Well, The 100 definitely isn’t messing around. Sure, it took off its kid gloves way back in last season’s stellar seventh episode, “Contents Under Pressure.” But tonight’s episode “Human Trials” is not only The 100’s strongest episode of the season, it’s arguably one of the best of the series so far. That being said, let’s consider how far these characters have come, eking out a hardscrabble existence in orbit around the ruined planet previous generations once called home. Back then, the ground represented a dangerous unknown—would its radiation-blasted surface nurture or kill humanity’s only survivors? The only way to find out was to send people down to the surface, namely the titular 100—prisoners who became guinea pigs against their will.
But now in the show’s second season, no one is left in space and clearly the Ark’s survivors did not represent all that was left of the human race. The war that razed the planet may be over, but the battle rages on among the pockets of humanity that remain. This list of warring factions continues to grow, too.
In addition to the Ark’s survivors and the Grounders, we have the Reapers, the bunker people of Mount Weather, and the desert scavengers (among others). And within each of these groups there is internal strife and naked grabs for power. In other words, we’re no better off than we were before the bombs fell—and that’s not very encouraging.
Now it’s time for spoilers as we delve into tonight’s episode.
Ever since Clarke found out about the details behind her father’s death, I’ve been longing to see a face-to-face reunion between Clarke and Abby. There were times last season when it seemed like a reconciliation was nigh impossible. But this was when The 100 hadn’t truly explored Clarke’s true potential as a character. We were told she was strong, yes, but we didn’t really get to see her strength until she was thrust into a leadership role that led to her unequivocal endorsement of torture.
Since then, she has been faced with many difficult decisions that had nothing to do with her mother and everything to do with the survival of her fellow prisoners. So, it’s easy to see how any animosity she felt for her mother would be water under the bridge. That their reunion wasn’t more emotional wasn’t a pulled punch—it merely underscored how much Clarke’s priorities have changed.
Also, while mother and daughter have been reunited, Abby has to face some hard truths. Clarke’s time on the ground has not only hardened her, but opened her eyes to the reality that the world is a broken, dangerous place. These are things that Abby has yet to truly discover about herself. That chancellor’s pin on her lapel is only so much decorative flair until she understands the old way of doing things no longer applies.
By contrast, Clarke’s reunion with Bellamy is incredibly heartfelt. This further underscores where Clarke’s loyalties lay—with her comrades-in-arms. Truly, theirs was a trial by fire. Raven sums this up nicely: the council essentially sent the 100 down to the ground to die.
In general, Bellamy is a bit more contemplative than Clarke, though, as he struggles with some difficult decisions that were made in the moment. And that includes the choice to let Finn and Murphy go off on their own to continue their search for Clarke. Every decision has its own set of ramifications, and leaving someone as unstable as Finn to his own devices leads to truly startling consequences, but more about that in a bit.Finn’s downward spiral began with his shooting of the Grounder prisoner who’d been tortured for Clarke’s whereabouts. We saw his descent continue with his reluctance to save a survivor from one of the crashed stations. In that time, he became consumed with finding Clarke by any means necessary. Gone is the compassionate diplomat he was in season one. Now, instead of representing hope, Finn has come to symbolize moral decay.
Like Raven, Murphy is a voice of reason, telling Finn, “I think I liked you better as a peacekeeper.” The irony here, of course, is that Murphy is actually trying to protect the Grounders who once tortured him from the man who once tried to save them.Finn found Clarke, yes, but he lost himself in the process.
Some closing thoughts:
Kudos to Thomas McDonell, who imbued Finn’s journey to the dark side with true pathos.
There were some great lines in tonight’s episode, including Dante’s summary of Clarke: “She couldn’t stop looking for enemies when she was among friends.” Of course, she wasn’t among friends, but Jasper doesn’t know that yet.The bunker people are the ultimate pragmatists. To them, Grounders are human and outsiders are expendable. Dante’s son says it best: “Our people come first, right?” This point is driven home by Jasper’s unwitting participation in some dangerous human trials. Seriously, Jasper cannot catch a break.
Lincoln is faring no better as the test subject of the Cerberus program. I really hope Octavia finds him sooner rather than later. And I hope that when she does, the old Lincoln is still rattling around in the super soldier he seems destined to become.