REVIEW | The 100 - Episode 3.08 - "Terms and Conditions"
Something has changed.
On the horizon, from all sides, Grounders are gathering in huge numbers, closing in on the walls of Arkadia like jaws as the blockade begins. To break it? Simple: the Arkadians must hand over the leader called Pike, with a view to making him accountable for the hundreds of innocent lives he took in the field massacre. Failure to do so will result in a blockade that will hold until the people of Arkadia starve. Assuming they don’t die of thirst beforehand, or escape only to be met by the standing kill order that has been placed on their heads. Either way, blood it seems, is still prepared and very willing to demand blood in return.
Indeed, more than one line stands waiting to be crossed in this week’s episode of The 100 – entitled ‘Terms and Conditions’ – as Pike finds himself dealing with the most pointed threat to his leadership yet. Seeing the inevitable crisis point that lies before them should Pike’s desired conflict come to pass, Kane and his band of rebels hatch a plan that hopefully will thwart not only the Chancellor’s mission to undertake an all-out war with the Grounders, but moreover, also stop the Grounders from retaliating with a responding assault that Kane knows will wipe the Sky People off the map entirely. So begins a deadly game of political and personal chess, with two very different men – one of peace, one of war – going head to head over the fate of their people.
Yet theirs are not the only power plays unfurling in Arkadia. Equally as desperate to capture the minds of the Sky people and turn them to her purpose is ALIE, who continues on her quest – aided loyally by Jaha and Raven – to locate the wreckage of the thirteenth station and retrieve the ALIE 2 code. But for all her power, ALIE it appears still lacks the physical manpower required to achieve her goal: namely, bringing as many people as possible over to the City of Light, and in turn make them her own, to be used as she sees fit. The catch? It’s a process that cannot be further achieved without the chip maker Abby confiscated from Jaha. As such, needing the minds of Arkadia at her disposal – and, as Jaha puts it, ‘turned to the task’ – ALIE tasks Raven with recruiting a new member to the team in the hopes of breaking into Pike’s office and retrieving the device.
But for all her calculations, ALIE – the supposed pinnacle of threat elimination – finds herself faced with an unforeseen predicament in regards to her smartest and most tactically brilliant servant, and it’s a revelation to the servant that has the power to throw a major spanner in the works of ALIE’s master plan.
Everyone this week it seems, is treading a rocky and treacherous path towards their deepest desires. But like all great roads in life, there will be dark corners. And in this place, as we learn this week, the walls have been given ears and the night has new eyes.
Best behave, kids. Big Brother is watching.
One of the genuinely unsettling elements of this episode was watching the huge emotional shifts that occurred between characters this week: some for the better and some for the worse. Firstly, Bryan and Miller. When we first learned that Miller and Bryan were together, it was so quietly, unexpectedly lovely, like sifting through ash and finding a gemstone. There was something so reassuring in the idea that even in the midst of all this tragedy, this climate of subterfuge, there was still something beautiful and worthy to be found. To see that be tarnished and polluted by the situation that Pike has put Bryan in – and, to be fair, by the decision Bryan ultimately made to betray Miller: he needs to be accountable for that, too – was a horrible thing, especially given that their relationship as revealed onscreen at least, is still only in its fledgling stages. The argument offered to set Bryan’s mind at ease is, of course, that he’s done what he’s done to protect someone he loves. Bryan’s moment comes when he begins to wonder whether or not is he is in fact the one Miller needs to be protected from. Bryan knows his Chancellor’s standard response to those who undermine his authority, and it is a response usually laced in punishment and more recently blood. For my part, I found myself deeply unsettled regarding the future these two characters share. I genuinely hope we get a chance to see their relationship play out further, but at the moment – in such a deadly climate – it feels harder and harder to make any kind of educated guess.
