If there have been central themes bubbling underneath the plot of the second season of The 100, they would certainly be described, however broadly or acutely, as encompassing ideas of consequence, routine, and tradition. In fact, such themes are often central to much post-apocalyptic/dystopian fiction, no matter the medium. After all, the destruction of society as we know it, and the eventual rebuild, is ripe for examining the ways in which tradition and routine guide and influence various facets of daily life. Consequences come in to play when those traditions and routines fail us, when they are exposed as merely facades that distract us from the harsher realities of the human condition. As impactful as the midseason finale was, “Remember Me,” which deftly and patiently examines the aftermath of Clarke’s sacrificial killing of Finn, may be even more powerful due to how understated and melancholic it is.
The episode picks up in the immediate aftermath of “Spacewalker,” and delivers the first signs of the complicated grieving and diplomatic process that will permeate the rest of the episode. Clarke is inside the Grounders camp, staring at her hands, weeping and gasping for air, trying to make sense of what she’s just done. Abigail is there to comfort her, but all Clarke can do is gasp for air. It’s another wonderful showcase for Eliza Taylor, who has been deepening the characterization of Clarke all season long. Her panic attack feels frightening real; in that moment, we understand the emotional devastation she is reckoning with. And then, turning on a dime, she must compose herself to talk with Lexa about an alliance and how they plan to infiltrate Mount Weather.
Too many shows assume that a female character who conquers everything in her path is all that’s necessary to give that role a sense of empowerment. But empowerment, in terms of how women are represented on television and what kind of roles are made available to them, is more about having complex, not infallible, characters on our screens. Clarke is just one of many wonderfully complex female characters on this show. She’s at once resourceful, intelligent, stubborn, and prone to swings in temperament. In other words, she’s a fully realized character, and Taylor is taking the role and running with it. Admittedly, some of the Ghost Finn stuff borders on cliché, especially as Clarke begins to talk to him, but throughout the episode, Clarke’s internal struggle is largely portrayed as multi-faceted and deeply complex. She’s not just mourning the loss of Finn; she’s mourning for her father, and mourning her own loss of faith in the basic decency of people. She hasn’t completely given up, but she’s exhausted. She’s tried to hold this group, both the Grounders and her own people, together for so long; Finn’s death suggests to Clarke that maybe peace and diplomacy isn’t possible.
What’s remarkable about “Remember Me” is how the adults all take a back seat in the narrative. The alliance, the potential jailbreak at Mount Weather, the attempted poisoning of Lexa: it’s up to the kids to make sense of it all. Kane and Abigail stand back as Clarke takes the lead, not out of a sense of necessity, but out of an understanding that maybe these kids have a better chance at creating diplomatic unity than the adults do. After all, the last time the adults were left in charge, they presumably destroyed Earth, set up a civilization on a space station, ran that space station like an Orwellian police state, and then shot a bunch of kids back to Earth as radiation-exposure guinea pigs. Maybe let’s give the kids the opportunity to rebuild society this time.
The alliance between the Grounders and the Sky People, which is necessary for an attack on Mount Weather, almost doesn’t happen, as Gustus, Lexa’s bodyguard, slips poison into the drink offered to her by Kane. Gustus sips the drink for her first, all part of his plan to come close to death and implicate the Sky People in an assassination attempt. Raven, who’s found with the poison on her, is strung up to be punished. She has her arms and body slashed, enduring the pain and suffering once meant for Finn. Before long though, Clarke figures out that the poison was in the cup, and Bellamy completes the connection and realizes it was Gustus all along. It’s a roundabout way to get Raven back on Clarke’s side, but it mostly works. It’s a little too tidy–Raven, once she realizes that Clarke did the right thing, seems immediately stable and ready to work again–but at the same time, drawing out a Raven-Clarke feud when there are other pressing matters could have been disastrous.
Thus, an uneasy alliance is once again formed, and just in time, as Monty and the rest of the Sky People at Mount Weather are in increasing danger. This storyline represents the low point of the episode, partly because it’s an endless retread week in and week out–every episode is another building block in the planned escape–and partly because it’s situated next to the much stronger and more compelling story of Clarke, Lexa, and the alliance they are forming. The final shot of the episode is a nice touch, mimicking Clarke’s discovery of Anya in the cages and bringing the narrative back to earlier episodes in a neat way. There’s not much else to the story though, and it ultimately feels like the show spinning its wheels, filling up time while moving all the pieces outside of Mount Weather into place.
Still, “Remember Me” is the perfect follow-up to a devastating midseason finale. It’s equally relentless, dealing with the way in which we grieve, the traditions (like burial or cremation) that help us cope with loss and ignore the cruelest parts of the human condition, and continues to build a politically and emotionally complex world. “Remember Me” proves that “Spacewalker,” and the first half of this season, was no mere accident, no instance of building momentum that’s sure to drop off after the “big moment.” Instead, “Remember Me” takes the actions presented in “Spacewalker” and muses on them in a meaningful, thoughtful way.
- Welcome back everyone! I hope you had a nice holiday and didn’t think about sacrificial killings and general bloodthirst too much.
- Cage Wallace (played by Johnny Whitworth) is what I imagine the offspring of Patrick Swayze and Parks and Recreation’s Jean-Ralphio would look like.
- Great panning shot just after Clarke lights up the bodies at the ceremony. Everyone is contemplative except for Raven, who is weeping. Beautiful stuff built upon numerous episodes of meaningful character development.
- Lots of parallels being drawn between Clarke and Lexa. I loved the scene where Lexa details the love she has lost, and we get to see how it’s hardened her, or perhaps made her cynical. Is Clarke on that same emotional path? Her final utterance in this episode, that she’s already said goodbye to Finn, would seem to suggest that she is.
- I’m looking forward to getting a little more Bellamy on my screen. He’s been largely sidelined this year, but an attempt to infiltrate Mount Weather should make for some good dramatic tension.