The 100: Season 03, Episode 15, “Perverse Instantiation – Part One”
Clarke – driven by Lexa’s death, a sense of guilt, being blamed by everyone, a desire to rescue her people, and general Clarke-ish-ness – is bound and determined to get to Ontari and give her the chip. Three problems.
Problem One: They’re winging it here, in every aspect. Bellamy wings it by shooting Roan. (To be fair, other methods aren’t working well. Asking questions doesn’t have the same effect as it did, and ALIE’s thralls are now able to fake emotions, so ascertaining whether Roan feels pain by surprising him with pain makes sense.) Raven is going to wing come coding. (On one hand, Raven killing ALIE while sitting in a room typing may be anticlimactic. On the other, Raven being the hero after all this would be pretty cool.) They all wing a plan to get to Ontari. Marching into Polis with six people and the real flame is . . . not good. AT LEAST that should be a fake flame, guys. Though, maybe Zombie Extras would have known the difference? The details aren’t fleshed out because all this merely serves to perpetuate what happens next episode.
Problem Two: Related to problem one. Ontari is chipped. What will having BOTH chips in there do to her? Would 2.0 update / overwrite the ALIE program? Would they tear Ontari apart unless she was able to be un-chipped first? Now we’ll never know, of course. Raven did rig up a potential electro-chip-blaster, but nobody knew that when they proposed going after Ontari, plus there’s no surety the electro will work, and then what? Is there a plan B?
The problem with this is simple: if you don’t have the characters – who are smart and resourceful and should be going over contingencies, including Bellamy who says things like ‘turn the Jeep around in case we need to leave’ – raise the question of “what happens if we can’t get to Ontari” or “what is the risk if both chips go to war inside a Nightblood,” you are telegraphing your moves. A shoddy infiltration plan, lack of communications backups, and rushing towards this One Great Solution when you actually have ample time to string together better moves, tells the audience you actually have no intention of following through with these plans; they’re temporary placeholders. The goal is just to move the pieces around the chess board in prep for the finale.
Problem Three: though they don’t know it, someone in Clarke’s group is chipped. Jasper (and possibly Harper?) was the working theory. It seemed when Octavia freed Jasper, he remembered his pain, but he’s gone progressively numb since. Jasper succumbing, especially after seeing Luna’s place and wanting that peace, fits with this character. Poor, broken Jasper. Still, we can’t be sure, because last episode cheated a little and this one is playing it coy. The episode toys with the audience; when we see ALIE the first time it’s a random Grounder who has been chasing her, when we see her the second time, it’s in a room with all the Arkers standing around. It’s a nice way to keep the tension while having some fun with the camera angles and moves revealing ALIE.
The ‘plan’ in action:
Roan marches Clarke into Polis, which could really use a ShamWow. That puddle of watery blood has been there for days.
Bryan and Miller make plans to make a little farm and live happily ever after, which essentially paints a giant neon target on them. Of course Bryan gets shot almost immediately.
Bellamy has a little speech to show he’s learned from his past mistakes about killing a non-enemy.
Indra convinces Octavia to join her tentative, begruding peace with Pike. “The dead can’t help us” says Indra, ever the pragmatist. I do love Octavia’s “Hey Pike, I’m with Indra, we’re alone with you and could totally kill you if we wanted to” look.
Pike hands over control of the mission, which is good: him seizing power has worked for exactly no-one.
They’re pushing the redemption thing a lot, but these last few episodes play so much better as everyone who’s fucked up, no matter on a small or grand scale, agreeing on a shared goal and getting it done as strange but necessary bedfellows.
Speaking of strange bedfellows, they’d all be dead pretty immediately except Murphy shows up to save the day. I really like this turn. Murphy is a selfish, manipulative asshat, but let’s note he’s got the strength of character not to give into some of the worst, darkest things many of his comrades have. And he’s a SMART selfish manipulative asshat, with a heart for his friends under there somewhere. He’s had so many chances to run away, but he always stays, throwing out “well I like this chick” or “ain’t got anything better to do” as smoke screens so nobody suspects he’s actually kind of an okay dude.
Then we get a lovely fight scene, especially that sequence with Murphy and Bellamy at the door. It’s a bit on the nose in some parts: Pike and Octavia and Indra literally have to work together pushing a heavy burden. But anyways. There’s fighting! And mayhem! It looks good and is fun!
The whole time they’re unable to communicate with Raven and Monty because Jasper (or Harper) cut the wires. This Inability to Communicate with Infiltrating Party Plot [ICIPP] is quite reminiscent of last season.
