But in The Threat, as it becomes clear that David is just not going to work out, it falls to Jake to deal with Davids betrayal. David is basically a great example of what not to do as an Animorph: dont use your powers for personal gain; dont be a jerk to your friends; dont act like youre better than everyone else; dont get into unnecessary fights. And if you were in any doubt of that, then I will point at the last chapter of this book, and if you still want to argue, then come fight me IRL. This is the first time the Animorphs have come to blows like thisand I know David never felt like an Animorph, but the fact remains that hes a kid like them who has morphing powers like them and, for a very brief moment, was a member of the team. Wow. And as much as that last chapter is a masterpieceIm eating my words about Applegates simplistic writing from my first few reviews, by the waymy favourite moment comes earlier in the book. Although David is the eponymous threat, in some sense this is a reminder of the fragility of the Animorphs very existence as a guerrilla group. Speaking of things you cant come back from next time, Rachel has to deal with the David Problem.
Taking a moment to look at how KAA constructed this: The Discovery: It's so fitting that this one is narrated by Marco, the guy who gets along least with David -- because it also makes sense, because Marco has an abrasive personality that is likely to rub many people the wrong way. Fitting that this is Jake's book, because he's the leader, he makes the calls, he has to decide how they start to deal with this situation which is rapidly going out of control -- it's becoming increasingly and increasingly important, too, how well the Animorphs know each other, how well they read each other, how well Jake knows them and can manipulate them and utilise their strengths & weaknesses, like picking the perfect tool from the shed for a given task. The betrayal hurts and stings; even almost 20 years after first reading this book, my disgust and frustration with David remained a palpable thing.
Hes also the biggest threat to the Animorphs since they started their war. David thinks hes smarter than any of the other Animorphs, but six brains will always be better than one. This is when Jake starts to get suspicious, but he also recognises the danger David could put all the Animorphs in. Its lion versus tiger, and the fight isnt going well for Jake Oh yeah, and theres more shenanigans to do with the biggest mission the Animorphs have ever faced. He thinks Tobias is expendable because hes got a birds body. David is so busy building up walls that he pushes all the Animorphs away in his delusions of grandeur. David was meant to show the audience the disaster of what would happen if the Animorphs picked the wrong kind of person, and give them a reason to keep fighting as a guerrilla army of six.
That is until Cassie calls, cryptically warning Jake that Dave from Letterman is suddenly off the air: David is missing. Jake heads to the barn and meets up with Cassie and Rachel (Marco cant get away that night), and decides to morph Homer to track David. Rachel, in owl morph, goes to fetch Tobias, but cant find Ax. Owl!Cassie follows along. David is rebellious and tries to tell Jake that sure, hes the leader on Animorphs missions, but he doesnt get to tell David what to do in the mean time. Jake gets caught in a spiderweb at one point, and David begins panicking and demorphing, risky crushing and exposing them all. Everyone is awed by Cassies abilities, even Ax, who says hes always known she has a rare morphing talent, but this is almost miraculous. Jake realizes that the man they saw Visser Three acquire in the book wasnt the President, but this man, the social coordinator for the White House who is now directing that all world leaders will need to pass behind the column when they go up for their speeches. David hides under a table and begins morphing lion, ignoring Jake emphatically mouthing no at him repeatedly. Jake frantically crawls towards him and just manages to grab him before he attacks a Controller who comes in to check the room. Jake thinks hard about what Cassie has said about character, evaluating how little he knows about David and going over in his mind some of Davids more questionable choices that hint to the fact that his moral compass isnt quite pointed the same direction as the rest of theirs. On the way, Cassie, the only one in owl morph with good eyes, thinks she spots the President wandering around near the pool in his shorts. Then, of course, he begins to gloat and threaten to kill them, but it doesnt seem that hes spotted Marco, still a snake on the ground. Wolf!Cassie grabs lion!Davids leg to stop him and they begin to fight. David continues to panic, yelling