Episode 34. Tunnels.
The company wanders underneath Mount Thunder, more massage therapy.
Starts with “He stumbled down the span” (p421), ends with “into a low, nearly airless tunnel.” (p426)
The episode begins with Julie doing the usual intro spiel, but being interrupted by Heatherly pushing Lord Foul’s Bane in front of her face over and over, prompting Cameraman Jenn to say “do not make me come out from behind this camera, young lady! Knock it off” (02:21).
After this, we see Heatherly rubbing her neck. She says that it must be hurting from reading too much Lord Foul’s Bane, and Julie says she has just the thing, producing a white box labeled “Bog Box of Body Massagers” (02:45). Out of this box she takes a “massager” that she claims is specially made for the neck and applies it to Heatherly’s neck. And face. And chest. Cameraman Jenn tells them that it’s not really a matter of massage, but of circulation, and starts hitting Heatherly with a light cat-o-nine-tails of some kind (03:18).
###Analysis of Pages
Heatherly says that they’re picking up immediately after the company crawled under the Word of Warning.
She relates Covenant’s objection Bannor being near him, and Bannor’s reminder that Covenant is in the care of the Bloodguard (p422). Then Heatherly says that the Word of Warning revealed that Lord Foul was expecting them, as if Foul knew that they would not fall victim to Drool’s army, and perhaps it was a test of some sort (04:31).
Heatherly: Covenant felt sure the Despiseer knew everything, and that Drool was mad, ignorant, and manipulated. They walk on, and Covenant is thinking about his ring, and “doing that thing again” where he questions the reality of the land (04:53). He considers throwing the ring away, but remembers Joan, and also trying to give it to the beggar, and accepts that he can’t get rid of it. They go on, and there’s darkness, and tunnels, and enormous depth.
Cameraman Jenn shifts the camera to focus on Moose (05:10). Heatherly says that Birinair searches for his way in this blind openness, and then gets Cameraman Jenn to shift focus back to her (05:22).
Heatherly: As they descend, “they do things like they turn left, and they turn right, and there are these landmarks that only Birinair can really recognize, and everything’s really cold, and loathsome” (05:35). They stopped for cold food, and later “Birinair led them out of cold and ventilated ways” (p425) into musty and hot tunnels (05:57). They went on for days and days, and could not afford to sleep or take long rest because the “peak of Drool’s present power was only one day away” (p425) (06:08).
Heatherly: Terrel returns and warns that ur-viles approach, about fifty, and that they have seen the light. And then everybody lost their shit, because they knew these ur-viles were going to come and attack them, and “Prothall groaned, and Mormon spat a curse and Manethrall Lilith drew a hissing breath” (05:29). As she relates this, Julie has some trouble with her beer, and ends up drinking some of it out of her hand (06:46).
Heatherly: “Birinair seemed to snap like a dry twig. Shouting ‘Follow!’ he spun to his right and raced away into the darkness.” (p426) (06:41). The Bloodguard follow him, as does Prothall after a pause, and “Mormon” gets the company battle-ready. The Hirebrand shouted, and there was all this panic and crap going on, and Birinair’s all “Follow!”, and Covenant follows, hearing behind him the beginning of combat. “He kept his eyes on Birinair’s light, and followed him into the low, nearly airless tunnel” (07:27).
After the “The Analysis” intertitle, we see Heatherly and Julie holding microphones and green drinks with orange slices in them. They start singing, alternating lines from “Total Eclipse of the Heart” (07:37) and drinking. Cameraman Jenn tells her they’re rolling, and Julie asks her “what’s up with these microphones?” (07:52). Cameraman Jenn replies that they have a bit of a sound issue, and that she’s sick of listening to their reverb.
Heatherly says that last action sequence was really exciting, Julie says she has a lot of questions, Heatherly says “me too!”, and Julie then asks her “what’s some of your questions, Heather?” and puts her microphone in front of Heatherly (08:10).
