Well played Mr. Rothenberg. Well played.
Going back to my comments last week, in a way I got it right, but I also got it wrong. I do see now where they were going with all this and it’s brilliant. It all makes sense and in hindsight it’s obvious they’ve been building toward this since the first minute of season two. Clarke did have only her people in mind, but that was the point. That was actually the striking point for season two, the bomb that makes this intense story about survival hit home. There are no good guys. There was no winning in this situation. Only one group in that standoff could survive. That’s the way the cards were played. In that perspective, Clarke is the grand champion, but she and the survivors didn’t return home feeling very joyous. The somber mood set the perspective, they’re alive, but at what cost did it come?
The parallels between Clarke and Dante were clever. He made his tough choice for the sake of his people and forced Clarke to do the same. Neither wanted the outcome, but that was where circumstances had led them. It’s ironic that it was Dante that Clarke had to shoot and kill to get her message across that she meant business. Too bad Cage took it as an act of war instead, putting Abby on the table as retribution. That one act doomed his people. That’s exactly why he failed as a leader. Pride and arrogance ruled over the safety of his people and he grossly underestimated the enemy. It’s a classic tale of failed leadership. And the funny thing is, the same thing could have easily happened to Clarke. She wasn’t far from that brink herself. She could have backed down when Cage stupidly called her bluff. The fact she didn’t worked in her favor, this time. But what she had to do will haunt her for the rest of her days. It kind of makes killing Finn look like a minor act, doesn’t it?
The whole result was rather unfair, especially for those Mountain Men that helped the 44, but Clarke didn’t have any other choice. I know some people wonder how Clarke killed so many more than Finn yet didn’t suffer the same fate, but there is no fairness in war. She had to choose her own people over the Mountain Men. At least she didn’t make that choice alone, having the full support of Bellamy in making that decision and the help from Monte to eradiate level 5. Cage made his choice very clear where his loyalty was and he wasn’t going to stop. Of course Cage was an idiot, and even his own father saw that, but in the end Dante backed his son. I don’t think he believed Clarke would be so cold hearted, but at the same time Kane’s ”What’s wrong with you people?” only accented how the Mountain Men weren’t behaving very well either. While I was reeling over the tragedy of all those Mountain Men dying, including Maya who I adored, it was Bellamy who put it in perspective. They never would have stopped. The same could be said of the Sky People. They weren’t going to stop until they got their people back, or until there was revenge for their deaths. The writing was on the wall long ago. One group was not surviving this.
That was no comfort to Jasper, who has to bear the burden of this entire ordeal gone wrong, playing over and over in his head all that could have been prevented. He formed bonds and fell in love with Maya, but there was no way she was coming out of this if her people didn’t. The writing was on the wall when Octavia offered that she live back at the Ark in glass confinement. It wasn’t a way to live. He also was delivered a blow by his friend Monte, who setup the fans to blow in outside air into the entire compound for Clarke. Jasper lost his innocence in this experience, the big quality that made him unique. Maya put that in perspective though. No one is innocent. It’s freaking sad but it’s true. There is no innocence in a fight for survival. That’s the whole story about the 100 though, or whoever now remains. The Earth keeps taking a bit of who they are. In the end, it all boils down to choices and accepting the consequences of those choices.
Despite the tension, the emotional beats were still there and they couldn’t have been better timed. There was Bellamy, Jasper and Monte reuniting with Octavia and Clarke. I guess Bellamy can open the door rather easily! It’s hard to remember that Octavia hasn’t seen the 44 for the entire season. There was Raven fighting tooth and nail as they were strapping her to that table while Wick begged for them to take him instead. Wick carried her all the way home after the ordeal. Then there was Kane, who after his miraculous recovery (wasn’t he just carried off in a stretcher with a damaged leg two episodes ago?) fought hard for Abby, trying to talk reason with Cage and offer assistance. When it was over, the first thing he did was rush to the table and grab her hand. If these two aren’t together by the beginning of season three, something is very wrong in the cosmos (or the writer’s room). The there’s the more subtle things, like Jasper and the others seeing Camp Jaha for the first time. It is a quite a sight. It’s home.
I give Mr. Rothenburg credit for one thing, it wasn’t all doom and gloom. We did at least get our one “Hell Yeah!” moment so we wouldn’t feel like slitting our wrists afterward. As I predicted he would, that slimy Cage snuck away from the Mountain, leaving the bodies of his people behind. I couldn’t have written a better ending than him running into Lincoln in that dark forest. That meeting came to be thanks to Indra, who awesomely left a knife beside a captured Lincoln and a choice. Free himself and never live among his people again, or stay and accept the orders he was given. I swear that part of that decision was for Octavia too, whom I think she still respects, but she also has loyalty to Lincoln despite all he’s done. Naturally, Lincoln chose to run and help Octavia and his adopted family. Indra said it, he’s always been different.