Unlike Miller and Bryan’s relationship though, we do have a history to go on when we look at Jasper and Monty. So often I find myself reminiscing about what they used to be. About that moment Monty stood by Jasper and refused to let Tsing put him outside in the Mount Weather medical bay. I miss them. I miss their friendship. Now though, what they are…one or both of them is always tugging at the seams of what used to be a fantastic thing, always finding a way to further unravel something that’s been steadily, cruelly coming apart for months. And yet even in the midst of all that, you get this glimpse into two very important things. The first is the fact that Monty’s reservations about the ethical and moral rightness about their actions with Pike, are only hovering just beneath the surface. He knows on some level – and you wouldn’t have to dig too far to find it – that what they are doing to their own people is wrong and morally reprehensible. You see it in the conversations he has with his mother – who might I just say, I hate more than Pike right now – and you see that his mother is able to manipulate the tangle of that inner conflict and their family bond, to her own ends. She is every bit the monster that is; perhaps more so, because she’s using her own son to wilfully commit horrible crimes against other human beings, in an attempt to assert absolute power. But the other thing that you learn – as Raven works with Jasper to crack Monty’s passcode for the Chancellor’s office – is that despite all the unkindness that has passed between them recently, Jasper and Monty still share a tight connection at heart. Jasper is able to guess the code word out of trillions of combinations; Monty, despite being so angry with Jasper, still chooses one of his fondest memories with Jasper to inspire the most important pass code in all of Arkadia. Right now, they are both betraying each other in one way or another. But by the same token, there still exists that unspoken acknowledgement of the fact that their bond runs deep. And bonds like that…well you can’t just sever them. They don’t just go away, and in this, it feels like there is still hope. It feels like there’s a chance that despite everything, they may yet know redemption one through the other somehow.
You know, I’ve watched and written about a lot of TV shows. A lot. And yet never in my experience has a decidedly dead character ever come back to haunt a story in quite the way that Finn Collins continues to in the context of The 100.
In one sense, to be fair, yes: it’s technically only been a few months since Finn died up on that hill outside Arkadia’s walls. Of course it’s still going to be fresh in the minds of a lot of people. Of course people are still processing it to a degree. But this is a world that moves fast, and a hell of a lot of water has gone under the bridge since that night. Indeed while life on the land beyond brims and boils with malcontent and the threat of war, somewhere out there in the forest – forgotten by most everybody, and with little more sound than the breeze coursing between leaves overhead – the remains of Finn Collins are resting silently in the soil, by the base of something that used to be part of a space station once: an abandoned hunk of metal now surrounded by the emerald sheen of fresh grass and peat moss. Physically, Finn has disappeared from the atmosphere entirely. But as a game changing presence in the lives of the people he left behind, he remains a powerfully vital echo of the past. An echo that simply refuses to die. Just because he’s dead, it doesn’t mean that he can’t still send some mighty big waves crashing down on the living.
Think about it. It’s Finn’s love of and relationship with Raven that sees her ultimately override the effect of ALIE in her mind. When she realises just how much of him ALIE’s chip has erased from her memory, it horrifies her down to her bones. Because for Raven, to forget Finn and betray the memory of the beauty of what they shared – despite how their relationship ended – is tantamount to betraying the man himself. When she realises just how much of him ALIE’s chip has erased, for Raven it changes everything. And just like that, in a mere few seconds she goes from ALIE’s trusted spy to a huge liability who actively seeks to keep out of ALIE’s hands the one thing ALIE needs to make herself powerful enough to deal with ALIE 2. All that power, undone by the memory of a boy who lost his mind and his life but never his heart. A digital fortress made to crumble in the presence of a dead man. A memory that renders as useless the same technology and coding that obliterated the majority of the world with a nuclear assault.
ALIE herself notes that she has never encountered such an obstacle before as she’s encountered in Raven’s rebellion, but in an even more interesting twist, ALIE likewise notes that she cannot counter an act of free will because free will is an intrinsic part of human programming. And given that she was created by a human, it stands to reason that in one way or another, the concept was going to make its way into the framework of ALIE’s digital makeup, much to her undoubted dismay. All of this made for a clever and pointed contrast to the chip we now know is possessed at any given time by a Commander. As we learned in ‘Thirteen’, ALIE 2 works in a manner that compliments its human host, while ALIE’s chip simply seeks to contain and/or erase the most troublesome parts of humanity in order to control it. Empowerment versus dominance. Another mirror image of Kane and Pike.
