Review: ‘The 100’ ep 3.02 “Wanheda Part 2”

The_100_302Uuuuuuhhhhhhhmmmmmm ….

Hmm.

I mean ….. hmm.  This was one of those episodes that I had lot of issues with on first watch … and then on second watch, I was able to deal with it a lot better.  Most of what I wrote here is after my first viewing, though a couple bits of it were updated after my second viewing.  So you may want to read it with that in mind.

You know those episodes of your favorite TV show where it just feels like physically … visually … nothing is coming together quite right?  Particularly like fights and special effects – One of those eps where all these things just wind up looking … awkward.  And remember last week when I lamented at how much The 100 loves using that godawful cheesy-looking choppy slow-mo effect?  Not only did they use it again this week, they used it throughout an entire fight scene.  It made my eyes bleed.

It’s frustrating because last week’s season premiere worked soooo well for me visually.  The lame-looking slow mo was only used for a couple seconds of one scene, and everything else managed to come together flawlessly.  Even the fight scenes.  So why did this all suddenly look so awkward tonight?  I’m sure this ep had a different director and possibly a different editor … but yeah.  This is a frustrating thing about television.  It happens on some eps of my favorite shows and it’s always hard to tell just exactly what goes wrong from one ep to the next.

There were some things I quite liked about “Wanheda Part 2”, but there were several other things that were extremely concerning to me.  Let me start with the bad stuff first and then I’ll save the good stuff for the end.

The Not-Awesome Stuff

Pike

I think it was pretty clear to most people who read/listened to Mo Ryan and Ryan McGee’s reviews of these first 4 eps that the problematic character they were referring to was most likely Pike.  This episode confirms it.  It was pretty easy to tell after watching the extended trailer.  The thing is, the story behind Pike’s extreme prejudice against all Grounders makes sense, in theory.  The area where the Farm Station people landed was in Ice Nation territory, and those guys are apparently evil AF.  So their view of the Grounders is entirely made up of these terrible people who have killed a ton of the Farm Station people mercilessly, including children.  And I get that, I totally get it, especially with all the turmoil going on around the world right at this very moment – Look at all the people attributing the barbarism of ISIS to the entirety of the Muslim world, when in reality they only make up a tiny fraction of the Muslim population.  Grounderphobia = Islamophobia 2016.  If Pike were a real-life person in today’s society, he’d most definitely be a Trump supporter.  When do we build the wall to keep all the Grounders out?

So, yes, I get all that and I definitely appreciate that we’re being given a reasonably logical explanation for Pike’s shitty attitude.  I’m also a huge fan of stories that take place in alternate universes while still feeling extremely timely to real world current events.  So, thumbs up for both of those things.  The problem is just, dear GOD Pike is obnoxious to watch already and it’s only been 1 episode.  There’s a huge risk in bringing in an extremely grating character and then proceeding to keep them around for the entire season, which I’m pretty damn sure they will with Pike.  If the character’s obnoxious qualities start to infect the characters you love, it can really start to suffocate the entire show, and in some instances can even permanently ruin characters who are part of the entire reason you loved the show to begin with.

On top of this, there’s a known issue that has always existed with The 100 that also appeared prominently in this episode: cheesy, on-the-nose dialogue.  The 100 has been guilty of it at several key moments in its first two seasons, but I don’t think it ever seemed quite so concentrated as it did in this episode.  This was another issue I had with Pike.

Kane: “That was the Ice Nation.  Not all grounders are the same.”

Pike “They are to me.”

UGGH, really??  You’re just gonna be that much of a moron about it, huh?  And the guy was being SO rude to Indra the entire episode!!  Who the F$%K does this guy think he is!?  That’s what we’re going to have to deal with for this entire season, eh?  Great.  Wonderful.  I can’t wait.

Other On-the-Nose Dialogue

Bellamy: You o.k.?

Monty: I have to be.

Monty’s line there would have only needed a very minor tweak to not sound so cheesy.  Even if it was something like, “I guess I have no choice” in a slightly sarcastic tone or something.  He played it super sincerely which I think was half the problem.

