REVIEW | The 100 - Episode 2.09 - "Remember Me"
There are some things – some memories – that you know no matter how long you live, they will never leave you. A touch. A look. A sound. A breath. Such are the billion sights and tiny details that comprise the intricate threads from which our existences are woven. Clarke Griffin is one who has seen more than most. But for every thick, gritted stitch in her life’s fabric so far, there is none so cruel as the one that now binds her to the memory of an execution post on a hill, and the sight of herself covered in the blood of the man she loves, who now lies dead at her feet by her own hand. Such is the brave but brutal new world in which Clarke and her people now find herself, in Episode 2.09 – aptly titled “Remember Me” – of The CW’s apocalyptic powerhouse, The 100.
Though it has come at a crushing emotional and physical cost, the Sky people and Grounders – led by Clarke and the Grounder commander, Lexa – now sit on the precipice of a formidable alliance: one that may finally be able to crack the fortress and evil of Mount Weather. Something that has not gone unnoticed by the eyes in Mount Weather, either, as Jasper, Monty & Co. renew their secret efforts to broadcast their presence out to their people on the ground, in the hope that it might give hope. But even as the new truce that would save them begins goes to take its first tentative step towards war, an unknown assailant makes their presence known with an attempt on the Commander’s life, and immediately the fingers begin to point at the Sky people. Not forgetting: this is Grounder territory. Accusations can be deadlier than the truth.
And so it is that we find ourselves here in the shadow of a ticking clock that seems to yet again be counting down to the destruction of Clarke and her people, unless she can somehow prove that there is more to the situation that meets the eye. And all the while, the mountain is watching and waiting to see if the unlikely alliance they’d be right to fear is forming under their very feet.
So, with all that in mind, let’s dive in to the ep and take a look shall we?
THE POISON CHALICE
It was always going to be interesting to see how the writers chose to examine Clarke’s emotional landscape after the sacrifice she made in killing Finn herself. Taking on the full weight of the burden of his death is no small act of true love under the circumstances: something that does not at all go unnoticed by Lexa, which is essential given the fact that at this point she is holding pretty much all of the aces. Even she responded to it by call it ‘punishment enough’ – not a small thing given how many people are dead altogether as a result of the whole cruel affair.
For Clarke’s part, her being ‘haunted’ by Finn was at first every bit as creepy as it was painful to watch. His staring eyes flicking open to meet hers as they carried his body away from the execution post; him watching her through the trees as she passed by with his wrapped, lifeless body in tow. It made you wonder on more than one occasion how much his ghost would weigh her down long term. Because it was a ghost and a grief that cast a long shadow, indeed. But when Clarke agreed to go along with the Grounders’ wishes to deal with Finn’s body according to their customs in order to give the village closure; and takes the resulting ire of people like Raven – who is crumbling in her grief – on the chin, things changed.
To kill someone you love, for love’s sake, and then go on to live every day bearing the brunt of that love, until you die: such was the enormous weight of the responsibility Clarke accepted. It was something that even Raven too came to accept in the end, after feeling the slash of their knives herself and then watching Gustus die when it was revealed that he’d framed her. Tied to a post and having your flesh flayed and slit by one angry, driven hand after another. Raven understands now why her friend did what she did, and going forward I think that is going to be huge.
But while Raven is clearer now on what would have awaited Finn had Clarke not killed him like she did, Clarke on the other hand is rapidly descending into a state of pure scar tissue. She’s seen what Lexa has had to do in order to survive emotionally, physically and as a leader; sees in the Commander the person she does not want to be, yet feels she may yet have to come if she is to lead her people to survive, let alone to victory against the Mountain. And given that it seems to be working for her, Clarke responds to the human tragedy, by cutting off what is human inside her in order to try and come out the other side of it all with her life intact. Not an uncommon response in the face of such horror I imagine.
But when it caused her to say goodbye to Finn like she did – banishing his ghost and then even refusing his ashes when Abby offers them to her as a way that might help her let him go – you can’t argue with the fact that it is a dangerous road Clarke is now embarking on. Because in letting go of love, of her emotions – in shoving them into the dirt like they’re nothing, even if it’s in order to survive – you can’t help but think that Clarke is letting go the one thing above all else, that makes her, her, and that could have very dire consequences indeed. Without love, she is Lexa tying Raven to a post and beginning to execute her slowly for a crime based on suspiciously sudden evidence, without stopping to consider the emotional agendas that perhaps exist in those beside her. Without love, she is a machine: all data, but no soul.
And in a climate where emotional agendas – be they good or bad – are everything, that could be a very dangerous and blinding thing indeed for Clarke to become.
MAN OF ACTION
Right back in the beginning season 1, I remember having this gut feeling that Monty – no matter how far into the background he seemed – would play a massive role in the days to come. His cleverness and tech skills are one thing, but useful though they have proven, it’s been his sharpness and courage that has time and time again, either saved or gotten his people closer to their goals of living. He never takes crap or attitude from people, instead focussing on the issues at hand and in turn often making himself the only cool head in the room. He’s been a quiet but core player in many of the game changing moments of the show to date, while his gut instinct is pretty much spot on every time; and it’s something he uses brilliantly to not only inform his actions, but also challenge friend and foe alike when needed. Remember that whole scene with Tsing in the hospital? Seriously. What a boss.
