The Antichrist Mind-Controls Everyone, This Is No Fun Anymore: Left Behind Chapter 25, Part 2

Posted on March 29, 2016 by

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Previously in the last chapter of Left Behind, the antichrist has “Who me? Aw, shucks”-ed his way to a brand new political office in charge of the entire world. Despite devoting considerably more of its almost 500 pages to an intricate political thriller narrative than to, you know, the apocalpyse, it is not particularly clear how this has happened. His first action was to call a secret meeting to appoint his new heads of state/political lackeys, and also to murder Stonagal and Todd-Cothran, whose role in the narrative will now forever be “they did something I guess but now they’re dead”.

I STILL DON'T KNOW WHO THEY WERE THOUGH?

I STILL DON’T KNOW WHO THEY WERE THOUGH?

But, shit! The world’s most prominent politician murdering two people in cold blood definitely seems like the sort of thing that would be at least a little bit of a tip off that he’s sort of not a good person. How will these other politicians, his personal assistant/fuckbuddy, and one of the world’s most prominent journalists react to this shocking development? Maybe this is where that whole good vs evil theme could start to get really good! These people have a choice to make! Will they be seduced by the power and privilege made possible by the good favor of a man they now know is deeply, deeply evil? Maybe this story about deep conflict within the soul might actually be about – and I know this sounds crazy – deep conflict within the soul?

Surely the book won’t just have them all magically forget what happened because antichrist magic, because that would completely negate all of that conflict. Right?

I'm getting a lot of usage out of this gif

Left Behind: Chapter 25 (continued)

Buck leaves the meeting once the police are done questioning him, rushing back to the office to start working on the story. This would presumably be a very important story, since Buck’s a world-renowned journalist (perhaps you’ve heard) and he has the potential to put quite a story about the world’s most powerful politician into a major publication. Wow! Finally, some tension and excitement in this story! What will happen?

Well, apparently Left Behind is considerably less interested in that, for some reason, because Buck gets a call from his boss and Buck is super in trouble.

“Where have you been? Why weren’t you at the press conference? Were you in there when Stonagal offed himself and took the Brit with him? You should have been here.”

Buck totally forgot to go to the actual press conference after the secret meeting. Gotta say, as far as end-of-novel conflicts go, “I forgot” is a little underwhelming. He calls Steve to see if he still has his exclusive interview with Carpathia, but something screwy is going on.

“I’m saying if you were here for the press conference, you heard about the Stonagal suicide in the preliminary meeting, the one you were supposed to come to.”
Buck didn’t know what to say. “You saw me there, Steve.”
“I didn’t even see you at the press conference.”
“I wasn’t at the press conference, Steve, but I was in the room when Stonagal and Todd-Cothran died.”
“I don’t have time for this, Buck. It’s not funny. You were supposed to be there, you weren’t there. I resent it, Carpathia is offended, and no, no exclusive.”

INTERESTING. Buck has fallen out of favor and now Steve is acting like Buck wasn’t even at the meeting! Is Team Antichrist fabricating a collective lie, which Buck will be unable to refute, thus making the lie the truth?! Interesting stuff! What a powerful story about temptation and those that succumb to it!

Unless, of course, there is no temptation because the Antichrist is just using mind-control magic on everyone.

Buck realized he was up against a force with which he could not compete. The record of his having been at that meeting had been erased, including from the minds of everyone in the room.

andywhat

He knew Steve wasn’t faking it. He honestly believed Buck had not been there. The power Carpathia held over those people knew no limits. […] Had he not received Christ before entering that room, he was convinced he would be just another of Carpathia’s puppets.

But… okay, I want to emphasize that I know nothing about this from a theological perspective, but somehow I feel like this story about resisting temptation and letting Christ into your life doesn’t totally work if the “resisting temptation” part is replaced with “gets mind-controlled with mind-control magic”.

But fine. So maybe the Antichrist is less interested in temptation and more interested in just magically making people believe him when he feels like it. At least we still have Buck’s personal conflict with running a story that could help save the world at the risk of endangering his life. That’s definitely interesting!

