“We’ve all been through so much, it’s hard to recognize hope, even when it’s right in front of us.”
Yeah, that sums up exactly how I feel about this season so far. I will admit, before seeing the brilliant “Thirteen,” I had some big struggles with this season’s storyline. I still do (review on “Terms and Conditions” coming very soon). The situations are getting pretty darned hopeless. The more and more people try, the worse the situation escalates and fast. Nothing seems to be going right and that hope for peace and a new life fell apart too suddenly for my tastes. Even Marcus Kane, my champion of hope, seemed diminished by all that was happening around him. But once Jackson said the words above about hope, I have to believe it is all going somewhere.
The problem is, “Ye Who Enter Here,” “Watch the Thrones,” “Hakeldama,” and “Bitter Harvest” left me overall with a bitter taste in my mouth. They weren’t bad episodes mind you. The pacing and plotting continues to be top notch. The cinematic quality of the show has been awesome. A few creative choices seemed rushed, but for the most part I’m still on board. Few shows unfold an engaging and unpredictable plot any better. However, the double crosses and deaths of innocents in “Ye Who Enter Here” were hard to swallow. Loyalty doesn’t mean a lot in the post apocalypse I guess. “Watch the Thrones” was the strongest of the four but even that episode gave me the biggest “WTF?” with Bellamy’s defection. “Hakledama” was just wrong on so many levels (mindlessly killing people for their land is just too early American history for me), and “Bitter Harvest” at least gave us some pretty big reveals (and an awesome Abby and Kane scene) just in time for it all to come together in “Thirteen.”
Where There is Life There Should Be Hope
In these four episodes, you have to wonder what it takes to get peace in a world that was destroyed and got a “do over.” I get the mentality of a lot of the Sky People. They grew up in a pretty harsh situation. A place where you were floated out into open space for the most trivial violation, where there was a lot of death, and you weren’t allowed to have more than one child. In other words, they all probably knew, they were biding their time until the end arrived. I’m sure many of them never dreamed they would get another chance on the ground. They unfortunately aren’t doing much with it, spreading the same paranoia and fear that we get with every Donald Trump ad today. I get the Grounders mentality too. They were the ones left behind to rot on a poison planet. They get survivors rights and no one else.
What I often don’t get is the way many of these Dystopian stories of the future are handled. Why do people find them so fascinating? Bleak, dark, hopeless, loads of death, and by the end my reaction is usually it’s time to put the world out of its misery. I mean, look at Star Trek. Good came out of bad. Humanity advanced. Humanity learned to get along with one another and make a better world. The fight for a better world is hard and it takes a lot to get there, but all I’m seeing here is humanity basically dooming itself again. Repeating the same mistakes in history, ready to kill at a moments notice instead of valuing life, and honestly, there are no good guys. Well, except Kane, but even he had to go through an evolution (remember how awful he was in season one?). Unfortunately, Kane’s good will isn’t doing him any favors.
I get the idea is to go dark, but where is the hope? I’m not saying this show needs to go all puppies, kittens, and rainbows. That would be boring and cheapen the struggles they face. But progression would be nice. Signs that in the darkness we are moving from point A to point B. Last season did that. Last year during the Mount Weather incident, despite all the horrible things that were happening in the mountain, there were good people, inside allies, with a cute love story thrown in for fun (even if it ended tragically). You felt yourself rooting for the good guys, engaged deeply in there struggle. Yeah, they ended it with the whole “there are no good guys” bombshell when Clarke killed everyone, but I still believed that humanity would prevail above all at the end.
What I find most attractive about The 100 is that they use storytelling in a way to make you really care about the main characters. I mean, you bleed when they do, you cry when they do, etc. But honestly, I find myself wondering this season what they are fighting for. There is no thrill of exploration, no fascinating discoveries and alliances to be found in the new world. Its pain and death for everyone and so few on this planet value life like they should.
