The 100: Season 03, Episode 08, “Terms and Conditions”
A lot of things come full circle this episode. Food and water are running low in Arcadia, just as oxygen was on the Ark. The Chancellor is making awful decisions and being undermined, only here it’s Kane doing the undermining. The Grounders are insisting someone be brought to justice for his crimes or they will attack, just as they demanded Finn be put to death or they would act.
Pike uses Finn’s death as though it validates his actions, but Finn actually proves the opposite of the point Pike is trying to make. Finn slaughtered a village and was turned over to face trial, now Pike has slaughtered one (with plans for more), but refuses to face the consequences. Pike claims he can’t trust the grounders to leave Arkadia alone, even when their past actions proved they would do just that: when Finn was executed for his actions, it secured the safety of everyone. The firmness of his rhetoric and posturing are overpowering the fallacy of his actual words and actions. Sound familiar?
“If something helps you survive, it’s always the right thing. Pike taught me that.” Hannah declares. Except, this show has proven what is necessary is not always right, it’s merely necessary. Not only that, Pike is the one actively creating situations to make his atrocities seem necessary; he’s pushing war, he has refused to negotiate, his senseless slaughter broke the treaty already forged with the other 12 clans. He clearly wants blood, not survival, and he’s using the war he created as a shield and excuse for all of his crimes. He keeps repeating “we didn’t start this war” as if repetition will make it true. It’s the citizens’ lack of standing up to him, pointing out his hypocrisy and lies, which enabled him to get this far, and now his momentum seems unstoppable.
Cue Trump comparisons, again. As such, none of Pike’s lieutenants can claim they didn’t know. It’d be like like President Trump declaring we’re going to put all Muslims in camps and kill their families, and Chris Christie being like “oh wait a second! I didn’t sign up for this!” Yes, you explicitly signed up for this.
Pike’s actions make sense for a power-hungry, racist, virulent despot. It makes sense Hannah would follow him, blinded by grief and rage and who may well have been a xenophobe before we met her. It makes sense Bryan, a character we’ve never met before, may be swept up in the fervor and attempting to figure out where he stands. It makes sense he has a lot of followers among the citizens. What does not make sense, is Bellamy.
When the writers have Bellamy say ‘I choose which side is best for my people every day’ at the beginning and end of the episode, I don’t think they want it to mean “I change sides depending on what is most expedient for the plot.” Too bad it means exactly that.
Bellamy started the series as someone wholly consumed with his own agenda, which boiled down to saving his own skin and keeping his sister safe even when it meant being a ruthless authoritarian bully. He was 21, thrust suddenly into a terrifying situation, with no resources and really terrible role models. He committed torture, condoned atrocities, and had a hand in many deaths, directly an indirectly. Over the course of two seasons he’s legitimately learned and grown from his mistakes. He was a friend to the grounders, even fighting alongside some of them and risking himself to free others in Mt Weather. He carried the weight of his past sins, as everyone on this show does, but he was on a better path . . . until the plot necessitated him killing 300 presumably sleeping grounder allies.
This is not the same sort of ethical lose/lose situation at Mount Weather, a real dilemma. After his past sins and atonement, this is not something Bellamy could come back from. Why use Bellamy, then. I’ve discussed why their giving him a girlfriend to fridge her doesn’t work. Why not develop another character, or use a character who had reason to hate the grounders but hadn’t yet had a redemption arc? Maybe economy of characters, maybe lazy writing, maybe the fact this whole plot was sped up so quickly there wasn’t much space to develop. A more cynical view is they used Bellamy because – just as with the method of Lexa’s death – they wanted maximum shock value. In both cases, they got it, but in both cases it comes with poor writing, and at the cost of character development and audience trust. They wanted it to have more narrative weight, so they wanted a ‘main’ character, so they picked Bellamy. They purchased that at a high cost and are now asking to return it, soiled and torn.
This episode pushes how cool and detached and villainous they can make Bellamy, then whips out their about-face redemption card, again.
