Last time on Allegiant, something happened I guess? Maybe? I can’t remember. It’s all a blur of dissatisfaction and endless exposition.
So far Tris was immune to the new version of the serum we created—it had no effect whatsoever. It’s very strange that a person’s genes would make them so resistant to mind manipulation of any kind.”
“Maybe it’s not her genes,” I say, shrugging. I switch feet. “Maybe it’s some kind of superhuman stubbornness.”
Caleb knows that Tris’ brain structure itself is unusual, and that Jeanine hypothesized it was the cause.
In their group, they have three regular GMO people, one GMO with the “serum resistance” add-on, and Tris. They also have access to Matthew, who’s a non-GMO. They should be comparing brain scans to see if Tris’ brain has any unique structures that probably aren’t shared by the main population.
Actually no, they should skip all this and test on Matthew, who’s got the same brain they’re trying to target.
Tris then comes and tells them the scientists’ plan.
They’re similar, Cara and Tris, two women sharpened by loss. The difference is that Cara’s pain has made her certain of everything, and Tris has guarded her uncertainty, protected it, despite all she’s been through. She still approaches everything with a question instead of an answer.
Don’t find this convincing based on what we were shown, but sure, that’d have been an interesting distinction between the two. Maybe the author just means that Erudite’s ability to quantify uncertainty counts as certainty because fuck intelligence, while Tris’ gut-based decisions count as uncertainty because they’re not reasoned despite the way she commits to them.
“Maybe we should import a new group of scientists,” Cara says, sighing. “And discard the old ones.”
Tris’s face twists, and she touches a hand to her forehead, as if rubbing out some brief and inconvenient pain. “No,” she says. “We don’t even need to do that.”
See, the solution was always mindwiping, it was just mindwiping the right people! Obviously the people inside the fence are real people. It’s outsiders that aren’t real people and should have their personhood destroyed for great justice.
“Reset the Bureau, and reprogram them without the propaganda, without the disdain for GDs. Then they’ll never risk the memories of the people in the experiments again. The danger will be gone forever.”
“Or until it builds back up over the next few generations due to being part of a society that feels this way, and we have to completely mindwipe them again to fix one single aspect I disagree with. No biggie, though, they’re just outsiders. Also, there’s a really good chance that if they don’t reset the experiments, the whole program will be closed and they’ll leave to die in the slums instead. Best plan.”
Tobias points out that this plan is literally committing the same atrocity to prevent them from committing a terrible atrocity, and Tris is all they’re lucky I’m not going to kill them because These people have no regard for human life in what I don’t think was intended to be continuing the parallel.
Once again, all this would work so much better if any of the setting had been properly developed. If we knew the factions could run their society fine if the scientists would just let them, then this would actually be a sort of sick justice – they keep resetting the experiments to try to remove a problem when the real problem is actually in their own society and the problem was failing to reset that. But currently, we know that if they aren’t there to keep the powderkegs that are GMO societies stable, the funding for the whole thing vanishes, and the faction system was, at least as far as we can tell right now, actually the best thing for them. Maybe someone will be able to claw up the funding they use to try to integrate the people back into society, but it’s unlikely (especially when the labs themselves used to absorb lots of the people as workers). At a guess, most/all of Amity will die, the surviving Abnegation probably die trying to protect them early on, large chunks of Candor will die while they try to learn to keep quiet or lie for their own safety, Erudite will probably survive and blend in then start building pipe bombs and trying to wipe out the society that thinks it’s so much better than them, and Dauntless, well fed, well trained Dauntless? They’ll carve a bloody path through the slums and turn it into their new kingdom, possibly followed by the slums being bombed to bloody rubble by the army.
And getting the slums bombed and killing everybody is the better scenario, because Dauntless can recruit. They won’t have their fear sims, but we saw they managed to cram in plenty of pain and fear into the section of their initiation that didn’t use fear sims, so I don’t think that’ll even slow them down. They’ll take the best fighters, torture them, then keep the ones who are still functional killers at the end of it, and then they’ll start expanding. It’s not like they’d have any lack of fresh material, and we know the Dauntless were already on this trajectory before, they’re not going to get better when thrown out into a world to starve or kill. Either we end up with a society of two governments, the original one and the new rulers of the fringe areas, or the Erudite form a partnership and the two restart the civil war.
This should be the stakes they’re looking at. We’ve been told over and over that the government will pull funding if anything goes wrong and that life inside the cities is far better than life outside it, plus GMO people are able to function normally there. Yet all that’s come to is the guy in charge mentioning it once or twice with Tris monologues at us about what a dickhead he is for caring about keeping the experiments running.
