Monthly Archives: September 2016

TEC: Chapter 46: Back to Babylon…Again

Once again, Phillips fears you might have forgotten that there’s this whole Biblical archeology thing that the story hangs on.  You might well have forgotten, what with the terrorist attacks and pointless murders of innocent librarians.

So once-a-freaking-gain, we head back to Babylon.  It’s been ten chapters since we were last here, but in Babylon time, only a few minutes have passed.  God wrote on the wall and Daniel was called for in Chapter 36; now, Daniel shows up.  King Belshazzar begs him to interpret the writing, and tells him that he’ll give him purple robes and stuff.

Daniel is all like,

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“You can keep all your gifts.  I am quite satisfied with my woolen robe.”

Sure, dude, you just stand by your principles like that.

There’s nothing here that you can’t find in Chapter 5 of Daniel: you suck, king, you’re going to lose it all, death and destruction, yada yada yada.

And, in both the Bible and this book, the king gives Daniel the fancy robe and the gold chains anyway.  And Daniel accepts them.  Cause hey, why not?

And of course, THAT VERY NIGHT, Belshazzar is overthrown by Darius.  God is always so punctual like that, eh?

Darius, btw, is the guy who will end up throwing Daniel into the lions’ den.  So Daniel doesn’t have the best luck ever when it comes to kings.

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TEC: Chapter 45: Lily-Livered Cowards

So guess what, guys?  This one chapter brings an end to the whole terrorist plot!

And so far, Michael Murphy hasn’t even exited his car.

And you know who else hasn’t yet exited his vehicle?

Buck Wilson had been driving eighteen-wheelers cross-country for over twenty years.

WAIT, WHAT?

Looks like Chloe kicked his sorry ass out, eh?

Buck Williams-Wilson hears the terror alert on his radio as he crosses the bridge.

Those lily-livered cowards!  They only attack innocent women and children!

Yeah, how fortunate for the terrorist that they picked a day when only women and children would be on the George Washington Bridge.

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Buck “couldn’t contain his anger,” so he just gets out of his truck and starts wandering around the bridge.  While there’s a traffic jam caused by a terror alert.

He wasn’t sure what he was going to do, but he couldn’t just sit there.

How…manly?  Buck-like?  I’m not sure.

But while wandering around in a rage and haze, Buck sees someone he can take his rage out on–an Arab!

Okay, to be fair, the radio is actually at the point of revealing the license plate numbers of the trucks with the bombs, so Buck actually knows he’s beating on a terrorist, not just a random dark-skinned man who happened to be passing by.

Like the mob from the last chapter.

Meanwhile, Murphy finally decides to get out of his gorram car.

He had mixed emotions as he ran.  On one hand, he hoped that the trucks were not on the bridge.  Maybe it would only be a false alarm.  On the other hand, if the trucks were on the bridge, he was praying that God would give him the strength and wisdom to stop the attack.

That’s…not how having mixed emotions works.  Or, for that matter, things being on one hand and the other.  It is not having mixed emotions to have a contingency plan.  (Now, I would also argue that praying is not a contingency plan, but I’ll let that slide this time.)

More importantly, it is not having things on one hand and the other to hope a terror alert is a false alarm, and hope God lets you stop the attack.  If, on one hand, you are hoping a terror alert is a false alarm, then the other hand would be hoping it is not a false alarm.  Apples to apples, yanno?

Of course, this is a genre where our “heroes” celebrate terror attacks, as long as they’re perpetrated by their god and happen to atheists, so I’m not for a moment putting it past Michael Murphy to hope a terror alert is for real.

Once he gets to the bridge, Murphy immediately sees the truck, which seems unlikely.  He heads for it.

He could sense people watching his movements.  Probably they’d think that he was some driver who gotten out of his car and was acting irrationally.

Ah, I see.  White guy running along the bridge = guy acting irrationally.  Dark-skinned guy running along the bridge = evil terrorist; beat him down immediately.

Fortunately, the innocent white hero who is acting irrationally sees an evil Moar Arab.  He tackles him, and of course Murphy has found, on the whole length and level of that bridge, the one guy who is holding the detonator.  Talk about luck!

