TEoD: Chapter 42: It’s Not You, It’s God

You know those RTCs, right?  Paragons of independent thinking and not easily swayed by the opinions of others…

So the moment Murphy’s pastor hints that Isis might not be the best match for Murphy, he hops a plane to D.C. to kick Isis to the curb.

This is especially sad and amusing when you remember that Pastor Bob is one of the stupider characters in these books.  And that’s saying something.

This chapter reads a bit like a few other chapters, like the one in Ararat where childless Murphy counseled another man on how to raise a teenage daughter.  That is, Phillips is writing a how-to for any RTC in a similar situation.  So this chapter is how to break up with a nonbeliever.

Now, most of this chapter is focused on Murphy’s feelings—how bad Murphy feels about dumping Isis.  Because the man’s feelings, the dumper’s feelings, are way more important than the female dumpee’s feelings.

But first, one last mention of Isis’s sparkling eyes!

So they go out to dinner, and…

Isis could tell that Murphy was a little preoccupied.  She thought that he must be tired from the trip or maybe that he was worried about Shari…or Paul Wallach in the hospital.

Yeah, these two clearly are not meant for each other.  Isis just assumes that Murphy has some normal human empathy, when in fact Murphy could not give two shakes about Shari or especially Paul.

Then they head back to Isis’s apartment, so Murphy can do the dumping in private.  Which I suppose is more decent of him than doing it in public.

Now, to be incredibly fair, at a few moments, Phillips does seem vaguely aware that there is another person in this scene.  So in between Murphy’s paragraphs about God and his (Murphy’s) feelings, Phillips interjects a few generic observations from Isis:

Isis could feel that something was coming.

Isis could feel it coming and she didn’t want to hear what he was going to say.  She knew that it wasn’t going to be good.

Isis felt like she was going to cry.

So, it’s not really a character here, a person with feelings.  It’s Phillips reassuring RTC males that if they use the right phrasing, they can weasel out of a waning relationship with a minimum of fuss and ugly crying.

Then again, I might not ugly cry either, if someone broke up with me with the kind of impersonal platitudes that Murphy uses:

“If two people are to develop a strong and lasting relationship, they really need to be on the same wavelength when it comes to faith in God.  Divided families often have great struggles.  Both parties are not able to share the same experience or values.  It can bring about great stress.”

Hell, I even mostly agree with Murphy’s point here.  It’s just so dickishly Nice Guy the way he puts it here—just as he made a mental list of pros and cons of Isis versus Summer, he’s now putting their relationship into a series of theoretical contortions.

I mean, this is all just a how-to manual, but shouldn’t there be just a hint that when you dump that atheist chick, she might have something more to say than…nothing?  Just staring at you with the sparkling eyes that very nearly tempted you?

And speaking of temptation, does anyone think Murphy would be so quick to kick Isis to the curb if he didn’t have Summer waiting in the wings?  (Or rather, Pastor Bob in the wings, waiting with baited breath to throw Summer at Murphy?)

Isis has one moment where she tries to assert herself.  Or at least, makes a play for the relationship to continue:

“I think that two people can still see one another and have a relationship grow, and still talk about faith.  I don’t think it has to end.”

“But what if the relationship grows and the faith does not?”

“There’s risk in every relationship, Michael.”

And I can see Isis’s point, too.  I mean, it’s all moot for several reasons: Murphy dumping Isis is the best thing that can happen to her, and it’s not like Murphy would listen to what a mere woman has to say about relationships, anyway.

So it’s all a done deal.  That said, Murphy does try to weasel out of completely dumping her with one of the two oldest tricks in the book:

“It might be good for both of us if we began to see other people.”

(The other one, of course, is “Let’s just be good friends.”)

Isis is nobody’s fool, and immediately sees that that is bullshit.  To put it in a nicer way:

She could tell that his mind was already made up and that nothing she could say would make a difference now.

Yep, this sure isn’t a relationship between two adults, where they can sit down and talk about their feelings together.  At least it isn’t from Michael Murphy’s perspective.

Murphy makes his escape before the tears happen (Isis’s, not his, because we know he isn’t going to cry about this, not with Summer waiting).

And instead of sticking with Isis, we follow Murphy back onto his plane home, of course, where we can know more about how very badly he feels, even asking God why.  Well, because you found another Like A Model, Murph, and because your pastor told you too.

Still, though, lucky Isis.  Even if she doesn’t know it yet.




Posted on May 10, 2018, in The Edge of Darkness, Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. 13 Comments.

  1. spiritplumber

    Hooray! Isis is now free of The Narrative and can move on to have an interesting life, like all the minor characters in Jenny’s decon of LBTK.

