded the corner of the door with his gun read for action…

Snicker…

The first suspected terrorist (I’m going to start calling them Arab #X, because that is basically how Murphy thinks of them) is knocked out by Levi’s gun as he sleeps in front of the TV.

Then, despite Murphy’s impression that Levi and Jacob are “like a well-oiled machine” of terrorist-fighting, Jacob is immediately shot in the thigh by Arab #2, allowing Murphy to step in and, much like Batman, take down the terrorist without using a gun.  Instead, he uses his “twisting karate fist” to one-punch the terrorist into unconsciousness.

Jacob concludes that Arabs 3-7 are at some bar (because these are extra-specially evil terrorists who are religious zealots but still drink the demon liquor).  So in the meantime, Levi pulls the old scratch-on-the-pad-of-paper-to-see-the-previous-page schtick (I remember seeing it for the first time as a kid in North by Northwest, but I’m sure there are  prior incidents), and all that is there is the word “Presidio.”

Levi thinks this might refer to the Presidio military base, but Murphy knows better:

“There is also a sleepy little town called Presidio in Texas.  It’s on the border between Texas and Mexico.  The Rio Grande runs between Presidio on the American side and Ojinaga on the Mexican side.  Presidio has grown to about six or seven thousand people due to the amnesty program for undocumented aliens.  During the Mexican Revolution, General Pancho Villa used Ojinaga as his headquarters for operations.  It would be a perfect place to infiltrate the border.”

Okay, first of all, thanks again, old pal

During the Mexican Revolution, General Pancho Villa often used Ojinaga as his headquarters for operations and visited Presidio on numerous occasions.[citation needed]

Second of all, hasn’t the border already been infiltrated?  I mean, seven terrorists are lodging in the Bronx and have already killed a Mossad agent in their free time.

Oh, and speaking of the terrorists, while Murphy was expositioning, Arab #1 has woken up, and he jumps Levi.  So Levi breaks his nose.  As you would.

What a well-oiled machine, eh?  Didn’t even occur to them to restrain the guy.

And they still don’t.  Nope, that broken nose didn’t automatically kill the grown man, like you would expect.  Instead, Arab #1 makes a run for it, and before any of the three other men in the room can stop him (really?), Arab #1 has jumped out the window onto the fire escape, and makes for the roof.

So Jacob is left with one gun, in case any of the other FIVE terrorists come back (or Arab #2, also not restrained, wakes up, I guess), and Levi and Murphy give chase.

Well-oiled machine.

 

TEC: Chapter 22: Lovebirds and Arabs

As Murphy planned a couple of chapters ago, he and Isis are meeting up in New York.  They’re at a restaurant at the Pierre, which marks the historic second appearance of the Pierre on this blog!!

(I wonder how much money Murphy got from Laura’s life insurance?  Because he sure likes to hang at swanky joints.)

You’d think the two were here for a romantic date, but there are three obvious indications they are not:

Indication #1:  Isis tries to set the mood, and Murphy shoots her down:

Isis spoke softly.  “There’s something lovely about New York in the evening, isn’t there?”

“You’re right.  I think that since 9/11, when the World Trade Center was destroyed, everyone looks a little differently at the city now.  It sort of brought everyone together.”

Wow, how romantic.  Bringing up 9/11 on a date.

Also, Murphy, I think lots of people found New York romantic and beautiful before 2001.  Just saying.

Indication #2:  Murphy brought a third wheel.

At least two weeks in advance, Murphy invited Levi Abrams along for the ride.  So instead of spending some time alone with this woman he’s falling in love with, Murphy brings his wingman to dinner with him.  Which brings up…

Indication #3:  Murphy hasn’t told Isis how he feels.

Like an asshole, Murphy hasn’t been honest with Isis about his attraction to her.  Now, I hate to give dating advice to RTCs, but in this case, it’s basically biblical:  DON’T BEAR FALSE WITNESS.  If you like a woman, tell her.  Straight up.  Because you look like a slimy player when you play these little games of, “It’s good to see you,” but only want to talk about business, and bring your BFF along on romantic dinner dates.

It’s also interesting to note that Murphy and Levi have a more physical relationship than Murphy and Isis.  Levi gets a hug from Murphy when they meet, which is more than Isis gets.

But forget about Isis’s feelings!  In the space of four pages, Isis is referred to as “stunning,” “beautiful,” “lovely,” and “beautiful” again.  So we all know what’s really important about her.

