REVIEW | The 100 - Episode 2.08 - "Spacewalker"
Even in the binding silence of death, their voices seem to ring continuously across this ever more treacherous landscape: the constant deep peal of a death knell ringing, now, solely for the life of a lost and broken man, who cannot undo the horrific crime he has committed. Indeed, the low, mournful song of the as yet unavenged is about to hit its final, piercing note in this week’s shattering midseason finale of CW’s The 100 – entitled “Spacewalker” – and there will be no-one left untouched by the events that lay before them.
Still reeling from the cost that Lexa has demanded as the price for a truce between the Ark people and the Grounders, Clarke finds herself beyond torn as the man she once loved stands utterly condemned to die for the massacre he enacted in a fit of madness on the village innocent Grounders. But the cost of his living is unbearbly great too. Without his death, she knows there will be no peace; without peace, neither side will have the strength or resources to take down the Mountain and all the evil lies within it. She knows deep in her soul that with Finn’s death, hope for victory may yet live. But this too is a living price: one with a face and a heart that is utterly devoted to her, and – for all the brokenness and lies that broke them apart – is a face and a heart she too still loves in her own way.
Either way, it has come: Clarke Griffin’s bleakest hour. One in which she now finds herself on the precipice of arguably the most dark and terrible choice she will ever have to make.
Abby battles to lead her people in a way that may yet save his life: the outcome Raven too is desperately hoping for, as she, Bellamy and Clarke work against an ever more ticking clock in the count down to war, to save their friend from the horrific fate that otherwise awaits him in the Grounder camp.
Tensions, threats and terror are running high, and the world seems now to rest on the shoulders of one shattered man, and of the woman he loves as she fights to find a way to not only save him, but maybe the lives of the rest of her people, too. With that in mind, hang on to your hearts kids. This one’s gonna sting.
A RAVEN REFORGED
That moment where Raven tells Finn that he will always be family – and he clutches her up tightly in his arms and says “May we meet again” – was in many respects a hard if not harder goodbye to watch than whatever one he might share with Clarke. There was so much feeling there. So much beauty. So much grief. So much history. And it was a stark reminder of how tight the ties that bind are, that are about to be severed. One imagines that what was torn apart in that moment, was shredded beyond repair as she screamed into the night for Finn’s life, even as it ebbed away into the loving hands of the woman she had lost him to, via the knife she had given Clarke that she might kill his captor instead. I mean what could that do to a person? What could that do to a heart?
Raven is to her core an exquisitely beautiful character. She’s strong, determined, brave, capable, stubborn to a fault, and fiercely loyal to those she loves, even to her own death if she had to. She is in every way a hero, just as Clarke is. So you have to wonder what this experience has done to her on a number of fronts. Firstly, the obvious: her relationship with Clarke.
There was that really lovely moment earlier in the episode at the drop ship, when Raven sat gently tending to Clarke as she lay unconscious from the Grounder’s blow. Protective, kind, caring. Here lay her friend, her sister, her comrade in arms. Given the rocky start they had, it has been a pretty special thing to see just how far these two have grown in their bond over time. So what will it have done to that bond if Raven knows Clarke used the knife she gave her, to kill Finn instead of trying to save him? How much will her grief cloud her vision? Her judgement? How will she ever find the way back to the great team she and Clarke made; to the bond and comeradery they shared? Will she even want to find a way back – perhaps that’s the more pertinent question right now.
But then there are other issues to consider. Remember when Raven was still in her grieving phase over losing Finn to Clarke? She pretty much just gave up on herself straight away from that point, throwing herself into every line of fire possible. In that moment on the hill, I wondered. I remember that time she crawled on her belly toward the bomb she’d made on the bridge – ironically a peace talk that Finn had brokered – ready to detonate it and kill herself in the process of saving everyine else. Her whole demeanor seemed to say, angrily, that she’d rather die than face the fact that the love she’d had with this boy she’d known pretty much her whole life was gone. So what will it do to her now he’s dead? It’s a scary thought, especially given that now – with everything that’s going on – she will undoubtedly be essential to the survival of them all, with her witt, cleverness and daring. They cannot afford to lose her.
