TF: Springtime for Nicolae

Tribulation Force, pp. 426-428

Nicolae Carpathia seemed thrilled about Rayford’s marriage and insisted upon meeting his new wife.

Note that “seemed.” Nicolae seems thrilled. He acts like he’s thrilled. He does everything one would expect that someone who was thrilled would do:

He took both her hands in greeting and welcomed her and Rayford. … After pleasantries, Nicolae immediately approved Rayford’s request that Amanda accompany them on the next trip to the U.S.

But since we know he’s the Antichrist and he’s evil, we know it’s only seeming. Deep-down, we know he isn’t really thrilled.

Likewise, with our protagonists. They may seem like cowardly, self-serving toadies, constantly ingratiating themselves to the powerful in exchange for wealth, luxury and privilege, then pretending that being ungrateful for that wealth, luxury and privilege makes them heroic. But since we know that they’re real, true Christians and they’re virtuous, we know it’s only seeming.

The ellipsis in the quote above skips past the description of the “opulent offices” to which Nicolae welcomes Rayford and Amanda. Once again Jerry Jenkins tells us that Rayford is unimpressed by this opulence, and Rayford goes out of his way to convey that refusal to be impressed to Nicolae. But once again Jenkins himself is far too impressed with and excited by his own description of this splendor to make this convincing:

He took both her hands in greeting and welcomed her and Rayford to his opulent offices, which covered the entire top floor of the Global Community headquarters in New Babylon. The suite also included conference rooms, private living quarters, and an elevator to the helipad. From there, one of Rayford’s crew could ferry the potentate to the new airstrip.

That “airstrip” not only has to accommodate the ginormous 757 Rayford pilots, it also has to accommodate 90 percent of the world’s military aircraft.

Rayford could tell that Amanda’s heart was in her throat. Her speech was constricted and her smile pasted on. Meeting the most evil man on the face of the earth was clearly out of her sphere of experience, though she had told Rayford she knew a few garment wholesalers who might have fit the bill.

The superlative evil of the Antichrist creates a real problem for the authors. Nicolae cannot simply be portrayed as evil, or even as just eeeevil. He must be not just “the most evil man on the face of the earth” but the most evil man ever on the face of the earth.

That unavoidably Godwins the thread, in a sense. It invites, and requires, a Hitler comparison. The Antichrist of Tim LaHaye’s End Times mythology must be, by definition, worse than Hitler — or Stalin, Mao, Pol Pot, Nero, Caligula, Idi Amin or anyone else you might think of as a candidate for the most monstrously evil person who ever lived. Every reminder of the Antichrist’s surpassing, superlative evil thus becomes an invitation to the reader to compare him to those monsters of history. And that creates two big problems for the authors.

First, it’s difficult for the authors — or for any other author, even a good one — to convince readers that their character’s evil really exceeds that of every such possible comparison. Nero, for example, seems to have the edge over Nicolae in the matricide department. And so far, Nicolae’s body count isn’t even close to being in the same league as the murderous tyrants we all think of whenever the subject turns to “the most evil man on the face of the earth.”

The larger problem is that by leading us to think of all those other monstrously evil people from history, the authors tempt us to remember that the word “antichrist” in the Bible is usually plural. The epistles of John warn early Christians to guard against “antichrists,” and the context makes it clear that actual historical figures like Nero or Domitian (or Hitler, Stalin, Pol Pot, Mao, etc.) fit the bill. That’s not something that Tim LaHaye wants to remind his readers of.

So far, Nicolae doesn’t seem even remotely as malevolent as the real-life examples who come to mind when we think of history’s greatest monsters. Amanda may be nervous about meeting him, but she has no reason to feel in mortal terror about the encounter. When the Antichrist congratulates Rayford on his marriage and insists on meeting his new bride, there’s none of the menace that such an insistence would have conveyed coming from someone like Nero or Caligula or Uday Hussein. If he were convincingly the “most evil man on the face of the earth,” then his “insisting” on meeting Rayford’s wife would be their cue to go into hiding, changing their names and appearance and never looking back.