to Visser Three that they (the Animorphs) are threatening him and running towards him saying hell demorph and hes on his side. Just them, Marco bites a Hork Bajir and it is confirmed that they are all holograms and its only Visser Three and a few human Controllers in the room. A fight breaks out, David quickly saying he can get Visser Three since hes closest. On the way home, Jake privately thought speaks with the rest, telling them not to confront David about his cowardice. In the end, Jake doesnt trust David at all, but still wants to give him the benefit of the doubt; after all, he really could have been playing a trick. They all head home, but after rigging his bed to look like hes sleeping, he heads back with Tobias and Ax to watch Cassies barn. Jake has Tobias follow him while he and Ax morph bird to join. Ax wonders what they will do if David is truly joining the other side, and Jake doesnt know. Jake, more familiar with his morph than David is with his own, manages to escape to under the bed, and then when David begins to demorph to try and grab him out, Jake flies at his face, scratching him up. Jake tells Ax to go get Rachel who lives the closest, and takes off after David. I could tell you exactly how Cassie or Marco or Rachel or Tobias or even Ax would react. the way hed been in eagle morph and attacked some passing bird for no reason. Jake is firm, leaving no room for questions, but he also doesnt shame David. He wants to be as optimistic as Cassie, and knows that he cant be as harsh as Marco and Rachel. So instead, he lays the groundwork to test Davids character by letting him think they all believe him, then gathering a select group to spy on him, knowing that if he leaves the barn, they have real problems. And then, once David kills Tobias, Jake doesnt hesitate to call in the big guns, sending Ax to go get Rachel in case they need to do something drastic. But Jake doesnt back away from fighting David himself, either. Xena, Warrior Princess: Like Marco, Rachel has a hard time not blowing up at David. When theyre flying back, Jake has to very firmly hold Rachel back from continuing to come down on David. And, in one of the most important moments for Rachel in the entire series, likely, Jake tells Ax to get Rachel after he thinks David has killed Tobias. (A good example of David casually saying stuff that gets him on the wrong side of members of the group, this time both Tobias and Cassie). Later, when hes raging at Jake in the hotel room about what the long term plan is for him (and how much he misses TV, Im sure), he mentions that hes not like Tobias who isnt human. Jake also specifically seeks Cassie out to get her take on David, saying that he trusts her judgement of people more than anyone. Marco, too, is a good judge of character, but Jake knows that he falls on the suspicious side of things. But Cassie, as seen in a couple of scenes in this book and the first in the trilogy, can also fall on the optimistically naive side of things, too quick to believe Davids lies and wanting to think the best of him. The Comic Relief: Early in the book, Jake worries about Marco and Davids interactions. But thats mostly the mission to retrieve David from the hotel, and given that even level-headed Jake lost his temper on that one, its probably for the best that Marco wasnt there. Marco, along with Rachel, also has the hardest time biting his tongue in the end of the book when theyre flying away from the disaster at the resort where David tried to give them up.
It has good scale, but plotholes like "did no one check the date?" combine with Visser Three's hammy villainy to feel vaguely ridiculous.
David is unlikeable from the first time we met him in the last book.
Unfortunately David ends up returning to the Animorphs, and things only get worse from there. In my review of the last book I didn't believe the author would show the violence of the Animorphs killing a fellow human, but good God I wish they would! David's sort of evil is much more tangible and disturbing than that of the Visser. The Visser is this abstract sort of evil, an entity that you know is supposed to be the embodiment of darkness, but it doesn't truly hit you because none of us are ever likely to encounter a destroyer of worlds.
Normally, the amount of time a person can be unconscious after a head injury is not very long unless it's a very serious injury, and these books are written in such a way that the Animorphs don't irrevocably injure people if they don't have to. At one point the Animorphs have a plan that involves three of the guys--Ax, Jake, and David--acquiring and morphing the human-Controllers. It might have been the first time Jake had been around David while he was a lion, but it wasn't David's first time in lion morph.