Chapter 51: Cassia
Cassia stands with Xander at the trial. Xander attempts to explain himself to the angry villagers, telling them that Oker wanted the camassia cure destroyed. No one seems to believe him, and a few even start voting to condemn him before he’s done speaking. Cassia realizes that sometimes people with the freedom to choose will choose wrong. The trial is suddenly interrupted by a large ship coming in to land right in the village center. People scatter in panic to get out of the way. Cassia holds tightly to Xander.
Chapter 52: Ky
Ky awakens and asks weakly for Cassia, but receives no reply. He remembers that Indie is gone, but realizes that he is back.
Chapter 53: Xander
The Pilot emerges from the ship and asks desperately for a cure. He explains that a large faction within the Provinces is calling for his removal. Twenty percent of still patients are scheduled to be taken off of life support. Cassia protests that this is many more than necessary. She and Xander explain to him that they have a cure but have only tested it on one patient. After some persuading, they convince the Pilot to come to the infirmary, where they all see Ky moving and, after a moment, speaking weakly to Cassia. The Pilot agrees to fly Cassia, Xander, and Ky back to Camas to make more cures. Cassia is confident that if they can revive her still mother, she’ll know where to find the illegally planted sego lily. On the ship, Cassia asks where Indie is. The Pilot informs them that she contracted the mutation and flew in a stolen plane until it crashed. She is dead.
Chapter 54: Cassia
Cassia thinks about Indie’s death as they fly to Camas. The Pilot explains that the Rising used to be real; there were true rebels, like Cassia’s grandmother. Over time, as they infiltrated and fought against the Society, the Society did the same in reverse, until the two became very similar. The Society eventually decided that it would be easier to become the Rising rather than defeat them. This is a huge shock to Cassia and Xander, but not to Ky. It explains why the transition of power from Society to Rising involved so little fighting. Xander goes down into the cargo hold to check on Ky and Cassia. Cassia thanks him for everything as meaningfully as she can.
They stop in Camas just long enough for Xander to make a bit more of the cure, and then they head to Keya, where Cassia’s family is. They are greeted when they land by Bram, who shares an emotional reunion with Cassia. Together, they go to the Museum, where patients are being kept now that the hospital is full. Cassia sees her mother, looking pale and still, but alive. She asks Bram where their father is and learns, tragically, that he did not survive the mutation. Once they bring their mother on board the ship, Bram sobs in Cassia arms as they cope with the weight of their father’s loss. When Bram falls asleep, Cassia comforts her still mother.
Chapter 55: Xander
Xander instructs the medics at the Camas medical center how to administer the cure. They are testing a trial of 100 patients with doses administered every two hours. Xander slips away to Lei’s room and gives her a dose as well. A medic finds him and agrees to continue dosing her while Xander goes to help elsewhere. Things look promising; most of those receiving the cure begin showing improvements. When Xander returns to check on Lei later, her eyes move to look at him.
Chapter 56: Cassia
The cure slowly but surely begins to bring Cassia’s mother back. When she is conscious enough to speak, she tells Cassia that the illegal crop of sego lilies she once reported on were located in Sonoma Province. Later, when she is feeling even better, they view the contents of Cassia’s grandfather’s microcard together, going through his favorite memories again. Cassia’s mother explains that her grandfather’s favorite memory of her father was the day they had their first argument because that was the day her grandfather tried to give her father the same rebellious poems that he later gave Cassia. He was initially angry that her father chose not to heed them, but later came to respect his son’s right to choose. Cassia still can’t figure out what the “red garden day” means in her grandfather’s memory with her. Her mother tells them that her father came to say goodbye in her mind, somehow, while they were both still. Grief-stricken by the loss of her husband, Cassia’s mother begs Cassia to go find something, anything, living and growing for her.
Outside, Cassia has a flashback while searching for a plant. It completes her earlier flashbacks about being approached by a man and woman on the air tram to work. They tell her that her grandfather is in danger of having his tissue preservation eligibility revoked as a punishment for stealing from the Society’s restoration sites long ago. They show Cassia pictures to prove this, and eventually convince her to add additional data to her data sort at work that day, which is normally impossible and forbidden. Before going, Cassia meets her grandfather and asks him if he ever stole from the Society. He admits that he did, and this convinces Cassia to do as the strange man and woman requested, hoping that it will save her grandfather. At work, her regular supervisor is not present. She doesn’t recognize any of the officials overseeing the sort. She illegally adds the additional data to the set as instructed, sorts it, and then the officials instruct all the sorters to take out and consume their red tablets. Bewildered, Cassia does.
Cassia takes the air tram back to her grandfather, feeling foggy. Here, the flashback resumes from one earlier in Reached. Cassia and her grandfather sit in a greenspace speckled with red buds and flowers and talk about about the meaning of a “red garden day.”
In real time, Cassia is amazed that her grandfather was able to plant that small seed of memory inside her to help her remember the full day. She also realizes perhaps the most crucial plot twist of the series: it was she who put Ky’s data in the Matching pool. The data that she added as requested was the Matching data for Oria Province’s aberrations. Back in the infirmary, Cassia gives her mother the plant and asks her if her grandfather was a Rising member and Archivist. She says that he was the former, but not an Archivist, although he traded with them. Cassia’s thinks about the fact she was strong enough to avoid the green tablet, recall despite the red, and walk through the blue.
Chapters 51-56 Analysis
Though there are a few places where one could argue Reached peaks in tension, Chapter 51 offers one of the best examples when the Pilot comes hurdling into the village square, interrupting Xander’s potential death sentence to profess his desperation for a cure. This not only acts as a saving grace for Xander, but also demonstrates the climax of fear and chaos that the situation within the Provinces has reached. The Rising is beginning to unplug large portions of the still, perhaps more than necessary; things look grim for both the sick and the villagers who wish to go to the Otherlands.
Two tragic but important deaths are revealed in these chapters, the first of which is Indie’s. The reader was privy to her fate as she and Ky experienced it almost telepathically, but the weight of its reality is a blow to each protagonist. Cassia is particularly dumbstruck, though Ky seems past the point of initial shock. Indie’s death shows how no one, no matter how hard they fight or how resilient they are, can escape the consequences of the Society's and the Rising’s mistakes. In contrast to this, the terrible death of Cassia’s father shows that even those who chose to remain loyal to the Society and avoided acting rebelliously are ultimately at the mercy of the Plague.
The Pilot’s account of how the Society and the Rising have infiltrated one another to such an extent that neither is distinguishable from the other solidifies what Ky, Oker and others have been observing for most of the book: that the Rising and the Society are essentially one and the same. Oker made this observation in Chapter 34 when he said that the only true rebels were the villagers of Endstone who had removed themselves from the nonsense of the Rising and Society entirely. Hearing it from the Pilot himself only further confirms it.
Bram’s return to the narrative reveals just how much he has grown in the year or more since his introduction in Matched. He, like Cassia, has dealt with terrible sorrow and loss, particularly in having to find his father’s body to learn of his death. While in the trilogy’s first book he was less mature and more ignorant, now he demonstrates a harsh disillusionment for the terrible state of his world and the pain that it can cause him and his loved ones.
Cassia’s final epiphany about the red garden day reveals perhaps the most important plot twist of the Matched series: that Cassia was the one who Matched herself to Ky. This is ironic in that the entire basis of her relationship with Ky is that she chose him despite apparently not being allowed to, when in fact it was she who unknowingly created the circumstances through which they were able to fall in love in the first place. This epiphany also clarifies the mystery of the red garden day and further demonstrates the influence that Cassia’s grandfather had on her in helping her to remember it by planting that tiny clue in his microcard memories for her to follow.