And once Levi shows up, the talk unsurprisingly turns to business.  The second most important thing about Isis is that she can get funding from the Parchments of Freedom Foundation.  Then, bizarrely, Levi brings up the fact that he is going to Texas because of “rumors that an important transaction is about to take place.”

(I still find is hilarious that secret Mossad agent Levi talks at all times like he’s in the mob.)

When Isis asks what he’s talking about, Levi snottily says it is “Just men talk,” even though Murphy really doesn’t know what’s going on, either.  But this woman who went toe-to-toe with fanatical kidnappers and assassins and came out on top both times wouldn’t be able to handle talk of Levi’s semi-retired Mossad errands.

***

Oh, and during all this “men talk,” some terrorists are plotting some terrorism stuff at “Aladdin’s Magic Carpet” (no, I’m not kidding).

This is how terrorists talk:

Asim was the first to speak.  “I’m glad you all could make it tonight.  I have received a coded e-mail from Abdul Rachid Makar.  He has instructed us to ready ourselves.”

“You mean that we no longer have to be sleeping warriors?” Ibrahim asked, excited.  “When does our leader want us to strike?”

“Soon, very soon!  The infidel dogs will again face the terror of Allah!  They thought 9/11 was bad.  Won’t they be surprised?”

I think LaHaye and Phillips didn’t know that Team America was satire.

Team America came out in 2004, The Europa Conspiracy was published in 2005.  COINCIDENCE???

 

TEC: Chapter 21:Strawman Intellectual, Part Deux

Time to check back in with Dean Archer Fallworth!

You’re slipping behind schedule, Bob.  Fallworth appeared in Chapter 14 in Ararat.  Tsk, tsk.

And as in Ararat, Bob Phillips still has no idea what to actually do with the character of Dean Archer.  See, in Babylon Rising, he sorta served as the academic counterpart to Talon–Murphy’s nemesis in the workplace, while Talon was his nemesis in the field (well, as in the field as Murphy ever gets).

But now, sadly, our favorite button-studying dean is relegated to a sounding board for Murphy–just a set of written instructions for how to respond to certain RTC dogwhistles.  In Ararat, it was the phrase “separation of church and state.”  This time, it’s that most dreaded of all words…tolerance.

Again, I’m really not seeing how Fallworth is the bad guy here, as his first complaint is that Murphy is “pushing religion on your students again.”

Which he is.  Hell, a mere two classes ago, Murphy preached about how God is still giving warnings like when he warned that the whole world would be destroyed by a flood, imploring the students to listen to the voice of God to tell them what to do.

But instead of admitting it, Murphy prefers to bear false witness to Archer, declaring:

“I’m not quite sure if I understand what you mean.  I am teaching a course in biblical archeology, and we discuss religious topics in the process.  It’s part of the curriculum.”

Part of the curriculum is creationism and listening to the still, small voice of God?  How’d you get that on your syllabus, Murph?

But Fallworth switches from this strong point to a weaker one–that Murphy has been “talking against Arabs and putting down other religions.”

Well…kinda.  But again, not the strongest point.  Murph made a snide comment about the Babylon of the future being a gateway to “placating” the Arab world, and he used words like “superstition” to refer to ancient religions, but I just feel that Fallworth should have stuck with the proselytizing point, since this is what could actually get Murphy out of the classroom.

But it’s okay, because Murphy is incapable of doing himself any favors.  The moment Fallworth mentions that Murphy is coming across as “intolerant,” Murphy snaps, yelling and “leaning forward” towards Fallworth, invading his space, because it is always about physically overpowering the other person for Murphy, never about exchanging ideas.

He snidely paints Fallworth as “politically correct” (although what Fallworth is really talking about is the idea of being polite and respectful), and then brings up Arab and Russian terrorists, and how he could never possibly be tolerant of their behavior.

Like I said, Murphy isn’t doing himself any favors.  He hears the word “tolerant,” and is told he is seen be his students as a person who puts down Arabs, and his knee-jerk response is that tolerance is just awful, because that would mean we would have to tolerate Arab terrorists.

Remember, Murphy is hardly meant to be the anti-hero or even a flawed hero.  This is basically a how-to manual for when one of those crazy, baby-murdering, commie liberals starts spouting off about tolerance.  This is meant to be a good response.

Archer, no fool, jumps on this and characterizes Murphy as “phobic against Arabs and Russians.”  Which…it’s kinda hard to argue the point.

But Murphy tries.  Weirdly:

“Because I have strong opinions and convictions that differ from what you believe, that makes me phobic?”

