Book #2 in the series Animorphs by K.A. Applegate.

Disclaimer: If you've heard of Animorphs and you're thinking "Aww, how cute," maybe you should read my introduction to the first book to see how wrong you are.

THE VISITOR

Animorphs #2
by K.A. Applegate

Summarized Plot: Rachel and the Animorphs want to gather information about the location of the evil Yeerks' life-sustaining Kandrona, so they can destroy it and deal a blow to their enemies. Rachel, having been long-time friends with the daughter of a man whose controlling Yeerk has a high rank, decides to try to use her affiliation to facilitate her spying. She ends up morphing into her friend's cat, where she overhears that Visser Three is still searching for them, thinking they are "Andalite bandits." She gathers some important information, but endangers her own life and the lives of her fellow Animorphs, and though Jake and Rachel get in a very tight spot, they escape with their lives, and with a reminder of what they're fighting for.

Detailed Plot: The Animorphs are blowing off some steam by flying around in various bird morphs. They're attacked by stupid teenagers shooting at them, so they get back at them by stealing their gun, and their beer while they're at it. They morph back and return to their humdrum human lives, and though it's depressing that they still have to go to school and do chores and whatnot, they are thankful that they haven't ended up like Tobias, trapped forever as a hawk.

They decide they need a new plan for how to find another way into the Yeerk pool, since the door they know about in their school has been closed. Rachel reveals that she is good friends with a girl named Melissa, who is the daughter of Chapman, a powerful Controller. She agrees to use Melissa in order to spy on her father.

At gymnastics she suggests to Melissa that they hang out, and her friend acts distant, as she has been doing for the past months. Rachel wonders if her friend is a Controller. She ends up getting hit on by a dangerous character while walking home, and halfway morphs into an elephant in order to scare him off . . . which works. Chapman and Melissa pull up and offer her a ride after that incident, and Rachel is afraid she was seen. The Animorphs decide it's important to find out if Chapman suspects anything, and it would be good to spy on him too. So, being that hanging out with Melissa seems like it isn't going to happen, Rachel remembers that the Chapman family has a cat, and they hatch a plan to catch the cat and use it as a disguise.

Tobias helps them find Melissa's cat, but when they attempt to capture him, they inadvertently scare him up a tree. To lure him out, Rachel acquires a shrew that Tobias catches for her, and morphs into it as bait for the cat. Though she has a panicked reaction, she succeeds in getting the cat out of the tree, then morphs back to her normal form and acquires Melissa's cat.

Rachel has a bad conversation with Melissa at school; Melissa seems to think no one cares about her and has obviously been crying. She won't take solace from Rachel at all. She's confused. That night, she morphs into her friend's cat and goes in the Chapmans' kitty door.

Inside the house, Rachel focuses on Chapman. She follows him into a secret chamber in the basement, and finds herself out of Tobias's range of thought-speak, so she is essentially alone. Chapman turns on a hologram where Visser Three begins speaking to him. He begins demanding that the "Andalite bandits" be found, and then he notices Rachel in her cat morph. He demands that she be killed, but Chapman insists that he cannot kill his daughter's cat because that would be suspicious, so Visser lets her live. Rachel is careful not to react to the words, and thereby does not blow her cover. She overhears them discussing "the matter of the girl," which seems to be over whether to make Melissa a Controller too, but Chapman's Yeerk doesn't seem to like that idea because of an agreement with his host. The Visser morphs into a monster in his hologram, and threatens his subordinate with death if he fails to find the bandits soon.

Chapman leaves his hideout and discusses the interview with Mrs. Chapman, who is also obviously a Controller. They discuss their hatred for the Visser, as Rachel plays around pretending to want to be fed. Rachel decides not to tell the others that she could have been killed in the basement; she doesn't want them to know there's any danger. They seem to know she is hiding something. Melissa comes downstairs and asks for help with a math problem, but the parents say they're too busy and tell her she'll be fine on her own. She goes to her room and cries, and Rachel, in the guise of her cat, tries to comfort her. Melissa babbles about her parents not loving her anymore, and Rachel knows she can tell they aren't themselves anymore. She becomes more determined than ever to fight the Yeerks.

