Earlier this season, I talked about how The 100 shared a lot of similarities with Lost. It was a fairly obvious comparison. After the first season introduced the mystery of the Grounders (to an extent, this show’s version of the Others), the second season doubled down and lured the audience in with the mystery of the Mountain Men, people living underground, inside a place called Mount Weather (not too far removed from some sort of hatch, right? And that’s all without mentioning the Henry Ian Cusick connection!). The comparison was apt at the time, but as the show has matured and moved away from its mysteries and instead focused on the impending war, the show seems to have a lot more in common with Game Of Thrones. Not unlike the HBO show, The 100 deftly grapples with issues of morality and loyalty in times of war, and tonight’s episode, “Rubicon,” was perhaps the most complex and rewarding exploration of those themes yet.
At the heart of this exploration is the increasing tension between keeping the remaining people stuck in Mount Weather safe while also keeping in mind that the lives of the Grounder and Sky People who are free are just as important. The anxiety regarding how to balance the responsibility to each group is physically manifesting itself in Clarke, as evidence by her subtle, slow breakdown throughout “Rubicon.” For the first time since, well, I don’t even know, Clarke seems out of her element. She’s walking around and giving orders like she’s in total control, but her body language suggests otherwise. Every time she confronts someone, or has to break down another important decision, there’s palpable exhaustion in her voice. It’s not just that she’s taken on the role of a leader, it’s that she’s battling (or maybe creating, on the fly) her own moral code. What was once clear-cut for her (ie: go save the Sky People trapped in Mount Weather) is now ridiculously complicated.
Throwing a wrench in Clarke and Lexa’s plan, which relies on Bellamy freeing the Grounders and disabling the acid fog, is the new President at Mount Weather, Cage Wallace, and the very epitome of evil and coldheartedness that goes by the name of Dr. Tsing. With Cage now in control, Tsing can now execute the bone marrow extractions without any pushback. This time though, she’s killing the remaining Sky People; hopefully she kills them first, but knowing Tsing, she might just make them suffer. On top of that, Wallace has learned of the war council meeting happening between the 12 Clans and the Sky People. Clarke and Lexa will be gathered there with the rest of the leaders, and it’s the perfect time for an attack. Cage knows they can’t get close though, so he proposes using a missile.
The details of how Cage’s plan effects the war council are simple: through Bellamy, Clarke learns of the missile launch, and must head to the camp to warn Lexa. What’s not so simple is how to handle this knowledge. Clarke and Lex debate what to do, but both seem to understand there’s only one option. They can’t evacuate because then the Mountain Men will know they have someone on the inside. All they can do is gather the leaders and sneakily slip into the woods, sacrificing the rest of the people without jeopardizing their overall cause. As Lexa puts it, sometimes you have to “concede a battle to win a war.”
The entire moral conflict comes to a head when Abigail shows up, and Clarke rushes to remove her from the camp. “We can’t be here,” she says, but Abigail refuses to leave until Clarke tells her what’s going on. That’s when the missile cruises across the sky and slams into the camp. Dazed, but alive, Abigail reprimands Clarke for the decision she’s made, a look of disappintment and disgust on her face. It’s heartbreaking, not only because it’s directed towards her daughter, but because the reaction is arguably warranted. It raises an intriguing question: has Clarke allowed her perceived leadership get to her head, and has her determination to rescue her friends clouded her judgement? Furthermore, is her need to stay close to Lexa influencing her in the wrong way? These questions aren’t easily answered, but with the gathering of the council now a pile of scorched wood and bodies, and with that final shot of Clarke looking devastated, tears rolling down her face, it likely won’t be long before Clarke and the rest of the council has to reckon with the decision they’ve made.
On a lighter note, Jaha and Murphy, and a ragtag band of Sky People, are off on their journey to find the City of Light. Other than a few roadblocks, which involve a run-in with a woman named Emori, who takes a liking to Murphy but also ends up stealing all of their supplies, the group seems to be well on their way. It’s interesting the way the show has removed Jaha from the Sky People at such a crucial moment. The storyline does feel a little out of place, the tonal swings between the two storylines a bit jarring, but the overall effect is yet to be seen. For now, it gives Jaha and Murphy an excuse to be the road trip buddies we didn’t even know we needed, and presents an intriguing mystery that certainly adds some levity to an otherwise dark, brutal episode of The 100.
- Bellamy with the save right at the end, activating the containment breach.
- Once again, I really enjoyed Eliza Taylor’s portrayal of Clarke in this episode. She was constantly out of breath, lashing out, her eyes darting back and forth; all signs of a person in conflict with themselves. Great stuff.
- Emori isn’t all bad; she whispers “due North” to Murphy, and because he has nothing better to do, he sets out with Jaha and a few others hoping that she’s talking about the City of Light.
- I try to avoid enjoying TV deaths too much, but man, I was pretty happy when Dr. Tsing couldn’t escape the radiation. She had it coming.
- Does Cage not understand what got Earth in this mess in the first place? Missiles aren’t toys, sir.