Well, when those “convictions” happen to be phobic, then…yeah.

Murphy quashed his desire to suggest that they go outside to settle the issue.

As always with Murphy, might makes right.

But no, he successfully quashes, and instead makes this next bizarre claim:

“I used Arab and Russian terrorists as an illustration.  It was not a put-down of particular groups of people.”

Similarly, when Murphy characterizes all criminals as black men, it’s just an illustration, not a put-down, right, Murph?  Just like you heard the word “Arab” and immediately word-associated “terrorist.”

Murphy blathers on about the “thought police” and how Preston University is supposed to have “free speech,” which again, Murph, has nothing to do with the fact that you are proselytizing to your students.

And I’m disappointed with Fallworth that he’s taken his eyes off the prize.  Though it’s not really his fault–Bob Phillips is writing him.

Fallworth has a pretty simple request, really: for Murphy to stop pushing his personal beliefs in his archeology class.  Murphy isn’t down with that, and Fallworth snaps that he’d like for the crappy class to be off the curriculum altogether.  Can’t blame the guy.

“Well, Archer, I have about a hundred and fifty students who are excited about the class.  I don’t hear any of them complaining about it.”

Of course they aren’t complaining to your face, Murphy; don’t be stupid.  They’ve complained to Fallworth and that is why he’s talking to you about it!

As I mentioned when critiquing Ararat, the people at Preston University I feel sorriest for are serious archeology students, who want to learn about things like mapping dig sites and are instead subject to rambling monologues about creationism and the conscience.

Unsurprisingly, they have gone to the dean with their concerns.  That Murphy doesn’t see that that’s what is going on says a lot about his self-image.

To top it all off, Murphy accuses Fallworth of being someone “who had a bad religious experience” or has “some moral issues that you are struggling with.”  Because those are the only possible reasons someone could object to preaching at your students in an archeology class.

Also, I imagine, they are the only reasons LaHaye and Phillips could conceive of that somebody might be an atheist.

Murphy then adds this hilarious projection:

“It’s been my experience that when emotions are out of control for the event going on…something else is going on.”

Did Phillips forget that he just wrote Murphy as the one who wanted to escalate this discussion to a fistfight?  But Murphy thinks Fallworth is the one being very emotional?  Man, a psychologist could have a field day with this guy.

Fallworth, awesome dude that he is, refuses to take the bait:

“We’re through talking, Murphy.  Just remember what I said; your job may depend on it.”

“Is that a threat, Archer?”

Well, yeah, kinda.  But not the kind you’re used to giving, Murph, where it all gets settled with the macho spilling of blood.  This is the kind of situation where your dean has given you fair warning to make some changes, and there will be consequences if you don’t.  Sorry to disappoint you, but the fact that you know karate and Fallworth doesn’t, doesn’t actually allow you to win this.

Perhaps realizing this himself, Phillips cuts the chapter off right here.  Maybe he really does see Murphy as the righteous bad-ass here.  But am I the only one who just sees a pompous blowhard instead?

TEC: Chapter 20: Stephanie and Babylon

Well, Murphy’s class is over, so you can guess what’s going to happen next FOR THE THIRD TIME…

Murphy and Stephanie are going to discuss what Murphy just lectured about!

But it’s totally different this time!  See, the first time, they talked at the student center.  The second time, they talked at the pond near the student center.  And now, they’re—

Oh.  They’re back at the student center.

Man, the action does not let up in this adventure novel!

Stephanie asks for an example of a prophesy in the Bible related to the re-rise-again of Babylon, and Murphy reads her verses 9-18 of Revelation.  From there, apparently not caring to dig deeper, Stephanie jumps right to Europa:

“I was fascinated by the symbol of the woman riding the bull as a symbol of the European Union.  Do you have any other information about that?”

WOULD YOU LIKE TO KNOW MORE???

 

Or, Steph, you could try reading a book or something.  If you, yanno, wanted to know more.

But this actually turns into an opportunity for Murphy to blather on about the statue of Nebuchadnezzar AGAIN, and to do some Biblical ret-conning about the statue’s symbolism.  This time, the focus is on the toes.

Every once in awhile with these books, it is interesting and instructive to take a step back and consider what is really going on in our crazy world.  People are debating (like, a lot) about the meaning of toes of a statue allegedly made 2600 years ago.  And intrepid reporter Stephanie Kovacs is deeply interested in this.

