In the second half of the ninth chapter of Going Postal, OH NO. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to read Going Postal.
Well, I tried to figure out where this was going, but NOPE. And I was worried about the wrong thing! I FORGOT ABOUT MR. GRYLE AND I AM GOING TO BE VERY UPSET IF THE THING HAPPENS.
But let’s back up first because there are Other Things to discuss. On an entirely positive note, I’m so happy with the extended fight choreography sequence that opens Moist’s entrance into the Mended Drum. It’s so very Pratchett-esque in terms of his humor, and I love that it’s happening in the background of an otherwise intensely serious conversation. I think it adds a texture to the scene as well, one that grounds us in the reality of Miss Dearheart and what Reacher Gilt did to her. Part of me thinks that the Mended Drum is just her kind of place, and no matter her financial or class status, she would probably go there anyway. But I couldn’t ignore that it is in a place as chaotic as the Mended Drum that she finally relates the tale of how Reacher Gilt destroyed her family, stole the Grand Trunk from her father, and murdered her brother, John. (Which makes me think that Mr. Gryle killed him, too. But what the hell is Mr. Gryle? He’s a gargoyle, right? But he must be a gargoyle from outside Ankh-Morpork since he would know not to eat Ankh-Morporkian pigeons. I AM CONFUSED.) Look, I already hated Gilt, but wow. Wow. People like him—who operate as they do, who believe as they do—genuinely ruin lives, both on the small sense and the larger one, and Pratchett includes all of that here. We’ve seen many of the system-wide problems with the “repairs”; and the means by which demand is artificially inflated and then exploited; and the ways in which workers’ safety is ignored in favor of increasing efficiency and profit; and the ways in which Gilt and his people do not care about the cultures that created these services and how they made this all possible; and then we’ve seen how Gilt will just “take care” of people (ostensibly all through Mr. Gryle, whose ability to fly allows him to easily pick off any of Gilt’s targets) once they get in his way. He murdered John as retaliation, and he did so while spouting his bullshit about freedom and tyranny. Because nothing says you support freedom and hate tyranny quite like murdering your competitors out of spite. Right?
With that in mind, I was nervous about the dinner date. I am sure Moist was very aware of the hornet’s nest that he’d swung at by this point, given that he did not previously know Miss Dearheart’s connection to Reacher Gilt. And look, I even anticipated that this would backfire on Moist and that Gilt would find out that Moist had forged a letter from him. I DID NOT EXPECT WHAT ACTUALLY TRANSPIRES. I said on video that Moist recognizing Gilt as a conman—perhaps a better conman than he is!—was probably yet another reason Vetinari wanted Moist to be the one to go up against him. But I also appreciate it so much that Pratchett calls out men like this for what they are: frauds. They are conmen to the highest degree, spreading their bullshit moral and economic philosophies as a means of covering for how selfish and greedy they actually are. In some twisted way, some people like this do believe the lies they are peddling, but Gilt? No, I think the electrifying moment that he shares with Moist is all the proof I need that he came up with a means for publicly justifying his behavior. He did it to attract others who also just wanted to make money, no matter who else was harmed in the process. He conned everyone, and he did it with a creepy, humorless smile on his face, a knife pressed to the neck of everyone else, and he is going to do this sort of thing for the rest of his life. This is a seasoned conman, right?
And I don’t think that Pratchett means that this sort of belief would work if Gilt were not a conman; I really do believe Pratchett is putting the entire thing under a microscope and examining all of its flaws. Being a fraud and believing in the sort of economic policies that Gilt does go hand-in-hand. They both thrive on one another. But this is the first moment in the book, as far as I can remember, where someone has seen Reacher Gilt for who he is (and who he knows he is), and it terrifies him. For a just a second, it all falls apart. But with the post office on fire (I’M SO UPSET), Gilt has struck back hard, and I have no idea what sort of plan Moist will come up with. Is he going to fight back? Try to remain in the shadows and out of the spotlight? Is this the perfect time for him to cut his losses and run? Or is it time for him to find out who he is without his past personas?
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