After weeks of me begging for a sharper focus on the dire situation and the complicated politics affecting the people of the Ark, The 100 finally delivered in the form of "Twilight's Last Gleaming." Maybe it's just a result of this week's Earth storyline centering on the Clarke/Finn/Raven love triangle, but the Hundred's attempt to send a message to the Ark was much less compelling than what was happening up in space. Even if the Hundred had wandered into a Grounders luau and started doing body shots, I'm not sure they could've competed with the Ark's self-sacrifice story. I mean, sorry Finn, but your love for two ladies will never trump a father who kills himself so that his daughter—who's suffering optic nerve damage as a result of oxygen depravation—can live.
The 100 has spent most of its early episodes focusing on the Hundred and their survival, which makes sense because the series is called The 100, but these attractive teenagers weren't just sent to Earth to get laid in bomb shelters, and they certainly weren't sent to Earth to start a harem (WTF, Bellamy? Who do you think you are, Gaius Baltar? GTFO). No, they were sent to Earth for a reason: to determine whether the planet is habitable. The stories about Clarke and the rest of the Hundred have carried most of the series' weight until now, and that's smart because they've created a solid foundation upon which the rest of the show can rest. Over the last few weeks, the Hundred have built a wall to protect themselves, and they've started drawing boundaries and setting up a basic infrastructure—all very sensible things. But while The 100 has kept itself busy building out its world on Earth, it's sometimes been easy to forget about the plight of the Ark and the real reason the Hundred are even on Earth. Oxygen deprivation isn't a joke, though, and going into "Twilight's Last Gleaming," the show was finally in a place to not only take on this dark and serious storyline. Even better, the episode handled it very well.
Of course, I don't mean to suggest that teens murdering each other is a "lighthearted" topic; Charlotte's leap to her death last week to keep the rest of Hundred safe certainly isn't something we should forget about anytime soon. But watching the Chancellor struggle with how to reduce the population of the Ark without causing panic was an equally heavy storyline. Kane hatched a plan to eliminate a large number of people "by accident": Close the vents of Section 17, pump in some sleeping gas, and then cut off the oxygen supply. But from what I understand, the Ark is organized by function/industry, so wouldn't people's sleeping quarters be organized the same way? Wouldn't killing the population of an entire section possibly wipe out essential personnel and a large number of people whose jobs are similar in nature? I mean, it doesn't actually matter because that's not what eventually happened—Kane's plan was nixed when Abby released the video Jake made before he died because the Chancellor decided he'd rather go down with his people (a noble, if stupid, move)—but it's something to think about.
Abby's quick, bold thinking alerted the entire population to a major flaw in the Ark's system. Instead of inducing panic, however, it led to one of the darkest and most emotionally affecting storylines I've seen in awhile, not only on The CW, but on broadcast television in general. Men and women lined up to offer up their lives in the name of the greater good. The 100 even made me care about characters it only introduced in this episode, simply by shining a light on their relationships and on an object as inconsequential as a barrette. As a race, we humans are mostly selfish beings. Many of us wouldn't hesitate to put our own needs first—we look out for number one. But when fathers and mothers and husbands and wives began dropping their tags so their loved ones could live longer, all of a sudden, I felt like I was watching a different show.
My first worry was that the series wouldn't go through with something quite so dark. On the ground, the Hundred had already discovered Raven's pod, and learned that Bellamy had attempted to destroy the radio to save his own ass. They were preparing to launch rockets to alert the Ark to the fact they were still alive. I definitely expected someone on the Ark to see those rockets and rush in at the last second to keep the oxygen flowing—so when that didn't happen and all those brave people suffocated, The 100 showed us how high the stakes are, as well as how far it's willing to go to illustrate the harsh realities of this world.
Prior to "Twilight's Last Gleaming," we knew The 100 was comfortable with depicting the savagery on the ground, and although this episode's mass suffocation was not a savage act, it was still a bold move. The people on the Ark have bought themselves a bit of time, and Abby and the Chancellor witnessed the rockets' red glare, which means they know Earth is habitable. But how that knowledge will come into play for Abby and her fellow Ark residents remains to be seen. It's not as if they have unlimited transportation to the ground, and both times they've sent people to the surface, their landings have been less than ideal. There are several thousand people still living on the Ark, and I suspect we haven't seen the last of the turmoil in space. Once the word gets out that Earth is once again able to sustain human life, I think we might see the frenzy we thought we'd see this week, as people selfishly fight to be the first ones off that damn space station. It would be a nice juxtaposition with the quiet and haunting imagery of self-sacrifice.
But for now, all we can do is speculate. The 100 continues to surprise me week after week when it zigs where I expect it to zag, so it's completely possible none of that will transpire. Either way, I'm definitely interested to find out what's next.
– I avoided talking about the love triangle as much as I could, because it truthfully feels inconsequential in light of everything else that happened in "Twilight's Last Gleaming," but I'd be remiss if I didn't at least mention it in the notes. Clarke and Finn confessed that they both needed and wanted their heated moment of passion with each other because of what it apparently represented. And then Raven swooped in and stuck her tongue in Finn's kind-of-hesitant mouth and Clarke was all, "Can we not?" when Finn tried to apologize. He really thought he'd never see Raven again, even though he hadn't given up hope—but that's still not really a reason to cheat on your girlfriend, bro. However, I do like that Clarke didn't rage and try to set Finn's sex bunker on fire. She handled the situation pretty maturely. Unfortunately it looks like the love triangle is here to stay, so I better stock up on barf bags and mechanisms that will keep my eyeballs from rolling completely out of my head.
– "One decision does not define a man," is what Kane said to the Chancellor in an attempt to prevent him from joining the men and women in Section 17, but that notion could also apply to Bellamy. His decision to shoot the Chancellor to get aboard the Earth-bound ship to protect Octavia (who looks like she's about to be kidnapped by the Grounders) doesn't mean he's not completely redeemable. Nor does his decision to thwart all means of communication with the Ark. But when he threw the radio into the creek, I did write a big "F*CK YOU, BELLAMY" in my notes, because I appear to have some unresolved anger issues regarding his dedication to saving his own ass.
– Clarke told Bellamy he wasn't a murderer this week, which is true, but felt ridiculous coming out of her mouth as a way to get through to him.
– Am I the only one who got a little Battlestar Galactica feel during the Section 17 scene? And I don't just mean because Alessandro Juliani popped up again this week.
– Kane proved he isn't completely heartless this week when he convinced the Chancellor not to join the men and women in Section 17. He could've easily let the Chancellor die so that he could take the Chancellor's place, which I suspect would be Kane's ultimate dream, but he did the right thing in convincing the Chancellor to stay behind. And Kane wasn't wrong—a shift in power at this time probably would do more harm than good. I like you, Kane. I like you a lot.
AIRED ON 5/19/2016
Season 3 : Episode 16