"Who's Hunting Who Here?"

"Thought of the Day," December 23, 1997

You know how lately I've been on about the weirdness of the mission in TSE, about its lack of definition, inordinately high price tag, and the unsuitability of Q for performing the act of eliminating Kirinski (who is in some ways a sympathetic character)?  I've even suggested that the Bureau might've considered the murder a rite of passage, presaging more bloodletting to come in subsequent missions (the very next one, in fact).

Well, hold on to your seats, folks, because (if I'm reading this correctly) it is even weirder than that.  Check this passage (from the scene in the cave where Q waits for Kirinski):

"Parkis and Novikov . . . Did they plant him on me in that train? Novikov and Ferris, and the way Ferris had looked away when I'd asked him if they'd worked out an escape-phase for me once I'd reached the objective.

Uninformation, and a background to Slingshot that could make total nonsense of the understanding I thought I had of it: For all I knew I could be one unimportant component of a design so complex that only Parkis could make the changes necessary to remove that one component and render it harmless to the overall plan. My instructions were that the objective for this operation was Kirinski's death, but who was Kirinski—the objective, or a RELIABLE BUREAU MAN with instructions that the objective for his operation was to kill me?" [18:110-111] [Emphasis added]

You realize the implications of this?  At the point just before he's to kill Kirinski, Q remains unsure of whether or not Kirinski's a "good guy" just following orders!  With this sentence, TSE delivers yet another gut-wrenching turn of our sense of morality.

But there's more.  Remember Q's intimate observation about Kirinski being a psychopath, the type he knows best, and for good reason?  And what about the sexual imagery in their death struggle ("'Rashidov' . . ." faint on the wind, his arm round me like a lover" [18:196], and the repeated sibilance of the pseudo-sexual "this is not the way...this is the way," the emphasis on Kirinski's softness, and how Q falls across him at the end).

Hall couldn't have made it any more overt that Kirinski and Q are at least intimately linked and at most one and the same, but further, with all the ambiguity surrounding the mission, outside the cave (darkness into light, just as in Plato) that it is likely the Bureau didn't even care which of its transgressing, flawed agents survived.  The one who does goes on, joined by blood forever to the Sacred Bull (takes on a rather different, Mithraic, meaning now, doesn't it?) and its bloody minions, and the other sacrifices his life-force to ensure the survival of the victor.  It's rather like "The Highlander," where by taking the head of those he conquers in battle, Duncan McLeod is enabled to continue his tortured existence.

Unbelievable.  The more I think about this book, the more disturbing it becomes.  This is not one of the best novels in the Q-orpus...it is TWD with a DiF and Q/N without the window dressing of Armageddon.  In other words:  it is the best in the series.