Much of The 100’s third season has been focused on establishing the size of its expanding universe, but that changed last night as this massive world began to fold in on itself — turns out it’s a remarkably small world after all.
The first five episodes of the first season brought us Polis, the Ice Nation, and Arkadia (formerly Camp Jaha). They illustrated the depth of the world of The 100 with scenes featuring Polis Grounders (a decidedly different side of the Grounder people compared to the warriors we’ve seen thus far) and demonstrated the size of the Commander’s coalition.
Last night’s episode, though, made the world feel even smaller, a lot more connected and a lot more sinister.
Following Jaha’s arrival at Arkadia with his special non-corporeal friend A.L.I.E. and his short-lived Grounder pal Otan, the former chancellor of the Ark has taken it upon himself to recruit anyone who will listen to his City of Light cause. At the end of last episode, we saw Raven finally reach a breaking point with her chronic pain as she gave in and decided that taking Jaha’s mystery drug wafer was worth a shot. This week, others join the “cause” before Abby promptly shuts them down with her patent-pending Disappointed Mom Look while Raven plugs A.L.I.E. into the Ark’s computer so that she can “search for her creator’s work,” which seems a little bit like A.I.-speak for “destroy everything.” No joy, though — Jaha suggests that perhaps A.L.I.E.’s creator was on the 13th station which, um, blew up.
Bellamy continues to fall further and further down Pike’s all-Grounders-are-the-enemy rabbit hole, which feels even more baffling as everyone seems to be pretty cool with the whole “kill everyone that isn’t us” thing. Who knows, maybe Pike has some kind of special City of Light wacky wafer he’s using on Bellamy, who seems to understand that what they’re doing is deeply wrong, but is mostly fine with doing it anyway after a bit of half-hearted bickering. Bellamy is clearly in trouble, clearly causing trouble and is it seems increasingly likely that he’s going to find himself in more trouble as Pike’s attempts to save Arkadia to death escalate.
Meanwhile, Octavia is a woman without a home. Working in secret with Kane to prevent Pike from starting a war, she’s attacked by a Grounder village as she attempts to save them from an attack on their home. Facing treason within the walls of Arkadia and the wrath of Grounders outside of them, she’s in hot water when the Grounder villagers recapture her at the end of the episode.
Octavia continues to shine as one of the show’s greatest victories in character development, which is a lofty achievement considering that character development is arguably The 100’s greatest strength.
In light of this week’s ominously low death toll (R.I.P. Monroe), it’s becoming increasingly clear that any of the show’s characters might be on the chopping block as coming weeks likely make up for this light week in the fatalities column, thanks to Clarke’s telling move in cooperation with the Commander as she spares Emerson’s life.
The 100 is not afraid of taking the lives of characters its invested time and energy into developing. While there’s an argument for the necessity of Clarke, there’s no one character that’s indispensable. Finn stands as a fine example of that. Character development doesn’t mean a damn thing when it comes to a character’s relative safety on the show, and it’s a bit refreshing to watch a show that’s not about to shy away from leaving viewers reeling as it kills off a character.
Near the end of the episode, we catch up Titus in his secret Murphy Torture Chamber. Murphy, unable to catch a break, is being questioned about Clarke, about one of the City of Light wafers that the Murphy-nappers found on him and, finally, about the 13th station that we’ve just discovered was blown up in space by the leaders of the Ark in an attempt to scare the other space stations into forming one big resource-strapped superstation on the fabled Unity Day. Murphy tells Titus that the 13th station was called “Polaris” and we get a clever shot that reveals that Titus is harboring a clearly space station-y pod … thing in his secret room. It’s emblazoned with “Polaris,” though the “a” and “r” are obscured, leaving: Polis.
Turns out that the Sky People and the Grounders might not be nearly as separate and unalike as it once seemed, and that the City of Light might be more than the ramblings of Jaha & Co.
As the world of The 100 condenses and separate plots begin to join up with increasing frequency, it’s seeming less like the show is biting off more than it can chew and more like it’s setting us up for a big reveal and, because this is The 100, probably plenty of bloodshed to go along with it.