One redemption arc, great. I was 100% on board with the Bellamy we saw here at the beginning of Season 3: trying to be a good leader, attempting to put his life back together and grappling with the guilt and burden he bore for both wrongdoings, and for having to make necessary but awful choices. Two major redemption arcs, however, is one too many. You can’t keep yo-yo-ing your characters. Fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice, shame on me. This second redemption arc can’t be trusted, because we realize it only need last until it’s expedient for the writers to make Bellamy the bad guy again. Because drama.
What is the catalyst for Bellamy’s decision here? Pike executing Kane for treason. Bellamy, you are not a dumb character. You are not a character who has been away for Pike’s rise to power. You have seen all his ploys and rhetoric, up close and personal, from the get-go. After all you’ve seen, YOU DO NOT GET TO BE SURPRISED AT THIS. We’re supposed to believe that this is not only the final straw which makes Bellamy about-face yet again, but we’re supposed to believe Pike’s decision blindsides Bellamy. Bellamy, who grew up on the ark. Bellamy, who has seen Pike’s ruthelessness all along. Bellamy, who handed Pike his gun even while thinking Pike might use it to shoot Sinclair.
That was a calculated move on Pike’s part, a “have you drunk the KoolAid” moment. Pike could have used a dozen things to smash that bug. He just wanted to see how Bellamy’s loyalties went. In having Bellamy hand the gun over, as with many actions the past few episodes, the writers are having Bellamy dig his grave deeper and deeper, only so they can have his resurrection be that much more triumphant. But they’ve had him dig way too far, and it’s just not believeable. He slaughtered 300 people with no remorse. He can’t suddenly be redeemed because Kane is charged with treason, which he commits, which he never would have had to commit if Bellamy hadn’t helped install Pike in the first place.
Monty, too, balks at the weirdest things. He accepted interning the grounders and marching on a village of farmers, but raises objections to spying on people. Still, he does it, listening in on his friends for Pike. Bryan at least has the decency to vocally doubt he’s doing the right thing after he turns on his boyfriend and seals it with a kiss. (Yes, their only kiss so far comes loaded with betrayal, practically screaming ‘Judas Iscariot.’)
Pike, of course, is not alone in turning brother against brother. Jaha uses Raven to manipulate Jasper to get at what Monty may know. Cracking Monty’s code hinges on both boys thinking of their time starwatching together from the Ark, because of course.
Along other romantic lines, Jasper pushes Raven to see if she can remember the good stuff about Finn, or if she’s only forgotten his death. It makes sense Raven must have forgotten Finn entirely to have eliminated the pain of his loss. It’s a stunning revelation to her, and one that leads to an abrupt scene where she pushes the tech in a drawer and runs, as though ALIE can’t get Jaha to retrieve it later. It’s a bit sudden, I wonder if there was a little more to that scene which got cut for time, but we’ll surely see the ramifications of it later.
Lincoln grabbing and punching Sinclair is obviously a ploy, but it’s more fun with the audience sees a ploy coming and the tension is over whether it will work or not, just like Pike’s move with the bug. Both are good war strategy; I assume they still read Sun Tzu in 100 years.
The show goes into a short break having ratcheted up tensions in both the Grounders conclave and Arkadia (with Octavia and Indra somewhere in between). Both stories have a lot of great material, but both have been at points rushed and underdeveloped, moved along via unbelievable events and character choices. Too many shortcuts is very, very bad. Let’s hope the second half of the season ends does better at doing its story and characters justice.
– Ah, the good ol’ chess playing scene.
– Where the hell is Abby while all this is going down?
– You do not get that far and then NOT drive straight at Bellamy! In a game of chicken versus a tank, Bellamy will move. Jesus, Kane, you’re a terrible insurrectionist.
– ALIE flat-out tells Jaha that she’s controlling his mind and manipulating him. And he’s like “Oh yeah, cool.” Exactly how many of those wafers has he eaten?
– I’m glad they keep bringing up Finn. Too many shows would just kill him and never mention him again. Death has consequences, and the pain lasts, and at least this show is consistent with that.
– As annoyed as I am with how much they’re jerking Bellamy’s character around, Bob Morley is working hard to make it stick. Hell, I’m impressed he can keep track what side Bellamy is on from scene to scene.
– Orphan Black premieres in April, soon after this show comes back. I’m not sure how it will work reviewing both shows on my own time. If anyone knows of an outlet that would actually pay me money to do so, hook a sister up?