Six: The Mark Unleashed: Part 3
So we’ve seen Luke have his small group in his cell, but now we find that the most lax prison in the world allows Luke to run large group sessions…right there in the middle of the prison. As an attractive female guard* keeps watch, Luke leads a session of no fewer than fifteen prisoners, who are casually congregated in the dining area, happily applauding each other as they tell their conversion stories. (Jerry is sitting there, clapping along with everyone else, Tom is standing apart but looking on, and Brody is nowhere to be seen.)
*By the way movie, don’t think it’s escaped my notice that we’re almost halfway through this movie, and the only named female character we have so far is Jeseca, the Psycho Ex-Wife. And in this prison with female guards, we still have not seen a female prisoner. Who says Christian movies can’t write strong, identifiable women?
Eh, who needs women when there are men who can tell their stories, amirite? Luke stems the applause and introduces our next guest, Louis!
“Hi, I’m Louis and I’m a new Christian.”
So, in yet another instance of thinking way more about this movie than the writers did, I’d like to point out something that could have been intriguing, but instead is overlooked entirely:
Luke is pretty clearly the prisoner-leader—the most respected man around. This is interesting because of the nature of this prison—nobody is here for more than 21 days. Luke has been there for 17 days (perhaps 18 now). So I wonder how Luke claimed this authority so quickly. (He hasn’t been there the longest, by the way—Louis is on Day 20!) What does Luke expect will happen when he’s executed? Who will rise to take his place?
Eh, who cares? Not the movie, that’s for sure!
Back to Louis, who tells his boring story through flashback: once upon a time, he was a guy driving his nice car slowly through a group of people ambling through a field, making fun of them. Why they’re there, and why Louis is there, are left to our imagination. Are they refugees? Why does Louis have a car? Why do the big grins of some of these supposedly miserable folks not necessitate a re-shoot?
(Oh, and this is definitely not LaJenkins’ dispensational premillennialism—there are kids in this group of people aged about 8-10 years.)
“Woo, this is fun!” Louis calls out, just so we know that driving through empty fields, laughing at people, is what filthy nonbelievers like to do with their time.
Said fun is short-lived, however—a couple of guys get pissed, yank Louis from his car, and proceed to beat him up. (Though not really very hard—my favorite is the fellow who wanders over to the scuffle, gives Louis one light little kick on the ass, then backs away, apparently satisfied that he has done his part.)
After it’s all over, a now carless Louis is sitting in the field, licking his wounds, when Elijah Cohen appears! Just, yanno, out of nowhere. As happens. He tells Louis that it’ll be okay and ineffectively dabs at his cuts with a (no doubt filthy) washcloth.
Louis: All of a sudden, when Cohen was taking care of me, I felt like it was Jesus himself. He led me to the Lord right there.
This…is more true than Louis might think. In fact, during this whole sequence, Louis seems to have some difficulty keeping Jesus and Elijah Cohen separate. He says he knows that Jesus died for his sins…then he grabs Elijah’s shirt and makes eye contact with Elijah while begging, “…wash me clean, please. Let me live for the first time and I’ll follow you from now on,” and buries his face in Elijah’s chest. So it’s hard not to see this as Louis pledging fealty to Elijah Cohen, not Jesus.
Louis has a tear-streaked, closed-eyes prayer to Heaven, in which his magically quotes Psalm 81.
Back in prison…
Louis: But you know what the strangest thing is? When I looked up, Elijah Cohen was gone. Just vanished.
Luke: Like Philip, in the Book of Acts.
Um, excuse me, Luke, but LOUIS IS TELLING THE STORY!
Tom chimes in from the doorway of his cell:
Tom: Whaddaya mean, he vanished? You mean he ran away?
Louis: No, man. I mean he vanished. Poof.
Ah, yes. Clear as mud.
Later, in their cell, Tom gets back to his mission:
Tom: Did you know [Elijah Cohen]?
Luke: Yes. Do you really think you’re gonna kill him?
Yeah, remember, God told Luke every detail.
Just as he did with Brody, Tom reveals a bit of his true motivation, including a new twist he’s just come up with:
Tom: If this Cohen is who everybody says he is, then maybe he can help me.
Luke: Help you get your wife back, Tom? She’s not coming back. Ever.
Hey, don’t get me wrong, Tom. We are all about magical thinking here. But getting an evil woman to change her ways? Well, magic only goes so far…
Tom: What do you know about my wife?
Luke: I know that she’s somewhere close to here, being intimate with another man. Right now.
Damn. God really does tell Luke every single detail!
“God told me all about the rose petals littering the bed, and about Sven’s ripped biceps and six-pack abs. He told me about the flowing champagne, and the reverse cowgirl…”
Unsurprisingly, Tom has now officially Had Enough…and proceeds to kick the ever-loving crap out of Luke.
I mean, seriously. Louis thought he had it bad, with that tiny little ass-kick? Tom frickin’ goes to town on Luke’s pretty face.
And I am not a violent person, not even a little bit, but I cannot tell you how richly satisfying it is to watch this. Sad, dramatic music plays, so I know I’m supposed to feel bad, but I am cheering Tom on. Smack that smug, self-righteous face, Tommy! GET YOU SOME!