Nicolae has been shown to be evil, but his worst acts so far — ending democratic rule, freedom of conscience and freedom of the press all over the world — have barely registered as actual events in the story. They seem more theoretical than like anything readers are supposed to imagine has actually happened. The supposed one-world religion, for instance, doesn’t seem to require Rayford to abandon his Christian faith, nor is it apparently incompatible with the reconstruction of the Temple in Jerusalem. I guess the whole treaty-signing business might be meant to suggest that Jews are uniquely exempt from the religious repression of the Enigma Babylon One-World Faith, but that’s an arbitrary reversal of everything history shows us about religious persecution.

And anyway none of that seems to be what the authors have in mind when they refer to Nicolae as the MEMOTFOTE. His evil, like the protagonists’ virtue, seems to be a free-floating abstraction unrelated to actual deeds.

Before the end of this chapter, Nicolae will begin racking up an impressively evil body count, cracking down on freedom-loving rebels and indiscriminately slaughtering civilians. Over the remaining years of the Great Tribulation, the death toll of his lethal oppression really adds up and by that point he might make a strong claim to being the second-most EMOTFOTE. But only second. Because if we use indiscriminate lethal violence as our criterion, then the Killer Robo-Jesus of the Glorious Appearing outdoes Nicolae and every other candidate for the top-ranking of superlative evil.

Rayford asks for, and receives, permission for Amanda to:

… accompany them on the next trip to the U.S. to see his daughter and new son-in-law. Rayford did not say who that son-in-law was, not even mentioning that the young newlyweds lived in New York City. He said, truthfully, that he and Amanda would visit the couple in Chicago.

I still don’t understand why Rayford and Buck think it’s necessary and/or wise to try to keep their friendship, and kinship, hidden from Nicolae. I also don’t understand why they think they’ll be able to do so. It ought to be obvious to him — even without the whole mind-reading thing.

“And now I have some news for you and your bride.” Carpathia pulled a tiny remote control from his pocket and pointed it at the intercom on his desk across the room. “Darling, would you join us a moment, please?”

Darling? Rayford thought. No pretense anymore.

Hattie Durham knocked and entered. “Yes, sweetie?” she said. Rayford thought he would gag.

He ought to be gagging. Not, as Jenkins suggests, because of their syrupy terms of affection, but for two other, much more significant reasons.

First, he just finished being elaborately evasive about the identity of his new son-in-law, believing it vitally important for some reason to prevent Nicolae from learning that Buck Williams is married to his daughter. Two seconds later, in walks Hattie Durham, Nicolae’s closest and most intimate confidant — and also the matchmaker who got Buck and Chloe together in the first place. Hattie knows. Therefore Nicolae knows. And even worse, Nicolae knows that Rayford didn’t want him to know and tried to keep him from knowing. Gag.

Possibly even worse: Rayford is newly married and is standing there next to the new Mrs. Steele when who should walk into the room but the pseudo-mistress he strung along for years while still married to the first Mrs. Steele. Nicolae may be the MEMOTFOTE, but at this point Rayford probably isn’t as frightened by the Antichrist as he is by the prospect of these two women having a long conversation. Gag.

Hattie turned to Rayford. “I’m so happy for you and Amelia,” she said.

“Amanda,” Rayford corrected, noticing his wife stiffen. He had told Amanda all about Hattie Durham.

No, no he hadn’t. In order for him to have told Amanda “all about” Hattie, he would first have had to admit to himself what his sick control games and self-indulgent emotional manipulation of Hattie had been “all about.” And he’s never done that.

“We have an announcement too,” Carpathia said. “Hattie will be leaving the employ of Global Community to prepare for our new arrival.”

Carpathia was beaming, as if expecting a joyous reaction. Rayford did what he could not to betray his disgust and loathing. “A new arrival?” he said. “When’s the big day?”

“We just found out.” Nicolae gave him a broad wink.

I invite you to consider that gesture, which seems so strangely corny that there’s almost something innocent about it. Think again of whoever it is that you regard as this Antichrist’s chief rival for the title of the most monstrously evil person ever to walk the face of the earth. Now picture that person giving “a broad wink.” Tell me you haven’t just envisioned a scene from a Mel Brooks movie.

“Well, isn’t that something?” Rayford said.

“I didn’t realize you were married,” Amanda said sweetly, and Rayford fought to keep his composure. She knew full well they were not.

Saw that coming. If Rayford is written as Tim LaHaye’s Mary-Sue surrogate, then it only makes sense that his wife should start acting like Bev LaHaye, smugly sneering at the one thing even worse than the most evil man on the face of the earth: an unmarried woman who has had sex.