Either way though, it’s fascinating to see play out this unique take on the idea that the ones we love never really leave us. I love that yet again Raven’s pain is made to take a back seat to her tenacious heart and spirit of perseverance. I love her strength and her guts and the fact that despite every set of odds she faces, her true colours always find a way to shine through and tip the game on its head. But there’s a deadly catch here now too. ALIE is built for many things, but primarily she is built to achieve one purpose: absolute order, according to her design. And it’s a purpose she is absolutely capable of defending; by any means she has at her disposal, she will seek to eliminate any and every threat to her endgame, and Raven has just made it clear she is out to thwart that plan. Dark days, in that regard, I think are still very much ahead.
And yet. The idea that no matter how powerful ALIE is, she can still be undone by the very humanity she wishes to control? I mean geez. The possibilities alone for how just such a throwdown will unfold are dead set scintillating, especially given what we now know of how ALIE 2 works. Imagine her as the third contender in this triple threat match for the world.
It’s hard to go past this episode and not make some mention of the fact that finally, after all this time – after all the wrongs he has committed – it has well and truly dawned on Bellamy now that he is absolutely on the wrong side of this war. The real war. Given the man I think Bellamy is at heart – whatever his stupid recent decisions, and let’s face it: there’ve been a lot – it was always going to happen I think that he would come to see the truth. The twist being I think that with every misstep, the more brutal the step, the crueler the penny that dropped about the error of his ways.
Indeed, you can sit here and pick apart Bellamy’s entire arc this season and no matter what way you try to frame it, there is no way to somehow lessen the gravity of the acts he has committed in the name of Pike’s particular brand of freedom. He’s helped murder people in their hundreds. He’s betrayed the trust and compromised the safety of those closest to him, and justified all of it by telling himself lies and half-truths – that it’s because Clarke left him alone; that it’s because Lexa couldn’t be trusted; or because of the Ice Nation; because because because. Worse they’re lies I don’t think even he, at his most loyal point to Pike, ever fully believed. Suddenly that tiny splinter of doubt in his mind has become a forest of Amazon proportions. Only it doesn’t matter. He can never, ever go back. Can never give back the lives he’s taken. Never un-spill the blood he’s helped shed.
What’s genuinely shocked me though, is how far down that deadly rabbit hole Bellamy actually got before he woke up to himself: despite numerous attempts – particularly by Kane – to make him see the truth of what he was getting himself into.
But he’s not the only one.
You know I get that the return of his mother – especially in light of what he’s been told about the death of his father – has thrown Monty off his game. A reunion like that would throw anyone off. But if Monty has proved anything to date it’s that he’s no stranger to finding himself up to his neck in conspiracy and brutality, but always – always – he’s kept his head and managed to see his way through adult and political rhetoric, to the truth. Monty is more than just the whiz kid. Monty is the voice of fact and reason we have relied on for the best part of two seasons; the guy who seemed better built than anyone to cut through people’s bullshit and manipulation. And yet here, it’s like all of that has gone through the window. All of it. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist (and how many of them does Arkadia have right now – like, three?) to see that at best, Pike is more on a power trip than he is on a mission to help his people survive in a way that shows they deserve to survive. But despite all that he’s seen, still Monty has followed Pike’s lead. Despite all he’s seen and what he knows of the insidious style of leadership Pike seems determined to perpetuate, still, Monty spied on his friends, betrayed their trust to a man whole has shown nothing but contempt for anything or anyone outside his own best interests.
Either way, given the predicament both of these guys are in now that they understand just how far Pike is prepared to go, it’s going to be fascinating to see if and when there is going to be any kind of real redemption for their actions. In Monty’s case in particular it feels like a reckoning is coming with his mother, and something tells me that that is going to get very messy before the end.
A WOLF IN SHEPHERD’S CLOTHING
In this week’s episode, a very timely question was raised in the intersecting plot arcs of Pike and Kane. We were made to consider: how do you speak into a cruel, damaging, suspicious and dangerous environment, with any hope of success or betterment? Why would you? If you know there’s a good chance you will fail, then why do it at all? Why bother?