So why is it that Jasper seems to still lurk at the front of the story as the understood leader of all this covert resistance? As Monty grows in leadership, Jasper seems to diminish and become ever less useful to the story, which has really got me thinking as to what the writers have planned for them both once they all finally reunite at some point. That said, with Jasper comes the Maya factor. She is their key ally inside the mountain, and may just turn out to be a key player before her time is up. So given the fact she seems intent on following Jasper anywhere, he’s still useful as a means to an end if it means she keeps assisting them to thwart the evil machinations of Dante and his son. But – harsh as it sounds – you have to ask yourself. Once all that’s done, will he have any real use?
Finally it was revealed this week – both through the episode itself and by the writers online as they covered it live on social media – that Lexa is in fact the long awaited LGBT character they have been hinting at. And they are to be utterly commended for the acutely powerful and clever way they have written such a character into the plot: primarily by writing Lexa from an LGBT perspective in the same way they write about Clarke as a woman. That is, that first and foremost, they make it clear that is the person’s humanity or lack thereof that defines their true being: not their gender or sexual preference, or indeed (are you listening, haters?) the colour of a character’s skin.
Firstly, I love how they’ve crafted Lexa’s character. I love how they’ve given her a formidable emotional foundation that is also deeply nuanced. It’s one of fierce spirit, pain, sacrifice and loss. Of darkness, courage and (hidden, I think, in amongst all that anger and steely grit somewhere) a deep seated sense of humanity. One capable of great love, even if now she has chosen not to feel it.
Her strength, tactical discernment and leadership are a breath of fresh air in a TV climate that has so often struggled to consistently find and bring to life new, brave and truly meaningful representations of the LGBT community for this age demographic: particularly ones that stretch beyond realistic settings and contemporary cultural clichés. But they’ve done in Lexa what they did in Clarke – not to mention Abby, Octavia and Raven; and even Indra to a degree. They’ve championed bold characters comprised of real substance and depth, who lead with absolute conviction of purpose, if not with perfection, who just also happen to be women, or in Lexa’s case, also gay.
I especially valued the scene at the funeral pyre when she reveals to Clarke how she too experienced major loss, because of the context it gave to her in this respect. How her own beloved – Costia – was taken by a rival tribe, the Ice Nation, and subjected to a brutal extended torture and death, just for being the person Lexa loved most in the world. As a result, even as the memory of Costia haunts the air between them and the ashes of Finn lay spread at their feet, you instantly see Clarke and Lexa see echoes of themselves in each other, and in a way that affects them both deeply.
So while Lexa is a character who answered the audience’s call for someone who represented the LGBT community, you would be utterly remiss to call her a token one. Why? Because across the board the writers go decisively out of their way every week to make it clear that things like gender, sexuality and race only ever form but one part – deeply important parts, to be sure, but still – of who people are. Because The 100 as a whole is pervaded by an unsaid attitude that reminds both us and the characters – constantly – that no matter who we are, what we are, where we come from or what mistakes we’ve made, when cut we’re all gonna bleed the same red.
And it’s exactly those attitudes that have informed the brilliant steps the writers have taken so far to ensure that Lexa both personifies the diversity an LGBT character brings to the mix, AND is someone that every viewer can relate to: on a fundamental, human level. You know. Where it matters. Where we are the same. And that is a beautiful thing.
It’s impossible not to see the similarities between Clarke and Abby in the actions they’ve undertaken in their lives. Not only those that resulted in the deaths of the men they loved, but also the ways in which they have chosen to lead their peoples in the face of great peril. But I have to say I’m with Clarke on this one when she ultimately slams the door in her mother’s face for comparing her letting them kill Jake on the Ark, with Clarke killing Finn.
For one, Abby’s choice came down to telling people a truth they had a right to hear, and giving them the chance to prepare accordingly. Do we doubt for a second that Jake’s revelation would have caused chaos to a degree? No. But that didn’t mean they shouldn’t have been told. Hell, Abby goes through with Jake’s original plan in the end because even she had to agree that it was the unavoidably right thing to do. But if you go back to “Contents Under Pressure” last year, you realise that Jake was ultimately killed because he knew too much, and yet when what he knew finally came to light, people reacted with astonishing grace and sacrifice.
Clarke? Clarke is staring down the barrel of the complete slaughter and annihilation of her entire people, by the one group of people who are strong enough to help them bring down Mount Weather. Clarke was not killing Finn to tie up a loose end. She walked deep into enemy territory, to their hill of execution, and put a blade through the heart of the man she loved, in order to save him from suffering an excruciating death that he brought upon himself, at the risk of losing a truce that would spare the life of every person who survived the Ark’s crash to earth. In short, as much as I’ve come to respect her, I think Abby had a hide in making that comparison. I think she had a hide in trying to use Clarke’s actions to bring them on to a level playing field, so her daughter could not hate her for having done the same thing.
