Monthly Archives: July 2018
Well, 53 chapters in out of 68, 386 pages in out of 481, and Michael Murphy is (you won’t believe it!) ACTUALLY ON A PLANE TO ISRAEL TO GO LOOK FOR SOME KINF OF ARCHAEOLOGICAL THINGIE.
But if there’s one thing Phillips and Jenkins have in common, it’s their love of travel mundanities!
Murphy always chose an aisle seat when traveling by plane.
When traveling by foot, it was a moot point.
In case of an emergency, he didn’t like the idea of being boxed in.
Yes, in case of an emergency, he preferred to immediately leap to his feet and trample over children and the elderly as quickly as possible.
Sitting in the same seat for ten to twelve hours was not his idea of fun.
Wow, once again, we get a glimpse into the unique and complex workings of Michael Murphy’s mind!
Murphy checks with the flight attendant and sees that there are five hours left in his flight. My quick Googling tells me that Murphy would probably take a quick flight from Raleigh to NYC, then do a direct NYC to Tel Aviv, which would take about ten hours, so he’s about halfway done.
Murphy stifled a groan and thought, People who like to travel just haven’t traveled enough.
So our “complete adventurer,” our Indiana Jones Except He’s RTC, hates traveling? Well, jeepers, Murphy, so sorry we haven’t invented the transporter yet, but you RTCs do tend to dislike technological advancements.
In fact, let’s unpack this little statement even further. Murphy doesn’t want to be on the long plane trip. Okay, fine…sorta…except this plane trip is taking him to the place that will allow him not only to find artifacts that will (if he ever manages to bring one home intact) prove the Bible, but also to have “adventures in foreign countries and [meet] strange and exotic people.” It’s generally difficult to have adventures in foreign countries and meet strange and exotic people without hopping a plane to get to those foreign countries.
Next is my visceral reaction…
OH MY GOD CAN MURPHY NOT STOP BEING A FUCKING ANNOYING WHINER FOR EVEN TEN SECONDS???
Does Phillips think this makes Michael Murphy a more attractive hero? Because Murphy does this CONSTANTLY, whine about the most mundane daily matters. He reminds me of Trump–never opening his mouth but to bitch and complain. I seriously would not put up with this level of whining from a four-year-old, let alone a grown-ass man.
Next: I know not everyone agrees with this idea, but I’ll just put it out there:
The man’s got ten hours to do…well, not anything, but lots of things. Hey, he’s a professor–maybe he could grade some papers (instead of pawning them off on his TA) or prepare some class notes for the class he is abandoning in the middle of the semester. AGAIN.
(Oh, and on that note, I’d just like to reiterate that this professor, who routinely hauls ass out of the country to remote locations during the semester, is “sick to his stomach” at the thought of Dean Fallworth, who actually does publish and actually does teach, becoming President of the college.)
And he didn’t feel like doing his, yanno, job, he could do what millions of people do on planes every day: read, do puzzles, play a game, listen to music, watch a movie. Now, granted, this book came out in 2006, so there probably weren’t 100 movies in a personalized screen on the seat in front of Murphy, like on my last flight. But there probably is an in-flight movie, in-flight music, and Murphy could always bring a book, a CD Walkman, or even an iPod, if he wanted to listen to some wholesome Christian stuff.
Next: as usual, Murphy has completely forgotten about everyone else when their faces are not right in front of his. And he has, of course, left all the emotional heavy lifting behind in Raleigh, to be conveniently taken care of by a woman he barely knows. So, two days after her pseudo-boyfriend’s funeral, Shari is forced to crash at the apartment of a stranger, while her mentor and pseudo-father is off doing his own thing.
And now, both Murphy and Shari have lost Significant Others at the hands of Talon. (Granted, Shari’s brother was already killed by Talon, but I’m pretty sure Murphy, Shari, and Phillips have all forgotten that happened.) Isn’t Murphy, of all people, in a position to counsel Shari on how it feels to lose a loved one in this VERY SPECIFIC WAY?