The Animorphs make the plan to go back to Chapman's to learn more about the Kandrona, so they can possibly destroy it. But then Jake doesn't show up, and the others say he's grounded. Rachel thinks it's weird, but morphs the cat anyway and goes inside, glad to be out of the rain that's begun. When she gets down to the basement with Chapman, she discovers Jake is actually in her cat fur, morphed as a flea. Cassie and the others made a plan to put him on her as a safety precaution, because they think it's a little weird that she didn't mention to them anything about why she was so skittish after she came out of the basement that last time. They hide under the desk and witness Chapman talking to Visser Three's hologram again, but she is discovered again. Visser Three insists that she must be an Andalite in morph, and orders her brought to him, and he also says that Chapman should bring his daughter because he's chosen a Yeerk for her.

Chapman tries to grab Rachel and she fights back, but eventually loses the battle and ends up in an animal carrier. Chapman tells his wife to get their daughter, but then something unprecedented happens: Both Chapman and his wife begin fighting their Yeerks, becoming unwilling hosts. They know they can't gain control permanently, but whenever the Yeerks are off-guard, they can seize control for just a moment and make the Yeerks fight for their brains. Chapman is in trouble now, because he can't afford to be in public as a school authority figure and not have complete control. Worried, he takes Rachel the cat and tries to leave, with Melissa calling after him, wondering why he's taking her cat. Rachel yells for Tobias to find her real cat.

After Tobias chases the real cat into the yard, Melissa demands to know what's going on and Chapman says the cat he's taking is not her cat at all, and he's taking it to the shelter. That way, Melissa is not taken to the Visser for infestation, she escapes for now. Rachel (and Jake, in flea morph) arrive at the construction site, where the Blade ship will land. Rachel insists that Jake leap off of her and find someplace to demorph, because there's no sense in both of them getting killed. He agrees and leaves, and she is left alone and scared as the Blade ship descends.

Visser taunts Rachel, but even though she is scared, she hides behind the instincts of the cat and just stares back at him, as if she isn't impressed. Then Visser demands to know why Chapman didn't bring his daughter, and the Yeerk in his head explains that Chapman wants to address the Visser directly. When allowed to do so, the real Chapman explains that he only became a voluntary host on the grounds that his daughter would be spared. But now that that has been violated, he no longer is voluntary, and says he will fight and threaten the position he holds. Visser allows him to go home and says the girl will stay free for now, and he turns his attentions to Rachel.

Rachel is taken aboard the Visser's ship. But their friends are in the woods, and they manage to start up some earthmovers that are at the construction site. Being that it will take two minutes or so for the ship to power up and lift off, the Visser is in trouble. He demands that one of his Taxxon pilots get the ship off the ground, but when he can't do it fast enough, he kills him and lets the other Taxxons eat him. Jake, as a flea, jumps into the shadows, morphs back to human, and becomes a tiger, while Rachel morphs just enough into a human to have the fingers to unlock her cage. They fight and run. But the Visser turns into a strange rock monster and tries to crush them. At that moment the earthmovers hit the other ships that flanked the Blade ship, and they explode. This causes a distraction and they are able to get away, thanks to Tobias lifting Rachel out. She demorphs with only a minute or so to spare, and succumbs to exhaustion.

As an epilogue, Rachel leaves Melissa a note in her gymnastics locker saying that her father loves her more than he can express, and signs it "Someone who knows."


About this book:

Narrator: Rachel

New known controllers:

  • Chapman's wife

New morphs acquired:

Notable:

  • In this book, Marco reveals that one of his sore spots is the fact that he is short.
  • Later on in the series, Rachel is the most reckless and risk-taking member of the group, but in these early books she does seem to still have some caution in her. They had planned to do a mission one night, but when Rachel got shaken up by being a shrew, she not only admitted it, but got the mission put off. This changes pretty quickly.
  • Rachel has acquired four morphs in this book, which is more than anyone else has. Marco and she speculate about whether there is a limit to how many morphs one can acquire. It seems that if there is a limit, they never hit it; by the end of the series, they can all become several dozen animals, from a handful of different planets.
  • At one point while Rachel is in cat morph, she seems to have memories that Melissa's cat would actually have, referring specifically to feeling like she remembers being carried around by a mother cat. This jives with the previous book's suggestion that Jake has some of his dog Homer's memories, but the canon rules suggest they only get instincts, not memories. This really shouldn't be happening.
  • This book is the first to reveal that a fair number of Yeerks don't much like Visser Three and think he's "making a mess of the planet," but of course they don't do anything about it because they fear getting destroyed.
  • The Yeerk ships in the construction site get destroyed by ordinary human construction equipment. And not just destroyed--they EXPLODE. Why would the ships explode from being pushed over by earthmovers? It's also not really clear how the Animorphs got the things to start, but a spaceship designed for war which explodes when confronted with an earthmover seems a bit hard to swallow.