Yeah, so running into Cage was a stroke of luck or some really bad Karma. Cage proved exactly why it would have been bad news for the Mountain Men to roam the earth. They would have been ill prepared for what waited for them outside. That bastard thought all he needed was a tonal generator and serum injection. He again underestimated his enemy. After Lincoln awesomely cutoff Cage’s hand to stop the tonal generator, he injected him with the entire bottle of serum. In a way it was too bad it killed him. He should have lived on as a Reaper. The other Reapers would have eaten him alive. Given his dead body is in those woods, they’ll just eat him now.
No doubt the events of this season though had the greatest impact on Octavia, Bellamy, and Clarke. They took three very different paths. Octavia is an awesome warrior now, and that will no doubt come in handy protecting her own people. I still say her and Indra’s story isn’t over. I think of everyone she has the healthiest perspective. I love her comment to Jasper that they can’t worry over what they cannot control, calmly waiting for her chance to strike. That is Zen with a capital Z.
As for Bellamy, he earned praise for a job well done from Kane after the rescue. I’m not sure if it was the best moment, but it was perfect and I smiled. I know he probably wasn’t feeling too good about himself at the time, but he saved his people, even if he couldn’t save the others. He’s earned his place in that leadership council or if anything, the new head of security since the old one had her arm ripped off.
As for Clarke walking away because she couldn’t look at any of her people and not be reminded what she had done to save them, she deserves some space to figure out what next. I adore that her parting scene was with Bellamy and not Abby. It fits, she’s passing on the torch to him (no Mr. Rothenburg, her kiss on the cheek was not a Bellarke kiss!). I just about lost it over her comment to Abby that she tried to be the good guy. Abby’s answer that maybe there are no good guys was a punch in the gut that had to be said. This is what it takes to survive. At what point though is survival acceptable when it takes away who you are? She has proven that she will go all the way if pushed. Now how does she live with herself? Will she pursue that relationship with Lexa at Polis? Will she go live at the drop ship? Will she go on a whacked out City of Light pilgrimage? Please tell me that there is a real City of Light out there somewhere that she stumbles on, because Jaha’s trip turned pretty damned wonky.
Speaking of the Chancellor, Holy Hell Jaha! I’m utterly stunned over the fact that he threw one of his own at a sea monster as food so he and Murphy could survive. That was quite the visual showing him swallowed whole! Talk about shock effect, I had to make sure I wasn’t watching HBO. And Murphy was picked because he was a better rower! I guess given the choices he had to make in sacrificing his people on the Ark it made sense, especially since they all would have died if he didn’t do that, but Murphy’s reaction said it all. You can’t trust your leader if he’s going to pull stunts like that. It also cemented that Jaha’s vision quest has made him quite nuts, but that is popular theme in literature when someone gets obsessed with something.
Might I say how nice it was to see Murphy find his own treasure chest so to speak. A perfectly preserved luxury shelter underneath the lighthouse, complete with 1970’s music, scotch, and working video player. Not bad for this being 97 years later. I got a kick out of him eating some good food (it really lasted that long?), taking in some great scotch and relaxing on a nice couch. Jaha is too fanatical to relish in such a thing, so glad Murphy could enjoy it.
My only criticism of this brilliant episode is that it ended with Jaha’s reveal instead of Clarke and Bellamy’s bittersweet farewell. I get why, it’s the setup for season three, but I would have gone with sweet and sentimental over futuristic sci-fi any day. Jaha finds a luxurious, gorgeous, still intact mansion. He’s greeted by ALI, a beautiful woman who’s actually a hologram. She knows all about Thelonious. His name, where he came from, his quest, everything. She’s especially grateful because when he came to earth he brought her a wonderful gift. The nuclear missile. That was the final piece of the puzzle that was started when Murphy watched the video of the previous occupant of the shelter. He blew his brains out because “she” got hold of the launch codes and destroyed the earth. So meet the new enemy. An AI. Holy Moley, the plot is so thick its cement now. Can’t say I saw it coming, but this isn’t too much of a stretch with an apocalyptic drama either. Whatever Jaha’s destiny is, this is not going to way he planned, but this still looks like a way for him to save his people.
All in all, season two was an ambitious, perfectly plotted, very exciting and gorgeous unweaving of an intricate story layered deeply with complex multi-character arcs (whew, that was a mouthful). In other words, it rocked and was a drastic improvement over the first season. It’s one of the best written shows I’ve seen in television this TV season. Kudos to Jason Rothenberg and his entire team for not only striving for higher but achieving it. It’s the stuff cable dramas are made of, and this is the freaking CW. A season three is well earned, and just like with season two, the sky’s the limit.
It’s been an honor to do these reviews this season, and I’ll be back for more in season three, wherever it ends up on the CW schedule.