“Coup de Grâce,” for the first time since the season’s first few episodes, puts us inside of Mount Weather for an extended period of time. While those first few episodes occasionally worked to set up why Mount Weather was potentially dangerous, they largely served as a jumping off point for the bigger story arc of this season, which is the conflict and eventual alliance between the Sky People and the Grounders. With this episode though, we get more significant time in Mount Weather. Unfortunately, not a lot of that time is spent deepening the story. I guess after so many solid, action-filled episodes, there was bound to be at least one that hit the reset button and prepared us for the finale; thus, “Coup de Grâce,” though not without its great moments, feels inconsequential and even a little dull.
First, the good stuff. The episode begins with one of its best cold-opens. The fact that it’s so brief, where so many others check in with a bunch of storylines, certainly helps the scene feel urgent. The scene, which sees Bellamy and a handful of other people from the ground getting prepped for harvest, is jarring, ambitious, and beautiful. It’s shot mostly in blurry close-up, allowing the audience to experience the same disorientation Bellamy must be feeling. Harsh light bathes the bodies of the prisoners as masked and geared-up men douse them in powder. It’s essentially a prison-entry scene, one we’ve seen many times in movies and television, but the stylized direction and cinematography are refreshing, and it suits the nature of the cold open.
From there, we spend the majority of the episode catching up with Jasper and Maya and their plan to find Monty and Harper. Monty has been missing for two days, and Harper for many more. Maya seems just as eager to find Monty as Jasper is, but she tells him he needs to remain calm and clearheaded, otherwise the people of Mount Weather will catch on to their plan. Jasper fails to heed that advice though and immediately goes to confront President Wallace. He pulls a sword on him and demands to know where his friends are. He’s desperate, as he states, and it’s really the first time this season that Devon Bostick, as Jasper, has been given something substantial to work with. His teary-eyed confrontation with Wallace portrays the anguish and misery he’s feeling at the sudden disappearance of his friend, and encapsulates the encroaching reality that him and his friends might not make it out of Mount Weather alive.
Wallace is quick though and turns the sword on Jasper; ultimately, he stands down. It turns out that Wallace is just as baffled as Jasper is, so they go for a walk to find Jasper’s friends. This leads to a few solid scenes; the best sees Wallace confront Dr. Tsing, who’s about to drill into Harper once again, and shut down the harvesting operation. It seems strange that Wallace could be so unaware of what was going on in Mount Weather, but the tension in this scene largely justifies such narrative disbelief. It’s great to see Wallace taking on a dominant role, acting like a President rather than just carrying the title. The scene also gives us the Monty-Jasper reunion we didn’t even know we were aching for. I’ve often thought the interplay between the two has been a little contrived–a little too buddy-comedy for my liking–but their reunion here, where Jasper lovingly embraces Monty and tells him how worried he’s been, tugged at all the right heartstrings.
All of this isn’t bad television, but it does feel a little redundant. Just about every narrative beat that takes place inside Mount Weather in this episode feels stale. We’ve seen the extent of the harvesting before, and we’ve watched Maya and Jasper have some close calls. Sure, “Coup de Grâce” does gives us Bellamy in his underwear choking out a guard, but even that can only go so far to invigorating the storyline. The Mount Weather arc has been the weakest of the season, perhaps because it’s always been a B-plot at best; it doesn’t get much attention, and having nearly an entire episode dedicated to what’s going on there feels misguided and out of place.
Even the episode’s other storyline, which sees Clarke scrambling to make plans for infiltrating Mount Weather if Bellamy should fail, feels too familiar. How many times this season can we see Clarke, Abigail, and Kane go through the same motions. Clarke gets stubborn, Abigail doubts her abilities/worries for her safety, Kane tries not to take sides, Clarke comes up with an idea and seizes control, and then Kane tells Abigail that they should trust Clarke. It’s a contained arc that we’ve seen a lot of this season. For the most part, it’s been compelling because of the stakes within each episode, but for the first time this season, those beats are too familiar, too tidy.
With that said though, the final scene is the kind of badass confrontation that this show does well. Clarke rounds up the Grounders, who are listening to her because Lexa trusts her, and takes the Mountain Man that the Sky People are holding prisoner. Clarke’s plan, which is now in full swing given that she knows Bellamy has made it inside, involves sending the prisoner to Mount Weather with a message: that the Sky People are coming and they have a huge Grounder army supporting them. Peace may have been possible, but what Clarke doesn’t know is that President Dante Wallace is no longer in control. Instead, his fear-mongering son has taken over and locked the Sky People up. Bellamy may be the only thing left that can help them. The reset button has been pushed.
- I thought the little kid being revealed as the son of the guard Bellamy killed was a little on-the-nose and exploitative. The 100 doesn’t go for that kind of cheap emotion too often.
- Raven absolutely kills it this episode, from setting up a radiation-free airlock to working on a frequency that will down the Reapers. Science rules!
- I like when the show reminds us that Abigail is Clarke’s mother. It’s not that it’s easy to forget, but rather that such scenes add depth and authenticity to Abigail’s insistence on keeping Clarke out of harm’s way.
- Octavia’s warrior training seems to be coming along pretty well.
- Seriously though, that cold open was a thing of beauty.