Bellamy

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Dear god.  I am a thousand times more nervous about the direction of Bellamy right now than I was even in my review of last week’s ep.  And don’t forget, in that review, I made a dreaded prediction about the writers “pulling a Finn” with him.  I also said that “if you see TV writers nearing a brink of fucking something up … they almost always do.  They get to that cliff and they jump right off.”  The idiotic thing you most fear they will do IS what they do.  And sure enough, tonight’s storyline suddenly felt exactly like Finn at the beginning of season 2.  I mentioned in one of my season 2 reviews that despite how impressed I was with where they took Finn that season, the story did seem a tad rushed in his descent from peaceful voice of reason to utter madman.  Well the quickness with which Bellamy cracked here made Finn’s arc seem downright leisurely.  And to make matters worse, it’s the same goddamn storyline.  They couldn’t even find something slightly different to do this time?  O.k. maybe I’m getting ahead of myself here.  He hasn’t started to turn bad like Finn did, at least not yet … but this is me anticipating bad things.  AGGH.

Part of the reason this sharp turn is so frustrating to me is the I am a Bellarke fan, so I want these two to care about each other and to do anything to keep each other safe, but it also has to make sense!  Bellamy seemed like he was practically indifferent to Clarke’s fate in 3.01, but now suddenly in 3.02 he’s foaming at the mouth to try to rescue her by any means necessary?  What changed?  Now, that said, I can actually pretty easily theorize the following: Bellamy compartmentalized away all the horrible shit that happened at Mount Weather, and Clarke ditching him was part of all of that.  He was probably pissed and hurt that she left, so he may have kept a bit of a “well screw her then!” type of attitude.  It’s a way to protect himself from just feeling  heartsick over it all, and it’s likely what many of us would do too if we were in his shoes.

Then in 3.02, he doesn’t seem to go batshit cray until he gets Clarke in his sights through the crosshairs of the gun.  So it could be said that this was a trigger for him (no pun intended) such that all those intense memories and feelings suddenly flooded back.  She was so close he could practically reach out and grab her from the big scary Grounder dude.  And this is what set him off on a do-or-die mission to rescue her no matter what it took.  And his “We can’t lose Clarke!!” freak-out sesh at the end was him realizing that he really could possibly lose his life-decision-making partner and he doesn’t know WTF he’d do without her.  I think this is entirely plausible, but if that’s the case then I just wish they could have given us just one or two teeny tiny signs in 3.01 that Bell was worrying about Clarke even a little.  Either way, it’s still something I can forgive as long as he doesn’t go full Finn here.  As long as he doesn’t murder people.  He’s going to murder people, isn’t he?  Why, The 100 writers, why??  Why repeat yourselves?  I guess I can’t technically yell at you for this yet.  But I’m pretty sure I’ll be yelling at you for it next week.

Clarke

I only have one thing to say here, because Clarke’s storyline was actually the one I enjoyed most in this ep.  But in relation to the previous issues I just touched upon, this ep worried me to think that Clarke is just becoming this person that causes people to fall over themselves trying to constantly rescue her, and completely ruining themselves in the process.  Her arc with Roan here was very similar to her arc with Anya, but despite spending some time as a hostage in that situation, she always seemed much more in control of the situation there, like she was the “man with the plan” for most of it.  She was escaping Mount Weather so she could assemble an army to save her people, and she was gonna make that shit happen come hell or high water.  So when Finn went apeshit trying to find her, you could understand why he was so worried, but it also seemed misguided, like, it’s o.k. honey, Clarke’s got this.  Just let her handle it.  And that made it so that even though Finn’s arc was hard to watch, Clarke’s journey was super awesome/badass.

In 3.02, by contrast, Clarke is in a not-so-awesome spot.  She is really just being dragged around like a limp noodle, with no real plan or goal in life whatsoever except to try to no longer be tied up and dragged around.  And honestly that’s fine for now since she’s mentally in a much different place in season 3, but it also made for a slightly frustrating viewing experience for 3.02.  I think and hope that she’ll get back to her Clarke-like ways and start to formulate a plan to execute upon, come 3.03.  We’ll see.

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Jaha and the City of Light

Honestly, I’m not even gonna write much about this right now but I’m on the fence with this storyline at the moment.  Depending on where it goes, it will totally change the way I view what’s happened with these looneybirds in the first couple eps.  It could either wind up being awesomely sci-fi twisted, or it could turn out to be lame cheeseball insanity.  It’s guaranteed to be insane no matter what, but whether it will be good insane or bad insane, we’ll have to wait and see.

