The 100 "Contents Under Pressure" Review: Don't Bottle It Up
A lot of TV fans hate bottle episodes because they confine actors to one set. And on a show like The 100, where the forest surrounding the Hundred's camp is just as much a character as Clarke or Bellamy, they can be especially trying. "Contents Under Pressure" could've easily faltered by keeping the Hundred locked inside the drop ship. But between the radio connection to the Ark, Clarke saving Finn's life, Bellamy's torture of the Grounder, and a well-timed hurricane going on outside, the episode was not only entertaining, it managed to pull off some impressive character development, too.
Let's start with Clarke, because as we've come to realize, the world of The 100 revolves around Clarke. In need of her mother's medical expertise, Raven was finally able to establish a radio connection to the Ark; this was both good and bad. It was good in the sense that Abby was able to walk Clarke through the necessary steps to save Finn's life, but it was bad in that it meant Clarke had to address the giant elephant in the room: that she knows her mother was responsible for her father's death. But choosing to confront the issue sooner rather than later was a wise decision, because Clarke needs to work through her complicated emotions. After all, it's not like she's had much time to sit around and come to terms with this relatively new development. Immediately after she discovered the truth, Wells was murdered, and when the murderer was identified, she chose to commit suicide. Clarke tried to bang her way to peace of mind with Finn, but then Raven arrived, Octavia was more or less kidnapped, and Finn was stabbed. This show hasn't slowed down even for a minute, and while that's wonderful from a storytelling perspective, it's gotta be crazy exhausting for the characters.
Earlier this week, at a screening of this episode that The CW held for reporters, The 100 creator Jason Rothenberg said he believes the entire first season only covers approximately 22 days, which made me feel really happy to lead a boring life. Not only do I get to sleep a lot, I'm almost never stabbed by strangers. Poor Finn made it out of makeshift surgery alive, but the knife the Grounder used was poisoned, which led to a pivotal moment for Clarke. After Bellamy kidnapped the Grounder who rescued Octavia, Clarke—the same Clarke who's usually a voice of reason in this crowd full of crazy—actually supported Bellamy's use of violence as a way to get the Grounder to reveal the antidote. No one was surprised when Bellamy jumped right into this particular method of "interrogation," although it was clear that the moment changed him and I have a feeling we'll soon be seeing a different Bellamy because of it. Same with Clarke—when she endorsed Bellamy's use of torture, her character was forever changed. She can longer play the High and Mighty card.
"Contents Under Pressure" provided another example of how The 100 isn't afraid to challenge its characters and test their limits in this brutal world. However, I take issue with the use of Clarke's feelings for Finn—which still feel rushed, given the short amount of time she's actually known him—as the reason that she radically changed her calm and rational demeanor. Love makes you do the wacky, but does it really make people condone the use of torture? Was there another way for the series to force Clarke to see that being a leader sometimes means making tough calls? Maybe, maybe not, but her feelings for Finn are still the weakest link in an otherwise exciting story. It's the one instance in which the quick pace of the series is a hindrance rather than an asset.
Back on the Ark, Kane was feeling the weight of his own guilt over learning the Earth was habitable not long after he'd pushed for the death of 320 people. It was a strong performance from Henry Ian Cusick, and in the same way that Bellamy is being humanized as time progresses, so is Kane. It looks like Kane might not be the villain we once thought he was, which is fine with me. It makes him a more complex and flawed character. Plus, it looks like there's a new villain in town now that former chancellor Diana Sydney (Kate Vernon, another Battlestar Galactica alum!) has conspired to gain a position on the Council in the wake of Abby losing her place. For the record, I am 100 percent behind this decision. The politics on the Ark continue to be as exciting, if not more so, than the action on the ground, and her presence is bound to kick up more dust as The 100 attempts to decide which of 2,000 people on the Ark will make it into the 700 seats on the drop ships.
The limited setting of "Contents Under Pressure" didn't limit the episode in the slightest; instead, its smaller scope resulted in some good character moments, and its dark subject matter pushed those characters to reexamine what they will and will not do when faced with dire circumstances. Clarke and Bellamy will be forever changed by the choices they made this week, just as Kane will probably be forever haunted by the knowledge he has the blood of 320 people on his hands. It's true that not everyone is going to survive this journey, but right now that's what's making The 100 an exciting ride.
– Current population of the Hundred (including Bellamy and Raven): 92
– The Grounder speaks and understands English! He's remained silent until now, content to observe the Hundred, knowing they'll eventually tell him what he wants to know if he stays quiet. While Rothenberg said he'll probably never be reciting Shakespeare, he will eventually get more lines.
– Despite making the tough call to torture the Grounder for the antidote, Clarke was back to acting like her same old self by episode's end as she chose to let Raven have Finn. I could complain about how The 100 is making Clarke appear to be good and sacrificing her own happiness for someone else's, but that's such a cliché. I'd almost rather see her take a stand if her feelings for Finn really are that deep.
– Isaiah Washington's performance when he told the people on the Ark that he'd lost his son: A+ (I'm also glad that wasn't dragged out and that he knows Wells is dead. I have a feeling he won't find out just how Wells died for awhile though).
– The Octavia/Grounder connection is a bit weird, but I'm willing to at least wait and see where it goes. And it's only 60 percent because of his abs.
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