Saturday, February 20, 2016

The 100, Season Three, Episode Five: Hakeldama

So much happened this episode, I hardly know where to begin.  Last week, Pike's first move as Chancellor was to pardon himself and prepare to go to war with the Indra's forces.  It was clearly a decision born of the attacks his people suffered at the hands of the Ice Nation, but was short sighted in that he didn't for a moment consider that there are different nations for a reason.  This week we watched him go off to war with Bellamy in tow and when his forces returned, they had slaughtered the entirety of the army save Indra whose life Bellamy begged for.  Bellamy suggested that Indra remain a live in order for her to be able to tell her people that Skaikru was claiming the land for themselves and promised death to any Grounder who violated their new territory. Pike didn't suffer a single loss because of the fact that they had guns and the Grounders did not.

I think in many ways, The 100, have constructed Skaikru to be European conquerors and  the Grounders to be Indigenous people.  This is a troubling juxtapostion in that Grounders are always presented as backward and Skaikru as forward thinking.  I think making this story about colonization is great but for this to really work they need to make the Grounders far more sympathetic. We need to learn more about the culture and their language.  The 100 needs to make sure that the audience sees the Grounders as people who in their own way are being wronged.  This is particularly true with Pike declaring war.

Pike at this point is really a despicable character and though I can understand that he is acting out of fear and anger, it doesn't even come close to justifying his actions.  It's  particularly appalling given that on the station, Pike was a teacher, meaning that he better than most should have had some idea about colonialism which is what the theft of the grounder land is. Furthermore imprisoning people is beyond problematic.  Pike pulled people out of sickbay claiming that they didn't have enough medical supplies to share.  Lincoln was thrown in with the Grounders when he was deemed disruptive.  As a teacher, Pike must have learned about minorities being locked up, he must have known about internment camps and he still went ahead and threw them in prison.  For the life me, I don't understand why beyond, Abby, Marcus, Octavia and Clarke that no one else can see the harm which will come of this.  In earth's history, might is right has always lead to war and oppression. Having the person responsible for the atrocities be a man of colour also flies in the face of exactly who in earth's history has been responsible for things like slavery, internment camps, genocide etc,.

Marcus continues to show us how much he has changed.  He's not willing to openly challenge Pike, because Pike won the election fairly.  Well, plenty of harmful dictators were originally elected with a mandate that turned out to be destructive. It's a testament to how far his character has grown that I find myself rooting for Marcus of all people.

From the moment Bellamy decided to side with Pike, I very much felt that this decision was out of character for him.  As much as Bellamy has been actively involved in the decision making for Skaikru since receiving his pardon, he has very much been in a secondary role, happy to follow the orders of others or even more specifically Clarke.  Siding with Pike very much feels like he simply substituted Clarke with the first strong person to come along and to deal with his grief at the loss of girlfriend. I really do think that we need more of an explanation for Bellamy's decision to partner with Pike.

When Octavia sneaks Clarke into Arkadia to discuss the slaughter of the Tree Nation warriors, Clarke is at first convinced that she will be able to talk sense into Bellamy.  This is a very emotional scene and it's so well acted, especially on the part of Bob Morley. Bellamy cannot let go of the fact that Clarke left him alone to do the clean up after the events of Mount Weather, and he cannot let go of the fact that they had to look for her and when they finally caught up with her, she turned her back on them to stay with Lexa. Bellamy even brings up Clarke's willingness to drop a bomb on Tondc, even though it endangered so many. Clarke tries to explain that she knew that she could leave because she left their people in good hands - Bellamy's hands but he is not the least bit pacified. If anything, all she does is harden Bellamy's heart.

Lexa is true to form when she first learns about the slaughter and says, "blood must have blood." Clarke does her Gandhi impression and points out that this will just lead to more blood and no end. In a surprise twist, Lexa agrees not to retaliate against Skaikru, even though Indra warns that the members of the council will not accept this decision. I cannot be the only one who doesn't believe for even one second that Lexa is going to follow through on her promise to Clarke.  Lexa has already sold Clarke out once and the moment she saw the dead Tree Crew warriors one of her first orders was to ban Clarke from leaving. This is a woman who will always act in her own best interest.

Jaha has made his way back to Arkadia to share the news about the City of Light.  Pike is initially concerned that Jaha will pose a threat to his leadership but clearly rights him off as irrelevant when Jaha starts to speak of mental and spiritual healing. Abby is also dismissive when Jaha says that he has found the City of Light and that his dead travelling companion is there now. Jaha is not dissuaded however and he targets Raven because he sees the pain that she is in because of her disability.  Given Raven's increasing frustration about her limitations, pain and being taken off of active duty by Abby, it's not surprise at the end when Raven takes the chip from Jaha.  I'm really disturbed by this because it positions Raven as the weak link.  There are plenty of people in Arkadia who are suffering and could probably use a break from reality but using Raven, erases all of the strength that she has shown. I didn't think it was possible but this scene made me hate Jaha that much more.

In the following weeks, it's clear that The 100 will focus on the fragile truce Clarke has negotiated, Pike's increasingly blood thirsty plans for Skaikru, as well as Jaha's mission from the tech. I still very much think that The 100 needs to move away from the constant war and tensions with the Grounders and go about showing us how Skaikru builds a life.  This tension already feels like a reboot to what happened in the first season.  They really need to humanise the Grounders as well as make it more explicit that what Pike is planning is colonialism.