This The 100 review contains spoilers.
The 100: Season 3, Episode 2
I have mixed feeling about tonight’s episode. Clearly, The 100 continues to be a strong show from one season to the next, delivering complex, fully realized characters whose outer strengths belie their many inner weaknesses. This complexity extends to character motivations as well, placing people we care about in morally ambiguous situations — something The 100 and its writers have excelled at doing since the first season.
Questionable actions could be explained away with the rationale that survival comes at a cost to one’s innocence. Scrub that away, and you scrub away a person’s sanity, too. This is how we find Jasper in tonight’s episode. He’s withdrawn even farther into himself and into a rancid, roiling darkness that threatens to swallow him whole. Devon Bostick is fantastic in this regard, bringing a dangerous edge to Jasper’s fragile mental state. But more on him in a bit.
One could argue that Thelonious is not quite right in the head either. Last season, he heard the cries of a phantom baby aboard the Ark that ultimately rescued him from a fatalistic stupor. Were it not for this virtual child, as it were, Thelonious would have surely perished within the remnants of the Ark. And now, here he is, on the surface, once again taking cues from a person who for all intents and purposes doesn’t exist — at least not in the physical sense.
Like the ghost of his dead son, Alie represents another chance at life for Thelonious. Indeed, not only for him, but also for all of humanity. Which, if you think about it, is rather ironic, given it was Alie herself who all but wiped out the human race in the first place. Thelonious, however, remains steadfast in his belief that this so-called City of Light is the answer to all of life’s problems. What he’s basing this on is questionable at best. The existence of this fabled city is theoretical, a utopian reality in the virtual sense only. This city of light is literally comprised of photons, a holographic construct like Alie herself. The more we see of this city, the more it resembles the promise the Matrix (another virtual paradise comprised of ones and zeroes) once held in another dystopian universe.
Murphy remains the voice of reason, a hard-nosed skeptic who lost faith in Jaha during their harrowing journey to the promised land. As we’ve seen lately with Murphy, he gets the chance to be the more morally upstanding one, a reluctant hero with a cynic’s heart. Richard Harmon does well with this, keeping Luisa D’Oliveira’s returning scavenger Emori at arm’s length. He has no real reason to trust her (or anyone else for that matter), but is compelled not only to follow her, but watch over her, too.
This is one hell of a character arc for Murphy, continuing his journey from the dark side to the light. We witnessed an opposite trajectory last season for Finn, whose slide into madness cost him his life and nearly destroyed Clarke and Raven. In any case, I appreciated the scenes with Murphy and Thelonious. I have no idea where their story is headed, but I sense bad things in their future.
I liked Clarke and Roan’s scenes together. Clarke reminded me of Tom Hardy’s Mad Max in the way she spoke so little in this episode. Like Max, she’s become a creature of instinct, determined to survive at the cost of her own bruised humanity. How else could she take on such a beast like Zach McGowan’s Roan, a man twice her size? McGowan brings a raw energy to the bounty hunter that’s equal parts menace and wounded pride. It’s a good combination that serves the story well, and Roan says it best himself, telling Clarke if he returns her to her people, he can’t return to his. For him, capturing her is not about the price on her head so much as it is about redemption (which draws another parallel to Fury Road in Charlize Theron’s Furiosa, who seeks freedom by way of redemption too).
I also liked the palpable sense of dread that permeated tonight’s episode. Talk of war with the Ice Nation is on everyone’s lips. War with the Grounders is also a distinct possibility as the Sky Crew continue to violate the rules of the truce. Which brings me to what I didn’t like so much about this episode. I found the whole trip to Mount Weather unnecessary. Having the need arise to make use of the facility’s blood stores was a matter of convenience to inch the story closer to a war that is all but inevitable.
The bigger issue I had with this, though, was that Jasper returned with Abby to Mount Weather. Anyone in their right mind wouldn’t bring someone in his fragile mental state back to the very place where he lost so much. He won’t find any closure there, only more pain to nurture the bitterness in his broken heart. Yes, I loved Devon Bostick in these scenes tonight, but I hate what’s becoming of Jasper, who’s slowly wasting away before everyone’s eyes.
Some closing thoughts:
Monty went through a lot tonight, too. The reunion with his mom was both unexpected and bittersweet. But I have to wonder how his own mother didn’t recognize her own son until he actually spoke.
I like Charles Pike, the former Earth Skills teacher from the Ark. He’s no-nonsense in his approach to survival and has no use for Kane’s more nuanced view of the Grounders. To Pike, the only good Grounder is a dead one. This point is driven home when he commands Indra to speak English around him.
And speaking of Grounders, Ricky Whittle was recently cast as Shadow Moon in Neil Gaiman’s upcoming American Gods, which would lead one to believe Lincoln may not be long for The 100.
Den of Geek has even more discussion of The 100 in the February 2016 edition of the Sci Fi Fidelity podcast. Analysis of Wanheda Parts 1 & 2 begins at the 2:20 mark.