In the fourteenth chapter of Blackout, Shaun and Becks’s confrontation with the Masons comes to a shocking end. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to read Blackout.
- Getting the chance to experience the Masons firsthand in this context really shows us why Shaun dislikes them so much. Even when it comes to small mannerisms, there’s something to despise. For example, this chapter opens with Mr. Mason going straight into “professor mode,” which belies how disingenuous he is towards his son. Both parents, for that matter, act detached from the situation, as if they refuse to acknowledge the enormity of what Shaun being there means.
- I should have known that this was a clue.
- I should have also known this wouldn’t end well when Shaun’s dad reveals that getting beyond Texas without being caught is a near impossibility. Great. GREAT. Texas isn’t good enough! How the hell are they going to make it to Florida if the Masons can’t help? But I should have thought this through: Why were they willing to help at all without seeing Georgia’s files?
- “I was so busy trying not to lose track of what he was saying that I barely even noticed when Mom slipped out of the room.” NO. NOPE. NOPE THIS CANNOT END WELL.
- “They should have tried to make you hand them over before they told you anything, and they didn’t. That means they think they can have their cake and eat it, too. You need to get out of here.” I AM ALREADY SO DONE WITH THIS BOOK. NO. NO!!!!
- But that’s what is so horrifying about this twist. In that very second, you remember that these people essentially adopted Georgia and Shaun to improve their ratings, and they treated them as such their whole lives, even after Georgia’s death. They are entirely capable of doing the same thing again, and I shouldn’t have doubted that they would the second Shaun stepped into that house.
- Thus begins one of the most tense and painful sequences in all of Newsflesh: the standoff with the Masons. When Shaun pulls Georgia’s .40 on his dad, I thought my heart was going to burst.
- “It’s simply that we don’t think you should be running around besmirching our family name. Not after everything we’ve done to build the brand.” And there it is. My god, it’s still horrifying to read. It’s still not lost on me that both Georgia and Shaun are dealing with people who no longer perceive these siblings as people anymore. While Dr. Thomas and the rest of the CDC treat Georgia like an active science experiment, the Masons think Shaun is merely damaging a brand. They have not made a single attempt to find out why Shaun has been doing what he’s been doing. Instead, this is the dissonance they jump to.
- Bless you, Becks. I’m so glad she was there.
- Mrs. Mason in particular is vicious about her condemnation of Shaun, and it’s easy to see why Shaun’s always believed that he couldn’t please his mother. Look at her! She even finds a way to make a cheap shot at Becks!
- “We can’t even get passes to go into the restricted zones. Other journalists with similar credentials have managed to at least get around the edges, but we’re being shut out. Bringing you to justice would counter that. It would show we weren’t working with you.” Okay, fuck you, too, Mr. Mason. Wow, way to send your only son to his death for access. Fuck you.
- “I’d been disillusioned y the Masons years ago. She was getting her disillusionment in one lump sumâ€¦ and like anything that shows your heroes in an unpleasant light, it had to be bitter. So very bitter.” My god, I hadn’t even thought of this until Shaun pointed it out. There’s no room for Becks to believe that she should look up to these people anymore. It’s horrifying.
- “So you’re going to sacrifice us for ratings,” I said. “Now, son, it’s not like thatâ€“” Dad began. BULLSHIT IT IS TOTALLY LIKE THAT. Granted, perhaps the Masons didn’t realize just how serious of a threat Shaun was facing. I have no doubt in my mind that if the CDC find Shaun, they will find a way to execute him or murder him. NO DOUBT. Even if I give the Masons some slack since they’re not aware of the ~government conspiracy~, they’re still sacrificing Shaun. Did they think they’d see him again? Nope, he’d be gone forever. Fuck them. Fuck them so much.
- You know, maybe when I’m distanced from this chapter and this series, I’ll be able to look back at Shaun’s accusation that Phillip’s death wasn’t an accident and think it’s too far below the belt. But when Shaun is facing his imminent demise, I refuse to think it’s anything but an honest question. What else is Shaun supposed to think? If Phillip’s death turned the Masons into what they are now, why is it implausible that they caused Phillip’s death in order to gain more ratings? These people have built an entire life around being the center of attention in the Rising. It isn’t beyond belief that they orchestrated the sacrifice of a son for personal gain.
- That being said, it seems to strike a rather emotional chord in Mrs. Mason. I still can’t discern if she’s mad that Shaun would accuse of her of such a monstrosity, or if she’s furious that he figured it all out. Either way, something happens. It’s subtle at first, but Mrs. Mason changes. Perhaps it’s ultimately that Becks and Shaun feed the Masons the very general rubric of conspiracy and misinformation that’s been following them, that’s resulted in the death of millions of people, including Georgia. Perhaps Shaun had to personalize it within an accusation regarding Phillip’s death in order for his mom to realize the gravity of what she had just done. We have to remember that this woman was one of the first Irwins, and the story her son is giving her terrifies her.
- “She looked old, tired, and like the woman I’d only ever seen in pictures before I was born. She looked like someone who could have loved me.” Done. Extinguished. Exterminated. Killed by a sentence. I am so done with this book.
- But do you realize how important this development is? Shaun sees his mother as a human being for the first time in his life. She is not just an enemy force any more. And I think it explains in great detail why everyone suddenly changes their behavior, why the Masons let Shaun and Becks go, why they agree to cover for them.
- “We were family and we were strangers.” No sentence in this chapter hit me harder than this. I love my parents. I miss my father. I have a close relationship with my mother these days. But here, in one single sentence, I’m able to find a way to describe what it felt like growing up with those people. My parents felt like strangers. They felt like strangers that I had no connection to, and I just lived in their house. My god, this book, y’all.
- “Alaric’s sister is named Alisa Kwong. She’s in the Ferry Pass Refugee Center. Get her out.” I CAN’T FUCKING BELIEVE THIS IS HAPPENING. Shaun is abandoning his efforts to get Alisa. I mean, how can he get to Florida now? His parents could not help him, and it would be suicide to try and figure out his way there with no information. Oh my god, Alaric is going to be gutted. How? How can the Masons even do this? Who’s to say they’ll even be able to leave their own house now that we know it’s under surveillance? Oh my god, WHAT ARE SHAUN AND BECKS GOING TO DO???
- “I would have said Alaric was the weak link in our particular chain, with his sister as a possible hostage to his good behavior, but I am beginning to fear our dear Magdalene might be just as easily swayed with the promise of a return to her ‘real life.'” Fuck. Fuck.
I have no idea where Shaun’s story can go from here. GREAT.
Mark Links Stuff
–Â I amÂ now on tour!!!Â I have 26 events spread out across the eastern HALF of the U.S. and Canada. They are all free and all-ages. Come see me speak about the Mark Does Stuff Universe and read terrible fanfiction live!
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