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|“||Bethany. You, of all people, should understand what I'm trying to accomplish here. You, too, know what it feels like to be cast aside. But you've only dealt with the pain a few years. I've dealt with it for millennia. And while you never see your ex-husband, or how blissful he is with his new wife -- and he is -- seeing you people every day, on this perfect world He created for you, is a constant reminder . . . that though my kind came first, your kind was most revered. And while you know forgiveness . . . we know only regret. A lesson must be taught. All are accountable. Even God.||„|
|~ Bartleby to Bethany Sloane.|
Bartleby is the secondary antagonist of the 1999 film Dogma.
Bartleby is a former Grigori (watcher), who, along with fellow angel Loki, were exiled from Heaven to Wisconsin after an inebriated Loki, at Bartleby's encouragement, resigned as God's Angel of Death (which ended with him giving God the middle finger as a sign of disrespect). The angels see salvation when the demon Azrael sent them a newspaper article about a church in Red Bank, New Jersey, celebrating its centennial anniversary with a plenary indulgence. They can have their sins forgiven by entering through the church's doors and get back to Heaven after death. However, they do not realize that this will overrule the word of God, in that He/She cannot be proven wrong, which will undo all existence.
On the way, Azrael warns them that forces from both Heaven and Hell are going to kill them because Lucifer/The Devil refuses to let them succeed where he has failed (though in reality, according to Metatron, Lucifer has no idea about their intention to reenter heaven, and if he did, he would simply try to stop them because he would have as much to lose by their reentry as God would). The two angels get on a train and unwittingly meet Bethany Sloane, the Last Scion, and most of her party: Jay and Silent Bob, two prophets Metatron said would appear to help her, and Rufus, the thirteenth apostle. (Serendipity, a muse with writer's block, was not present due to interrogating the Golgothan demon, whom Azrael had ordered to kill Bethany prior to the train ride.) Bethany, while drunk, reveals her mission on stopping the angels to Bartleby. This triggers an uneasy change in Bartleby, who threatens to kill her in front of Rufus before a fight begins, and at the climax of the fight, Silent Bob, at Rufus's urging, throws the two angels off the train.
When the two angels realize that their reentry into heaven will have "consequences," Loki, who does not know the full scope of the situation, wants to back out, but Bartleby, who does know the full truth, wants to get revenge on God for giving humans free will while demanding servitude from angels. Loki is horrified at what Bartleby is saying, says that he sounds like Lucifer (much to Bartleby's anger and annoyance), and decides not to help him anymore, but Bartleby forces him to continue their plan.
When they finally arrive at the church, Bartleby kills everyone attending the ceremony and demands Loki to join him in revealing their wings. The heroes finally arrive before the angels have entered the church, but are all horrified to see the carnage that they have wrought. They find a drunk Loki with his wings cut off (likely by Bartleby). Loki, now human, first fends off an attack from Bethany, who is enraged that they have killed so many innocent people. Then, he explains that learning of Bethany's mission was what caused Bartleby to go mad. Bartleby then flies down, mocks the heroes, and details his plan to end the world: taking Loki into the church, thus absolving them of their sins, and then waiting for a soon-to-be-arriving cadre of police officers to fatally gun them down, which would cause them to go back to heaven, prove God wrong, and erase all of existence. Hearing all of this, a disgusted Loki, who now knows the entire truth of their reentry and its potential repercussions, finally has enough and decides to help the heroes by trying to fight Bartleby, but Bartleby quickly kills him and says that he lost the faith.
After this, the final battle begins as Bartleby begins fighting off Rufus, Serendipity, and Silent Bob while Jay attempts to seduce Bethany. He mentions John Doe Jersey, who was beaten into a coma near a skee ball arcade by the Stygian Triplets earlier in the film. Remembering that Metatron had told her that every now and then, God goes to Earth in human form to play skee ball, Bethany and Silent Bob race to the hospital after the former tells Jay to find a way to stall Bartleby from entering the church. Stupidly, he does so by shooting off Bartleby's wings with a submachine gun, turning him human. Knowing that this has done him a favor (as he needs to be human in order to be killed and ascend back to heaven), Bartleby spreads his arms, rears back his upper body, and unleashes an evil, insane laugh.
When Bethany and Silent Bob finally reach John Doe Jersey, Bethany removes his life support in hopes of releasing God, but is inadvertently killed in the process. Nonetheless, in spite of her death, Bethany releases God just in time. Before a now-human Bartleby can run into the church, he is stopped by God, in the form of a woman, and Metatron. He falls down to his knees in remorse and apologizes, and though God gives him a hug to show Her forgiveness, She nonetheless kills him brutally with the power of Her voice.
Following Bartleby's death, God sends every one of his massacred victims to Heaven, likely sends him and Loki to Hell for their sins/crimes, and reverses all of the destruction they caused to normal, all with a single breath. Then, after a tearful Silent Bob shows up with Bethany's corpse, God resurrects her out of thanks for saving Her and all of existence and conceives a child inside of her.
|“||Wake up! These humans have besmirched everything God has bestowed upon them. They were given paradise — they threw it away. They were given this planet — they destroyed it. They were favored best of all His endeavors, and some of them don't even believe that He exists! And in spite of it all, He has shown them infinite f**king patience at every turn. What about us? I asked you once to lay down the sword because I felt sorry for them. And what was the result? Our expulsion from Paradise! Where was His infinite f**king patience then? It's not right! It's not fair! We've paid our debt. Don't you think it's time? Don't you think it's time for us to go home? And to do that, I think we may have to dispatch our would-be dispatchers.||„|
|~ Bartleby to Loki after realizing what their plan will do.|
|“||Ladies and gentlemen, you have been judged guilty of sinning against our almighty God, and I promise you, you shall pay for your trespasses . . . in blood!||„|
|~ Bartleby before killing everyone attending the church's centennial anniversary in Red Bank.|
|“||Don't... See, don't let your sympathies get the best of you, they did me once. Scion or not, she's still just a human, and by passing through that arch, our sins are forgiven, no harm, no foul.||„|
|~ Bartleby to Loki.|
|“||I'm sorry, old friend... but you lost the faith.||„|
|~ Bartleby to Loki while killing him.|
- Though for much of the film it appears that Loki is actually the secondary antagonist (given his temperament and obsession with killing), but by the end of the film Bartleby goes completely insane and reveals himself as the deadlier of the two, going as far as to kill Loki himself and attempt to deliberately wipe out existence purely because of spite. This would make Loki the film's Heavy and Bartleby the secondary antagonist, since he was the greatest threat to life's survival out of the two.
- Bartleby's name comes from the short story "Bartleby, the Scrivener".
- Despite being being the secondary antagonist, Bartleby had more seens where he did most of the work and proven to be more dangerous. He also surves as the final antagonist to die.