Review: ‘The 100’ ep 3.04: “Watch the Thrones”

The_100_304_1Aaaannnnnnd here it is.  The moment I’ve been dreading since season 3 of The 100 began.  The moment when it has become apparent that someone brought some crack into the writers’ room on a particular day, and it just so happened to be the day they were fleshing out Bellamy’s season 3 story arc.  When the hell are TV writers going to learn that you can’t just do whatever the heck you want with a character with no regard whatsoever for who you’ve spent seasons building them up to be?  Oh wait, I just remembered, they (and I don’t mean just The 100 writers here, I mean ALL TV writers) absolutely can do this, and they do, on a regular basis.

“Whatever the hell we want!” -TV writers

TV writers = Season 1 Bellamy.  And season 3 episode 4 Bellamy is suddenly a complete moron.

“But Bellamy is NOT a moron!” you say.  No, he never has been, and therein lies the problem.  Yes, he was a douche in early season 1, and he was going in a bad direction based off the fact that he was essentially forced to try to assassinate Jaha in order to protect Octavia.  But even then, we knew his douchey behavior was motivated by the fact that he is ultimately a good person who cares for his sister and just wanted to protect her.  And at that time, he had no loyalty to anyone else other than Octavia.  So he had no motivation at that time to try to do anything helpful for them, especially because the Blakes had good reason to be wary and untrusting of other people based on their experiences on the Ark.  And again I ask, has he ever been stupid, even when he was acting like a douchebag?  NOPE.  Never.  Not until last night.

Now.  Let me also say this – adding new characters to TV shows midway through their run, especially when they are there to cause trouble, is a tricky, precarious thing.  I wrote a couple weeks ago that I did appreciate The 100‘s tie-in to our real world current events with the Pike storyline, as much as I knew I was going to despise his character and find his addition to the show wholly unnecessary.  I said, “If Pike were a real person living in today’s society, he would most definitely be a Trump supporter.”  And I get that, and based on his backstory, I fully understand why that is.  Now.  What the writers were going for here is that his bad attitude infects Bellamy after Bellamy’s girlfriend is killed by the Ice Nation.  Again, in theory, this kinda makes sense.  This is what this tweet is getting at:

And yes, Layne, agreed, but the problem is that you have to show us that trajectory.  You have to make us believe.  And The 100 did not do that.  Here’s why:

  1. Pike’s and the Farm Station peeps’ backstory is all told to us in convo after the fact.  I find it to be an interesting new element to add to the show on its own, but its hard for the audience to fully feel the Farm Station peeps’ pain when we we haven’t experienced it with them.  So while this is an interesting plot point, it will only get us so far in giving us a sympathetic view of their horrible behavior.
  2. Gina was nothing more than a plot device.  When you add a new character only to turn around and kill them off in their very second ep of the series, this becomes too obvious.  She seemed super sweet and all, but again, we barely knew her.  We care a little bit, but not enough to understand the decision to murder ALL grounders because of it.
  3. No one who was killed at Mount Weather in ep 3.03, other than Gina, was more than a faceless nameless person.  This is a group of 49 strangers to us.  This could have been 49 sock puppets for all we know.  Several of my favorite shows have done this before – kill a bunch of randoms who you’ve never met, and then expect the audience to care SO much about avenging their deaths that we’ll want to spend an entire season on it.  In this case the plan is (hopefully) not to spend an entire season on it, but we certainly don’t find it to be a valid justification to ruin one of our favorite characters either.
  4. Echo betrayed Bell, which of course would also add to his sudden distrust of the Grounders.  Which again in theory, makes sense.  But as I said in my review last week, her betrayal really didn’t add up to me based on her past behavior.  It felt like another plot contrivance to simply get Bellamy to where he is now.
  5. The Ice Nation killed Gina and the peeps in Mount Weather, NOT Lexa’s loyals, Trikru, Indra, or anyone else, and Bellamy KNOWS that.  He KNOWS the effing difference between Ice Nation and the other Grounder clans, he’s not a complete idiot.  He’s spent two seasons with Trikru, and Lincoln, and yes this has been in varying states of conflict and/or alliance, but he is smart enough to understand these nuances.  I get why Pike doesn’t get it, because he knows nothing else other than Ice Nation.  He’s ignorant.  But Bellamy??  Nah, son.  Bellamy is smarter than this.  Bellamy has both the knowledge and the critical thinking skills to avoid an idiotic trap like this.

The absolute ONLY excuse I can possibly give Bellamy to decide in ONE conversation with Pike that he’s going to mass murder a bunch of peaceful Grounders is that he was stuck in Mount Weather for most of the second half of season 2.  Does he know Indra that well?  Probably not.  So maybe he’s not quite as familiar with some of the peeps as Octavia and Clarke, but I’d honestly have to re-watch season 2 to see if that theory even holds up.  Either way, I refuse to believe that in ONE stupid conversation with this blowhard Pike that Bellamy would change his entire life strategy and worldview.  Is he simply incapable of thinking clearly without Clarke there to guide him?  Is that the issue?  Uggh.  The writers simply didn’t do the groundwork they needed to do in order to make me believe this.

