All right and away we go! All That Glitters starts out with a prologue that basically summarizes the series up until this point, so let’s take a look at Ruby’s stats:
First boyfriend? Brother.
Second boyfriend? Paris.
Twin sister? Amazing.
It’s been eight months since Pearl was born, and she and her mother are living in the old Landry shack, supported by Ruby’s roadside stand of handicrafts and gumbo. Oh, and the food and presents that Paul is constantly bringing around. Yep, good old Paul, who hasn’t let up on his mission to marry his sister, and who Ruby and Pearl are waiting for as the story begins. Paul is coming around in his boat to take Ruby to see the mansion that he’s building out in the SWAMPS. After he arrives and they head out, he tells Ruby that one of his newest oil wells is going to produce much more than was anticipated, and if they’d just get married, Pearl could be a real princess. But naturally Ruby doesn’t want Pearl to be a princess, just a normal, happy little girl. Paul’s like “Yeah that’s what I meant” and they carry on. Having ruined the nice moment Paul was trying to have, Ruby can relax a little and enjoy the SWAMPS. Paul asks if Grandmere Catherine would be surprised to see everything he’s accomplished and Ruby says no, that Grandmere always believed in Paul. (She just never treated him like a grandson and would be horrified to know he’s still obsessed with Ruby) Plus, Paul, what precisely have you accomplished at this point? Don’t get me wrong, later we’ll hear about his political aspirations (America loves a man married to his sister), and his work at the cannery, and the oil fields, and I guess planning and building a sizable house in a SWAMP is quite a feat,
but come on. Shut up Paul. You’re like 19 years old.
Anyhow. The house in progress is amazing, and Paul has named it Cypress Woods. He admits that he designed it to beat the Dumas house in New Orleans and that there’s nothing he won’t do for Ruby. (This is going to be a recurring theme) So they go on a tour of the house and it’s spectacular, Spanish tile everywhere (did Paul hire Alice Wakefield?), crystal chandeliers, the works. There’s an amazing modern kitchen, and Paul thinks that they could even try to track down Ruby’s former cook Nina and hire her. Ruby’s still hesitant, even when Paul takes her up to the attic (hey!) and shows her the amazing view, then tells her that this would be her art studio. Paul wants to know if Ruby’s sure that she couldn’t be happy there. Ruby points out that she’s sure that anyone could be happy there, and it’s not the house that’s making her say no, it’s the fact that SHE AND PAUL ARE BROTHER AND SISTER. But Paul’s thought of that! (I bet)—-there are separate bedrooms and everything. Besides, it’s not their fault that his parents lied to him for so long, why should he and Ruby have to pay?
Ruby tries to delicately point out that by entering into this arrangement, Paul (who she describes as “virile”, Ruby, ew, that’s your brother) will be denying himself certain things. Paul’s willing to do that, but Ruby, who has actually been in a sexual relationship, isn’t. Get it girl. Paul offers to make a pact with Ruby: If either of them finds someone else with whom they can be happy, the remaining partner won’t get in the way. In the meantime, Pearl will be taken care of and Ruby can paint again and they can all be happy. Ruby’s starting to fold and she asks about Paul’s parents. He doesn’t care—yeah they know the truth, but they’d never tell anyone for fear of scandal, and besides, if they don’t like it, who needs ’em? Paul is loaded, after all. So Ruby hems. And she haws. And then she says yes.
Say it with me again: Oh, Ruby.
Paul drops Ruby and Pearl off at the shack and Paul goes to have dinner with his family. Paul promises to tell his father if he gets time alone with him, and leaves. Ruby and Pearl go to bed. The next day Ruby works at her roadside stand. When she takes a break in the late afternoon, she realizes that Paul didn’t come by for lunch like he usually does. She takes the time to herself to read part of a letter she’d gotten from Gisselle, who is attending some private college in New Orleans that Daphne arranged for her to attend. Naturally the letter informs Ruby that Beau is loving it in France, and is going to be getting engaged to his fancy debutante girlfriend any day. Ruby puts the letter away and takes out the locket that Beau gave her back before she went away to boarding school. She wonders if she could ever love another man like she loved Beau, and also if marrying Paul and having a secure future is the best plan after all. Living in incest is the best revenge, Ruby. I think I saw that embroidered on a pillow somewhere.
But then! Ruby gets a visitor. It’s Paul’s father Octavious, champion asshole. Okay. I know I’ve mentioned this before, but I’ll just throw it in briefly: I am a prequel believer. What happens in the prequels is Word of God as far as I’m concerned (saving things like name continuity errors like the Dollangangers are plagued with). What I mean is, in Ruby, when Ruby finds out that her mother, Gabrielle, was also Paul’s mother, she gets two versions of the story. Grandmere Catherine’s, from Gabrielle, is that Octavious came upon Gabrielle while she was swimming in the swamps and raped her, resulting in her pregnancy with Paul. According to Octavious and his wife Gladys, Gabrielle seduced him with her witchery. I’m sure we’re all on the same page, but for the record, I believe Gabrielle. Moving on.
