Shadowed: Chapter 29, Part 2: Ranold’s Character
I think we can all agree that regardless of what Jenkins tells us about Paul Stepola, what he shows us is something quite different. We’re told that Paul is a “changed man,” newly in love with his wife for the first time in…ever, a man filled with the love and spirit of his loving God. What we are shown, however, is a man who enjoys being seen as a loving husband (he carries some of the luggage!), but who shares no more with his wife than he did when he wasn’t a believer. A man so puffed up with his own importance as New Convert that he’ll lecture believers who have lived a double life for longer than he’s been alive. And whose greatest achievement in life is in praying for his sadistic thug of a god to massacre millions of innocent men and boys.
So not so much changed, despite what we’re told. And yet, Paul is a rather consistent character, from what we see. He is, as we have so often observed, an asshole of the first order, atheist or Christian.
I say this because in this chapter, we see Ranold perform an action so astonishingly out of character that it makes my head spin.
To review Our Ranold: he commanded the entire force in the Pacific during WWIII, only to see it wiped out when a tsunami destroyed Hawaii. From there, he was instrumental in building the NPO from the ground up. During the most recent crisis with the underground Christians, Ranold led raids and basically ran the whole show. He’s always worked within the system he built, fiercely loyal to his nation and to the humanist underpinnings that have kept it war-free.
Which is why it’s so crazy that he assissinates the leader of the free whole world, Ball Dangler.
Our Ranold assissinates the chancellor of the whole entire planet.
That’s…well, that’s something, I guess. Something to convince us that Ranold is totally evil, having killed one man, as opposed to Paul, who planned for and prayed to his thug to kill millions.
Not that I’m discounting the killing of any one person, mind you. I just don’t think Jenkins sees how odd this all is.
And, as I said, so very out of character. Ranold is a guy who works the system. He always has been. Hell, Jenkins has taken great pains to paint an actual backstory for Ranold, and this all just doesn’t fit.
To the details: Ranold and Dick Aikman, the member of the inner circle of whom Ranold was suspicious, fly to Bern. All the way along, Jenkins goes out of his way to show Ranold being rude to Aikman in little ways, to make sure we know he’s a jerk. Funny, but when Paul is dismissive to those below him, it is presented simply as a sign of Paul being the better, more spiritual man.
Arriving at international headquarters, Ranold and Aikman bluster their way through security, making sure their loaded guns are not discovered. Ranold has made it all out to Aikman that being searched or questioned in any way is beneath their dignity. It all ends with the two men alone with Ball Dangler in his office. (Really? These unsearched men? And no handlers or secret service or anything? Right.)
After their last conversation, in which the leader of the planet made it abundantly clear that his highest priority was talking to the most important person around (Paul, natch), Ball Dangler is actually quite a bit of a dick to Ranold. Really quite nastily and childishly rude (“Your boss is not a pleasant man, is he?” he asks poor Aikman). Not befitting the leader of the planet, methinks.
And Ranold asks Aikman to show off his gun to Ball Dangler. You’d think the mere mention of such a thing would lead to the pressing of a panic button and the arrival of approximately 872 men and women with even more guns, but, like an idiot, Dangler goes along with the whole thing, like it’s perfectly expected and natural for a visitor to show off a gun in his inner sanctum…
And Ranold grabs Aikman’s gun and shoots Dangler, then shoots Aikman with his own (Ranold’s) gun, then yells for help.
It is a sad testament to Jenkins’ writing of schemes and action that I am sure this plan, possibly the most hare-brained in all Jenkins works, will go off without a hitch.