EDIT: I just played a scenario out in my head, triggered by seeing Jason debating with various fans on Twitter (which, I should say – I do greatly appreciate his willingness as a showrunner to at least read through other peoples’ perspectives on why they don’t think particular storylines have been effective.  It’s more than most showrunners are willing to do).  But o.k., to point #2 above about Gina being nothing more than a plot device: Imagine for a sec, that as much as we would NEVER want this to happen, that instead of someone we barely know being killed in ep 3.03 (Gina), it had been someone like Octavia or Clarke.  Someone who Bellamy has considered to be one of the most important people to him, this entire series (or most of the series in Clarke’s case).  Even if it were Jasper or Monty or Raven.  THEN could we understand Bell snapping and going insane and wanting to kill the Grounders outside Arkadia?  Uhhh, YEAH.  At least, wwaaayyy more so than some rando they introduce to us and then kill 5 seconds later.  We would feel his rage with him.  We might not agree with his actions in retaliation, but we would at least understand them better.  You see my point?

This is a classic case of TV writers wanting to have their cake and eat it too.  They want to get a character from point A to point B, but they don’t want to pay the price required to properly get them there.  I’ve seen it a million times.  Now, that said, do I think it would be worth killing Clarke or Octavia or Raven or Monty or Jasper to get Bellamy here?  Uhhh NO.  FUCK NO.  That would just turn the show into a nightmare of misery and unending darkness.  Maybe a better compromise would be to give Bell someone to be really close to for like 6 eps or something.  Enough to let the audience get attached to the character too.  A few freakin’ scenes over 2 eps just does not even come close to accomplishing this.

Lexa … and Clarke

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I’m not titling this section “Clexa” because the points I have here aren’t about the ‘ship, they’re about each of these characters individually.  And frankly I think I’m beginning to overdose on all the ‘ship stuff on this show.  It’s never been what the show is about, and yet in some ways it’s starting to feel like Bellarke vs. Clexa vs. Jonty vs. Kabby vs. Murphamy etc. is taking over everything.  Anyway.  Enough of that rant, let’s get on with Lexa and Clarke.

We’ll start with Lexa.  Lexa, Lexa Lexa.  So, the fight scene was really fun, and very impressively filmed.  Alycia did a great job here with however much of it was her vs. a stunt double.  A lot of it looked like it was really her, which was great.  I was also beyond relieved that they didn’t use the bad choppy slow-mo they love to use in so many scenes like this, that I despise the look of.  Thank GOD.  It was also fun to see Lexa finally show us in a physical sense why she’s considered as such a badass by her people.  Something about the shot where she yanks her sword out of the sheath was very cool and badass looking.  And the fight was as good as most of these scenes from Game of Thrones ever have been, on a far lower budget.  So, that’s all great, and was clearly the best part of this episode.

Another thing I gotta say though, I’m often … torn?  is that the right word?  Perplexed?  Conflicted.  I’m at times a bit conflicted about Lexa.  Because I think she’s a great character, I absolutely appreciate her appeal, I think it’s great to have such a badass character representing the LBGT community, and it’s such a fun change of pace seeing a young woman in a powerful position like this in a TV show.  The internet worships her, and I 100% understand why.  She entertained me in 3.04, far more than any of the other storylines.  I also, simultaneously, find myself occasionally getting a teeny bit annoyed when it starts to feel like The 100 has become The Lexa Show.  Do I get why it’s become The Lexa Show?  Yes.  Is this the show I fell in love with?  Well, to be fair, Lexa didn’t even show up till midway through season 2.  I had already fallen in love with this show and all its main characters long before Lexa’s arrival.  That’s not to say she hasn’t been an awesome character who has added greatly to the 100 world; she certainly has.  It’s simply to say that for me personally, she has never been the key driving factor for my love of the show, and thus I don’t necessarily think the entire show needs to be centered around her.

And yes, I know this is just a couple episodes, but it has been such a heavy focus right at the start of the season that it seems to be setting the stage for all of season 3.  And the reason it annoys me is that it seems to be happening, at least in the last couple episodes, at the expense of Clarke herself.  I was so livid about Bellamy’s storyline this ep that I didn’t even fully realize that Clarke’s storyline was also contributing to my annoyance until I saw these tweets:

Truth.  What the hell did Clarke even do in this ep besides walk around brooding and furrowing her brow, and then getting black blood on her face??  Fine, she did some dealings around the Ice Queen and Roan, but that was not exactly anything to write home about.  If you think about it, we spent the first 2 eps of the season building up the Legend of the Great Wanheda, only to then spend the next 2 eps doing nothing but parade her around modeling the latest Grounder fall fashions while she has meetings with various people.  Some Wanheda she is!!  And yes, I’m downplaying her role in ep 3.03, which at least involved some classic Clarke strategy and negotiation skills plus a little bit of emotions re: the far more interesting stuff she did back in season 2.  But I’d like to see her actually DO something in season 3 now other than just get dragged around by a kidnapper, get pissed off at people, and hold meetings in fancy bedrooms.  I don’t watch this show to see Clarke lounge around in silky pajamas, I watch this show to see Clarke KICK ASS.  WHERE IS THE ASS KICKING??

