REVIEW | The 100 - Episode 2.02 - "Inclement Weather"
She cannot shake it. It’s like a glass splinter of red hot doubt in her mind – that feeling that Dante and his crew of milky, weak but well-mannered and fed survivors are not all they are cracked up to be – and Clarke Griffin is adamant, even to the point of shedding her own blood, that it must be there for a reason.
And so it was that in Episode 2.02 of The CW’s riveting sci-fi hit The 100 – entitled “Inclement Weather” – that we got an even greater insight not just into how far Clarke is willing to go to escape and save her people from a threat they refuse to see, but also into how black the secret heart of the Mountain people, is.
Out in the wilderness beyond, life in the camp is reaching a terrifying new threshold as they come face to face with the reality that the Grounders are very aware of their fledgling existence. And – if their chilling execution three of Ark soldiers on the forest line is anything to go by – it would appear that they do not intend at all to share their patch of earth. Bellamy again finds himself face to face with the traitorous Murphy as, together with Finn, they attempt to escape and try – somehow – to find their lost friends. And all the while, up there in the dark unknown, a leader who finally thought he’d reached end of his laid-down life suddenly finds himself on a mercy mission to save a forgotten child – and maybe even himself – from the airless, impending death about to swallow them and last, brittle bones of the Ark.
Risks will be taken and discoveries will be made that shake more than one character to their very core. In which case, dear readers, it’s once more into the breach we go…
On the surface, Mount Weather seems to be a clinging homage to a world that has been all but lost to the humanity of this new and brutal earth. And I guess in reviewing it, it’s hard to know how to define the experience of absorbing it as a viewer. The closest I can come to a decent comparison is that it's like visiting the house of some rich, overly nice old people with your eyes. Warm, false gold light spilling across the walls. Paintings hung in hallways depicting beautiful places you’ve never been. Tea cups. Crocheted doilies. Pretty bunting. Cakes and incidental ribbons. Bashfully sweet manners and more pleases and thankyous than you’d hear at a garden party for the Queen. And then there’s the residents: friendly, blithe, gentle folk all ready with a smile and a slice of homemade apple pie ready to hand you. Indeed it is a society defined by a thousand tiny details that time would otherwise have forgot, that drench your senses in the Mountain people’s deeply appreciative love of what used to be.
I’ve been thinking about this a lot, actually. At which point it dawned on me that I was looking at their leader Dante – a character who I think in a lot of ways encapsulates the world and attitudes of Mount Weather – the way I may perhaps have looked at my grandfather, in that the world they seem intent on making their living space below the mountain is a lot like the world he would have known. So of course – naturally – someone like that would try to hold on to it in a time of trouble, be it for solace or normality or even just to keep some standard to measure and govern life by.
But here’s the thing. Dante? It wouldn’t have been his world at all. His world would have been far closer to what ours is like, today, if perhaps a little more technologically advanced. He is at most – time wise – a second generation product of our time. Of us, now.
And if history has taught us anything, it’s that with the advance of technology can come a vast alteration of our ethics. Think about it. Things that our ancestors would never have even dreamed of doing morally or ethically, we now in the very least actually consider, because we have the capable technology. Invasion of personal privacy. Biological warfare. Is that stuff okay if it's for the right reason? And nowhere do you see that value shift more clearly than in the art and implementation of warfare.
Which is why – as utterly and viscerally shocking as it was – I think it was hugely important to shatter once and for all the façade of what Mount Weather truly is by showing that brutal scene where Clarke discovers the people imprisoned above the hospital and being used as human blood bags. I don’t know about you but for me it felt like being punched in the face. In the guts. It was that ethical stab of reality that said ‘Yes we survived. Yes we kept our manners. The cost of our humanity was simply the price we had to pay to keep it.’ Interestingly enough it reminded me of that old but still piercing question posed in the bible. What good is it for a man to gain the whole world, but lose his soul? Indeed it really felt like the writers turned up ready to absolutely demand our answer to that question as the audience. And there was no smarter or sharper way they could have done that than by choosing that exact place and moment to reintroduce Anya.
