So I’m embarrassingly new to this whole “podcast” thing, but I just discovered they’re a thing and that I like them. So I’m gonna recommend that if anyone has a spare hour or so thus weekend, have a listen to the first episode of NPR’s new Invisibilia podcast. I really wanna talk with someone about it, because it was terrifying and inspiring and shoot if those two things aren’t right up my alley.
Insurgent Chapter 33
The chapter begins with Tris waking up to Caleb in her cell. And Peter, because Peter is always there doing nothing in the plot these days, so that’s just a given.
You may recall that we just got a big ol’ plot twist that Caleb is a traitor and helped the Erudite capture his sister, and I thought this was interesting, but was very skeptical that his treachery would make any kind of sense.
“Did you ever leave Erudite?” I say.
“It’s not that simple,” he starts. “I—”
Well, I still don’t have an answer for that, because the book plays the more questions than answers card.
“At what point did you betray our family? Before our parents died, or after?”
“I did what I had to do. You think you understand this, Beatrice , but you don’t. This whole situation… it’s much bigger than you think it is. […] This isn’t about Erudite; it’s about everyone. All the factions,” he says, “and the city. And what’s outside the fence.”
AWESOME. MORE QUESTIONS.
On the one hand, I like this, because the little untoward hints that something’s outside the fence frame literally the entire plot differently, like despite all the shit going on in here, there’s something else going on on a whole other level. On the other hand, I hate this, because all of our unknowns are now in this one single Caleb-as-traitor arc, so while it’s keeping every element of that interesting, it’s only interesting because it’s unknown, and once we find out so much as one of them is stupid and doesn’t support the weight of the mysteries-on-mysteries…
Unfortunately, Caleb’s mysteries immediately start making less and less sense.
“I have always been Erudite,” he says softly. “Even when I was supposed to be Abnegation.”
Wait, like, when he was growing up in Abnegation? Did he pop out of the womb an Erudite spy baby?
Caleb snorts a little. “Our father was Erudite, Beatrice. Jeanine told me— he was in her year at school.”
“He wasn’t Erudite,” I say after a few seconds. “He chose to leave them. […] Only you chose this… this evil.”
“Spoken like a true Dauntless,” says Caleb sharply. “It’s either one way or the other way. No nuances. The world doesn’t work like that, Beatrice. Evil depends on where you’re standing.”
Says the person who joined a group aligned with a specific personality trait that has embarked on a genocide against groups aligned with different specific personality traits.
Tris argues that mind control and giving up your sister to people who will kill her is evil, which I guess is too nuanced for sudden-evil-sociopath Caleb. Tris is then taken to Jeanine and the scientists, who reveal more Divergent-science.
“You have an abundance of a particular kind of neuron, called, quite simply, a mirror neuron. […]”
“Mirror neurons fire both when one performs an action and when one sees another person performing that action. They allow us to imitate behavior. […]”
“Someone with many, strong mirror neurons could have a flexible personality— capable of mimicking others as the situation calls for it rather than remaining constant. […] A flexible personality,” she says, “would probably have aptitude for more than one faction, don’t you agree, Ms. Prior?”
Man, fuck if I care. We’re going through quite a lot of trouble to explain that someone can be both selfless and adventurous. It really took all these far-future science tests (not to mention 800 pages of books…) to reach the conclusion that someone has multiple personality traits because they sometimes behave differently?
What’s funny is that Tris actually seems to give less of a fuck than I do.
“We’ll have a simulation serum to try out soon.”
“Yeah,” I say. “Whatever.”
The scene ends, and we move to a scene where Tobais is shaking Tris awake in the middle of the night, saying there’s no time to explain and they have to run! Which Tris immediately figures out is a simulation, because – and I’m not making this up – Tobias isn’t awesome enough.
[We] encounter two Dauntless guards […] Tobias fires twice in a matter of seconds, both hits, one in the head and one in the chest. The woman, who was hit in the chest, slumps against the wall but doesn’t die. […]
I know that if he can throw a knife so that it hits just the tip of my ear, he can fire accurately at the Dauntless soldiers who ambush us. […]
“We can’t get out of here,” I say. “Because this is a simulation.”
Tris announces, “You’ll have to do better than that, Jeanine”, pulls a knife out of her pocket that wasn’t there, and stabs herself in the leg out of the simulation. I like how since simulation rules have always been wonky, somehow that’s the least weird part of this scene.
When she wakes up, Jeanine screams in frustration and holds a gun to Tris’s face, demanding to know how she always knows it’s a simulation, because apparently she doesn’t know that Tobias is the awesomest.
“You think I’m going to tell you?” I say. “You think I believe that you would kill me without figuring out the answer to this question?” […]
“This is not about you . It is not about me. It is about keeping this city safe from the people who intend to plunge it into hell!”
Tris has the only appropriate response to that level of melodrama.
I punch her hard in the face.
Then Tris goes full-on psychotic power trip, which is genuinely kinda great.
“Pain can’t make me tell you. Truth serum can’t make me tell you. Simulations can’t make me tell you. I’m immune to all three. […] You have failed. You can’t control me!” […] I laugh, mirthless, a mad laugh. […] I broke her.
I broke her.