1326: Goodbye My Love

Title: Goodbye My Love
Author: Mantinas
Media: TV Show
Topic: Brimstone
Genre: Supernatural/Fantasy
URL: Goodbye My Love
Critiqued by TacoMagic

Heyo, patrons!  This week I’ve got a bit of a short little fic for you all.  Last week was busy for me so I’m scaling the length back this week so I can catch up with other things.  But what isn’t going to be scaled back is the suck; we’ve got plenty of that in store.

The fic we’ve got today counts as what I would call an old shame of this author.  It’s eight years old and comes from the first few years the author was active.  I’ve looked at a few of the more recent works this author’s done and they’re somewhat better.  Purple as fuck and still in need of a lot of work to get it up to a level I’d call acceptable, but at least most of the really glaring things like dialogue formatting have been fixed.  And, since most of those more recent fics are only middlingly bad, I doubt I’ll ever be featuring them in the Library.  The one I’m featuring today, however, is a complete wreck.

The canon on the table today is Brimstone.  If you’ve never heard of Brimstone, I don’t blame you.  Brimstone was partial-season Fox TV series that ran in the first half of the 1998 to 1999 season.  I’ve long considered it the Firefly that happened before Firefly.  Brimstone was a great show with solid acting, an interesting concept, and probably one of the best Satan portrayals I’ve ever seen.  It was also given a crappy, inconsistent time slot and next to no advertising.  Those who are familiar with Firefly will recognize this tale of mismanagement.  Despite that, there is still a cult following of the show, and a fair number of fanfictions based on it.

The premise of the show is that Ezekiel Stone (played by Peter Horton), usually called Zeke, was a NYPD detective whose wife was raped.  Zeke tracks down and arrests the criminal, but the guy gets cleared of the charges.  So, Zeke goes out and kills him, and then a few month later Zeke dies and goes to hell for killing the rapist.  Fifteen years after that, a bunch of souls break out of hell (113 to be exact) and Satan (played by John Glover) needs somebody to track them down and bring them back.  So, Satan ropes Zeke into recapturing the souls in exchange for a second chance at life.  So, that’s where the story picks up, Zeke hunting down the baddie of the week and sending them back to hell.

Now, who’s ready to see some flanderizing!?

As always, let’s start with the summary, since these are always so good.

Zeke discovers something about Ros. Will this interfear with his deal?

Apparently it “interfeared” with the spellchecking.

Just by reading this, we’re going to see the teenager take on what Zeke would go through seeing his wife move on.  Yay.

Mantineus-I know I should be finishing my other stories. But this was plaguing me.

Thank you for sharing your plague with us.  No, really, I didn’t want my left lung anyway.

Disclaimer-I do not own Brimstone. If I did, chances are that it would not catch on like my stories in this category.

I can see research isn’t going to be a strong point.  The show failed, author, as have most of your stories if we use the same viewer-based metric of network TV.  So, you know, a lot in common and all that.

Zeke stood outside what he used to call home.

He used to live in the void, too!?  Man, small world.

Ros was not there, she was at work. He was unnerved that the house looked the same as it did fifteen years ago.

Guess that means she’s been taking care of it.  Other than sometimes paint colors and lawn ornaments, houses don’t change much over the course of just a decade-and-a-half if they’re being lived in.  From the outside, my parents house still looks much like it did when I left for college sixteen years ago.  In fact, most of the neighbor houses look the same, too.  Now, the area around has changed quite a bit with new developments and whatnot but the houses themselves, basically the same.

So why would he expect it to look different?  Why is it unnerving that it doesn’t look different?

*Shakes the fic*

And why is any of this important!?

But he noticed that not everything was as it was.

So it was exactly the same, except all the things that weren’t.

*Looks at the void swirling angrily around the bunker*

Greeeeeaaaaat.

Ros, his wife, was dating a rugged, golf playing doctor.

Somebody has been watching a bit too much Gray’s Anatomy.

But, you know, she’ll be in her fifties at this point, so there’s a good chance that almost any man she dates around her age might golf, doctor or not.  It’s pretty common in the fifties crowd.

Though he couldn’t blame her. It was fifteen years. She’s beautiful. If she wasn’t dating he’d worry.

Good, tension over.  Why are we here again?

The only reason he didn’t was because he would get a second chance.

*Tilts head*

Uh, what?  He didn’t worry that she was dating because of his second chance?  But you just said he wasn’t worrying because she’s beautiful and it’s been a while since he died.  WHICH IS IT!?

And he second chance is not even a sure thing. He might get a second chance.  It all hinges on him successfully bringing all 113 escaped souls back to Hell.  Some of these souls have become crazy-powerful while in Hell, so I’d be a little more pragmatic about my chances at this point.