Heatherly says that they must have stunk so bad, since they were wandering around for days in hot, musty tunnels. Julie says “is that a question?”, and Heatherly says it was more of a comment, and her question is “what do they use for hygiene in the Land? What do you think they smell like after six days?” (08:32). Julie says that they probably smell like the banes they were cooking in the laboratory, which is probably like meth. Heatherly says “oh and like ass, too, like ass-meth.”
Julie asks why, if they’re [prsumably meaning Drool, the Cavewights, and the ur-viles] so powerful, they live in an un-airconditioned cave instead of a palace like the Council of the Lords (09:00). Heatherly says that’s a good point. Julie suggests that maybe this is part of the reason for their attacks, and that maybe the whole thing is more like an economic statement that Steven R. Donaldson is making. Heatherly asks if Julie is saying that the poor are evil, and Julie says “Heather, you’re twisting my words. Yes!” (09:35) and then suggests watching the action sequence.
After Covenant makes it under the Word and across the bridge, he wants to be alone, and is irritated at Bannor’s presence. Bannor points out that Covenant is under his care, and does not leave Covenant. Covenant thinks that Foul created the Word of Warning, that Foul knew that the party would not fall to Drool’s army, and that the Word could not have been sensitive to white gold if it had been created by Drool alone (p422). This is all speculation, as Covenant does not have sufficient information to be certain of these things, and the thoughts clearly reflect his pessimism and fatalism.
Covenant believes that the “bargain” he made “with the Ranyhyn” was to hold the impossibility and the actuality of the Land in equipoise by gaining distance from it (p423). It appears highly doubtful that the Ranyhyn would have even understood Covenant’s meaning (because that meaning would have appeared insane to them, really), much less had any power to agree to it on behalf of the entire Land. Further, a “strategy” of attempting to distance himself from its actuality, i.e. from what he is experiencing, is clearly doomed to failure unless that distancing results in some attenuation of his experienced reality—which it clearly does not. Covenant’s belief that Foul is using his ring to force him to bring together the “opposite madnesses” is tenuous, because that “equipoise” was clearly never stable. Stress would make it a lot harder to maintain, but the only way in which Foul is really affecting Covenant through the ring is by making the ring’s power more accessible to Covenant via its red infection. (Which phenomenon, as it’s somehow tied to the redness of the moon, is apparently the doing of Drool, although Drool may be a tool for Foul in this and other regards.)
Covenant considers throwing the ring away, but cannot bring himself to do it. He clings to the false equilibrium he has set up, believing that if it failed, he would be left only with his own capacity for darkness and violence, and unleashing that would lead to the destruction of the Land. These thoughts are clearly dysfunctional, because other possibilities obviously exist—such as accepting the reality of the Land and attempting to cope with its facticity, which prospect Covenant dreads to an extreme degree. This dread is, again, essentially based on his conviction that he is fundamentaly unable to cope with anything in any way except by relying on his self-conception of “wretched leper”, and that any threat to that conception is a literal threat to his existence (his quite real need to maintain himself through habits such as VSE provides all the support he needs to maintain his belief in this).
They march through the passages under Mount Thunder for what seems like days but is not, as Covenant knows by marking the passage of time according to the strength of red in his ring, which is tied to the rising and setting of the moon. As it grows more red, he knows that night is falling. He also thinks that the apex of Drool’s power is the next night, presumably because that’s the full moon (p425). Again, this is speculation, since neither he nor any of the rest of the party have any idea how Drool’s power waxes and wanes, or whether it’s tied to the moon in a generative way at all.
Terrel returns from scouting and tells the party that they have been spotted by about fifty ur-viles, who are approaching (p426). Birinair shouts “follow!” and runs down a passage, followed by two Bloodguard and Thomas Covenant.
The statement that Lord Foul knew that they were coming—knew everything—is a speculation of Covenant’s, not presented as fact authorially.
They weren’t under there for days and days, as Covenant could tell from his ring.
