TEoD: Chapters 66 – 68: Not So Wrapped Up

I think the important thing to remember as we conclude The Edge of Darkness is that it was clearly intended to be the fourth book in a five-book series.  So the book wraps up a subplot by killing off nonbeliever Paul, kills mini-boss Talon, and sets the stage for the big RTC romantic reveal of the series, by having Murphy dump Isis because of her lack of belief, giving him a (probably false) alternative in the form of one Summer Van Doren, and having Isis convert so that she will finally be worthy of Murphy’s particular brand of RTC love.

Sadly (or not so sadly), there will presumably never be a fifth and final book to the Babylon Rising series, since it’s been twelve years since The Edge of Darkness was released and also Tim LaHaye is With Jesus now.  So we just gotta roll with what we have.

Murphy wakes up in a Catholic hospital in Burgas, Bulgaria.  There is not one person in the whole hospital who can understand him since he only speaks English, and I have to digress here and say that somewhat surprises me.  I mean even if nobody there spoke any English, I’m a bit surprised that archaeologist Murphy doesn’t understand a little Russian or German.  And maybe that’s just because I’m used to most humanities professors in the States speaking more than one language, and certainly most Europeans do, especially if they’re doctors or nurses, but oh well.  Murph is just a dumb American.

Oh, and by the way, Murph, if you had bothered to bring Isis with you on this little adventure, even if you’re no longer dating, you would not have to wait an entire damn day to find out what’s going on.  Because that’s how long it takes Levi to get there.  When he finally arrives, Levi explains that Murphy made it to the surface in the sub, and a fishing vessel found him unconscious and brought him here.

And lest you think Levi wasn’t doing anything about the “very large” Black Sea…

…he had “alerted the Bulgarian Navy and they had begun a search for you.”  Yeah, because I guess the Navy didn’t have anything better to do than search the entire Black Sea for a dumb, lost American.

Murphy wryly observes that this has been “Some vacation.”

Um, except it was never a vacation, Murphy.  You were here to explore the cave for…whatever…and to get the plates.  Yanno, the ones with the secrets to unlimited clean power forever?  THOSE plates?  Hey, did you tell your students that you were ditching them in the middle of the semester to go on vacation?  And does Dean Fallworth know about that?

Also, and this has nothing to do with anything, but I find it kinda amusing that Murphy is in a Catholic hospital staffed with nuns, and they saved his life, but the hospital is “old” and his room has no TV.  Like, I know how RTCs feel about Catholics, and it just seems like a weird little nod to, “oh, but the Catholics are actually okay at this medical stuff.”

Then again, maybe they’re not so okay with it, because it turns out that Murphy has been unconscious for three weeks.  (Yes, THREE WEEKS have passed.)  Also, he’ll have to have physical therapy and can’t go anywhere for a whole month while he has it.

Okay, I know not all injuries are the same and not all people are the same and everything is different and all, but…

Murphy has a head injury, several broken ribs, and a broken leg.  Some years ago, I suffered a head injury that knocked me unconscious, as well as multiple broken bones.  Yes, I had to do physical therapy, but I was released from my initial hospital stay in UNDER 72 HOURS.

Murphy’s a bug wuss.

Murphy and Levi commiserate about how the plates STILL need to be found, but they’ll get around to it at some point, I guess, no rush.

Then we cut to The Seven.  Farewell, The Seven!  I’ll miss how you Stop At Nothing!

One more fun international jaunt for our international group of supervillains, and for this final trip, it’s Versailles.  Ganesh Shesha says that the Taj Mahal can’t compare to Versailles, which…really?  Why, Phillips Shesha?  Want me to bring race into this?  Because I will, if you make me.

John Bartholomew has big plans for a day of plotting world domination: they will “meander through the chateau grounds and…every now and then we will stop and conduct a little business.”

Well, I take it back.  Apparently they’ll stop at plenty of things.

Phillips also gets in one last dig at Sir William Merton’s weight.  Perhaps sensing that this is the last time he’ll get to do this, he makes a point of saying Merton is not just fat, but “grossly overweight.”

So they wander around, blathering on about oil and how “environmentalists in the United States are so paranoid about drilling in Alaska and other places.”

See, environmentalists?  You’re just playing right into the Evil Future Antichrist’s hands, with your wanting to save the planet!

Then they start talking about “the Boy, who is now a man,” who “will come in all his glory in just a few short days.”

Damn, a few days?  Why are you puttering around Versailles, then, guys?  Shouldn’t you be getting ready to roll???

I guess not, because they continue rambling on and on about destroying Israel and also the “narrow-minded, judgmental” Christians.  But just as they’re planning to stop and head out for a meal, they get a call…that Talon is dead.

Remember, three weeks have now passed.  So perhaps The Seven’s worldwide network isn’t as all-knowing as you might hope and expect.