For my part, it would be a beautiful thing for Raven to embrace the kindness of Clarke’s killing him rather than letting the Grounders do it – for her to know that it was the only way left to truly love Finn in the end, to save him horror and pain beyond belief – but grief is a terrible blinder. To what edge then will it drive this brave, clever and wilful woman? Or will it drive her closer to Clarke, for the sacrifice she too made in taking Finn’s life as she did? Only time will tell.
IN MY HOUR OF DARKNESS
For so long now, we have championed Clarke as a beacon of just how capable a woman truly is in the context of life’s most brutal challenges. And this, I daresay, will never change. It is beyond refreshing to have a strong, clever, flawed heroine of immense heart and compassion, to write about. She hits the same emotional mark within fans and viewers that Katniss hits in The Hunger Games. She is not defined by her womanhood – not by her beauty or her sex appeal nor what others think of her. She’s not here to ask for your permission, but she’ll acknowledge when she needs your forgiveness. She’s just here to do the best she can, with what she has, in the time she’s got; and in this world, you don’t know whether it’s second or years left on your clock.
But what do all these characteristics have in common? They’re all things that have absoloutely nothing to do with the fact that she is a woman. Not a damn thing. Instead, they have everything to do with the content of her character: something which has no gender. No race. No unchangable physical characteristics with which to nitpick her every action and reaction for petty outcomes. And what’s fantastic about that is it’s an attitude that seems to pervade the greater narrative of The 100, left, right and centre. Case in point, when Kane returns and speaks of Lexa. He doesn’t call her a woman of vision – he calls her a visionary. Her gender is irrelevant. Her mind is everything. And for my part, I think that’s as brilliant as it is utterly necessary in the current TV climate. Indeed, an essential part of what makes this show so successful with the fans it has.
But if we are going to talk about gender in any context, it’s well documented that in Clarke’s case, fans have and will continue to argue back and forth of the feminist value of this character in particular. And I would argue that if that’s all you see her as – despite it being an important aspect of her existence – then you still aren’t looking deep enough. You are still missing the point. Because this show is about who humanity is as a whole, at its core. Whatever exists in that place defines whether or not it even deserves a next breath, let alone whether or not they get one. And for my part, especially tonight – more than at any other moment of her life on Earth or on the Ark – Clarke Griffin embodied the exact reason why humanity should get that chance.
I’ll be honest with you. There are moments in TV where I cry, but they’re rare. You have to shatter me, my expectations and my doubts in one fell swoop. If you are a writer, and you want to suckerpunch me in the feels, by golly you’re going to have to mean it when you take your shot if you’re going to make it count. And to date, as I’ve watched The 100, I’ll admit there have been a few tears. Last year’s “Contents Under Pressure” was the one that came closest to breaking me completely as they sat and discussed just how one would kill off three hundred innocent people to save what they believed was the last remnant of the human race, from early extinction. I gave up on trying to wipe my eyes completely clear of tears by the end of that one.
With “Spacewalker” though, I didn’t cry. I sobbed. I sat on my lounge and wept til my face felt raw, and every second we edged towards Finn’s end felt like lemon juice in a paper cut. It was awful. And it’s not necessarily for the reason you think. I cried for Finn, but I cried ever harder the moment I realised what Clarke was going to have to do to the man she loved to save him from what would otherwise have been a tormented death. I cried because after everything, in the end, the best way to love him was to kill him herself. That part hit me like a ton of bricks. I loved that even as the blade found it’s short but deadly way into his chest, Clarke stood holding Finn in her arms and giving him a beautiful gift: that of a death died encased in the love he yearned for most, as opposed to pain and fear. What greater thing could she have done than to do what she did, and in doing it say I love you enough to willingly carry this burden now; to be the one who took your life though I loved you. You are worth that.
