On Friday, things get really interesting. Missing nuclear reactors, the lost city of Atlantis, childish games, and Witchfinder Generals all point to the coming Apocalypse. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to read Good Omens.
Oh shit, this is getting so good.
I must first confess that I completely missed the importance of the scene with War in the previous “chapter.” It wasn’t until “Friday” opened with Sable getting a parcel from the same delivery man that I understood what was happening here. The Four Horsepeople of the Apocalypse were being notified that the end of the world was about to start. Well, shit. If this really is as massive and ridiculous as it seems, how the hell are Crowley and Aziraphale going to deal with this? Like, seriously, how do you stop the Horsepeople of the Apocalypse? Once things are set in motion, what can you do? Well, I guess they could kill the Antichrist, but I foresee a billion problems with that. Mainly, that goes against both characters’ insistence that they can’t actually disobey their masters.
Elvis really was at that Burger Lord. My god.
So while I tried to figure out how this was going to go down, I found myself really enjoying the conversation that Them has about otherworldly phenomenon. I came to appreciate it for another reason, which I’ll get to in a little bit, but it reminded me of what my childhood was like. I started watching The Twilight Zone when I was 8. By the time I turned ten years old in October of 1993, my parents had decided that we were going to watch The X-Files. I give credit to both of these shows for developing my interesting in science fiction, the unexplained, and the supernatural. And I suppose that my continued obsession with these things might be weird to some people, since I’m an atheist, but I see no reason why I can’t believe that some of the unexplained has to be possible. Like, okay, I don’t believe in a diety. Why can’t I believe UFO’s are real, or that our government is testing some weird shit on the general populace, or that there’s some sort of creature that would explain Bigfoot, or that the Bermuda Triangle is totally a conspiracy and STOP LOOKING AT ME LIKE THAT.
To this day, I love weird shit. I love the Weird New Jersey book and I once went on a road trip with a friend just to find half those places. (Incidentally, it’s probably the only reason I have to go to New Jersey anymore, outside of touring there in the future. There is.. well, not much in New Jersey? I have been known to poke fun at the place, but that’s only because I spent eight days there in a row, and that was kind of enough, you know?) I have specifically sought out houses or places that are rumored to be haunted and searched them late at night with friends because I am a fool. (Seriously, Google “Scary Dairy” and “Cal State Channel Islands” and read about all the haunted stuff. I WENT THERE AT TWO IN THE MORNING AND IT WAS FUCKING HORRIFYING. SHOWERS TURNED ON BY THEMSELVES, H E L P.) I love it! I love being scared and feeling uncomfortable in the context of fear. So seriously, reading the conversation Them have is perfect to me. This is what I used to talk to my twin brother about. We’d sit in the living room, sprawled on the floor, a hardcover Unsolved Mysteries book between us, and we’d read all the creepy stories and shriek at the frightening photos. This was my childhood. So it’s no surprise that I still love this sort of thing. Ultimately, I just want to thank these two authors. This is one of those rare scenes one comes across in fiction that feels like it was totally ripped out of my life. (And for once, it’s actually not BONE-CRUSHINGLY SAD. That’s nice!)
And so there’s this huge section with all these kids speaking quite certainly about what the government is hiding from us, and what Atlantis really is, and everything is totally exaggerated and ridiculous, and then:
He picked up his pen and wrote down: “XXXV QVVX.”
Translated, it meant: “Have found Lost Continent of Atlantis. High Priest has just won quoits contest.”
And this whole book just crumbles in my hands, because it is most definitely not what I thought it was going to be. I’m sure that putting this in the same chapter as the story is intentional, because I sure as hell thought, “Those silly kids! Atlantis isn’t real!” And then the book punched me in the face.
But a lot of what happens in “Friday” is about convergence. Atlantis rises out of the sea. Anathema discovers that the ley-lines she is measuring are definitely centered on Lower Tadfield. Aziraphale discovers exactly what has happened and how Adam Young fits into everything. And the Witchfinder General is aware of all this weirdness, too.
(Before that, though, this sentence: “I saw a program. It had David Attenborough, so it’s true.” That sentence is so overflowing with truth that I almost wanted to put the book away forever because every sentence after it was never going to live up to it.)
Anyway, Newton Pulsifer is brought back into the narrative. I think it’s a beautiful testament to the talent of these two writers that a mere couple pages of his presence long ago is built into what we read here. Newton is still strange, still uncertain about what he’s doing, still not very good at much of anything. He’s competent, but he’s not stellar. And he gets a rather mediocre, absurd job working for the Withfinder General. Who isn’t really a general, mind you, and may have made up everyone else that apparently works for him??? Whatever is going on, Newton is left to snip out strange or odd stories from the newspaper so that he and Shadwell canâ€¦ well, go find witches. Only Shadwell makes me laugh because he is like barely committed to finding an actual witch. I mean, I’m supposed to believe he’s been finding witches forever, but he kind of gives off this weird aura of total insincerity? Perhaps that’s the wrong word. It’s like he’s stalling. Or hiding something. But then he eats condensed milk out of the can and that just scares me.
Truthfully, though, these two characters simply couldn’t be more unlike one other. I appreciate that dynamic, especially since Newton just sticks around for weeks on end with no real hope of the job ever getting better. Hell, even when Newton brings Shadwell news of Atlantis rising out of the sea, Shadwell quickly denounces it as “politics and geography,” not witches. IT’S ATLANTIS! Okay, so the U.S. already claimed it, so it’s probably a moot point. (Typical of us, isn’t it?) It isn’t until Newton is able to trace a pattern of normal weather in TADFIELD that he convinces Shadwell that they might have some work to do.
Right, and then the last thing revealed is that he’s one of those “agents” Aziraphale and Crowley spoke of early. DAMN IT. It’s all connected!!! Oh, this is just so entertaining.
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