The 100: Season 03, Episode 02, Wanheda Part 2
The very opening scene has an almost-throwaway bit which sums up a big developing theme. Bellamy wants to move out of the tank, but Kane objects. It’s not until Indra asserts “the boy is right” that Kane acquiesces, because Kane still only listens when other ‘adults’ speak. (If not his messiah complex, it’s this implicit bias that is going to get him killed.)
This is a recurring theme: the continuation/retooling of the ending concept in Lord of the Flies: ‘adults’ versus ‘children.’ The adults who arrive on the ship to ‘save the day’ are actually the real monsters. The ‘kids,’ the 100, have actually been the stabilizing influence: even when they’ve been warring and fighting they’ve not been doing it indiscriminately. Whereas Pike and the group he came from obviously have zero tolerance for anyone not Arker . . . and we’re given a clear story of how their children were eliminated from the equation early on. Yes, children being taken gives reason for a revenge narrative, but it also removed a stabilizing or ‘grounding’ influence. Whereas Kane and Abby and Jaha – who were set up to react with blind genocide upon landing – instead contacted the remnants of The 100, and that mitigated their response. The children of the Alpha station led the way for their parents just as the lack of children did for the Farm station, and the disparate moral paths of the two groups will have a huge role in how this season unravels.
“GROUNDER KILLERS. HOORAH” is the Farm survivors’ battle cry, an intentional swipe at the Marines call, a pointed reference to a militaristic ‘us versus them’ mentality. Said mentality is openly displayed in the “not all grounders are the same” “they are to me” exchange, a glaring commentary on the simplistic racial discrimination evident on the current world stage in relation to immigrants, Muslims, and ‘others’.
Given Pike declaring ‘the only good Grounders are dead Grounders’ and the previews we’ve seen of him going all Wild West, it looks like he’s going to lead this charge, splitting the Ark survivors down the middle. We’ve had explicitly WW2 sorts of atrocities, and now we’re seeing Civil War analogies, especially given the location they’re occupying in what used to be the seat of American government. A couple from each station will probably ‘cross over’ to the opposing faction, and it will be again literally brother (and sister) against brother (and sister).
And possibly mother against son, as well. Just a small thing, but: on how many of these shows would the masked warrior have been Monty’s dad? They have a couple father/son duos, but they have several mother/sons as well, which is great. Some of the moms are lovely, and some are bloodthirsty megalomaniacs, and all are complex and flawed. Now we have a bounty hunter with mommy issues getting pushed around by a powerful woman. Dun dun duuuuuuuun. THIS. This is what we want. Not just ‘strong female characters’ but ‘all the female characters all over the spectrum.’ And that’s great from a story perspective, because it opens up characters to go any direction. Monty’s mom can go any direction because she isn’t needed to fill a mother-nurturer role, or a woman-as-badass role, because there are already so many other women on the show doing a range of things. She can be just another character. Amazing how that works.
Monty seeing his mom was heartwarming, but with this show it’s never all good news. His father was slaughtered while trying to save children, which could be reason for someone to get pretty angry. I highly doubt he reacts the same way as Jasper, though: I think Monty will be a peacemaker, and exemplify a more peaceful response to the carnage everyone has seen. Hopefully he and Jasper will make up, too.
Jasper is working through destructive rage, pain, and a lot of hate, and those are all valid responses to what he has gone through, but he can’t stay in that place or it will destroy him. Octavia simply sitting beside him promising it will get better is simple yet effective, because she too went and is going through some of those emotions. She’s not saying they’re wrong, or they’ll disappear, but they can be lived with, and your loved ones are what make it worthwhile. Octavia’s message may touch the audience, but Jasper is still disheartened. The painting he chooses is Maya’s favourite: “The Lovers’ Whirlwind” by William Blake. Is he suggesting they – the Arkers in general, he and Maya specifically – are in the second circle of hell-on-earth, and death will free them? Is he considering embracing death himself? I know that’s dark, but he’s in a pretty dark place. Maya’s last words were ‘none of us is innocent.’ Combined with Blake’s painting, looks like themes here are relevant. Let’s see if they’ll actually name episodes “The Little Girl Lost” and “The Little Girl Found”.
All Jasper’s expressions of rage and pain happens back in the Mountain. Though Nyko says “places are not evil. people are”, the show could decide to prove that false. I’m not expecting it to go full The Shining, but they may demonstrate “places may not be evil, but people knowing of their evil will self-fulfill their own prophesy,” and thus the Mountain will cause strife and be abandoned . . . after, of course, they have made good use of those sets for this season.
They’re building a few impressive sets, and repurposing a couple smaller ones (the room where Roan holds Clarke is probably the same place the Grounder/Arker peace dinner was last season), and they’re also making good use of their access to outdoor spaces and natural lighting. The river scene was particularly good, though the attempted-drowning scene would be more effective if last week’s trailer hadn’t already shown later scenes with Clarke still captive.
