Wednesday, December 3, 2014

REVIEW: 'The 100' - Everyone Has to Deal with the Personal Costs of Strategizing for War and Survival in 'Fog of War'

The CW's The 100 - Episode 2.06 "Fog of War"

Tensions run high between Clarke and Finn, while Raven discovers that Mount Weather is interfering with their communication systems. Jasper and Monty discover the truth about what's going on. Octavia comes face-to-face with her worst nightmare. President Wallace is about to be betrayed by those closest to him.

The effects of war and survival have been weighing heavily down on the characters of The 100 since the very first episode. The show does a wonderful job of putting all of its characters into complicated and complex situations and forcing them to deal with the consequences of their actions. War and dystopia forces people to act and make hard decisions. And yet, as "Fog of War" showcases, war simply isn't just about action. It's about strategy and understanding the release of humanity that comes with it.

This episode doesn't propel the plot forward a lot. However, it is filled with tons of meaningful character interactions that come as a result of deep, personal and tragic backstories. It puts a lot of characters together in confined spaces. Clarke, Raven, Abby, Finn, Bellamy and Octavia are heading to Mount Weather again to destroy the tower that is now blocking their communication systems. They need to know if there are any other survivors from the Ark out there who could join their camp and aid in this fight with both the Mountain Men and the Grounders. Acid fog strikes again - which we learn later on is a weapon used by Mount Weather. The group is separated. Clarke and Finn return to the bunker they had sex in last season and where Finn most recently killed yet another Grounder. Bellamy and Octavia find shelter in an underground parking garage (a wonderful relic of the past). And lastly, there's Raven and Abby trapped in a tent they are able to set up before the fog envelops them.

Trapped in these circumstances allows every pairing to have meaningful interactions. With Raven and Abby, they are able to decrypt the radio frequency that the Mountain Men are using. That then presents the quandary: Take out the tower to hopefully find more of their people or leave it as is and have this link to the strategy coming from Mount Weather. Raven knows how Clarke would react in this situation. That line packs such a powerful punch because the kids have been on the ground much longer than the adults. Abby is still finding her way as a leader and a strategist. And now, she is moving into the kids' way of thinking.

And yet, the kids have been traumatized so much ever since they were first dropped on this planet to see if it was sustainable. Their personal tragedies have only gotten worse over the last few days. Finn shot up a Grounder camp filled with woman and children in order to find Clarke. That descent into madness isn't something he can just come back from. Clarke doesn't know how to be around him anymore. She proclaims, "I don't even know who you are anymore." To which he replies, "Neither do I." All of these kids have had to make choices. Now, they have to learn how to deal with them and continue to live in this world. This episode forces them to stay at one location and that in turn means they have to actually sit down and deal with every single action they have done and the emotional weight that comes from it.

Then, there is Octavia who has been fighting to regain her love with Lincoln. It's the one bright spot to come from all of this anger and destruction. She has quickly become a warrior and learned how to navigate within this world. And yet, it's incredibly devastating once she sees what Lincoln has become at the hands of Mount Weather. He has become a Reaper - a creature everyone in this world has feared because of their brutality. He is unrecognizable from the man Octavia was willing to run away with. That destroys her to the point that she has to shoot a bullet at him. There's the prospect that he could rehabilitated. But that only makes the humanity much more apparent with the rest of the Reapers. Do they deserve mercy as well knowing that they are simply creatures created by Mount Weather in order to serve and protect the facility?

Meanwhile at the Grounders' camp, Jaha and Kane are presented with a challenge by their captors: a knife is put in their cage and whomever kills the other out of retribution for the massacre at the other Grounder camp can leave but if neither do both will be killed. Neither of them know about the accident the Grounders are referring to so a woman is thrown into the cell to explain it to them. Kane came to this camp to negotiate peace with the understanding that things have to be done differently. Jaha returned to Earth because he knew that there was still more work for him to do. Neither want to kill the other. They are friends and both respect the other and the ideas for which they stand. Kane makes the noble gesture - to cut himself so Jaha can survive and lead. And then, Jaha takes the woman hostage. In turns out though, that the woman is actually the Grounders' Commander. Yet another instance of woman being in positions of power throughout this universe. Both Jaha and Kane made decisions in this cell. And now, they have to deal with the consequences. Kane can continue his dialogue with the Grounders while Jaha is beaten and released to the rest of his people with a message: leave in two days or be killed. For a very strategic episode, "Fog of War" is very much the best episode of the second season so far because of all of the intricate plot building and rewarding character development.

Some more thoughts:
  • "Fog of War" was written by Kira Snyder and directed by Steven Depaul.
  • For an hour about people living with the consequences, Finn doesn't get enough punishment for what he did at the end of the last episode. Raven basically just turns to him and says that he just needs to learn to deal with it. Nope, he needed much more severe punishment than that.
  • The scenes in the parking garage were so claustrophobic and incredibly effective. The use of lighting and music were wonderful.
  • I'm just happy that Jasper and Monty are no longer blindly ambivalent to what is really going on at Mount Weather. That really can only work up to a certain point. I like that Maya seems to be on their side - even though I still don't care about her relationship with Jasper. And now, they are obeying their captors just to buy time until they can escape.
  • It's also nice to know that President Wallace isn't as solely villainous as he was led to believe. He doesn't want to just force the 47 sky people to comply with the harvesting. He understands that the union between their two societies could be much more effective. That makes him a much more interesting character to watch.