Bailey was not in a discussing mood, so Buck let the old man talk, not trying to defend himself. “I don’t want any more of this nonsense about your having been there […] This is unacceptable and unforgivable, Cameron. I can’t have you as my executive editor. […] I don’t trust you. I should fire you.”

Oh. Well, I guess that’s resolved now. What better way for a story about a prominent news journalist grappling with including something controversial but he knows is true in a story that has the potential to cause a serious shift in the political landscape than ending it with… that journalist getting pulled from writing the story?

downton abbey dull moment

Wow, just none of the end of this story is very satisfying, is it? Actually, if you want to pause for a moment and think about why, there’s a simple answer: agency. Left Behind – for all its flaws – is at heart a story about people taking agency: they don’t believe in God, they experience personal conflict about their thoughts about God, and they choose to accept God. As an outline, that story works! Readers aren’t just interested in what happens to people; they should also how about how those specific people go through what happens to them.

But think about how much less interesting “people don’t believe in God, then they do” is as a story. And how much more like the latter Left Behind is when it resolves with 1) people make no personal decision about the antichrist, they just get brainwashed by him, and 2) man has a dangerous personal choice to make about spreading the truth, but it is taken away from him and he doesn’t seem to care.

monty python you're no fun anymore

Me, to a book about the antichrist taking control of the world. How did we get HERE?

Also a recurring theme that Left Behind doesn’t realize is a recurring theme, Buck totally doesn’t get that he’s in really deep shit:

“I can’t have you as my executive editor.”
“I’ll gladly go back to senior writer,” Buck said.
“Can’t go along with that either, pal. I want you out of New York. I’m going to put you in the Chicago bureau.”
“I’ll be happy to run that for you.”
Bailey shook his head. “You don’t get it, do you, Cameron?”

Maybe he’s just making an attempt to salvage his decline even though he knows it’s futile, but something feels more than a little dumb about “You’re being demoted.” “I could go back to my old job.” “No, you’re being really demoted.” “I could run another one of our offices.” “No, you’re… do you know what’s happening right now?”

Meanwhile, in Rayford-Is-Totally-An-Important-Part-Of-This-Story Land, the Tribulation Force is still not a band watching the UN press conference on TV. They see no Buck, but they do see someone else that they know! Because this story about the end of the entire world pretty much just revolves around a half-dozen Americans.

“And my new personal assistant, having given up a career in the aviation industry…”
Rayford flopped into a chair.

my little pony fainting couch

At first, I was like “I can’t use a My Little Pony gif for this”, but then I was like, “Wait, of course I can.”

I’ve made this joke before too, but does seriously no one in this book think it’s a little weird that the new president of the world just announced a complete unknown flight attendant, who happens to be a young and attractive woman, to be his “personal assistant”? Does no one even think it’s a little weird that he added the bit about her giving up a career in the aviation industry? Like the entire world watching this is like, “Oh. Okay, this didn’t make sense, but now that I know that she left her previous job in a not-political field to do this job in a political field, I’m on board.”

Anyway, that’s the last we see of Rayford in this book, so his narrative arc in its entirety is going from “I don’t believe in God and want to have an affair with this sexy lady” to “I believe in God and now that lady is banging the actual Antichrist.” Good effort, Rayford.

Meanwhile, Buck’s story ends with his boss demoting him to being a staff writer in Chicago under “the woman who was Lucinda’s assistant”. I can only imagine how many times Left Behind 2: Even Further Left Behind mentions that Buck has to work for a woman who wears sensible shoes! I bet she takes none of Buck’s nonsense, what with her no-nonsense take on female fashion!

The book ends with Buck deciding to go straight to the airport to go straight to Chicago. And with a dramatic, totally-not-tacked-on proclamation:

The task of the Tribulation Force was clear and their goal nothing less than to stand and fight the enemies of God during the seven most chaotic years the planet would ever see.

I like how this book ends with “The task was clear”, because if there are two concepts that describe the character development or narrative of Left Behind, they are definitely not “tasks” or “clear”.

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Posted in: Left Behind