Another lifetime and beyond with her. And no more…

You know, not much.  Just an eternity, not any more than that.

Seems having a third-wheel doctor hanging out with the two of you for eternity would get a bit awkward.  Maybe you should actually worry about that.

Or maybe he likes the doctor?  *Shrug* Takes all kinds, so I won’t judge if you want some eternal three-way action.

” Hello, Mr. Stone.” Said the normal icy tone Zeke was accustomed to.  ‘ Speak of the devil’ Zeke thought, laughing in his head. Zeke stayed silent.

Uh, Zeke?  You okay, dude?  Breaking out into random maniacal laughter in your own head is not a great sign, guy.  Maybe you need to take a rest or something.  At least consider a nap.

Also, this “icy tone” is apparently coming from Satan, which means our author completely missed the point of how Satan was portrayed on the show.

Who’s surprised?  Anyone?  Anyone at all?

In Brimstone, Satan was portrayed as suave, humorous, affluent, and outgoing.  He was often sarcastic and mocking with Zeke, but never cold or icy.  Here, here’s a pretty classic exchange between the two:

That’s not really what I’d call icy by any stretch of the imagination.

” How does it feel that your wife is dating?” The Devil said, a smile on his face. ” That she forgot about you and is dating a buff, self-absorbed doctor?”

Generally Satan is a bit more subtle than that when he wants to torture Zeke, but it’s at least close to the character.  What isn’t close is the whole “Buff, self-absorbed doctor” bit.  Who talk like that, anyway?

Zeke walked away. He wanted to be alone, and he then he came.

Scared

Get out now, Satan!  Zeke really, REALLY likes it when you mock him!

” Now wait here, Mr. Stone.” The Devil said.

Come to think of it, what’s all this “Mr. Stone” stuff?  Usually Satan calls him by his full first name: Ezekiel.

” You didn’t answer my question. I thought you would like to hear something other than: Why aren’t you working?”

” I’m glad for her.” Zeke snapped. ” She’s beautiful. I’m dead. I understand why she is with him.”

All true things, so maybe be happy for her instead of getting all snippy with the Devil?

And, better yet, leave her the hell alone in her new life, creep!

Now, this is something that is from the series, Zeke has trouble learning to cope with the fact that Rosaline is still alive and he does get a little creepy stalkerish.  It was one of the weaknesses of the show because it ultimately made Zeke seem like a much more selfish character than the series was trying to make him.

Glad to see we’re focusing on the weakest part of the show, here.

” But…” The Devil said. ” You are not too happy.”

Let’s see, he’s hunting down souls that you let escape from hell and you’re holding the success of that venture over him with failure being a one-way ticket back to eternal suffering.  What’s not to be happy about?

Zeke sighed and lowered his head. ” I’ll get her back when I’m done with your escaped souls.”

Because that’s what’s best.  Nothing bad can come from seeing her dead and buried husband come waltzing back through the door looking exactly like he did the day he died despite the fifteen years that have passed.

Get over yourself, asshole.  You aren’t what she needs anymore.

The Devil laughed. Zeke looked at him. ” Why are you so happy?”

He enjoys suffering and knows you’re primed and ready to cause a lot of it.

” You are finally getting used to making people sad that you are even hoping to do it with the living!”

Wha?

I’ve read that like a half-dozen times very slowly, and I still can’t figure out what it’s supposed to mean.

Ezekiel looked puzzled at his boss. ” What do you mean?”

We’re all trying to figure that out.  Let’s hope Satan tries saying it again, but with a smaller, coherent sentence.

” You mean that you never saw them together?” The Devil Shouted.

Zeke shook his head. The Devil laughed. ” I’ll have to show you then.”

So, if Zeke never saw the two of them together, how does he know they’re dating?  How does he know the doc golfs, or is rugged for that matter?

This whole setup just reeks of teen drama.

He walked over to his red convertible. ” Come along, Mr. Stone.” The Devil said. ” I want to show you how desensitized you are.”

Desensitized?  Author, leave the poor thesaurus alone, it’s had such a weird life.

Zeke got in and they drove off.

So, are they going to where Ros works to see her date with the doctor?  I guess Ros isn’t very good at coming up with good date locations.

After an hour, Lucifer stopped at a Country Club, The Oaks.

Okay, well, if she works at a country club I can maybe see that; still you’d think she’d want to get away from it for a date.  Possibly someplace closer to home. And you would think she’d try to find work a little closer.  Takes all kinds, though; I know people who commute two hours to get to work.

” Hello, Detective Stone.” Said the Bus Boy. ” We’ve been expecting you.”

The hell is the bus boy doing greeting customers?  Surely that’s the duty of the host.  If nothing else, at least have a secretary or something.  This must be one crappy country club if they’ve got the bus boy working the front.