 

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  • http://profiles.google.com/vlowe7294 Vaughn Lowe

    The title is quite fitting.  They’re doing the “Springtime for Hitler” but they completely skipped the “Hitler does horrible things” part and jumped right into the “make Hitler look like a buffoon, so that no one will ever take his ideas seriously again” part.  Problem is, while cutting down a villain through humor is commendable, doing so someone who hasn’t actually done anything to you makes you look like… well a jerk.

    “I didn’t know you were married..”  Ugh.  Do these people actually talk like that in real life?  The smugness, the “Thank God that I’m not like this knocked up slut.”  I just want to give Hattie a hug.

  • Ken

    If he were convincingly the “most evil man on the face of the earth,”
    then his “insisting” on meeting Rayford’s wife would be their cue to go
    into hiding, changing their names and appearance and never looking back.

    They cash out their bank accounts and lay down several false trails by buying airline and train tickets on their credit cards, then flee by bus and car, changing vehicles and disguises several times and paying cash for everything.  A week later and two thousand miles from where they started, they check into a cheap motel under an assumed name, and slump exhausted into the chairs.  Then the bathroom door opens and Nicky steps out, followed by two very large men with crowbars and one smaller guy with a doctor’s bag and a nervous tic…

  • Anonymous

    Then the bathroom door opens and Nicky steps out, followed by two very large men with crowbars and one smaller guy with a doctor’s bag and a nervous tic…

    “Amanda, Buck, ‘Captain’ Steele, and Chloe,” intoned the Antichrist solemnly to the slack-jawed traitors, “Allow me to introduce Abaddon, Atlas, and, of course, Dr. Benway. His baboon, I believe, is still self-pleasuring in the bathroom. Abaddon and Atlas will see to it that you don’t hurt yourselves while Dr. Benway conducts his…treatment…of your antisocial tendencies. Now I must away to alphabetize my comic collection according to the villains’ names.”

  • Anonymous

    They cash out their bank accounts and lay down several false trails by
    buying airline and train tickets on their credit cards, then flee by bus
    and car, changing vehicles and disguises several times and paying cash
    for everything.  A week later and two thousand miles from where they
    started, they check into a cheap motel under an assumed name, and slump
    exhausted into the chairs.  Then the bathroom door opens and
    Nicky steps out, followed by two very large men with crowbars and one
    smaller guy with a doctor’s bag and a nervous tic…

    The only way this could be made better is if the whole car and bus route is shown with the Benny Hill theme song in the background.

  • Anonymous

    Reminds me of Peter Lorre in Arsenic and Old Lace … and come to think of it, Jonathan is more sinister than Nicolae.

  • Persia

    It’s those little details. The needles under the fingernails….

  • Dave W.

    They cash out their bank accounts and lay down several false trails by
    buying airline and train tickets on their credit cards, then flee by bus
    and car, changing vehicles and disguises several times and paying cash
    for everything.  A week later and two thousand miles from where they
    started, they check into a cheap motel under an assumed name, and slump
    exhausted into the chairs.  Then the bathroom door opens and
    Nicky steps out, followed by two very large men with crowbars and one
    smaller guy with a doctor’s bag and a nervous tic…

    Far too direct.  Better to get to the cheap motel, flop down, and the phone rings.  They look at each other, pick up the phone, and it’s Hattie: “Hello, Rayford.  Your dinner reservation with Nicky is at 7PM at the Hilton tonight down the street.  Don’t be late – you know how he hates to be kept waiting.  He is so looking forward to meeting Amanda…”

  • Ken

    That would be better if he wanted to keep Rayford and Buck around – for comic relief, I would guess, since they’re otherwise utterly useless.  I was working from the idea that he wanted to sever (mwa-ha-ha) their relationship. 

  • Ian needs a nickname

    Why Doctor Doom is far more evil than Nicky:

    One time his arch enemy Reed Richards was out of town when his wife Sue went into labor.  Something is wrong, bizarre complications beyond what normal medical science can deal with.  Sue is dying, so in desperation her family turns to Doctor Doom.  He agrees to help…for a price.  Once he’s convinced Sue to let him in the room without blasting his head off, Doom starts work on his patented combination of mad science and sorcery.  (particle accelerators daubed with mystic runes, etc.)  Reed Richards returns to find Sue alive and well, and Doom cradling a healthy baby girl in his armor plated arms.

