REVIEW | The 100 - Episode 2.06 - "Fog Of War"
Agendas are everywhere for heroes, villains and everyone in between in this week’s epic new installment of CW’s The 100 – entitled “Fog of War” – as more than one person begins a journey down a road from which there is an ever dwindling possibility that they may ever return alive, if at all. On the ground and faced with the reality that her daughter will never stop seeking to save her people from the fate she knows awaits them if they remain in the confines of Mount Weather, Abby agrees to let Clarke lead an Ark party out towards the peak with a view to attempting to save the 47 captives. But despite their common goal, not all will be smooth sailing, as Clarke finds herself once again sharing close quarters with the Finn: the man who loved her to the point of gunning down a throng of innocent people in his desperate search to save her life. Bellamy and Octavia meanwhile come face to face with the unexpected horror of discovering that Lincoln is still alive, but has also at some point, been turned into a Reaper, leaving them both to wonder whether a person can even be rescued from such a fate. Elsewhere, tossed into a Grounder jail cell, the newly reunited Jaha and Kane find themselves facing a deadly ultimatum, which may or may not have the power to stop the Grounders from seeking retaliation for Finn’s massacre.
Many a bond and plan lies teetering on a knifes edge, as the threat of war continues to brew on every side. So with all that in mind, let’s tumble once more into the tumult of life in the shadow of Mount Weather, shall we?
FRACTIONS OF FRICTION
One element of the show since we embarked on season two, that I’m really enjoying seeing develop, is the embattled and ever-evolving relationship between Clarke and Abby. Because it really is a relationship that exists and operates on a multitude of levels: mother and daughter, the leader and the led, age experience versus practical experience, just to name a few. And the resulting friction – as all those layers move together when Clarke and Abby are engaging with each other, usually in a way that’s conflicting – is just so interesting. In a weird way it’s like watching two people trying to juggle the same set of knives between them at the same time, only both of them have different notions of which direction things should be thrown. Either way, someone always seems to end up cut.
And the most unlikely barometer of that relationship at the moment, strange as it sounds, really does seem to to be Raven. In the context of the Arker’s chances for survival, Raven with all her tech and mechanical skills is a key player. But she’s also a very tactical thinker, and it says a lot that when she’s making those breakthrough discoveries – like the fact that Mount Weather is jamming both long and short range communication frequencies between Ark camps – she’s not taking them to Abby. She’s taking them directly to Clarke. Why? Because I think Raven knows that to succeed, they’re going to need a leader whose mind is not clouded by a stubbournness to do things the way they’ve always been done. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: the days of political correctness and social back scratching are, in this world, all but spent entirely. And Abby deciding to go with Clarke’s plan to go back to Mount Weather would suggest that – even though it’s taking her a lot longer to come to terms with it – Abby is finally coming to grips with the truthbomb that Raven dropped on her earlier: that Clarke stopped being a kid the moment they dropped her on the face of this planet and left her there to die. In the same breath though, she also started being the person that her people on the ground needed her to be, not the person her mother dictated she should be in order to turn out for the best. Which begs the intriguing question then: what change will this inspire in Abby? As a person? As a leader? As a rebel? Or, as is perhaps more important to her case right now, as a survivor.
THE DEVIL IN THE DETAIL
In relation to Clarke and Finn, IGN’s Eric Goldman – who has written a lot about this show over time – recently made a very sharp observation that in the context of this episode in particular is worth noting here again: that is, the show’s dedication to excellent continuity. Goldman noted it in the sense that when a character gets injured in this show, they aren’t magically healed by next week: their injuries last and heal the way they would in real life, which again only adds to the viewers experience of this is a show that – for all its otherworldliness – you can still really immerse yourself mentally in the realities of it as well. It adds another layer of believability to an already engaging story, and in that same vein I thought it was worth noting how much greater the gravitas and pathos the scene had when Clarke and Finn return suddenly to the bunker for shelter from the acid fog.
