Chapter By Chapter features me reading one chapter of the selected book at the time and reviewing it as if I were reviewing an episode of a TV show or an issue of a comic. There will be spoilers if you haven’t read to the point I have, and if you’ve read further I ask that you don’t spoil anything further into the book. Think of it as read-along book club.
PART TWO: The Last Mission chapter 6
Guess what? Chapter six is six pages long! Glad that wasn’t the trend in this book. Chapter one would have been waaaaayyyyyyyyy too short. 😀
In our last trek (pun intended) Kirk made his decision and they started prepping everything. The missiles are dealt with but now there seems to be some strange coincidences and it has the crew a bit suspicious. As we dive in will there be more evidence we already know Starfleet ignored? Let’s find out.
It’s a short chapter, as mentioned, but I think it uses the space properly. Except for the last few paragraphs it all takes place in the transporter room. You have the final checks, the various tests to make sure they’re not spotted, and then the beam out. We get a character moment from Richter not only concerning his further questioning the Prime Directive but noting that by the time the Federation is ready to properly introduce themselves to the Talin he might be dead and won’t know how his final mission went. Sadly we already know it won’t be that long a wait even before the away team (as the landing parties would come to be known in Star Trek thanks to The Next Generation) arrives…right in front of two Talins. Well, so much for all their planning. Apparently they didn’t make sure the room itself was empty, or at least that someone was on their way to the room since they were in the open doorway. Whoops.
Speaking of the away team we do get a nod to a change between TOS and TNG in that in the original series Kirk usually led the landing party while in The Next Generation Picard stayed on the ship and his first officer led the away team. McCoy notes that someday he’s sure that the captain will be considered too risky to send down so the first officer goes instead. This is actually reflected in the TNG story bible, which longtime readers may remember me going over years ago, a reflection of the navy that Starfleet is based on. To re-quote:
In those same ancient days, ship’s Number One was also usually in command of shore parties (the life of a ship captain is rarely considered expendable), and that remains the same today in the 24th century where our Number One takes over the risk of acting as mission commander on planet landings and other away missions. The Captain’s concern is generally strategic while the First Officer’s is usually tactical, with Number One exercising command over away teams and activities. Of course the starship captain retains overall command of all missions.
Kirk believes he can’t retain overall command if he sits on the ship while Picard was happy to let Riker handle that assignment. To be honest, we all love Spock but I don’t think landing party leadership is in his skill set the way it was Riker just due to his conflict between human emotions and Vulcan logic. He usually ends up siding with logic and as a result Spock does not always have the best people skills, unlike Riker. So in this case that’s not necessarily a wrong viewpoint on Kirk’s part. It speaks to one of the big difference not only between the captains but the first officers as well. Neat.
Overall this is a chapter that probably needed a smaller chapter to get such a good cliffhanger. What happens next? Find out next time. Or read ahead in the book. Your call.