What worries me now is how it appears to have set up the final nail in the emotional coffin at this point for Clarke’s belief that love is an asset not a liability in a leader. What worries me, in Abby’s case, is that in trying to bring them back on to the same page like she did, Clarke may try to close the entire book now on her relationship with her mother. And in the words of Kane (who was GREAT in this episode) the last thing they can afford now – when they must all stick together if they’re going to live – is to tear each other apart.
If you were wondering at the end of last year whether or not The 100 would be able to keep up the fierce momentum it established in the first eight episodes of Season 2, then “Remember Me” was the emphatic ‘yes’ to your question, from the team behind the show. It demonstrated so much of the bold, unapologetic vision and cleverness that has seen it skyrocket to the top of ‘Must Watch’ lists everywhere, which is so encouraging given the fact that every time it promises to go bigger, go better, it delivers on every promise. It is relentless.
In the case of "Remember Me", even as we sat still reeling from Finn’s death and Clarke’s actions, there he was: staring her down while she stumbled back into the world with his blood on her hands, reliving every second the blow that put it there. Even as we questioned who, if not Raven, was responsible for trying to poison Lexa, there she was: tying Raven to a tree and letting her people begin to slice her open, with little more than a tiny bottle and a kangaroo court’s misplaced outrage to sentence her. Even as we wondered how on earth the people inside the mountain would ever let their people know they’re alive, there Monty is: putting it all on the line in order to unjam the signal and broadcast the fact that the Mountain isn’t the impenetrable fortress it claims to be. In short, the story you love is back: with a vengeance and more terrifying than ever.
In regards to the script, Dorothy Fortenberry had a magnificent week this week with a script that hit pretty much all the right notes from start to finish. Her dialogue between Clarke and Lexa in particular was excellent, in that that it did not waste words but rather used the exact right ones and timed their delivery beautifully. Likewise it demonstrated a deep understanding and appreciation for both the characters as individuals, and their relationships with each other. Indeed, across the board it was sharp, beautiful and to-the-point writing, and really engaged the gutsy emotional chemistry between Eliza Taylor and Alycia Debnam-Carey, who it must be said have bounced beautifully off each other in their respective roles in the season to date. Also, Dorothy, 12 seconds. That’s how long it took you from the opening scene before the credits to make me cry. Just so’s you know.
Directing wise, Omar Madha had a solid turn in the director’s chair too, delivering beautifully the vision of key scenes and moments with the same eye for human detail as he has exhibited in so many of his previous projects (namely British TV series, Spooks which is one of my all-time favourites). While not full of large action sequences or sweeping vistas, “Remember Me” was an episode that required the director to be able draw us in, right up close, to the emotions and people caught up in this wilderness where so much blood has been shed for both sides. I think he did that incredibly well, particularly in regards to Clarke as she struggles to overcome the closeness of Finn’s lingering ghost, and that final scene with Gustus and Lexa as she executes him for his crimes.
But where too now: that is the question, and for more than one party. As Clarke and Lexa begin to strategise for war, will it at the same time send Clarke down and emotional road from whence she can never return? Did she believe herself when she said love is weakness? When she brushed off her fear for Bellamy’s safety and gave him the map to get under the mountain? And even if he should be successful, will there even be anyone left to save? If Cage knows there’s a war coming and decides to step up his schedule of making his soldiers fit for the ground, the 47 won’t have time to blink before he steps up his blood harvests as well.
Who knows, but that it is a collective fate that it appears will come down th end to two formidable women from opposing sides of the atmosphere: each one with blood on her hands, strength in her spirit, and fathomless loss in her bones. But in a climate ripe for fire, will this common ground be enough to hold the alliance together? Because it will only take the tiniest, ill-timed spark to ignite a war blaze that will destroy them all.
FINAL THOUGHTS AND QUESTIONS
Whoever is in charge of Lexa’s costuming and makeup: you are a STAR.
Ghost Finn laying behind Clarke in the Grounder Camp was the creepiest. Not just saying that because he didn’t even buy her a drink first.
Someone go get Wick and make him put his arms around Raven RIGHT. NOW. That woman has had enough of sorrow to last her a life time, and around him is the last time she smiled. I need her to have one moment of JOY again. Soon. Somehow.
Indra is a neutron bomb of fury, and was like that even before the village massacre. Which makes me wonder if there is more to her story than we’ve been told yet about why she is so full of hate.
Octavia Blake is back and I MISSED HER SO MUCH. Also, really hoping she gets some real, meaty scenes in the season going forward: ones that are related to her alone and her journey as opposed to everything being about her relationship with Lincoln in one way or another.
Real Finn and Ghost Finn are now both permanently FIN. #FINNING
Bye, Gustus. *raises drink in your memory and immediately puts it down again you because and cups are a bad combination*