Of course, this terrorist who was mere seconds away from completing his nefarious scheme is carrying for his protection…not a gun, but a little switchblade.  Yeah, that would have helped him a ton had he been stopped by the police.

But it’s a good thing, too, because if he had a gun, he could just shoot Murphy, and then where would we be?  The Moar Arab gets in exactly one lunge, too, before Murphy disarms him.

So, not exactly Britt, is he?

In fact, turns out the Moar Arab is actually better now that he’s been disarmed.  He kicks Murphy in the chest and then hits him in the face.

It’s probably wrong of me that such a turn of events makes me smile a bit, isn’t it?

So Murphy ends it by doing some weird wrestling move where he basically sits on the guy’s neck:

Murphy jumped up slightly and wrapped his right arm around Asim’s neck, then shot both his feet off the ground and dropped straight down with his full body weight on the back of Asim’s head.  The terrorist did a direct face plant into the asphalt with Murphy on top of him.

Okay.  I guess.

Man, remember back when Murphy was an archer?  That would have been kinda cool actually–taking out terrorists Robin Hood style!

Then the SWAT team shows up, and Murphy is actually cuffed right alongside the terrorists!

Hey, don’t they realize he’s white???

Actually, they do, but apparently not until later that afternoon, when they get that whole pesky terror plot “sorted out.”

I wonder if they cuffed the guys who jumped and beat on the man who was just Walking While Arab.

Oh, and during all this, the pregnant woman doesn’t even realize anything was ever wrong, because she was listening to CDs.

HA!

WIMMIN, AMIRITE?

TEC: Chapters 43 and 44: Something Desperately Wrong

Chapter 43 is itsy-bitsy—it takes place at the United Nations, and we are introduced to a young assistant named Kara Setter…whose only purpose is to be trampled in the panic caused by the “major terrorist alert for New York City.”

Now, I have no idea at all what security measures for the UN entail in a post-9/11 world (or a pre-9/11 world, for that matter), but I would certainly hope that they’re better than convening a meeting, the result of which is to “send everyone either to their homes or to a safe location.”  I mean, way to keep track of everyone!

So, now that we’ve established that the UN exists, we cut back to the bridge, where two officers in a police helicopter offer this helpful commentary:

“Look at that mess!” Griffin exclaimed.

“It looks like absolute panic,” Goodale responded.

Not sure how a massive traffic jam can be described as “absolute panic” when, by Phillips’ own admission, is just a bunch of cars that can’t move.  Doesn’t that describe many people’s morning commute?

On the ground, Norm and Jim hear that there might be a terrorist alert (“Code T“) and immediately grab their guns out, because “they both knew there was something desperately wrong with two Arab rollerbladers on the ground and four Arab maintenance workers nearby.”

Yeah, Arabs in New York City!  What a horrific shock, eh?  But of course, there is no such thing as an innocent Arab on the George Washington Bridge, so the rollerbladers start shooting at Norm and Jim.

Why?  You got me.  Its not like Norm and Jim were doing anything to stop the attack.

(Oh, and in an odd change, Phillips has started referring to Norm and Jim by their last names (Huffman and Daniels, if you care) in this chapter, as opposed to their first names, as he did two chapters ago.  But I will continue to call them Norm and Jim because it pleases me to do so.)

So Norm and Jim are hit center mass, but our secondary heroes are wearing bulletproof vests, so they’re just knocked off their feet.  Phillips quickly reassures us that “they had just been caught off guard,” so there’s no reason to doubt their manliness or anything.  Indeed, they shoot back and kill the evil Arab rollerbladers dead.  Serves them right for being so suspicious as to rollerblade.  And I still don’t understand why the evil Arab rollerbladers opened fire in the first place.

Especially because they’re awfully near those equally-suspicious Arab maintenance workers…who also open fire on Norm and Jim, despite standing near a truck full of “high-powered explosives.”  (Not the dirty bomb.)  (I think.)

Surprise, surprise—the truck is hit and blows up.  So, good?  Bad?  I’m honestly not sure what purpose that truck served, and if it was ever intended to be blown up, and if so, when?  Once again, were Norm and Jim really that much of a threat to their nefarious plan…whatever it was?

