The 100 – Season 3 Episode 16
“Perverse Instantiation – Part 2”
Clarke goes into the City of Light in the final episode of The 100 season 3 while the others fight off the legion of people faithful to A.L.I.E.
The first part of the two part finale set the stage for a conclusion well and the situation seemed desperate at the end with Ontari brain-dead and all hope of using her to stop A.L.I.E. lost. It was a solid cliffhanger that led to an interesting starting point for the concluding episode.
Clarke’s first action when this begins is to use the EMP to free Abby from the influence of A.L.I.E. It’s a quick scene but beautifully acted from Eliza Taylor and Paige Turco. The contrast between regret and forgiveness comes across really well and both actresses convey a familial bond being rekindled. With all of the insanity going on it’s good to have a grounded emotional reunion between a mother and daughter.
There is also a practical reason for freeing Abby due to her medical expertise. Clarke’s plan is to merge with the A.I. herself but in order to do this she will need to have a transfusion of nightblood so that she can accept the flame for a short time without her body rejecting it. Abby is needed to manage that because Clarke will be unable to.
An impressive level of constant tension is created by this situation as the A.I. predictably has a damaging effect on Clarke when her body starts to reject it almost immediately. The problem is that the transfusion isn’t happening fast enough for there to be enough nightblood in her system. At first getting Murphy to keep the blood flowing through normal CPR methods was enough but eventually Abby was forced to crack her chest right open to manually pump the blood by massaging her heart. Murphy was also forced to do that much to his absolute horror. There’s some humour in his reaction as it’s easy to imagine being put in that position. There is added awkwardness considering the connection Murphy and Ontari had a few episodes back. In the world of The 100 this counts as comedy.
The way the complications on the outside world manifest in the City of Light keeps the two stories running together and shows the effect they have one another. The visuals of Clarke’s violent reaction as the A.I. slowly kills her are brutal to watch but put the danger levels across really well.
Clarke entering the City of Light was handled really well. One thing it has brought to the show is the potential for the visuals to have greater variety than we’re used to. When we’re so used to seeing outdoor settings or rudimentary indoor locations seeing a modern looking city is visually refreshing. Similarly having the characters looking so clean and free of injury is very different to what we are used to on this show.
It all reminds me of The Matrix in more than the visual style. The way people are lulled into believing that an illusion is a perfect version of life is also very similar and the group indoctrination ties into this similarity as well. The major difference is that the City of Light seems designed to simulate perfection where the Matrix was designed to be as close to reality as possible. People enter the City of Light to escape the real world whereas people were in the Matrix without their knowledge or choice. The two ideas are very similar but also very different.
There’s something really eerie about the City of Light in this episode due to all the development that it has received across the season. The apparent perfection looks and feels strange not only to Clarke but to the viewer as well and the way that people seem to sleepwalk through their lives while inside there is equally terrifying. Essentially the sense of self is being slowly eroded away in exchange for artificial perfection and that is a really terrifying thing to contemplate.
Clarke’s journey through the City of Light was a bit too literal for me at some points. Having a firewall take the form of a fence for instance was a bit too obvious in terms of visual representations but I did like how the environment changed as A.L.I.E. reacted to the intrusion. The illusion of safety was very quickly shattered for Clarke and her immunity to what happens within the City of Light was very short lived.
It turns out that the flame has its own built in protection with the spirits of all the former Commanders. The only one that actually appears is Lexa which initially confused me as other commanders must surely be stored within the second A.I. One way to look at it is that the collective spirits of all of the previous spirits took on a form that Clarke would recognise. In effect the image of Lexa is every Commander bur the traits associated with her were more apparent to make it easier for Clarke to do what needs to be done.
Lexa’s appearance was more than welcomed as it always is. She has always been a fascinating character and her relationship with Clarke has carried the show on more than one occasion. Arguably it was resolved shortly before Lexa died but her role in this episode showed that there was more to give. This also works for those who weren’t happy with her exit as she gets to make a dramatic entrance here, save Clarke and take on a giant army to help further the overall cause. It’s a big ending and feels appropriate for Lexa even though it wasn’t really her as such. This also allows Clarke to have that big farewell that she was denied when Lexa was killed so having her involved works on a number of levels and gives viewers the satisfaction that they may have been denied earlier in the season.