Her making that choice too spoke of much more than her heart and her courage, as did Lexa’s reaction to the enraged Grounders when she answered their cheated roar with the graceful utterance of the words “It is done.” These moments spoke, more importantly, to the exact reason why – no matter what may come from within the evil walls of Mount Weather – the Mountain will ultimately never win. How in the end, Tsing and Cage and their like will fail and fall. Why? I’ll give you a hint. It’s not because justice always prevails, because it doesn’t. It’s not because the bloodthirstier you are, the stronger you’ll be – ask Dante: blood can blind you to many pitfalls, as well as evils.
It’s none of those things. Instead, it’s because of this one simple truth: in a climate of survival, where all you love is threatened, courage is catching. Bravery becomes a spark in a world ripe for fire. And these characters we love have both of these qualities in spades so much greater than their enemies could ever dare dream. Whatever horrors may yet come to pass, the beginning of the end has arguably begun, however tiny and fragile the seed of that hope may be.
THE DEBT IS PAID
It’s strange. As I’ve written these reviews, I’ve been watching not just the story unfold, but also the fan reation to the various twists and turns. For my part I feel like that’s a really important thing to do, because it’s the clearest indicator of how well the story is having the effect it is intended to. In this sense then, it was – for want of a better term – a sincerely virulent hatred of Finn that sprung up in light of what he’d done, with many viewers baying for him to be killed off pretty much on the spot. Worse still, there was almost a joy to some people’s exclamation of wanting him killed off, as though he had been nothing but a villain and a killer from the first second we met him.
Were his actions horrible? Of course they were. It was an insidious thing he did. But it wasn’t exactly pleasant seeing how fans reacted at times – not just towards the characters, but also the writers – given that he wasn’t always the bad guy. Instead, what he always was, was a man – flawed and intimately fragile – like all of us are to one degree or another. A good man who made a bad choice.
Which is why I am so, so thankful for Bruce Miller’s bold, moving and viscerally eloquent script this week, in that it took us completely back to the true heart of who Finn really was. It was actually a beautiful thing too to be reminded of who Finn was at heart, through looking back on the true and deep love he shared with Raven back on the Ark as she prepared to celebrate her eighteenth birthday. His true self was in every detail. The raven pendant, the spacewalk, even the risks he took in making the spacewalk happen – they were beautiful, thoughtful things given from a place of deep understanding and affection.
But the ultimate truth of who Finn was can, I think, be summed up in the moment he took Raven’s place in the space suit and took her punishment for the airlock breach on the Ark. He took her place, that she might not die under the capital punishment that would otherwise accompany such a breach. A life for a life. The even more painful echo of that moment that occurred later when he gave himself up to the Grounders, despite him knowing his own guilt, would have taken no less courage. No less love for his friends. No less bravery. In fact, he will have known the Grounders. He would have had some inkling that a swift death to them would be far too merciful. And yet he handed himself over anyway. That would have taken courage beyond measure. To say otherwise is ridiculous.
So with all that in mind, you want to tell me that’s not a person worth his next breath? You really want to tell me that a man who lived his life like that, is defined by one single decision, horrific though it was? Because I if that’s the only level upon which you can take in this character, then you can pretty much guarandamntee you’ve missed the whole point of this character in life and death. And from one fan to another, I really hope for you that’s not the case.
Because for my part, I think that the fact they gave Finn such a powerful, meaningful end speaks immensely to just how much they valued him as character in the greater narrative. As the audience I think there’s something hugely important to take from that as we stand here and say goodbye to him. The person buried beneath the choice – the person Finn truly was – mattered. A lot. And that fact should not be forgotten or lost in the midst of his guilt, given all the good and important things he added to the greater story. They finished his journey with justice for his crime, yes, but also with a fierce, untempered grace and love that simply took your breath away. The result? The Spacewalker died a brutal but righteous death, as a good man that was punished justly for a crime for which he must pay the price. That he did so at the hand of the woman he loved, no less, was an utterly cruel but beautiful poetry, and an exquisite touch of storytelling at the hands of the writers.
