Forcing vulnerability

Promotional image from the movie Insurgent.
Truth serum is a good idea in theory, I suppose, but Tris Prior would tell you otherwise.

In the movie Insurgent, Tris is forced to take truth serum on trial so that the Candor can validate her story about Jeanine’s betrayal. Tris is adamant about not wanting to take it, but Four convinces her to do it, as it’s the only way to prove their innocence.

It’s obvious Tris has been hiding something from Four. She’s been having nightmares, but she hasn’t talked to him about them. She isn’t ready to open up.

The truth serum forces her to admit what she’s feeling: guilt for shooting one of her best friends, Will. She might have shot him in self defense, but that doesn’t change the fact that she shot him.

When I’m struggling with something, I need to feel ready to talk about it.

Opening up about your feelings is good, right? It’s important in relationships to be honest. So that means this should help her relationship with Four and assist her in getting over the trauma, right?


I can imagine exactly how Tris was feeling, shutting away her emotions so she didn’t have to deal with them. I do this all the time (I’m not saying it’s healthy, but it’s often how my brain deals with things). And it sure doesn’t help when someone, even a friend, tries to dig those emotions out of me. In fact, that just makes me shut down and I am more likely to retreat from that person, not open up more.

Unfortunately for Tris, she didn’t have the luxury of retreating.

Tris didn’t have the luxury of retreating.

The scene where she admits to killing Will in tears to a huge crowd of Candor people is one of the most uncomfortable scenes I’ve ever watched. I probably find it so stressful to see because revealing my emotions is when I feel the most vulnerable. When I’m struggling with something, I need to feel ready to talk about it and I need to feel safe. Tris wasn’t feeling either of these things.

As a result, her relationship with Four doesn’t get better, it gets worse, and she runs away.

I’ve been guilty of trying to make my friends open up when they’re not ready to. I try not to do that any more. And I appreciate my friends who never force me to say something I don’t want to. I think the “if you talk about it, you’ll feel better” rule only works if you’re ready, and not before.

Don’t try to feed me truth serum. I’ll talk when I’m ready.

Allison Barron

Allison Barron

Commander at Geekdom House
Allison is like Galadriel, offering wisdom where needed but turning treacherous as the sea when competitive games are involved. She is the executive editor of Area of Effect magazine, co-host of the Infinity +1 podcast, and staff writer for Christ and Pop Culture. When she’s not writing, designing, or editing, she is often preoccupied in Hyrule, Middle-earth, or a galaxy far, far away.
Allison Barron

Latest posts by Allison Barron (see all)