Buck Can’t Tell Rayford How He Feels: Left Behind Chapter 21

Posted on March 14, 2016 by

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It’s the moment we’ve all be waiting for. Buck interviewing Rayford. This is the moment everything in this story has been leading up to.

Buck was glad for the opportunity to interview Rayford Steele, but his emotions
were mixed. The reactions of the captain who had piloted the plane on which he had
been a passenger when the disappearances occurred would add drama to his story.

I mean, I guess? But you could also argue that interviewing anyone else on the plane would add drama to the story. At this point, I was wondering why interviewing Hattie who was also working on the flight hadn’t come up as a suggestion. Interestingly enough, Hattie brings this up later, which I’ll get to in a bit.

Buck goes to do his own thing for a bit before he meets up with Rayford/Chloe/Hattie for dinner. He calls Bailey and arranges to go to Chicago the next day to find a replacement for the editor who was raptured.

Buck and Bailey also gush over Carpathia some more and discuss whether or not the U.N. is going to give into his demands. They’re like, “He’s perfect and amazing and they should just give him everything he wants! No hidden agenda to see here!”

Buck then arranges to get a seat on Rayford’s Chicago flight – next to Chloe! Can’t wait to read more of their romantic and not at all awkward dialogue. For some reason, Buck decides to “say nothing that night about going to Chicago.” Great plan?

At dinner, Buck thinks about how hot Chloe is while Rayford worries that Buck is thinking about how hot Chloe is. There’s some very interesting character work going on here.

There’s also some very strange romantic dynamics going on:

At the restaurant Williams seemed to gaze at Chloe and ignore Hattie. Rayford
considered this insensitive, but it didn’t seem to bother Hattie. Maybe Hattie was
matchmaking behind his back. Rayford himself had said nothing about Hattie’s new
look for the evening, but that was by design. She was striking and always had been,
but he was not going down that path again.

There is a lot of religious and sexual tension going on at this table. Having all of our heroes (except the always essential Bruce) in one place is really cranking up the excitement levels.

At one point, the waiter tries to get the gang to leave, but Rayford suavely slips him some money.

The waiter peeked at the bill and slipped it into his pocket. “I’m sure you will not be
disturbed,” he said. And the water glasses were always full.

I love that the authors are like, you know how we can demonstrate that Rayford earned the respect of the waiter? The water is gonna be fucking flowing tonight!

Now that the book finally has its narrators in one place, it can’t decide who’s POV to stick with. Sometimes it changes from one paragraph to the next, which is slightly confusing, but not as bad as when it changes midway through a paragraph.

Rayford enjoyed answering Williams’s initial questions about his job, his training,
his background and upbringing, but he was eager to get on with his new mission in
life. And finally the question came. Buck tried to concentrate on the captain’s
answers but felt himself trying to impress Chloe, too. Everyone in, the business
knew he was one of the best in the world at interviewing. That and his ability to
quickly sift through the stuff and make a readable, engaging article of it had made
him who he was.

The transition there is so abrupt. It’s so abrupt that I probably shouldn’t have even used the word “transition” to describe it.

It’s also hilarious how Buck briefly thinks about impressing Chloe, but then just reminds us how everyone else thinks he’s amazing at his job and how good he is at all things related to journalism. Meanwhile, he never ties any of this back to Chloe and what she might be thinking about him.

Before Rayford can start discussing the Rapture, Chloe and Hattie excuse themselves from the table. RAYFORD IS NOT PLEASED.

Rayford was privately frustrated, almost to the point of anger. That was the second
time in a few hours that Chloe had somehow been spirited away at a crucial time. “I
assure you that is not the case,” he said, forcing himself to smile. He couldn’t slow
down and wait for their return. The question had been asked, he felt ready, and so
he stepped off the edge of a social cliff, saying things he knew could get him
categorized as a kook. A he had done with Hattie, he outlined his own spotty
spiritual history and brought Williams up to the present in a little over half an hour,
covering every detail he felt was relevant. At some point the women returned.

I don’t understand why Hattie and Chloe wouldn’t want to hear this again for the next half hour. When you are struggling to come to terms with something huge, it’s really effective to have the same information repeated rather than take any time to yourself to process it.

