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The 100 S01E11: "The Calm"


I'm going to be honest, "The Calm" was not my favorite episode of The 100. Or my second favorite. In fact, I'd place it near the bottom of the list. It's not that it was a particularly bad outing for the show, it's more that it was a pretty straightforward set-up episode for the final two hours of the season, and those can become tedious as you watch the gears turn and wait for everything to fall into place. But I suppose we knew this would happen, with an episode title like "The Calm." You know, as in "the calm before the storm." And now that Finn's been taken off to die, Monty's been captured (maybe?), and Clarke is strung up in a tree, I'd say we're definitely in for some serious bananapants stuff next week with the Grounders. 

As for what transpired this week—Clarke and Finn were kidnapped, and Clarke was forced to perform yet another makeshift surgery—it wasn't boring per se, but it felt a bit repetitive after nearly a whole season of Clarke playing Doogie Howser to the Hundred. This time she was forced to save the life of a young Grounder who was injured in last week's bombing of the bridge. When Clarke asked Dichen Lachman's Anya WTF a young girl was doing out on the bridge, Anya informed Clarke that that's how the Grounders train their kind to be warriors. Pushing young men and women into battle to teach them how to fight makes about as much sense as throwing them into the pool to teach them how to swim, but it's not necessarily surprising, is it? That's exactly what the Hundred have been doing all season long—learning how to survive after being dropped into a series of life-or-death situations. Maybe it seems silly to us as viewers that the Grounders would force people to fight without any guidance, but the Grounders lead a rather primitive lifestyle. It's not as if they have boot camps for their soldiers to attend. Just as the Hundred have learned a few things since arriving on Earth, so too did the Grounders. So Clarke should be less judge-y, I think.


Clarke, of course, failed to save the young Grounder, which is why Finn was taken off to die—the Grounders clearly subscribe to the "eye for an eye" school of life—but what will the show do without its main hunk? Just kidding, Finn is going to be fine, y'all. As ballsy as it would be for the series—which has made a name for itself by killing pretty teenagers—I simply don't see the series offing its main male love interest. I can think of at least five reasons why I'd like to see it, because I think there's great potential for stories for both Clarke and Raven as a result of his death, but Finn's purpose on the show is much bigger than just what's in his pants. 

Finn is the show's resident optimist, and he's the sole outside force keeping Clarke from slipping completely into the savagery of the world they've come to live in. She's still more level-headed than Bellamy, but she's slowly leaning more and more toward his way of thinking. After Finn was taken off to meet his maker, Clarke easily slit the throat of a Grounder and then watched the life fade from his eyes in order to escape, so I'm not sure Finn's doing all that great in his charge as the angel on Clarke's shoulder, but she's also just becoming more realistic in her approach to life as she adapts to this new world. Finn refuses to acknowledge his worldview has no place in the world in which they live, but the show needs that. Without his rational thinking and confident hopefulness, the series (and Clarke) would probably fall head first into the darkness within.

Which brings me to Miles. The scenario in which The 100 has found itself after 11 episodes is one that doesn't necessarily happen too often. I'm not talking about when Clarke slit the Grounder's throat—though that certainly qualifies—I'm talking about when a series is limited in its location and cast and only focuses on a small handful of individuals, leaving everyone else to shuffle around awkwardly in the background or just out of frame. Lost was faced with the same situation, and it tried to introduce other survivors in Season 3, but the writers soon realized that no one really gave a damn about the new characters because A) viewers were already heavily invested in the established characters, and B) they were boring. That's how I felt when The 100 introduced the innocent-enough Miles this week.

We've already encountered several new faces on The 100, but up until this point, they were introduced as redshirts, dying quick, mostly meaningless deaths. The series didn't waste time developing them or forcing us to sit through painful exposition about how they haven't really had a chance to hang out with the leads since landing on Earth, because their characters served little purpose other than to illustrate just how dangerous this world is. Earlier this season, I complimented The 100's ability to take a previously unknown character on the Ark and turn him into a real character within the span of one episode, so that we felt his pain when he later sacrificed himself for his daughter. His death had some weight to it, in contrast to the teen deaths on Earth. The show has never given the ground characters the same courtesy.

