Having just decided on new Dauntless leadership in order to leave the faction that’s not even subtly about to betray them, the leader of that faction announces over the HQ intercom that they’re going to betray them.
Jack Kang’s voice speaks all around us.
“Attention all occupants of Candor headquarters. A few hours ago I met with a representative of Jeanine Matthews. He reminded me that we Candor are in a weak position, dependent on Erudite for our survival, and told me that if I intend to keep my faction free, I will have to meet a few demands.”
He relays the terms of the surrender, save for the part about the Dauntless, and Tris talks about the themes of the story.
Sometimes I feel like I am collecting the lessons each faction has to teach me, and storing them in my mind like a guidebook for moving through the world.
Yes, remember all those times that Tris learned what she could from each faction, didn’t criticize them, and most certainly didn’t completely write off the one pursuing intellectual advancement because science is totes grody? I remember all those times. Anyway, it’s time to execute Eric halfway through the book because I guess none of the factions’ lessons are about narrative pacing.
The popular YA book series about nonconformity and the dangers of mind control continues to tell the reader what every part of its story means.
Eric scans the crowd for a few seconds, and then his eyes settle on me. […]
“I’d like her to list [my crimes]. Stiffs don’t do that sort of thing. They just tie each other’s shoes and cut each other’s hair.”
Tobias’s expression does not change. I think I understand: Eric doesn’t really care about me. But he knows exactly where to hit Tobias. […]
“I have a request.” [Eric says.] “All I want is for Four to be the one who fires that bullet.”
“Why?” Tobias says.
“So you can live with the guilt,” Eric replies. […]
I think I understand. He wants to see people break [and] he believes that if Tobias has to kill him, he will see that before he dies.
Ok, but, why? Why are we unpacking these themes now? Eric hasn’t played a real, thematic part in the narrative since the first book, so none of the themes accompanying him make sense now, halfway into Insurgent. We’ve read half a book of Tris and Four running away from people who want to kill them because… because, so it’s really weird to suddenly have to care about Tris’s rivalry with Four and how it represents the contrast between cruel Dauntless and brave Dauntless for three pages out of the blue before Eric is killed off and they go away again, forever. It’s sort of like how in Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith how Christopher Lee’s character, Count Dooku, the villain of the previous movie, showed up for a five minute fight scene in the middle of the first act and was killed off. But at least that awkwardly shoehorned scene was done to develop the main character, Anakin. What happens here would basically be like if they brought back Count Dooku for five minutes and then made it all about Count Dooku.
Basically what I’m saying is, wow, the Star Wars prequels were written better than this.
To be fair, it does also make Tris contemplate her own themes. Themes she’s been struggling with the whole time. So there’s… that.
I hear my father asking me, “What makes you think you have the right to shoot someone?” […] Maybe we are not the ones deciding if Eric lives or dies. Maybe he is the one who decided that, when he did all those terrible things.
Maybe Eric’s execution forces Four to confront stuff too, but it would have to make sense why his stuff makes sense as stuff first.
“[Are you] afraid the Dauntless are going to change their minds about you? Realize that even though you’ve only got four fears, you’re still a coward?” […]
“Eric,” he says, “be brave.”
He squeezes the trigger.
TWIST. It doesn’t actually say who died until the next chapter, when we find out it was the narrative pacing.
The Dauntless run around celebrating and then Jack King finally does something that makes sense: wonders why they killed off Eric just now. Albeit for very different reasons.
“What have you done?” he says. “I was just told that Eric is missing from his holding cell.”
“He was under our jurisdiction,” says Tori. “We gave him a trial and executed him. You should be thanking us.”
“Why…” Jack’s face turns red. […]
“Because you wanted him to be executed, too, right? Since he murdered one of your children?”
Jack Kang’s Worst Day Ever continues as the Dauntless also tell him that they’re leaving.
If we leave, he will be incapable of fulfilling two of the three demands Max had of him. The thought terrifies him, and it is all over his face.
“I can’t let you do that,” he says.
“You don’t let us do anything,” says Tobias.
Things suddenly get more… how do I put this… “America, Fuck Yeah!”?
“If you do this, we will side with Erudite, I promise you, and you will never find an ally in us again, you—”
“We don’t need you as an ally,” says Tori. “We’re Dauntless.”
The Dauntless run out of Candor, yelling and screaming, all the way back to old Dauntless headquarters, presumably leaving Jack Kang behind to wonder how he’s able to take the political climate seriously.
Now you may be asking yourself, “Wait, how does this make sense?” (You might have been asking yourself this for a while.) “I thought they were driven out of Dauntless HQ by the Erudite, as well as the other half of Dauntless who joined the Erudite, and have been on the run. Wouldn’t this give them away fairly quickly?” Well, they’ve thought of that, and they have an answer!
Bud passes out paintball guns. Someone else passes out paintballs. Soon the hidden corners of Dauntless headquarters will be coated in multicolored paint, blocking the lenses of the surveillance cameras.
Because nothing says “inconspicuous” like “If we cover up all the cameras this place is being actively monitored with, then they won’t know that we’re here!”
Question of the day! Who’s your craziest family member you’re going to see over the holidays? Unless they read this blog, in which case who’s your second craziest?