The Fights, Editing, and Special Effects

I already talked about this in my intro, but here’s just one more example of what didn’t work for me: That weird zoom into Roan’s facial scarring!  WTF it just looked soo cheesy.  It was like the style of something you’d see in one of those old school kung fu films or something.  O.k. I’m watching the episode again to see how I react to this stuff the second time around.  This part didn’t look quite so bad to me this time.  It was easier to handle.  Honestly I think Clarke (and the stunt double)’s bad red wig put me in a bad headspace in this scene and then scar-zoom compounded it.  My cousin compared it to dramatic chipmunk.

Oh also the way it looked when Murphy (or Emori?) stabbed the big scary guy in the neck and then he fell down … it almost looked like they played it purposely campy.  Plus the amount of noise Emori made when she “snuck up” on him was absurd!  HAHAH on watching it again I do love how the guy just stands there unaffected while Murphy repeatedly clubs him in the head.  It is effectively creepy.  Still, a strange scene.

No Raven

O.k. this is a bit unfair, because not every character can be in every ep.  But at the same time it does make me wonder if the number of characters on this show may be getting a bit overcrowded.  It’s starting to turn into a Game of Thrones sitch.  It happens a lot with big sweeping TV shows like this – Each season adds new characters to support the new storylines, but most of the old characters don’t go away.  And the old characters are the reason we all loved the show to begin with.  It’s a tough situation to navigate for any TV writing staff.  But it prompts me to ask this question – Does removing Raven from an ep of The 100 cause the entire thing to fall apart?  Is Raven the key support beam holding this entire operation together?  Hmmmm.

The Good Stuff

Clarke & Roan … Croane?  Rarke?  Croane.

game-of-thrones-s4e3-arya

This episode felt a lot like one of those Game of Thrones eps which only includes one storyline I like, and the others are all my least favorite storylines.  It’s like an ep with a ton of really boring politics up at Castle Black and then way too much of Melisandre and stupid idiot Stannis.  Again, I think I’m being too harsh.  I care a lot about Bellamy/Monty/Indra/Kane, obviously.  It’s just that Pike was throwing me off too much, as well as my worry for Bell’s behavior.  That’s the only reason I couldn’t fully get into that storyline as much as I normally would.  Admittedly I think the bad things I heard about eps 3 and 4 are already getting into my head, and that’s on me.

But if I’m comparing this to a GoT ep, Clarke and Roan were my Arya and The Hound.  Arya and The Hound are one of my favorite TV duos of all time, and Croane showed some potential here to move into similar territory.  If I can get past the weird slow-mo killings and the scar-zoom, OH and Roan STABBING our beloved Bellamy in the leg!!!  That is a tough one to forgive.  But I’ll try, since he doesn’t know Bellamy from the man in the moon at this point.  Anyway my only issue with this storyline is that there wasn’t more of it, and that we didn’t get much in the way of dialogue.  What we did get was intriguing though.  I really hope and pray that Roan turns out to be a good character at least somewhat along the lines of The Hound, whom I will love till the end of time.

Bellarke

Aggh, Jesus.  I think I’ve already stated all my concerns around Bellarke here, but at the very least, I was pleasantly surprised that these two even got any screentime together at all this early in the season.  I was afraid they wouldn’t cross paths till way later, and something tells me they’ll be somewhat like ships passing in the night this season, but I guess something is better than nothing.  What a painful scene though.  It was great to see these two both so desperately protective of one and other and so thrilled to find each other … we’ve really never had a scene quite so intense in this manner with them before.  So … yay?  But it turned so terrible so quickly, and I’m still terrified about what’s to come.

Clexa

I was nearly as surprised at how the Clexa reunion went down as I was about Bellarke.  I actually did expect these two to cross paths in this ep just from some hints I’d seen online, but for some reason I didn’t put 2 and 2 together that the person Clarke was screaming at in the 3.02 trailer (“You want the Commander of Death!?”) was Lexa.  For some reason I expected it to be someone else.  Silly me.  I knew Clarke would be pissed … but I didn’t expect her to be quite literally spitting venom.  Honestly it was probably my favorite part of the ep.  I love to see my favorite characters fired up like this.  You TELL ’em, girl.  She even threw a “you bitch!!” and an “I”ll kill you!!” in there too.  My goodness.  Then with all the random screaming at the end, she seems to have gone truly ham.  But who can blame the girl?  If Lexa hadn’t ditched her when the going got tough outside Mount Weather, she may not have been forced to fry innocent people and little kids in order to save the Skaikru!  You never know.  She had also just seen Bell stabbed in the leg as a casualty of her little journey to Polis.  I’d be a little pissed off too if my life had just gone to shit for the past 3 months and my friends were now getting hurt because of it.

