The 100 "I Am Become Death" Review: Destroyer of Bridges Both Literal and Metaphorical
At the rate The 100 is burning through storyline and killing off characters, I fully expect the population of the camp to be 10 horny teens and a heap of scrap metal by the end of Season 1. Murphy—sans fingernails, dignity, and his trademark shoulder pad—returned to camp this week after being banished several episodes ago. He brought with him a nasty virus that caused a hemorrhagic fever that spread like herpes through the camp. As if that wasn't bad enough, several characters had their hearts broken this week, including Monty, whose bromance with Jasper was on the rocks after Jasper's rash decision to attack the Grounders last week made him some sort of hero amongst the rest of the camp and he dumped his former BFF for notoriety and a bigger tent. #TeamMonty
Murphy's probably only been gone 10 days in the timeline of the Hundred—that's how quickly the show moves—but it was enough time for him to be captured and tortured by the Grounders. Quite unsurprisingly, exactly zero people were happy to see his bloody visage staring back at them when he arrived at the gates of the camp, and they were even more angry when they discovered he'd unknowingly been infected with a virus and unleashed it in their very safe, very quiet home. Just kidding. Compton is probably a safer place to live than the Hundred's base camp right now.
Honestly, a viral outbreak was bound to happen sooner or later given that these teenagers grew up in an artificial, contained environment away from the natural world. I'm surprised no one experienced some sort of infection—or even the most basic allergies—before now. They grew up on a space station, their bodies wouldn't have the same antibodies that ours do because they wouldn't have had the chance to develop them. They wouldn't be immune to the things we are, or that the Grounders are. What I'm trying to say is: The Hundred have been lucky up until this point, even if their track record doesn't necessarily show it. And the fact that only 14 people died as a result of the biological warfare unleashed by the Grounders is also a bit of a miracle. Viral outbreaks can be incredibly dangerous, and if the show didn't necessitate that at least some of the Hundred live to see Season 2, it wouldn't have been all that unbelievable to think the virus could have wiped them out entirely.
The goal of the virus, however, wasn't to eliminate the Hundred, but to weaken them and give the Grounders an advantage when they eventually did attack. Recognizing their weakened position, the Hundred opted to build a bomb with the highly unstable substance Raven found leaking from the Ark debris (just once I'd like a TV show to introduce something like that and just forget about it as if to say, "Screw you AND your gun, Chekhov! I do what I want!"). Given the state of TV today, a landscape in which teenagers are constantly pushing the envelope in terms of drama, where they're involved in everything from murder investigations to forbidden love affairs with their teachers, building a bomb—a weapon with the ability to destroy lives and homes in great number—honestly, didn't faze me. It's possible that Game of Thrones has numbed me to the actions of violent children, but more than likely, it's that The 100 has been constructing a brutal world and telling very adult stories through these teenagers since its premiere, and their age feels like an inconsequential piece of trivia after 10 episodes.
But at the end of the day, they are just kids. They might be toting guns and quarantining a viral outbreak, but building and unleashing a bomb—even if it was just supposed to blow up a bridge to buy them time to recuperate—was a ballsy move, one that most adults would struggle with, and it's likely to have repercussions, not just in terms of their ongoing battle against the Grounders, but for themselves. Clarke referenced Robert Oppenheimer's own reaction to seeing the successful detonation of the atomic bomb in the New Mexico desert after she saw their bomb's mushroom cloud. Oppenheimer, who's often credited as the "father of the atomic bomb," was actually quoting the Bhagavad Gita when he said "Now I am become Death, the destroyer of worlds." Let's not forget why these teenagers are here in the first place. Human existence was destroyed in a nuclear war 97 years ago, forcing those who remained in orbit to band together in an attempt to keep the human race from dying out, and here come the Hundred building a bomb with little to no hesitation for the irony of the situation.
If the Hundred can build a bomb and detonate it, what's to stop them from doing it again? Access to supplies notwithstanding, once you've done something one time, it's much easier to do it a second time. They may have done this in the name of protection, and it maybe have been away from their camp giving it an "out of sight, out of mind" feel for many, but they've crossed a dangerous line here, not only with the Grounders, or the Mountain Men Lincoln told Octavia about this week, but with themselves. There's no going back now.
