Thursday, February 4, 2016

REVIEW: 'The 100' - Clarke, Lexa and Kane Strive for Peace as War Breaks Out in 'Ye Who Enter Here'

The CW's The 100 - Episode 3.03 "Ye Who Enter Here"

Clarke wrestles with a decision. Bellamy learns that something isn't what it seems.

There are so many smart decisions on display throughout "Ye Who Enter Here." This is the first episode that is centered around the Grounder capital, Polis. It's a fantastic piece of production design that is really wonderful to look at. Everyone is worried about a war. There's discord amongst the grounder coalition. The Queen of the Ice Nation is plotting against Lexa. She's making a power play. Everyone is trying to avoid this war. This is an hour that truly sparks the conflict between the communities. The leaders are doing their best to create lasting peace. And yet, this disconnect between the leader's ambitions and the actions of the regular soldiers in each community is only getting larger. Clarke, Abby and Kane are at the summit in Polis planning on becoming the thirteenth clan of the grounder coalition. It's a way for Lexa to protect herself in this war while also reaching out to the Sky crew. And yet, the actions of others are threatening this deal. It's all because certain characters are foolishly doing things just in order to be where the action is.

For the entire series, war and hardship has defined the characters. That is a part of this world. It's how all of the main characters have been able to survive. They have completely changed as people. Lexa notes just how much Clarke's actions at Mount Weather have changed her from the person she first met. Clarke still holds so much anger towards Lexa for her big betrayal in her hour of need. These people have become accustomed to war. Kane, Abby and Lexa are trying to look towards the future. They want to think about what these two communities can become without the need for bloodshed. But the actions of others show just how disenchanted those dreams really are. Clarke tells Kane and Abby about the change in the summit's purpose. The plan to join the coalition is much different than the treaty negotiations that they originally came for. They have to make a decision in an instant. This is something that the four of them want. But are the communities actually willing to accept this peace?

The need to be at war and in conflict does lesson some of the actions of those who stay behind in order to move into Mount Weather. Abby had the noble goal in the previous episode to turn the mountain into a symbol of hope for the entire community around it. For the moment, it's just a place to house all the people from FARM station that Arkadia welcomed last week. These people from the Ark are much different than the regulars who have been on the ground and dealing with Lexa and the mountain men. These people have dealt with the ruthless Ice Nation which has hardened them in a way that is so aggressively against everything that Abby and Kane are trying to build. Bellamy, Octavia and Pike get word that an attack is going to happen at the summit. They believe the source of this information because it's the girl that Bellamy first met and freed when he was locked up in the mountain. They take her at her word and bust into the summit guns blazing. They never took the time to stop and think about why and how this would happen. They are so used to violence. Bellamy is hungry to get back into the action. Even though he has seen the grounders to be more complex people, he still goes through with this mission because he is looking to be the man in charge and taking care of these problems.

An attack does happen in this episode too. It just doesn't happen at the summit. All of that was merely a diversion. The Ice Nation wanted to start this war by blowing up Mount Weather and all the citizens from the Ark who've just moved into it. But why is it necessary for Echo to show up and get a few of them to belief that Polis is the target? That's taking away a number of potential victims from the target. They wouldn't have found the assassin before he struck. It seems like an unnecessary risk. It happens solely to bring all of this animosity, anger and violence to the summit as well. The Queen wants Lexa to know that this big event has happened. She wants it done in a way that will alienate the Sky crew from the rest of the coalition. That way the Queen can wipe them out in this war. It just seems like too much of it is plotted so that it can have a big reveal in the end. It shows just how fragile this ecosystem really is. But it doesn't really do anything with Bellamy, Octavia and Pike. It's much more interesting seeing Raven and Sinclair as the only people at the mountain who can stop its destruction. That's a rousing sequence. They don't have the skills that the others have. They are simply the technical support team. They do kill the assassin. But not quickly enough to stop the destruction of the mountain.

