[ NOTE: Image-heavy post. Also, all links to Bible verses are from the Revised Standard Version. ]
All right, so we left off with Charlie finding out his wife is in the hospital. I’m unsure of the time evolution of this series but I guess we can assume it’s been a few days or a week after the Rapture. For all that, however, the hospital is suspiciously not-crowded and has a non-harried front-desk nurse handling reception as Charlie rushes up and asks for “Rebecca Baker”:
“Room 8,” she casually says. Well, let’s move to Room 8, shall we?
And just as the agents rush up, a doctor’s leaving the room. She’s clearly not frazzled from having to deal with numerous accident victims, death certificates for DOAs, etc etc etc. Kind of reminds you of Buck Williams’s very own special doctor, eh?
“Mr. Baker, I need to talk to you.” DUN DUN DUN THIS IS NEVER GOOD. Riley (blond agent) gets the picture and is all like, “I’ll be down the hall there, buddy.” Slips off to let lady doc give Charlie the bad news: it seems that his wife, Rebecca, was pregnant but whatever happened to her, the baby miscarried.
Baker is mad and smacks the wall. In an appropriately male-angsty way (movies like this tend to buy into a lot of gender essentialism, so as a man, Charlie can’t cry, but has to express his grief physically and in stoicism) he grinds out, “Can I see her?”
And so we meet Rebecca.
She’s upset she lost the baby, and tells Charlie the doctor said she might not ever be able to have children.
While I don’t want to make light of this scene, I do want to note that what we’re seeing here is also of a piece with the usual tropes that enter into literature aimed at Christian fundamentalists, which is the importance laid on having many children and the appearance, if not the reality, of a well-to-do, prosperous family.
The fact that Rebecca can’t have children could, in this light, be seen as another “strike” against Charlie. He’s already not happy that just maybe he missed the Rapture, because he previously asserted, “I’m a good person” and that he’s a Christian who attends church. But as the Rapture-believers say, he just wasn’t good enough to get the golden ticket to Heaven to bypass the Tribulation. So not being Raptured, not being able to field a football team of kids for Christ, et cetera – these can all be “read” as marks of those-not-worthy.
Now that we have had a sad, scene cut. We’re now at Catherine Harris’s house, who we may recall is the wife of George Harris, an agent who did, in fact, get Raptured. She’s been in the mental hospital long enough that the scene shows her in danger of foreclosure and eviction. Never mind that the sudden glut of housing would throw the banking and landlord-rental systems into chaos, and when you can move anywhere for free and tell the bank to go fuck themselves, why try to legally foreclose and evict someone when if they stay, they’re still paying you money?
It’s not as absurdly banal as Buck casually doing things in Manhattan, or Rayford casually dropping down to the market to get food, or put his house up for sale, but it’s close.
Adam Riley lets himself in and after walking through the sad, desolate, dark house, another flashback to when he was at the Harrises eating dinnner (I get the impression that Adam is single and so probably eats a lot of bachelor-type frozen dinners).
“I outdid myself? Really? Well YOU can wash the dishes. ” – Catherine (paraphrased)
Cut to the kitchen with George and Adam doing the dishes. And George is proselytizing Riley, naturally. What’s a nice meal without some of that “wages of sin is death” stuff as a post-dinner apertif, right?
So debate ensues. Adam says he “keeps an open mind”. George, of course, says, “Pshaw, nonsense. All those other religions may have truths, but they are DANGEROUS. THE BIBLE is the one true book! Every word!” (paraphrased) Seriously, he actually grabs the conveniently placed Bible right near the kitchen sink and holds it up to buttress his rhetorical point.
“… and through his death on the cross, made it possible for us to fellowship with him once again.”
Bingo. There’s the old resolution to the “wages of sin is death” doctrine, trotted out one more time as ‘proof’ for why Christians are special.
They get interrupted by Catherine, who tells them a basketball game’s on, and that’s the end of the flashback. Back to Riley having a sad at the empty house and the loss of his friend. He wanders the house some more and spots A BIBLE. He grabs it, sits down near a lit candle, and begins reading. From the looks of it, he’s flipped open to somewhere in the last third of the New Testament. Gotta get that Revelation somehow, eh?
Scene cut. Now we’re back to the Christian shelter place the Jewish rabbi opened up. The nasty evil law enforcement officers in the thrall of the global government are closing the place down! He has ten minutes to pack everybody up and leave! Those MEANIES!
