In the twelfth and penultimate chapter of Making Money, Moist tells the truth. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to read Discworld.
I love a good mystery that makes total sense once the reveal comes, and every bit of Mr. Bent’s history was foreshadowed brilliantly up to this point. But before I get to talking about the one thing I wanted to know more than anything, I wanted to back up and discuss the lead-up to that INCREDIBLE reveal. Because y’all, none of this happens like I thought it would. Even though I totally theorized that Moist could tell the truth to get out of this situation! (Well, I suppose he’s not “out” of it quite yet.) I just couldn’t see how the truth would work.
This chapter builds on the already complicated and chaotic story of Making Money, and numerous plot lines converge to show us what really happened at the bank. The whole thing is, naturally, a public spectacle. And that’s an aspect of Moist’s stories that feels unique to them. Moist has to have a crowd to pull off all his best little schemes. The Times has aided him in that, but I’m also thinking of his first big moment in the bank when he opened it to everyone. Or Harry King offering his support on the steps of the bank. Or any number of scenes in Going Postal! Moist uses crowds to his advantage and knows how to play them, and that’s one reason I believe he relies on humor so much as he’s being interrogated, especially once he starts telling the truth. If he can win people over because they think he’s funny, he’ll do it. Of course, Pratchett can’t resist throwing in his own hilarious bits of foreshadowing here:
“The good name of the bank has been called into question, and so we will consider all matters apparently pertaining to it—“
“No matter where they lead?”
“Indeed, Mr. Cosmo Lavish, no matter where they lead.”
It’s hard not to react to Vetinari at every turn by saying, “OH, HE FUCKING KNEW, DIDN’T HE?” Because this is totally Pratchett winking at the audience, telling us that Cosmo is a victim of his own arrogance. Even if it’s not, I like my own interpretation of this because it fits with how misguided Cosmo has been throughout this novel. This man is so certain that he will prevail that he says shit like this! He really thought that his family would get away with their theft! That’s an obvious statement, though, because the Lavishes have historically gotten away with everything, haven’t they?
Not anymore. Oh, y’all, reading this chapter over again for this review is a DELIGHT. It’s not like watching a slow-motion accident: it’s like a million-car pile-up that lasts for half an hour. SO MUCH HAPPENS! As the metaphorical noose tightens around Moist’s neck (which happens a whole lot to him), the first derailment happens. News of the murders of the assassins who came for Mr. Bent distracts the crowd that’s gathered for the trial. And now I know what this whole bit means:
“Sounds like the other one is Ribcage Jack, who was kicked to death—“ there was another whispered briefing, but Commander Vimes tended to raise his voice when he was angry “—by a what? On the second floor? Don’t be daft. So what got Cranberry? Eh? Did you just say what I thought you said?”
The strip of rubber. OH MY GOD. A balloon??? Was someone murdered with BALLOON ART????
And then there’s Mr. Fusspot, who just walks about the room proudly and happily with a wind-up sex toy in his mouth, and this joke is so damn silly and I DON’T CARE, I LOVE IT. And this part is particularly delightful:
I’m in a world where that just happened, Moist thought. Nothing matters. It was an insight of incredibly wonderful liberation.
Pratchett set up this joke so that Moist could finally feel free to just tell the goddamn truth. That’s BRILLIANT. What follows felt electric. Thrilling. Impossible. Relieving. Because Moist tells the whole room that he used to be a crook, knowing full well that it ruins the plans that Cosmo, Cribbins, and Mr. Slant had for him. The derailment is so good that no one ever recovers! Because none of those men expected Moist to admit this, but it works. It works because Moist gets to control the story. Well, inasmuch as Vetinari lets him. I can’t ignore that Vetinari twists the facts just a smidge when he says that Moist “survived” his hanging. But otherwise? Everything else is true, and suddenly, guess who has to defend himself? Cosmo Lavish. The dynamic changes, at least right up until Cosmo figures out a decent rebuttal: Did Vetinari put a known bank robber in charge of the bank?
It’s at this point, though, that Pratchett introduces the NEXT derailment, and it’s a doozy. I’m still reeling from the reveal that Mr. Bent USED TO BE A CLOWN. A clown!!! Oh my god, no wonder he hates silliness! And humor! HE WALKS FUNNY, HOLY SHIT, THAT WAS A CLUE. But apparently, he’s not just a clown, but transformed into the most violent clown of all time??? (In the Discworld universe, I mean. I can think of another one in a different fictional universe.) How is he so good at throwing pies? And the ladder trick? It’s kind of terrifying, no? He killed two people already!!!
So, I don’t have all the information to fully understand Mr. Bent. I don’t know why he gave this all up or how that came to be. But here, in that room, I understood that Mr. Bent had finally revealed a part of himself that he’d kept repressed for a long, long time. He went a little overboard, but Moist saved him from a far worse fate by taking a pineapple custard pie to the face for Vetinari. (That whole sequence is amazing, too.) And once that happens and Mr. Bent calms down, the penultimate derailment arrives. Seriously, it’s like a giant wrestling match and Miss Drapes is the final tag team challenger. Because HOLY SHIT does she drop a bomb: the ledgers in Mr. Bent’s wardrobe are the actual numbers for the bank, which prove that the Lavishes SOLD OFF ALL THE GOLD THEY ACCUSED MOIST OF STEALING. The projection! The misplacement of blame! Because OF COURSE this is what the Lavishes actually did!!!
Which is yet another reason why the final scene resonates as much as it does: the Lavishes did this to themselves. Literally and figuratively! It’s Pucci who spills all the family secrets because she can’t seem to not talk; it’s the Lavish family’s treatment of Mr. Bent that eventually backfires; it was Cosmo’s insistence that Vetinari follow the truth no matter where it lead; and it was Cosmo’s incredibly creepy obsession with Vetinari that leads to his near death. ALSO WOW, that scene is so, so gross??? I truly hate the phrase “suppurating mass” and did not need to know that, but will also NOT forget it, either.
There is one last thing. The final line of this chapter has a poetic meaning that I didn’t get until I was writing this review. Moist says that the “sunshine” will do Cosmo’s hand good. And yes, that’s a direct reference to the stygium and its affects. But Moist is likely referring to something else: the truth. While he can’t claim credit for everything here, Moist helped bring the truth to light, too. In the long run, this light will be good for them. For the bank. For the city of Ankh-Morpork.
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