    The price?  Doom wants to name the baby.  He names it after his mother, Valeria.  The twist of the knife: “every time you speak your daughter’s name you will remember me, and your own helplessness to save her.”  After threatening to maim anyone who should ever harm little Valeria, he’s off into the night.

    Doom wants to be on top of every pedestal, but that same pride just makes him look small.  Doom could have proven himself superior to his nemesis — helping those who hate him is downright Christlike — but he cheapened the gesture with that petty taunt.  He lusts after power and gets it, but we get the sense that even absolute global domination would not assuage his insecurity.  He’s an antichrist, and rather a more convincing one than Nicky.

  • http://thatbeerguy.blogspot.com Chris Doggett

    “I didn’t realize you were married,” Amanda said sweetly, and Rayford fought to keep his composure. She knew full well they were not.

    The saddest thing (to me) about this bit is why Rayford “fought to keep his composure”. It’s not because his brand new wife just mouthed off to his boss about the boss’ girlfriend. Now, in the real world that might be a good reason to be mortified or embarassed or scared. (it’s practially right out of an episode of “I Love Lucy” or “The Brady Bunch”)

    It’s not because the latest love of his life just drew the hostile attention of the MEMOTFOTE by insulting a man who has quite literally shown himself willing to have others killed. Sixty seconds prior, the antichrist didn’t know Amanda Hug’n’Kiss even existed, and now she’s put herself on his radar by trying to cleverly offend him.

    No, Rayford’s fighting to keep his composure because he wants to be amused as well!

    One does not go into a lion’s den and tweak its nose. Which really tells us that despite the notion that her “heart was in her throat” and her “speech was constricted and her smile pasted on”, she was clearly not “out of her sphere of experience”, but perfectly willing to taunt the man who will become The Beast by suggesting he’s out of line with social mores.

    The rank misogyny towards Hattie is one thing, but to hold up this behavior as praise-worthy, that the woman who makes catty remarks is a sainted figure… any evil overlord worth his salt would be extracting a pound of flesh in revenge.

    “Randall Flagg” Nicky: “Why Amanda! You scamp! Sure, every pre-pubescent child on the planet vanished in an instant, causing not only global mourning and agony but also a huge economic collapse and raising questions about the possible extinction of humanity. But when we weigh questions of the continued existence of humanity next to a religious ritual, you’re absolutely right that we’re sinning by having a child out of wedlock. Tell you what: after he or she is born, we’ll baptise him! How’s that? You can even be the godmother!”

  • http://mmycomments.blogspot.com/ mmy

    “I didn’t realize you were married,” Amanda said sweetly, and Rayford fought to keep his composure. She knew full well they were not.

    But why, I wonder, would the anti-christ and his partner in passion care if someone else thought they were “living in sin?” Of course it follows the presumption that many RTCs have that everyone else knows in their heart that the RTCs are right and is just refusing to acknowledge Jesus.

    Honestly, my first response to that line from Amanda was to think, “my gosh, this woman is not only stupid she is so completely and utterly without imagination that she cannot conceive of someone else having different opinions than her.”

    I have met people who were scandalized at the idea of someone else wearing white after labor day and read of people who were shocked that someone didn’t know how long a morning visit should be. Amanda comes across to me as one of those people — so obsessed by the rules of her little sub-culture that she sees them as natural, and obvious, laws of nature.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Charity-Brighton/100002974813787 Charity Brighton

    I don’t think the authors were saying that Nicolae and Hattie cared about the whole “living in sin” thing (after all, they brought it up themselves, unprompted, so it’s not like they were ashamed). It’s pretty common to judge people for having traits that we see as flaws but they see as virtues.

    Have you ever thought someone was a racist or a sexist? The other person probably saw their behavior as good even though you thought it was bad. It’s the same thing here — Amanda sees the Antichrist and Hattie as big, bad sinners but to Hattie they didn’t do anything wrong and to Carpathia premarital sex probably isn’t even the worst thing he did that hour, much less in his entire life.