Birinair knew the caves from studying old maps of them, and was not lost.
The Fantasy Action Sequence begins at 09:43.
It opens with “Bloodguard Bob” and Thomas Covenant in a cave. “Bloodguard Bob” is wearing a Ritual of Desecration T-shirt. They are tethered together with clingor. Covenant shakes it with frustration, trying to take it off, and says “just leave me the fuck alone, you twat” (10:03). “Bloodguard Bob” says “your life is in our care”, to which Covenant replies “whatever”.
We see the following scrolling text (10:13):
> pg. 422
> “But wjhen he was again
> marching in his place
> in the Quest…
> …cold petrification [sic—actually 'petrifaction' in the text]
> settled over
> his thoughts.”
Covenant thinks to himself “that whole Word of Warning thing, that’s nothing more than a test, something to set up just to make us walk around this stupid shit for like days and days and days and days and days and days and days and days. And I bet that… that… what’s his name?” We hear
JulieCameraman Jenn’s voice say “Lord Foul” (10:32). Covenant continues “Lord Foul, ah, Lord Foul, he knows everything. See him up there with the little marionettes, making us move our arms around, dit-de-dit-de-dit-de-de, god this is so boring. I am so fucking bored. Whoa, my ring! God, my ring is trippin’ me out. What the hell? Ah, reminds me of Joan” (10:56). As he says this, a picture-in-picture shot of a topless Joan Collins (possibly from The Bitch appears in the upper right.
Covenant continues “Ah, Joan, you bitch! Oh god, and then I gave it to that beggar” (11:01) A picture-in-picture shot of the ‘man in the ocher robe’ from Episode 1 appears in the upper right.
Covenant continues “god, that beggar was such a bitch. Oh god, I’m hungry. I’m so hungry. God, I hope my lunch has chicken in it” (11:11). As he says “chicken”, a shot of a chicken appears in the upper right. (Covenant thinking of chicken whenever he is portrayed as lost in his thoughts is a recurring Fantasy Bedtime Hour invention.)
We see the following scrolling text (11:15):
> pg. 424
> “Birinair…led his
> companions into a
> stone corridor
> so narrow they
> had to pass
> in single file.”
We then see the party pass by in single file, led by Birinair, followed by “Lord Mormon”, Covenant, a white “Ranynyn”, the black and orange “Ranynyn”, and “Bloodguard Bob”. This is followed by another shot of them going the other direction in the same order. They appear to shivering.
Birinair sees the torso of a skeleton hung up on one of the cave walls (11:52) and says “oh! Everybody, turn left at the dead pirate”.
We see the following scrolling text (12:05):
> pg. 425
> “Later old Birinair
> led them out of cold
> ways into closed
> musty HOT tunnels.”
> [Paraphrased from original text, with added emphasis.]
We see “Lord Mormon”, sweating profusely, walk to the right. This is followed by “Lilith” doing the same to the left, Covenant to the right (complaining about the heat), “Bloodguard Bob” to the right (showing plumber’s crack for some reason), and then “Lord Mormon” again. “Mormon” drinks deep through a straw from some drink in a small carton (12:31).
A moment later, walking to the left with Covenant behind him, “Mormon” stops and says “ah”. We see a door with “STAY OUT”, “TOP SECRET Forbidden LABORATORY”, and “NO BOYS” signs on it, as well as a poster of Ricky Martin (12:38). “Mormon” says “that must be where the banes are made. All right, time for lunch!”
Covenant, Birinair, “Bloodguard Bob”, “Lord Mormon”, and the white “Ranynyn” pause to eat. “Mormon” is deeply enjoying his drink (the same one as earlier). He also enjosy his food, and then says “All right! It’s time to go. The peak of Drool’s power is only one day away!” Covenant asks “how do you even know that?”, and “Bloodguard Bob” replies “foresight” (13:20). Birinair protests “I’m not done with my lunchables!” and then throws a packet of food to the floor. “Mormon” repeats “One day away.” Birinair says “you have no respect for you elders.”
