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 3: Talin chapter 2
Last time we finally found out what happened to Spock but we’re still not sure what he’s up to or why he left Uhura in the lurch. This time we check back in with Mr. Scott. When last we saw him all the way back in early part one he was the last man standing with the exception of Uhura. He tendered his resignation from Starfleet but he’s still part of the clean-up crew, at least until we learn if his resignation was accepted.
We’re at the point in these reviews where I’m really running out of things to say because we’re deep into the story and I don’t want to leave spoilers on the homepage. If you’re reading the article itself you should already be prepared for spoilers or have already read the chapter and are ready to hear my thoughts on it. So without further adieu let’s get on with that.
This chapter finds Scotty still trying to get out and away from Styles, and finally having enough of his nonsense. He even breaks Styles’ annoying walking stick. However, there are even more peculiarities with what he and Lt. Kyle have discovered, which I’ll get to shortly, and he manages to convince vice admiral Hammersmith, the same vice-admiral McCoy socked to get his walking papers, to give him at least a little time to investigate further. While he and Kyle were too close to Kirk, he’s still the only person we’ve seen in Starfleet thus far to be more interested in the truth than what’s politically expedient. And Starfleet isn’t even supposed to be the political arm, they’re the exploration group and the closest thing the Federation has to a military.
There are two more things we learn, one that is a red flag to Scotty and one that’s a red flag to me. As they’ve been able to go over the damage to the ship it appears that a subspace pulse targeted specific important areas of the ship’s systems, something that not only should Starfleet not be able to do but the Talin really shouldn’t be able to do even if they were aware of the Enterprise hanging around up there. This is the information that is getting Scott his first bit of help courtesy of Hammersmith (because Styles isn’t going to do anything that would benefit Kirk and keep him from getting control of the Enterprise–Styles doesn’t understand WHY this ship is so famous and just wants the name on his resume…which reminds me of the entertainment industry’s current approach to older properties, including Star Trek) and the first big sign to people not paying attention to what we’ve already seen. Again, how did the Talin know how to attack the ship, why blow up their own planet, and this only proves that the ship’s systems going haywire at the worst time couldn’t just be coincidence. Scotty can get help from anyone in Starfleet but he’ll only have a week before Hammersmith is out of options. Nice to see someone who knows what they’re doing outside of the usual cast.
However, something that Scotty is waving off as panic is giving me cause for concern. Granted I’m no Sherlock Holmes…I can’t even solve a Scooby-Doo mystery when someone other than DC Comics is making a Scooby-Doo story with a mystery involved. Yet, Mallet and Cardinalli using the Wraith ships to break open the shuttlecraft bay and get back to the FCO base on the moon could place them as suspects if indeed some outside element caused the accidental launch earlier and certainly involved the ship being attacked during the second nuclear strike so they couldn’t stop this one like they did the first. Could someone have wanted the planet nuked and could the these two be involved? We know that the previous issues we’ve seen with the Wraiths being spotted and the Enterprise not getting the warnings that they could be spotted when they first entered the sector are tied to their jobs. Mallett handles the sample collection and Cardinalli the communications. Scotty may be waving them off but my suspicions are further raised.
Of course you have to ask why they would be part of causing strife between the two groups of Talins. I have three theories, one with a sub-theory. The first was an attempt to sabotage the First Contact process. We’ve already seen that there are people who question the Prime Directive outright. Spock is using one right now for whatever he’s planning while Richter had a few doubts and on the ship there were people who didn’t want the Talin to war themselves to death and thought going in early was the right idea. By sabotaging the First Contact protocols it makes the Directive itself into an issue. Alternately, and this is my sub-theory, it could be an outside group, even altered Klingon and/or Romulan spies trying to give Starfleet a black eye. We’ve seen this in the past. Either way, they’d want to rush out to hide their incriminating evidence before the investigation happens. The other theory is akin to the Slitheen family from Doctor Who, wanting to acquire and sell off the assets of the planet. The nuclear fallout might serve as energy for someone out there or something along those lines. A third theory is that they were some rival planet or a group like the Krill from Orville who want to wipe out all other races. We’ve seen that in other Star Trek stories as well.
So this was a very important chapter. I could just be seeing red herrings where they weren’t even intended, but I’m seeing some interesting clues before the investigation itself has even started. Next time Sulu and Chekov are still planning to steal a sex trafficker’s ship, so we’ll see how that goes when everything’s stacked against them.