    I’m not comparing these silly little rules to something like that but it’s just the same principle in a small, petty form — instead of freaking out over issues that actually hurt people in real life, she’s freaking out about issues that are only interesting to members of her snobby subculture.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Isabel-DePaul/1789516349 Isabel DePaul

    For a lot of people, Nicky would actually be a genuine improvement, especially if they ever do end up distributing Chaim’s magic formula (another thing that seems pretty much forgotten).

    Oh and hi everyone, this is my first actual post here, even though I’ve been archive binging through this blog for the last few months.

  • MaidenCreatrix

    Ugh, Amanda’s reaction to Hattie’s pregnancy… Do L and J realize how often women acting like this show up in other stories where they are intended to be taken as judgmental and bitchy, sometimes the flat-out villain of the piece?

    It’s a shame, Amanda seemed like was a reasonably nice person up til now (or maybe she was always like this and just wasnt given enough “screen time” to do anything blatantly rude like Rayford or Buck).

  • MaidenCreatrix

    Ugh, Amanda’s reaction to Hattie’s pregnancy… Do L and J realize how often women acting like this show up in other stories where they are intended to be taken as judgmental and bitchy, sometimes the flat-out villain of the piece?

    It’s a shame, Amanda seemed like was a reasonably nice person up til now (or maybe she was always like this and just wasnt given enough “screen time” to do anything blatantly rude like Rayford or Buck).

  • Albanaeon

    “The Button.”

    Nicolae couldn’t believe his luck.  Rayford and his companion had just walked in and stood right where the trap door was.  No prompting.  No coaxing.  They just walked right in, exchanged pleasantries, and stopped right where they were supposed to be.

    He felt briefly bad about…Amanda?  Yes Amanda.  Just another caught in the web that Rayford cast around him.  He had to be stopped.  If she had to die with him, it was better than the alternative.

    Nicolae knew what was coming.  God had decided to throw the universe’s greatest temper tantrum and Nickie was the key.  He read the prophecies, or rather the tortuous, verse jumping, barely coherent mess that passed for prophecies.  And he understood what was coming.

    And he understood that it needed to be stopped.

    It should have been easy.  The prophecies were jumbled.  It took exceptional amounts of justification and assumption to even get a timeline, let alone a foretelling of the end of everything.  It should have been as simple as not doing something.  Not signing that unnecessary treaty?  Not becoming leader of the world?  No, something always made it happen, even if it took control of Nicolae to do it.  Hell, he couldn’t even prevent the name of his absolutely ridiculous world religion being named Enigma Babylon One World Religion or being named “Potentate” for God’s sake.

    And that was the key.  The prophecies were protected.  It didn’t matter how outlandish or contrary they were, they were divinely willed to happen and they would.  Nicholae couldn’t oppose an omnipotent being and his divinely commanded series of events.  He didn’t have the power.

    So Nicolae searched and searched for some loophole or way around and he thought he had found it.  In two, self-centered, egotistical, barely competent and unlovable, and otherwise worthless human beings.

    It was unthinkable.  It should have been impossible.  But it was impossible to deny.  For some unfathomable reason, the universe was centered around Buck Williams and Rayford Steele.

    He had a hard time believing it himself, but Nicolae could see the signs.  Perhaps it was his demonic heritage, or his being an actor in this little drama, but Nicolae had noticed odd things about Ray and Buck.  First, people changed when they were involved.  Hattie was an extremely competent person, but for some reason HAD to resort to juvenile pranks with Rayford.  She didn’t even know why. 

    And he had noticed events only seemed to matter when either Buck or Rayford needed to be present for events to matter.  Disarming the entire world passed without notice, but the treaty signing and announcement of one rabbi of his “research” was the event of the year.  The entire Russo-Ethiopean/Israeli war was only remembered because Buck was there.

    And people, entire populations, seemed to… fade, without Buck or Rayford around.  They fell into a sort of stupor, an easily lead stupor, Nicolae admitted.  It was like they didn’t matter, except in relation to these to dipshits.  Even he wasn’t immune.  He found himself obsessing over their itineraries.  He had to invite them to events they had no business being at.  He couldn’t remember the names of the 8 leaders he selected to help rule the world, but he could recall Buck’s aftershave.  He found himself flattering them for no reason.  And he was the Antichrist, for heavens sake.

    But in realizing that the universe revolved around Rayford Steele and Buck Williams, Nicholae had found his out.  They were vital.  They were important.  They had to present for events to unfold.  But they weren’t in the prophecies.  They weren’t protected.  They were vulnerable.

