Now that’s what I call a season finale! Except this wasn’t the season finale. This was two episodes out from the season finale. The 100 raced through its antepenultimate episode of season three this week, as no less that three parties tried to launch an attack to end A.L.I.E. and all with the exact same result. It would have been interesting if the season’s big bad had been eliminated by the time the credits rolled on “Red Sky at Morning”, but something far more interesting awaits the intrepid members of Skaikru: how do you beat the bad guy when you’ve exhausted all options?
The week’s adventure was conveniently divided into three parts: in Polis, Murphy, Indra and Pike went for A.L.I.E.’s backpack hard drive; at Arkadia, Raven and Monty searched A.L.I.E.’s program code to find an exploitable weakness; and on the oil rig, Clarke, Bellamy, Octavia and Jasper tried to convince Luna to take the Flame. The odds were in the favor of the unchipped. After all, no matter how powerful A.L.I.E. is, she can’t possibly overcome a war on three fronts, right? Unfortunately, the fault lay in one thing that even A.L.I.E. couldn’t predict, and that’s human frailty, and free will.
Take John Murphy for example. The ultra-pragmatic member of the 100 spins it when Indra finds the idea of escaping and running unpalatable. We’re not running, we’re surviving, he says. But instead, Pike convinces John to lead him and Indra to A.L.I.E.’s power source, and despite being chased by an army of chipped soldiers, they get quite close to shutting A.L.I.E. off. But then Emori pleads with John that to destroy A.L.I.E.’s backpack is to destroy the minds of all those in the City of Light, and Murphy hesitates. Quelle surprise! There is someone that Murphy cares about more than himself after all. Also on the subject of Emori, it was a nice moment when Jaha tells her she can adjust her deformity in the City of Light, and she says, “What deformity?” Mutant and proud, even when under the sway of a world dominating A.I.
Back at Arkadia, Raven was pulling a Matrix and reading every line of A.L.I.E.’s code to find her weaknesses, and Monty was helping her. Perhaps driven by her own sense of violation and being awake for two days straight, Raven wants to use the admin code left by Becca to attack A.L.I.E., but Monty says wait. It was an eventful episode for Monty, who enjoyed a – ahem – romantic interlude with Harper, but later was forced to delete his mom from the City of Light when A.L.I.E. uses her to stop Monty and Raven from using the uncovered kill switch. Despite the fact that he killed his mom’s physical form, Monty found the courage to do what was necessary to complete the mission, but A.L.I.E. still got the upper hand, unplugging herself from the Arkadia computer before Raven hit the switch.
The idea of that there’s futility in doing what it takes to win is a point made on the oil rig too. Luna, as it turns out, started her colony for those that don’t want to fight anymore, those weary of war on the mainland, or those orphaned by it. Clarke tries to persuade her that when she died Lexa was coming around to a more Luna way of doing things, “Blood must not have blood,” but Luna correctly wonders how is doing whatever it takes to win any different than “Blood must have blood”?
With Luna unwilling to take the Flame, Clarke tried to force the point. Literally. Octavia says that even A.L.I.E. gives people a choice, a fact that’s becoming less true as we go along as A.L.I.E. is being more forcibly persuasive in the tougher conversions, but it’s an important difference. The 100, as a group, have always been about free will, and here Clarke was trying to override it in Luna. Maybe there was too much going on this week, but did Clarke trying the talking cure? Did she explain to Luna Lexa’s regret and hurt about what happened at their conclave?
It seemed that in the end, Clarke had convinced Luna of the immediate danger when A.L.I.E. arrived and started taking over members of Luna’s group. That would be too easy of course, for Luna to have a “come to the Flame” moment after all the damage A.L.I.E. did. Clarke and others are returned to the mainland, with the Flame, and no more options. “Now what?” Bellamy says, summing up audience reaction in two simple words. Luna is eminently qualified to be commander in all the fighting categories, but it speaks to her strength of character that she’s willing to walk away from the fight, even when the fight comes to her.
There’s one of two options to consider going forward, either Luna’s going to have second thoughts, or someone else is going to have to find a way to take the Flame. I did ponder earlier this season when Clarke was given the Flame if it was leading to her in some way becoming Commander, the ultimate synthesis of the traditions of the ground and the traditions of the sky, but how would she become Night Blood? Is there a way Clarke, or someone else, can do what Becca did to herself when she became the first Commander?
I almost feel like either of those above options are too easy though. For instance, I never would have guessed last year that the Mount Weather storyline would have ended with Clarke ordering the irradiated death of every man, woman and child in the mountain. Having said that, it would be interesting if there was some sort of conclusion here that didn’t involving killing A.L.I.E., whether a peace can be reached without the kind of widespread bloodshed we typically associate with a 100 season finale, which have typically had body counts in the hundreds.
Considering that A.L.I.E. is now protected on the remains of the Ark in space, perhaps her total destruction is no longer achievable, and peace between all sides will be forced. After all, the point of A.L.I.E. is that humans can’t find harmony on their own and hence harmony needs to be forced upon us through the City of Light. Can Clarke and the others prove her wrong by moving beyond their base programing and ending this fight with a minimum to no bloodshed? This is The 100 so I somehow doubt it, but we could dream.