Last time, Erudite are too stupid to realize people can detour through buildings.
Currently, they’re looking for ladders while Tris does an experiment, shouting out the window to see if the zombie Candor attack. They don’t.
This could have been set up so well. Say that the computing power was mostly in Dauntless, to handle all the cameras, and that’s why they were using the Dauntless HQ to run the first simulation and why they can’t pull off anything of similar complexity now. We don’t even need a reason why Erudite would be okay with less powerful computers because Abnegation is in charge of who gets what, and we already know Erudite is not happy with their decisions.
Instead, it works differently now because that’s more convenient.
They then find a convenient window.
“Time to break the glass,” I say.
Fernando takes the glass-breaking device from his pocket and offers it to me. “You probably have the best aim.”
“I’ll do it,” says Christina.
She presses the button on the side of the device and tosses it across the alley, underhand. I clench my hands as I wait for it to land. It bounces onto the windowsill and rolls into the glass. An orange light flashes, and all at once the window —and the windows above, below, and next to it—shatters into hundreds of tiny pebbles that shower over the Candor below.
Okay, so apparently the sound waves can tell which building you meant to explode the glass of.
The glass triggers all the zombies to shoot the sky, because obviously being activated by motion means you aim at the source and not the moving thing. Erudite proper still isn’t aware anything weird is going on, because I guess they are deaf. Couldn’t Tris avoid all this fuss by tossing a rock around the corner six times and then amble by as the guns click uselessly?
“They respond to movement only, so … don’t fall off the ladder,” I say.
So I guess that’s going to happen.
The problem is currently they can only hold the ladder on their side, meaning the first person across is in trouble.
I notice that Marcus, who is supposed to selflessly offer himself up for every task, does not volunteer.
Nothing about this is a surprise. It’s not even that you should be able to guess this from the fact he’s an asshole in general, he already went with you on the assault of a faction HQ and failed to nobly volunteer himself then, unlike your dad. It seems that should be hard to forget when it’s the whole reason he and not your dad is alive now.
Christina points this out, and Marcus says that they need him to find the macguffin, so not only is this predictable based on everything we know about him and also the fact this exact situation has come up before, but he has a perfectly good reason this time. What is the point of this?
Tris decides to show that she’s still a decent Abnegation by volunteering instead, even though she and Christina are both currently Dauntless and should be fighting over who gets to do the reckless thing rather than being upset Marcus doesn’t want to steal their chance.
A breeze blows through the alley, pushing me to one side, and I think of scaling the Ferris wheel with Tobias. He kept me steady then. There is no one left to keep me steady now.
Part of the problem with the alternate universes we keep slipping between is that many of them only introduce new problems. In the Divergent I read and actually kind of liked, the Ferris wheel was about the fact Tris isn’t afraid of heights at all, not how much she needed Tobias’ support.
The ladder shifts, moving closer to the edge of the window frame on the other side. Christina is holding one side steady, but she can’t keep the ladder from slipping off the other windowsill.
…can’t she? If she pushes the ladder further out from her end, it should slide further onto the other side.
The ladder continues to slip until she launches herself for the window and sends it flying, and somehow Christina alone keeps hold of the other end of the ladder, and also all this motion doesn’t make the Candor shoot them. (And also also, there’s no bits of glass on the windowsill from blowing the windows.)
An Erudite woman comes out of a stall, and I scramble to my feet, draw the stunner, and point it at her, all without thinking.
She freezes, her arms up, toilet paper stuck to her shoe.
“Don’t shoot!” Her eyes bulge from her head.
I remember, then, that I am dressed like the Erudite. I set the stunner on the edge of a sink.
“My apologies,” I say. I try to adopt the formal speech common to the Erudite. “I am slightly edgy, with everything that’s occurring. We are reentering in order to retrieve some of our test results from … Laboratory 4-A.”
“Oh,” the woman says. “That seems rather unwise.”
“The data is of the utmost importance,” I say, trying to sound as arrogant as some of the Erudite I’ve met. “I would rather not leave it to get riddled with bullets.”
“It’s hardly my place to prevent you from trying to recover it,” she says. “Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to wash my hands and take cover.”
I can’t make any sense of this.
The basic “pretend to be Erudite” seems reasonable. The part where this woman apparently failed to notice the gunshots and glassplosion earlier are our standard horrible writing. But then there’s Tris’ excuse, and that’s where it gets unusual.
She appears to be saying she totally did just smash the windows and then crawl over a ladder to get into Erudite base, but for an Eruditey reason, despite the fact Erudite would never do this, either from Tris’ POV (SHITTY COWARDS) or an Erudite’s (STUPIDEST IDEA EVER).
So she can’t possibly be saying that, and yet, she introduces herself saying “we” and “reentering” so I can’t think what else she’d be referring to but the utterly Dauntless events taking place.
(Also, at sixteen she’d be an Erudite initiate, but is talking like she’s a major scientist.)
Finally, what a wasted opportunity! If Abnegation can joke among themselves even though they’re serious to everyone else, surely Erudite could save most of their condescension for outsiders? Especially when they have a ranking system, which isn’t very compatible with the idea each of them believes they’re the only smart one, but works fine with the idea all of them think they’re better than the other factions. Tris’ best Erudite impression should look like the caricature of what other factions think of Erudite that it actually is and be immediately suspicious. And hey, there’s nothing wrong with Tris trying only to fail and have to use the stunner – she could even demonstrate her supposed Erudite qualifications by then realizing why her attempt failed, and do a better job of talking her way through the second time.
Christina heads across to say that this is so smart and Tris is so Erudite because if the author just keeps telling us that, it’ll be true. She clarifies she means she’s impressed, which isn’t a surprise given we know everyone other than Abnegation doesn’t think it’s an insult to be called smart.
Fernando, who I didn’t think would have trouble, moves more awkwardly than anyone else. He has probably spent his entire life behind a computer or a book.
She didn’t think he’d have trouble, it’s just that she finds it obvious why he’d have trouble. There really is no reason to have Christina be second across, especially when she was the one in charge of holding the ladder in place on that end. But it has to be him because it’s time for an obligatory sacrifice.
Halfway across the alley, I see something slip out of his pocket. It is his spectacles.
I scream, “Fernan—”
But I am too late.
The spectacles fall, hit the edge of the ladder, and topple to the pavement.
I don’t know if it’s fair I don’t like this scene. Maybe if I was capable of caring about people in this book, it’d work.
I mean, we have the setup of the zombies being activated by motion. On the other hand, there were other options – they could’ve figured out the motion thing by the zombies just aiming, and then what happens here is the zombies finally fire and blow their attempt at subterfuge. Having it be just check off one of the party’s deaths is a lot less interesting because somebody always dies to hazards like this. That’s why you bring spare people despite it not being clear why they needed more than one defector Erudite.
Then there’s the fact the first death is of the very most expendable – the extra Erudite who she doesn’t even know and we were only just introduced to. And really, what did this death show? I think everyone had a clear idea the characters would be shot if the zombies noticed, so showing it lacks further impact. I guess if everyone got through safely it’d be less grim, but that’s counterbalanced by Tris’ attempt to convince the Erudite woman going so absurdly well. And there’s no reason they can’t dodge the issue this time and then run into the zombies later on and get hit then, when it’d have more impact for not having obvious death flags all over it.