(Never mind that in a real-world Rapture scenario? I think this would be the LEAST of the worries of the authorities, considering squatting would likely be a de facto widespread phenomenon, and dealing with crime would be a lot more important. Plus, anyone kicking a group like this out would, out of sheer practicality, probably give them 24 hours after getting an eviction order from the government responsible for assuming title to distressed property)
Now, I’ve mentioned this global government thing before, and you can see in the picture above the soldiers bear its logo, and last time the census ad had it too. But it’s just been parachuted in from nowhere; there’s no buildup or even an attempt to give us back story on it. We’re just to assume it’s happened because, well, reasons and the audience just naturally knows because RTCs have all been exposed to this sort of alarmist rhetoric from the likes of LaHaye et al, that the United Nations or something is just waiting in the wings to grind America under its bootheel.
Rabbi dude walks back up and tells everybody to pack up and get rolling. And so they do. Except for the MacGuffin of a picture of himself on a rock, which the rabbi leaves pinned to a wall.
Scene cut. We’re now with Rebecca in the room she had prepared for her baby, which we know miscarried from the previous scene. Charlie comes in and they talk. We find out Rebecca’s sister was an RTC and she got beamed up to good ol’ Heaven. Charlie’s having none of that and re-asserts the “good/decent people” thing, which as all RTCs know is code for “you didn’t recite the magic wooooooooooords! HA HA.”
It’s a subtle reference back to the “faith through works” being inferior to the “faith through grace” doctrine which LaHaye propounds in his books and which other End Times-believing Christian sects often cite as well.
Charlie goes to the Man Cave and sees the rocking horse he made for his child-to-be. In a fit of anger, he takes it into the back yard and sets fire to it. Because manly men do not cry.
Scene cut to a really awkward group of mostly guys singing a Christian song around a campfire. After the song ends, rabbi dude even goes through the whole “wine and bread” spiel in his speech about taking comfort from Jesus Christ. And so saying, he passes around a loaf of bread and someone busts out the cranberry juice.
This rabbi guy seems awfully conversant with a lot of Christian things for all that he’s presumably been raised in the Jewish faith. But then again we know sects that proclaim themselves true End-Times-believing RTCs have a habit of treating Jews like stage props or proto-Christians (look at Tsion Ben-Judah for example) rather than as people who have their reasons for believing in what they believe in.
Scene cut and we’re back with Catherine Harris. We finally get a timeline! The interviewing officer there indicates she’s been in the facility for four months since the Rapture. Usual song and dance about moving on, etc. And THEN
THE OMINOUS CENSUS STATION FORM.
“Your cooperation is now considered mandatory.”
Another one of these randomly-parachuted-in OMG global government things!
Scene cut to the President of the United States on TV! “My fellow Americans, etc and blah blah.”
The relevant (to RTCs) extract of the speech is as follows:
But we must move on and heal our nation as we heal ourselves. As you well know, this suffering has gone far beyond our borders. This catastrophe has touched every single nation on the face of the Earth. The Chairman of the World Council of Nations has asked that we join in the Global Economic Alliance. This action will propel our country into economic health and stability. You must also join with me to turn our currency into Global Credits as soon as possible to ensure the success of this dynamic program. Already, England, France, Greece and seven other European countries have joined together and are seeing dramatic results. Despite our personal losses, we must remember that the current economic condition is good. Job opportunities in all fields are at an all-time high. By imposing martial law and vigorously prosecuting criminals, we have brought down crime dramatically. This is a time of prosperity, a time of blessing after the curse. To bring further stability, many new and far-reaching programs must be put into action. We will continue to conduct the Emergency Census. We ask that every citizen receive the biological chip, introduced in Europe earlier this year. As you know, this “B” chip will ensure that all of your monetary credits are properly logged and accessible. It’s much like a credit card, with one wonderful advantage. You can never wake up and discover that it’s lost. We ask that you join in supporting your country as we move into this New Age.
I’ve underlined all the obvious End Times dog-whistles in this speech, from the thinly-disguised analog of the Secretary-General of the United Nations, the global government, the new currency (which at least isn’t given the stupidest name on the face of the Earth) the legend of the ten horns, to the DUN DUN DUN CHIP ON THE RIGHT HAND (the Prez actually points to his own right hand when he says that part of the speech).
We also get some reaction shot cuts from Riley, Catherine, Charlie and Rebecca, as well as some random FBI dude.
The economic stuff is double-talk. Why does the Prez say “the current economic condition is good” and then at the same time insist on a new currency as a stabilization measure?
