If you’re reading this review, I have to assume that, like me, you are a fan of The 100. I will admit I was on the fence in the beginning, but this show has won me over in a big way. The latter half of this season especially has driven home how confident this show has become after a string of good episodes. It’s not enough to be good dystopian sci-fi. You also need real drama to be truly compelling. Luckily for its viewers, The 100 has drama to spare, and tonight’s episode, “I Am Become Death,” is no exception.
While on the face of it, one could argue that this episode when distilled to its most basic elements is about broken hearts and bombshells. But like this season’s better episodes, “I Am Become Death”strives to explore much deeper themes. In this case, the ideas of loyalty, love, and identity are brought under the microscope. When faced with happiness or mortal peril, who has our backs? Who will be there to care for us, when we are unable to fend for ourselves?
To answer these questions, be aware that we’ll need to veer into spoiler territory.
First, the Ark’s drop ship full of mutineers (and possibly Clarke’s mother) is no more. All that’s left is big crater full of parts both man and machine. If the prisoners didn’t feel alone before, they certainly do now. Clarke especially has to face the fact that her mother did not survive the crash (again, assuming she was on board—I don’t think she was, but I’ve been wrong before). The only good that comes of this tragedy is Chekhov’s rocket fuel, but more on that in a bit.
Second, Murphy returns to camp. We all knew this would happen eventually, right? He’s in bad shape after being tortured by the Grounders, but Bellamy is unmoved. “We hanged him, we banished him, and now we’re going to kill him,” he says. In other words, zero tolerance. To make an exception, even for one of their own, would be a sign of weakness. Without order, what chance does this motley crew have for survival? This is something Bellamy intrinsically understands as vital to maintaining the camp’s tenuous integrity. Clarke has come to understand this as well, (though, in her case, she has reached this point purely in the name of black-and-white pragmatism). That the prisoners are armed is really beside the point. In the absence of guns, these would-be rulers of a fragile utopia will let their bloodied fists do the talking. It’s a stark, brutal lesson in the sort of reality that faces the prisoners on the very planet their great-great grandparents once called home.
Now, throw biological warfare into this volatile mix and all hell breaks loose. You see, the Grounders let poor Murphy escape, so he could infect the camp with a sickness that for some leads to a messy, painful death. An eye for a bloody eye, as it were. Which brings us to Lincoln.
Lincoln is a man at odds with his loyalty to his people and with his love for Octavia. It’s suddenly become clear that he can’t have it both ways—and neither can Octavia. At the end of the day, he’s terrestrial, a Grounder, and she was born among the stars. But it’s not his failed attempt to broker peace with the prisoners that’s branded Lincoln a traitor—it’s his forbidden romance with Octavia. Still, their latest tryst bears fruit of a different kind when Octavia learns of the Grounders’ plan to attack the camp at dawn.
But Finn has a plan, too. Where last week he tried to build a bridge by arranging a possible truce, he wants to not just burn his bridges, but use the aforementioned rocket fuel to blow them sky-high, too. Like Clarke and Bellamy, Finn, the unlikely pacifist, understands that the group’s survival must come first. Even Bellamy sees the irony in Finn’s being the mastermind of such a plan, but to be fair, Finn’s not out to hurt anyone—except for Raven, that is. Raven may be tough, but her heart is clearly breaking.
“Peace through strength,” says Finn, defending his plan.
“Peace through the appearance of strength,” Raven says, correcting him. If anyone understands this kind of bluffing, it’s Raven. Where Finn was once her only family, it’s obvious to her that he no longer loves her the way he once did, or the way she needs him to. His affections—and his loyalties—lay elsewhere now.
As for the show’s other romance, between Octavia and Lincoln, their relationship is also at its end. Like Lyndsey Morgan, Marie Avgeropoulos turns in a great performance that was truly heartbreaking to watch. At the end of the day, who does have your back, if not yourself?
I have to admit, my favorite scene of the episode was not the blowing up of the bridge, as impressive as it was. Rather, it was seeing Octavia care for her brother in quarantine. Kudos yet again to Bob Morley for allowing Bellamy’s vulnerability to show through.
Some Closing Thoughts:
Is “go float yourself” the new “frak you”?
Am I the only one who thinks there’s still a chance for Jastavia?
When Bellamy referred to Jasper making “the shot” on the bridge, I couldn’t help but think of “The Shot” from John Irving’s novel, A Prayer for Owen Meany.