Jacob Werner is PISSED, and has “fire burning in her eyes,” but John Bartholomew is more sanguine.  In fact, he’s had a person waiting in the wings to take down Murphy if Talon failed…and in fact, this person has been ready to kill Talon, if necessary, to get to Murphy.  Now, since Bartholomew says he found “someone,” an “individual,” I had hope for half a second that he was referring to a woman, perhaps even Summer Van Doren.  Alas, this is all just Bartholomew being weird, because it’s a man.

And we end our time with The Seven with them planning to “put forth the marking system” soon.

Hey!

***

Finally, back to Murphy one last time, as Phillips sets the stage for the romantic triangle that would never appear in the never-written fifth book.  One month has passed and Murphy is done with his physical therapy, and actually spares a thought for the Bulgarian professionals who helped him:

With his Irish temper and his struggle with weakness, he hadn’t been the perfect patient.

His struggle with weakness?  GAWD, but this man is annoying.  Yeah, dude: right or wrong or somewhere in between, most people get frustrated when they’re injured and need help and can even snap at the people who are there to help them, either out of love or out of professional responsibility.

But once again, a common, even banal observation is presented as something specific to Michael Murphy’s oh-so-interesting personality.  Hey, I wonder if that’ll happen again in this, the final chapter?

He unlocked the door [of his house] and stepped in.  The floor was piled high with bills, letters, and magazines.  Too bad someone couldn’t have taken care of all the bills too.  The postman had shoved two months’ worth of mail through the mail slot.  That should be fun to go through.  I wonder how many late charges I’ll have?

Gee, if only he had access to a phone or the internet.  In Bulgaria.  (I have a sneaking suspicion that Murphy thinks any country not THE U S OF A would not have working phones or internet.)

Anyway, Murphy dumps his shit all over the house, because I guess the maid will take care of it or something.  And then…he calls the Parchments of Freedom Foundation and, like a stalker, asks about Isis’s schedule!

It’s very important to remember here that although we, the readers, know that Isis is not RTC, Murphy does not know this.  As far as he knows, absolutely nothing has changed since he dumped Isis for Very Important Christian Reasons.  And we have no indication of what has changed for Murphy other than an internal comment that he “had thought [about contacting Isis] all the time while he was recuperating.”  But what was he thinking about this?  Has he changed his mind and started agreeing with Isis’s idea that they can keep trying to have a relationship and let the religion thing take care of itself over time?  Did he get some sort of hint from God that Isis is now RTC and Permitted?  I dunno, and frankly, it seems Phillips doesn’t know, either.

Whatever the reason, Murphy jets off to Washington, D.C., to surprise Isis.   No, he has not told her he’s coming.

When the taxi drives him past the Lincoln Memorial, Murphy looks at it and thinks, “What a great man of character.”

Heh, and also a person of very complex religious beliefs that really don’t align with RTC-ism, Murph!

Murphy then picks up two dozen roses for Isis, because nothing says, “I’m controlling and don’t care about your feelings” like showing up at your ex’s workplace unexpectedly in the middle of the day with flowers and an offer to Try Again!

But hilariously, and THIS IS HOW THE BOOK ENDS, Murphy shows up at the Foundation and tracks down the tour Isis is supposed to be giving (WHY is their best linguist scheduled to give a random tour in the middle of the day?), but Isis…is not there after all!

Nope, she’s been sent off to Jordan to…yanno, do what her job is, which is to translate some shit.

And so Murphy’s ending moment for the entire series is this: because he missed a surprise encounter with Isis that she knew absolutely nothing about, he is understandably disappointed, but irrationally extrapolates the whole situation to mean that “Maybe we’re just not meant to be.

Yes, because if you make an elaborate plan to surprise an ex with an offer to try again, don’t tell her you’re coming to her place of business in the middle of a random workday, and it turns out she’s not at the building at that precise moment because Work and ALSO YOU DIDN’T TELL HER YOU WERE COMING, it means you are not to meant to be.

This is such a wonderfully fitting end to Michael Murphy’s story.  And the wonderful part is, I doubt LaHaye and Phillips even knew it.  This was clearly meant to be a setup for the next book, in which the love triangle would be resolved and Murphy would discover Isis’s newfound RTC-ness and they would be Raptured/die happily ever after, but instead, the series ends with Murphy being a self-absorbed prick with no understanding of other people’s feelings or lives, or even that other people have feelings or lives.

It is so fitting and it makes me so happy.

It’s a good ending to this series, and a good start to this year’s War on Wintermas.

Coming tomorrow!

 

Posted on November 22, 2018, in The Edge of Darkness. Bookmark the permalink. 15 Comments.

  1. I’m sure if LaHaye and Phillips had gotten around to making the fifth book of the series before LaHaye died, Murphy would have remained a selfish prick with no understanding of other peoples’ feelings or lives in that book too. Sure he might have gotten back with Isis somehow, but I don’t think the authors knew how to write a Manly Christian main character who isn’t a selfish prick.

  2. Remember, kids. When the government wants to put a mark on your forehead, that’s bad. (Unless it’s to prove you’re a true-born white American citizen, in which case, hey, security!)