In Edge of Apocalypse, there was actually a semi-legitimate reason to do so, because the post-RTS crisis caused a sudden drop in the value of the US dollar amid years of printing money to avoid needing to deal with the problem of high oil and gas prices. So there, the US dollar was already primed to lose value for one reason or another. But here, according to the Prez, things are fine! But nonetheless, the End Times checklist must needs be obeyed, ergo a new currency must be introduced and with it, tighter integration into a global government.
In reality I suspect after a Rapture, an inflationary depression would hit many countries since the sudden collapse of demand and disruption of supply chains for a lot of consumer goods, coupled with existing government spending commitments, would lead to at least a temporary resort to the printing press, causing a spike of inflation, followed by a longer-term readjustment of prices.
As the speech ends, we’re back to the Christian group, who are now in a barn listening to the radio. Rabbi dude speechifies again about being “like-minded in Christ”, etc. Incidentally, a girl addresses him as “Jacob” so for the first time we actually know the dude’s name. His sidekick is named John. Biblically anvlicious much there, movie producers and writers?
Anyway, Jacob tells John he needs to take off for a few days and buy supplies. The obvious implication here is that Christians are being persecuted, but again this is just sort of parachuted in with no real set-up whatsoever. This movie suffers from the fact that it assumes far too much about its audience, that watchers can just “fill in the gaps”, as it were. Any non-Christian who is not versed in End Times doctrine would probably be confused as hell watching this thing.
For example, in this scene John (long-haired dude) says, out of the blue, “Jacob, do you think they ever will come after us?”
Jacob responds that God will provide, etc etc etc. This would be a confusing scene if one did not have some knowledge of what generally happens in such fictional portrayals of the Rapture and subsequent events.
Ominous scene with the FBI boss! It is now 18 weeks later (suspiciously, no treaty with Israel, so no idea if in this series, the Tribulation Clock has officially kicked off) and the Justice Department is now reassigning all agents originally tasked with tracing the disappeared. (They seem to have reasonably decided that several million people can no longer be found, especially given the sheer logistical impossibility of assuming they all just fucked off someplace.) Of course it is presented with an undercurrent of conspiracy-theory foreboding, as though some shadowy higher authority knows the truth.
New assignment: Chase down Rabbi Dude! Authorities believe he is assembling a “paramilitary force”!
Objective: Locate and arrest one Jacob Krause, threat to national security!
Of course we in the audience already know he’s an inoffensive Jew-turned-Christian who’s just hiding away a bunch of people like him who are essentially harmless. But as we know from the way End Times checklists work, Christians will perforce be persecuted without reason, so scenes like this are a necessary ingredient of Rapture-themed films.
And we learn that Riley did not report to his census station! DUN DUN DUUUUUUUUUN.
Scene cut! Totally randomly somehow out of the blue, dear Jacob happens across Christine sitting on a park bench! She’s holding her purple Census form thingy and looking kind of despondent. And then he just sits down next to her and is all like, “It’s a beautiful day, isn’t it, Catherine?” GEE BE MORE CREEPY THERE BUDDY.
And of course she’s all, “DO I EVEN KNOW YOU???”
He replies with stuff about Jesus loving her, everything will be fine, etc. Fairly standard boilerplate for such stories when a RTC character is in peril from the authorities.
Scene cut. Charlie can’t find much on dear ex-Rabbi Krause, just an old address for his synagogue and phone number. Nonetheless like good FBI agents he and Riley go check it out. But Riley practically lampshades the absurdity inherent in this movie as he says, “Why would a rabbi found a paramilitary organization?”
Again random stuff out of the blue – we learn that “Global Humanitarian Rescue” closed down all non-Global shelters! What the–*flails* FILMMAKERS, DO YOU EVEN HAVE A CLUE? Any overarching coordinator of shelters for people displaced due to the disappearances would link up with and use existing infrastructure rather than cause further dislocations by trying to impose their own parallel structures!
Eeesh. This kind of absurd unthinking pushing of the RTC agenda in a Rapture-themed film like this is akin to the sloppy work LaHaye and Jenkins do in Left Behind, or LaHaye and Parshall in Edge of Apocalypse.
Anyway, empty shelter is very empty! EXCEPT FOR THE MACGUFFIN!
They don’t take it, though, and leave. Outside, Riley has a momentary BSOD as he gets upset over spending months looking for disappeared people and no answer has materialized. Again more random crap parachuted in, suddenly we learn there is a “military government” running things. Writers, can we please aim for some kind of overarching plot consistency here?