The thing about Lexa is, there’s no doubt whatsoever that she truly loves Clarke.  She loved Clarke very early on in their relationship, back when Clarke was completely clueless to any feelings of that sort.  There’s also no doubt that Lexa is a great Commander for her people.  She has shown that she is loyal to protecting them against all odds.  But is she loyal to Clarke?  That seems to be conditional.  If Clarke is in the position of being one of “her people,” then yes.  But if Clarke is not running with her crew, then no.  And beyond that, my worry with Clarke in the second half of season 2 was that Lexa’s ridiculous “never think with your heart” motto was going to rob Clarke of everything we loved about her to begin with.  That would be a terrible thing to watch happen, as the ultimate reason you fully fall in love any TV show is the characters.  If Clarke were to stop being Clarke, then what would be the point in watching her every week?

What I hope for season 3 with Clexa is that eventually these two can come to an understanding to accept their differences rather than trying to change each other.  They could use each other’s different strengths as a team if they wanted to work together in that way.  We’ll see.  For now, I think Clarke’s venom is completely appropriate.  Lexa fucked her over at Mt. Weather plain and simple at a time when Clarke had put her full trust and faith into her.  Clarke, let your anger out, girl.  You deserve some time to spit venom like a wild animal.

Octavia

Hey, at least Octavia wasn’t annoying in this ep!  O.k. now I’m reaching.  But I honestly was happy to see Octavia doing what she does best here – being the person to keep it real when people around her are freaking out, helping out her friends which in this case were Nyko and Jasper, and just being a genuinely good person.  There wasn’t a hint of Floorboard Baby to be seen here.  See, the thing about Octavia is, and the reason I always want to root for her, is that deep down, she’s probably one of the most solid people on the show in terms of just being a purely good and kind-hearted person, as well as someone with an incredible amount of determination to fight for what she thinks is right.  She didn’t have a whole lot to do in this ep, but I do hope that this is the version of Octavia we see the most this season.

This

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I’ll be honest, the rest of this ep could have consisted entirely of just one long Jaha hallucination (zzzz) and the ep still probably would have been worth it just for this close-up of Clarke’s feral frizzy-haired rage-filled loco face … just before she hocks a loogie at her former bud.  Haha this close-up is an honest-to-god gift to the world.

The “I’m Not So Sure” Stuff

Jasper

Last week I mentioned that I was glad this show was not going to simply brush off everything that happened at Mount Weather, because in real life, bad shit like that will affect people, sometimes permanently.  This was shown very clearly in the first ep particularly with Jasper, Raven, and Clarke.

Here’s the thing though – This week’s ep made me realize something: I’m already starting to miss Jasper’s Jasper-ness.  It made me realize that 3.01 worked so well because despite Jasper’s heartache, he still had a brilliant moment of full-on Jasperness in the Rover scene.  But then in 3.02, we didn’t get any of that.  And that’s to be expected, because that’s how life goes.  If you’re in a depressed state, you’re not going to be yourself.  I like the realism.  It’s also just a little sad because it changes a dynamic that was always enjoyable on the show before.  I hope our boy can find moments of joy or at least classic Jasper determination again at some point this season.  The scene with Octavia comforting him was sweet and Devon Bostick did a great job breaking our hearts there.

So there’s my 3.02 review.  I think the preview for this ep made me expect something a bit different than it ended up being, and I think that definitely affected my enjoyment of it.  The shitty thing about watching a show live is that the experience is no longer pure – you now have a bazillion outside influences and teasers and spoilers that completely throw off your expectations each week.  I definitely would have still had several of these concerns even if I had watched it in my completely protected binge-bubble like I did seasons 1-2, particularly the issue with the visual effects.  I would have been concerned about Pike and Bell too, but in that case I would not have read disconcerting reviews of upcoming eps, and plus I’d be able to just move to the next ep right away to see what happens.  Ahh, I’ll miss those days.  See ya next week.

My rating for ep 3.02: 79/100

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