We see the following scrolling text (13:33):
> pg. 425
> “Abrubtly [sic], Terrel
> return from
> his scouting position.”
Terrel tells the rest of the group: “The ur-viles, they’re coming. There’s about fifty of them”, to which “Mormon” says “son of a bitch!” Terrel says “and they seen your light” and points at Birinair. “Lilith” hisses (in a rather vampire-like fashion). Covenant says “whatever.”
Birinair cries “Follow!” and runs off. “Mormon” starts giving orders: “Birinair, keep calling ‘follow’. Covenant, hide behind this boulder. Ranynyn, stop humping and start running. Terrel, go find Bloodguard Bob. Dead pirate, hang in there. Covenant, what are you doing? You’re hiding behind a bolder, what—go follow Birinair!” (Terrel is clearly played by the same actor as “Bloodguard Bob”. The skeletal pirate torso, visible again in this scene, is hanging by its arms and cannot do other than as “Mormon” instructs.)
Covenant and Birinair run, apparently in place, and Birinair yells “follow!”. “Mormon” says “everyone, prepare for battle!” (14:14) as we see “Lilith” wielding nunchaku and practicing a kick.
We then see Covenant and Birinair running in place again, intercut with “Mormon” looking at the camera.
The Fantasy Action Sequence ends at 14:28.
The expert is John, who appears on screen at 14:40. He is wearing the expert jacket, but doesn’t have it when he appears in the bed. He is a journalist (14:55). He has apparently read Lord Foul’s Bane twice, having read it first in the Eighties and then going back to it (15:57). He has understood Lord Foul’s Bane one-and-a-half times (16:02).
Julie asks if “this ring of fire” was a test for the company, since Foul and Drool knew they were coming anyway, and did they pass or fail it (16:23). (Julie appears to mean the Word of Warning when she refers to the ring of fire.) Heatherly asks what they get if they pass the test, and Julie asks if it’s a test of dexterity. John says “or constition, or strength, or charisma, intelligence, armor class… I think the Word, and the ring of fire, are both tests in a string of trials laid down by Lord Foul, essentially to find out what kind of threat they are to him and his schemes to destroy the physical world dominate everything” (16:54). In this statement, John mentions five of the six Dungeons & Dragons abilities, apparently substituting armor class for wisdom. He also appears to think that there was a “ring of fire” as well as the Word of Warning, having been confused by Julie on this point.
Heatherly asks if Lord Foul has been fucking with them over and over again this whole time just to see how strong and clever they are (17:08). Julie says “I thought this was Drool’s trap, anyway.” Heatherly claims that there’s no way Drool could set up a trap like that. Julie says that the last episode revealed that Drool had set up the trap. Heatherly says that might have been Drool with Foul’s help. John says that Lord Foul is very much the active player.
They then have a discussion about the various “tests” or “traps” that the party has or may have encountered. John again refers to the “ring of fire” as a separate event, confusing Julie, and they talk about the earlier events in the book having been tests. Heatherly says that they’re still alive, which is a pass.
Heatherly, referring to Covenant thinking about giving his ring to the beggar, asks why the beggar returned the ring to Covenant (18:34). John says that he was no ordinary beggar, that he was telling Covenant what lay ahead of him. Julie says she doesn’t remember him doing that. Cameraman Jenn reminds them that the beggar is the Creator, points out that this was in an earlier episode, and asks them if they forgot. Heatherly doesn’t remember, and Jenn says it was in the Higgins O’Higgins episode. (It wasn’t, it was in Episode 25.) Julie then points out that it’s John’s episode.
Julie asks whether, had Covenant gone to the Land without the white gold ring, they would have killed him (19:48). John asks “who would have killed him” and Julie says “everyone in the Land”. John says it’s anybody’s guess. Julie says that Covenant is a jerk and they’re only keeping him around because they think he’s somebody, like he’s Berek Halfhand.” John says that they do have the principle of not taking lives, but that Covenant wouldn’t make himself a VIP. Heatherly says that the white gold ring is like a VIP pass, and John says right, it’s like the MTV backstage pass.
