This review of The 100 contains spoilers.
The 100: Season 3, Episode 3
The 100 is always at its best when it fleshes out the complicated inner lives of its characters, especially that of the core cast members. We’ve seen the once lovable Jasper take a darker turn this season, and while this makes for compelling drama, it’s Clarke who has always functioned as a lightning rod for the series’ plot-driven conflict. Indeed, the success of The 100 comes down to the choices (flawed or otherwise) that she makes. The same could be said about Abby to a lesser extent, but her decisions tend to be more reaction-based. We also delve deeper into the demons plaguing Raven, and this, too, is pretty compelling, but only because she’s always been such a strong, confident character. But more on her in a bit.
Let’s start with Abby, who, one could argue, is responsible for the fatal events in tonight’s episode. We know that she’s been spreading herself thin, acting as both chancellor and doctor, and not exactly excelling in either capacity. Multitasking isn’t her greatest sin; no, it’s deciding to use Mount Weather as a field hospital, then as housing for Farm Station’s survivors. It’s been made very clear that taking control of the mountain will not sit well with the Grounders — a point driven home by Octavia’s reluctance to make herself at home in the bunker. She knows what her people are doing is wrong, but Abby can’t see past their immediate needs for survival. And, as we know, The 100 believes in the notion of survival at any cost.
One could argue that Abby’s practicality is dwarfed by her hubris. She’s not without her doubts, though. More than once, she tells Kane he’s better suited for leadership now than she is. To his credit, he doesn’t disagree. The Kane of season one would have pounced at the chance to wield control, but this is a kinder, gentler Kane, one who easily mingles with the capitol’s locals. He not only understands and relates to the people of Polis, he longs to be one of them.
In any case, Abby is presented as a leader who makes questionable decisions, and in this case, her mistakes set the stage for yet more treachery. Which would lead one to believe that Kane’s trust in the Grounders is woefully misplaced. Well, not the Grounders as a whole. Indra is trustworthy, as is Lincoln. Specifically, it’s the Ice Nation that is creating the real roadblock to peace.
Which brings us to Lexa. To us, she is wrongheaded and duplicitous, but in the grand scheme of things she is just trying to do what any good leader in her position would do: protect her people by any means necessary. So when she tells Clarke it’s in her best interest to make Sky Crew the 13th clan, you have to wonder what her real motives might be. Yes, the Ice Nation army is too huge for the Ark’s survivors to take on by themselves. By swearing fealty to the commander, Clarke is all but ensuring the survival of her people.
Of course, there’s a bit more to this odd alliance than just politics. Indeed, it’s quite clear that there is unfinished business between Clarke and Lexa that extends beyond the battlefield. Treachery or no, these two will likely find a way into each other’s arms again. This is not a sign of weakness on either one’s part. If anything, the ability to conquer that which drives them apart is a sign of strength.
And speaking of which, Raven is someone who desperately needs to be viewed not only as tough, but self-sufficient. This is all well and good, this desire to be perceived as strong, but not if it’s hindering her ability to do her job. Abby was able to see through Raven’s bravado, just as Sinclair does in tonight’s episode. He believes she is worthy of being saved, that her pain is not meant to be a form of penance for those in her life she has lost. Like Clarke, the same can be said for Raven: Healing is not a form of weakness — it’s a sign of growth. This is especially important given how she almost doesn’t reach Sinclair in time to save him from the Ice Nation’s assassin.
Which finally brings us to what makes this the most compelling episode of the season so far. The moment Echo shows up, all sorts of alarm bells should have gone off. But Bellamy, being the decent person he is, is willing to trust the Grounder who once saved him in Mount Weather. She warns of an assassin who puts the Sky Crew attending the Polis summit at risk.
She’s not wrong: there is an Ice Nation assassin, and yes, Sky Crew is in danger — but Ice Nation’s ploy has worked to draw Arkadia’s best away from Mount Weather, leaving everyone inside vulnerable to an attack. Kudos to the writers for the big reveal that the assassin is not only inside the bunker, he uses a self-destruct code that wipes out all of the Farm Station survivors. This isn’t just a whole other level of treachery — it’s an all-out act of war.
Some closing thoughts:
As haunting as the Grounder Anthem was during Clarke’s initiation ceremony, it felt out of place in tonight’s episode (though not as jarring as Shawn Mendes’ performance a couple of shows back). One interesting thing to note is the song’s alternate title: “Take a Life With Me.” A fitting title for disparate factions looking to form a coalition, but the title can also be taken as the reformation of Clexa.
The image of the Arkers’ truck running over a wildflower is a reminder that survival is not a matter of aesthetics, that sometimes the world must be destroyed before it can be saved.
For more discussion of The 100, check out the February 2016 episode of Sci Fi Fidelity, which includes analysis of the season 3 opening storyline, Wanheda parts 1 and 2.