    Nicolae was sure that if he could kill Buck Williams or Rayford Steele, Armagedon could be prevented.

    But there was a catch.  They weren’t as vulnerable as it would seem.  The same forces that kept them center stage seemed to give them protection from harm.  Nicholae had tried the direct approach.  That car bomb had gotten the wrong target.  An assassin sent to Rayford’s home suddenly got interested only in stealing worthless children’s toys.  A trained professional killer suddenly having a religious fit instead of gunning down a single reporter.  Nicholae couldn’t even pull the trigger himself.  The Stonagal incident still was a bitter taste in his mouth.  The gun refusing to be pointed at the smug face and instead targeting his sponsor.  And it seemed that every thing he did just brought the prophecy closer to completion.

    Nicolae despared until he realized that perhaps it was only direct actions that would fail.  Just because they weren’t part of the prophecy didn’t mean that God wasn’t watching.  But God was known to have let things slip occasionally.  The whole mess now was an example of that.  But how to make a deliberate accident?

    Nicolae’s only hope was to make it an accident in appearance only.

    Hence the trap door to the instantly lethal, he was assured by his top researchers, room below.  But that was the easy part.

    Nicolae knew that any deliberate action to harm Buck or Ray would immediately fail.  So how to make a deliberate action on his part be an accident?

    Thus, out of desparation, the “intercom remote” was born.  It was a simple device.  Push a button and the trap door opened.  The key was Nicolae had spent months convincing himself it worked the intercom.

    Oh, it wasn’t easy.  He had a keen mind and it would take much to fool it.  He spent days pushing the button, saying “Darling, would you come in for a moment,” and being surprised when a trap door opened.  Months of mediation on the “intercom” remote.  He studied being the pusher of a remote intercom device the way an actor would study a role on Broadway.  He became obsessed with the remote.  He knew its contours, and he knew its function. 

    IT DID NOT OPEN A TRAP DOOR.  IT TURNED ON THE INTERCOM. 

    The words echoed even now in his head.  It had gotten to the point that he found himself wondering if there was even a trap door.  The was only the intercom.  And salvation for mankind.

    He knew he was sweating as he exchanged platitudes with Rayford and Amanda, but he knew he hid it well.  His hand played incessantly with the remote.  That was a good sign.  He could push the button now.  Right now.  No.  It had to be the right time.  Couldn’t screw this up.  Couldn’t get too excited.  It would be ruined.

    Now!  Now was the time.  Rayford had left an opening.  Barely able to move, barely able to breath.  “And now I have some news for you and your bride.”  He took the remote from his pocket.  He could take the remote from his pocket.  Nothing was stopping him.  Nothing was taking over.

    His finger inched towards the button.  So close.  He finger was soooo close.

    Why shouldn’t it be?  It was just the REMOTE FOR THE INTERCOM.  It was only THE INTERCOM REMOTE button.  Pushing that button would turn on the intercom, nothing else.  Just turn on the intercom. 

    Push the button.

    Turn on the Intercom.

    PUSH THE BUTTON.

    Just a little pressure and he would TURN ON THE INTERCOM.

    A little more… 

    A spasm threatened to overtake Nicolae as he felt the button depress.  He had done it!  The earth was saved.  He had pushed the button

    and

    and…

    The intercom turned on.

    Nicolae completed his nearly perfect Pavlonian training by route.  Good thing as well, for he would have collapsed otherwise.  How?  It was impossible.  The remote TURNED ON…  No his shook his head, it opened the trap door.  It opened the trap door.  He had seen it do it thousands of times.  He knew what was supposed to happen.  But it hadn’t.  Impossibly, the remote had done the one thing he had convinced himself, driven himself mad convincing himself, it was supposed to do yet could not have done in a million years.

    A smile fixed on his face, Nicolae realized that the power he was facing was not merely evil beyond all reckoning, but had a sick sense of humorand was laughing at him right now…

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    VERY nice! :D

    Couple spelling nitpicks (“Armageddon” and “by rote”), but other than that, *thumbs up* :D

  • Albanaeon

    :P  Fixed the spelling for you.  Can I get a star, now?

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino
  • Lonespark

    “Despared,” also.

     It’s so awesome, though.  Really, really awesome…

  • Lonespark

    Bravo!

