Monthly Archives: June 2018
Well, I know we all know and love Meta-Isis, the woman with a brain and a big heart and no patience whatsoever for one arrogant douchebag named Michael Murphy.
Well, sorry, guys. We all suspected this day would come…
Isis calls Murphy’s office. Well, actually, and rather bizarrely, even though she has called his office multiple times in the past, this time, she ends up on the switchboard, then is connected to Murphy’s office…and Shari answers.
And because Isis is a lovely person, she commiserates with Shari about the attack by Talon, and asks about Paul’s condition and welfare. And because Paul has been put on pause since the attack, he is exactly the same as he has been since the night of the attack, even though so many days have passed. Isis listens with sympathy and understanding, not even laughing when Shari, clearly delusional, says that Murphy has “been very supportive through this tough time.” Really, Shari, while he was jetting off to D.C. to break up with Isis and never spared a thought for you and Paul, or when he was abusing gypsies and never spared a thought for you and Paul.
At least Isis wasn’t calling to beg Murphy to come back to her. She was calling to talk about the actual archaeological dig that Murphy should have gone on 200 pages ago: she did some more research and found out some random facts about the Temple of Dagon. So, speaking of delusional, seems Isis still believes Murphy will get off the couch and on a plane at some point. She ends the call with one more kind wish to Shari that Paul’s condition improves.
But Isis has a secret that she didn’t tell Shari…
Then it turns out that Isis has already “made the transaction.”
I know, I know…
I mean, like this day wasn’t fucked enough…
Okay, okay, so here we go:
Turns out that in the great tradition of Christian fiction, Isis was converted by a woman. Some chick named Lisa, a coworker at the Parchments of Freedom Foundation, did the standard-issue conversion trick: find someone at an emotional low point, act like you actually care about her as a person, then give credit to Jesus when the person’s life improves, as most people’s lives do after an emotional low point.
Hilariously, Phillips kinda accidentally insults Murphy, stating that it wasn’t until Isis started going to Lisa’s Bible study that she “began to understand what it was to be a Christian.”
Heh, really, Phillips? Knowing Murphy for years, pseudo-dating him for two, and she only now gets what it is to be a Christian? Wow, nice job living your faith and being an example, Murph!
And Isis does indeed say the magic words one night, and now has Jesus on her heart.
Isis decides that she doesn’t want to beg Murphy to come back to her (smart choice!), but also decides she doesn’t want to date anyone else, even though multiple men have asked her out (you go, girl!). Isis, my friend, let me tell you something as one who has been there: when you’ve been heartlessly dumped by an asshole, nothing feels better than getting right back out there and meeting new guys.
And before long, hopefully you’ll meet the perfect man for you, who loves you for you and who isn’t a self-absorbed ass.
Fuck Murphy, babe. You are soooooo much better off without his lazy ass.
But no, Isis just prays that God “help me be honest with my feelings and not be overrun with them.”
Yeah, you know those wimmins, right, with overrunning feelings and all.
Don’t worry, Meta-Isis, you always have a home here.
Well, bet you didn’t expect this in a Michael Murphy book, but Tim Lahaye is about to go full-on Exorcist here.
Yeah, like that.
It’s time for Our Heroes to visit the next fake healer, tagging along with the hapless Clyde. They all show up at a turn-of-the-last-century farmhouse on the outskirts of town, and they all feel “a little apprehension,” mostly because the house is, yanno, old and stuff, and looks like it needs a fresh coat of paint and there are curtains in the windows and it’s dusk (no, seriously, these are the reasons).
Carlotta, Madame Estelle’s assistant, lets them in, and we know she’s evil because “her face seemed more wrinkled than normal for someone her age” and she’s dressed like a movie gypsy.
No, not THAT gypsy.
THAT kind of gypsy.
They join some other people who are apparently there to be healed and nobody introduces themselves and “Murphy couldn’t tell if they were being rude or if they were embarrassed to be seen there.”
Dude, you’re not introducing yourself, either! Rude much?
Murphy’s rudeness and utter lack of basic consideration for others becomes a theme for this chapter, if not the entire series: Madame Estelle comes in, and she’s also dressed like a gypsy and wears heavy makeup.
