The 100: The Calm review

The 100 ramps up suspense in "The Calm." Here's David's review..

Last week’s episode of The 100 was so packed to the brim with equal parts drama and action that it was almost easy to forget about the Ark’s precarious state in the wake of Diana’s violent coup. In tonight’s episode, The Calm, the show returns to space to ramp up the suspense. And with only 2 episodes left in the season, I wonder how much of both storylines will be resolved before the finale.

As always, this review is full of spoilers, so please proceed with caution if you have not watched tonight’s episode.

They say it takes a village (to survive). In this case, aboard what’s left of the Ark, it takes a space station. Kane refuses to give up—on the Ark, on Jaha, or on its survivors. By his reckoning, there are no more than 1,000 people left alive—which means 1,500 people perished after the Ark’s life support systems went offline. These are grim numbers, to say the least, especially when one considers that these deaths, like so many others, were avoidable. It would be easy to blame the coup for these mounting losses, but this is Murphy’s Law writ large: everything is essentially going wrong for humanity’s beleaguered survivors. And the coup was, in essence, a failure, which makes these recent deaths even more meaningless. But if there’s any good to come of this tragedy, it’s the fact that Clarke’s mother, Abby, is still alive. (Aside from Clarke, did anyone at home really think she died when the drop ship crashed and burned?)

Meanwhile, back on the surface, the camp is on high alert after blowing up the Grounders’ bridge. Clarke, for all her practicality, still sees the folly of their war with the Grounders. “I can’t believe we survived a hundred years just so we could slaughter each other,” she tells Bellamy. But as far as anyone in the camp knows, the Ark has gone dark, and no one is going to save them—from the coming winter, from the Grounders, or from themselves.

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No one feels more alone than Raven, though, especially since Finn was her only family. I’ll say this for Raven: she’s a good friend to have in your corner but she’s a bit prickly even on a good day. And now Finn, in the wake of last week’s painful breakup, doesn’t quite know what to do or say around her. Which makes his clumsy observation about Raven trying to keep busy all the more ironic. Right now, he thinks her making bullets is somehow all about him; suffice it to say, it’s not. “I’m not keeping busy, Finn,” says Raven with measured calm. “I’m keeping us alive.”

While Raven puts on a brave face by insisting she and Finn are good, they’re anything but. In reality, she secretly thinks how much easier it would be if Finn were simply…gone. He’s not gone, though, and it’s a small camp. There’s no way for her broken heart to mend if she keeps seeing him cozying up to Clarke. So Raven decides to strike off on her own, until Bellamy proves how much everyone’s survival relies on her smarts.

But at the end of the day, this isn’t enough for Raven, who makes Bellamy an offer he doesn’t try to refuse (nor does he try to change her mind about sleeping with him). Both he and Raven could be dead tomorrow. Couldn’t one argue Finn perhaps felt the same way when he slept with Clarke? This is not to excuse Finn’s behavior, only to put it into a post-apocalyptic context. Plain and simple, carpe diem: every day may be your last. When there’s no medicine or medical equipment to speak of, death is just around the corner. It’s true of the prisoners, and it’s true of the Grounders. This point is driven home when Clarke fails to save a Grounder who was injured in the bridge blast.

What I found most interesting about seeing the Grounders’ camp was not what they valued, but what they saw as worthless. In this case, discarded money. It’s only so much worthless paper now in a post-apocalyptic society. Seeing a $50 bill underfoot was only fleeting image, but it says so much about the survivors’ priorities in a way that nothing else has so far. In the wake of a nuclear war, what’s left of the old world is mostly meaningless now. Consumerism, for all its attendant shininess and glassy-eyed soullessness, is a thing of the past. Like any good post-apocalyptic scenario, the survivors must come to terms with the idea that factories are no longer producing goods—whether it’s clothing or bullets or even Twinkies. What’s left is a cutthroat existence, a fact that Clarke takes to a literal extreme when she slashes a Grounder soldier’s throat. Desperate times, desperate measures. She’s not out of the woods yet, though; none of the survivors from either camp are truly safe. If the last several episodes have been the calm before the storm, I hate to see what’s next.

Some closing thoughts:

It’s worth noting the show’s continued attention to detail, whether it’s the dirt under Raven’s nails or the patched, tattered clothing the prisoners are wearing. It makes me wonder how hard showers and clean clothes are to come by on the surface.

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Tonight’s episode added “Grounder pounder” to The 100’s lexicon. It’s world-building on a micro level. A show like this lives and dies by little details like this, too.

We got to see a lot more of the Ark. It felt like more of a real place than it ever has before—and seeing Kane crawl through a broiling service duct was really effective. Again, details.

I’m just going to state the obvious here: Murphy is bad news. It seems kind of crazy to me that Bellamy suddenly trusts him.  

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4 out of 5