The 100 is a show that when it’s firing on all cylinders it manages to out-Walking Dead The Walking Dead, that is to say it’s a survivor drama that is unafraid to push its characters with real stakes and real consequences rather than, say, let an endangered character slide effortlessly under a dumpster that sits suspiciously high off the ground. Consequences are top of mind this week, especially following last week’s pivotal death, and the 40-some odd minutes of this week’s episode used those consequences to raise the stakes on a number of key storylines, and in the end, turned the tables so that it will once again be up to The 100 to reunite and save the day.
Last week’s episode, “Stealing Fire”, concluded with Pike executing Lincoln, who had bravely given himself up to protect the others. It was an enormously important character death, but one that felt kind of rushed and completed with a sense of forced drama. Sometimes, the point of killing a character on a show is to kill a character, but other times the point is to create drama among the remaining characters. So seeing this week open with Octavia giving Bellamy the beating many fans have wanted to see him receive for weeks provided moments of shock, elation, catharsis and heartbreak. Bellamy knows he’s had a beating coming, and Octavia’s more than willing to give it to him.
Bellamy’s character development has been the most problematic of this season. He’s willing to risk life and limb to find Clarke, but then he’s all too willing to throw in with Pike after the Ice Nation blow-up Mount Weather and tries to give up Clarke to Pike. He followed Pike into a murder spree of hundreds of Grounders, but then he starts getting verklempt when Pike starts killing people closer to home. It’s like he’s had ADHD of the conscience the last 10 episodes. There’s no doubt where Bellamy’s loyalty is now, but he’s seemed victim of the plot this whole time; Bellamy has been on whatever side the story’s needed him to be on.
Still, perhaps it’s better to be flexible than overly trusting. Poor old Monty. How many people knew his mom was playing him? I did. I wrote in my notepad “It’s a trap, Monty!” and it was. Pike’s obsession to roust Kane and the others kind of felt like a contrivance to get Pike out of the safety of Arkadia and into the hands of the Grounders, foolishly trudging through the woods with prisoners so close to the Grounder blockade. But frankly the Pike story has probably gone about as far as it can, and the internal strife in Arkadia had to make way for much more interesting developments involving Jaha, A.L.I.E. and the City of Light.
Lindsey Morgan was this week’s MVP as Raven frantically looked for a way to get A.L.I.E. out of her head, an urgency she shared with Abbie and Jasper. A.L.I.E. punishes Raven’s lack of devotion by overloading her with pain, and Raven’s been through a lot of pain from the physical (having her bone marrow harvested in Mount Weather) to the emotional (watching Finn die). A.L.I.E. forces Raven to “submit” meaning total A.L.I.E. takeover, which let Morgan do a bang on impression of Erica Cerra‘s portrayal of A.L.I.E. It was quite the whirlwind for Raven this week, but Morgan was more than up to the challenge.
As for the original A.L.I.E., “Fallen” represented something of a paradigm shift for her and Jaha’s plan. They had been so careful to make it about people coming to them for revelation and accepting the City of Light, but now free will is an obstacle to overcome. Raven’s frantic attempt to overstimulate herself to turn A.L.I.E. off – with a combination of exercise, rock music, and the thematically and literally relevant reading of Poe’s most famous poem – beautifully illustrated the power of mind over virtual matter, and then A.L.I.E. took it one step further by having Raven cut her wrists to force Abbie to take the pill. The lesson here, it’s all about free will till free will makes achieving our despotic goals more difficult.
Speaking of despotic, Ontari was painted between a rock and a hard place because Clarke had bolted with the Flame, but unable to prove that she did have the Flame, Ontari was forced to stall. Good thing she had Murphy there to council her in the ways of subterfuge and lying, not killing, to get what you want. Good old, Murph. I think Murphy’s becoming my new favorite, the consummate punching bag on this new Earth going from one hostage crisis to another, but doing so with aplomb.
Richard Harmon was comedic gold this week, although its weird to think of the tenuous and deadly political drama of Polis as a fitting background some kind of wacko romantic comedy. Following last week’s scene with the bath, the none-too-subtle sexual tension went up a notch with Murphy being chained up in the Commander’s bedroom. Murphy’s hurt that despite his help in staving off questions about her ascension that he’s still Ontari’s prisoner, and then she takes her top off. “Now I’m a little less hurt,” Murphy said in perfect deadpan. Introducing bondage into a relationship is new level of kink, at least for a CW show anyway.
The most intriguing bit of “Fallen” though comes at end of the episode, and it kind of reinforces that Walking Dead connection with the Arkadia residents now zombified under the influence of A.L.I.E., chasing Jasper and a kidnapped Raven like something out of Night of the Living Dead. What a time for Clarke to come home looking for Lincoln, but in the rush of the moment its easy to forget that this is the first time that Jasper and Clarke have come face-to-face since Mount Weather. I guess the heavier implications of that will be dealt with next week, this week, Jasper feeling the pressure summed up his feelings about Clarke saying “You really are the angel of death.” When you put it like that, Wanheda has a nicer ring to it.
To me, the most interesting thing about the episode is not what happens, but what it sets up. You have Bellamy, Octavia, Monty, Nathan and Harper out in the wilderness, and Clarke, Jasper and Raven now off on their own trying to stay a step ahead of the A.L.I.E. army. Is it inevitable that they would come together again? Well, if you’ve seen the preview for the next episode, then you know the answer is yes, but it’s kind of exciting that with so much of season three seeing the main cast separated by time and distance, we’re going to get a reunion of the original 100, and it will be up to them to once again save the day.
With six episodes left there seems to be a whole lot of story left to grind through, and it looks like next week’s going to be all about the exorcism of A.L.I.E. from Raven. The search for Luna, the undermining of Ontari, the final(?) fate of Pike, not to mention all the internal drama with the members of the 100 will all be vying for attention with the battle against A.L.I.E. and her mission to bring all of humanity into
the Matrix the City of Light in the last half dozen episodes. That’s a weird problem to have in this second half of a season that’s had to do a lot of sketchy contortion work to get us this far. Hopefully, there is a plan.