When Thomas and his friends are waiting for the Rat Man to send them into Phase Two of the Trials, they are slowly starved. For several days, the hunger deprives them of their energy and ability to engage in any activity. In fact, many of the Gladers continue to sleep listlessly as they wait. It is during these periods of fitful sleep that Thomas regains a lot of his memories through his dreams, revealing to readers much of his past. However, the way Thomas describes the feeling of hunger has deeper significance than simply its physical qualities. Later, Thomas and his friends will feel like the infected Cranks are much like animals trapped in rotted human forms. Any sort of deprivation - and much of the work that WICKED does - turns people in animals.
I represent a group called WICKED. I know it sounds menacing, but it stands for World in Catastrophe, Killzone Experiment Department. Nothing menacing about it, despite what you may think. We exist for one purpose and one purpose only: to save the world from catastrophe. You here in this room are a vital part of what we plan to do. We have resources never known to any group of any kind in the history of civilization. Nearly unlimited money, unlimited human capital and technology advanced beyond even the most clever man's wants and wishes.
This is one of the first explanatory passages of the entire series thus far. The Rat Man works for WICKED, and even serves as their visual representative to the teenagers they have been manipulating. The Rat Man's words, despite the content of their message, sound very menacing. Although it seems like the Rat Man is finally explaining to the Gladers why their terrible experiences, like the Maze, have occurred, his words also do not fully convey truth. For example, when he claims that WICKED has resources that are almost inexplicable, this feels like an exaggeration. The Rat Man will go on to tell the Gladers not to trust anything they see or hear, and his own words become a prime example of that. The Rat Man is the voice of WICKED, and therefore Thomas and his friends can no longer believe anything that WICKED shows or tells them.
If I can tell you anything today, it is that you should never, ever believe your eyes. Or your mind, for that matter. This is why we did the demonstration with the hanging bodies and the bricked-up windows. All I will say is that sometimes what you see is not real, and sometimes what you do not see is real. We can manipulate your brains and nerve receptacles when necessary. I know this all sounds confusing and a little scary, perhaps.
After hearing what the Rat Man has to say about WICKED's capability of manipulatingminds, Thomas cannot believe the Rat Man made such an understatement by calling this prospect "a little scary." This is very scary to Thomas and his friends. The Rat Man's warning to the Gladers to never believe what they see or what their minds perceive foreshadows all of the things that WICKED will choose to present to them. Throughout the Maze trials, distrust of WICKED and of each other have built up in the Gladers, but from now on the lies and betrayal will be even more complex for Thomas and his friends.
Slim it nice and calm, brother. I didn't ask to be the shuck leader. You wanna cry all day about what's happened, fine. But that's not what a leader does. A leader figures out where to go and what to do after that's done.
Minho's neck tattoo designates him as the leader of the group. However, Minho is a very distinctive kind of leader: his personality is already loud, bold and often brash; his leadership style also tends to be this way. After the friends lose members of their group in the terrible tunnel to the Scorch, they lose even more friends to the following lightning storm. At this moment, battered and burned, Minho and his friends are trying to recover in a shelter. As a survivalist leader, Minho knows the importance of the power of numbers. He is a fighter and a warrior-type of leader, and his style of leadership gets the Gladers through the hardships they are encountering. However, his brashness often gets him and his friends in trouble as well. Therefore, Thomas's negotiation-based style of leadership helps balance that out.
...Same as you. Only we're not special like you say you are. WICKED was set up by the surviving governments to fight the disease, and they claim that this city has something to do with it. Don't know much else.
Here, Jorge and Thomas discuss what they know about WICKED. Although it is later revealed that Jorge works for WICKED, he has been hired to act as though he knew nothing about the organization. However, he accuses Thomas of saying that he is "special." This may seem like a trivial comment, but, in fact, it is not. Thomas's memories that are coming back throughout the book prove his special status in the group to be true. However, at the same time, this comment is a reminder of all the thousands of people who have died as a result of the sun flares, the Flare virus, and the negligence of the governments as they search for a cure. Many normal people - not special people - are also suffering painful deaths.
Well, then that's stupid. I know I'm on the verge of crazy, but I would've picked you. You seem like the leader type.