As I look out the window at the Earth below, we all seem so small. I can’t see a single person below me–they’re too far away. But God sees. When Talon took Laura from me, I never felt farther from God. But in truth, He was never closer. These first few days will be the hardest for you, but I know, because I’ve been there myself, that someday the hurt and pain will fade, and be replaced by only the joyful memories. Until then, hold on and know that God is with you. Know that you can lean on me, and Summer, and Pastor Bob. I’m half a world away by now, but thinking of you and praying for you every moment. I know that by the grace of God, you will be able to pass through this dark time.
Yours in Christ,
Or, yanno, something like that. (And I know, that’s kinda pushing aside that they all think Paul is currently being roasted in Hell, but we’ll just ignore that, because they always do.)
Oh, and speaking of Paul, you’d think Murphy would be a little bit less oblivious to the privilege of flying around the world to go on a wild goose chase, considering that Paul will never again enjoy the basic privilege of breathing, let alone flying anywhere to experience “adventures in foreign countries.”
So, with all those options available to him, Murphy opts to spend the rest of the flight musing about Talon and The Seven. Phillips says he “[begins] to piece together” everything, but really he just takes stock, and does not make any logical inferences. In fact, after cataloguing everyone who has been killed by defying The Seven or accidentally getting in their way (like Paul), Murphy leaves himself with a question: “What was the extent of the Seven’s dark plans?”
Which, shouldn’t he kinda get it at this point. He thinks about “some boy,” but doesn’t imagine he might just be the AntiChrist?
Nope, he just switches gears and ruminates briefly about the faith healers (and Phillips doesn’t tell us what he actually thinks about it), then goes to sleep. Riveting.
When he wakes up, they’re on final descent, and Murphy manages to find something else that displeases him:
Someone out of the Spanish Inquisition must have designed these things.
STOP WHINING!! JUST STOP!!! IT IS SO DAMNED ANNOYING!!!
Levi meets him in the airport, and, speaking of Murphy being oblivious to his many privileges, manages to get him “through customs without having to stand in line.”
(Murphy doesn’t thank Levi, by the way, just says that “I do like your style.”
Then they get breakfast and head out to the Temple, because Murphy still has his “gut feeling” that God has something specifically in store for him, and nobody else.
That Murphy. Truly a humble Christian, thankful for his many blessings.
While Talon is gallivanting around the world and meeting the antichrist in Rome, Murphy is doing something equally exciting, as befits the adventurous hero of this book: he’s partaking in a potluck luncheon in a church basement!
Oh, please stop. My poor heart, this nonstop excitement.
Pastor Bob invites everyone at the funeral back to the church:
“We know some of you ave traveled a great distance to honor the memory of Paul.”
Really? How far would people really be willing to travel to honor the memory of someone who attended their church exactly one time, two or three YEARS ago? Even if they’re there for Shari (and that’s not what Bob said), Paul was Shari’s on-again, off-again boyfriend, and they weren’t dating when he died, and hadn’t been dating for many months.
Oh, and even aside from all that, exactly one sentence earlier, Phillips reminds us that this is the Preston Community Church. So how far do people routinely commute to get to their community church?
Or maybe the potlucks at Preston Community Church really are that damn good:
Regardless, it doesn’t matter who else is at the potluck, because Murphy is there…and so is Summer!
Murphy totally adds new depth to both his and Summer’s character by thinking about how beautiful Summer is. Then they gossip about Shari and Paul like the sensitive people at a funeral that they are. Then Summer decides to invite Shari to spend the weekend at her house so they can “talk and do some girl things together.”
(I get the distinct impression that Phillips has no idea what “girls” would do when hanging out together. Have pillow fights, maybe? Look at unicorns?)
Murphy speaks for Shari and says that would be “wonderful,” though I feel like it would be exhausting to spend the weekend at the home of a complete stranger, forced to be social when I would probably rather just be sleeping.
But we never learn what Shari herself actually thinks (characters in this chapter gossip about Shari, but she never gets a chance to speak for herself), because Levi calls Murphy at that moment…to gossip about Shari, of course, but also to tell Murphy all about his time in Tel Aviv.
Yep, again, it is another character who has gone on an international adventure, while Murphy is eating some reheated baked spaghetti.
Levi has gotten permission for Murphy to search the Temple of Dagon in Ashdod. And man am I getting tired of reporting that other people are doing Murphy’s work for him. In fact, Levi apologizes to Murphy for this taking so long, and for the red tape, even though it has been Levi cutting through that tape, not Murphy. Levi reports that he hasn’t seen much of anything yet at the Temple, but Murphy just knows that when he finally gets around to going, he will find “something there that everyone is missing.” Because Murphy is special like that.