  2. Rainbow Moonglow

    This is probably the most douchey breakup scene ever put into fiction, and I’ve seen a lot of those. Breakup scenes, that is.

    • The context is pretty abysmal, but on its own this breakup scene doesn’t even crack the top 10. Check out Stardust sometime. I think that’s the kind of movie Ana Mardol was thinking about when, in her lists of things she’d like to see in movies, she said (paraphrased from memory) “A story where the dorky male who goes on an adventure in hopes of impressing the popular girl of his town, but then meets a nicer girl on his adventure, doesn’t go back home just to dump popular girl who had the gall not to fawn over the author the hero from the start in the douchiest way possible.”

  3. “And none of this has been important when we’ve been having adventures and saving each other’s lives before. But I’ve been going to this church recently, and Pastor Bob says…”

    (Isis thinks about whether to ask her deprogrammer friend for a favour… and then decides not to bother. Oh, wait, I’m supposed to look sad, boo hoo, think about that time some idiot put his foot through an irreplaceable inscription.)

  4. Well, color me surprised if this sticks. And color me red with fury if it doesn’t. If there is some snafu in the Summer’s relationship* and Murphy just hooks up with an Isis who was still pinning for him, there will be violence.

    * The way this character was just introduced 4 books in, walking into Murphy’s class and acting all interested, initially set of my conspiracy meter. Like, the Seven (TSAN!) were actually becoming competent and after seeing the failure of sending Barrington or whatever he was called, they figured out “hot chick who speaks Christianese” would be a much better infiltrator to get close to Muprhy. But I assume Pastor Bob is not so stupid as to misremember his own congregation to that level.
    Of course, there can still be a hickup in the hookup, courtesy of a deadly bird of prey to the face. Talon has to stop screwing up the murdering of named characters at some point, right?

    Still, good for Isis. Once the author stops paying attention to her, I’m confident Meta-Isis will quickly realise what a bullet she dodged here. The man who’s been making googly eyes at her while pumping her (but only metaphorically) for resources for three books worth of life threatening adventures has shown he cares far more about pleasing god than her. She might get pissed if she learns that he’d only remembered about the importance of religious purity in your wife once he’d secured access to an equally hot AND religiously pure wife*, but once she’s done burning any newspaper clippings she might have kept of the magnificent finds that the heroic Murphy uncovered practically singlehandedly (according to his interviews) she should be fine again.

    * You’re totally right Ruby. Murphy never seemed all that bothered about the prospect of shacking up with a non-believer before Bob dumped Summers on him.

    And as a closer: I think this is the moment where we officially can stop treating this book as an adventure book with a lot of padding, to an RTC instruction manual and fap material which will include a few off-topic pages about finding some biblical artifact towards the end. The whole will-they-or-won’t-they with Isis and Murphy during their adventures was at least still in keeping with the Indiana Jones template, but now we’re derailing the story for a completely non-adventureous romantic plot where Murphy realizes he can do better (from his point of view anyway) and dumps the female advenuring lead. And of course we’re promised that once this is over, the next important plot point will be about the dangers of new age faith healers.

    • Summer could still be an infiltrator. I don’t suppose Pastor Bob wants the video of those “special counselling sessions” getting out.

      • It’d be awesome if Pastor Bob turned out to be a double agent for the Seven (TSAN!), and that he’s been assigned to delay Murphy’s Biblical Artifact hunts by sidetracking him with faith healers and hot chicks. I’d immediately take back everything I’ve said about the book. Well, most of it. Half maybe.

  5. One more for the road:
    “Isis could tell that Murphy was a little preoccupied. She thought that he must be tired from the trip or maybe that he was worried about Shari…or Paul Wallach in the hospital.”

    I’m almost beginning to think the author is a Poe. I mean, how narcissistic do you have to be to have the character who’s about to be dumped for not being good enough morally wonder if maybe her boyfriend indicisive resource leech might be worried about his friend who was almost murdered and her boyfriend abuse victim who was hospitalized trying to defend her… when you’ve already told the audience that, no, that’s not what your main character is upset about at all. He’d forgotten all about it, even though the author hadn’t. Why would you as an author ever write this if you didn’t expect us to despise your hero?

  6. Awesome! I’ve been hoping Murphy would dump Isis for so long. Now she can go back to being the badass she was at the beginning of this series.

  7. Hooray for Isis! But, Christ, what a constricted, narcissistic way of seeing the world. It’s obvious why Murphy isn’t a real archaeologist: you can’t shoehorn the entirety of human history into a pseudo-Biblical narrative, and being interested in a culture for its own sake would put him on the path to Hell.

  8. All in favor of taking the newly-freed Isis out for celebratory drinks?

  1. Pingback: Deconstruction Roundup for May 11th, 2018 | The Slacktiverse

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