Sunday, January 30, 2011

Twilight Chapter 21: Phone Call

1. While it’s true that a certain phone call will be central to what happens this chapter…what a stupid title as we near the dramatic climax.

2. The chapter begins with Bella waking up and watching as Alice draws a room she saw in another one of her visions, which Bella identifies as being in her mom’s house. Because I guess Meyer thought we needed confirmation that James decided to involve Bella’s mom in his little game. Even Stephenie Meyer wouldn’t try to make someone look smart by recognizing the living room in the house where they grew up and only moved out of a few months previous, would she?

3. To show you Bella’s one-track brain in action, here’s the exact dialogue where Alice tells her some of the other vampires are coming to pick her up.

Alice: “Bella, Edward is coming to get you. He and Emmett and Carlisle are going to take you somewhere, to hide you for a while.”
Bella: “Edward is coming here?”

4. Bella angsts that the Cullens can’t protect everything and everyone in her life that James could attack, with Alice assuring her “We’ll catch him, Bella.” They’ve been doing a bang-up job so far.

Because Meyer didn’t notice she thought constantly gushing over Edward’s pale, chiseled perfection was more worthy of space than believably developing the relationships between her characters, Bella fires back with “Do you think it’s only my human family he can hurt me with?”

Come off it! The Cullens aren’t her family! She’s known the rest of them a few days and her interactions with them have been even more sparse than the ones with her normal "friends." Without bothering to actually give this some time to develop it just furthers my feeling that Bella’s putting on an act so she’ll be accepted into the family so as to ensure her chances of staying with Edward. Heartless cynic that I am, I feel even more like it’s an act on account of how Edward can’t read her mind and tell how insincere she is about her interest in his relatives.

With this said, Bella goes back to her room to pretend she cares what happens to anyone besides Edward in private again.

5. The period of meaningless pity ends when Alice tells Bella that Jasper left to check out; they’re going to relocate to somewhere closer to her mom’s house while they keep an eye on her. They’ll be taking her to the airport to meet Edward’s party. Changing their base of operations to somewhere closer makes sense, but why do it before the others arrive and Bella’s able to leave with as much protection as possible? These are just my perceptions, but Alice and Jasper seem like some of the least intimidating members of the family. Alice has her precognition to possibly see any attempts by James to attack her, but the key word there is possibly. Once again, it’s been depicted as happening without her control and the reliability of what she sees is questionable (despite later books trying to make it out as one of their biggest assets). Her other protector is the one who, in the near future, goes apeshit and tries to chow down on Bella himself when she gets a paper cut because he has the least amount of control over his instincts.

Edward on the other hand can read minds and has refined his ability to the point where he uses it to find speeder traps. Couldn’t he use it to detect if James or Victoria are near and if so find out what they plan to do with a good deal more accuracy? If nothing else, it seems likely Bella would be safer being escorted to her plane by Edward’s party. It’s got three vampires in it instead of two, and those three are the super-duper strong brother who likes to fight, the one who’s been a vampire the longest and is the leader of the family, and the boyfriend of the girl they’re doing all this to protect who would probably fight the hardest of anyone in the family to keep her safe.

6. The phone call finally comes, Alice gets it and says it’s Bella’s mom. Of course it’s actually James, and I’ll go ahead and tell you he stole some of Bella's mom’s home movies and is using those to make it sound like he kidnapped her. She’s nowhere near Phoenix during any of this and was never threatened by James at all. Did he find a tape that had Bella's mom asking “Is Bella there? It’s her mom”?

For that matter, all Bella actually hears of her mom’s voice is mom calling her name in a panic. What kind of home movies do the Swans keep? “This is that time we took Bella to the beach when she was three, and that scream’s me almost having a heart attack when she nearly drowned. Ah, memories.”

Then again with what we’ve seen of Bella’s interest in self-preservation, maybe it makes sense that her mom’s recorded voice was “in a familiar tone I had heard a thousand times in my childhood, anytime I’d gotten too close to the edge of the sidewalk or strayed out of her sight in a crowded place.”

7. James of course tells Bella she needs to get away from her sparkly babysitters if she wants her mom to be okay, and asks if she thinks she can do so. When Bella replies in the negative, he answers “I was hoping you would be a little more creative than that.” Even the villain’s praising her for qualities that aren’t there.

8. James tells Bella to go to her mom’s house and call a number he left for her, where he’ll tell her what he wants her to do next. “I already knew where I would go, and how this would end,” she thinks, referring to the places revealed by Alice’s visions. But not thinking about why so much attention was called to a VCR there.

9. Bella immediately accepts she has no choice but to ditch the Cullens, walk right into James’s hands by going to the ballet studio, and die. She hopes that getting her and beating Edward will be enough for James, and after he’s got those he’ll be willing to let her mom go. For someone so well-read you’d think she’d know the villain doesn’t have a reason to keep their promises after they get what they want (again, this is something Mighty Max did much, much better in its finale than you'd expect for a show with a villain named Skull Master). And since when was this about James beating Edward? Or is that just more proof that when Bella looks at the Cullens, he’s the only one she really sees?

Like a good little victim, Bella also refuses to tell the vampires who are doing all this on her behalf what’s going on. The ones who actually know anything about dealing with vampires. The ones Bella claims to consider her new family now. Not a few books down the line when she’s finally a vampire, married to Edward and mother to a bouncing bundle of bloodsucking bliss. Right now. A touching display of faith, Bells. Yeah, I’ve been saying the Cullens aren’t all that, but that’s not what the book’s been saying.

“I had to accept that I wouldn’t see Edward again, not even one last glimpse of his face to carry with me to the mirror room.” He’s a freak. Be glad. But then, you’re a little odd too for thinking it's the ultimate expression of romance to have someone who says he's a killer break into your bedroom without your knowledge. I don't care if Edward's from a different era, he lives in this one. He wasn't magically zapped into the 21st century, after all.

“The only expression I could manage was a dull, dead look.” The way she usually looks when Edward isn’t around filling every moment with unfiltered but inexplicable bliss, then.

10. Under the pretext of writing a letter to her mom, Bella actually writes a goodbye letter to Edward explaining she loves him, she doesn’t trust his family to handle this and is going to sacrifice her life for no reason. If nothing else it shows maybe Bella is a little receptive to people’s efforts to be nice to her, at least if they’re the right people: “Tell them thank you for me. Alice especially.”

11. “I only hoped he would understand, and listen to me just this once.” When he’s shown practically no self-control and when his girlfriend is basically asking him to let her commit suicide.

“And then I carefully sealed away my heart.” Oh please! If the half of Bella’s thoughts that wasn’t rhapsodizing about Edward’s perfection wasn’t constantly moaning over one stupid thing or another, I might care when she felt torment about something bigger than not wanting to listen to her chatty "friend."

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