Once Clarke reaches the kill switch it isn’t as simple as turning of A.L.I.E. and calling it a day because where would be the fun in that? If Clarke deactivates her then the consequences are sure to be dire. It turns out that A.L.I.E. has started all of the remaining Nuclear Reactors on on a meltdown sequence that can only be stopped by her. If Clarke destroys her then the Earth will soon follow so Clarke is once again faced with the decision of pulling a lever and holding countless lives in her hands. A.L.I.E. tries to tell Clarke that surrendering frees her of the burden of choices just like the one she faces in this episode which is supposed to be tempting but only seems to reaffirm how important free will is.
The choice is presented brilliantly with A.L.I.E. and a representation of her creator, Becca trying their best to convince Clarke to follow their instructions. Erica Cerra does a brilliant job in both roles to the point that I almost forgot that it was the same actress. The acting was so strong that it seemed like two entirely different people.
I found the situation as presented to be genius as neither side was providing enough detail to make a well informed choice so Clarke’s decision was largely based on her wits. Ultimately she decides that free will is more important than the guarantee of safety at the whim of some being in control of everything so she flicks the switch and does away with A.L.I.E. completely. This creates the problem of the promise A.L.I.E. made being the next problem that everyone has to deal with but is it worth it now that everyone gets to be free? It’s not a question that has an easy answer and I imagine it’s a debate that will come up over the course of the next season. Either way, it marks another brutal choice for Clarke that mirrors the similar decision she had to make last season. I wonder if next season can end on Clarke not deciding on whether to flick a switch. I kid but it was really powerful stuff and handled well.
While this was going on the efforts of those outside the City of Light to defend Clarke and Ontari were really exciting. It’s a tenuous alliance shown by the difficulty Octavia has working with Pike. I really liked the scene where it looked as if they were going to hold off the people climbing up the wall together and Octavia attacked him so that he would be at their mercy. Watching her look on as Pike struggled against overwhelming odds was appropriately shocking yet completely fits when you consider how much Octavia hates him for being responsible for the death of Lincoln.
Pike is handled reasonably well in the episode as well. I really liked that he was willing to do as he was told and make his efforts non lethal. He mentions that he was willing to do things Bellamy’s way and tie people up rather than kill them.
The scene between Bellamy and Pike where they talked about their views on how they had acted was interesting as well. Pike doesn’t apologise for the decisions he made or for his viewpoint as he completely believes that he was right. Bellamy admits that he thought he needed to see it that way as a way to process his grief and now has to live with that. It doesn’t quite justify Bellamy’s complete character shift but it does repair some of the damage and it’s good to see that there is no attempt to let Pike reform.
There was no way this season could end with Pike still alive as the actions of the character are unforgivable at this point. Having Pike realise this and give Octavia a knowing nod before she kills him was an excellent end for this problematic character. He is punished for what he did and accepts that punishment so I would say that this has been resolved in the best possible way given the setup.
I like how the control being broken was portrayed particularly through Jasper and Monty who had some witty banter where the apologised for what they had done to one another. It showed that everyone suddenly free from the influence of A.L.I.E. had all their pain come back to them but they were also surrounded by people that love them to help them through it. Jasper and Monty show real friendship here and it could easily act as an example of what many people are experiencing. Monty telling Jasper “We will be happy again, I promise” could almost be seen as a mission statement for next season but there will definitely be major obstacles before that happens. This also echoes Clarke saying to A.L.I.E. “You don’t ease pain. You overcome it, and we will” which again shows how strong the group are when they are together and helping each other.
On the whole this season has been a bit of a mixed bag with characters routinely acting against what has been established to move the plot along. This really countered the strong material that was happening around it but once the season fully committed to the City of Light story it started to get really compelling and led to a superb resolution.,
An excellent episode that wraps up the A.L.I.E. and City of Light story in a really satisfying way while laying the ground work for the next season. The attempt to justify Bellamy’s actions with a few lines of dialogue doesn’t quite work but Pike’s role in the show is wrapped up fairly well. Clarke entering the City of Light and the return of Lexa to help her was really well done and gave Lexa a strong exit that arguably eluded her before. The choice that Clarke had to make was appropriately tense and incredibly difficult. In general the finale manages to be a great ending to an uneven season.