And as I watched this portion of Kane and Pike’s story unfold, I found those very questions being answered so astutely, so beautifully, that I found myself suddenly so compelled to write that I didn’t know how to stop. Because truly, they are the great human parallel here. Whatever you think about how any other element of this show has played out, in the end Pike and Kane are the mirror image of us all.
Before we begin this comparison, it’s important to note here that both these characters had the exact same catalyst. Both crash landed on a hostile planet, and found themselves with an immediate need to adapt to it in order to survive. In the beginning, they are on the exact same par. No more, no less. How they reacted however…well. That was quite different. How they reacted has much to teach us about truth the writers I think are working to impart here.
So. Pike first.
The evolution of Pike’s character into what he has now become is, in a lot of ways, as predictable as it was inevitable. Which isn’t to say that that’s necessarily a bad thing. If anything, for my part, I’ve actually found it to be a relief to be able to dislike someone so intensely, so categorically, and with such justification. Because this, after all, has been a world to date defined by its moral and ethical greyness. This in turn will never cease to create emotional conflict in the viewer. Look at Abby, Clarke, Kane, Finn, and good lord, look at current day Bellamy. Indeed as Abby once so eloquently said, maybe there are no good guys. Not anymore. Rarely since the beginning of this show have we had a clear hero or villain, because ultimately they have all done horribly questionable things.
But what makes Pike distinct is that he is – much like Dante was – an inherently bad person. Literally there is not a single redeeming feature about him: his malice and selfishness, like his leadership style, are absolute in their singularity and corruption.
Now, some would argue that his willingness to slaughter anyone who comes between him and his endgame is Pike’s worst vice. And to be sure it’s a horrific one. Till this point, he has not only expertly preyed on the fear of his people, but has also worked actively to create fear in them, of the most monstrous kind. He’s created this insidious vacuum; this self-feeding monster which is never ever satisfied but also hard to beat. And it answers only to him. Indeed Pike might wear the Chancellor’s pin but underneath he’s no better than an arms dealer who starts a war then profits off the guns he sells to both sides to fight it. Such people become powerful because they know two things: that fear breeds fear, and that when they’re afraid, humans will almost always find themselves willing to do pretty horrific things in the name of self-preservation or preservation of something they love.
Pike though, it’s important to note, is not doing all of this because he loves his people. That is abundantly clear. I mean come on. The speech he gave about how he would give himself over to the Grounders if he thought it really would save his people? Bullshit. He’d throw his grandmother under a bus before he did that; he’s too deep into the situation now, and too close to absolute dominance. On top of that, I think he absolutely believes his own hype, and will not be convinced to see anything from any other perspective but his own. When it comes to the point of no redemptive return for Charles Pike, I would argue that he passed that point a while ago, and for my part I think it was even before they massacred the peace keepers. Because honestly, I still don’t trust that he didn’t do something seriously bad when their ship landed, and the fact that the whole of that Farm Station crew has been so cagey about the truth of those events only fuels my belief in that theory. What I’m hoping is that the truth of those events comes out and that Pike is felled by his own sword in the end. But then this is an unjust and unpredictable world. So who knows what his fate will be, or if he’ll get away with it.
But for all that, the thing I hate most about Pike, and what I think is his worst, most deadly characteristic, is his outright and blatant hypocrisy. Think about it. Pike stood on his soap box only a few episodes earlier and declared that he was going to lead his people to safety, prosperity and victory. You know. The same people who had just had a peacekeeping force allocated to their borders to protect them from outside harm. The same people who had just been inducted as the thirteenth clan into a community that, despite its other failings, is one of commerce, equality and successful trading, between twelve other clans. The same people who have now been told they are going to defend their ground and win, in a war that in this case their own elected leader effectively started. How much of a predator to you have to be as a human being in order to not only capitalise on that environment, but to actually actively make it worse, so you can capitalise more on it? And now he wants to kill Kane for being a traitor to his own, when it’s clear that Kane is anything but. Indeed the terrifying truth of what Pike is really doing is evident all around, and yet somehow – worse still – even good, smart people have bought into his lies.
