The 100 – Season 3 Episode 9
The 100 returns after a break to pick up the thread of Lexa’s death and start to deal with who will take her place as Commander.
Arguably this show is at its best when it deals with the political landscape of this Post Apocalyptic Earth. Lexa’s death has created a bit of a power vacuum that needs to be filled as soon as possible. Lexa’s first choice, Aidan (Cory Gruter-Andrew is seen to be going through the cleansing ritual before taking on the “battle for the flame”. The “flame” of course being the chip that contains the soul of the Commander and the second A.I. I find it interesting that all of the potential commanders are young children. It ties into the role of innocence in this show and how the freshest perspective on things seems to be how society thrives. What better perspective than that of the young? I also wonder if it has to do with the A.I. interfacing better with younger hosts but there are still a lot of questions around that.
It’s all fairly civil to begin with as all potential commanders are honouring Lexa’s alliance with Clarke’s people but the arrival of Ontari (Rhiannon Fish) who represents the Ice Nation throws a spanner in the works. Her murder of all of the children including Aden shows how formidable she will be. It now seems like Clarke’s desire to keep the peace won’t be as much of a certainty as she thought.
Unfortunately, there isn’t much to Ontari at this point. It’s interesting how both of the major antagonists on this show are really thin 1 dimensional “bad guys”. It is completely at odds with the complex characterisation that I have come to expect from this show since it began and I wonder why so many corners are being cut with character development when the show should be fully in its stride with a strong commitment to its format. Ontari and Pike are basically the same as they want to be in control simply because they desire power. As motivations go it’s a good starting point but without exploring more of what makes them want to have power over others it all feels a bit empty. It is early days for Ontari though so maybe she will gain more depth as things progress. It certainly seems like she isn’t going anywhere soon so I won’t strike her off as Pike 2.0 quite yet. I do like how she makes her presence known immediately and manufactures her own opportunity as a contender for the Flame.
As a contrast to Ontari we have Luna who is mentioned but doesn’t yet appear. Titus seems to think she’s a good choice as Lexa’s successor and in many ways she seems to be the opposite of Ontari. Once she is actually introduced we might find that the opposite is true as the legend surrounding a person might be misleading.
Opposites seems to be the order of the day as Titus’ support of Clarke is countered by Roan’s support of Ontari. He acknowledges her as the new commander despite the fact that she doesn’t have the Flame and has no real claim to it as of yet. Still, he blindly follows her and Titus dies on his blade while helping Clarke escape to keep the Flame away from Ontari for now. It’s getting difficult to keep up with all of the deaths on this show and they all seem to be characters who have created a significant impact which I suppose is the point. No point in killing characters that have had very little impact on the show as a whole otherwise we have another Gina situation.
There is some work done to develop the mysterious Nightbloods. Clarke is ruled out as a possibility for the role of Commander because only those with the black blood can be a host without dying according to Titus. It’s an interesting idea as it starts to create commentary on the idea of a Royal Bloodline and whether people should be fit to lead simply because of the circumstances of their birth. If done properly then this could develop into an allegory for the class system in our society and whether that’s fair. Should extra privilege be given to people who are simply born into a set of biological circumstances? My view is no but I’d be interested to see the idea explored and arguments on both sides. I wonder if there will be more flashbacks to show how Becca creates the Nightbloods in the first place.
Events in Arkadia are far less interesting but not completely without merit. After getting a prison break in the last episode we are given another one with the notable difference of it being successful this time. I found it to be too similar to the events of the previous episode for it to have the desired impact but there are different beats for the characters thrown in to make it feel a little more distinct.
The romantic angle between Kane and Abby stood out as the most effective aspect of these scenes as it has been bubbling beneath the surface for quite a while. They have disagreed a lot over various issues but their moral code is very similar so the fact that their personalities both clash and compliment each other makes them a natural pairing. This has been built up for long enough that their kiss feels like it’s coming at the right time and shows their commitment to each other as well as what they stand for. It makes a statement that they plan to see each other again and explore their feelings but for now they will be separated.
Bellamy is still on a road to redemption however contrived it may be. He sticks up for Lincoln and the others by saying that they can’t be blamed for trying to walk through an open door as they would have tried the same thing. It’s a clear attempt to show that he is starting to disagree with the way Pike does things but it is coming a little late to be effective. His offer of help to Octavia isn’t something she is inclined to trust as she feels betrayed by her brother. Her counter to his offer to help save her people being “you’re the reason they need saving!” is incredibly cutting and clearly hits Bellamy right where he lives.
It all seemed to be going fairly well on Bellamy being guilty despite the mishandling of his character this season until he accuses Indra of only being loyal to her own people which is exactly what he has been doing. The fact that Indra considers Octavia as one of her people shows how much things have changed and also acts as a powerful statement of how this conflict is no longer “Them vs. Us”. Alliances, friendships and relationships have been built across the communities so Pike’s mission is antiquated and Bellamy seems to be starting to realise that.
We see the death of another major character in Lincoln who is killed by Pike as punishment for trying to escape. It’s a tragic end for such a good character but it’s completely in touch with what his character stands for. Pike delivers an ultimatum that all Grounder prisoners will be killed if Lincoln, Octavia and Kane escape so Lincoln takes it upon himself to sacrifice himself to protect his people while giving Octavia and Kane a chance to finish what they started. It seems to be the only way out of a no win situation and is fully in keeping with Lincoln’s consistent desire to protect both his people and Octavia. He goes out a hero and Octavia now has a deeply personal vendetta against Kane for killing the man she loves. Her expression says everything about her intentions so seeing her work to avenge Lincoln’s death will hopefully deliver the goods.
The execution scene is appropriately emotional with morbid sounding music and constant cuts to Octavia’s perspective and the striking visual of Lincoln lying dead in the puddle with his blood staining the muddy water. It’s a great exit and shows the character the respect he deserves. He will definitely be a loss to the show and with Lexa now gone I hope there are enough strong characters coming to pick up the slack.
A solid if slightly uneven episode that feels a little too close to the events of the previous outing. The political situation in trying to find a Commander to succeed Lexa is all fascinating stuff though Ontari is a little thin at this point though that may change in the coming episodes. I found the prison break elements to be far too similar to the exact same story in the previous episode but there are solid character beats such as the Kane and Abby romance and Lincoln’s sacrifice to protect his people as well as Octavia. Bellamy’s road to redemption is being handled fairly well but his motivations are still too mishandled to make this work as well as it needs to.