Next chapter we’re back at Tris again. There’s really no reason the last chapter couldn’t have been Tris. Whole book, really.
Matthew explains that the serum targets explicit memories, like your name, where you grew up, your first teacher’s name, and leaves implicit memories—like how to speak or tie your shoes or ride a bicycle—untouched.”
Which sounds like it doesn’t actually erase any prejudices, just the justification you have for them. Given we still don’t even know if the justifications for how they treat GMO people are true, and we know the outside world is ready to hand them a justifications for why we treat GMO people like this booklet as soon as they poke their heads out, this doesn’t seem like it’ll do anything about the problem.
Now, mindwiping them then bringing in Erudites from the city to make up part of the population and keep pushing the idea GMO people are different rather than inferior would probably work, but I’m pretty sure the faction as a whole is still evil because intelligence, so.
And indeed the book then is all “Cara and Matthew are talking Erudite smart talk UGH WHY DID WE LET THEM NEAR EACH OTHER”.
“Inevitably, some important memories will be lost,” Matthew says. “But if we have a record of people’s scientific discoveries or histories, they can relearn them in the hazy period after their memories are erased. People are very pliable then.”
So also, there’s a good chance they won’t even be good scientists at the end of this.
I’m starting to feel more understanding toward the viewpoint this is kind of worse than killing them, especially with the “pliable” making it sound like the implicit memories don’t cover much of their personality. The benefits are just that they’ll get to keep the scientist workforce, but now it’ll be brainwashed to obey them. Murdering them and bringing in the Erudites at least isn’t viewing people as commodities like this.
people tend to be disoriented for a few days after being reset, which means they’ll be easier to control.” Matthew sits, and spins in his chair once. “We can just give them a new history class. One that teaches facts rather than propaganda.”
They don’t have any facts, of course. Tris wants to use the slideshow she saw of the ancient war, the thing they don’t know anything about beyond that it’s pictures of a bad thing that look old, and if anyone knows if the GMO people are actually meaningfully different or not, we haven’t heard it, which means none of the group knows.
But erasing everything about a person then sitting them down and telling them what you want them to think isn’t propaganda if they do it.
They then go to Nita to find out what she knows about breaking into the serum vault.
Tobias again expresses unease with the part where they’re doing exactly the same thing as the other people. Tris says they have no better option and the scientists were the ones who decided to act first, which are both good justifications, except she specifically means they gave Jeanine the attack sim so this is justice, not that it’s fair to say that they’re the ones who insisted on mindwiping so they’re the ones that get mindwiped.
I sigh. “It’s not a perfect situation. But when you have to choose between two bad options, you pick the one that saves the people you love and believe in most. You just do. Okay?”
No, Tris. You pick the one that saves the most people, not the ones you love best. This is why “greater good” is actually a really important concept for our modern society, because people don’t actually care about “most people” but “the people you love”, which means society ends up a bunch of small groups all screwing each other over for slight benefit to their own people.
Valid reasons to decide to kill the scientists over the experimental subjects might be just that the scientists are a small group about to wipe out however many people are living in the various experiments. The fact that the scientists have been regularly mindwiping people as their solution to everything, or that the scientists have a callous disregard for life in general (maybe have the plan be to mindwipe, then round up the factionless and kill the non-divergent, since the society doesn’t need factionless to restart) does make it sort of fitting to use their own system against them.
But the fact your friends are in one group is an evil reason. Love doesn’t make it non-evil, it just makes is sad that caring about people means you’re willing to hurt so many other people.
Speaking of, Christina then arrives to save that Uriah’s braindead, and she’s begged them to keep him on life support anyway, which they evilly would only do for a couple more days, even though right this minute people are dying of starvation in the slums.
Tris says that oh no, if they want his family to mourn his loss, they have to hurry because soon they’ll forget about him and…this…would be bad, I guess?
“We have to go in,” he says. “Matthew said we could inoculate people against the memory serum, right? So we’ll go in, inoculate Uriah’s family just in case, and take them back to the compound to say good-bye to him. We have to do it tomorrow, though, or we’ll be too late.” He pauses. “And you can inoculate your family too, Christina. I should be the one who tells Zeke and Hana, anyway.”
This is why it’s evil. There’s no reason some people deserve to be saved more than others, and splitting their focus to try to save a couple people for sure makes it that more likely they’ll fail their other attempt to save everyone.
It is understandable to feel this way, it’s sympathetic, but it’s still wrong.
