The two major character deaths from this season of The 100, no matter how one might feel about their execution, are certainly influencing the events of the narrative and creating some intriguing conflicts along the way. That’s what a good character death should do, after all. If a character dies and nothing changes, then it’s a waste. But if a character dies and something significant changes, that means the story is being told in a way that is, at the very least, meaningful. “Fallen” is interesting in that it deals with the fallout of the deaths of both Lexa and Lincoln in different ways, highlighting some of the show’s strengths along the way while also exposing a few flaws.
As shocking and affecting as Lincoln’s death at the end of last week’s episode was, the real payoff is in tonight’s opening sequence. Shot in slow motion, Bellamy watches as, one by one, his former friends and allies return to the cave where he’s shackled. He sees Miller, Bryan, Kane, Sinclair, Harper, and then Octavia. He asks where Lincoln is and gets nothing but stares before Octavia says, “Pike put a bullet in his head.” It’s a devastating sequence that’s heavy with anguish and guilt, and the catharsis, if you can call it that, comes when Octavia beats the hell out of Bellamy and declares him dead to her.
Ideally, The 100 would spend more time exploring the way in which Octavia and Bellamy’s relationship has now changed, but there’s so much going on in “Fallen” that any further emotional development is pushed aside. It’s a shame, really, because so much of their subplot in this episode revolves around the idea of redemption, failed or otherwise. Basically, when Monty escapes Arkadia, with Pike (unbeknownst to Monty) on his tail, the group decides to head to the dropship to retrieve him while Octavia hopes it’s a trap so that she can kill Pike. There’s so much tied up in this subplot. There’s Octavia’s revenge, her feelings towards her brother, Monty’s betrayal at the hands of his mother, Kane’s hope for peace, and the eventual trap set by Bellamy where he hands Pike over to the Grounders. That’s a lot to take in, especially considering how much ground this episode covers, meaning that the various nuances and character depths aren’t given much room to breathe.
For instance, Bellamy doing his part to turn Pike over to the Grounders is a big moment, and a very complicated one. The 100 mostly handles the moment with necessary gravitas, especially when Kane asks Bellamy whether he abandoned Pike because of his sister or because it was the right thing to do. There are complicated motives tucked away in there, and exploring those motives is the show’s key to rebuilding Bellamy after tearing him down all season long. The problem is, there’s not enough room in “Fallen” to really get into why Bellamy does what he does, which is the same problem that the show has had with his character throughout the season. It’s a start though, and the reveal that the Grounders, along with Kane, are taking Pike to the new Commander, adds some interesting wrinkles into the story.
Now, as far as the new Commander goes, this is where Lexa’s death leaves a gaping hole and thus exposes some of the show’s flaws. So much of “Fallen” is spent with Murphy and Ontari, who’s trying to delay the Speaking Of The Names ceremony in order to hide the fact that she doesn’t have the Flame. The problem is that we know so little about Ontari that it’s hard to stay invested in her struggle. Much like Pike, she’s a violent caricature that inflicts violence just for the sake of inflicting violence. There’s no depth to her character, at least not yet, and that makes it difficult to craft an engaging story about her ascension to the throne. Don’t get me wrong, it’s still fun seeing Murphy doing everything he can to stay alive, including a rather ridiculous but kind of fun “kink” scene, but there’s just not a whole lot of movement to the story. Whereas Lexa’s presence as the Commander imbued these scenes with a sense of purpose and urgency, Ontari’s inclusion feels like one big waiting game, and that doesn’t make for very compelling television.
Thankfully, “Fallen” does find some momentum by returning to the City Of Light subplot. Raven is rebelling against the Key and trying to get it out of her head, hatching a plan with Jasper and Abby to send a sonic wave into her brain using the wristbands they received before being sent to Earth. A.L.I.E. gets in the way though, giving Raven her memories back (FINN!!!) all at once to cause her immense pain. When Raven can’t handle it anymore, she “fully submits” to A.L.I.E., meaning that the AI is now inside of her and can see, hear, and control everything that Raven does.
That rollercoaster of a plot allows for a great performance from Lindsey Morgan, who absolutely nails every single emotion here. She switches from determination to pain and then creepy, sinister robotic mode with ease, and it injects this occasionally silly subplot with a real sense of pathos. There are compelling stakes here now, as Raven hasn’t chosen to be part of the City Of Light; rather, she’s forced into the group, along with Abby. Now we care about her potential escape on a deeper level.
The City Of Light subplot also gets one other thing right: it makes Jasper the lone savior. After weeks of him being a sadsack, it’s nice to see his character show some vigor, some sense of purpose. He snags Raven from the medical bay and makes off with her, crashing through Arkadia’s front gate as Jaha, A.L.I.E., and their army of City Of Light supporters, including recently-forced member Abby, chase them. That’s when Jasper sees Clarke and screams at her to get in the front seat. It’s a stirring final scene, as Clarke has no idea what’s going on. She trusts Jasper though and jumps in with him, saving Raven in the process and then seeing her mother, in her City Of Light robot state, before driving away from the mob. “Fallen” still has its issues, but it’s also an episode that starts to move the story in a different direction, which is more than welcome at this point.
- How great is Octavia? What a badass.
- A.L.I.E. talking about Raven: “she’s so much stronger than the rest of you.” You’re damn right!
- Monty’s mom remains the worst.
- A.L.I.E. wants to know why Raven is resisting the Key. “Because you stole my memories you crazy bitch!” Raven rules.
- “Abby” says that Arkadia has fallen and now it’s time for Stage 2. That can’t be good.
- I don’t really like Ontari as a character, as she’s too broadly defined at this point, but you know I want nothing more than for her to murder Pike.
- Ontari’s going with the whole “fake it ‘til you make it” approach to being Commander. Bold move.
- “I’m tired and hungry. No more meetings.” Okay, I kind of like Ontari.