On the relationship front, things were just as unstable as bomb this week. Raven said Finn hesitated before volunteering to transport said bomb to the bridge, which she then used as the basis for her argument in breaking up with him, claiming he didn't hesitate to catch Clarke when she collapsed from the virus. The romantic relationships are still the weakest part of The 100, if only because they still feel very rushed—Raven believes Finn loves Clarke after only knowing her for a couple of weeks—but in Finn's defense, most people would hesitate before agreeing to transport something that could blow them up, and furthermore, it's a natural human reaction to try to catch something or someone that is falling. I'm not discounting the argument that dire situations bring people together quickly or that Finn believes he's in love with Clarke, but this love triangle still feels rushed and forced. We haven't witnessed any real reason to believe his feelings go that deep, the only evidence we have is the show continuing to tell us they're that deep. Maybe if the writers spent a little bit of time showing instead of telling—and catching someone when they fall doesn't count—I'd be more inclined to believe them. It is possible to weave a romantic storyline in to a bleak tale of human existence, but right now, The 100 is failing with what is its main romantic triangle.
Jasper's ongoing infatuation with Octavia is a far more believable storyline, and it's had far less screentime. He's pining for her while she's making googly eyes at the tall, handsome man with a six-pack (and who, coincidentally, took off for parts unknown this week), and it feels real. Maybe it's because it's the only thing that feels remotely teenage about the show, but it might also be because we've seen it from the point of view of others, which helps to flesh it out. Where the show tends to do very well in terms of human relationships, however, is the ongoing relationship between Clarke and Bellamy. They're still adversaries much of the time, but they've struck an understanding and they continue to work together to lead the Hundred despite often coming down on different sides. I'm far more interested in that relationship than whatever romantic touchy-feely nonsense is brewing between Clarke and Finn, but if the writers let it breathe and develop it naturally, it could turn out to be a strength rather than a weakness.
"I Am Become Death" was an important episode in terms of The 100's freshman season. They built a bomb and blew up the bridge—both literally and metaphorically. Raven dumped Finn, Octavia chose her people over Lincoln, and Murphy returned and appeared to have had a change of heart before straight up murdering the man who strung him up from the tree several episodes ago. Was this a single act of vengeance, or is Murphy just a giant bag of douche who's returned to rain fire down on his former people? Personally, I kind of hope it's the latter. Everyone loves a redemption arc, but this show is far too young for that. Being held captive and tortured by the Grounders could have changed Murphy, but he's so good as a villain—and having a villain who's not a member of the Grounders adds another layer of drama to the series—and I hope he continues this two-faced act.
If the episode left me wanting for one thing, it was answers about the Ark and the piece of the Ark that exploded upon impact with the Earth at the end of last week's episode. It's far more probable that the ship carrying Clarke's mother and the rest of the mutineers was able to disengage from the larger piece of the Ark before it exploded, than believing one of those charred bodies was Abby's, but we spent no time at all with that storyline this week except to inspect the wreckage so we still don't have answers. I guess if there's one thing that I dislike about The 100 so far, it's that it continues to struggle to balance the two worlds, having to shift focus back and forth between the action on the ground and the politics on the Ark. It's frustrating to watch it play out this way, but it does create a sense of anxiety that pairs nicely with the stories being told.
Current population of the Hundred (including Bellamy and Raven): 77
– Raven mentioned that the Ark had gone silent, which makes sense considering the last thing we saw, the entire space station went dark as a result of the giant piece breaking free and crashing to Earth. Still, I wish we'd gotten more reference to what's going on on the Ark than this.
– Monty saved the day when he arrived with another gun for Jasper. Super glad those BFFs patched things up because I was upset about it for a few minutes when Jasper was being Douche King of the Castle. I still think Monty deserves more screentime.
– Who are the Mountain Men? Sasquatch?
– Is this the last we've seen of Lincoln for awhile? Please say no!
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