We’re now three episodes into The 100’s sophomore season and the show continues to force its core characters to make truly tough decisions. As evidenced by tonight’s episode, “Repercussions,” their time on the ground is certainly no walk in the park. The Ark’s survivors have basically traded one set of life-threatening problems for another. Spoilers ahead. This third episode covers a lot of territory, both literally and figuratively, ranging from the secretive Mount Weather to the Grounders’ camp and over to fledgling Camp Jaha, all the while doing what The 100 does best—exploring complicated themes of morality that cannot possibly be wrapped up in one hour of storytelling. The grey area this show inhabits grows by leaps and bounds every week. But tonight’s episode, vis-à-vis
Kane’s struggle for order within Camp Jaha, tries to tamp down on this moral middle ground. The results are mixed, to say the least.
We quickly learn that President Wallace is experimenting on captured Grounders to develop some sort of radiation-resistant treatment for his underground constituents. One could argue that humanity’s survival is at stake, and the Grounders are nothing more than savages, whose rights are forfeit simply by virtue of being on the wrong side of Mount Weather’s protective walls. While the Grounders’ radiation-rich blood does seem to possess healing powers, Clarke is justifiably horrified by what she finds, as many people would be. But to the people of Mount Weather, this research is a necessary evil. That the Reapers are in cahoots with the president’s people, scavenging Grounders no longer fit for testing, suggests an exploitative ecosystem that benefits no one in the long run.
“Repercussions” also takes the adage ‘the enemy of my enemy is my friend’ to a whole other level, both with Clarke and Princess Anya’s uneasy alliance, as well as Octavia’s unlikely alliance with the Grounders. And it’s here for me again that the show falters. It has nothing to do with Maria Avgeropoulos’s performance; it’s just that I still don’t buy her character’s transformation into an avenging badass. Surely Lincoln trained her in hand-to-hand combat, and we know that learning survival skills on the Ark was mandatory. Even so, watching Octavia take down Grounders twice her size doesn’t ring true for me. Not yet, at least. But certainly she is bound and determined to find Lincoln at any cost, even if it means putting her life on the line. As far as character motivation goes, hers is certainly the freest of moral ambiguity. She is fighting for love, plain and simple.
As for Kane, he’s at a crossroads, forced to choose what’s right for the few versus what’s right for the many. One could argue that President Wallace was once at a similar fork in the road, and he chose what he thought would benefit the most people. In Kane’s case, though, it boils down to maintaining order in the face of overwhelming odds. This was true on the Ark, but even more vitally important for their continued survival in hostile territory. But imposing order is not a slapdash affair. Rules cannot be bent, even if laws were broken with the soundest of intentions. Abby learns the hard way that under Kane’s rule, laws are not meant to be broken—they’re meant to be enforced. For some people, like Major Byrne, the oft-invoked Exodus Charter takes the guesswork out of what is or isn’t transgressive behavior in this brave new world. There’ll be no lynchings here; instead, punishment for felonies is administered via shocklashing. In the end, Abby’s punishment, in the name of a charter that may or may not hold any real relevance, is just as inhumane as anything doled out by the prisoners in season one.
Even Kane seems to have his doubts about enforcing the old laws. It’s clear that he finds no joy in Abby’s pain. In his heart, he believes there is a better way to exist while still maintaining one’s humanity. Without it, what’s the point of survival? After some soul-searching, Kane realizes diplomacy is the more responsible course of action. (As we know, the prisoners attempted this last season with the Grounders, with disastrous results.)
Lots of good acting all around in tonight’s episode, especially from Henry Ian Cusack and Paige Turco, whose performances gave the proceedings real gravitas.
Some closing thoughts:
Clearly Maya is not to be trusted. Can Jasper ever catch a break?
When did Monty become the voice of reason on this show? That role used to fall to Finn, but he’s clearly gone over to the dark side.