It’s an incisively clever ploy, to be sure: take a character that was once the powerful enemy and make her the helpless victim – caged and broken like a beaten dog – subsequently causing her to become the very human face of the moral dilemma we’ve been presented with. The mental and emotional conflict of that alone is indicative of not just great storytelling, but also infinitely good planning on behalf of the creative team. Actually in a lot of ways it make you wonder how far ahead they planned, that they knew they’d start tying together the pieces like this. Because it is unbelievably clever and insightful television: the kind that draws you in with the promise of escape, and captures you with the reality of the hard questions we as people should be asking ourselves but rarely do, because we don’t like making ourselves uncomfortable enough. Either way though, Anya is back, and I have a feeling her story is very far from over.
DO NOT GO QUIETLY
One thing that I am loving this season is how the character development has no slowed in the slightest in the transition between seasons. Clarke is a powerhouse of empowered gut instinct and bravery. Bellamy is coming into his own as a leader who is defined by learning to do what is right over what is easy. Finn’s growing awareness in social politics is causing him to become a beautifully nuanced player in the greater game. And don’t even get me started on Raven. Her bravery and brokenness is beyond compelling; how she acknowledges her fear and yet faces it anyway, because she knows all she has is this life. I actually had to hold myself in my chair as I watched this ep when Abby operates on her back without the anaesthetic to get Murphy’s bullet out. She was magnificent.
Indeed across the board, there was no ‘boiling-the-frog’ mentality behind their growth, nor that of other characters; no easing back in in order to make the ethical punches hit home harder. Even though it turns out the baby in the Ark is a mental manifestation of Well’s in Jaha’s oxygen deprived mind, I love how it drove him to value his own life enough to save it: how he saw it as work the risk not just because he’d given it once a sacrifice for others, but because he realised in the end that life is worth saving for its own sake, because it’s life. Speaking of that scene too, lord but Eli Goree (Wells) and Isaiah Washington had my heartstrings gripped every way from Sunday with that scene on the Ark. Painfully soulful acting. Simple, honest, deep dialogue. All performed with great love. And on top of that, what now for Jaha? He’s on earth yes, but where in the blue hell IS he?!
Speaking of people who are a long way from home (in more ways than one) how unabashedly kickass was Octavia this week. I mean Lincoln, I’ve loved pretty much since I came to know him as a character, where as I’ve known Octavia for longer but she so often seesawed between braveheart and spoilt brat that I didn’t know whether to kick her square in the ass or give her a medal.
But like the aforementioned other of the hundred, she too is one who has come along in leaps and bounds in her emotional depth, understanding and maturity, and in the same way shows no sign of slowing down. Lincoln’s perpetual attitude of self-sacrifice is somewhat par for the course now; I expect him to give himself up for Octavia even to the point of losing his own life. Don’t get me wrong: it’s beautiful, but I see it coming every week. Octavia though is a character I saw for a long time as one whose love would drive her to make a lot of wrong – and probably highly dangerous decisions – for the right reason. In some ways, it made me see her as…well, not quite as equal to Lincoln in her heart in a lot of ways.
Then of course came her formidable entry into Lincoln’s home camp to save his life. Knife at the throat of a man who not only saved her life but also probably could have used her as a toothpick on any other day, I fricking loved the intensity and passion but also battle-hardened-ness she showed in turning up and demanding he be returned to her. I mean seriously. It was beyond badass and showed an inordinate amount of courage that made me – even as a long term watcher of the show – sit up and take notice. She demanded our attention and we could not help but give it. Which means (for me at least) she made me see her as the well matched contender she is for Lincoln’s heart: one that is equal to his own for her.
I’ve been trying to work out what it is about this story that’s causing it to succeed like it has, and the more I think about it the more I reckon it’s because the writers want us at our best as an audience. They want us at our most alert and inquisitive when they confront us with the issues they want to raise, so they write sharp, insightful television point blank designed to challenge us. For my part, I am so thankful for that. I am so thankful that they haven’t taken a story with such potential and dumbed it down, or used the raw sex appeal of the actors on us like novocaine on us as we watch.
Michael Angeli’s cracking script this week is a prime example of that. It was an episode defined by the fact that the writers don’t want us to be distracted by lesser, meaningless things, and therefore miss the impact of those big, dark moments they’re so fond of walloping us in the heart with. Why? Because they know that just like the characters need to evolve in their understanding, so too do we as the audience. They push us to keep up and don’t treat us like we’re stupid, or children, or – for want of a less crass term, I suppose – easy. This is a show that at its heart does everything to appeal to the honesty in us rather than the basest of us, and for my mind it’s working. I hope he comes back to write more eps in future.
