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 13
And so we come to the end of part 3 of this book. With next week’s part 4 being two really short chapters and an epilogue this is the penultimate edition of the Star Trek: Prime Directive review. Last time we got the gang back together and on the ship to go track down the party responsible for this whole mess. That puts a lot of pressure on this chapter to get everything wrapped up so our heroes can sort their own problem. How well does it do? Let’s go find out.
I’m going to be crossing my franchises here by comparing what our crew finds to Unicron from Transformers (specifically Transformers: The Movie and his later cartoon appearances in season three, not so much the entity that the UK comics turned him into, which Simon Furman brought with him to the US comics) and Galactus from Marvel Comics. Both are similar on their own but together can be used to explain what The One is. First we need to get there.
We continue to get everyone back in the right positions but with less shoving the square peg into the round hole than the Abrams movie gave us. Scotty simply orders everyone back into their spots that are civilians…namely Kirk, Spock, Uhura, Sulu, and Chekov. I don’t know if McCoy is serving as medical officer or they even have an operating sickbay at the moment, but he’s more useful to the story staying right on the bridge.
So…the One. He’s a planet-sized (and maybe shaped if my brain translated the description) eater of worlds, and uses tendrils to consume the algae. This is in keeping with Unicron, who even has a mouth for chewing in planet mode. Meanwhile the Many are like a tiny army of heralds, much like Galactus. Also like Galactus, the One is theorised to be a survivor of the previous universe prior to this one, a theory more tied to Doctor Who than Star Trek, and yet is still a creature of instinct. I’m still not buying that instinct alone would allow them to mess with Talin or the First Contact satellite to the level that they do, never mind launching the way they attacked the Enterprise, though I’m willing to give the benefit of the doubt to the nuclear firing with a bit of hesitancy. It still feels a bit advance for these guys.
Kirk’s solution is also a bit…underwhelming under the circumstances. It’s going to take so many years to reach Talin IV that Kirk says Starfleet could easily come up with a way to deal with it despite everything that’s happened. I’m not against not destroying it, mind you, though I do agree with both McCoy and Spock to a degree as to why taking it out while they have an opening may be a good idea. Kirk isn’t wrong in “not killing today”. It’s just after all this you’d think there’d be more of a solution than “let’s do nothing”. Maybe find a way to convince it what it did was wrong, and show it was intelligent enough to realize it harmed others. You know, have them do SOMETHING for the story if the writers didn’t want to break out the phasers and photon torpedos. We also saw it reach out to eat the “strange life” aboard the starship. What if someone comes along during the decades-long trek to Talin IV?
While Unicron either couldn’t care less or was happy to go after planets with living beings (you see in the movie what he did to Lithone and in the comics he wanted to eat the universe so he could get some sleep) Galactus supposedly lost the compassion to care about other life forms on the planets he consumes over time and started out only going after lifeless worlds since he must feed to not blow up and start another big bang. This thing just somehow survives the previous universe and is running on pure instinct. I don’t care that it’s going to take so many decades that Starfleet could easily redirect him. This is something that doesn’t really belong in this universe and is going to remain a threat because it can’t be reasoned with. It runs on pure instinct and is as much a threat as the giant space log of death they blew up before. What if the planet killer has been alive instead of a robot. Unicron is a robot but he’s alive and wanted to eat everything. Galactus could only be turned away by threat of his own death (and the surrounding area) via the Ultimate Nullifier. If it can’t be reasoned with then taking it down may actually be the right move.
Then again, I guess since it isn’t evil Kirk isn’t giving it the same weight as, say, killing the Joker to save the lives of Gotham City residents. Still, doing nothing seems like a weak way to end the chapter whether it may be a moral move or not. This hasn’t been what the story is about or leading up to, so there’s nothing thematic about it. There’s no discussion about the morality of leaving it alive versus blowing it up. Kirk just says “let Starfleet sort it out” and leaves. it just feels like there’s no build-up and even less of a payoff to this ending.
As to how Starfleet does react to this? Next week we go through the very short part four and end the book, so I’m not expecting much of an answer to this. Join me next time for our final installment and see what happens.