That the grounder Finn executed is still there – and worse, beginning the process of decomposition – really heightens both for us and Clarke the very confrontational emotional reconciliation she is going to have to make about this boy whom she’d once loved. On one hand is this body, edging into decay, dead via Finn’s execution. On the other hand, is a trinket that holds a dozen worlds of meaning for Clarke: her father’s watch. Where once it only connected her to the love and life of a father she couldn’t save; now it connects her forever to Finn’s unyielding love of, and loyalty to her, and, more importantly in some ways, the deadly price he’s willing to pay in its service. For my part, it’s those little details that really enable this show to his home as close as it does, and as often as it does, and the dedication to getting those right is arguably a core part of what makes this show just so engaging.
RADIATION AND REVELATION
The whole Jasper/Maya plot arc really took a quick and very sharp turn this week, in that Maya revealed her knowledge of not only the fact that the readitation breach was engineered, but also that she and the other people of the mountain knew that Grounders were being kept like animals and used to keep the mountain population alive and sustained with their blood. In a similarly surprising turn of events, Dante even went so far as to exhibit a genuine conscience about the fate of the 47. I was especially shocked by that given that, courtesy of Jasper’s blood donation and Tsing’s engineered experiment, they now have a pretty big idea of the huge regenerative powers of the blood of the 47 and the effect it had in healing and regeneration, as they saw in Maya’s case. That he would reveal that fact to Jasper as he did, in a way that meant people would be left with a choice as to whether or not they’d give blood, was a genuine surprise to me; for the longest time I really did think that he was simply being very cunning, and lulling the 47 into a fatally false sense of security. Instead – as so clearly demonstrated when Dante tells Cage in no uncertain terms that if he has to, he is willing to remove his son from the political equation permanently should he discover that Cage is undertaking machinations like engineering the radiation leak.
That really put me on my toes about Dante, because for a little while there, his hold on power beneath the mountain seemed more than a little fragile, but then threats like that – to tell your own family you would be happy to end not just their life but an entire lineage if necessary – suggests that his hold may not be so brittle after all. What remains to be seen now though, is how Cage – the man, we must not forget, who is responsible for creating reapers – will respond to such a threat.
In the case of Jasper, in many ways it really feels like he’s taken on the leadership mantle of those kids now within the mountain, in the absence of Clarke. And more than that, it would seem that the one element of that leadership that has struck him closest to home, is the concept of leadership through sacrifice. Through being the better man. In this, you have to hand it to him, because he is one of the most ethically kind and generous souls on this show. But it makes you wonder: does that then make him ripe for the poignant kill as a character? He seems like the most likely to lose his life, in that he’s constantly willing to put it on the line for the noblest causes. Because if there’s one thing Jason Rothenberg and his writer’s have promised us, it’s that there will be heartbreak ahead, and that it’s going to be for characters we love. But will it be him?
HE’S A MANEATER
Or will it be Lincoln? This too is a huge question after we copped that nasty and utterly horrific revelation this week that he is now becoming a fully fledged reaper, via Cage’s torture and conditioning. I’ll be honest: I absolutely adore Ricky Whittle, both in this role and as a person involved with this show in general. He has brought an extraordinary measure of emotion and dedication to this role, particularly now in season two as the writers have chosen to now push Lincoln into a pretty brutal and physically demanding place. So in that sense, it’s actually very hard to watch Lincoln disintegrate like this, and even worse to watch Octavia having to see him like that. It’s absolutely heartbreaking.
But by the same token, it again highlights what seems to be one of the big core themes of this second season of The 100: that of redemption and the path to forgiveness in a climate of war. Like Clarke trying to reconcile the image of Finn standing over all the people he’d just killed, Octavia now is going to have a similarly horrific reconciliation to make, one tempered only perhaps by the knowledge that in Lincoln’s case as opposed to Finn’s, Lincoln has been tortured into his current state. Still. You have to wonder how she’s going to wrap her brain around that.
