OK, here’s the deal—I’ve tried to keep up with this series. I’ve admitted when I was unclear about certain details and given ol’ Chuck Palahniuk a lot of room on the logic leash. But I think he’s gone and hung himself on it.
Dear reader, the only way I can attempt to review this issue is to describe it. Beat for beat. Because…I’m honestly not sure what to make of it. Will you join me on this journey? Well, either you’ve already skipped to the end rating or you’re a masochist.
So Marla finds a box to unpack back at home labelled “COMICS.” But right before she does so, we jump to another scene. The black beret baddies open a portal and drag a family through to the other meadowy side. Jumping back to Marla, we find that she’s found a chopped up body in the box (what’s in the box indeed). Crazy, right? Well, apparently not crazy enough, because then, the headless, gutless, and legless rest of the body floats over and attacks her.
But it was all a dream! Marla wakes up, goes to open the same box, but this time she stabs it repeatedly. She pulls out the head and it warns her of Die Off and they lament how inadequate her husband is to stop the evil forces.
Last issue hinted at a horrible, forced surgery on the Narrator. Now we see what happened to him: his face now looks like a twisted version of Tyler Durden, or as he says, “I’m an ugly version of my ugly side!” How kind of Palahniuk to spell it out for us.
He’s told: “The deal is…recruit us a million…and we’ll change you back.” We jump to the Narrator and Tyler standing outside a church building, saying the only place left to recruit is the home of the chaste and righteous.
However, uh, well, the two get into an argument, so then the congregation comes out, takes off his clothes, and…has sex with him to purify him of an unclean spirit? But then…er, white liquid explodes over the whole congregation. The panels are covered. The pastor vomits. Moms and teens alike are soaked. Tyler hands out Die Off cards. And then the two walk away, saying it was funnier in Silence of the Lambs.
We go back to Marla and she calls her old lady friend from Fight Club 2, who’s in the hospital. Marla says she needs to recruit a million and needs help. The golden oldie agrees, but to do so, she needs fetish gear. So then they…get busy. And it’s so intense, Marla needs oxygen.
Back with Tyler and the Narrator, they proceed to go to a sex club. But the old lady and Marla are going there too. A panel insert reveals that Tyler was the one who chopped up the body from before.
Meanwhile, the babysitter of Marla and the Narrator’s child gets bored of a children’s book, so she goes to open the “COMICS” box. “To be continued” says the stuffed penguin.
Where to start?
This is insane. And I suppose this is what I was asking for in previous issues. But now that we have madcap, sexual insanity—it’s too much. Y’know, sort-of like Game of Thrones, except the show got less sexy the longer it went, but I mean they’re similar in terms of pacing. Both of these properties suddenly went full-throttle to get to the ending, yet now there’s no logical time to breathe. Stories gaining momentum is good; however, we need proper reaction time.
Take Breaking Bad, perhaps the most breathless show ever. Whenever somebody dies or there’s a revelation, Gilligan and company lets the cast stew in the ensuing tension. We see, in methodical detail, the steps they take to dig themselves out of their sins. By paying attention to details, the writers create more believable and emotional stories, even if the events themselves aren’t super realistic.
Unfortunately on the flip side, Fight Club 3 doesn’t feel like a real story. The characters just plow through every batsh*t thing that happens to them. My face was disfigured and I can only get it back if I lay a million people? Eh, no time to dwell on that—I gotta get down. How do I do that? I’ll erupt on a whole church. How’d that happen? How do I feel now? Eh, who cares, now it’s time for a sex club. It’s total whiplash that’s self-satisfied at how transgressive and weird it is. Business as usual for Palahniuk, I guess.
We began this series by reconnecting to the Narrator’s numbing life, his discontent. Yet, it didn’t take very long to get side-tracked. However, I’ve persisted. I’ve hung with this, thinking it would resolve. Surely a veteran like Palahniuk knows what he’s doing…right? I’m not so sure anymore. The stunts were cute at first, but now they’re revealing themselves to be the foundation of this book—not good storytelling.