For a moment Murphy almost laughed, she looked so ridiculous, but he restrained himself.
Wow. What a gentleman, eh? What a loving Christian.
Immediately, and I mean frakking immediately, Estelle…
…sorry, Estelle calls out Murphy and Wagoner as unbelievers. Tellingly, she looks at Murphy with “fear” and at Wagoner with “anger.” Because Murphy has to be the most powerful manly man in the room at any given moment, you see, so Michael Murphy is someone to be feared by this false healer, but she’s just kinda annoyed that the MINISTER OF GOD HIMSELF is there.
Estelle demands that Murphy and Wagoner leave.
Murphy did not budge. He did not like being challenged in public…
Um. You are not in public, Murph. You are in Estelle’s own home, so she has every right to ask you to leave, for any reason or for no reason at all.
By the way, this whole doesn’t-like-being-challenged thing is not an attractive trait. Not for any hero, in general, let alone one who is a professor. Murphy teaches college students, and it seems natural that he would be challenged and questioned by snot-nosed kids from time to time. One sign of a good professor is one who can roll with such a punch and still maintain control of the classroom.
So Murphy (and Wagoner and Clyde, not that they matter), stick around and Murphy questions Estelle about whether her healing powers are “by the name of Jesus.” This causes Estelle to pull some possessed-Regan shit, screeching and slapping her own head on the table and looking like “a wild animal that was in some kind of trance.”
See lots of animals in trances, do you, Bob Phillips?
Then Estelle starts to yell in a man’s voice, and then she flips the table.
No, seriously, she does an actual Real Housewives table flip. From this, and from speaking in a deeper voice, Wagoner cleverly deduces that “This is for real!”
Because speaking in a deep voice and flipping a table can only mean one thing: this poor woman is actually possessed by a real, actual demon.
And then she demonstrates her demonic powers even further by throwing a chair at the guys (the other guests have fled, unnamed and unmissed).
Wagoner pulls out his little pocket Bible and together with Murphy, they proceed to rip off The Exorcist in earnest, with a lot of “in the name of Jesus” and just being kinda rude and pushy.
I’ll digress here, because this whole scene is so beat for beat The Exorcist that it can’t not be intentional. One thing I’ve always said about Tim LaHaye is that it always felt like he had way more animosity towards Catholics than towards atheists. The Exorcist was written by a Catholic, made with input from the Catholic Church, and portrays said Church as a helpful organization, necessary in the universal struggle of good vs. evil. So this bit with Murphy feels like a repudiation of the great struggle of The Exorcist.
Because Murphy’s exorcism works immediately, which I guess shows us that is Michael Murphy a much bigger bad-ass than those pansy-ass priests, Karras and Merrin, because it took them multiple tries to save Regan McNeil, and the ordeal ultimately cost both men their lives. Also, Murphy is a layman with no formal affiliation with his church other than being the minister’s buddy. The Exorcist needed actual trained men of the cloth to do a proper exorcism. Hilariously, here, Wagoner, the actual trained minister, only “join[s] in,” providing the assist to Murphy. And we are told explicitly that this is the first try at an exorcism for both Murphy and Wagoner, and of course they succeed instantly, whereas in The Exorcist, Father Merrin was a very experienced exorcist with a lifetime of experience and it still ended up killing him.
(Then again, Phillips doesn’t exactly sell the threat: Estelle and her demon (“Deception,” if you care), seem kinda wussy in comparison to Pazuzu-possessed Regan. Possessed Regan exhibits supernatural powers and actually kills a man. Possessed Estelle…um, tosses some furniture around.)
There is also a fair amount of hypocrisy here, because I absolutely believe that the success of the cultural icon that is The Exorcist created an environment where other religious horror stories like the Left Behind series could flourish.
So, yeah, RTCs can perform exorcisms at the drop of a hat, with no training whatsoever, and it’s all over in a matter of seconds. Murphy, a much more awesome Christian than those silly ole priests, is just fine and dandy, and minister Wagoner is merely a bit shaken:
“I don’t think I’d ever like to do that again. It was like coming up to the edge of darkness and facing the devil.”