Riley also complains that nothing they’ve seen so far links Krause to anything, and it’s now a fine time for Charlie Baker to get all “I must not question why” on his good buddy. In the end Riley says nonsense like, “Maybe it needs to [fall apart]. Look, this job used to mean something to me. Now, I feel like I’m a pawn in someone else’s game. Maybe it’s time I quit and get on with the healing.”
Pretty far cry to go from lack of suspicious material on the Rabbi to wanting to throw the table over and go off and do something else, though.
Ok, scene cut! We’re now with our theologian, Dr. Edward Wilkins, the one who was (drumroll, please) Left Behind. He’s alone in his church. And he has a sad. Then we hear someone say “Dr. Wilkins?” It’s Agent Adam Riley! And he seeks ~answers~!
Wilkins says he “could use the company. It’s been awfully quiet around here these days.” He relates that about a quarter of his congregation disappeared and the remainder simply drifted off. I suspect that this is a pretty realistic response, considering that mass disappearances could lead to a rise in generally morbid or nihilistic thoughts in people, particularly if “Am I next?” is on one’s mind.
Now, even though they’re in the middle of a frakkin’ church, with presumably Bibles everywhere, the instant Adam busts out HIS Bible, Wilkins is all, “Careful! That’s an unpopular book these days!” OMINOUS PHRASING IS OMINOUS, GUYS. Y’know, that whole persecution out of nowhere thing with no set-up or back story for it.
Anyway, Dr. Wilkins begins explaining: “You see, Adam, the Lord Jesus Christ has returned for his people. First Corinthians, 15:52, says, ‘In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump, for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.’ This verse foretells what has just happened, the Rapture.”
He then makes reference to First Thessalonians, chapter 4, verses 15 through 17. He states “It was promised that Jesus would return with the sound of a shout and the voice of the archangel. And when this occurs, those who believe and are alive will see him and hear the trumpet of God and will be with him instantaneously. But this will all be invisible to the nonbeliever. So, what has happened is the immediate disappearance, the Rapture, of believers.”
The emphasis I have added to the above is that the movie is consistent with this depiction. The trumpet sound is only heard by believers; anyone not Raptured does not hear anything unusual.
The good Doctor then reveals to us that the clock is ticking down: “The beginning of the great tribulation, mass apostasy, one-world government, treaties with Israel, increase in persecution against new believers in Christ, economic boom, then collapse. And finally, the wrath of God poured out on the ungodly.”
(Just gotta get that last Fuck You, Infidels in there, no matter how well-cultured or nice the theologian may be.)
The other crucial aspect of this scene is it finally reveals why Rabbi Dude Jacob Krause suddenly started spouting off Christianity like he’d known it all his life. Wilkins says, “[Krause] could be one of the 144,000.”
And what, pray tell, are they?
With reference to Revelation 14, verses three through five, as well as Revelation, chapter seven, verse four, we learn:
“And no man can learn that song but the 144,000 which were redeemed from the Earth. These are they who are not defiled with women, for they are virgins. These are they who follow the lamb whithersoever he goeth. These were redeemed from among men being the first fruits unto God and to the lamb.”
(Aside: That’s pretty rotten luck if the rabbi likes women. Now, wouldn’t it just be a kick in the ass to all the remaining homophobes if he was gay? I’m not going to even try to touch the misogyny that drips off that verse, though.)
“And I heard the number of those who were sealed, 144,000, from every tribe of the sons of Israel.”
Bottom lining it here, the interpretation of scripture according to the filmmakers is similar to that of the Christ Clone: 144,000 Jews are especially ‘chosen’ to begin evangelizing the message of Jesus Christ. There are some, shall we say, issues with claiming this, particularly as it is known that Revelation was written as a veiled critique of the Roman Empire. As such, the only way to interpret those verses is to assume that Jews living at the time would be converted to the then-alternate sect of Judaism, and so be the first mass converts. The number itself is likely a numerologically favorable one, given that the Bible makes references to multiples of seven and twelve a lot.
Anyway, that pretty much wraps up the speech. As speechmaking goes, he’s better than Bruce Barnes whose smile is pastede on yay. But Wilkins provides a similar expository function as Bruce Barnes and Pastor Billings from Left Behind: he serves to get the audience up to speed with what’s going on, and what will happen next.
And with that, I’ll stop here. Part 3/3 soon!