Perhaps realizing how slowly things are moving along, the conversation turns to both Methuselah and The Seven (TSAN!), and I gotta say, both men seem considerably less than interested in this cabal that is out to destroy the world, and the multimillionaire who has their number. Levi says he’ll let the Mossad “hear about” The Seven, and of course advises Murphy to “be careful.” Hey, if after multiple attacks on Isis, Shari, and Paul, Murphy still doesn’t take even the simplest of precautions for his own safety, I doubt he’ll start now, Levi.
But enough about the plot! Back to the buffet line, where the real action is going on—Murphy continuing to make generic observations about Summer’s generic charms: the “warmth [in her] deep blue eyes” and “her gentle smile.”
Yanno, I like a good romance as much as the next person (not that this is a good romance, mind you), but I could’ve sworn this was supposed to be about an adventuring archaeologist. 385 pages into a 481-page book, and Our Hero hasn’t even left the States.
Following right upon Paul’s untimely trip to Hell (not that Murphy cares), we meet up with the only even slightly interesting character left, now that Isis has been Stepfordized: Talon.
Talon is in Rome, and it is worth noting at this point that Talon has done way more globe-trotting than our adventurous Indiana Jones stand-in, Michael Murphy, who, fifty-two chapters into this book, has not yet left the Eastern Time Zone of the United States.
Phillips demonstrates that he has read a travel website on Rome, as he has Talon gaze at the Trevi Fountain while his taxi is stuck in traffic:
Long ago [Talon] had learned that patience was a virtue…especially in pursuing people. Earning top wages as an assassin made it a little easier, too.
Okay, I am far from the world’s most patient person, but perhaps Talon should consider being a bit more impatient, given that his patience seems to so rarely result in an actual kill.
As well, I question how much “wages” he is actually earning given, again, his rather abysmal success rate.
Then again, Talon, unlike Murphy, actually is getting something done, though it’s not his usual…heh…top notch assassin work. He’s in Rome to deliver the Golden Serpent (now all pieced back together into one snake) to our new Nicolae Carpathia, Dr. Constantine De La Rosa.
Phillips spends half a page extolling De La Rosa’s physical virtues: tan but not freckle, “Roman-shaped nose” (not a “Roman nose”— the way Phillips says it, makes it sounds like De La Rosa’s nose is shaped like the city of Rome), “stunningly white and well-formed” teeth. And since this section is from Talon’s POV, makes it seem like Talon is hot for him. (Then again, given that Talon is the villain, it would make sense for LaPhillips to make him gay.)
And he’s “maybe six foot six and muscular,” which actually makes him the tallest person in the LaHaye/Jenkins oeuvre to date.
Talon meets De La Rosa in his snazzy office, and De La Rosa is kind enough to say that Talon is “an important player” in the whole End Times…thing, which is a pretty strong thing to say to such a crappy assassin.
Then again…again…Talon has managed to get the whole Serpent together and get it to the future Antichrist, while Michael Murphy has been busy reading novels on the beach and stomping on a woman’s heart.
De La Rosa, appropriate at all times, makes sure that Talon has been compensated for actually doing something right for once:
“Yes, the money has already been wired to my Swiss bank account.”
Yeah, Talon, there might be even more money in there if you managed to assassinate your assigned target every once in awhile.
De La Rosa says that he might engage Talon’s services again soon…
“I’m always happy to receive money, Dr. De La Rosa.”
“Yes, because I’m an assassin who is only interested in money. Except that it’s been stated many times that I’m in this for the sadism and thrill of the kill and have always been wealthy and don’t need money. Except I’m also sometimes an unrefined thug who fights like a street brawler. Except for those times when I act like a movie serial killer and send taunting get-well cards to my victims. Ah, hell, am I in this for the money or not? I just don’t have a consistent character anymore.”
(I’m just putting this here because we’re deep into Westworld at our house right now—yanno, a show with interesting characters and narratives.)