Directing wise, it was WONDERFUL to welcome back John Showalter, whom some of you might remember as the man at the helm of the game changing ep last season called “Contents Under Pressure”. For me, that was the episode that cemented my resolve to tell everyone about this show. Because here, like then, he was not backward in coming forward AT ALL when it came to confronting us as the audience with just how dire, cruel and blackened this whole ethical quagmire of life on earth has become. Yet all the while he really retained his keen eye for close and poignant details. In short, dude, you blew us out of the water. Again. Bravo, sir.
All in all, “Inclement Weather” is I think a prime example of the conundrum we as viewers are going to face each week, as we ask ourselves How can it possibly get better than that? Go further than that? But unlike a lot of other shows though, this whole cast and crew is bringing their A game every damn time and stepping up to the formidable plate they have put down for themselves. They are setting challenges, daring us to doubt them, and then knocking our viewing minds out of the park as they conquer those challenges. In any case, who knows but what powerful revelations and poignant observations await in the weeks to come? Either way, for my part, I know I don’t plan on missing a second of it.
FINAL THOUGHTS AND QUESTIONS…
Loving the living DAYLIGHTS out of these kickass new credits, guys. #nailedit
Lindsay Morgan, you are a powerhouse. The raw strength of your every performance is breathtaking and the fact that you are back for season two gives me chills at the thought of what they might plan next for Raven. A++, lady. Take a bow.
Bellurphy shipping: the only thing less comfortable than watching a nuclear mutated mother earth trying to kill everything on it despite everything already trying to kill everything else anyways.
HOLY CRAP MURPHY. HOW MANY HORCRUXES DID YOU FRIGGING MAKE.
Isaiah Washington. JUST. WOW.
It’s a lie. ALL IS NOT WELL THAT ENDS IN WELLS. Seriously, Rothenberg. One more week of you punching me in the soul with this and imma start mailing you my tears. EVERY. LAST. ONE OF THEM.
Yo, Kane. A jerk with a magnificent head of hair and a gun is still, primarily, a jerk.
So many Battlestar alum joining this show (Rekha Sharma made her appearance this week as one of the doctors in Mount Weather) – it’s some very slick casting and so, so good to see.
Find a puppy, wrap it in rainbows and toss it into field full of daisies, and it would still be less adorable than Jasper. But I’ll be damned if he isn’t annoying me sideways with his constant game of Clarkus Interruptus while she’s trying to discover what’s really happening under the mountain. Seriously, dude. You don’t cramp a girl’s style when her style is TRYING TO SAVE YOUR ASS. AGAIN.
Team Abby, bitches.
OCTAVIA BLAKE HAS KAHONIES THE SIZE OF JUPITER. THAT IS ALL.
Given the fact that we’ve now had our first meeting with his home people, I’m really intrigued by the politics and cultural psyche of Lincoln’s world and his tribe. How different will they be from the Grounders? Or even the people of the Mountain Men?
Anyone else think that we might be heading for a Finn/Raven reunion sometime soon?
Clarke Griffin is basically a lady Bear Grylls. Next thing she’ll be eating live spiders like Cheetos and telling us how to get Sprite out of a bush turnip using nothing but two fish hooks and a Celine Dion Live in Vegas DVD.
Wait. Are…are they farming blood?! ASKJFSKNWSKFGKLJSKFLSKNWL.
Okay so there are prisoners being drained upside down from the roof like giant, human bags of O Negative and now my brain feels like it’s been hit with a sledgehammer the size of Canada.
All the body trolleys in season one. All those wasted, skeletal human corpses in the reaper tunnels. It’s all coming together. HOLY FREAKING CRAP THIS STORY IS INSANE.
Wait is that where all those tunnels lead back to? The door under the mountain? OMG IS DANTE IN FACT BAD GANDALF AND TELLING ALL THOSE KIDS THEY SHALL NOT PASS? Discuss.
And if the Grounders were the ones who made all those original survivors sick with their radiationi…ness, then why the heck are they using their blood to transfuse the people under the mountain? Wouldn’t that kill them faster? INDEED SIRS I DO SMELL A RAT.
Okay NOW this Little-Fallout-Shelter-On-The-Prairie thing is now officially freaking me out. And here was me thinking I’d have nothing to tell my therapist this week. GEEZ.