    Yeah, that long shot didn’t come off, maybe it’s just not meant to be; God is sending me a message, so clearly I should go back to young available Summer (with the big van Dorens) who hangs dewy-eyed on my every word and never asks awkward questions like “are you ever going to do your actual job”… Isis who?

  3. So now I’m free to imagine Murphy slinks home only to find that one of those letters he didn’t look at was his notice of termination for excessive absenteeism, and another was an eviction warning because Murphy hasn’t paid his rent in two months, and a few are the credit card bills he’s been racking up. Oh, and Summer broke up with him because he didn’t bother to call her the entire two months he was gone, then immediately left again after returning, without calling her.

    • Really, I see Summer sticking around at least until she realises that Murphy doesn’t have any money left; then she accuses him of not being manly enough, and trades up to the Pastor.

    • Oh my god, yes please! Can I add the following to your scenario?
      — notices that his electricity and water are being turned off due to nonpayment
      — his car battery is dead because it hasn’t been driven in so long
      — the carton of leftovers in the fridge is now a scary science experiment
      — the unwashed clothes he left in the laundry would be better off getting tossed
      — the buildup of dust triggers his allergies and he sneezes all night

  4. And now meta-Isis is laughing her ass off. “HAHAHAHA! Those two prick authors were planning to write in-universe me as eager to fall back into that dipshit who dumped me for no good reason, then wanted to come back for no reason at all. But then they forgot to finish the series, so I remain free while Murphy finds that his precious god didn’t put me at the place he thought I’d be… so meta-Murphy will now spend the rest of his off-screen eternity being cockblocked by both his authoral and divine creators.

    • And then, being free of Murphy’s Sphere of Christian Influence, Meta-Isis is able to revert to her former kick-ass glory (pagan necklace, pasty skin, and all).

  5. I wholy agree that Summer having been a sleeper assasin would’ve been way cooler. But now I wonder who it was supposed to be. Given the whole “he’s already moving into position” , you’d expect it to be someone we met. But who? Murphy’s male friends have a tendency to get killed by his adventures. There aren’t that many viable male characcters left.

    Pastor Bob being a sleeper agent would be awesome, but unlikely and rather nonsensical. Levi would also be idiotic given how much aid he gave Murphy but… I dunno, I could totally see LaHaye writing in an untrustworthy Jew into his story. Methusalem would be the most obvious choice for the writers, but again he’s given too much help to Murphy for that to make sense. Dean Fallworth is intended to be pathetic, so even though he’s already Murphy’s antagonist, the author are unlikely to be willing to let him having been a cool secret agent all along.

    But I doubt any new assasin character, whether old or new, would be able to fill Talon’s shoes. Don’t get me wrong, Talon was frigging incomptetent. But he was a constant target for Muphy’s hate/petulant whining. Guy killed his wife in the first book. I don’t think of him as the mini-boss. Sure he was a lacky, but he was the only combat-capable agent of the Seven (They stop at nothing except for art exhibits!). You don’t think them wimmin folk, or the grossly overweight guy are worthy match for the Murphmeister, do you?

    Talon was always set up as the challenge to overcome. No new character could narratively equal, let alone surpase, Talon as an Antagonist in just one book, especially one that looks like it would’ve been filled with just as much romantic subplot bullshit as this one. And none of the existing male characters’ having worked for the Seven (TSANEFAE!) would be a cool enough twist, since none of them make any sense. Only Summer would really have qualified, since she got between Murphy and his new “love” / most competent side kick (Levi merely rolls out the red carpet between Murphy and his goals, Isis straight up accomplished them for him,)

    • Plot twist: Summer is actually a man as well as the sleeper assassin. Murphy NEVER saw that coming!

    • Alternate plot twist: The sleeper assassin was Paul, Talon didn’t know that when he killed him (because of course they wouldn’t tell him the identity of his backup), and no one else knew to notify T7TSANEFAE of his demise.

      (Oops, replied in the wrong place earlier. And logged in now.)

  6. Alternate plot twist: The sleeper assassin was Paul, Talon didn’t know that when he killed him (because of course they wouldn’t tell him the identity of his backup), and no one else knew to notify T7TSANEFAE of his demise.

  7. Stupid plot twist: Summer is Rick’s granddaughter. Now Grandpa is pissed at Murphy, so he’s going to nuke God in front of Murphy to watch his faith crumble (And probably just shoot him when it doesn’t).

  8. Brian Shanahan

    A catholic hospital in Bulgaria? In fucking Bulgaria!!?!!! The country’s Greek orthodox*, for shit’s sake, with virtually no catholics, never mind enough to have a hospital in a regional city.

    *Well ok, the church in Bulgaria is autocephalus with its own patriarch, but it cleaves even closer to the patriarch of Constantinople than Greece does.

  1. Pingback: Deconstruction Roundup for November 30th, 2018 | The Slacktiverse

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