This book is breaking boundaries here as a minor character has a banal revelation about a very basic activity of their job or life. Previously, we’ve learned that Michael Murphy does’t like standing in TSA lines at the airport and that Levi Abrams dislikes the smell of outhouses. (Riveting.) But now, we learn that Gabriel Quintero, the policeman who is assigned the task of guarding Paul’s hospital room, prefers jogging to sitting outside a hospital room, guarding the latest victim of an international assassin.
And, of course, every person who works in that hospital knows Murphy by name:
“Good evening, Gabriel. Long day?”
“Feels that way, Dr. Murphy. …”
Notice that, once again, the lesser peon is known by his first name, but it’s Dr. Murphy back…
“I don’t mind the responsibility of guarding people…”
Well, I should hope not, since it’s your JOB.
“…but just sitting around can get pretty dull. My body wants to go for a run.”
“Well, thanks for what you’re doing, even though it’s not easy for you.”
The kid you’re guarding is dying because he got the shit kicked out of him by a psycho. I don’t think the cop sitting around all day is the one who has it “not easy.”
Also, this is not the first time Murphy has condescended to thank a lesser first-named peon for doing his job.
Shari is sitting at Paul’s side, and is worried because “doctors and nurses are coming in and out more frequently.” She is not, however, worried enough to actually ask for a status update on Paul.
Being a manly man, Murphy does the asking. Being a male doctor, the two men are on an equal status plane, apparently, since they both use first names.
The doctor gives the rather startling update that Paul “could go at any time” (sensitive!) because his organs are shutting down (from a beating?). Murphy goes back to break the news to Shari, and immediately jumps into the most important issue now:
“Do you think he made any type of decision regarding faith, Shari?”
Shari says she’s “not sure,” which seems rather optimistic on her part, since if Paul had made the transaction and RTC-ed himself, you’d think Shari would be the first person he told. Indeed, in their very last conversation, Paul only said that he was “keeping an open mind,” after which Shari lectured him as usual, and he didn’t reveal that he was secretly converted all along like Isis. So, yeah, methinks Shari is fooling herself a wee bit.
Anyway, as they sit around, Murphy starts going through some of Paul’s unopened get-well-soon cards, and there’s one from Talon!
Roses are red
And violets are blue
Because of the baseball bat
Paul Wallach got the shoe,
…and I kicked him with much pleasure.
That…doesn’t even scan. It also doesn’t make sense, and is dumb. Also, since when does erudite serial assassin Talon send taunting cards to the acquaintances of his victims. What kind of fifth-rate thug has he turned into?
Murphy is now EXTRA pissed, but there’s no time for that, as the doctor’s prediction came true…not 15 minutes after he made it! Paul flat lines and the nurses try to resuscitate but are unsuccessful.
Poor Paul. At least he left this book series as he entered it: as an atheist.
Paul has a bizarre funeral, though, especially for an atheist. Mostly it’s people from Murphy and Shari’s church, and Pastor wagoner presides, and there three local TV stations are filming and there are SIX policemen “watching over the crowd,” because “it had been considered a murder.”
Huh? “Been considered“? It WAS a murder, doofuses. There was a witness and a taunting confession and everything!
Maybe only RTCs can be really murdered or something.
Murphy is mostly in the anger stage (if he can even be considered to be grieving) as he decides to “end Talon’s reign of terror.” Yeah, good luck with that, Murph. You can’t end the reign of humor of your class clown student who trolls your every class, and you think you can take down an assassin? I mean, granted, Talon is a pretty sucky assassin, but still.
Shari is in the depression stage:
Their relationship would never have a chance to develop.
You’ve known this guy for three years or so, Shari. Lectured him, berated him, mocked everything he stood for. Punched him in his wounds (literally). If this relationship hasn’t developed by now, it really never would. Paul deserved better.
But, most of all, she ached inside because she knew Paul’s eternity was settled.
Yep, while Shari is sniffling in Michael Murphy’s arms, Paul is screaming in everlasting torment, because your loving God says that’s how it goes. From now on, Shari, whenever you’re having a pizza dinner or sleeping or messing about with Murphy’s artifacts, just remember that every second you’re doing that, and every second for forever, Paul is being tortured, nonstop. Because that’s the fair and loving thing to happen.
Eh, the authors have had it out for Paul since the moment he appeared in the first book. It’s entirely unsurprising that they sent him to hell.