Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Part Eighty-Two, Chapter Three - The Trial of Soltan Gris, Concluded?

Back to the courtroom.  The odd thing is that, even though this is a Royal building dedicated to Royal functions, the author describes "From the high windows, the morning sun sliced down through the centuries of dust in muddy shafts."  Could it mean that cleanliness isn't an accurate measurement of godliness?  Is it possible for something or someone to be dingy or smelly but not evil?

Also, there's vendors selling stuff to the trial's audience.  Hot dogs, Soltan Gris voodoo dolls, the author doesn't say.  Point is, I think it somewhat undermines the solemnity of the situation.

Madison informs Gris' lawyers that it's time to wrap things up and have him make his guilty plea, since "It's all fixed in the judge's chambers," but the attorneys give him a cool look and reply that they intend to do their job defending their client.  Madison is briefly annoyed to be treated with such contempt, but immediately decides that they're putting on a performance for the Widow Tayl's sake.

Lord Turn enters to jeers and shouts, and announces his plan to end the trial early.  Gris... oh, really?  Is that why - okay, remember way back in Voyage of Vengeance, I think, when Gris tripped on Teenie's skateboard and hit his chin on the floor?  And I complained that it was pointless physical "comedy" in a largely pointless book?  Well, Gris is described "sitting there in his black Death Battalion colonel's uniform and, despite his skateboard-scar scowl, was looking far more nervous than ferocious."  So maybe that stupid bit with Teenie's skateboard was so that when he was dragged to the stand in his trial two books later, he'd be able to look fearsome despite being Soltan Gris.  It's just another moment suggesting that the author is capable of foresight and planning when it comes to plot points, he just wastes this effort on incredibly inconsequential details.

Turn demands that Gris "TAKE THAT STAND" to clear up the last lingering question the judge has, specifically why he kept insisting that everything was Heller's fault.  "WHAT DID HELLER DO?" in other words.  So Gris is prodded into place, and reluctantly reminds everyone of the Blito-P3 situation, how Heller was ordered by the Grand Council to "repair the planet's atmosphere and rotation so it would last until time came to invade it a hundred and some years from now as per the Invasion Timetable."

Note that Gris is somewhat inaccurate here, and Heller annihilated Russia in his efforts to keep the planet's magnetic poles from wandering due to fluctuations in the inner core, not to fix anything wrong with the planet's rotation.  One would hope that, even if a book's author had only a long-distance relationship with science, he could at least keep his misconceptions consistent.

Under Lord Turn's screamed orders, Gris explains that Heller did nothing more than what the Grand Council ordered him to, "And I did everything I did because I was trying to stop him.  So you see, Jettero Heller caused all my crimes!"  At this point you may have noticed a flaw with Madison's plan to paint Heller as an outlaw through Gris' testimony, but oddly enough the publicist ceases to exist between the beginning and end of the chapter, and has no reaction to these developments as they happen.

Lord Turn looked like he himself was going to explode.  "At last we have it!" he finally roared.  "You blasted criminal!  Jettero Heller was just doing what he was ordered to do. THAT doesn't make him a villain!  He did nothing but do his duty!  You can't find a man guilty for that!  YOU have been impugning his character!  You have been engaging in vicious inference!"  

And the trial is suddenly about Heller's honorable reputation.  And the judge seems more furious that Gris is daring to suggest that Heller is anything other than an exemplary officer than that he's wasting time in a trial that supposed to be about bigamy charges.

Also, this is a really shouty, angry judge.  Aren't trials supposed to be about impartial justice and logical deliberation?  Or maybe that's just how things work on our backwards, corrupt planet.

In a rage, he shouted, "THAT ENDS THIS TRIAL!  I----"

The Gris attorneys were on their feet like a pack.  "Your Lordship!" shouted the eldest one, "We have not completed our defense!"

I'm sorry, I haven't played the Ace Attorney games.  I think this is the appropriate music, though.

Lord Turn is like c'mon, you've been at it for weeks, but the lawyers are like dude, we've only been presenting the evidence against our client (for some reason), not the evidence he collected himself, so we've totally got some more stuff to do.  And Lord Turn is like no way, and the lawyers are like way, and Lord Turn is like bogus.

A bunch of minions roll in "carts absolutely groaning under their loads of boxes," all the blackmail material Heller had grabbed from Gris' office and sent in by his Fleet buddies.  And the lawyers insist that this is all related to the bigamy charges somehow, so according to the rules, Lord Turn has to let them present it.

Madison finally reaches "a state of alarm" now that the lawyers are going off-script, and that evidently Heller's messing with Madison's PR campaign: "It was eerie, like suddenly finding a tiger was behind one's back when you thought he was on the other side of the mountains!"  But it doesn't last very long.

Then he relaxed a bit.  After all, there wasn't any possible way this new evidence could affect the overall scene.  And these attorneys didn't have the remotest prayer of getting Gris off.  He stretched out his legs and yawned.  

And what does Gris getting off... unfortunate choice of words, have to do with making Heller a famous outlaw?  Why no reaction to Gris' testimony making Heller very much not an outlaw?  Why the confidence that the evidence he hasn't seen won't do anything he doesn't want it to?

Things would go on, just as he had planned.  After all, these people were only puppets dancing on the end of his strings.  It was he who was the master of Earth PR, not them.

If you haven't noticed by now, nothing about this book is doing much to suggest that villainy will indeed be victorious and doom the planet.  Instead, it looks like things are continuing to go wrong for the bad guys, the good guys are continuing to outmaneuver them, and the antagonists are so deep in denial they can't see the pyramids or sphinx.

Back to Chapter Two

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