GONE BUT NOT FORGOTTEN
Wow, Thomas McDonell. I’m really writing that aren’t I? There’s no more you every week on The 100. How is that possible? I’ll be honest with you. My eyes are stinging, my face is raw because I’ve cried so much and I’m covered in fur because I watched this episode alone and felt so sad I had to go out and hug the dog for moral support. But I know, if that is the case – if as viewer I’m feeling this so much – then you deserve my infinite respect and gratitude. You deserve that from all of us.
Why? Well ultimately because you did your job as a storyteller, beautifully: you made us as the audience feel everything for Finn, all at once. Love, anger, hurt, trust, betrayal, affection, madness, loyalty. All of it. Because to appreciate Finn as a character was I think to come to embrace the unavoidable nature of the emotional conflict is in all of us. To value the flawed, jagged and fragile loveliness of what it is to be human; to see imperfections and make the loving, selfless choice to look past them. To be, as he was in the end – by the person who mattered most to him – loved for who he was and the man he wanted to be, despite all that he had done.
After all. Isn’t that what any of us want in life? To be loved despite our brokeness. To be accepted, in the end, just as we are. And Finn made that so clear: that the only absolution he wanted in the end would be from her. To know that they would part on their own, true terms. And that’s exactly how he died. In her arms, treasured, loved, with her pushing back the night to shield him from his fears, even as she took his life. Truly, this was a death of mercy, and of grace at its most absolute.
Either way, for all of it, Thomas. Thank you. You will be infintely missed.
It's 3:00am and in some ways, I don’t know how to end this. Almost like I didn’t know how to start. This was a gripping piece of television that pretty much snatched viewers hears out by the strings. And of that, we were well warned. We knew there’d be a death. We knew it would be big. We knew that moving forward, whatever happened this week was going to change the course of the story more monumentally that it had ever done before.
But greater still perhaps was that for which we could not prepare ourselves. For the sheer pathos and gravitas of so many of this week’s events and the way in which they were delivered by what were arguably some of the best acting performances this cast has put forward to date: namely Eliza Taylor who was just magnificent this week. She acted and continues to act out this role in a way that demonstrates – through a sincere commitment to portraying Clarke with so much strength and compassion – just how much she values her character, and the greater story of which she is a part. It’s utterly evident, in the exact same way that the reverse is true when you can tell how little a role means to the actor by how lazy or sloppy their performance is. Either way though, Taylor was a powerhouse and for my part I’m so thankful that it was this show and a role like this through which much of the world has now come to appreciate her as an actor. Because she is freaking exceptional.
Kudos too has to go to Alycia Debnam-Carey in her role as Lexa, and Paige Turco as Abby: both of whom showed just how gutsy and formidable their characters are as leaders. Indeed, they both played a massive part in an episode that ultimately showcased women in leadership as much as it did the life of Finn before we had to say goodbye to him. Aside from Clarke and her decision to kill Finn, the other case in point was Abby in one of her ballsiest moves to date as she confronted Indra in an effort help bring about the truce without bloodshed if possible. That was leadership sans the crap, self indulgent politics and and it was incredibly done, both in the acting and the great dialogue. I’d even go so far as to say it was in Turco’s top two performances on the show to date; while Debnam-Carey appears to be a force of some reckoning in her role as the Grounder commander, after what was a short but very telling turn of events for Lexa this week. I am so intrigued by what now lays ahead for each of them, particularly as the focus shifts now to Mount Weather. Assuming the truce holds. I don’t imagine it’s a compromise everyone is happy with.
In regards to the script, Bruce Miller’s writing this week delivered every ounce of the heartbreak and brilliance that we were promised. It was magnificent. This script was laced with some exquisite dialogue, and for my part I think that it gave one of the best farwells to a character that I’ve seen in a very long time. It partnered beautifully with a standout final performance on The 100 from Thomas McDonell, allowing him to be equally as expressive and clever in his portrayal of Finn whilst also giving him some very moving, beautiful but ultimately heartbreaking scenes that really gave both the characters and the audience the best possible chance to say goodbye.