Octavious is there to convince Ruby not to marry Paul. He gives up some half-assed version of events wherein he was overcome with passion and betrayed Gladys, and how he’s tried to make up for it, and anyway, can Ruby please not marry Paul? Gladys has fallen into some deep depression and also there’s the SIBLINGS aspect, so can she just tell him she changed her mind? He begs, and Ruby agrees. I am getting WHIPLASH from these decisions of yours, Ruby. Octavious leaves. Ruby realizes that she and Pearl have to leave the BAYOU so that Paul can finally get it through his head that he needs to find someone else. She sits down and writes a letter to Daphne, telling her about Pearl, and asking for an advance on her (Ruby’s) inheritance. Before she can address the letter, Paul shows up.
He can tell something’s wrong, so Ruby immediately tells him that she’s changed her mind. She denies that anyone talked her out of it except for her own conscience, but Paul’s suspicious. Oh and he doesn’t care about anything but Ruby and Pearl. That’s healthy. Ruby begs him to find someone else to love, but he shakes his fist at the ceiling (no, really) and swears that he’ll take an oath like a priest and turn Cypress Woods into a shrine and live there alone forever and he’ll write poetry and he’ll play guitar and WON’T RUBY BE SORRY THEN?? Then he takes off. Ruby goes inside and wonders if she’s doing the right thing. Luckily for our girl, though, circumstances will once again conspire to make sure that she never has to make a decision without some big dramatic impetus.
And this time said impetus will take the form of one Buster Trahaw. Remember him? Grandpere Jack tried to sell Ruby to him after Grandmere Catherine’s death, which was the big dramatic impetus for Ruby to run away to New Orleans. (See what I mean about conspiring circumstances?)
Wait, no, that deserves a side-rant. Ruby never has to think anything out. She never comes to any decision just by sitting down and considering her options. Grandmere’s final wish was for Ruby to leave the SWAMPS and go to New Orleans, but did she? No, not at first. At first she convinced herself she needed to stay put, and it took her grandfather chaining her to her bed after she refused to be sold that made her run. Daphne sends her to get a back alley abortion, but does she at any point realize she doesn’t want that? No, it takes the clinic being sketchy and the doctor being scary for her to run away again. Yes, I know she didn’t have much time to think between “I’m pregnant?” and “Here’s the doctor”, but it bothers me. Her initial acceptance of Paul’s proposal was a result of guilt and manipulation and a dazzlingly big art studio, and her agreement to back out just now was the result of someone playing upon that guilt. It gets worse as the series progresses, believe me. I mean, even Heaven Leigh Casteel makes decisions. Poor, poor decisions, but she still makes ’em. Hell, even Dawn Cutler makes decisions. Cathy Dollanganger makes decisions all over the place. Melody Logan just plays the fiddle.
And so just like every other major decision in Ruby’s life, the question of whether or not she’ll enter into a sham marriage with her HALF-BROTHER isn’t decided by weighing pros and cons, or by trying to contact Beau and asking him what to do, or even by mailing that letter to Daphne and getting some money of her own and leaving Houma for a while. Nope. Buster Trahaw shows up, is drunk and lurching and disgusting, paws at Ruby, she throws gumbo in his face, grabs Pearl, and flees to a neighbor’s. Buster’s arrested, the neighbors fix up the shack, and then, sure enough, Paul comes over to check on Ruby, tells her that she and Pearl shouldn’t be alone, and she decides that’s totally true and agrees ONCE AGAIN to marry him.
They exchange makeshift vows on the porch of the shack, promising to love each other and protect each other and RUBY WHAT ARE YOU DOING and they decide to elope the next day. They also drink a little of Grandmere Catherine’s brandy to celebrate, and Ruby thinks how appropriate it is to “top our pledge with something my grandmere had made”. What, like the two of you?? Paul leaves for the night, Ruby kisses Pearl, and we close the first recap with Ruby looking forward to her dreams.
As am I, and you characters better not be in them.
Seriously, Swamp Thing, what is with these two? And it only gets worse! We haven’t even gotten to the Confederate role-playing yet. You heard me.
Coming up! Shotgun weddings (is it a shotgun wedding if the baby is present?), superfluous voodoo practitioners, the introduction of Gladys Tate, and Ruby acts like a crazy lady on the streets of New Orleans. Fun!