Anyway, at about the same time, yet another terrorist causes a small explosion, this one taking out “the power circuit to the bridge cameras.”  Which seems a bizarrely redundant thing to do since they’re going to destroy the whole bridge in about a minute anyway, but whatever.  So the terrorist wanders off down the bridge, mission accomplished, though catching the attention of a random commuter named Kevin, who considers said walking Arab to be only “weird” until he hears both the terrorism alert and the explosion, upon which “it all fell into place.  He must be part of the terrorist group.

Well, of course he must be.  He’s an Arab!  On the George Washington Bridge!  Such a circumstance is far too crazy to be anything but terrorism!

So get this: Kevin ditches his car and tackles the guy.  Because he’s an Arab on the bridge, you see!  And then other commuters see the fight, and jump in to help Kevin, the guy who tackled a dark-skinned man!  Because they “put two and two together,” and two plus two equals All Arabs Are Terrorists.

So in a matter of seconds, multiple men are beating on an Arab man…because he’s Arab.  Because remember that not one of these men have seen the Arab do anything.

No longer would people sit idly by as America was destroyed.

Best way to keep America from being destroyed: tackle any Arab-looking person you see!

Feels like a Trump campaign ad.

TEC: Chapter 42: The Details

This chapter comprises barely two pages, and seems to be a response to the idea that…well, perhaps this terrorist attack wasn’t very well thought out.

Can’t imagine why anyone would think that!

So we learn that Asim and Najjar are our Moar Arabs.  Much like Norm and Jim, they have the same job and background, and thus we learn nothing about what differentiates the from each other.  Except that Asim will drive his bomb-containing truck to the middle of the bridge on the top level, and Najjar will do the same but on the bottom level.

Talon had convinced his Arab crew that this attack would dwarf 9/11 and would go down as one of the greatest single attacks in history.

Still not sure why two Arab terrorists (from Arabistan or some such place, I suppose) would take the word (or the orders) of a white South African, but whatever.

So, the two Moar Arabs are getting ready to disable their trucks at the middle of the bridge.  They’re hoping the simultaneous detonations will destroy the bridge, though how that would help in the dispersal of the radiation, I don’t know.  Still, though, it is a plan, right?

Well, it’s…part of a plan.

TEC: Chapter 41: A Double Bombing’s Waiting for You

Murphy’s cell phone began to play a musical tune.

Ten pages earlier…

It was one o’clock when Murphy heard his cell phone playing a musical tune.

Does nobody proof these?  Seriously.  Also, this is just a silly detail that tells us nothing about Murphy’s character.  How about we find out what tune it is?  Is it a hymn?  His college fight song?  A movie theme?  SOMETHING that would tell us more about him than…he has a phone?

Pfft.  Anyway, it is now the next morning.  Murphy is driving out of LaGuardia, having dropped off Isis for her flight to D.C.

“I decided to drive back to Raleigh.  I need some alone time to think.”

Does Phillips understand that it usually costs money to cancel a prepaid flight because you “need some alone time“?  Doesn’t seem like it.

Also, think about what?  Moar Arabs?  The apparent incompetence of Mossad agents?  The incompetence of Talon in killing him?  The incompetence of himself in keeping track of the papers he was entrusted with by a dying man?  The possibilities are endless!

But never mind all that!  Levi has called Murphy to warn him about the whole George Washington Bridge thing.  Apparently, an actually competent agent found a Moar Arab and got out of him that the attack will be today.

Oh, and there will be two bombs.

Two bombs?” [asks Murphy]

He might well be surprised.  Why two bombs?  More importantly, why two bombs in the same place?  Wouldn’t it be more efficiently terroristic to set two bombs in two different cities?  Yanno, since you have two and all?

I guess two bombs in the same spot are just twice as scary as two bombs in two different spots.  Which makes me wonder why Phillips didn’t have the Moar Arabs have TWENTY bombs.  Because that would be WAY scarier than just one little bomb.

Levi asks Murphy for help.

