Last time, Ralph called a family meeting and made some suggestions for the good of society, like not pooping on the food, to which everyone unanimously said, “Nah.”
This time the chapter opens in a rather unprecedented manner: with an aerial battle over the island and a corpse being launched from the sky! It’s no tropical werewolf, but it’s something. The dead parachutist floats to the ground and becomes entangled in some shrubbery. Sam and Eric, who are supposed to be keeping watch, miss this entire action sequence. They’re sleeping. Look, every friend group needs people contributing. In my friend group, for instance:
One person is the extrovert who orders the pizza.
One person always offers to drive.
One person has a subscription to HBO.
But Samneric? Samneric are none of these people. Samneric are bringing nothing to the table, and they’re useless, and they won’t survive the winter.
When the twins rise from their slumber, they realize the fire has gone out. They hasten to light it again, hesitant as they are to invoke the ire of Ralph and his arbitrary directives.
ERIC: Thank God we got this fire going. Ralph would’ve killed us. Remember when he yelled at Jack for letting the fire go out and we missed that passing ship? SAM: I can’t believe Ralph hates fun.
Suddenly, in the fresh haze of firelight, Sam and Eric see THE BEAST. Except it’s not the beast. It’s our friendly neighborhood Dead Guy in a Parachute, but he’s strung up in a tree and casting eerie shadows that Samneric mistake for something beast-like. They high-tail it back to the lagoon to tell the others. Has everyone seen Weekend at Bernie’s? The dark comedy romp about a man’s corpse being used as a puppet? That’s what I thought this chapter was going to be. I can’t believe William Golding could’ve gone the Weekend at Bernie’s route but instead he went another. Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—I took the one less traveled by…
Everyone’s freaking out. Jack immediately files a motion to skewer the beast with something pointy. Classic Jack. Ralph is reluctant to let this play out at first, but when you put Jack in charge and with a spear to boot, the whole idea really sings.
Jack, Ralph, and the rest of the hunters decide they’ll head to the one corner of the island that Jack hasn’t yet seen. They figure the beast must live there. Piggy is left in charge of the children, because I guess every other capable person has a date with destiny. Piggy is a good strong specimen of a man capable of defending the homestead. He can only see out of one eye, though, because Jack broke his glasses. I have no idea why they divvied up the forces this way.
Simon doesn’t believe there is a beast. As they approach the beast’s alleged lair, he pretty much says, “Maybe the real beast was the friends we made along the way,” but nobody listens to him. I don’t know why Simon didn’t say this at the previous meeting when they were all hilariously voting on whether the beast was a squid or a ghost. Maybe he didn’t want to encourage this fever dream. Simon is too good for us. Simon is the hero Gotham deserves. But I guess at a certain point during a car accident, you just accept that there’s nothing more you can do; you simply take your hands off the steering wheel and let the out-of-control vehicle fishtail towards disaster.
They arrive, but no one wants to make the first move. Ralph, as the de facto leader, volunteers to get beast-punched. He marches down there with nothing but his wits and a sackful of grit. It’s a real character-defining moment for him. For comparison’s sake, if I were to find myself in the woods and I got even the slightest hint of an idea that there might be anything even resembling a bear, wolf, or particularly aggressive squirrel in the immediate vicinity, I would burn the forest to the ground because I am a grade-A coward.
But there’s nothing there. Once Jack sees there’s no danger, he joins Ralph. What they find is a series of cliffside caves utterly devoid of beasts. The other hunters scramble to catch up. Jack thinks this place would make a perfect defensive stronghold. Just, you know, like if their merry band of survivors ever splits into separate warring factions or something like that. He doesn’t say the second part, but I think it’s implied.
RALPH: We should get back. The fire’s gone out. JACK: Or we could stay here and build a fort on this treacherous cliffside. RALPH: No forts. ROGER: First we can’t poop on the food, now we can’t build murder forts. What exactly can we do?
Ralph is trying to get the kids interested in things like gathering food, building shelter, and surviving another season. You would think Ralph is asking them to do something ridiculous, like lick a toilet seat made of spiders. When everyone whines, he puts his foot down. He tells Jack to lead them onward, to the other side of the mountain where Samneric originally saw the beast. Jack obeys.
I am nervous about this. You may think you have won this round, Ralph, but you have not. Jack is exactly where he wants to be. You know how they say people have a devil on one shoulder and an angel on the other? I feel like Jack just has two devils, and the second one is a lunatic. The first is saying, “Challenge his authority, Jack,” and the second is saying, “Yes, do that, but first let’s do some stabbing. Let’s murder a pig and festoon its innards into a fashionable scarf.”
Ralph is desperately trying to hold this whole crazy parade together. He is the glue. But how long will he be the glue? I’m guessing not long. I’m guessing the presence of this man-corpse is really going to shake things up.
Which person in the friend group are you? I’m the person that sends dumb memes in the group message.
If Samneric are one person, how can they live their best life and discover their authentic self?
How long would you last in a post-nuclear desert island scenario? Be honest.
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