At this point in season 3 of The 100 I’m simply numb. In a season that has been plagued and marred with behind the scenes issues, actors leaving for greener pastures and a widened budget and scope, The 100 has stumbled into its final stretch. Excellent episodes like ‘Ye Who Enter Here’ and ‘Nevermore’ have become increasingly sporadic as the show must finally reconcile the mouthful it has chewed from the plot-corpse.
In what could have been another claustrophobic and taut horror-thriller like ‘Nevermore’, ‘Demons’ fails by trying to be overtly more horrific and widens its lens in order to encapsulate the power dynamic still quaking in Polis. If ‘Demons’ had focused solely on the crew at Arkadia dealing with an old enemy, it could have been a suspenseful entry that still would have to deal with feeling stale.
SPOILERS AND STUFF
We pick up the episode with Miller telling Harper and Bryan (who isn’t cool enough to even have a last name) a ghost story which ends as any other horror movie featuring kids telling ghost stories might. As it began I thought, “If this show actually kills off these three useless ‘leads’, then we might be going somewhere.” Lo and behold, The 100 isn’t that gutsy or sick and instead treats us to a tale of revenge devoid of all suspense.
Emerson, the lone survivor of Mt. Weather has finally come to exact his revenge on Clarke for her genocidal act. The structural pacing of this season’s characters and events can’t have been easy given the necessities the show had to take in certain exits but I’m sick of giving the show an out because of that reason. None of it makes any structural sense. Emerson is a character who should’ve died 10 episodes ago or three years from now. His return marks a point in the season where it’s clear the writers are just trying to wipe the slate clean with what they’ve laid thus far. And it’s a shame because Emerson truly does represent some interesting thematic territory. If only it had been handled with some grace and sense.
His plot, involving kidnapping everyone Clarke cares for and forcing her to watch them die is intriguing on a surface level, but completely devoid of drama or tension in execution. When Emerson chains up Bellamy, Octavia, Jasper, Monty, Miller, Harper and Bryan and leaves them to suffocate in the airlock as he places a chokehold on Clarke, I just wait until the moment she can break free and save them. This isn’t the show that kills off seven leads in one fell swoop; not at this point in the season and not in the way that it’s handled here. Even in the “surprise” deaths the show has deftly given us, those resonate thematically and can be seen as consistent with the arc of the season after the fact. Here, we have been through giving a damn about Emerson a full year ago and are just waiting for him to reach his inevitable end. If the episode had picked a different entry point, one not so focused on the “will they or won’t they die” aspect, there could’ve been a greater tension at hand.
It’s like the Marvel movies. It isn’t who lives and dies, it’s who has to sacrifice their values in order to achieve their goals.
I truly like most of the people who frequently inhabit the world of this show. Compromise their characters. Show me their weaknesses. Give me their strengths. Don’t pander to me because you want to play in a horror sandbox where you kill off the character who may as well have been asking for sweet release this entire season.
RIP Sinclair. Whatever.
Elsewhere, Murphy stumbles upon his former and true flame, Emori, in Polis and divulges all his nasty secrets to her. Surprise(!) when she comes out as having taken the A.L.I.E. pill and spills the beans to Ontari. It’s a shame we don’t know Ontari more because if we did, we might have gotten some tension from the moment when she’s on the take-the-pill-or-don’t-take-the-pill cliffhanger.
Of course she’s going to take the pill. Now A.L.I.E. sits on the throne of Polis with Jaha and Ontari at her side.
If I sound a little angry at the show it’s because deep down I know it’s capable of so much more. Just last week we were treated with an episode that knew how to manipulate its characters enough that it manipulated its audience. None of that nuance is present here which has, unfortunately, become the norm.
“Like demons do…” – Bryan
Check out my reviews of previous episodes of ‘The 100’ here: