Last time, I want Tobias to die.
THE DEATH SERUM smells like smoke and spice, and my lungs reject it with the first breath I take.
Sooooo probably something other than cyanide.
Tris falls down and almost dies, but then fights her way back up remembering her dead parents.
The fire, the fire. It rages within, a campfire and then an inferno, and my body is its fuel. I feel it racing through me, eating away at the weight. There is nothing that can kill me now; I am powerful and invincible and eternal.
I feel the serum clinging to my skin like oil, but the darkness recedes. I slap a heavy hand over the floor and push myself up.
Okay, so on the one hand, the serum is something so small it can seep through a hazmat suit. On the other, it’s some complex molecule tailor-made to make the brain decide to chill out and stop with all the effort of breathing rather than any simple poison.
Bent at the waist, I shove my shoulder into the double doors, and they squeak across the floor as their seal breaks. I breathe clean air
So all you have to do is sprint and you’d get practically no dose. God, the design of this place is fucking insane.
But I am not alone.
“Don’t move,” David says, raising his gun. “Hello, Tris.”
So I guess the death serum does have an inoculation, which makes sense on the basis that everything else did and also we’re insisting they’re all somehow the same basic thing. What does not make sense is why you wouldn’t inoculate all the pure allowing you to deal with any problems by gassing those around you.
Speaking of, next chapter (suddenly short chapters why?) he is confused how Tris managed to inoculate herself, and she’s all LOLZ THINKING THAT’D STOP ME.
What he isn’t confused about is how damn obvious she’s been about hanging out with the impure all the time.
The death serum may not have killed you, but I am going to. I’m sure you understand—officially we don’t allow capital punishment, but I can’t have you surviving this.”
Except a big point was made of Nita not getting the death sentence because she was impure, while Tris is fixed. There’d be no point in saying she got different treatment if the rule was just no death penalty at all.
“I know what you did,” I say. I start to back up, hoping that the accusation will distract him. “I know you designed the attack simulation. I know you’re responsible for my parents’ deaths—for my mother’s death. I know.”
“I am not responsible for her death!” David says, the words bursting from him, too loud and too sudden. “I told her what was coming just before the attack began, so she had enough time to escort her loved ones to a safe house. If she had stayed put, she would have lived. But she was a foolish woman who didn’t understand making sacrifices for the greater good, and it killed her!”
I am so disappointed we didn’t go with the secret being that the scientists intended to take Jeanine’s simulation serum and use it to pacify the rest of the impure. Also now apparently she couldn’t manage to rescue people on her own and had to have a man help her with that.
Tris finally figures out he was in love with her mom. Not only was it obvious, I didn’t even realize she didn’t know. Truly, this book finds so many different ways to be terrible.
That must be why he welcomed me into his circle of trust, why he gave me so many opportunities. Because I am a piece of her, wearing her hair and speaking with her voice.
Jesus christ Tris, didn’t you think that was suspicious at the time?
“My mother wasn’t a fool,” I say. “She just understood something you didn’t. That it’s not sacrifice if it’s someone else’s life you’re giving away, it’s just evil.”
Whether or not you’re personally impacted is actually wholly irrelevant. Now, as humans have a hard time being rational about things, you can definitely use this as a factor – it’s certainly easier to agree to the sacrifice of others than yourself. But on the other hand, there’s plenty of times someone might refuse to make a sacrifice themselves when the basic action is actually right, and there’s even times when someone might be willing to make a sacrifice too when they shouldn’t. There’s been a number of instances of that even in this series.
Consider, for a minute, murder. There are many types. One type, one that shows up over and over again, is of a man killing his family and himself after he runs into financial problems. He would say he was doing it for them. Even aside from the fact that no, it is wrong to murder people, this particular type shows up with no bearing on how bad the finances are for the whole family. It’s trigger by not living up to his own ideal of a breadwinner. It’s a selfish act coached in selflessness.
In sum, while it is wise to be far warier of people suggesting greater-good sacrifices that don’t involve themselves, that can’t be our only metric. And in this particular case, it’s not a matter of him rejecting a plan that would mean personal sacrifices in favor of sacrificing another group. They don’t know how else to stop the war, and even if they had some way of negotiating a ceasefire, there’s also the problem that the factionless are currently in charge and that’s untenable too. What sacrifices on their side does Tris expect that would both prevent any further deaths from fighting and also topple the current government to put new people in charge?
Tris just lectures him without specifics:
“She taught me all about real sacrifice. That it should be done from love, not misplaced disgust for another person’s genetics. That it should be done from necessity, not without exhausting all other options. That it should be done for people who need your strength because they don’t have enough of their own.
We still have no evidence that the disgust is misplaced, let alone that there are any other options.
Honestly…the way things went down in the first and second book, there is definitely something very wrong with the people there. They went from a society almost without violence to wiping each other out. Only the Dauntless were used to blood and death, yet the Erudite didn’t seem to so much as flinch at it. The second book had some babble about mirror neurons and Erudite don’t seem to have any at all – we are hardwired to recoil at injury and you have to beat it out of soldiers just to get them to aim guns, and it seems that’s how they start off. Then Candor and Amity had no particular reaction to the atrocities, just giving hospitality to the survivors who showed up on their doors as if it were some sort of rule they had to follow. Candor particularly distinguished themselves by shrugging off the murder of their own people. It’s as if they don’t care about past deaths at all. There’s no sign of a drive for fairness or justice in these people, and that’s something hardwired into mammals in general. And Abnegation…did nothing, at all, to the point Marcus can ride through the gates claiming he’s escorting Amity girls because apparently they’ve just been going about their daily lives. We’ve only ever seen people mourning individuals they know, to the point where Tris will not shut up about killing Will but doesn’t even seem to remember she killed dozens of equally innocent Dauntless, and furthermore, her mom killed dozens more Dauntless rescuing her. Someone murdering innocent people to save your life usually leaves a mark, you know.
You could maybe argue that some of this is the factions, that maybe they’re far more dysfunctional than anyone realized and they’re warping people who would otherwise be better, but so much of this series really is humans acting like some alien species. There is something horribly wrong with them, and I think we would be safer keeping them away from normal people who have normal human safeguards against harming others. I don’t bear them any ill will, and I hope therapy, be it talk or genetic, will help them, but they are horrible monsters and I would not want to be trapped among them.
The people outside, in contrast, feel like people in bad situations. The fact memory wiping is functionally really close to murder while involving none of the blood and screaming means it makes perfect sense they’d rely on it too much even though at the same time they’re a society that’s moral enough to have banned capital punishment entirely. The fact they let all sorts of horrors happen within the experiments is understandable as well – humans also feel that action counts for more than inaction, so failing to act to prevent something is easier to do than performing the action yourself. Plus, we know that you can get people to do bad things if authority figures tell them to, and we know it’s easier for people to tell others to do something bad if they don’t have to see it themselves, so a hierarchical structure like this can easily set things up so no one feels what’s going on is their personal fault.
In conclusion, everyone is horrible but it’s Chicago that seems to be made up of fundamentally wrong people.
But that’s not the story we’ll ever see here. Instead, Tris, who seconds ago was claiming she should stand and wait for her opportunity, decides fuck it and just dives for the memory serum. He shoots her a bunch of times, she gets the case open, she hallucinates Dead Mommy. I will say this for the book, at least Mommy is more important than Daddy.
“Am I done yet?” I say, and I’m not sure if I actually say it or if I just think it and she hears it.
“Yes,” she says, her eyes bright with tears. “My dear child, you’ve done so well.”
“What about the others?” I choke on a sob as the image of Tobias comes into my mind, of how dark and how still his eyes were, how strong and warm his hand was, when we first stood face-to-face. “Tobias, Caleb, my friends?”
“They’ll care for each other,” she says. “That’s what people do.”
I smile and close my eyes.
I feel a thread tugging me again, but this time I know that it isn’t some sinister force dragging me toward death.
This time I know it’s my mother’s hand, drawing me into her arms.
INTO DEATH TRIS JESUS CHRIST I KNOW YOU HATE ERUDITE BUT YOU ARE NOW GOING TO DIE BECAUSE YOU REFUSED TO BE SMART THAT IS LITERALLY WHAT IS HAPPENING NOW WITH YOUR “THIS IS THE EXACT SAME SITUATION BUT TOTALLY DIFFERENT” BULLSHIT.
DON’T GIVE ME THE EXCUSE THAT YOU WERE GOING TO DIE EITHER WAY WE JUST FUCKING ESTABLISHED THAT PEOPLE ONLY DIE BECAUSE THEY DON’T ~*~WILLPOWER~*~ THERE WAY THROUGH AND THAT MEANS DYING IS A CHOICE. A CHOICE YOU JUST MADE.
Then we go to Tobias, the one I actually wanted to die.
“I think I can get in touch with Marcus over the radio to negotiate a peace agreement,” Evelyn says.
Okay, so at least she didn’t just fuck off to let them all die, but why would she contact Marcus at all? Johanna was the original leader, she’s sympathetic to what Evelyn’s gone through, and she’s the one who believes violence should be an absolute last resort, as opposed to a first resort. Set up a private meeting with her and cut Marcus out entirely.
I feel a twinge of guilt. I didn’t come here to ask her to lay down arms for me, to trade in everything she’s worked for just to get me back. But then again, I didn’t come here to give her any choice at all. I guess Tris was right—when you have to choose between two bad options, you pick the one that saves the people you love. I wouldn’t have been saving Evelyn by giving her that serum. I would have been destroying her.
I want Tobias to die.
Peter is still hanging out and says he figured Tobias wouldn’t do it. Could not care less, book. Tobias says hey, maybe you could just try to be a better person. There is no attempt to make sense of the fact Peter apparently recognizes what he’s done as wrong AND all the wrong things he’s done were heavily premeditated, so there’s no reason he couldn’t change. Peter gulps mindwipe serum anyway, right then.
Peter stands by the doorway to Erudite headquarters, looking clueless. At the sound of his name—which I have told him at least ten times since he drank the serum—he raises his eyebrows, pointing to his chest. Matthew told us people would be disoriented for a while after drinking the memory serum, but I didn’t think “disoriented” meant “stupid” until now.
I want Tobias to die.
Evelyn meets up with Johanna and Marcus. Evelyn is actually making a good bargain, possibly because she’s always been one of the better characters with completely legitimate grievances that she attempted to address in a not totally insane manner. She’s already decided to leave, but she includes her leaving as one of the things she’s offering, and she specifies that she’ll let them arm themselves from the weapons stores but she’s not going to disarm her own guys.
You will allow those people who wish to leave and seek a new life elsewhere to do so. You will allow those who choose to stay to vote on new leaders and a new social system.
This is probably the best option given none of the dumbfucks who left explained that the faction system is apparently necessary, and they never bothered investigating to find out if that’s true because they were too busy deciding to mindwipe everyone for the greater good, where “greater” means “Chicago alone, fuck the rest of the world I don’t know those people”.
And most importantly, you, Marcus, will not be eligible to lead them.”
It is the only purely selfish term of the peace agreement. She told me she couldn’t stand the thought of Marcus duping more people into following him, and I didn’t argue with her.
I want Tobias to die I want Tobias to die I want Tobias to die.
“No deal,” Marcus says. “I am the leader of these people.”
So in case Tobias somehow just didn’t realize the obvious, there, Marcus has just made it clear why he needs to be explicitly banned from leading people and this is not a personal issue of his mother at all.
Tobias says and thinks nothing in response to Marcus illustrating his mom was right because he is a horrible person and I want him to die.
Johanna says fuck this and fuck you, I’m leader, I pick peace for everybody. Tobias fails to shoot Marcus, because Tobias in addition to being a terrible person, he is a terrible character. Then he goes to get Uriah’s family.
“I came to collect you so that you can make a decision on his behalf.”
“A decision?” Zeke says. “You mean, to unplug him or not?”
We know that’s not an option, but hell if I can figure out what else Tobias might’ve meant. Possibly he’s lying, knowing that as Dauntless, they’ll agree to have him unplugged but it’s less upsetting if they choose it than if he tells them it’s decided.
“I didn’t do what you asked me,” I say to Zeke. “I didn’t watch out for him the way I should have. And I’m sorry.”
You’d think he’d be confessing that he helped the group that did it, because no amount of watching out for him would’ve prevented him getting hit by a surprise explosion.
They head back for the lab area.
“Where’s Tris?” I say.
“I’m sorry, Tobias.”
Well then. I’m assuming Tobias won’t kill himself in grief now, but maybe we can still have someone shoot him.
Anyway. So I guess the book actually did have her die.