There’s a lot of chatter that doesn’t matter, and finally Tris sets out to talk to Nita, getting in on the basis of her heroics.
Nita jerks to attention—as much as she can, anyway. Half her body is encased in plaster, and one of her hands is cuffed to the bed, as if she could escape even if she wanted to. Her hair is messy, knotted, but of course, she’s still pretty.
God, fuck this book.
Nita doesn’t like Tris either, Tris explains she’s planning her own attack, Nita explains the death serum is somehow magic and can get through any form of hazmat suit to kill you anyway, and she tells Tris what she needs to know about blowing the doors up. In return, Tris says she’s going to erase everybody’s minds, because she apparently thinks highly enough of Nita to trust her with this plan without the slightest worry that Nita might try to use it to bargain, but still thinks Nita is an evil boyfriend stealer.
Then we go to Tobias, who’s been busy tricking Amar into taking them into the city without telling him what’s really going on. This reminds me of the only real suspense I feel, which is will the gay minor characters survive or die tragically? On the one hand, the last one sure died and the author generally likes killing minor characters with no impact, but on the other, I’m not sure the author’s paying enough attention to remember to kill them.
Well, suspense is too strong of a word. Mild curiosity. It’s just more than I feel about anything else.
Also, he tries to talk to Cara about feelings, specifically all those feelings people are about to have at him when he tells them Uriah died. I’d really like to think the book is trying to make some sort of point here, but it also just had someone explain that Dauntless + Erudite = sadist. She talks very reasonably about how it feels to lose a family member, and what she appreciated hearing from Tris (confess without making excuses). She doesn’t say anything about how it might be different when talking to Dauntless rather than Erudite, but the two groups seem to get along pretty well, and I’m inclined to take it as her knowing that they work similarly in this respect. She also thinks to tell Tobias that she understands his own feelings and that his feelings of guilt don’t mean he’s really to blame.
Then Amar comes by with a memory serum antidote in case the memory serum virus is used early while they’re in the city. No one even considers the possibility that the higher-ups are regularly inoculated just to be safe. They all inject themselves except for Peter, possibly because one of the editors yelled at the author about why the fuck he was still here and she tried to do something with him to justify that.
Then Christina comes to point out to Tobias that their plan sucks. Completely ignoring the whole morality of mindwiping people for the crime of intending to mindwipe people, there’s the fact that the mindwiping is an attempt to stop a civil war. She’s not saying Plan Mindwipe All The People We Know is the better option, but that they need to have some sort of plan for stopping the civil war themselves afterward.
Tobias is just all bitchy that his parents are both jerks and Christina makes a halfhearted effort to say he can’t want them like dead before being like yep okay point but what about everyone else who doesn’t hate their families? She also points out this whole mess is basically one of your parents against the other one,” Christina says. “Isn’t there something you can say to them that will stop them from trying to kill each other?” because again, abused wife is just as evil and just as culpable, just as the factionless are just as evil as their oppressors and have no valid points.
What Tobias takes from this is that wait, while obviously saving people from the memory serum reset is good, and obviously doing so by erasing other people is bad, so what if he killed both his parents and then used the resulting flesh puppets to make new parents?
It’s the same technique we’re using to heal the compound. I could use it to heal them.
The instant he thinks of a way this can benefit him, he declares the mindwipe of all those other people to be totally healing, totally. The only unfortunate thing is he doesn’t think he’ll have time to mindwipe both, so he’ll have to pick who he functionally kills, and because this book continues to be incredibly horrible, he has no idea which. Also:
If one of them doesn’t have all the baggage they currently have, maybe the two of them can negotiate a peace agreement or something.”
Also, maybe once Mommy doesn’t remember Daddy beats her, she’ll come back and Tobias will have both parents again, yay!
You know, in Order of the Stick, one of the characters is really childlike and was raised by a single mom. When he meets his dad, he’s thrilled and we further learn that he wishes for his parents to remarry and be one big happy family,, and there’s this great sequence where they’re having a huge wedding to remarry and he stops and starts to point out that this doesn’t make sense. He wants it to make sense, he wishes it would, but he knows now that his mom had good reasons to divorce his father, and nothing about that has changed. Just because he wanted to have a father doesn’t mean the one he has was good, and just because he wishes his family would’ve stayed together doesn’t make his mom wrong for splitting it up. It’s a childish, selfish wish.
When the comic relief character of a comedy webcomic has a better emotional IQ than one of the POV characters in a supposedly serious novel, something has gone horribly wrong.