AFBH 4: Pages 36-40

16:57 Wed 04 Oct 2006. Updated: 16:04 06 Oct 2006
[, , , , ]

Episode 4. Show on the road.

On location, competing works, and the all-time classic “Rituals of Desecration” action sequence.

36-40, starting with (presumably) “‘Say to the Council…’”, ending with “…part of the same experience.”

Jim, Jed, and Yates of California Street Partners


This episode’s post-credits intro begins with Julie asleep and Heatherly testing to see if she’s really asleep (01:55), and then relaxing and reading Frank Herbert’s Dune, which prompts a fight between them. After Heatherly says she’ll stop reading Dune, Julie finds Neuromancer, Red Mars, and Guide to a Well-Behaved Parrot under Heatherly’s pillow.

This is the first episode where Heatherly and Julie are not in their bed all the time, but are in fact at another location.

This episode is largely concerned with unraveling what Lord Foul means by all the numbers he cites, and how Kevin could have lost the Staff of Law so many times.

###Key Misunderstandings

Foul’s victory will not take 22,246 years.

Kevin did not lose the Staff of Law ten times.

There was only one Ritual of Desecration.

###Analysis of Pages

The reading includes some math subtitles, “7 x 7 = 49″, “6 x 7 = would be else”, and “every human = dead x 10″ (04:30).

They focus on the math aspects, with Heatherly trying to figure out when Foul’s complete victory will come. Her answer is 22,246 (07:59), which, as they both point out, is a long time.

They also wonder just what a Ritual of Desectraion is, with Julie asserting that Heatherly experienced one on St. Patrick’s Day (08:23).

They spend time trying to figure out what “Dismayed hung prolonged in the air” (p37) would actually sound like.

In skipping pages 33-35, they miss Foul describing how he tricked Kevin into destroying the Old Lords with the Ritual of Desecration, which he and Kevin did together, and how this reduced Foul’s strength for a thousand years. In addition, they skip Covenant trying to figure out what “doom” Foul thinks is in store for Covenant, Foul’s talk of “wild magic”, and Foul’s brief attempt to get Covenant to come to his side. The ideas that Covenant will not be able to use the wild magic against Foul in the end, and that Foul cannot yet kill Covenant, are of particular importance. As is the fact that Foul briefly has Covenant’s interest when he mentions health, but his contempt is too much for Covenant to bear.

As is covered in the episode, Foul then tells Covenant to bring a message to the Council of the Lords. If he does not deliver the message, Drool will reign in two years and every human in the Land will be dead within ten seasons. He must tell them that Drool Rockworm has the Staff of Law and that they must get it from him to be able to resist Foul for forty-nine years, and that without it they will not be able to resist him for more than seven. He also mentions that Drool seeks the Illearth Stone, and that if he gains it, “there will be woe for high and low alike until Time itself falls” (p37).

It is unclear to what extent Foul can follow through on these threats. In addition, they seem contradictory, unless Foul is certain that he can control Drool—otherwise, his statement about woe for high and low alike implies that if Drool gets the Illearth Stone, even Foul will suffer for it for the rest of time. A further implication is that Foul might not be able to stop Drool from getting the Stone without the aid of the Council of the Lords.

After Foul dismisses him, Covenant finds himself on top of Kevin’s Watch, properly in the Land. He meets Lena, and finally starts to wonder what’s really going on—at which point Lena mistakes him for Berek Halfhand, which reminds him that he was still in whatever “nightmre” realm he had been in, as Lena and Lord Foul are part of the same experience.

###Action Sequence

This Fantasy Action Sequence starts at 09:55. and is not introduced in any way.

It begins with text quoting from p36:

“… the Staff of
Law, which was
lost 10 times
100 years ago by
at the Ritual of

This way of breaking the lines is critical to the entire sequence, which posits that Kevin lost the Staff ten separate times, each time at a Ritual of Desecration.