Clarke has gone into full-on Survival Mode Feral. She’s gone from insisting on a civilized compound and going out of her way to avoid killing, to living alone, baiting wild animals, and trying to strangle a man with her bare hands. Then she is brought before clean, put-together Lexa in a brocaded tower. A bit of a reversal of the way we met them prior, and again, back to the way this show allows characters to have a spectrum of experiences, emotions, and phases. Clarke is seeing where some of her previous ideals are just not feasible either for her, or for the world she’s been thrust into, or a combination of the two, and she’s reacting strongly to this realization.
One of the people who fully understands both her and what she’s going through is, of course, the guy hell-bent on rescuing her. Clarke and Bellamy spend a lot of timing saving each others’ asses, and I love the Clarke/Bellamy dynamic so hard. It makes sense, these two veterans having seen horrors nobody else understands, having shared experiences and surviving the same unimaginable traumas, and building towards an understanding few can share to this point of deep respect. They had to endure terrible things imposed by others (including their own parents) and they’ve put their lives on the line for each other. They had idealogical differences, and still disagree, but they’ve both grown a lot in the past months. Now, they protect each other as comrades, but they also hold each other up as necessary leaders and totems for their people.
Meanwhile, in a parallel examination of leadership, Abby and Jackson are having a disagreement over how Abby functions in her various roles. I like the way the show recognizes these two have worked together for years, and are essentially arguing like a long-married couple. “I’m not just a doctor” Abby points out. “Maybe you should be” Jackson insists. Looks like we’re building towards commentary on politicalization of theoretically non-political roles, and how it may or may not be possible to separate the two in a post-apocalyptic civilization.
Speaking of BSG: that city appearing to Jaha. We ‘see’ it materialize, so we’re very clear when those scenes are being projected/constructed by ALIE. They definitely have a bigger CGI budget this season, and it will show in the bigger armies marching; a lot of extras helped out by digital copying work. On the more practical end of the effect spectrum, the blood spatter when Roan removes the knife from Bellamy’s leg is a nice touch, and the makeup job on the Effectively Creepy Malformed Guardian – very typical of Ogres in old stories – is a lot of fun.
“There is no pain in the City of Light.”
ALIE chooses red, (trope alert!) which seems pretty effective so far as drawing men to her flame. Once they’re snared, she preaches . . . something we’re not 100% clear on yet. A drug-induced alternative reality, or buddhist/zen ideas of ‘giving everything up’? Either way, it’s for her own purposes; she appears to be uploading people’s consciousnesses, in addition to uplinking them to her reality while they’re alive, presumably via those nodes/patches.
In a world where everything is razed to the ground, why is the ideal ALIE promotes a Big Skyscraper’d City akin to modern New York? I think, like ALIE’s appearance, it’s specifically tailored to attract. To Arkers and Grounders alike, the World Before the Bombs is still the ideal. The high towers represent pinnacles of achievement, the shiny society ripped away, a kind of fantasy with security, health, and prosperity. Everyone fetishizes the past even if the past was, in fact, fucking terrible.
Things are happening slower than last episode, and we’re spending more time with individual characters. We’ve gotten our bearings, the emotional and practical ramifications of last seasons’ big decisions are still playing out alongside the main themes, and the pieces for the major war are being moved into place. Ice Nation is the current Big Bad, but it’s clear how easy it will be for Pike to push for a power grab / cultural cleansing / authoritarian regime.
Even – no, especially- with the references to past wars, they couldn’t set this up for a clearer analogy of current politics if they wanted to. I’m just waiting for Pike to yell MAKE THE ARKERS GREAT AGAIN. Like BSG, the show doesn’t have to be subtle about its political allegories. Hopefully, they avoid the pitfalls of mixing their symbolism and going full-on sex/hitler/guru cult, but that’s another story. This season is shaping up very, very well.
– Thanks much to friend-of-blog Emily for her notes, particularly on the Civil War, trauma and kinship, and the skyscraper-idealism.
– In television, the two outcomes which come of the specific look Indra and Pike exchanged upon meeting are: hating-then-falling-in-love, or killing each other. It obviously won’t be the first, so I hope Indra gets to put him down after his authoritarian spree.
– Is it cynical of me to think the writers have Bellamy attempt to rescue Clarke, then Clarke succeeding at rescuing Bellamy, in the same episode Clarke and Lexa are reunited, just to intentionally fan the flames of ship war?
– It’s like a running joke now that Lincoln and Octavia aren’t going to [explicitly] get any.
– Guarantee Jaha fantasizing about ALIE doesn’t stop at her showing him her cityscape.
– The deal with the blood donorship may be setting things up later. Are the two bloods compatible at all? Will the blood of the Sky People heal some of the grounders, like it did the Mountain Men? Will it play into war, or a call not to ‘mix the bloodlines’?
Now it’s time for the section I’m going to call: Weirdly Specific Modern Backpack Sighting
Props have used several recognizable backpacks, from obviously retooled Chrome bags to this week’s ALIE shell, which looks like either this great concept or this actual backpack, modified just a touch.