Toes of a statue.  Upon which hang the future and fate of humanity.

But Tim LaHaye, er, I mean Michael Murphy, knows what the toes really mean:

“Many Bible scholars believe that the ten toes of the image represent ten kingdoms of the revived Roman Empire.  They think that they will arise out of the European Union.” [said Murphy]

“Didn’t you mention that there were more than ten countries in the European Union?” [asked Stephanie]

Wait, intrepid reporter Stephanie Kovacs doesn’t know how many countries are in the EU?

“Yes, there are more right now.  Many people feel that there are other possibilities as to what those ten toes represent.  Some think that there will eventually be a merging of several countries together.  Others thinks that the ten toes represent ten regions of world commerce.  That’s probably the most plausible explanation.”

Of course it is.  Because this is what he’s really talking about.

And unsurprisingly, this leads into Murphy telling Steph about the AntiChrist.  Stephanie drops the names of Hitler and Stalin, and–

“I think [the AntiChrist will] be much worse,” Murphy said soberly.

And oh so sensitively!

“Yes, I’ve heard that discussed before.  It all sounds pretty scary,” Kovacs replied.  “And pretty unbelievable.  Like a novel.”

Heh-heh-heh.  Groan.

This is the moment Murphy’s been waiting for, and he pounces like a hunter, with an offer  GOOD TODAY ONLY to give her heart to Christ.  He blathers on for several paragraphs, and genius interviewer Stephanie just lets him, until he hits the punchline–

“Stephanie, do you hear Him knocking at your heart’s door?” Murphy stopped talking.

Jesus.  Finally.  Seriously, this guy just NEVER SHUTS THE FRIG UP.

Of course Stephanie Kovacs, who has been an atheist all her adult life, speaks the language of RTCs with fluency, admitting her fear of “the changes I would have to make in my lifestyle.”  Because that is totally language that nonbelievers use, and how they think of their own lives and choices.  As a lifestyle.

But Murphy coaches her in the Sinner’s Magic Words anyway, and Stephanie does not take him up on this once-in-a-lifetime offer, because Murphy is called away by Shari.

Why do we keep getting interrupted just when I’m going to talk to Dr. Murphy about the danger he is in?  It’s almost like some force is fighting against me. [Stephanie thinks]

It’s just the forces of Murphy’s Unstoppable Mouth and Author Filibuster, Steph.  No use in fighting it.

 

TEC: Chapter 19: The Europa Class

In between not-saving octogenarians and not-dating model-like women, Murphy remembers that he also has to not-teach archeology.

For the third class in a row, Stephanie Kovacs is there.  Murphy acts like this is a once-a-week, or, at most, twice-a-week class (I’m guessing Tuesday and Thursday, so he has an extra-long weekend to jaunt to both Washington and Florida.  And yes, this does seem to be Murphy’s only class.  No wonder people like LaHaye think academics do nothing all day—Murphy doesn’t!

Neither, for that matter, does Stephanie.  Despite the fact that she’s the boss’s main squeeze, doesn’t she still have to do real work, too?  She’s been here for going on two weeks at the very least.

And he is still blathering on about Babylon, including some of its more famous leaders.  By my watch (yep, I timed myself again!) he talks for only 45 seconds (and I was speaking if a normal, if slow pace), before there was “a glassy stare as the class began to swim in historical details.”

Okay, Murphy has been talking for 45 seconds and mentioned but two dates.  So either he really is the worst lecturer in history, or he was way underestimating the party-school-ness of Preston University.  So he tries to perk them up by mentioning Saddam Hussein’s rebuilding plans, then heads into a discussion of the Book of Revelation and Babylon.  All this is to backtrack in history* to the common RTC idea that Europe sucks and the AntiChrist will be from Europe.  (Hilariously, LaHaye has publicly proclaimed that President Obama is not the AntiChrist, since he is American.  Which I guess is reassuring in a way, since he didn’t say that he’s not the AntiChrist, since he’s Kenyan.)

Murphy tosses out several RTC buzzwords, like diversity and tolerance.  Sure, these might sound like positive things to us silly unsaved folks, but Murphy knows the real truth: that striving towards diversity and tolerance is just a cover for EEEEEVIL!!!

“Another reason [to rebuild Babylon again] would be to help rebuild Iraq in such a way as to placate and ease the tensions in the Arab world.  The hope might be to take on a more tolerant view of the various radical groups in the Muslim cultures.”

Possibility for future critique: LaHaye’s own manifesto against tolerance and diversity.