To support this hypothesis, Kevin is something of a buffoon, and the Rituals of Desecration are like drunken festivals. Each ritual has a sign saying “nth Annual Ritual of Desecration”, and at the beginning of each Ritual the sign is desecrated. And then Kevin loses the Staff of Law. This is all presented in “slient movie” style, with sepia tone and intertitles instead of dialogue. The ways in which desecration and loss occur are as follows:

1. The sign is spray-painted, presumably with “fuck”, although we only see “fuc”. Kevin loses the Staff of Law after wagering it during a game of strip poker. (It appears to be Five-Card Draw.)
2. The sign is egged. Kevin loses the Staff of Law after he drinks himself into unconsciousness and someone steals it.
3. The sign is wrapped in toilet paper. Kevin loses the Staff of Law after twirling it in the air.
4. The sign is torn up and stomped on. Kevin loses the Staff of Law after discarding it because it impedes his progress in a sack race.
5. The sign has beer sprayed on it. Kevin loses the Staff of Law when he trades it for a beer (after dithering between trading it or his cigarette).
6. The sign is speared. Kevin loses the Staff of Law after a woman flashes him and takes it while he is stunned.
7. The sign is peed on. Kevin loses the Staff of Law after drunkenly thinking he is picking it up when in fact he is grabbing an umbrella.
8. The sign is knocked over by a couple making out. Kevin loses the Staff of Law when it is taken/eaten by a snake. (“SSSSSSSSSSS!”)
9. The sign has dirt/mud thrown on it. Kevin loses the Staff of Law when he tries to retrieve it from coat check and realizes he’s misplaced his ticket.
10. The sign is set alight. Kevin loses the Staff of Law after breaking open a pinata with it while blindfolded—in the rush for the candy, someone else steals it.

Kevin bears a marked resemblance to Thomas Covenant.

After the Rituals of Desecration, we return to normal tone and sound, and Covenant wakes up on a slab with a tennage girl over him. This girl is Lena, who tells him he looks like Berek Halfhand.

There are Ritual of Desecration T-shirts available.

Fantasy Action Sequence ends 14:50


This is the first time there are multiple experts. They are “California Street Partners”, Jim, Jed, and Yates, winners of Episode 2′s business card competition. None of them wear the “expert jacket”.

They have read Lord Foul’s Bane two, three, four, five, maybe six times (15:27) and understood it around once (15:42)—Jed dodges this question.

They are first asked “person, place, or thing?” questions about the following: 1) Kiril Threndor—place; 2) Lord Foul the Despiser—wicked, nasty, evil person; 3) Staff of Law—thing; 3) Kevin’s Watch—place.

The girls ask the experts if they’re ever experienced a Ritual of Desecration, prompting a flashback to a hazing/initiation ceremony for entrance into California Street Partners, primarily featuring spanking (17:40).

Heatherly never gets an explanation for what “monody” is (17:48).

The experts give a PowerPoint presentation on the pages they’re asked about (18:20). I will attempt to get a copy of this file and make it available for download…

One of the key take-aways from the presentation is the set of messages that Covenant must deliver to the Council of the Lords, presented as 1) Drool has the Staff and 2) they need the staff to resist Lord Foul for seven years. These two are also subtitles, except that in the subtitles 2) is “fantasybedtimehour.com” (19:59).

The experts present a correct version of “Lord Foul’s Equation” here, getting the right answer of seven years without the Staff, forty-nine years with it, as opposed to Heatherly’s answer of 22,246 years(20:08).

The experts make two recommendations for improving the show: that the girls read the pages, and that they use a dictionary (22:20).

Heatherly shows a graph charting her enjoyment versus confusion regarding Lord Foul’s Bane (23:53).

25:17, “favorite part” question. Heatherly says it was Lord Foul’s complaining about having to be content with killing and torment. Jim and Jed argue about whether Lena or “the hot chick from Pacific Bell” is hotter. Julie doesn’t cite a favorite part in this episode.

###Words Defined
Monody: Never defined in the episode, I think in this context it means a composition with a single melodic line.

First appearance of Kevin, 10:16
First appearance of Jim, Jed and Yates, 15:10
First appearance of Lena, 14:35
First out-of-bed Heatherly and Julie, 14:55
First Power Point presentation, 18:20

Leave a Reply