I’m honestly way more interested in the conversations between Hattie and Chloe that are happening off-screen. They’re probably not passing the Bechdel test by any means, but I can’t help but think that either they’d be slightly more interesting or at least very very stupid and fun to write about.

Buck basically is drooling over Rayford:

Buck sat without interrupting as this most lucid and earnest professional calmly propounded a theory that only three weeks before Buck would have found absurd.

Buck is supposed to be this shrew, skeptical reporter, but just like with Carpathia, he makes a superficial judgement about Rayford and uses this as the basis of his credibility. He seems “most lucid and earnest”! What he’s saying must be true! Carpathia is handsome and I like his ideas! He can’t have a selfish/evil agenda!

It sounded like things he had heard in church and from friends, but this guy had chapter and verse from the Bible to back it up.

judging gif

Whereas the church (and presumably Buck’s church-going friends) didn’t have the Bible to back this up? Rayford is not the first person to have read the Bible, nor is this newly available information.

Buck forces himself to remain neutral even though he wants to ask Rayford a lot of personal questions. However, Buck’s professionalism leads to a wacky misunderstanding where Rayford thinks that Buck doesn’t believe him at all. Oh no!

Buck tells us he’s getting chills while Rayford is telling us that Buck clearly thinks he’s full of shit. Oh, you boys.

After wrapping up the main part of the interview, Buck steers the conversation in a very unprofessional direction.

“Could I ask you one more thing, off the record?” he said. “May I ask what you and Hattie were talking about this afternoon in the club?”

He just wants to know why Hattie looked like she’d been crying earlier. Hattie and Rayford tell him it was personal, but then they’re happy to tell him they also talked about Christianity.

“Still off the record, Hattie,” Buck said, “do you mind if I ask your reaction to all
this?”

“Why off the record?” Hattie snapped. “The opinions of a pilot are important but
the opinions of a flight attendant aren’t?”

“I’ll put you on the machine if you want,” he said. “I didn’t know you wanted to be
on the record.”

“I don’t,” she said. “I just wanted to be asked. It’s too late now.”

buffy, evil willow says shame on you

I’m so happy Hattie pointed this out, but then she just sounds so stupid when she says it’s too late now. Why is it too late now? She also could have raised this issue earlier. She’s been hanging out with Buck a lot these past few chapters.

“And you don’t care to say what you think—”

“No, I’ll tell you. I think Rayford is sincere and thoughtful. Whether he’s right, I
have no idea. That’s all beyond me and very foreign. But I am convinced he believes
it. Whether he should or not, with his background and all that, I don’t know. Maybe
he’s susceptible to it because of losing his family.”

“I’m convinced he believes it.” Well, yeah. Why wouldn’t you believe that he believes it? Would some people think that Rayford was pranking everyone?

During all of this Chloe is crying, and this is never explained. I think it’s because she’s moved by what her father is saying and how strongly he believes in it?

The interview finishes, and Rayford suggests Buck talk to Bruce. I’m really excited for those two characters to connect. I can’t really imagine a more charged conversation than one between Bruce and Buck.

The foursome moseyed to the lobby. “I’m going to say my good-nights,” Hattie
said. “I’ve got the earlier flight tomorrow.” She thanked Rayford for dinner,
whispered something to Chloe—which seemed to get no response and thanked
Buck for his hospitality that morning. “I may just call Mr. Carpathia one of these
days,” she said. Buck resisted the urge to tell her what he knew about Carpathia’s
immediate future. He doubted the man would have time for her.

Well, the joke is on Buck, because I read some spoilers and those two definitely end up fucking.

Chloe says goodbye to Buck privately:

“Well, I feel stupid,” she said. “I just met you and I’m really gonna miss you. If you
get through Chicago, you have to call.”

“It’s a promise,” Buck said. “I can’t say when, but let’s just say sooner than you think.”

It is beyond me why Buck doesn’t just say, “Actually, I’m going to be in Chicago tomorrow on business.” Maybe he thinks the element of surprise is the key to capturing a woman’s heart.

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Posted in: Left Behind