Meanwhile, back at the base, Jasper is revealed to be chipped. Jasper being so happy to see Monty, then fumbling for what specific words and items are, as well as Devon Bostick’s acting, is what gives up that he’s chipped, as it was carefully obscured last episode.
Jasper remembers Monty, past friends, and happy times. It seems ALIE can help her thralls when it’s convenient for her, feeding information and memories to people. Problem is, she wasn’t doing this before, which resulted in being found out. Now, her thralls are basically undercover cops. What does that mean for those ALIE wasn’t feeding info to – for example, Jaha and Anna and Jackson? Had she just not adapted her programming then? Or maybe she just didn’t do a good job of it? Or maybe, my personal theory, she doesn’t always have enough processing power to do it along with pursue her other evil plans? If that’s how it works, I want to see Jasper’s ability to talk / remember adversely effected as ALIE’s energies are needed more elsewhere. Either way, it’d be really helpful for the show to clear up the ‘how and why’ of it all.
Meanwhile, the show is being annoyingly clear on other points. Whether or not Harper is chipped, her sleeping with Monty is used specifically to up the ante in the scenario where Jasper threatens Monty he will kill Harper. They obviously caused Monty and Harper to have sex because they didn’t think they could sell this bit otherwise.
Using sex / a relationship to artificially inflate the stakes is tired and dumb and Gina all over again. We know Harper. Harper and Monty are friends. It’s cheap and terrible to essentially say “ah but she’s REALLY important to Monty because they banged that one time!” We don’t need that to accept Monty’s agony over trying to save her.
Anyways, upshot of all these plot machinations: the plan fails, there is another suicide attempt, more torture, lots of murder.
I thought the greatest weapon this season was supposed to be love, but it’s turned out to be darkness, detachment, anger, and torture / resistance to torture. It’s also helpful if you have gags, scalpels, and a lot of rope.
Clarke has to watch her mom commit suicide, ‘for the greater good.’ Pike’s anger made him ineffective the first half, but now the show is justifying it, showing it worked for him in the ark and is necessary right now. Octavia and Indra have attempted to live by their code, Indra lost her leader and ability to fight, Octavia lost Lincoln to her own people, and now neither have a family or place in the world. Raven, Monty, we see everyone who tries to resist the dark and work through things the right way is physically and emotionally beat down, and even having to fight their own mothers and loved ones. Although it was preached “love won’t make you weak,” it actually has. Characters who loved have lost in the worst ways, while the characters who have committed the worst atrocities are shown to be redeemed. Some messages are muddled, but what is clear is: you need to have darkness in you, you need to do ‘wrong’ things (and not just in the morally complex ways of S2, we’re talking murder ‘just in case’ is justified), you need to accept insane amounts of mental and physical anguish, to survive.
In the right hands, especially in genre TV, those questions are unfortunately extremely relevant today. They’ve been mangled this season, but let’s ignore that for a moment. The next, important question is: what happens to dark, angry, broken humans in anything approaching peace time? I hope but don’t think we’re ever going to get that answer. As this season has made clear, The 100 is no longer interested in examining those issues. It merely wants to crank the Inflict Maximum Pain And Darkness dial to 11. That’s their whole goal of this season. Plot? Reason? Relationships? Three-dimensional character development? Consistent characterization? True moral quandaries? All less important than graphic torture and story machinations. To that end, they actually verbalise “Oh well, after getting beat in the head with a bat, Ontari is a vegetable. But at least she’s still a viable plot point!”
Not in quite those words, but almost.
Obviously, they’re going to take Ontari’s blood and put it into Clarke, transfusion style. They clearly established Abby’s med kit is in the room; we know that [spoilers redacted, but there are things we know about next episode which indicate Clarke Does A Thing], and as mentioned at the beginning of this review, by not even mentioning the incredibly obvious potential “can one body hold the two chips if it has to? will ALIE 2.0 trump?” the story telegraphed this move.
Now we’re headed into the season finale, which we’ve had spoilers about since before the show even premiered. I wonder if they’re going to try and ‘fix’ or ‘retrofit’ some of the above problems. I wonder if they’re really going to kill off everyone who is chipped and start S4 with a much newer, smaller slate.
Clarke: “Give us a minute.”
Roan: *walks a foot away, stays in the shot, looks over Bellamy’s shoulder*
Indra knocking Kane away from the blast damn well better just be a cliffhanger.
That’s some effective horror shit with Jasper’s voice through the door and the pounding.