Spoilers ahead for my review of tonight’s episode, Long Into an Abyss.
Overall, The 100’s sophomore season has been a strong one, delivering intense episodes week after week. But for me, tonight’s penultimate episode before next week’s mid-season finale, fell a little flat—and it wasn’t from a lack of trying or ambition. Maybe ‘uneven’ is a better way to describe the way various storylines repeatedly crisscrossed; some worked, some didn’t. Let’s start with what worked.
I think we can all agree on one thing: Mount Weather’s Dr. Tsing is not a nice person. And Cage Wallace, the president’s son, has a shred more humanity to his name—but only a shred. While it’s easy to say that Tsing’s tests are ultimately for everyone’s benefit, her methods (and her morals) leave a lot to be desired. (When the guy whose barbaric experiments turn Grounders into Reapers judges you, you know you have a serious problem.)
The 100 likes its characters to bend their morality in the service of the greater good. On any other show, this might be seen as noble, but on this show, such choices come at a price. Depending on which camp you belong to, these choices can mean guaranteed survival, or they can mean certain death. Dr. Tsing falls squarely in the former camp—which places the 47 survivors (or outsiders, in Mount Weather’s parlance) in grave peril. Donating blood is one thing, but a transfusion is not the magical cure people like President Wallace and Cage were led to believe. And let’s not forget Jasper, Monty, and the other volunteers who think they are contributing to the greater good of their hosts. If Dr. Tsing has her way (and there’s no reason to believe she won’t), harvesting the requisite amount of bone marrow from each of the 47 will essentially kill them. Cage is not fully on board, nor is the president. Even a short jaunt outside to literally stop and smell the flowers isn’t enough to convince Wallace that sacrificing the outsiders is the right thing to do. In other words, not only is he a strong leader, he’s a just one, too. It’s a favorable quality in the best of times, and an admirable one in the very worst of times.
Which brings me to what can only be described as a tale of two chancellors. On one hand, you have Abby, who assumed leadership after Kane abdicated the position to her. And Kane only took on the role when everyone thought Jaha was dead. I had the biggest problem with this storyline. Its flawed logic was nearly a deal-breaker, at least for me. When one considers that Jaha survived against near-impossible odds to reunite with his people—why is Abby so reluctant to hand the reins of power back to him? This is not to say that Abby wouldn’t make a good leader, but she’s not necessarily the right leader. And maybe Jaha’s not the right leader, either. But if you follow the Ark survivors’ logic (within the bigger framework of the show’s logic) it stands to reason that Jaha, elected to his role by the people, should be their rightful leader. If that’s not the case, why bother holding on to the old rules at all? This reliance on the old laws strikes me as capricious.
Another issue I had was Jaha and Abby’s sudden inability to work together. This stalemate felt forced to me. Both plans had merit, so why did a compromise never come up? Why did it have to be one plan versus another? I suppose it’s a credit to Paige Turco’s performance that I really disliked Abby in tonight’s episode. I appreciate that she had faith in her daughter’s ability to negotiate a truce, but on paper, that’s a huge leap of faith. While I agree that staying behind until all 47 survivors are rescued from Mount Weather, I still sided with Jaha. Can they really afford to lose more people in an all-out Grounder attack?
Which brings us to Clarke as peacemaker. The role suits her just fine, but a lot of luck came into play to ensure the truce did not fall through. Bringing Lexa to the drop ship was not the best idea in the world, especially since seeing her people’s charred remains ramped up tensions considerably. And Lincoln’s unfortunate (and incredibly ill-timed) death nearly brought the survivors and the Grounders to the brink of mutual annihilation. One important takeaway from this storyline was proving that being turned into a Reaper is reversible. Long live LincTavia! (And kudos to Ricky Whittle, who made Lincoln’s violent withdrawal sufficiently frightening.)
The episode ends on a dramatic note as we head into next week’s mid-season finale. Clarke can have her truce, but only if she turns Finn over to the Grounders.
Some closing thoughts:
I wonder how long President Wallace is for this world. Someone of his strong moral fiber doesn’t last very long in a post-apocalyptic society.