Heatherly wants to know what kind of laboratories are involved in bane-making, and what do they mean by banes. She and Julie also want to know what year they were making banes in the laboratories. They ask about other technology in the Land, and John asks if any of it is even real, or just in his imagination, and Heatherly focuses the discussion on the question regarding the laboratories and the banes (21:06).
John says “well, actually, girls, the definition of a laboratory is any place where experiments are done in the pursuit of knowledge, and it doesn’t have to include microchips, computers, microscopes… and in this case it’s something metaphysical, a place where sorcery is done in pursuit of things like banes” (21:25). Julie again asks what a bane is (Douglas answered this for them in Episode 28). John says a bane can be any kind of nemesis, something that gets in your way. Julie asks if, then, these labs are like factories of irritating obstacles, and John says “like in Gauntlet” (22:01).
They want to know how Birinair knows where they are, which Heatherly claims they never explain (22:18). John says that he was confused by that too. Julie asks if he’s senile or really knows where he’s going, and John says that he thinks that wizards work in mysterious ways, and that they’ll have to wait until page 426 to find out whether he knows where he’s going. (In fact, that Birinair has studied the ancient maps of Mount Thunder is mentioned on p410—during the argument with Prothall that Julie references during the discussion.)
Heatherly says that in leading them through the tunnels, Birinar seems “really spry for a dotard. What’s up with that?” (23:25). John says he doesn’t have any answer to that.
Julie wants to know why, upon the ur-viles discovering the light from Birinair’s staff, Prothall doesn’t immediately take the lead again, since the only reason they were following him was becase his light was supposed to be harder for the ur-viles to detect (23:56). John says that it was the best they could do at the time, it was either Birinair’s light or no light.
Chart-writing begins at 24:12, on the topic “what did the laboratories look like?”
Chart-writing ends at 24:44.
Heatherly’s chart (24:52) shows an evil scientist holding a beaker over a flame, next to eye of newt and toads, and the bane that’s being created is creatures burning somebody at the stake.
Julie’s chart (25:12) shows a guy with a beaker, and a microscope, and containers marked as “BANE”, but also containers marked “SPEED”, “T-REX”, and “VELOCI-RAPTOR”.
John’s chart (25:36) shows a cross-section of a bane laboratory, with a number of devices being fed into a “BANE-O-MATIC” on the right. Underneath it are boxes marked “Property of Evil Wizard dude” and “Bane Construction Supplies—Fragile!”.
The “post-coital” segment starts at 26:13. Unusually, Heatherly is in the middle, with John to her right and Julie to her left.
Julie’s favorite part was when Birinair was leading them all through the tunnels and had no idea where he was going (26:28).
Heatherly’s says she really liked it when Birinair led them into that hot, musty tunnel (26:32) but doesn’t state and isn’t asked for a favorite part.
John’s favorite part was the dotage, but he also liked the interplay between the Word and the bridge, and the Word and the ring (26:46) (He appears to be referring to parts covered in the previous episode).
After the end credits, there is an out-take of Heatherly inadvertently asking Julie what her “favorite fart” was.
After that, there is a still shot of a statue, with the words “Fantasy Bedtime Hour Productions” to the left of the statue, with a voiceover of Heatherly saying “Oh my god!” and Julie saying “I know! That’s hot!”. The statue is from Powerscourt Gardens in Enniskerry, County Wicklow, Ireland.
Laboratory: A place suited to or built for the conducting of scientific experiments. John defines it as “any place where experiments are done in the pursuit of knowledge”.
Bane: Something that ruins or destroys, usually with poisonous or ill-fated overtones. John defines it as “any kind of nemesis, something that gets in your way”. (This word was also defined in Episode 28.)
First appearance of Fantasy Bedtime Hour merchandise on the show, 09:55.