Tris Does Not Resolve The Entire Plot Already, Surprisingly: Insurgent Chapter 5

Posted on October 17, 2014 by


In one of its small handful of the actually good Saturday Night Life moments that happen every few months or so, last weekend they made a trailer for the young adult dystopian The Group HopperYou should totally watch it before you read today’s Insurgent post, to get you in the mood. Because it’s basically every young adult dystopia ever. You pretty much don’t even have to read this blog anymore. It’ll be way more efficient. [Ariel says: Fun fact, I was going to put this in my post, until Matt was 1 step ahead of me. Damn you, Mattthhhewwwww!!!”]

Chapter 5

Tris notices Marcus acting suspiciously (AKA just acting like Marcus, because the Divergent series has no comprehension of subtlety) [Ariel says: Marcus comes in two flavours, acting blatantly suspiciously or acting blatantly normal so we never have to do any guesswork ourselves], so she sneakily follows him to the Amity water-filtration building, because there’s a very convenient metaphor there.

Both of us watch the purification happen, and I wonder if he is thinking what I am: that it would be nice if life worked this way, stripping the dirt from our lives and sending us out into the world clean. But some dirt is destined to linger.


Now that this confrontation scene has been set with an appropriately explained metaphor, Detective Tris demands some answers about the Big Secret we conveniently just learned about at the start of this book.

“I heard you the other day,” I blurt out. […] “I heard you talking to Johanna about what motivated Jeanine’s attack on Abnegation.”
“Did Dauntless teach you that it’s all right to invade another person’s privacy, or did you teach yourself? […] If you heard me talking to Johanna, then you know that I didn’t even tell her about this. So what makes you think that I would share the information with you?”
I don’t have an answer at first. But then it comes to me.

Oh my God, our blog’s main characters’ ineptitude… I get that Tris is sixteen and obviously not a master interrogator, but “reason why you should tell me your secret” is maybe the first thing she could have come up with an idea about before confronting someone about their secrets? Good thing she just knew what to say, though! Like always. Exposition like this is probably intended to convince the author that the main character is a capable badass, but really it just makes them seem incredibly unprepared.

“My father is dead. […] I want to know if it was something he risked his life for.”
Marcus’s mouth twitches.
“Yes,” he says. “It was.”
My eyes fill with tears. I blink them away.
“Well,” I say, almost choking, “Then what on earth was it? Was it something you were trying to protect? Or steal? Or what?”
“It was…”


Marcus shakes his head. “I’m not going to tell you that.”


“You may have succeeded in shutting down the attack simulation, girl, but it was by luck alone, not skill.”

See? This is what I mean! Now the only character in this book who’s saying anything that makes any sense to me is Pure Incarnation of Evil #4.

every villain is lemons

Tris continues to not play her hand very well.

“Tobias is right about you,” I say. “You’re nothing but an arrogant, lying piece of garbage.”
“He said that, did he?” Marcus raises his eyebrows.
“No,” I say. “He doesn’t mention you enough to say anything like that.”

UGH. WHY. This isn’t even the first time this week we’ve had a female main character stand up to their male significant other’s abusive parent on their behalf, and it works just as badly here as it did in Entwined With You, because fighting someone’s battles for them is a very bad way to help victims of abuse. I get what scenes like this are trying to do: establish the character as supportive, unafraid to stand up for what they believe in, and – doggone it – as a strong female character, too! But scenes like this don’t do that, because this is not an action that supports said victim, it takes further agency away from them during a critical recovery stage. Characters like this aren’t supportive, they’re mistaken, and somehow I’m not getting the impression that that’s what Insurgent is going for.

[Ariel says: What I find most infuriating about these kinds of scenes is that they’re written in such a way that if you don’t support the characters for standing up for their loved one, you feel kind of bad. I mean, it could be argued that these characters need their loved one to stand up for them, to help give them strength. I have mixed feelings about both the Entwined in You story and this one. I could imagine being really appreciative if my boyfriend told off an abusive person from my past, but I could also imagine feeling frustrated that I wasn’t there to stand up for myself and to be the one to say, “You’re a sack of shit who fucked with my head.” Tough call.] [Matthew adds: I just straight up hate these scenes. There’s a significant difference between doing this for someone and doing this with someone. Nor is there ANY benefit to an abuser seeing that the person they abused still can’t fight their own battles themselves. If a loved one really doesn’t have that kind of strength, no one is doing them any favors by further suppressing their ability to find it within themselves.]

Marcus doesn’t answer me. He turns back to the water purifier. […]
I leave the building, and it isn’t until I’m halfway across the field that I realize I didn’t win. Marcus did.

lol she just figured that out

Whatever the truth is, I’ll have to get it somewhere else, because I won’t be asking him again.

I like how this is simultaneously obvious (because it’s what’s driving Insurgent‘s plot and we’re, uh, on chapter five…) and illogical (because, well, can we assume that anyone else knows this information?).

That night, Tris has another nightmare about Will, and goes to Tobias’s room for comfort, although she doesn’t want to explain about the Will nightmares.

I can’t tell him that I’m having nightmares about Will, or I would have to explain why. What would he think of me, if he knew what I had done? How would he look at me?

It’s moments like this where I actually do rather like this series, because it does have these great moments of morally grey despair. But then it becomes a YA novel about teenagers making out.

His hand slips under the hem of the T-shirt, and I don’t stop him, though I know I should.

Look, I hated being a teenager too, but that doesn’t mean “haunted by a recent traumatic experience during a time of war” and “but I’m not ready to have sex!” make any kind of sense in the same scene.

I can’t be with him in that way if one of my reasons for wanting it is to distract myself from guilt. […]
“Sorry,” I say.
He says almost sternly, “Don’t apologize.”

The person in me concerned about people developing healthy attitudes towards sex is pleased that this YA heroine figured this out, but the person in me just reading a damn book is still amazed that the books we’re reading on this blog are still finding new ways to make sex more uncomfortable.

Tobias comforts Tris, because, hey, the second Hunger Games book was about its YA heroine slowly becoming less and less of a character after her traumatic experiences in the first book too.

“I don’t mean to be such a mess,” I say, my voice cracking. “I just feel so…” I shake my head.
“It’s wrong,” he says. “It doesn’t matter if your parents are in a better place – they aren’t here with you, and that’s wrong, Tris. It shouldn’t have happened. It shouldn’t have happened to you. And anyone who tells you it’s okay is a liar.”

For today’s end-of-the-post question… it’s that time of year again…


Posted in: Insurgent