That said, in turn, I loved seeing this further little moment in Bellamy’s evolution. It’s strange. There were a lot of moments during this episode when as viewer I mentally revisited key previous events. When Clarke was talking to Murphy, and she said that he had maybe been pardoned by everyone else but that didn’t mean she had, I remembered her arguing with Bellamy about whether Murphy should be executed for his crimes. When Finn and Clarke were in the bunker with the man he’d executed in his hunt for her, we could not help but remember that she’d slept with Finn in that exact place.
And so it was too a bit with Bellamy. Do you remember how it was the first time he saw Lincoln, and tortured Lincoln, even though the Grounder was in fact a good man and an ally? I certainly remembered that this week, as I watched him look at Lincoln with the exact opposite expression. When he took out Lincoln in order to not only save himself and Octavia, but also to capture the Grounder and take him away from that place, you realised pretty quickly that now, whenever he looks at Lincoln, what he’s seeing is the man who saved his sister’s life; who loves Octavia and who she loves back. Fiercely. In turn, Bellamy’s actions were an act of love for his sister, and in this sense it just took up to another notch what a keen loyalty I – like many other fans I suspect – now feel for this extraordinary young man.
CAROL OF THE HELLS
Speaking of that revelation though, special mention needs to be made here of that entire underground sequence where Octavia and Bellamy eventually come to discover Lincoln. That haunting echoed refrain of Carol of The Bells as it played in that old MP3 player the soldier found in the car, in that dark tomb of abandoned vehicles – each one like a dusty time capsule of an old world, buried deep beneath the utterly fractured new one seething just above – I mean seriously, guys. It was so much more than a tune in that place and context, or a sampling of traditions and ages lost. Instead, it was akin to hearing the time-brittled voice of someone long dead – someone you know – being played back on tape. Because that scene right there? Of family station wagons and take out boxes and MP3 players. That’s an echo of our world, now. And in the context of this show, our world is dead; those cars were like bones and from those bones rose that song. Seriously guys. Whoever it was in the writers room that came up with that idea…it was some creepy but freaking stellar storytelling. Fantastic work.
COMMANDERS AND CHIEFS
I mentioned earlier about how we were made to mentally and emotionally revisit some old wounds with many characters this week, and perhaps the most poignant one of these visitations came between Jaha and Kane, who found themselves at the mercy of a grounder ultimatum. Handed a knife and told that before sundown, one of them must kill the other in order to pay the price for Finn’s massacre – something the two former chancellors are only just now finding out about. To boot, the Grounders leave a servent girl behind with the imprisoned men, that she would come back and report to her superiors once the deed was done.
What followed was an emotional tug of war that was extraordinarily heartfelt, yet one for my part which I misjudged entirely when it came to who would ultimately make the noble and smart choice. Don’t get me wrong: we pretty much knew as soon as that knife was lain in front of them that both men would make the case to each other as to why he should be the one to die. Given Jaha’s actions when he gave himself up freely to the bounty hunters, and his actions in space – contrasted with Kane, who has made some seriously questionable moral and ethical choices lately – I really did believe that Jaha would try to be the one who again gave up his life (even if we knew, like he does, that neither of their stories seemed meant to end here). Yet as soon as Kane spoke the words that indicated just how utterly haunted he remains by the ghosts of the three hundred plus people that he killed in the airlock after they volunteered their lives, all those many moons ago back when they were still sky bound in the Ark, I realised that his guilt would drive him to make the ultimate sacrifice before Jaha could stop him. And with that, down he goes, a hurriedly slit wrist beginning to bleed out.
In which case, it’s happened again: Kane has once again turned his leaf over to the self-sacrificial side in the name of peace and the greater good. Jaha meanwhile uses the knife to threaten the poor servant girl in the hope that he can use her life to barter passage out of the camp to safety, making one of the more stupid decisions he could possibly have made to date. But in a very sly – and again, very unexpected twist – the servant girl, Lexa, reveals herself to be anything but. Instead, she is The Commander. THE Commander. The super feared leader that has existed via terrifying reputation only, to date. It was, to be sure a shock, but by the same token it was also yet another example to add to the pattern of how the writers are unabashedly unafraid to drop kick whatever expectations we have, directly off the nearest proverbial cliff when necessary. And good grief but does it keep things fresh.
