It feels like we’ve been waiting for Raven to catch a break since roughly mid-season 1. After this week, the wait continues.
Fair warning: if things like body horror, torture and rape are triggering for you, you may want to read something else. Like this.
Raven (Lindsey Morgan) had a particularly rough episode which, considering what she’s been through thus far, really says something. Struggling with the effects of the City of Light chip (memory loss, loss of self, etc.), she’s doing whatever she can to block Alie (Erica Cerra) out. Her preferred method? Sensory overload, courtesy of pull-ups, white noise, loud music and reciting Edgar Allen Poe’s “The Raven” — how appropriate. It works briefly, but Raven has a plan to get Alie out of her head for good.
She enlists the help of Jasper (Devon Bostick) and Abby (Paige Turco) to get the wristbands that the original 100 wore when they came to earth. They have transponders and Raven’s plan is to reverse the current to send an energy pulse into her brain which should, in theory, fry any non-organic components — like, say, a totally off-the-rails A.I.
Because Alie’s in Raven’s brain, she catches on and sends Jaha’s City of Light zombie army to retrieve the wristbands and hand them off at the pass. Not one to go down without a fight, Alie calls up all of Raven’s painful memories (getting shot in the leg, having marrow drilled out of her hip, watching Finn die, etc.) at once, torturing her into submission.
In a truly horrifying turn of events, once Raven submits, Alie has “full access to Raven’s synaptic network” and Raven’s body becomes Alie’s flesh puppet. Things get even worse when Alie slits Raven’s wrists in order to coerce Abby into taking her own City of Light chip. Jasper, in search of the wristbands, finds himself handcuffed in the storage closet thanks to some City of Light cronies, watching as Jaha destroys every one of the wristbands.
When he eventually frees himself, he finds Raven in medical with bandaged wrists and a head full of Alie.
Meanwhile, Kane (Henry Ian Cusick), Octavia (Marie Avgeropoulos), Sinclair (Alessandro Juliani), Harper (Chelsey Reist), Bryan (Jonathan Whitesell) and Miller (Jarod Joseph) hole up in the cave where Indra (Adina Porter) and Octavia kept Bellamy (Bob Morley). The little insurgency get a call from Monty, who’s fled Arkadia after his mom ratted him out to Pike for his role in helping Kane & Co. escape. Worried that it might be a trap, Kane and Octavia take a still-bound Bellamy as an insurance policy. As predicted, Octavia is beyond mad at Bellamy, telling him, “You’re dead to me.”
When the arrive at the drop ship to meet Monty, they’re greeted by Pike & Friends, who take them hostage. Bellamy tells Pike he can lead him and his men to the cave where the rest of the insurgency is hiding out. Instead, Bellamy leads them straight into the Grounder Blockade, handing over Pike. Bellamy, Octavia, Kane and Monty are spared and the Grounders (finally) take Pike out.
In Polis, Ontari (Rhiannon Fish) continues to to terrorize Murphy (Richard Harmon) and the ambassadors in her quest for fake rule. Roan is off searching for the flame (which, if you’ll remember from last week, Clarke has), but in the meantime Ontari must convince the ambassadors that she is the Commander. She needs Murphy’s help and, survivalist that he is, he obliges.
Back in Arkadia, the best scene of the episode comes when Jasper sedates and busts Raven out of medical, steals a jeep and gets the hell out of Arkadia by blasting right through the front gates just before almost running right over — who else? — Clarke Griffin (Eliza Taylor). He yells at her to get in, which she does. Immediately, she asks what’s going on and tells Jasper she needs to see Lincoln. Jasper informs her that Lincoln is dead as he tries to get the stalled jeep to restart. Clarke starts rambling about how Lincoln can’t be dead, how she needs him to take her to Luna, the second-to-last Nightblood.
And here, our storylines from this season collide not with a bang but with Jasper’s, “Shut up! I don’t care, okay?”
A City of Light zombie/Arkadia guard pulls open the jeep’s back door and tries to pull Raven from the car. Clarke’s not having it, though, and delivers a swift kick to the chest not unlike Lexa’s that time she kicked a guy off of the balcony on her skyscraper.
All told, the episode did some great work in tying up these storylines and making them feel like they’re finally existing in the same world and the same wider arc.The way in which Arkadia’s City of Light plot is intersecting with and the Flame of the Commanders is more nuanced and complex than we could’ve originally predicted.
That said, there’s cause for concern.
When we talked about The 100’s second season, we talked about how it pushed the envelope, how it didn’t back down from tough storylines, how it struck a sort of stunning balance between hero, villain and human. It was felt like a masterclass in heroic villains and flawed heroes and we lauded it for its fearlessness in the face of dark storylines and tough subject matter.
Now, though, it’s hard not to feel like things are becoming oppressively dark without the necessary redeeming moments of human levity. We know that this isn’t a show about joy, but watching Ontari coerce Murphy into nonconsensual sex in the bed in which Lexa died felt at once unnecessary, mishandled and offensive.
Raven’s constant suffering with nary a moment’s reprieve is becoming hard to watch and the brutal and deeply upsetting deaths of Lexa (Alycia Debnam-Carey) and Lincoln (Ricky Whittle) continue to weigh heavily on the show. While this isn’t a show about happiness, the balance and the strength of human spirit that made Season 2 great are becoming increasingly hard to find.
Next week’s trailer hints at Clarke, Raven and Jasper joining forces with Kane’s insurgency, which promises some new dynamics. It’s been too long since three Raven, Clarke and Octavia shared the screen and, as three of the best characters on the show, theres hope that they’ll bring back some of the essential human element that the show desperately needs.