Steve Talley, Lindsey Morgan

When The 100 is at its best, it’s patiently telling a handful of stories all at once. Some of the weaker episodes this season tend to be structured in a haphazard way, with storylines jarringly inserted into the episode strictly because there’s a need to catch up with those characters. For instance, a lot of the stuff with Abigail and Kane this season has been of fleeting significance, only occasionally intersecting with the larger story and adding to it in a meaningful way. Tonight’s episode, “Bodyguard Of Lies,” is The 100 firing on all cylinders. It’s patient and meditative at times, comedic and thrilling at others. It’s a philosophical episode, one that muses on a variety of themes that have remained central to this season, from the burden of leadership to the morality of war.

While much of the episode focuses on Bellamy, who’s trying to disable the acid fog, and the Grounder/Sky People army, who are waiting just outside the strike zone, “Bodyguard Of Lies” picks up with Jaha and Murphy and two other members of their crew who have gone looking for the City of Light. The City of Light has played an intriguing, if inconsequential role in the season so far, but this episode really cements the elusive city’s role in the larger scheme of the show. I’ve mentioned before that this second season has spent a lot of time building a world outside the perspective of the original characters. Whether it’s monstrous gorillas or deformed children, this season has hinted at areas of earth still waiting to be explored. Those areas could represent a fresh start for some of the people of the Ark, or they could be just as hostile as their current environment.

No matter what the outcome is, Jaha is committed to finding the City of Light, even traipsing through a minefield in order to get there. The entire storyline, which mostly involves characters just walking around, works because of the levels on which the themes are working. Jaha’s search for the City of Light begins to really take on the feel of a religious pilgrimage in this episode. In a world of death and destruction, he’s turning to one of the oldest forms of comfort: the belief in something beyond ourselves. He doesn’t know much about the City of Light, but he knows that he’s survived a crash landing from space and the death of his son, so there has to be something more for him.

Like any sort of faith though, it’s unclear if there’s anything more for Jaha, Murphy, and the rest of the travellers. When they finally find the so-called City of Light, it’s just a bunch of solar/mirrored panels. It seems like a deadend, a false prophecy. But when Murpy throws a rock at one of the panels, and a drone takes off from a post high above them, suddenly there’s hope. The drone takes off over a body of water–or as we’ll call it in this review, a visual metaphor for cleansing and starting anew–and the group chooses to follow. It’s a beautiful scene, one of hope and promise, two feelings that haven’t been in abundance this season.

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Seemingly world’s apart from Jaha and Murphy, the Grounders and Sky People are waiting for Bellamy to disable the acid fog before marching on Mount Weather. He’s hit a few snags in the process, but he eventually makes it into the area where giant steel vats hold the liquids to create the fog. With the help of Raven and Wick, he stumbles upon a console that allows him to passivate the fog. By doing so, the pH level rises, therefore removing any deadly aspects from the fog.

With that done, Raven and Wick have time to celebrate, which is basically a euphemism for sex. It’s a touching, tender moment, not because there’s been any real relationship development between the two, but because the scene sees Raven reckoning with two emotional roadblocks: her amputated leg and her still-present grief about Finn. When, after the sex, Raven seems distant and somewhat distraught, it’s mostly about Finn. She’s moved quickly with Wick and is perhaps starting to feel like she’s betrayed Finn in a way, even though he had a strong bond with Clarke by the time he died.

With Bellamy spending the episode working on the fog, that leaves Clarke and Lexa to discuss a bevy of issues. As usual, Alycia Debnam Carey and Eliza Taylor do wonderful work in this episode. They have a magnetism about them that injects their conversations with significant weight, and makes their characters feel like natural leaders. There discussions in this episode are rooted in history, bias, and varying philosophies in regards to survival and the nature of war. It’s heavy stuff, but this is the world that Lexa and Clarke live in, and considering that they’re leaders, these are discussions that have to take place.

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Their discussions lead to something that’s been hinted at for a few episodes now. Lexa and Clarke have always bonded; they’re both confident leaders who are responsible for the lives of many, and they each have had to make a series of difficult decisions that sometimes compromise individual lives for the sake of the whole group. With “Bodyguard Of Lies,” that bond finally manifests itself in a romantic, emotional, and physical connection. They share a lengthy kiss after Clarke accuses Lexa of being too emotionally removed, referring to the fact that she thought about killing Octavia because she knew Clarke and Lexa’s decision to not evacuate the camp. It’s a kiss that’s been a long time coming, but Clarke isn’t ready for it, at least not totally. She eventually pulls back and says that she’s not ready to be with anyone…not yet. The “anyone” and “not yet” is important. There’s no mention of sexuality or normalcy, no struggling with what this means for Clarke or Lexa’s identity or their leadership skills. Rather, the kiss is treated as a passionate bond between two individuals. It’s beautiful in its simplicity, and progressive in its refusal to qualify the kiss as anything weird or different. This is 2015, so such displays of affection shouldn’t need to be praised, but considering the lack of representation in so much of popular culture, it’s absolutely worth mentioning. This season of The 100 has done a wonderful job of handling its moral and emotional complexities with nuance, and the kiss shared by Lexa and Clarke is no different. It’s an inspiring end to one of The 100’s finest hours of television yet.

Stray observations:

  • Indra’s talk with Octavia about how Lexa and Clarke didn’t do anything wrong, that it was the Mountain Men who put them in danger, was a nice way to put their controversial decision in perspective. The writers room for this show must constantly be talking about all the ways in which certain decisions can be justified or critiqued.
  • I like the banter between Raven and Wick, but he’s been too absent from the show for me to be really invested in any budding romance between the two. Like I said above, I find the scene more gratifying as an insight into Raven’s mental state.
  • Murhpy is great in this episode. His spot-on comedic timing adds levity to the show when it’s really needed.
  • For about three seconds I thought the explosion within Mount Weather was going to kill Bellamy. That fire creeping up on him was seriously frightening. Thankfully, he rode that fire wave to freedom.

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