No one is breaking my heart right now more than Kane. He’s the one beacon of sanity in this whole whacked out scenario and his been diminished to sneaking Octavia out in the tunnels to deliver messages. It’s hard to see him punished for having the right idea. He learned from the past, he found his calm center, his Zen. He embraced the second chance with open arms and remembered how brutal and inhumane the old days were. He wants better. He believes in fighting to defend but not to attack. He believes embracing the Grounders and their ways is the key to survival. He has swallowed his pain and become the better man and it didn’t take some AI to do it. But why is Kane going out on a limb to protect people that have shunned his ways and are intent on destroying themselves? He was so at peace among the people in Polis. He belongs there, with people who appreciate life.
For every one Kane, there are about a thousand Pikes. Bloodthirsty hotheads that think the only way to respond to a threat is to be a bigger threat. He’s half cocked, angry, and is using his second chance as a way to strike out against all the crap he’s had to put up with his whole life. This man I do not get, and what’s troublesome is so many are willing to follow him without a second thought. What sort of life does he hope to build? The man has obviously never been at peace. So yeah, it’s very off putting to find others backing him so quickly and easily, especially after all the good will Kane has achieved. Arkadia is a very unsympathetic place right now. Pike is no better than the Mountain Men of last season.
Sure, there are those little signs of hope that try to remind us all is not lost. There is that sweet, tender moment between Abby and a deflated Kane. She described the actions in this entire show, people always think they’re doing things for the right reasons. It’s meant to show there is good intentions underneath all that bad. The person they were addressing though was Bellamy, and this is where we hit what has been my major sore spot all season.
What in the world happened to Bellamy? He spiraled down fast. I don’t get it. I do get that Bellamy is tired of losing people he loves and feels like he is failing his kind by watching them die. He’s seen a lot of pain and burdens a lot of responsibility as a leader and doesn’t always have the best instincts. But man, how could he turn on Kane, Octavia, and Lincoln so fast? These people were his centers, his rocks in life. Everything he did was for Octavia and in one conversation he makes the fast switch to Pike’s side? I get he still mistrusts the Grounders after they left his people to fend for themselves at Mount Weather, but as soon as he saw that carnage of the Grounders on the field he should have backed away. He’s more moral than that! This is not the Bellamy who became the calm and grounded leader last season. This isn’t right. Bellamy is not beyond redemption, but his actions have destroyed all that goodwill he earned last season and more.
If there’s any hope, it comes from Polis itself and the new King of the Ice Nation. Lexa, who in hindsight is far more in tune to reality than we realize, fought for a better way despite the demands to be the same. I cheered over the way she handled the Ice Queen. Even the Ice Queen’s own son despised her, and why wouldn’t he? She was willing to let him die for her and Lexa tuned into that perfectly. Roan isn’t a brutal savage, even if his people are. The cinematic feel of the battle between Lexa and Roan was great, only enhancing this intense struggle.
I’m very interested in Roan’s connection with Clarke and no doubt that can only work to their advantage. I actually see the commander selection process choosing Clarke as the new leader, and that would definitely make things interesting between her, Roan, and whoever wins the power struggle at Arkadia. But I’m getting ahead of myself there. A lot still has to play out for that to possibly or maybe happen.
While we’re on the subject of Clarke, I’m happier with her in Polis than Arkadia, and not just because she and Lexa had a thing. She fits there. Clarke is haunted by her demons and isn’t going to make the same mistakes she made before. Despite their shortcomings, she is doing everything she can to defend her people. In the process she is trying to find her humanity. Even though she wanted Emerson dead, she knew that he couldn’t die for her act. His punishment is in a sense her own, being forced to live with the emptiness and pain. She’s still trying to regain confidence too and Bellamy’s rejection of her didn’t help, but I hope she sees that it’s because Bellamy right now is just not himself.
As for this whole Jaha/ALIE story, I gave some thoughts about that in “Thirteen” and will in “Terms and Conditions.” Aside from providing a small break from all the massive carnage that is happening, this story is moving along at a snails pace and will eventually play out as it should. I’m not bored, but it’s so easy to ignore right now.
Bottom line, I still care, but the storyline so far is making me care less. I’d like to see what the characters are fighting for to mean something. There’s still a lot of season left before I draw overall conclusions, but in the meantime I’d love to see some of that hope that Jackson is talking about. I’m eventually hoping I’ll get my own City of Light in all this darkness.