  • Lyra

    “Rayford did what he could not to betray his disgust and loathing.”

    What the hell is wrong with these people? A woman is going to have a baby (a brand new baby in a world that has just lost all its children!) and his response is DISGUST and LOATHING? Mostly I’ve just rolled my eyes at what the Left Behind series spouts about, but this really makes me mad. Now, if he was concerned for the baby who was about to be born to the anti-christ, that I could understand. But this? It’s repugnant.

  • E-foster

    wow, he tries to hide his “disgust and loathing” and his bitch wife takes passive aggressive potshots at her, and they are the good guys

  • http://stealingcommas.blogspot.com/ chris the cynic

    Nicolae has a very competent staff somewhere.  The problem is that that staff, like the congregation at New Hope, is never described directly.  Like narrative dark matter we know them only from their influence on other things.  We cannot see them, but we can see their effect on the visible universe.

    Somebody had to figure out how to convert to a one world currency without the transition being bumpy.  That’s a pretty amazing feat.  Somebody had to dissolve all governments in a way that didn’t result in chaos.  Somebody had to work out how you destroy 90% of the world’s weapons while shipping the other 10% to a city that has yet to be built without either a) having the entire process end in abject failure or b) allowing the stress and absurdity to make you unhinged.  Somebody had to make that city.  Somebody had to figure out how to implement a one world language (LB has one of those, right?).  I feel like there is something vitally important that I’m leaving out, but someone had to do that too.  Which is to say nothing about getting everyone back to work after all the children disappeared.  Someone had to do that.

    I don’t know whether this dark matter staff is composed of demons or humans, but they’re frighteningly competent.  Presumably all Nicolae would have to do would be to say to them, “Be evil for a while,” and he could out evil all previous regimes.

    On the other hand, most of their effort thus far has been spent avoiding calamity.  How do we do X impossible and/or silly thing without crashing civilization?  So maybe the dark matter staff isn’t evil.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Charity-Brighton/100002974813787 Charity Brighton

    On the
    other hand, most of their effort thus far has been spent avoiding
    calamity.  How do we do X impossible and/or silly thing without crashing
    civilization?  So maybe the dark matter staff isn’t evil.

    Maybe they’re not demons after all — maybe they’re angels.

  • Ken

    A woman is going to have a baby (a brand new baby in a world that has just lost all its children!) and his response is DISGUST and LOATHING?

    It’s not completely clear to me where this reaction is coming from.  Fred says “because they’re not married,” and given L&J I agree there’s a large dose of that in the mix – the earlier “thought he would gag” is definitely a giveaway.

    But might some of it be because this is the Antichrist?  I could see myself, in Rayford’s situation, feeling something like disgust at the thought of the Spawn of Satan, Angel of the Bottomless Pit, etc. breeding.  Mind you, I’d also be feeling awful for Hattie, since she doesn’t know what’s been done to her – of course, unlike Rayford, I would have told Hattie who Nicolae was – and there’s no sign of any sympathy for Hattie in these excerpts.

    However, my main reaction would be horror, and not because of Nicolae.  I’d get a sick feeling anytime anyone told me they were expecting.  End of the world in five and a half years, remember?  And oppression and terror and famine and death for everyone before that happens.  Not a world to bring kids into.

    No hint of that in Rayford’s reaction, though.  I suppose that’s not so surprising – this is, after all, a man who believes his wife is still alive in heaven, and if he lives carefully he will be with her again – and he marries?  He can’t make himself a “eunuch for heaven” (Matthew 19:12, 1 Corinthians 7) for five and a half years?

  • http://twitter.com/FearlessSon FearlessSon

    However, my main reaction would be horror, and not because of Nicolae.  I’d get a sick feeling anytime anyone told me they were expecting.  End of the world in five and a half years, remember?  And oppression and terror and famine and death for everyone before that happens.  Not a world to bring kids into.

    Hell, I often feel that way now, even without an anti-Christ.

  • bekabot

    “Before the end of this chapter, Nicolae will begin racking up an impressively evil body count, cracking down on freedom-loving rebels and indiscriminately slaughtering civilians. Over the remaining years of the Great Tribulation, the death toll of his lethal oppression really adds up and by that point he might make a strong claim to being the second-most EMOTFOTE. But only second. Because if we use indiscriminate lethal violence as our criterion, then the Killer Robo-Jesus of the Glorious Appearing outdoes Nicolae and every other candidate for the top-ranking of superlative evil.”

