Chapter 41: Xander
Back in the lab, Oker suddenly instructs Xander to destroy all of their cures, even the camassia ones. He is sure that they won’t work, but thinks he knows what will. Xander is bewildered and tries to protest. Oker quickly disillusions him by revealing that when he helped create the Plague, he and some of the other people who worked on it named the Plague the “Pilot.” The true Pilot is the Plague itself. Xander wants to know what plant Oker is going to find, but he doesn’t say; he is determined to be the cure’s sole finder. When he is gone, Xander mentally wrestles with himself about what to do. Eventually, he decides to destroy every cure.
Chapter 42: Ky
Ky feels water accumulating inside him, as if he’s drowning. He struggles to remember to breathe.
Chapter 43: Cassia
Cassia goes to find Xander, but instead finds something much more horrifying: Oker, somehow dead on the ground, having made a star-shape in the mud with his knuckles. Cassia gets Xander from the lab just as Leyna and the villagers arrive to find Oker’s body. There is commotion as everyone tries to understand what has happened. Leyna, in shock and denial, wants to move forward with administering Oker’s cure, but finds that Xander has destroyed them. The situation looks grim, and suspicious: it appears to them, especially after Hunter’s devastating transgression, that Xander may have killed Oker and destroyed the cures for a malicious purpose. Xander and Hunter are both brought to the jail to be held accountable for their actions. Xander ultimately is not charged with Oker’s death since there’s no evidence, only with destroying the cures. The villagers plan to vote on both Hunter and Xander’s fates.
Chapter 44: Ky
Chapter 44 is a blank page.
Chapter 45: Cassia
Cassia goes to visit Xander in the prison. She stops at Hunter’s cell to ask him why he unplugged the patients’ nutrient bags. He says he did it to all of them, including Ky, to make it fair. He wanted to prevent them being helped, just as his late daughter received no help. Broken, he weeps and apologizes for what he did. Cassia moves on to talk to Xander. Xander thinks Oker changed his mind about the camassia cure during the vote when he overheard Cassia talking to Xander, but isn’t sure why. He reflects on death being a lonely experience.
In the infirmary, Anna comes in to visit Cassia. She produces paintings of the flowers that Cassia isn’t familiar with, and when Cassia notices a certain flower with three petals, she has an epiphany: her mother sent her a piece of paper carefully torn into three sections; Oker drew a flower with three sets of petals in the mud. The flower they’ve been searching for is a mariposa lily, or a sego lily, as Cassia’s mother called it back in Matched when she discovered them growing illegally in a nearby Province. Not realizing that the flower had two different names is what caused the sorters to miss it. Cassia and Anna race into the forest and retrieve some, realizing that they’ve finally found the cure.
Chapter 46: Xander
Cassia and Anna plea with the guards at Xander’s cell to let him have the lab equipment necessary to make the cure. After some arguing, they acquiesce. Cassia and Anna bring in everything Xander needs to make the cure from the sego lilies. Xander worries that he’s been wrong too many times before—especially about the blue tablets, which caused the death of the boy in the Carving, about which he feels very guilty. Cassia is confident that he can do it, and asks him to come through for her one more time.
Chapter 47: Cassia
Anna distracts the medic in the infirmary while Cassia slips the cure into Ky’s IV drip the way Xander instructed. Then she sits back and waits, thinking of the trust that she, Xander, and Ky all have for one another.
Chapter 48: Ky
Ky regains consciousness and hears Cassia’s voice.
Chapter 49: Cassia
Cassia watches as Ky’s face begins to lighten, his health returning. Anna comes in with another dose of the cure, which Xander has said should be administered as soon as possible. Xander and Hunter are brought out into the square for their trials, distracting the medics long enough for Cassia to give the second dose. Anna stands with Hunter and explains that he meant not to kill, only to make things fair. She asks for exile for him over harsher punishments and the villagers grant it through their votes. Anna, Eli and Hunter share an embrace before Hunter leaves by way of the forest. Cassia fears that the villagers will not be so merciful toward Xander.
Chapter 50: Xander
Colin asks who will stand with Xander. After a long, disquieting pause, Cassia leaves the infirmary to stand with him. Xander fears that it will not be possible to save the thousands who are sick.
Chapters 41-50 Analysis
The set of events that unfold as a result of Oker’s death represent one of the few instances in the Matched trilogy where the characters’ troubles are not caused by other people. The primary point of conflict throughout the trilogy has been the merciless totalitarianism of the Society and the freedom it’s taken from its citizens, all of which is the result of humanity at its most terrible. In chapter 43, however, Xander and the others’ problems are the result of something out of anyone’s hands: a simple heart attack. This represents a plot thickening akin to one of the only other moments in the story where the point of conflict is no one’s doing per se: the development of the mutation. It could be argued that the mutation is the result of human error, particularly with the revelation that the cure for the Rising’s Plague may have been the selective pressure that caused it.
Condie employs an interesting technique to convey the foggy, half-conscious state that Ky resides in while still. In general, she uses short, poetic stanzas or describes total confusion and lack of sensory orientation. The illustration of his state is perhaps most poignantly and darkly conveyed by the fact that Chapter 44, at the pinnacle of his downward spiral, is just a blank page. In this instance, Condie chooses to convey Ky's near-gone state not with words, but by going without them.
Oker’s revelation to Xander that the Plague is the real Pilot of the story introduces a striking shift of perspective for Xander and the reader. Throughout much of Crossed and Reached, the Pilot has been described as a leader, a savior, someone that everyone wants to follow, be, or both. That the Society’s terrible Plague, the complete source of conflict in Reached, is actually known as a Pilot, too, casts the concept of the Pilot into a much less heroic light. This is perhaps appropriate, for as the story progresses, much is discussed about who is and isn’t a Pilot, who people choose as their Pilot, and the truth that perhaps everyone must be their own Pilot. Having thought he’d found a Pilot in Oker, Xander must now totally reconsider.
These chapters also provide both a very positive and negative development in quick succession in the form of Cassia discovering that sego lilies are the missing ingredient in the cure just before Xander and Hunter are put on trial for their transgressions against the village. Cassia’s ability to piece together the meaning of the three-portioned shape reveals Oker’s intention in marking it in the mud as he died as well as what was missing from her data sorting. But the tension builds as the cure may not be administered to Ky in time to aid Xander’s case and prove that he was telling the truth about Oker’s instructions.