This review contains spoilers.
1.7 Contents Under Pressure
This week’s bottle episode of The 100 also served as the obligatory ‘torture dilemma’ instalment of the show – all of the best post-apocalyptic stories have them – which managed to matter more than I expected it to. It might be predictable for Bellamy to opt straight for torture for no good reason but, with Finn dying from last week’s stab wound and Clarke desperate to save him before love-rival Raven can, her decision to side with Bellamy on the issue and condone violent interrogation of the Grounder is a major, very welcome turning point for her character.
Clarke hasn’t really worked for me as a protagonist primarily because of her too often-stated goodness and heroism never really being backed up by actions. We were told of her leadership qualities and good heart in the very first scene of the series and, once down on the ground, she immediately took the reins and proceeded to demonstrate her near-superhuman knowledge and skill set for absolutely everything. It came off as obnoxious and lazy on the writers’ part but, by making her an accomplice to another of Bellamy’s questionable judgements, she may finally be becoming a legitimate, flawed character.
Their joint decision to torture answers out of the Grounder nicely paralleled the same dilemma on the Ark, where Kane and the rest of the council were struggling to come to terms with the fact that 300 people may actually have died for nothing. At the time, they saw no other way out but, with hindsight being 20/20 and all that, does their previous cluelessness even matter now that they know the hundred have survived? Kane takes it the hardest, with the sudden appearance of his mother offering a shortcut to redemption for our previous go-to villain, but there will be consequences for everyone.
Not least now that they’ve got another numbers puzzle to work through – with over 2,000 people currently on the Ark and only room for 700 on the lifeboats. They probably thought they’d make the deck look too cluttered. I’m looking forward to seeing how this hilariously inept council decide which of their workers will get to live and who will be left to die but, for now, I’m wondering what role sinister new council member Diana will play. Expertly manipulating herself into Abby’s vacant seat at the table, there’s definitely room for corruption now that so many members have been shaken by their newfound clarity.
Leadership is also a question down on the ground, as Clarke’s guilt about how she chose to save Finn was already setting in by the end of the episode. Bellamy has already half-accepted all of the things he might have to do to stay alive, including shooting the Chancellor in order to protect Octavia, but Clarke can no longer hold her purity over other people like some crown. Both of them make convincing leaders for a group of people scared and under siege, but neither can make the case that they’re better than the other anymore. Right now, I’m rooting for Octavia, who holds great power now that she’s the only one in with the Grounders.
Contents Under Pressure was yet another stellar episode of The 100 which not only provided us with lots of action, but also with some much-needed character development for previously underdeveloped characters like Kane and Clarke. The weakness of the show still lies with Finn and the tiresome love triangle, which stood out even more this week because of the life and death situation, but making Clarke into a more complex figure living in the grey area with everyone else almost makes up for it. And, now that the Ark and the hundred are in contact, we can look forward to the teenage and adult worlds colliding.
Read Caroline’s review of the previous episode, His Sister’s Keeper, here.
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