After taking on Thomas and his friends, Jorge and Brenda lead the Gladers away. Brenda starts to flirt with Thomas. When she finds out that Minho is the "leader" of the group, she flirtatiously tells Thomas that he "seems like the leader type." This catches Thomas by surprise. However, Thomas later finds out that his name has been plastered all around the city. Accompanying his name on these signs is the message that he is the 'real leader'. Brenda is already referencing this when she teases Thomas the first time, meaning that this is foreshadowing when Thomas encounters the signs himself. The signs and its messages are, in turn, foreshadowing Thomas's role as the true leader of his friends, both before the Trials (Thomas worked for WICKED) and after. In some sense, Minho is Thomas's co-leader, because their leadership styles complement each other.
It'll do him good to know we made a huge exception to get that infection out of him. That WICKED will do what i has to when necessary...If you're listening, Thomas, don't get too excited. We're about to dump you right back where we took you from...It's what you would've wanted us to do.
After Thomas is shot with a Crank's bullet, WICKED makes an exception and takes the delirious Thomas up into a Berg aircraft and helps him heal his wound. In his half-conscious state, Thomas hears the WICKED personnel talking about him and to him. Just before they drop him back into the horrible Scorch, he hears them say that going back to the Scorch and the Trials would have been what Thomas wanted. This statement confuses Thomas: it must have something to do with his work for WICKED in the past, but Thomas has not yet completely figured his past out. At the same time, Thomas remembers that he cannot fully trust the things that WICKED shows him or tells him. Going back to the Scorch is what the WICKED personnel think Thomas would have wanted them to do–in reality, Thomas hates the senseless violence of the Trials.
They said there were no rules. Said we had so much time to get to the bloody safe haven and that was that. No rules. People dying left and right, then they come down in a buggin' monster flying thing and save your butt. Doesn't make sense.
After Thomas comes back from the Berg, his friends are more confused than ever about what exactly is going on. Newt recalls that the Rat Man said there would be no rules to this set of Trials, unlike the Maze, which had a lot of restrictions. However, the arrival of the Berg and WICKED's intervention with Thomas's bullet wound are actually only further support of the Rat Man's statement: there are no rules. WICKED operate however they choose, which is what makes them so dangerous. Newt also says that, while it is true that WICKED seems to have a positive-minded mission, nothing they have done to the poor teenagers really seems to make sense. In fact, all of WICKED's operations on Thomas and his friends seem arbitrary, much like the effects of the disease they are trying to cure.
No one else dies. If we haven't done enough to pass your stupid tests, then we fail. The tests are over.
When Thomas and his friends finally board the Berg at the Safe Haven, Thomas has to choose between keeping either Brenda or Jorge with them. Sensing that this is a test, Thomas cleverly fights the WICKED guard so that both of their friends can stay. In the process of this brief fight, Thomas tells the WICKED guard that he and his friends are finished with WICKED's nonsense. Thomas mostly hates how violent the Trials have been, so he makes sure to insist that "No one else dies" from this point on. However, even as he says these words, Thomas feels himself faltering. This is natural: he has been manipulated by these outside forces so much that it is hard to stand up against WICKED individually. Furthermore, Thomas has learned that, to deal with WICKED, he and his friends have to act. Words alone, like these that he spits at the WICKED guard, are no longer enough.
WICKED is good.
Teresa's confusing last words to Thomas end the book. The two friends are able to communicate telepathically again, and just before Thomas is cut off from his friends, Teresa delivers these three words. Earlier in the story, Teresa had already revealed that she woke up having written these words on her arm earlier. This only earned her more distrust from the Glader boys, especially Minho. However, these words carry more weight to Thomas, since they are coming from someone who was once his best friend. These words also come at the end of an incredibly violent story, one in which WICKED has been the antagonist the entire time. Thus, Teresa's words throw in a plot twist that anticipates more explanation and layering of lies and truth in the next volume. This complexity of lies and beliefs and subjectivity is at the center of the story's themes. Thomas wonders if he can trust Teresa, or if he should trust another friend, or someone else entirely, since everyone's understanding of reality is partial and possibly biased.
The Scorch Trials Questions and Answers
The Question and Answer section for The Scorch Trials is a great
resource to ask questions, find answers, and discuss the novel.