“We need to do everything in our power to stop them.” [said Murphy]

Well, everything except involve any military or spy forces from the United States or Israel who could handle things in a professional manner.  Levi found all this out between one and two o’clock a.m., remember.  Assuming it’s now about nine a.m. when Murphy drops off Isis, it’s eight a.m. for Levi in Presidio.  He’s had six to seven hours to get his plan into action.

I mean, geez, imagine James Bond or Jason Bourne or Aaron Cross or the gangs from Mission: Impossible or Leverage.  They would have had this whole mess solved before sunrise.  And again, there is no reason in the world why the proper authorities wouldn’t have been alerted hours ago.

But nope, it’s down to Murphy.  And his only assignment for helping is to keep his eyes out for a particular type of U-Haul truck that they know is carrying the bombs.

***

We then cut to two security guards (semi-retired cops) at the George Washington Bridge.  We actually get a page of their history, which I would consider a positive change in these books but for the fact that Norm and Jim are not differentiated from each other in any way at all.

Well, except that when Jim sees some rollerbladers, he gets a “hinky feeling about them,” because they’re Arabs, you see, and “he had never seen any Arabs skating before.”

Yanno, even leaving aside the obvious part of the racism, I find it bizarre that Jim apparently keeps a mental count of which people of which races skate near the bridge.  Hmmm, two whites and three Hispanics today, four whites and one Asian yesterday…

***

As Murphy approaches the bridge, Levi calls with an update:

“The news media has gotten ahold of the possible bombing of the bridge.  Someone from the FBI must have leaked it.”

Sure, Levi, because you and David have proven yourselves so competent, it couldn’t possibly have been someone from your team.

Also, the FBI knows???  Then why the hell is Murphy involved in any of this?  Why is Levi wasting his time with an archeology professor when he could be helping the actual professionals deal with this?  Idiot.

Oh, but never fear:

“The FBI, other police units, and the military are mobilizing just in case our suspicions are correct.”

They’ve had like SIX HOURS to mobilize.  What is the deal here?  SERIOUSLY.

Oh, and I guess security (by which I assume Levi means just Jim and Norm) are going to try to close down the bridge.  An objective I imagine would have been easier to accomplish had they started SIX HOURS AGO.

Sorry.  Just annoys me, is all.

***

Oh, and there’s a pregnant woman currently driving over the bridge.  Just in case you might be worried that we wouldn’t have anyone to…worry about.

TEC: Chapter 40: Death of a Librarian

This is actually a kinda pointless interlude.  It’s the conclusion of what I talked about earlier, the In the Line of Fire scene with librarian Alvena Smidt.

See, in In the Line of Fire, the villain has a scene with a young bank employee.  Unfortunately for the villain, the employee is from the same city that the villain claims to be from, and, merely from friendly small talk, catches him in a lie.  So the villain follows her home and kills both her and her roommate so he can continue with his evil plan.

Basically, the same thing happens here–Alvena Smidt has discovered that Talon is from South Africa, just like her.  So he follows her to her home and kills her.  Simple, right?  And a good way to reinforce how evil a villain is, by having him kill a complete innocent.

EXCEPT

The villain in In the Line of Fire killed the bank worker because she discovered he was lying.  It was an evil, barbaric act, but, from the villain’s perspective, necessary.  Alvena Smidt, on the other hand, exchanged pleasantries with Talon for only a few seconds.  She didn’t learn his real name or anything about him that many people couldn’t learn by listening to him speak.  Hell, the only reason Michael Murphy didn’t know Talon is South African is that he wasn’t South African until now, and Phillips forgot that Murphy had already heard Talon speak.

Or perhaps Phillips would have it that Professor Michael Murphy, world traveller and guy who knows the histories of every Native American tribe and bridge in the United States…doesn’t know what a South African accent sounds like.

Oh, and to add insult to injury, there’s not even any guarantee that Alvena would have told anyone anything, even if there had been something to tell.  Some people came into the library, and later, some people left.  Wow, what a mystery for the police to solve–they’ll need all the witnesses they can get!

Poor Alvena.  Guess that’s what she gets for being a frumpy librarian who likes words.