This review contains spoilers.
At some point during its first season, The 100 changed from being a teen survival drama to being a show chiefly about war politics. Sure, there are plenty of issues with survival when you’re in a strange place that also happens to be a warzone, but the focus on Clarke’s moral boundaries and the ramifications of some of her decisions has now irrevocably changed the show.
And Rubicon saw another layer added to that, as Clarke is now partly responsible for the death of perhaps dozens (hundreds?) of both her people and the Grounders, and there appears to be no way for her to pass off responsibility. Up until now, she has been the strong, unwavering leader, bringing together the Sky People and the Grounders, protecting her own people and making the tough decisions when others can’t.
Her choice to kill Finn before the Grounders could torture him was one that the audience was more or less sold on before it happened, but that’s definitely not the case here.
The episode takes pains to show how targeted her vision has become – she’s resolutely focusing on Bellamy and her people in Mount Weather at the expense of people directly around her – and the ultimate conclusion just shows how much of a mistake that short-sightedness might have been.
It’s not often we’re reminded of how young and potentially naive Clarke is, unless it’s coming from one of the equally-incapable and morally dubious adults of the show, but here it was plain as day that, while she’s certainly the best leader the Sky People could have given the circumstances, she’s really just a teenager with leadership skills, being asked to save the world.
Both in her conversations with Raven and later with Lexa, Clarke is clearly in over her head, and has latched onto the Mount Weather rescue mission because it’s something she can be sure is the right call.
It could also have a lot to do with the fact that Bellamy is the one inside, because he’s always been someone Clarke can trust in and delegate to when necessary, but her panic when faced with an obstacle to success there demonstrates how much she has invested in one job out of a thousand.
Rescuing Jasper, Monty and the rest is a noble endeavour, sure, but it’s not the be all and end all. For a moment, Clarke just can’t fathom that there’s no tactic where no one has to die either inside or outside of Mount Weather, and Lexa reminds her that sometimes individual battles must be conceded in order to triumph overall in a war.
In her more experienced eyes, this is obvious, and the fact that Clarke eventually goes along with it shows that she might soon become acclimatised to this harsh world.
The same goes for Jasper, who has pretty much become the male lead of the show this season. While those outside are making questionable choices left and right, Jasper, Monty and the rest are just trying to survive the constant onslaught, and they’ve had to step up as the most unambiguous heroes the show has right now.
But we can’t deny there was something sinister about Jasper’s last line to Dr Tsing, even if it also felt entirely justified (and badass). I’m excited to see how those characters, after so much great development, are going to fit back into the group dynamic once they escape.
With all of this excitement going on, the start of a new storyline with Jaha and Murphy felt a little out of place, but earned its existence with the beginnings of some nifty exploration of Murphy. While the jury’s still out on Jaha not dying in the season premiere, Murphy is a character vital to The 100 in that he started off as a villain, as opposed to Clarke who began as a hero before slowly falling off her pedestal.
But the show doesn’t really deal in stuff so obvious as good guys and bad guys, and never was that clearer than in this episode. For Abby of all people to chastise her daughter for not warning them of the missile shows that Clarke probably screwed up big time here, and that guilt will put her leadership on even shakier ground than it was already.
Read Caroline’s review of the previous episode, Coup De Grace, here.
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