We know there are still plenty of unnamed faces wandering around as Clarke and Finn spend each episode dealing with the newest problem to affect the Hundred, and we know why we haven't gotten to know them, but if the series wants us to care about new people when their numbers are inevitably called—and I feel like the fact that Miles survived "The Calm" means that we're are supposed to care about him—the writers need to work harder to smoothly introduce them. There's no need to awkwardly have him point out that he hasn't spent much time with Clarke and Finn, because that's obvious to anyone who's been watching the show, and also because the series could've used that time to let us get to know the real Miles, the one who got himself shot full of arrows. It's too late to do that for Miles, but I hope the series will do a better job with the next guy. It makes sense to not spend much time on a character if they're going to die in the same episode they're introduced in, but doing so would never be considered a bad thing, either.


We finally returned to the action of the Ark this week. Its presence was definitely missed last week, and I think by taking the time off at this point in the story, it actually hurt its credibility. I don't pretend to understand how the Ark's systems work or even how long the men and women of the Ark would have been able to survive as their oxygen levels continued to plummet without the CO2 scrubbers doing their thing, but if they're on the same timetable as the ground, then it's been a couple of days since the incident involving the exodus ship. Are we supposed to believe Kane was knocked out for that long? Are we supposed to believe Cute New Guy (who was he? Did anyone catch his name?) had his arm stuck in the door for several days? By focusing solely on the ground last week, the storylines feel out of sync. 

Despite the confusing timeline, what transpired this week in space was far more interesting than what happened on the ground, even though the show didn't spend much time there. Kane once again subverted my original expectations for his character as he continued to play the hero, rescuing men and women who were trapped, ignoring the Chancellor's orders to leave him for dead, and eventually making the risky climb through a very hot ventilation shaft to rescue more men and women, one of whom turned out to be Abby! No one really thought she was dead, right? At this point, I would watch a show only about the happenings on the Ark and with Kane as the lead. Henry Ian Cusick is doing so much with very little screen time, bringing a depth and gravitas to a character I never expected to love quite as much as I do. Honestly, if Chancellor Jaha died, I wouldn't be too upset if it meant a more prominent role for Kane. #TeamKane

Like I said, this was very much a setup episode, the last one before what will surely be an explosive and exciting finale as the Hundred do their best to rescue their comrades, while also protecting the small world they've spent at least a few weeks building when the Grounders attack. There's also the fact that there are now only 1,000 survivors on the Ark and they're all probably dealing with various degrees of oxygen depravation and facing the possibility of death. Next week's episode is titled "We Are Grounders - Part 1" and I can't wait to see what's in store, but I hope we'll at least continue to explore the politics of the Ark next week, too. I'd like to see the show really achieve a balance in terms of storytelling there, because while I do think its possible to have episodes that focus solely on what's happening on the ground, it's not making it easy to sync up the timelines when that happens.



VITAL STATS

– There was a discrepancy in the comments last week about the current number of survivors, and I meant to look into it more closely, but I forgot, so let's just say no one from the Hundred died this week and I'll hopefully have a better answer for you next week!

– How many little Bellamys are going to be running around in Season 2 when all the ladies he's been banging this season inevitably end up pregnant? This week, Raven attempted to numb the pain she felt as a result of Finn's feelings for Clarke by sleeping with Bellamy. I kind of wished he'd been like, "Yeah, no, girl. Put your clothes back on." But then he wouldn't be Bellamy. Remember, he's the guy who appeared to have a harem a few weeks ago. And Raven sleeping with Bellamy is only going to backfire, because it's only going to make her feel worse.

– "The air is a message!" I liked that Cute New Guy (seriously, what was his name?) was like, "Yeah, Kane, you're talking crazy talk right now." Also, for some reason I have the words Cute Boy Brigade in my notes re: Kane and this character, so I hope that continues.


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