Anyway.  I trust that she’ll have more to do next week, but another key thing this rant leads into is …

There Are Too Many Characters On This Show Right Now

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I actually quite enjoyed Brenda Strong as Nia. It’s some other people I had issues with …

I complained about this a couple reviews ago, when I said that Raven may be the backbone holding this entire operation together.  And tonight this theory held up.  Both eps with Raven this season have been great, and both eps without her have been … not great.  The reasons for their not-awesomeness have had no direct link with Raven, but I think there has been an element in both eps that they are feeling overcrowded with new characters who we don’t care about even 1% as much as the OG Mains who are getting shut out now due to their presence.  I say this with slight pause because I do really like Roan, and the Ice Queen was really fun too, but we all know how I feel about Pike and his entire crew of dumbasses.

But in general it just adds to the feeling of missing the show I fell in love with when we spend an entire episode letting non-OG characters take over the whole thing.  I mean really, when you think about it, this whole episode involved our OG Mains doing nothing but getting pushed around and manipulated and sidelined by other characters.  The Skaikru got shoved around and manipulated by Pike.  Clarke became nothing but a spectator to the “Lexa vs. The Ice Nation” hour, and Jasper and Monty were … oh o.k. I guess they are the only ones who didn’t fall into this trap, hahah.  This will be a good segue into my thoughts on that B plot.  But you see what I’m saying here.  In a sense, this episode felt like, “Hey let’s watch the newbies do their thing!  All your favorite 100 characters will sit back and watch with you.  Pass the popcorn.”

Jasper and Monty

I have mixed feelings on this subplot in 3.04.  Then again, I should appreciate it more because now that I think of it, it was the only thing tying us back to what this show was when may of us fell in love with it.  And that was exactly what I enjoyed about this storyline when I watched it last night.  The reason my feelings are mixed is that I’m starting to get as fed up with Jasper as Monty and the rest of the Skaikru are.  I get why he’s bummed out and everything, and I get why he’s developed a drinking problem – if anything it’s a wonder that ALL the people on this show have not become alcoholics by now.  It’s just that watching him wallow sooo intensely is starting to get a little trying to watch week after week.  The fact that last week’s ep didn’t have his storyline probably contributed to it being much more enjoyable for me.

And “Float you”!?  Really, guys??  Come on, do NOT make me cringe/laugh in a scene that is supposed to be serious!!  It completely ruins the moment for me.  I get that this is the “frak” of The 100, but that word always sounded preposterous to me on BSG too (which admittedly I did not watch more than a few eps of).  I can deal with “go float yourself” because it has a literal meaning and background, but “float you” in a scene that is supposed to be a serious scene is just too much.

But again, all that said, I actually really appreciated the callbacks to seasons 1 and 2 in this subplot.  I loved that they went back to the dropship which I had practically forgotten about by this point.  And it took me forever to pick up on whose ashes were in that jar thingy.  I kept thinking Maya, but I had no clue what they did with the bodies at Mount Weather.  When they said it was Finn, I actually audibly yelled “Ohh!!” at my television.  As much as Finn was kind of not exactly my #1 favorite character, it was really nice to get a reminder that the poor guy existed in the first place, and that for a good part of this series run so far, he was so important to Raven and Clarke and all of the OG 100.  And when Jasper tripped and dumped him on the ground!?  Wow.  Poor Finn.  Jasper did seem to feel genuinely guilty at least.

Lincoln

Speaking of new side characters overrunning our mains, It feels like Lincoln has been kinda fucked over this season in being sidelined from all missions due to the bounty on his head and due to him now being a target of anti-Grounder bigotry from the Pike Pricks.  Hmm.  Is that a good name for that crew?  I gotta think of something better.  Anyway … I worry for Lincoln this season.  He already has been a victim of the “too many characters” problem, and now he’s just getting rocks thrown at his face.  Are they going to do anything with his character besides pummel him with rocks and insults?  I sure hope so.

Anyway that’s my review for “Watch the Thrones”.  I’m pretty bummed about Bellamy and next week when I have to see what he’s done, it will be very cringeworthy.  But I will be glad to move on from this debacle and see what else they have in store, and find out whether Pike will ever be tolerable and whether Bellamy can be redeemed.  Once again, I say: I sure hope so.

My rating for ep 3.04: 68/100 … 60 of those points are for the cool Lexa/Roan fight + the Ice Queen, and 8 points are for Jasper tripping and dumping out poor Finn.  I basically hated everything else in this ep, I gotta be honest.

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