Murphy then gives the Wikipedia distillation of the European Union, complete with the story of Europa and Zeus.

And on that relatively anticlimactic note, Murphy assigns some reading for the next class.  This elicits groans from everybody because the idea of doing some reading for college is apparently just incredible to these kids.  The kicker is that the reading assignment is Chapter 2 of Daniel.

As you can see, such a lengthy reading is daunting indeed.

 

*As to the historical timeline, LaHaye is a premillennialist.  As such, he is strongly against the idea that the Rapture has already happened.  So much so that he took very personal offense at Tyndale House’s (the publishers of the Left Behind series) decision to publish a preterist work.  Tyndale’s response?  That they want to represent “a diversity of viewpoints.”

Heh.

TEC: Chapter 18: Shane and the Same

Happy post-Easter, everyone!  And you all know what that means: the chocolate crosses go on clearance!

cross

It strikes me as odd (though hilarious) for an atheist to eat a chocolate cross, but when you think about it, isn’t it odder (and more hilarious) for a Christian to eat a chocolate cross?

 

Anyway, Zombie Jesus Day yummies aside, Shane is heading back to the Seven yet again.  Shane’s driver, Eugene, makes it to Shane’s private jet just in time, reflecting that Shane only allows an employee one small mistake before firing him.  Which seems a rather impulsively stupid way to run a business, but…

Whoa.  Deja vu.

Oh well.  At least this time, the employee doesn’t plug the Left Behind series.

This chapter tells us exactly nothing we don’t already know: the Seven are spooky and have a spooky, tongue-free driver.  And they give essentially the same scolding to Shane that they just gave to Talon in Chapter 10.  (The writing here is so lazy: Shane thinks of himself being “in the hot seat” twice in one page.)  The Seven whine to Shane about Talon not being able to kill both Murphy and Anderson, which seems an odd thing to complain to Shane about, since killing Murphy is certainly not his responsibility.  And Shane tells them what they already know, which is that he has both Stephanie and Paul keeping tabs on Murphy’s classes.  (“Yeah, he made some PowerPoint slides about the Bible and tried to convert the whole class.  Riveting.”)

In a goofy twist (though I doubt it was meant that way), Shane whines internally about flying all the way to Switzerland for a ten-minute conversation that could be had on the phone.  So, in a way, Phillips finds this chapter just as pointless as I do.

Oh, and speaking of riveting PowerPoints, next up: another class of Murphy’s!  Yep, he does still occasionally teach!

TEC: Chapter 17: Levi Grins

Instead of going to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter like I told him to, Murphy gives Levi Abrams a call following the 50%-successful hit-and-run.

Phillips insists that Levi is “a complicated man,” but I’ve never found him to be so.  Sure, he’s either an ex- or current Mossad agent, but that doesn’t automatically make him interesting.  Mostly, Levi has just always struck me as an asshole.

“How are you, Michael?  I heard about your wrestling match with an SUV,” Abrams said as soon as he got on the line.

Well, that’s sensitive, Levi.  A man died, you know.

“How did you know about that?”

“You’d be surprised what I know, Michael…”

Yeah, I guess so.  I mean, there was absolutely no reason whatsoever for the Mossad in general or Levi in particular to keep tabs on Murphy’s visits to his pseudo-girlfriend or ranting retirees.  This just makes Levi seem like he’s weirdly stalking Murphy.

“…But if I told you, you know I’d have to kill you.”  Abrams’s grin could be heard in his voice.

Hahahahaha—A MAN DIED, LEVI!!!  GEEZ!

Murphy laughed.

Oh.  Then haha, after all.  It’s good that we can joke about a man dying in my arms from his massive internal injuries at the hands (and wheel) of a contract killer.

They keep disgustingly bantering and chuckling back and forth and Murphy doesn’t even mention Dr. Anderson’s death that happened that morning, and I don’t think it’s because he’s so stricken with grief and shock that he can’t talk about it.

Nope.  His goldfish brain has gone to the next shiny object.  Or, rather, the last one—he tells Levi about Meth’s latest clue (what, the Mossad wasn’t keeping tabs on Murphy when he went to Colorado?) and begs a favor:

“I need you to pull some strings and help me get back into Iraq.  I have to go to Babylon, and you have all the connections.”

Again, Murphy doesn’t so much have friends as he does a list of people from whom he calls in favors.  First Isis, now Levi.  I’m sure he’d call in Vern, too, were it not for the fact that Vern has only just been shipped home from Turkey, where he was grievously injured the last time he volunteered his skills.

