The first season of The 100 chiefly mused on ideas of colonialism and survival. It was a little bit Lost and a little bit Lord Of The Flies. Those themes made for fruitful ground for a meaningful exploration of what it means to compromise or bend one’s morals in service of a greater good. It allowed for tensions to arise between the self-serving and generous population of the 100 that were sent to the ground. Halfway through its second season, the show has had to adapt. With the remaining members of the 100 and the Ark on the ground, and Earth proven to be habitable for some, survival of the most basic kind is no longer an issue. Survival, in terms of dealing with potential diplomatic conflicts, now is. The 100 is wonderfully relevant in this regard, with its midseason finale, “Spacewalker,” not only bringing all of the moral, emotional, and political conflicts to a head, but in engaging in a conversation about what’s acceptable behavior during times of war, a conversation the United States finds itself embroiled in once again.
“Spacewalker” picks up where we left off last week, with Clarke returning to camp with knowledge of the only way the Grounders will accept a truce. As she tells Abby and the rest of the camp, the Grounders will cease their attack if they are given Finn; “blood for blood” they chant outside the camp’s walls. The decision of whether or not to sacrifice Finn for the greater good of the people of the Ark drives the momentum of the episode. The allegiances that sprout up aren’t necessarily surprising–just about every major character feels the need to protect Finn, while the extras of Camp Jaha are ready to sacrifice him so that they stay alive. But tension between what the main characters believe is the best decision and what the rest of the camp does isn’t the point, because the true conflict lies within Clarke.
Eliza Taylor is a force in this episode. Clarke has always been a smart, resourceful, strong character, but here, Taylor gives us a depth of emotion and moral conflict that we haven’t seen yet. That’s not a criticism of any earlier performances, but rather praise for how she steps up to the plate when the show needed it most, in an emotionally devastating episode that has far-reaching consequences in terms of the people living within Camp Jaha and Clarke’s relationship with them. Taylor’s whole body seems weighted by desperation, her eyes flickering back and forth searching for answers, her shoulders slumped, her psyche beaten with the understanding that she has no real options. She wants to forgive Finn, or rather, she wants more time with him, to work through what he’s done. But there’s no more time; the Grounders aren’t going to wait.
Taylor isn’t the only one stepping up in this episode. Both Thomas McDonell (Finn) and Lindsey Morgan (Raven) bring heart and depth to the flashback scenes where we learn that Finn’s reputation as a spacewalker, the move that got him put in jail, was really a cover-up for Raven. Raven wants nothing more than to pass her test and be allowed to work at Zero G; it’s her way out of a life that’s already been decided for her. More of Raven’s backstory here would be nice–the show seems to think that it can just tell us that Raven needs to escape her life, but it doesn’t show us why (maybe I’m forgetting something from the first season?). What’s her motivation? What’s her day-to-day life consist of? A more detailed backstory would help us understand why she wants to ace this test so badly. With that said, the scenes between Raven and Finn work the way they’re supposed to, which is on an emotional level. They give us more insight into their relationship on the Ark, and allow us to not only see that Raven has always been driven and intelligent, but that Finn has always been reckless when it comes to impressing the people he loves. He’s the one who suggests that Raven go for a spacewalk, a sentimental birthday gift after Raven aces her test but fails the physical, therefore labelling her as unfit for Zero G work. It’s the same recklessness that led Finn to slaughter 18 innocent people, the fallout of which now endangers those that he loves the most.
Thus, Finn must be sacrificed. There’s no way around it. Temporarily, Abby and a returned Kane think they can bargain with the Grounders by offering to put Finn on trial, but such hypothesizing is all for naught; Finn, holing up in the drop ship with Clarke, Bellamy, Murphy, and Octavia, gives himself up to the Grounders. This raises a series of complex questions: does this mean Finn is redeemed in the eyes of the viewer? And should he be? Responses will be subjective, but to the credit of the writing room, “Spacewalker” refuses to give us an easy answer. Instead, it presents a moral grey area, and therefore suggests that any consequences about to befall Finn aren’t so much tied into moral objectivity, but rather unavoidable circumstances. There’s really only one choice, and whether that’s moral or not doesn’t really matter.
So we get that final scene, where Clarke walks outside the gates of the Camp to meet with Lexa in a last-ditch effort to save Finn. But she knows there’s nothing that can be done. All that’s left is to kill a tied-up Finn herself in order to save him from the brutal torture the Grounders will subject him to. She asks if she can say goodbye to Finn. She approaches, kisses him, and tells him that she loves him before stabbing him in the stomach. The Grounders are ready to rush and kill Clarke, but Lexa forces them to stand down. “It is done,” she says.
“Spacewalker” shows us that the massacre of the Grounders has never really been about Finn and how he can recover, or what it means for his identity. It’s been about Clarke all along, and where she goes from here can only be more complicated.
- So, who cried? Did we all cry? Every single one of us? Because boy, that was one heck of a climactic scene.
- One thing that I’m still not cool with: everyone getting down on Murphy. Clarke blaming him for Finn’s actions, saying that he was there and could have tried harder to stop him, is kind of reprehensible. I want to give Clarke the benefit of the doubt and say that she’s just lashing out because of everything that’s going on, but I think that lets the show off too easily. Everyone’s been trying really hard to not blame Finn, and despite whatever character motivations we might read into it, I think that was a problem right up until the end.
- Finn’s “I don’t want to shoot you” moment with the Grounder felt contrived, another instance of the show be a little too blunt about how killing innocent Grounders isn’t representative of the real Finn.
- I’ve said before that I love how this show is so engaged with its past, and the scene where Abby declares that she won’t send Finn, a kid, to his death, and Jaha states that they sent 100 kids to their death not that long ago, is a great bit of continuity.
- That’s the midseason finale, folks, which means we have until January 21st to contemplate how the back half of this season plays out. Yeah, I’m not happy about such a long break either.
- But seriously, thanks for engaging in the comments section every single week. Fans of this show are the best, and I’m so glad that we can come together every week and talk meaningfully about this show that we love. Can’t wait to get back to it in 2015.