This The 100 review contains spoilers.
The 100: Season 3, Episode 4
As per the norm, The 100 packed a lot of drama and dysfunction into a single hour of television. And what an hour it was! Some may disagree, but I think this was the strongest episode of the season so far. This is due in large part to the many power struggles and shifting loyalties that define this brave new world’s troubled reality. How can you rebuild society from the ashes if civilization itself is still engulfed in flames? To do so is Sisyphean at best, building a new life upon a crumbling foundation of ash.
And yet, here we are, bystanders to a world seemingly hell-bent on its own failure. Still, while the fate of this fragile future basically comes down to the decisions of only a few key figures (Lexa, Kane, Pike), I want to talk a little bit about a more intimate struggle that is just as crucial and devastating for its warrior of one: Jasper.
Seriously now — poor Jasper. All season long we’ve been watching his slow self-destruction since Maya’s death. He’s angry, yes, not only with himself, but also with the people who were once his closest friends. And, quite frankly, as difficult as this implosion must be for Jasper to endure, it’s very difficult to watch. Not just for us, but for Monty — the one true friend he still has. Just as the coalition’s loyalties were tested, and even as Kane’s allegiance to Arkadia was repeatedly called into question, no one can argue that Monty is one hell of a friend to have in your corner.
Jasper can’t see this, though. He’s so blinded by grief and depression that he’d rather chase his problems to the bottom of bottle after bottle (after bottle). Just as Clarke remains steadfast in her support of Lexa, Monty remains Jasper’s rock, telling him things that are painful for him to hear or understand. But whereas Lexa draws her allies closer, Jasper can only push away those who are most loyal to him.
In Monty’s case, he’s grappling with a monstrous regret for the part he played in the deaths of the guilty and innocent alike in Mount Weather. Christopher Larkin does a great job in conveying this hidden, deep-seated pain. You can see how he’s struggling to keep self-recrimination at bay. This is true of so many people in this post-apocalypse, this struggle to survive inner battles even as the world at large seeks to destroy you.
As for Jasper, his despair reaches its nadir when it’s revealed he’s stolen a canister containing Finn’s ashes. This is the last straw for Monty, who finally leaves Jasper to his own devices. This is a breaking point for Jasper, too, who bitterly questions his friend’s loyalty after working so tirelessly to push him away. The real heartbreak is the unintentional scattering of Finn’s ashes in the old camp where The 100 lived and fought and died together. Now, one can only imagine that Jasper’s heart is as hollow as the empty canister lying in the grass beside him. I’d like to think there’s nowhere now for Jasper to go but up. Kudos again to Devon Bostick for another powerful performance.
Bellamy is another character with a lot of depth, due in no small part to Bob Morley’s nuanced approach to the part. This episode finds him resigning from his post. The guilt of costing 49 survivors their lives is simply too much for him to bear. Enter Charles Pike (an intense Michael Beach), the former Earth Skills instructor and one of the few remaining survivors of Farm Station.
While they don’t initially share the same ideology when it comes to the Grounders (Bellamy trusts them, Pike doesn’t), both men are burdened by the fatal consequences of their actions. The fact that the Ice Nation claimed responsibility for the Mount Weather attack has the opposite effect of assuaging either man’s guilt. To Bellamy, 49 people still lost their lives. To Pike, a Grounder is a Grounder is a Grounder. There is no middle ground.
As we’ve seen for the last few episodes, Pike is not happy with Kane’s laissez-faire approach to letting the Grounders police themselves. Tensions mount within Arkadia when an army of 300 Grounders is discovered a mile outside camp. Kane’s insistence that they are a peacekeeping force sent by Lexa to protect them only fuels Pike’s ire. Diplomacy will get everyone killed. “Anger is our policy,” Pike insists. “We can defend ourselves!”
Little by little, his take-no-prisoners stance is winning the hearts and minds of his fellow survivors. Bellamy, too, comes around to Pike’s way of thinking. The way it’s played is not as Bellamy’s fall from grace. Instead, his treason is framed as an act of self-defense. In the end, actions speak louder than words, and Pike is elected the new chancellor. An interesting development with far-reaching consequences, to say the least.
What I found most interesting about this episode was not the political gamesmanship in the capitol; rather, it was the way perceptions toward Lincoln and Octavia shifted so dramatically. Suddenly, Octavia was viewed by her own people as “one of them,” a traitor for embracing local customs. Just like Lincoln, she has become a country unto herself with ties to two cultures that would just as soon push her away. Like Octavia, Lincoln is embracing the customs of a different culture that would rather see him dead. The brawl that breaks out at the Mount Weather is a reminder that the Earth’s now-indigenous clans are not welcome among the colonists.
Some closing thoughts:
I liked Lexa tonight. She not only remained steadfast in her choices, she fought well against Roan. Plus she took out the Ice Queen — which I should have seen coming, but didn’t.
One thing I thought I saw coming from a mile away was Clarke’s reconciliation with Lexa. Thankfully, I was wrong. Had it happened tonight, the moment would not have truly been earned. I like and appreciate that the writers are being patient as they slowly draw these two together again.