Zeke looked at the Devil, who only smiled and tossed the teen his keys. ” Please,” The Devil said. ” Take it for a joy ride.”

What the bus boy should say:

“Sorry, sir, but I’m working now.”

See, even a stupid 16 year-old is usually going to side with keeping their job over getting to drive around in a generic red convertible for an hour.

What he actually says:

The Bus Boy smiled. ” Thanks!” The Devil smiled and patted the boy on the back. ” No. Thank you.”

*GONG*

Split up your fucking dialogue!  It’s not hard and I know you know where the enter key is!   It’s that big wide button on your keyboard you hit every twenty words or so.

” What was that about?” Zeke asked.

Strap in, people, things are about to get profoundly stupid.

The Devil laughed. ” He’ll get in an accident and not only kill himself, but a mother and child in another car.”

*Facepalm*

Author, you have no idea what you’re doing, do you?  You cannot have missed the mark on this character more if you’d written him as played by Cher.  This isn’t even in the same ballpark as his canon characterization.

The Devil in Brimstone, while unquestionably evil, isn’t direct.  The reason he’s not direct is that he gets nothing out of directly causing death like this.  See, he needs people to want to do evil.  To embrace it.  It’s basically like how Crunchy operates, but with a different aim.  He puts on big airs of being evil and wanting suffering and all that, but when it comes to actual action, he’s far, far more subtle.  This Devil does not hand a kid some car keys and tell him to go for a spin so that people die.  That’s inane and pointless for him to do.

No, the Devil cultivates vice.  He plays the long game of slowly building up the desire to do evil with full knowledge that it’s wrong.  He needs the consent to doing the act, otherwise it’s a bust.  That takes a very subtle touch and requires a lot of puppet mastering on his part to both convince the target to want to do the evil, but also not to fear or care about the consequences.

That’s also why this whole setup is absolute nonsense.  The Devil would never take this active a role in Stone’s personal life, even if it was just to torment him.  The Devil gets much, MUCH more out of it if Stone willingly puts himself into situations that cause him the suffering.  That’s why Satan invariably walks into the middle of these scenes rather than instigating them.  He’s poking at wounds that Stone has already opened by himself.

Satan just tossing the kid into a situation that will end in the kid killing himself and a few others accomplishes none of his goals.  It’s not even comical Awesome McEviling because there’s not a point.  At least Awesome McEvils have goals, even if the goals are stupid.  Here, the Devil sets up people to die because villain.  That’s it.  That’s as deep as it is.  The devil won’t be getting any of those souls because there’s no consent of doing evil, so it’s utterly pointless. The only reason that exchange is in the fic is to remind everyone that the Devil is evil because we’re so stupid that we might have forgotten.

Author, If you can’t write a good devil character, don’t.  To be fair, they’re a hard character to write, but you’re not even remotely close here.  Not even on the same planet as “close”.

” So I guess this means that I’m walking home.” Zeke stated. The Devil laughed.

Ha.  Ha.  Author bring teh funniez.

Sorry, but Zeke wouldn’t roll over like that.  Agent of Satan he may be, but he does struggle to keep his humanity about him.  See, this fight against the 113 souls is more than just about bringing them back to Hell, it’s also about his own redemption.  Forgiving the fact that Satan wouldn’t have done any of this in the first place, Zeke would definitely have tried to stop the kid from driving off.

I usually try to hold myself back from this kind of question, but I find myself asking: Author, how much of the show did you actually watch?  Like, any of it?  More than fifteen minutes at least?  Cause you don’t seem very familiar with how these characters operate.

And then Zeke saw them. His Ros with her new boyfriend.

Much shocking, very surprise.

Wait, shouldn’t she be working?  What is with this fic and having people blowing off work!?

” I can’t believe you haven’t seen her finger.” The Devil said. He pointed. Zeke looked and saw a gold ring where his used to be.

Again, super shocking that Ros might get remarried.  It’s not like 15 years is like a sixth of her total expected lifespan or anything.

If nothing else, this fic makes the show’s handling of this theme seem subtle by comparison.  No small feat since the show basically crammed it right down the audience’s throat.

‘ Why haven’t I noticed that before?’ Zeke thought. While his boss chuckled.

New PCC There-When-You-Need-It plot rings!  If you need some of your characters to have a stealth engagement or marriage, we’ll be there with the ring!  But only when you want us to be.

He actually felt bad. Now the only question left was: ” What are you going to do now, Mr. Stone?”

First off, no, Satan doesn’t feel bad.  That’s absolutely against his character.  Once again, did you even watch the show?

Second, this directly undermines Satan’s purpose of recovering the 113 escaped souls.  Why the hell would he even do this?

