TODAY'S SUBJECT:  Everything falling apart is put together

There's quite a bit of convenient hooking together of disparate plot elements in the final stages of TSS, so much so that the whole thing is (at least to me) unsatisfying.

Things start to get a bit out of hand when Q is goes into the warehouse to examine the Zil.  Elsewhere in "Thoughts" for this month (see, for example, "Two Moscows?", January 24), I've mentioned that this is extraordinarily convenient, given the fact that Moscow in the early phases of the mission seems too dangerous for one to examine one's *own* car, far less that of the Chairman of the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet!  Q gets unfettered access to the Zil, primarily because Schrenk didn't think to leave anybody to guard it (!), protecting it only with a tumbler lock Shortlidge has no trouble picking.  Then he checks it and finds nothing wrong.  Curses!  Foiled!  But wait--maybe Q can capture Ignatov (again!) and find out the plan!  Of course, he does get Ignatov (about which we're told in one of the most inept flashbacks in the Q-orpus) and gets every bit of information out of him, right down to the last square inch of C-3 and the last ball bearing.  To heap improbability upon improbability, Marshal and Logan are then killed and the Zil taken (back to square one!).

But hold fast--there's more loose-end dogies to be rounded up.  In order to get Q into the Zil for the final showdown, Hall has to contrive one of the most ridiculous chase scenes imaginable, with Q trying to run down a car doubling as a giant bomb, emergency and police vehicles swarming around all the while.  Q manages to stop the Zil without it blowing up, get the door open, disarm Morosov, get in the car and go on to his final confrontation with Schrenk.  As if that weren't enough, after all this chaos spinning about in downtown Moscow, after somebody hijacks the Zil, it blows up and Schrenk along with it...*then* Bracken et al. just drive up and tell Q to get in.  You know, the really great DiFs make it look so easy!

What's gone wrong here?  I think it may just be a matter of energy and focus.  The scene in Schrenk's apartment (as Penny's pointed out) was the second of two focal points of the novel; however, Hall (as he often does) thinks he can get away with writing up to another high point.  It worked in T9D (after the abduction, he builds up to a great conclusion with Kuo and the Person at the exchange point), as well as TSE (things heat up again after the Finback flight), but in TSS, unfortunately, he punches himself out and can't make it through the last round.