    But that’s exactly the idea.  There’s only room in the Jenkins/LaHaye universe for one Killer God, Whose bloodthirstiness knows no equal.  Nicolae has a sincere try at being that guy, but in the end he’s demonstrated to be second-best (the Beta to RoboJesus’ Alpha) b/c he just hasn’t got what it takes.  RoboJesus has got what it takes: infinite wrath and much cooler powers.  In the Left Behind novels, Nicolae is demonstrated to be the Pussy whereas RoboJesus is the Tiger: that’s the way the authors set it up. 

  • http://twitter.com/FearlessSon FearlessSon

    I think you might appreciate this Deus Ex post-mortem between Warren Spector and Harvey Smith:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GTWvsGA77T4

    Anyway, if HR can be completed without picking up a weapon or installing an aug, and if running away is a viable strategy to all but one or two fights, and if you can complete it without killing anyone then I’m sure it’s a worthy successor.  Unfortunately I know for a fact that one of those things is false.  Even so, I doubt it fails on too many points.

    Technically, yes.  It can be completed without using a weapon (the player is given weapons at a few points but is never forced to use them or keep them,) and without making any takedown, with the exception of a few bosses.  And even those bosses could be taken down with an alternative to weapons.  For example, there a lot of exploding barrels and gas canisters in the room where you fight the first boss, and he can be defeated by throwing them at him.  And yes, it can be completed without activating any augmentations (technically all of Adam’s augmentations come pre-installed during the time-skip after the prologue/tutorial section and the experience points and praxis kits he gets just allow him to bring those systems online as he gains mastery over his augmented form) though going without activating them makes the game much more difficult.  Actually, some recently released DLC (an additional mission that takes place during a later time-skip of a few days late in the storyline) has an achievement for completing it without picking up any praxis upgrade kits or using any weapons, and the base game has an achievement for completing the game with zero kills (bosses not withstanding.)  

  • Anonymous

    Someone mentioned Tarquin from Order of the Stick, but now I can’t find that comment to respond to it.  What I liked about Tarquin, though, was that he didn’t rule outright; he acted as the power behind the throne to a series of minor dictators, so that whenever one dictator was ousted, he’d just wait for another one to come into power and then ingratiate himself with them behind the scenes. That would be a really cool concept for an End Times series, where the protagonists are TRYING to oppose the Antichrist; problem is, every time they think they’ve got someone pinned as the Antichrist, he (or she) is killed off and the actual Antichrist replaces them with yet another puppet ruler. 

    Now that I’m thinking of it, how fantastic would this series be if we got to the final book and found out that Nicolae wasn’t the Antichrist at all, but it was, say, Leon Fortunato pulling the strings the entire time?  It might have made the entire series worth it.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Charity-Brighton/100002974813787 Charity Brighton

    Leon Fortunato? What if it’s Stonagol from Book 1, who staged his own death? What if it’s really Hattie Durham?

    Tagline: ‘They thought she was just an ordinary stewardess. They were wrong.’

  • Anonymous

    As much as I’d love it if the Antichrist in this series were Hattie Durham, I feel like Ellenjay would throw a fit at the idea that a woman might actually be competent enough to rule the world.  Not that Nicolae displays anything close to what you would call competency.

    I could go for Stonagal as the Antichrist, who first brainwashed the room into thinking they saw him shoot himself… and then, knowing that Buck was a Christian, brainwashing him into seeing something different so that he would go back to the other Christians and report that Nicolae Carpathia was the clearly the Antichrist.  The Trib Force would be sitting there smugly thinking how they were immune to the fake Antichrist’s power, when the real Antichrist was just brainwashing them into thinking they were.

  • http://blog.trenchcoatsoft.com Ross

    I just want to announce: The product today on sellout.woot.com is a voice-activated remote control.  

    I choose to imagine that Nicky Volcania had a voice-activated remote control for his intercom.

  • Mau de Katt

    I just had to make this when I saw the original picture.  (Complete with a quote from the “Official Bible” of the genre, naturally.)

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    Incidentally, I’ve updated my EoA review with material that’s germane to the whole “assume your audience” thing.


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