The next day, Louis is executed, and we see what a spirit of love and forgiveness God has instilled in his new follower:
Louis: Be good, o Lord, to those who follow you. But to those who reject your ways, bring judgment.
What a nice fellow.
Tom, fresh from dispensing his own brand of judgment, tells Brody that they’re leaving tonight.
Then he has a last-minute meeting with Jeseca. He’s up-front about the fact that he’s taking Brody and Jerry, even though they’re not believers, and explains that none of the Christians want to leave prison anyway:
Tom: You think you’re punishing them by putting them in here and chopping their heads off? You’re a bunch of fools. You’ve given them the greatest privilege of their lives.
Jeseca: Then it is a weak religion following a weak god.
You tell ’em, girlfriend!
Jeseca also doesn’t take any shit, and tells Tom that if he doesn’t take a Christian, they’ll just not allow them to escape…and also that Larry is always available for some extra torture. Bet Larry can’t wait.
Ah, but perhaps Tom can take a Christian after all! See, Luke and three of his buddies drop in on Jerry, who is having a bit of a cry, all alone in his cell. (And since this prison never cares where the prisoners go, the foursome can just drop in.) Much as Elijah Cohen came upon Louis when he was at his lowest, Luke and Co. catch Jerry at just the right moment, when he is having a little existential breakdown, and play on his fears.
Random Christian Prisoner: No matter what happens, you can be fearless.
Luke: It’s true, Jerry. You can be fearless. You see, all of us in this room, we learned something that changed everything. It’s kinda like when you’re a kid and you got a secret.
Jerry: What’s the secret?
Luke: Surrender to Jesus Christ.
This is when Jerry makes his one, feeble argument—the one from the trailer about the “poor carpenter.” Now, very clearly, Jerry is already most of the way there, what with his participation in small group and applauding Louis, but Luke goes for the hard sell nonetheless:
Luke: You have the opportunity of a lifetime right now. Accept Jesus. Ask him to forgive you. Become fearless. Now. You can do it. You know you want to.
I just really hate when evangelicals hit people up at their weakest moments like this. Reminds me of the lady who patrolled (there’s really no other word for it) the hospital where my grandfather was sick, “sharing” the Bible.
But hey, grabbing people when they’re feeling tired or scared is such an easier way to get another notch on your Bible!
Of course, Jerry does it. He knows he wants to. And, just like Louis, he falls into the arms of his human savior. Y’know, for a movie that hasn’t even featured a man and woman touching each other yet, there sure are a lot of scenes of men hugging and crying.
Jerry wanders out into the common area (really, this place is more like a college dorm than a prison), and runs smack into his
roomie cellmate Brody, who, natch, is shocked and horrified to hear that Jerry has become a Jesus freak, and hilariously admonishes him to “take it back.”
Luke sidles up to Tom…
Luke: One Christian who wants to escape. Funny how the Lord provides us with what we need, hmm, Tom?
Look, Luke, do you want another ass-kicking?
Hate that guy.
Nighttime, and Luke decides that he still has a bit of smugness to get out of his system before Tome leaves.
Luke: What you need, Tom, is to look inside yourself. Realize the truth. ‘Cause pretty soon you’re gonna have to make a choice. And you’re gonna make the wrong one. Doesn’t have to be that way.
Tom, because he rocks, does not even give Luke a “goodbye,” but stalks out of the cell to get Brody and Jerry. Luke tags along, only to grab Jerry at the last second and give him an urgent instruction: “pick up the hitchhiker.”
Oh, and a question: why is Jeseca now okay with this plan? I mean, they’ve been watching Tom this whole time, so don’t they know that Jerry has been a Christian for, oh, about three hours now, and has no more tie to Elijah Cohen than he did yesterday? Weird.
Speaking of goodbyes, Jerry has none for the man who led him to Christ. No “thanks,” either.
The escape doesn’t seem all that difficult at first—they just jog out, with Tom incapacitating a mere one guard. Brody breaks into a car and hotwires it instantly, and they speed off.
They are pursued, and Tom explains that Jeseca gave him a “device” to get past the gates, but “beyond that…”
So, not the best escape plan in the world. But then, what can you expect from a girl, right?
Suddenly, Jerry spots the hitchhiker! I’m sure we all have a good guess as to who it is, but he’s dressed as nothing so much as the Ghost of Christmas Future. Jerry demands they pull over, and when the Ghost touches the car…the pursuing cars zip past them! The hitchhiker has magically made the car invisible!
Jerry sits there grinning, like he knew it all along.
Okay, so I presume this is Cohen, but I guess it’s not a big deal, because we immediately cut to our three renegades sitting around a table, sipping tea with a pretty young woman who explains that they are on “the underground railroad to Prodigal City.”
Um…OKAY. So I guess there is no curiosity at all about this whole turn-the-car-invisible thing, eh?
These people are so weird. I mean, Tom is a cop, and he’s not even mildly interested in what just happened?
Still, I suppose the thing that most blows my mind about this part of the movie is the revelation that there are other women who can talk in this world! Who knew?
More on our newest character…next time.