What this reminds me of is the Bartimaeus trilogy. In that, we start the series off with one character, then the author starts including a second character and growing more spiteful toward the first, then she takes over the story and at the end she’s the one to survive and usher in the grand new age. I really feel like that’s what’s happened here – the author started off with a female protagonist, but she seems to have gotten more interested in Tobias after trying to do the sidestory, as illustrated by the fact she kept writing sidestories with him despite them being boring as all fuck and then insisted on this book being shared POV. Tris has no arc or character development in this story, it’s all about Tobias being upset she’s better than him, Tobias having parent issues, Tobias being sad about his genes. Tobias is awful and yet the resolution for their relationship is Tris accepting she just has to put up with the fact Tobias will ignore or outright insult whatever advice she gives him and then get people killed, then yell at her if she says she told him so.
Here: The lab is guarded by the memory wipe serum, because apparently that’s instant anyway so it’s just as effective at stopping anyone. Tobias, guilty for how he keeps fucking stuff up and causing people to die, realizing he’s a control freak who gets violent when criticized, and newly terrified of becoming like his father when he realizes what erasing his mom would’ve actually meant, goes in with written directions, so after he’s mindwiped he still knows what to do. There’s no inoculation bullshit, the rest of them just escape to Chicago, kill Marcus, and have Johanna and Evelyn talk things out.
Incidentally, Cara makes a point of saying Tris totally survived the serum, just to remind us that bit of stupidity is still there, and Tobias is all oh I should’ve seen this coming. Indeed you should’ve, and any sane person would’ve known to have Tris with you and the others stay to avoid this.
There’s then a series of ridiculous short chapters of one to two paragraphs about Tobias mourning her.
Those lost in the memory serum haze are gathered into groups and given the truth: that human nature is complex, that all our genes are different, but neither damaged nor pure.
Except we don’t have any idea if all genes are equal and current evidence points to hell no.
They are also given the lie: that their memories were erased because of a freak accident, and that they were on the verge of lobbying the government for equality for GDs.
That is the stupidest lie ever.
I guess the author is just tired of writing this and can’t think of any way to make it plausible anyway, so sure, there are no records, no one will find it suspicious when everyone involved starts acting totally different, and they’ll totally be an effective lobby despite having no idea why anyone feels differently. Also, the fact the guy in charge of keeping the government off their backs no longer remembers the government exists will not backfire whatsoever.
Johanna is arranging transportation for those who want to leave the city. They will come here to learn the truth. I don’t know what will happen to those who remain in Chicago, and I’m not sure I care.
Suicide. I won’t even complain about the message it sends. Just do it.
Caleb finally wanders up to share Tris’ last words of “I’m not deliberately trying to kill myself here, sorry if I didn’t make it back.”
“This sculpture was a symbol of change,” she says to him. “Gradual change, but now they’re taking it down.”
“Oh, really?” Peter sounds eager. “Why?”
“Um . . . I’ll explain later, if that’s okay,” Cara says.
Because absolutely the problem with the group is they didn’t throw their weight around enough, despite you mindwiping the entire place the one time they tried to. Surely taking away a reminder not to do that will lead to wonderful, wonderful places.
David. Sitting in his wheelchair. Hunched and dazed, like all the others who have lost their memories.
“What is he doing there?” I feel like all my muscles and bones and nerves are on fire.
“He’s still technically the leader of the Bureau, at least until they replace him,” Cara says from behind me. “Tobias, he doesn’t remember anything. The man you knew doesn’t exist anymore; he’s as good as dead.
So only after they did it do they admit it was mass murder, and only about the one person they might have actually wanted to murder. You know, given the usual scientist/everybody else ratios, probably most of the people who were mindwiped were Tobias’ fellow GMO people, many of them from failed experiments.
“Why didn’t someone lock him up?” I demand, and my eyes are too blurry to see out of.
“Because he still works for the government,” Cara says. “Just because they’ve declared it an unfortunate accident doesn’t mean they’ve fired everyone. And the government isn’t going to lock him up just because he killed a rebel under duress.”
“A rebel,” I repeat. “That’s all she is now?”
That is what she is, and he killed her as she was on her way to killing him, so really, shut the fuck up and just kill yourself already.
They unplug Uriah and Tobias keeps being a whiny asshole and is still not dead.