Screen / The 100

Catch Up Corner: The 100 “Contents Under Pressure” or the One Where Everyone (but Octavia) Tortures A Dude

I wonder how many of the 100’s bad decisions are based in the fact that their all kids and how many are based in the fact that they’re people who just make bad choices. In the beginning a lot of those choices (including the ones that got them imprisoned and then dropped on Earth in the first place) could be linked to them being self-absorbed teenagers with no concept of  responsibility. Finn got there because he took a space walk, wasting valuable oxygen the Ark surely could have used, and there’s no doubt there are plenty of other dumb choices that landed the 100 where they are. For all those kids there are also the ones who got there because they were simply born or because they wanted to do the right thing.

The 100‘s all about choices, the ones people make and the ones they don’t, the good ones and the bad and how they’ll inevitably come to affect them down the line. Choices that seem like good ones in a moment change once new facts become known. Some choices are bad from the beginning, but there’s no other choice to make. But those choices have to be lived with no matter where they fall on the spectrum. The people aboard the Ark realize this as Raven makes contact and Earth is confirmed to be survivable, and there’s promise of the 100 coming to the same realization somewhere down the line (perhaps far down the line) as they all gather up their own lists of bad deeds.

When Bellamy drags Octavia’s Grounder friend back to camp to torture information out of him, it’s essentially a recipe for disaster. There’s little reason for him to have been brought back, since why does Bellamy think he’ll talk to them? Clarke has to point out that Bellamy’s likely only exacerbating an already huge problem between them and the Grounders by kidnapping one of their own, not to mention essentially guaranteeing that this specific Grounder is going to hate them and make it his personal mission to destroy them. But even she changes her mind once it comes down to Finn living or dying.

The love triangle angle is still chugging along, however annoying it may end up being. With Finn’s life hanging in the balance, neither Clarke nor Raven sees any need to stay angry with him or with each other. And Raven’s sad declarations that Finn is all she has only makes his betrayal worse and what sends her upstairs to electrocute the Grounder in the hopes that he’ll talk.

The obvious question (that no one asks) is why should this person do anything to help the 100 now? They dragged him there and have tortured him since he arrived, and now they expect assistance? The Grounder did his good deed for the year perhaps in protecting Octavia, which didn’t earn him much in the way of gratitude either. But they’re fighting a war, as Bellamy puts it, and what’s a war without torture these days?

The exploration of fault, good and bad sides, motivations, etc is a strong one that the show’s actually doing a pretty good job with. The 100 are our heroes, but doesn’t everyone think they’re the hero of their own story? Isn’t it safe to assume there are other Grounders like this one, who saved Octavia and the others? Grounders who are just as benevolent as Octavia and as ruthless as Bellamy? Whether the 100, or even the Grounders, realize this (if either side if able to even able to comprehend it) is up in the air. After advocating for Lincoln’s torture, Clarke tries to clean his wound in some showing of kindness, later telling Octavia that she never wanted him to get hurt because she was just trying to save Finn. But does that matter? Surely the Grounders have their own motives, just as the Council had theirs and the people now fighting against them have their own? People don’t exist in vacuums, everyone’s got a story, and in the Grounders’ there’s the chance that the 100 are the villains.

As far as this episode is concerned, they are. The Grounder is stoic and unmoved by his torture, refusing to speak even after being electrocuted. For everyone’s claims that they’re trying to save Finn, none of them manage to do it. It’s Octavia who does, cutting herself with the Grounder’s poisoned blade and asking him to help her, and her opinions of the rest of her comrades have changed completely. Even of Clarke, with whom Octavia’s been somewhere near the same wavelength with for most of the season. The casual cruelty, despite their intentions, isn’t in Octavia’s nature.

Aboard the Ark there might as well be a big neon sign threatening the 100’s own devastation once all their misdeeds catch up to them. Whether they are misdeeds right now is debatable, but Kane also thought he was doing the right thing by pushing for The Culling though he’s devastated to learn even a few more days would have spared those people their lives. Theolonius has been having hard time all season, since Wells’ death only to have it come back on him again when it’s confirmed that his son really is dead and not miraculously alive like Clarke and the others. And there’s Abby, who accidentally got her husband killed by exposing his plans and now has to cope with Clarke’s hatred of her in the aftermath.

And beacuse nothing is easy aboard the Ark, the happy occasion that should be all of them going to Earth is tainted by the knowledge that not all of them can go. With too few ships, lots of people are going to be forced to stay behind which means choosing who gets to live or die, more choices that the Council doesn’t really have the right to make but is going to make anyway.

On Earth, Bellamy tells Clarke that it’s not easy being in charge and having so many people looking to you for protection and guidance. And that role, or even being on Earth at all, is forcing them to change into people who can survive even if it means doing things they’d rather not do. The 100 is, at its core, a show about survival. The 100 got tossed onto  Earth with no resources and have to find a way to make it on their own, and the only reason they got dropped there was because the Ark is looking for a way to survive their oxygen-deficient Ark. In the name of living through both of these harsh environments, the people are forced to adapt to them and even strip themselves of the parts of them they were proud of.

Stray Observations

  • Octavia: “For the record, you didn’t save Finn, that was me. But whatever you want to tell yourself to feel better.” Have I mentioned that Octavia’s my favorite?
  • Diana is obviously not to be trusted. Besides the fact that she’s played by Kate Vernon (who was lovely and revelatory and lovely on Battlstar Galactica) she obviously angled for Abby’s Council seat. Now that she has it, I wonder what she’s going to do with it.

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