All in all, yet again this was an absolutely cracking episode of The 100, on so many different levels. For one, it continued to push and develop the story at a real pace, yet in doing so, it absolutely did not lose any of its clarity of purpose, direction or vision as it added this new installment to the greater story. In addition, it also introduced us to a key character as well as some key pieces of information, but did so in some really surprising and on occasion, particularly shocking ways. Case in point of course, the introduction of Lexa – not only as a character in her own right, but also as the owner of a presence that has engendered fear amongst even the scariest Grounder warriors we’ve met to date – and the reintroduction of Lincoln in his reaper form.
Script wise, screenwriter Kira Snyder had an absolute blinder this week with her contribution to the greater story in the form of “Fog of War”, in particular with how she managed to weave a lot of important detail – because really, we learned a heap of new and important stuff this week – into the confines of a single episode. Of particular note were the sections of dialogue shared by Clarke and Finn. That entire scene down in the bunker, when Clarke finally voices the true nature of her horror about what Finn has done – that the people he killed were unarmed – and Finn’s shattered, broken response: it was so beautifully, brutally wrought and yet at the same time was comprised of simple, eloquently composed statements and questions. Honourable mention though for that last moment too between Raven and Finn, when she tells him that they all have battlescars; to suck it up and start building his own brace. Loved that moment, especially in how it may just be the first tiny stone under Finn’s boots as he begins on the long road back to redemption.
Steven DePaul meanwhile had a very strong turn in the directors chair this week, in particular the way that he really honed in on the individual characters and focussed on the visual impact of their physical presence onscreen. In particular, I thought he did the best job of all in giving us an insight into Finn where he’s at at the moment in light of what’s happened. He worked very well with Thomas McDonell in the way he captured the crumbling, faltering and vulnerable state of Finn, and that was hugely important, because don’t forget: in much the same way as Clarke, we too are trying to reconcile the Finn we knew, with the Finn we saw standing with all guns blazing in that camp, with the Finn we saw crouched and tearing up in the bunker, who cannot remember who he even really is anymore. In many ways too, I think DePaul’s directing then also helped us get a better appreciation of McDonell as an actor too and for that I am so thankful, because he really does an exquisite job of playing this incredible character.
So. Where to now, though. So many things that once seemed certain – people, paths, plans – are now anything but certain, and that goes for good and bad guys alike, and everyone else in between. There are 47 survivors under the mountain. There are 48 hours on the clock. These two things are clear. But the decision as to which one to put their lives on the line for first, is anything but.
FINAL THOUGHTS & QUESTIONS…
I KNEW THAT FOG WAS A MOUNT WEATHER TACTIC I KNEW IT.
That moment of Jaha stumbling bloodied from the forest, on to his knees before he Ark he had sacrificed his life for – that was a huge moment of reckoning for him. How incredible that must have felt, and yet how jarring given the fact they have two days to leave it.
There was a certain poetry and strange simpatico to two former Chancellors and a Commander being in the same room as each other, in such a twisted emotional and political predicament.
Am super interested to know how the battle tactics will change for Clarke and Co. now that they can eavesdrop on the conversations under the mountain.
Love that Monty is absolute in his faith in Clarke to not leave them behind. Really hope that faith becomes infectious, too: something tells me it will be what drives them to the point of survival if they’re going to escape those horrific hospital walls.
Abby, Raven, Clarke & Co. now know that their people exist and are still alive under the mountain. A huge thing. So where will their priorities lie if a grounder attack is also imminent?
Wait, wasn’t Lexa ready to talk peace with Kane? Even if the whole blood for blood thing is true, it would suggest that Lexa’s already made up her mind about the fate of the Sky people.
Loved, loved, loved, loved Christopher Larkin (Monty) and his awesome band’s track on this episode. I hope their tracks appear in more episodes – dude is crazy talented.