Zeke had shot Ash’s eyes out. And with a brilliant display of swirling hell fire, she was sucked back home.

The fuck!?  What the hell just happened? When did Ash get here?  And when did Zeke get over her?  That’s one of the core plot arcs in the show!  Ash not seeming like a bad person despite her being one of the 113 escapees and Zeke having to decide if he’s going to send her back.  That’s one of the main threads of the whole damn show!

I guess that all just gets swept under the rug because dark.

He panted, killing her was not easy like the other one hundred and twelve damned souls.

What.  The.  Fuck!?  So wait, we’ve just skipped the entire show, including all the episodes that never got made!?

You… you… actually… GAH!

Author, you literally just took the entire show and turned it into an afterthought to pursuing the weakest, most obvious, overplayed plot point in the show.  You distilled everything the show was into its single worst element.  I cannot imagine a way to more throughly disrespect the show.  You not only fladerized the characters, but you have managed, somehow, to flandarize the whole show!

That is a fucking talent; a gift given directly from the gods of bad writing.  My hat is off to you.  In less than a thousand words, you managed to completely desecrate your own fandom.

*Slow clap*

Zeke heard clapping.

*Taco’s hands freeze*

Wait, can the fic actually hear that?  SHIT!

*Hides under the riffing desk*

“Well done, Mr. Stone.” The Devil said. “Well done. I guess this means that our little relationship is over?”

I guess that depends on if you plan on mocking Zeke.  He seemed to *hurk* REALLY like that earlier.

“No,” Zeke said. “I will go back home… I owe Ros that.”

Home?  To your flat in New York or do you mean where you used to live with your wife before you died?  Things could get a little complicated if you’re talking about the second one… unless the doc is open minded, of course.

Still not judging.

“Aw, Mr. Stone!” The Devil said sarcastically. “You’re making me sentimental. Look, I’m blushing.”

A shame we’re never going to know what the two of you are talking about.  Or care about it.

Zeke turned to face Lucifer. “Just take me back.”

Ooooh, Zeke wants to go back to Hell.  I get it.

Why?

No, really, author: why?  Why is that the only other choice to coming back and living with Rosaline.  Why does he owe her an eternity of suffering in Hell rather than coming back and trying to redeem himself?  You know, other than seventeen year-old shallow, grimdark angst that requires an emotional overreaction?

It’s just the angst thing, isn’t it?

“I’m afraid I can’t do that, Ezekiel.” Lucifer said. “I made a deal with you. You completed your part. Now I have to do mine.”

At least one of them is talking sense.  Something I never expected to happen in this fic.  I’m honestly surprised the author understood the series enough to realize that the Devil absolutely would keep up his end of a deal.  Satan may be many things, but he does not go back on a agreement.  He may tie you up with fine print or mislead you into a bad deal, but if he makes a deal with you, he honors it.

Zeke took lifted his gun to his eyes. “Mr. Stone,” The Devil shouted. “What are you doing?”

*Sigh*

Might as well queue up some My Chemical Romance and wallow in how romantically tragic this is.

And by “romantically tragic” I mean “stupid.”

“The right thing.” Zeke said as he shot out his right eye then left eye.

Dude just shot out BOTH his eyes!  That’s pretty hardcore.  Most people are too busy screaming in pain after the first one to hold the gun steady.

He screamed as his entire body became consumed by hell fire, as his vision became that of fire and falling.

I’m hoping that around this time he realizes what an utter moron he is.

And that’s it.  I do wonder if the author realized how apropos his comparison to a plague was for this fic.  Though I would say that reading about a plague would be quite a deal more interesting than reading this.

In any event, that’s it for this week, so goodbye until next, Patrons!

 

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10 Comments on “1326: Goodbye My Love”

  1. leobracer says:

    What the hell is with Fox, and their mismanagement of great shows?

  2. AdmiralSakai says:

    Wow.

    What, so a story about an undead cop sending souls back to Hell just wasn’t dark enough for you, Mantinas?

  3. AdmiralSakai says:

    “Mr. Stone,” The Devil shouted. “What are you doing?”

    “The right thing.” Zeke said as he shot out his right eye then left eye.

    Zeke had just read Goodbye My Love?

  4. "Lyle" says:

    Here, the Devil sets up people to die because villain.

    Twirl that mustache, Lucifer. Twirl it good.

  5. "Lyle" says:

    Zeke had shot Ash’s eyes out. And with a brilliant display of swirling hell fire, she was sucked back home.

    I think someone turned over two pages at once here. *rubs neck* This fic is going to give me whiplash if it keeps this crap up.

  6. "Lyle" says:

    Wow, that fic was entirely pointless. It was like the author had a vague, passing though, barfed it into a word processor, then walked off without ever thinking about it again.


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