The 100: Terms and Conditions Review
The 100 delivers one of its strongest episodes to date. Whose side do you choose?
This The 100 review contains spoilers.
The 100: Season 3, Episode 8
While last week’s “Thirteen” was certainly shocking, Lexa’s death pales in comparison to the game-changing events of “Terms and Conditions.” After spending time with Clarke and the Grounder coalition in Polis, The 100 wisely decides to focus solely on Arkadia. This is a good thing for viewers, but it’s not so good for Kane or for Bellamy, who find themselves on opposite sides of a moral divide.
Kane has been very clear in his support of working with the Grounders, not against them. Pike, however, and by extension, Bellamy, are strident in taking the fight directly to the coalition forces. That being said, nothing is ever so clear-cut on The 100, which is ready to wallow at a moment’s notice in the muddy area between right and wrong.
Once could argue that Bellamy’s allegiance is fluid, that he sides with whomever is right or just in a given moment. Your feelings about his actions in this episode speaks a lot about whether you’re Team Kane or Team Pike. For the record, I understand what Pike is saying in principle, that by and large the Grounders have proven themselves to be dangerous, duplicitous, and unworthy of trust. But in practice, I also realize that Kane’s more humane approach to negotiations serves as a better foundation for a civilized society. Escalating the violence will only result in more bloodshed for both sides. So, yes, I’m Team Kane.
What makes this such a strong episode of the season, if not the entire series, is the pervasive sense of paranoia that informs every action and interaction around the camp. John Carpenter’s cult classic monster flick, The Thing, had tension and rampant paranoia to spare, due in no small part to the sense of isolation the scientific outpost experienced way out in the Arctic. The 100’s writers take a similar approach in “Terms and Conditions” by imposing a blockade and limiting the episode to Arkadia alone.
Add to that a secret resistance led by Kane, and voila, you are now fighting two wars, as Pike so aptly puts it. But if we’re to learn anything from history—and I’m paraphrasing here—a camp divided against itself cannot stand. Which means that under Pike’s dictatorial command, we’re seeing friend turned against friend, lover turned against lover, and even kin turned against kin. In some ways, the war within is already lost if no one can trust their fellow man.
Of course, Pike is right to suspect Kane, whom we already know is leading the secret resistance. But the former chancellor is waging a dangerous war himself, risking not just his life, but of his fellow conspirators. As Kane says in tonight’s episode, murder, treason—that’s not what their cause is about. Not yet, at least. Still, Kane is nobody’s fool, and he has a plan in place that is only foiled by his own morality. His unwillingness to mow down Bellamy with the rover is not a flaw, though, it’s a strength. Kane still believes there’s a chance for Bellamy to see the light, and to make the right choices—for himself, and for the greater good. Kane’s capture and subsequent death sentence ultimately send a powerful message to Bellamy, opening his eyes to Pike’s dogmatic ways.
As I said earlier, it may seem that his allegiances are to those who are in power at any given moment, but Bellamy is more complicated than that. Like Kane, that Bellamy follows his heart is not a sign of weakness. He can see for himself that Pike is too single-minded and too driven to comprehend the monster he’s become. Kane may be guilty of treason, but he doesn’t deserve to die.
But there was more to this episode than the power struggle between Pike and Kane. Raven is also battling herself, even though she doesn’t know it at first. It’s not until she and Jasper break into Pike’s office to steal back the City of Light’s chip-maker that her dilemma is laid bare. Raven doesn’t remember Finn’s life or death; for better or worse, he’s been completely erased from her mind. Every high and low, gone now. Jasper, once so keen on becoming the City of Light’s newest resident, doesn’t want his memories of Maya to be erased. He wants to remember the small yet important things, like holding her hand.
In the end, Raven realizes that she needs to remember the small but important things, too. Abby was right to question the biological changes wrought by the chips. In defying Alie by leaving the chip-maker in Pike’s office, Raven is able to break the A.I. control over her will. What happens next is anybody’s guess, but it does appear that Jaha is still very much beholden to the lady in red.
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Some closing thoughts:
Pike tasks Monty with camp surveillance, a responsibility he apparently takes to with no moral compunction. Like Bellamy, he is acting in the interest of the greater good and the camp’s overall survival. But as it turns out, he’s grappling with guilt over Sinclair’s arrest. Monty may be quiet, but he’s complicated, too. Still waters run deep. It certainly doesn’t help matters that his mother is Team Pike all the way. At some point down the road there will be an ugly confrontation between Monty and his mother.
Tonight’s episode marks the season’s midway point. It also marks a three-week hiatus. Don’t forget to check back March 24th for our next review when The 100 returns!