Fireproof: Part 7
We all seem to be on the same page re: the weirdness of Caleb confronting Flirty Doctor, not, yanno, Catherine, about the workplace flirtation. It’s yet another example of Caleb treating his Marriage as a machine that needs to be fixed, not a relationship between two sentient humans.
All of which made me wonder something, so I went back and counted: it has been twenty full minutes of movie time between instances of Caleb and Catherine talking to each other. The last time was their terse exchange at the hospital after Caleb was injured. The next time is happening right now.
Following the montage, Caleb wakes up to see Catherine’s purse on the couch, instead of at the hospital with her, where it belongs. Catherine isn’t feeling well and is taking a sniffly day in bed.
Caleb asks if he can get her anything, and she answers (firmly, but not unkindly) that she is fine.
Caleb nonetheless heads out to get her the two things everyone needs when they have a cold: medication and Chik-fil-A (Caleb no doubt started to like it the moment he converted).
Oh. Yum. Good thing Catherine didn’t get sick on a Sunday.
Catherine asks him the obvious question: why is he doing all this? You would think the obvious answer would be, “Because I love you,” or “Because I care about you,” and/or, “Because I can’t stand to see you in pain.” But oh no…
Caleb: I have learned that you never leave your partner. Especially in a fire.
Gosh, that’s…sweet? Is it supposed to be sweet?
And so personal, too! Nothing here about Caleb rediscovering his love for Catherine, loyal, big-hearted, funny Catherine. Who has terrible taste in furniture upholstery, but that only makes Caleb love her more.
Nope. Don’t leave your partner. It makes Jesus cry. Marriage is an institution, don’tcha know.
Caleb actually fesses up about The Love Dare (granted, I suppose he couldn’t keep it a secret forever), but Catherine…found the book yesterday! And read it today, while sick in bed!
So, now Catherine knows that Caleb has been secretly manipulating her all these weeks. Making nice not because he wants to, but because he was dared to by his old man.
She must feel so flattered.
Catherine: What day are you on?
Catherine: There’s only forty.
Caleb: Who says I have to stop?
I’m sure you’ll all be shocked, but there’s an undercurrent of smarmy in Caleb’s tone here. I mean, he really wants a cookie for being almost-bearable to live with for three extra days.
Catherine: Caleb, I don’t know how to process this. This is not normal for you.
Caleb: Welcome to the new normal.
Catherine also calls Caleb out on the fact that he was faking it till he made it for awhile, and Caleb owns up to that, because he “didn’t know what love was.”
Which also must make Catherine feel so flattered. They both got married for a reason, yanno? And now Caleb is telling her to her face that when he said he loved her and when he proposed to her and when he married her, he didn’t know what love was.
In other words, their whole life together has been a sham from the start.
What an unbelievably smug prick he is.
[SPOILER ALERT FOR BREAKING BAD]
(Actually, this scene reminds me quite a bit of the last scene between Walter and Skyler, when he tells her that his meth empire was the only thing that ever made him feel alive. Except that we were meant to see Walter as a sociopath who was incapable of loving another human being.)
Anyway, Catherine takes this disgusting admission pretty well, all things considered, though she does tell Caleb that she is not ready to trust him yet.
And THEN the movie actually does one thing right. One of the things we have been hoping for from the start.
No, Catherine doesn’t throw the bum out. No, Caleb doesn’t get repeatedly smacked in the face.
What Caleb does do is get down on his knees and beg Catherine’s forgiveness. I’m going to give you the whole thing, because never say I don’t give credit where it’s due:
Caleb: I am sorry. I have been so selfish. For the past seven years, I have trampled on you with my words and my actions. I have loved other things when I should have loved you. In the last few weeks, God has given me a love for you that I had never had before. And I have asked him to forgive me. And I am hoping, I am praying that somehow you would be able to forgive me, too. Catherine, I do not want to live the rest of my life without you.
Damn. That is a pretty good apology. Not best ever, but pretty good.
It is also too little, too late. Not just for the Holt marriage, but for this movie. Up until now, Caleb has treated this relationship like an object to be fixed. It isn’t even Caleb and Catherine’s marriage, it is The Marriage. Do the right things, follow the instructions in the book, and Generic Spouse will respond in the proper way because God wills it. Caleb has changed his ways: where before he abused and talked over Catherine, now he simply works around her, maintaining the Marriage as he would a car, but never focusing on Catherine, the person.
If this speech had been the culmination of Caleb realizing that he has never really communicated with Catherine, it might have more power. As it is, I suspect that the Day 40 Dare, which Caleb is a few days late on, is “Give Spouse Passionately Sincere Apology.”
(Speaking of, what have the Dares been for the past two weeks? Isn’t Caleb supposed to be doing something new every day? We haven’t seen any new stuff in the long time. Unless “Sweep the Floor” and “Wash a Few Dishes” were on two separate days. Guess we have to buy the book to find out.)
Catherine needs time to think. As you would.
Recovered from her convenient cold, Catherine heads back to her favorite hangout, the hospital supply store, where she buys some sheets for her mom’s new bed. This gives an opportunity for the receptionist to mention the Big Revelation: though Flirty Doctor contributed $300 to the Mom’s New Bed and Wheelchair Fund, Caleb paid the other $24,000. And he did so two weeks ago.
Gotta say, it is still nice of Flirty Doctor to donate any money at all towards this cause. And hey, why didn’t anybody ever think to organize a fundraising effort at the hospital to get Catherine’s mom the stuff?
Catherine once again walks out of the store in a daze, and dashes home to find her wedding ring. Then she fixes herself up all pretty for Caleb. Because once you spend money on your lady, she will reward you with the putting on of makeup and the fixing of hair.
Catherine shows up at the fire station, and tells Caleb she loves him and has forgiven him. (Happily for us, if any happiness can come out of this trainwreck of a relationship, she does not use the word “respect.”)
But damn, it is such a quid pro quo view of marriage. I’d reproduce the entire reconcicliation conversation, but it makes me ill. I mean, he just paid for his marriage to continue. They had $23,000 in savings, he spent it on his mother-in-law, she takes him back. And isn’t this their money, not just Caleb’s? Why has the thought of spending their savings on her mom never occurred to Catherine?
Biggest plothole in the movie.
Oh, and there is one more bit of grossness in this movie, but I’ll save it for next time, as I have a lot to say about it.
So we’ll close on this: Kirk Cameron infamously won’t kiss any woman but his wife. Even though he’s, yanno, an actor. So for the firehouse scene (the only time Caleb and Catherine kiss in the whole movie), they flew in Cameron’s wife (Chelsea Noble, who played Hattie Durham in the Left Behind movies), and shot the kiss part of the scene so that you can’t really see the actress’s face.
Not actually Catherine.
What more disgustingness could there possibly be? Stay tuned–same atheist time, same atheist channel!