And the whole line to Kane about how Kane gave up Finn to the Grounders, and betrayed his people by turning over to death one of the innocent lives Kane was sworn to protect? Okay champ. Back up your bullshit cart. First of all, Finn gave himself over to the Grounders, not Kane. Kane wanted to save the kid, but Finn found a way to have himself captured, because he knew he was guilty of innocent blood and that in the end he had to take responsibility for what he’d done before his people paid the price for his crime. Finn showed the exact spine in the end that Pike hasn’t had a scrap of from the beginning. And not that his massacre was any less devastating or wrong than what Pike did, but Finn killed all those innocent people in a frenzied mental snap because he was terrified about what had happened to Clarke. Finn lost his mind and committed an atrocity that arguably not in a million years would he have committed otherwise. But Pike? Whole other kettle of darkness right there. He was in total control of his mind when he massacred all of those Grounders. He knew exactly what he was doing when he loaded up his gun, took nine other soldiers, and shot two hundred and ninety nine people in their sleep. So when Pike comes to arrest Kane, and says that it’s demeaning for Kane to take the high road over him? My blood boiled so insanely I’m surprised I didn’t spontaneously combust. As it should have. The duplicitous double standard of his whole act is gobsmacking. It’s storytelling that’s meant to make us furious.
Because, you know the actual concept of keeping Arkadia safe and prosperous in itself is not a bad thing. In fact it’s a very, very good and important thing. But the second Pike took that good cause and used it as a banner for his own hatred and malice – as an excuse for undertaking spiteful behaviour towards anyone who thinks differently to him – it’s important to remember that no matter how much he continues to wave that banner around, as long as he uses it as an excuse to hurt and demean others, he no longer represents anything of what the original cause truly meant or stood for. Pike has become the very traitor he is about to execute Kane for being. Worse, his voice is so loud and so dominant, that reason and the greater good are being drowned out. And it’s poisoning everything.
Given everything that’s happened over the last month or so, I’ll leave it to you to find the real life comparison and application of the life lesson that exists there. Just something for you to think about.
THE ROAD LESS TRAVELLED
All of which leads me, though, to a man that has more than learned from his past; who has done so with a strength and humility that takes my breath away every week. The other side of the leadership coin: Marcus Kane. It was in him that I found the answers to the questions I’d been asking myself about why anybody should bother about trying to speak good and pointed truths into an environment where hate is so loud and the concept of justice has been so perverted. Answers that turned out to contain more lessons than one.
Firstly, we need to look to the fact that Kane sees the rightness of an act, and the success of the action, as two separate things. In this case, almost mutually exclusive. He says as much to Sinclair, and Sinclair is of the exact same mind. It doesn’t matter that most likely they will fail. What matters is that they at least try, because these are two people who actively get that it’s not simply about saving their people from the Grounders. It’s about saving the Sky people from themselves: from their own fears and insecurities, which currently are coursing through their city’s emotional veins like venom. It’s about the fact that their people spent generations in the sky crafting the legacy they hoped would one day leave on earth, and that right now, they are scant millimetres away from destroying everything they have worked towards. Kane gets too, that it’s not about whether he lives or dies; in everything he does, you can clearly see that if this cause demands his life, then so be it. He is at peace with the notion of dying having honoured the right cause. He has abandoned all sense of selfishness and is now fueled solely by achieving the greater good for all, even if he is not alive to reap the harvest of what he has sewn in the hearts of people like Miller and Harper.
The second thing we need to note about Kane here is the fact that he’s smart and humble enough to have adapted his world view to the world he has entered. As he spoke his last defence in the cell before Pike pronounced his sentence, I kept remembering that line out of Cinderella weirdly, when she tells the Prince that just because something has always been done, doesn’t mean it should be done. Because that’s exactly the case here. Kane’s entire speech – about the fact that he admires Pike’s adherence to the law, but implores Pike to see that they are laws that were built to serve a world of the past, and an outdated, uninformed vision of the future – is as magnificent as it is desperately needed. He pleads with Pike to be honest and unpretentious enough to see the world for what it is, and not what he wants it to be. Sadly though, Kane is appealing to a humanity that is just not there. They were words that were always going to fall on deaf ears, just as Pike’s polluted sentiments – thankfully – were always going to fall on deaf ears in Kane. It was an impasse bound to be reached at some point.