WE HAVE A TITLE
Estelle, demon gone, comes to, as it were, and it turns out that, unlike Regan McNeil, she has pretty good memory of her possession, and how, like Regan, she was open to it because of minor dealings with the occult, like tarot cards and books. Hilariously, it seems that she did do some healing of people, so if I was Carl right now, I’d feel a little bitter. But she wants to know “what just happened to me,” and then we cut and the chapter ends, because for once, we’re not going to have Michael Murphy pontificate on someone else’s experiences.
Back in the Biblical flashback again, and moving right along (faster than the main plot of this book, by quite a bit), this time we do I Samuel 6, 1-12.
It begins thusly:
Painful only slightly describes the ten-mile journey from Ashdod near the great sea called the Mediterranean. The inland march to Gath and the great village of giants was torture, to say the least.
GET YOU SOME
That is just one of the most awkward, redundant passages I have read in these books, and this particular book just spent two chapters killing a barely-named character.
Now, I’ve skimmed over this so far, because it’s mostly just boring, but this is where things get weird.
Now, if you read the Bible section I linked, or this silly chapter that just recaps it and adds a few random names to random characters, you’ll see the cray on full display:
“If you send away the Ark of the God of Israel, do not send it empty. We need to return it with a trespass offering. … I suggest five golden tumors and five golden rats…”
Yeah, they’re going to make golden RATS and golden TUMORS.
Yanno, if Michael Murphy really wants to find some extraordinary biblical artifacts, I think he should concentrate on the golden TUMOR angle. Because holy crap, why wouldn’t you, right?
Just today, I was listening to Christian radio, and Rick Warren was telling me how without the Bible, there would be no rules, no standards, we could do whatever we wanted with no consequences. Which, no, because …
But also because, seriously? You’re taking up space in the Inspired Law Book of God’s Infallible Lawful Word…talking about making TUMORS out of GOLD.
I mean, holy crap.
I think for next time I’m going to time how long it’s taking Murphy to actually GET ON THE ROAD, and stop fussing around, going to the gym, pretending he has a love life, etc.
(It’s almost a meta-commentary on the book that I’m taking so much time to review it. I go slowly because the book goes so gorram slowly…or something.)
Anyway, these two chapters take their sweet-ass time dispensing a scene we’ve all seen many times: the They Killed The Wrong Guy bit from countless action movies. The Real Target escapes (or the killers miss him), while a very minor character dies in the trap.
In this case, it’s Eugene Simpson, Shane Barrington’s driver, who has been name checked all of twice before. Eugene’s characterization is so deep that all we know about him is that he thinks it’s “pretty cool” to drive Shane’s newly “exotic” (his word for “highly armored”) car.
Bet Eugene doesn’t think it’s so cool when he gets a package sent to him, ostensibly from his parents, but it’s actually a bomb, and he gets stuck in traffic and can’t pick up Shane on time, and the bomb explodes, but the only person it actually kills is Eugene. Shane barricades himself in his penthouse and works from there, since he knows The Seven (TSAN!) were behind it.
Really, he should know The Seven were behind it because the plan completely FAILED, and The Seven kinda specialize in failed plans.
Seriously, can these people do nothing right? They’ve repeatedly failed to assassinate a college professor and a linguist, neither of whom arm themselves or take any precautions for their own safety, so what made them think they could off someone who did arm himself and did invest in numerous safety measures?
One evening when he’s barricaded inside his very secure home (again, a precaution Michael Murphy has never taken), Talon calls him. He fesses up to the bombing (which seems kinda silly of him, seeing as how he failed and all), except, in a twist that will revolutionize this series of books as we know it…
TALON ACTUALLY SUCCEEDS IN KILLING THE PERSON HE IS TRYING TO KILL!!!
I know, right?
Yeah, he’s at a building across the street, and launches a FRICKIN ROCKET LAUNCHER into Shane Barrington’s frickin’ living room!
…which makes you really wonder why he couldn’t dispense a dumbass professor and a clueless college girl.
I mean really.