Best lines:

Marco: "I could go on Letterman. I could be an entire episode of Stupid Pet Tricks all by myself."



Rachel: "We need to find another way to get at them."
Marco: "Get at who?"
Rachel: "The French, Marco. Who do you think? The Yeerks, duh."


Marco: "Take care of yourself in there. That's an assistant principal you're dealing with. He finds out you've turned into a cat and gone sneaking around his house, that will be after-school detention for like a year."


Marco: "Okay, let's get serious here. How are we going to go about getting ourselves killed next? Turn into flies at a frog convention? Morph into turkeys at Thanksgiving?"


Next book: The Encounter, Animorphs #3

"The Visitor" is an episode of the television show Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, of its fourth season. It originally aired* October 9, 1995. The story is mainly concerned with the characters of Captain Benjamin Sisko (played by Avery Brooks), and his son, Jake (Cirroc Lofton). As far as the cast goes, all the usual suspects are present. Filling in the "guest starring" roles, we've got Aron Eisenberg as Nog; Tony Todd as the elder Jake Sisko, Galyn Gorg as Korena, Jake's future wife; and finally, Rachel Robinson as Melanie, who appears pre-title credits.

In short, Captain Sisko vanishes in a bizarre engineering mishap and Jake spends his life trying to bring him back (from wherever he went, assumed dead). Here is what happens. Spoilers follow.

At the opening, we have a scene involving a considerably older Jake Sisko (now a somewhat successful writer) being visited by someone named Melanie, a fan of his books. She questions him as to why he stopped writing so suddenly, years earlier. He then explains what is, largely, the premise of the episode: when he was 18, he'd seen his father seemingly vaporized in some sort of warp core accident, and over the years, he'd had repeated flashes of his father, appearing wherever he was--they'd have a moment to talk, but nothing more.

At first, Jake thought it was just an aberration: a bad dream, some memory holdover, wanting to grip Dad and keep him, but it wasn't. Though it became more and more rare as his life went on, his father would appear. It cost him his marriage--his wife was none too fond of the idea that her fairly successful writer husband would want to abandon his life in order to learn about subspace stuff, to assuage the idea that his father might be alive.

The way it ended up: Jake poisoned himself, to pull his father back to the correct time, the idea being that even if he died, he wanted a chance to have that father-son life again. The world wasn't the same without him, etc. etc. Basically, it's another chance at having a Dad again, even if it's not for him, specifically, but a version of him.

The best of the episode is the older Jake's frustration with trying to find and keep his father. Not only is the acting fairly top-notch, but it's written well. At the beginning, we see Jake mourn. As we progress, we go from something like resignation--yeah, my father is dead--to what must seem like a fanatical obsession with finding a man that's been dead for years. Even better: the story doesn't go too quickly, leaving the viewer behind. We only get glimpses into Jake's life. It's the emotional rollercoaster we're here to see for this one. We're not bogged down in stupid technobabble, and there aren't Cardassian ships all over the place.

My take? As much as I am loathe to use the word "touching" anywhere, ever, that's the only word I can use for this episode. Now, realize I'm not the world's biggest weenie. I didn't cry at any of Forrest Gump, or like, the end of Gladiator where the lady goes, Go to them. (I don't really cry at movies; at least, no movies that immediately spring to mind.) I didn't cry at this episode of Star Trek, either. Well, not really. I experienced one of those throat things, however, where your throat makes that weird noise you can hear in your head when you swallow. The tears were close, but they never came. Close enough, though, especially for, of all things, a Star Trek episode.

Apparently, this one was nominated for a Hugo Award (it was written by a guy named Michael Taylor), and rightfully so; as far as touching Star Trek episodes go, this one's right up there with The Inner Light. Even the technobabble is minimal, used only as set-up (read: the accident that causes Sisko to phase in and out of space is one of those things you can duplicate, in fifty years, stuff like that). You should probably watch it. Borrow someone's DVD, or download it, find it on TV, whatever. Just see it. You probably won't cry: but it'll be a close one.


* As far as sources go, I just sort of ran through some forums and my memory. There's a good article at the Star Trek website, as well as a decent entry in the wikipedia. Between the wikipedia article and the startrek.com article, however, there's a discrepancy with regard to the original airing date. Wikipedia says October 14, and startrek.com says October 9. I assume that this is because the original airing may differ from country to country. However, being that it's, uh, the Star Trek website, and is more than likely the correct date, and American airing of the show, I've gone with October 9.

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