No one of real value was inside the mountain though. It was just a bunch of extras from Pike's community. This will probably fuel his rage towards all grounders even more in the future. He lost the most from this act of destruction. So, he'll continue to be a figure that stands in such strong opposition to everything that Clarke, Abby and Kane are trying to accomplish. It shows that the ground coalition isn't the only place with a civil war bursting out. But it also feels more significant that Bellamy's new girlfriend, Gina, is one of the killed at the mountain as well. If her death is going to be used in order to turn him against his friends, that just seems like such a bad idea. This show does strong, multi-dimensional female characters so well. So, it's off putting to introduce a character solely to be a girlfriend whose death forces a change for the man. Bellamy lost her because he trusted Echo and rushed to the summit in order to save everyone. That's always been his burden. But now, it's becoming a more destructive quality. He's not being as hopeful as he once was. In fact, he has threatened the peace that Clarke is trying to accomplish. Will that force him into even more action because of Gina's death? Or will this allow him time to slow down and actually think about the person he has become?

"Ye Who Enter Here" really does a fantastic job of allowing the characters to look inside at their actions and who they've become as individuals. Clarke is angry at Lexa for what she did at the mountain. She's presented with an opportunity by Roan to kill Lexa and earn the protection of the Queen of the Ice Nation. But it's still not something she can bring herself to do. She's the commander of death. But it still pains her every single time she has to kill in order to survive. She can't bring herself to do it because she knows that Lexa is right about her anger. It was a tough decision to leave her during the battle. Clarke was able to survive by doing this horrifying thing. That's her cross to bear. But she still has to think about the future of her people. She isn't allowed to just wander this world and be an insignificant person. She has become a legend. A person of great influence across this land. That's something that everyone wants to manipulate to their advantage.

Lexa has plans for the future. A war because she chose not to slay and fight the mountain men is brewing. She doesn't want that. The ambassadors at the summit are forcing her into action. She needs the respect of her people if she is going to lead. Wanheda bowing before her sends a very clear message that she can still be trusted to do whatever is necessary in order to protect all of these people. She ultimately gets what she wants too. She is willing to keep Clarke alive because she doesn't want another conflict with the Sky crew. It could be just as powerful a message to kill Wanheda and absorb her powers. That could be a true testament to her strength. But Lexa wants to lead in more ways than just violence. She's not afraid to use it against her enemies. She throws an Ice Nation delegate off the top of a building when he tries to challenge her decisions. But she also wants to establish a much better future for all of the 13 clans. She has plans that are shrouded in mystery. Plans that could become complicated once Clarke learns of them. But these plans are derailed because of the violence that occurs during the summit. This is going to demand immediate attention from all involved. The Sky crew will have a response to this violence and the council of the coalition will need to decide what's to come of the Ice Nation as well. This action may bring everyone together or pull them apart. No matter what, it shows just how capable of change these people really are. Whether or not they can adapt to a changing world is vital to their survival. This may be the strongest test they've had to endure yet because it's coming out of civil unrest.

Some more thoughts:
  • "Ye Who Enter Here" was written by Kim Shumway and directed by Antonio Negret.
  • This episode also doesn't feature any cutaways to whatever Murphy and Jaha are up to. Their story is still a very isolating quality to the season. It could really complicate all of these plans for the future that the summit is trying to achieve. But it's also an exciting change that's on the horizon as well. It just wasn't at all necessary in this episode.
  • Abby is starting to realize just how good of a chancellor Kane has become. She's become really focused on reuniting with her daughter and being a good doctor to her people. Her resources at Mount Weather have been destroyed though. So, it may not be the best time to hold an election while the emotions are so high after this devastating loss.
  • But it's also significant that it's Kane who decides to get the brand of the grounder coalition put onto his arm. It showcases just how serious everyone is to this deal. But it's nothing but a few moments later when all of the chaos starts.
  • Lexa's plans for the future include a group of children warriors called "Nightbloods" who she is helping to train. That's an interesting tease for the future.
  • Octavia lets Bellamy know that she is planning on leaving with Lincoln as soon as they get the kill order removed. He's saddened to hear that but still respects that they'll always be family. Of course, then everything becomes a lot more action-focused with them.
  • Lexa bowing down before Clarke shows just how committed she is to honoring the deal that has just been made at the summit. War has started again. And now, Lexa is committed to protecting the Sky crew as her own people. It also shows just how much respect she still has for Clarke.
  • After lots of talk this season, Brenda Strong officially debuts as the Queen of the Ice Nation at hour's end. That's a great tease for what's to come next.