Direction wise, John Showalter again delievered an episode brimming with both a broad vision for the conflict between these parties as a whole; and a complimenting dedication to those small and very human details that draw us as the audience completely into any given moment. Whilst the entire episode demonstrated that clarity of vision, there can be no argument that – as with the script – the crowning moment was how beautifully he captured the love, intimacy, grief and heartbreak of Finn and Clarke together on the hill side as he died before a thousand prying eyes. Indeed, it was yet another episode that demonstrated the fact that for this director, excellence is par for the course.
Either way though, kids, that’s it now until 2015. As always with the shows you love, hiatuses are the worst, and given the tenuous precipice upon which this story now stands, it’s a wait that will inevitably feel even longer as we hang out to find how these once opposed, now joined sided will plan to conquer the monsters of Mount Weather. Assuming of course, that this new and fragile peace, can be kept. All the world sits now upon a knife’s point; and if this episode is any indication, the blade is only going to get sharper come January.
FINAL THOUGHTS AND QUESTIONS…
Heart you forever, Thomas McDonell. #MayWeMeetAgain
The Ark visuals during Raven’s spacewalk were just stunning. Love your style, SFX team – some of your best and most beautiful work. That vision was fantastic.
Really hoping we see more of Octavia soon, but in a context other than Lincoln or his wellbeing (despite it being nice to see him back to relative, non-man eating health – good on you for not trying to eat anyone’s face this week, sweets). It’s just that she is such a brave and beautiful character in and of herself – just as strong, capable and magnificent as Clarke is – and that’s how she should be defined. By her spirit and her heart. Seriously. I would love to see her get that chance to break out, and stand up for the warrior that she is. As for pulling such a role off, Marie Avgeropoulos has got the goods. Give her the sky and she will soar like a bird. Either way, I’m looking forward to her being back front and centre soon.
Kudos as well to the people behind the formidable Grounder language. It’s gutteral, ornate and very expressive in the way it’s been crafted. Very clever stuff.
“We’ve all got a monster inside of us…and we’re responsible for what it does when we let it out.” – A little pearl of Lincoln wisdom for those unfortunate types who like to go online and talk obnoxious, petty and often ill informed crap at the writers. You know who you are. Seriously. You’re not being smart, or insightful. You’re being a jackass. Grow up.
And as much as I’d love to respond myself as a fan of this show to such sentiments, they are for another post: something other than this, which exists to examine and appreciate the episode. BUT, if you want to read some awesome, insightful and uncompromisingly well written responses to the aforementioned criticism, then I got two Tumblrs for you: laynemorgan.tumblr.com and rachelkiley.tumblr.com. Some of the most honest and well informed arguments you'll read on the subject. Legit. Get around ‘em.
I’m a Bellarke girl. I admit it. And considering how much got my heart broken, THOSE TWO HAD BETTER GET THEIR ACT TOGETHER SOON BECAUSE I NEED A KISS OR SOMETHING TO KEEP ME GOING. (Legit at this point I will settle for a secret handshake if that’s all I can get).
Dammit, someone get Bob Morley a hair brush STAT. Seriously I bet there’s at least 70 in Henry Ian Cusick’s trailer. HE CAN SPARE ONE.
Raven for ALL THE AWARDS EVER after she punched that captain of the Ark guards in the face. (p.s. Lindsay Morgan, I wanted to hug you for a month after this ep. Beautiful job.)
I hope we get an ep at some point where we delve more into Abby’s life, with Jake and Clarke too – I feel like that will be important somehow as she helps console Clarke over what she’s had to do to Finn.
Bruce Miller? No sea plus for you. This was a sea plus sea plus sea plus sea plus sea. Posting you my tears as we speak. Bravo, you clever thing.
IS IT JANUARY YET.