Ultimately though, my favourite thing about Kane is that he understands the power of grace, mercy and forgiveness to change a life as much as change the tide of a war, and in turn sees those things as worth fighting for no matter the risk, no matter the enemy. You see that in the fact that time and time and time again, he gives people – even criminals like Pike – the chance to do the right thing. You can likewise see his integrity enough to know that he’d willingly put aside his own feelings and pride to stick with that person, if they genuinely decided to change. But where you see this characteristic most, of course, is in his interaction with Bellamy, who I swear he loves like his own family. Every time Kane says to Bellamy ‘You can still choose the right side; I will welcome you in, no matter what you’ve done up until now, if you want to join the right side’, I can’t help but be confronted by that parable of the Prodigal Son. Can’t help but be captured by the image of that father opening his arms out wide to embrace the child that ran away and squandered so much that mattered. Only in this case, it’s a scene that repeats itself over and over and over again. And ultimately what you end up questioning most is not whether or not Kane is simply a glutton for punishment, but rather, what it will actually take for Bellamy to understand the beautiful gravitas of the olive branch that Kane keeps offering him, even after every horrific decision he makes. No matter how many people Bellamy shoots point blank, no matter how pigheaded he gets, no matter how stupidly blind he continues to be, Kane does not and will not give up on him.
Indeed. In the same way it’s refreshing to be able to despise someone so clearly, so rightly in the character of Pike, it’s even more – infinitely more – refreshing to be reminded of the fact that even in a world as broken as that of The 100, as long as people like Kane exist, there is proof and hope for the fact that humanity has a chance to do better. A slim, tiny, minuscule chance yes, but a chance. One worth fighting for. One worth living for. One worth dying for.
Because for Kane, it’s not about how history will remember him. It’s about consistently and conscientiously valuing all life, any life, with absolute integrity, in word and in deed. He’s a man who doesn’t look out at the world and see the divisions first. He sees the foundational sameness, and honours it first before all else, even if to do so comes at great personal cost. He’s the man and the leader that this whole, twisted remainder of humanity needs, but absolutely not the one it deserves.
Again, as with Pike, I leave it to you to see the example that is being set here. To see the challenge being delivered here. I leave you to take from it what you will, in the hopes that you let it encourage and inspire you as it’s encouraged and inspired me. Who knows. Maybe if we had all found our inner Marcus Kane sooner, things would have played out very differently of late. Hopefully they can still play out better in the days to come.
In truth, there’s been a reason this has taken me so long to write. At first I told myself that I needed a break. These things take me hours to complete. Long days, long nights at my desk, surrounded by half drunk cups of tea and pages of notes. All these characters are basically non-paying tenants in my house. But after a few weeks of watching an unbearable kind of madness and brutality unfold over this show – a madness that that literally blew my mind of and revealed a darkness to pop culture I had never experienced before – I realised that my need for a break wasn’t so much a reason as it was an excuse I was telling myself. Because put honestly and put simply, I didn’t know how to speak into the level of hate that has come to surround this show. I didn’t know where to even start, it was so layered and dense and virulent. I did not know how to speak into an anger that – while it had its absolute points of truth: points that deserved to be argued…points about storytelling that undoubtedly could have been done differently and with greater respect – ultimately went far beyond loving a lost character. Far beyond defending a good cause. Far beyond a case of who’s right and who’s wrong, about anything.
I’ve taken a good hard look in the mirror and known there were moments that in an effort to do better, I too could have done much better myself. But then in this particular case, it seemed to me that our screens are so often populated with real life horrors – gun violence, terrorism, domestic abuse, fascism in fancy suits… – I guess I just thought that the existence of those things might cause us to deal with a TV show, and in turn each other, with some modicum of perspective. Some standpoint that valued the story – and did not for a second undermine the daily struggles and pain we go through in our own lives, or devalue what it is to not be effectively represented as we are in the stories we see told daily on our TVs – but that also took into account the fact that most of us aren’t, for example, in the process of fleeing over the Syrian border trying to escape with our lives. Or having acid thrown in our face because our father found us with a bible under our pillow. Or being executed by being thrown off a roof top because we didn’t love who we were supposed to love. Because unlike The 100, these aren’t cautionary tales. They aren’t some fable crafted by a room full of writers week to week. They’re the stories of real people, who live real lives and die real deaths. This is our reality. This is our world. We don’t need a nuclear apocalypse in order to make it worse than it already is.