Also, isn’t Murphy a world-famous archeologist?  That’s what we keep being told.  And he doesn’t have enough connections on his own to go dig where he wants without calling in favors from the Mossad?  (What authority would the Mossad have to get him into Iraq, anyway?)

Abrams is not 100% okay with the idea, mostly because Iraq is dangerous.  Bizarrely, Murphy mentions that the Parchments of Freedom Foundation will probably finance the trip, just like they financed the Ararat expedition.  So I guess the Foundation had no problem with more than half the expedition being murdered, with no evidence of the ark whatsoever to show for the time and trouble and money and heartache.  Sure, finance Murphy’s next scheme!  What could possibly go wrong with a guy with his track record?

But even the promise of financing doesn’t convince Levi, who insists they talk about it face to face.  And despite the fact that they live in the same town, they decide instead to meet and talk in New York City.  Murphy’s planning to meet Isis there, and it’s certainly not for any fun sexy times.  It’s so they can open Anderson’s safe deposit box together.  And Levi is going to New York because…

“Some friends have asked me to attend to certain matters there. … let’s just say they need some information to make effective business decisions.”

Okay, I know we’re supposed to “get” that Levi is talking about Mossad stuff…but he makes his “friends” sound like the Mafia.

TEC: Chapter 16: Death Not by Falcon

So even though he knows that Talon is in Orlando and killing people, Murphy heads right back to the nursing home the next day, and takes Dr. Anderson out into the open for coffee and chatting.

But that’s okay.  Talon has no intention of using a falcon to kill Dr. Anderson.  For reasons best known to himself, Talon has chosen a far less awesome method of murder.

A hint: he’s sitting in a black SUV, reading Edgar Allen Poe.

And no, sadly the hint is not that Talon has some elaborate and literary method of murder in mind.  He’s just reading Poe because I guess that is what evil people read.

So they go to a nearby park and Anderson reveals that that very morning, he had gone down to “the office” of the nursing home, where he signed over power of attorney to Murphy so he (Murphy) could access his (Anderson’s) safe deposit box with his super-secret papers.

Hot damn.

I wonder how that went down.  I mean, is this just the most incompetent nursing home in the history of the world, to let a patient with Alzheimer’s give power of attorney to a complete stranger he met yesterday?  And this is a guy Murphy is sure is “as rational as Murphy himself.”  A guy who gives his life’s work, that he has been threatened over, to a complete stranger who says he is on the side of the good and the holy.

I just…

I take it the nursing home has never heard of financial elder abuse.  I had a grandparent in hospice, and I know how incredibly careful and strict such places are (or, in this case, should be) about people just showing up and ingratiating themselves to the residents.

And no, Murphy doesn’t even say thank you.

But he does head into the coffee shop by himself to treat Anderson to coffee and cinnamon rolls.  As he’s coming out, Talon tries to run him down with the SUV.  Despite “Murphy’s martial arts training instantly kick[ing] into gear,” he doesn’t even notice the car until he sees the look of fright on Anderson’s face.  Yeah, Murph, you’re aware of your surroundings like a frickin’ ninja, you are.

Murphy tries to leap forward and grab Anderson, then “jump to the side and pull Dr. Anderson with him” (yeah, it’s not the world’s best-written action sequence), but although Talon was originally aiming for Murphy, he hits Anderson instead.  And Talon sucks so bad at hit and runs that he thinks he’s hit and killed both of them, so he just speeds away.

Isn’t this guy supposed to be the greatest contract killer in the world?  Why does he suck so bad at this?  I mean, at the very least, why didn’t he reverse the murder methods?  That is, hit-and-run the cop and then sic his falcons on Murphy and Anderson.  I mean, I suppose it doesn’t matter since Talon’s previous murder barely registered with Murphy and didn’t change his behavior a bit, but still.

So Anderson dies in Murphy’s arms, but not before presenting him with the key to the safe deposit box containing the Antichrist-IVF papers, and saying that he wants to “be like the thief…on the cross,” a story Murphy told him yesterday.  Which I suppose means Anderson went to heaven, though this seems a very loose version of saying the magic words.

So now that he has the key and Anderson is dead, Murphy probably has just enough time to hit up The Wizarding World of Harry Potter before catching his plane back to North Carolina.  Sure, it’s evil, but it’s also SO GORRAM AMAZING!!!1!11!!

I wish I got paid for plugs like that.  :D

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