So, perhaps somewhat naively, I thought that people might look on the story of The 100, and have their holy shit, their earth, this broken bastard of a place is the world we are creating even as we speak – maybe we need to do better and do it now moment. But for the most part, we didn’t. And we still aren’t, even though things seem to have settled down to a small degree. So many people, still choosing to speak more hate into an already hateful world. As though a wound is somehow better healed by further cutting it open rather than applying the right balm to it. Imperfect people hating on other imperfect people for their imperfections. No justice, no mercy, no grace…just frenzy. All froth and fire but rarely any real willingness to turn the magnifying glass upon ourselves as much as anybody else.
As I sat down to write this review, then, all I could think was that greater point of The 100 – of the greater journeys of every single one of these characters – was being utterly missed. Given the extraordinary heart of this story, such a miss left me sitting here feeling a new kind of sadness, and quite lost in an environment I somewhat artlessly thought I understood. We’ve all been so busy picking the splinters out of the eyes of others, we’ve barely stopped – if at all, even for a second – to pull the logs out of our own. Why do we do this? Why do we keep doing this to each other? Why do we do it and expect that things will ever get better or change?
I don’t know. Maybe one day, we’ll have enough courage, enough spine, to have those hard conversations with ourselves and with each other. All I know is that my general faith in people to be good, or kind – especially in the context of The 100 fandom – is at an all time low. It is not a safe place to be yourself. It is not a good place to find community. Not anymore. I wish it wasn’t that way - and I hope it won't always be that way - but what can you do.
It’s these questions, though – the ‘why do we even bother’s – that bring me to the final verdict I have for you about this episode. In the end as I wrote – and I hope this doesn’t come out as callously as it will sound – I realised I had stopped caring about what any other fans thought about it. Because I had my own questions I needed answered, and this episode answered many of them in a way that helped immensely to make sense of what was happening outside, with the fans as much as with the greater narrative of this story.
This episode – and indeed Charlie Craig’s elegantly crafted script – was a brilliant and cutting yet thoughtfully hewn allegory on the importance of speaking out with courage but also compassion and grace, in an environment where people are only willing to consume what they want to hear; only willing to consider words that make them feel better enough about their own actions in order to justify them. I thought the dialogue Craig wrote for Kane’s character in particular was exquisitely done, because it revealed as much about others as it did about Kane. That was cleverly done and in this, the writing deserves every bit of commendation it gets.
But this was also an episode with gritty action sequences: ones that required not only strong execution but also a cohesive vision for the episode as a whole. In this then, I thought director John Showalter’s many, many years of visual storytelling and leadership absolutely shined. Everything was so beautifully blocked and captured. In addition, despite all those big moments, the direction of this episode never felt overdone, and this helped hugely to let the characters shine just as brightly even amidst all the action.
All in all though, it seems that a checkmate has occurred in the great and deadly game playing out within Arkadia’s walls. In some ways, it seems safer to enter the order of the kill zone than it is to stay in such a place. But no matter how powerful Pike may seem, the old adage remains as true as it ever did: pride absolutely goeth before the fall. And given the dark and jagged wayside of the road ahead, one can only assume that if they do, it’s going to be a very, very long way down.
FINAL THOUGHTS AND QUESTIONS
I love the conflict that the writers have crafted between ALIE and Raven. I love the fact that its technology and intelligence versus human instinct and emotion, but also that even then, the one thing both sides cannot escape is their very human core.
Sober Jasper is better than Drunk Jasper. You can light a match safely next to Sober Jasper. Be like Sober Jasper. Except less willing to have your mind controlled.
SO MANY BSG FEELS THIS WEEK.
Have you watched BSG? If not why and what have you been doing with your life?
I know violence is not the answer but I have never wanted to suckerpunch a TV character as much as I want to suckerpunch Monty’s mum. Like right in her smug nose.
And then I’m going to thwack Bellamy. With a hair brush. There’ll be a certain poetry to that.