Thursday, March 10, 2016

REVIEW: 'The 100' - Kane Plots to Remove Pike from Power and Save Arkadia in 'Terms and Conditions'

The CW's The 100 - Episode 3.08 "Terms and Conditions"

Kane is searching for a peaceful way to handle things but soon realizes he may be forced to resort to drastic measures. Pike suspects that there may be a leak within the walls of Arkadia. Raven has a plan and reaches out to Jasper for help.

The 100 has had a major problem with pacing this season. It has rushed forward with so many developments that it's hard to understand the character motivations behind the actions. The plot has moved forward with almost a reckless abandon. That was very thrilling and emotionally devastating when it came to Lexa's death in last week's episode. But it's very clunky and filled with whiplash when it comes to Bellamy's character arc in "Terms and Conditions." It's not surprising at all that after spending all of last week's episode in Polis that this one would spend its entirety in Arkadia. But all the material happening with Bellamy and Pike has been so dreadful this season that there was very little this episode could do to change course. It does manage to find some thrills in showing just how far Kane is willing to go to protect his people. But the show is still favoring plot and story over its characters which is so limiting to the emotional impact of this hour.

The grounder blockade has gone into effect. Once again, a message has been delivered calling for blood as vengeance for the crimes committed against the grounders. It's the same thing that happened last season with Finn. And now, the show actually remembers that that happened. It has been so strange seeing Bellamy go along with everything that Pike has to say knowing fully well that he was a part of the last time something like this happened. It's not surprising at all that Pike refuses to go with the grounders to die but bring peace to Arkadia. It is surprising when Bellamy just shoots the two messengers in cold-blood. That shows just how dark he has become as a character as of late. But that stands in such contrast with the multi-dimensional character Bellamy has been in the past. The show has jeopardized all of that character work in order to tell a thrilling and complex story. But it's so damaging to Bellamy as a character and he may never be able to come back from this.

The takeover of a community by a popular and militarized regime is an interesting story idea. The people of Arkadia are scared and Pike is boasting promises of protection and fighting for this land. It's easy to understand why people get sucked up into his message. And yet, Pike has become such a ruthless dictator. He has become an even more annoying and one-note character. He's being stubborn and ruthless just in order to create conflict within this community. All of the tension of this hour comes from the warring fractions behind the walls. The conflict with the grounders is largely offscreen. They are able to enforce the blockade and make sure that Arkadia is cut off from critical supplies. That drives the paranoia of this hour and really brings about some polarizing actions. Pike is escalating as a foolish leader who is jeopardizing the safety of everyone in Arkadia in his own misguided attempt to keep the community safe. Bellamy and Monty have fallen in line with that. But there just isn't enough of an explanation fueling why they are willing to be a part of this regime.

This episode does have a pretty fun section in the middle when it focuses on the cat and mouse game between Pike and Kane. Kane is doing his best to protect this community from the horrendous leadership of Pike. He knows better and is willing to adapt to the world that he lives in. Kane has accepted the grounder lifestyle and how it can be beneficial to both communities. Pike only wants to see the grounders as the enemy who must be destroyed. He has a plan to show a huge display of power against this army that surrounds the community. It's an act of war that will only lead to massive violence against all of Arkadia. Kane feels the urge to do whatever it takes to stop it before it happens. So that leads to a fun and exciting heist where Kane teams with Sinclair, Miller and Harper to devise a strategy to eliminate Pike as chancellor and restore peace with the grounders.

It's a pretty smart strategy too. The hour also does a strong job in showing that Kane still has values in this world. He stands radically opposed to his chancellor. But he still respects the title of the job. He won't just kill the man. Delivering him to the grounders would be sentencing him to the same fate. But he still wants to do whatever it takes to reason with his colleagues before going to such extreme measures. He still wants to believe that he can reach Bellamy and pull him back from this dark and drastic turn. Of course, he is still forced into action. It's a stealthy strategy that plays off of the fact that Pike is spying on him to make sure he doesn't do anything that will risk the mission. The plan amounts to Sinclair being thrown in lockup just in order to get a message to Lincoln to create a distraction so that Kane can kidnap Pike and deliver him to the grounder army. Of course, all of this backfires once Bellamy gets word of what's happening and keeps Kane from breaking out of Arkadia. When faced with the choice of using violence in order to get his way or surrendering to treason charges, Kane still doesn't embrace the qualities that Pike and Bellamy have allowed to grow rampant in this community. It means he fails in this mission but he still holds onto his values.

And yet, the ending of this episode is also very problematic. Kane delivers another truly amazing speech as he sits charged with treason. He appeals to his captors ideals that the world is not what the past rules dictate it be. It needs to be something that is able to change and grow. It's a very thoughtful speech that ultimately falls onto deaf ears. Neither Pike nor Bellamy is changed by the argument. And yet, Pike sentencing Kane to death is enough to get Bellamy to question his leader's judgment. The ending is Bellamy's big wake up call that he has been on the wrong side of this story this entire time. But it still just plays as a formulaic twist in the story that needed to come. Now, he's the one who will have to rectify the actions he has taken as of late. He has blindly followed Pike because he believed it was the right thing to do. Now, he feels otherwise. But it's hardly a surprising revelation. It's something that has needed to happen for a long time now. It's still just trapped with the context of this problematic story though. Bellamy working to help Kane won't change what he did. It will simply make things more complicated for the future. It's hardly a reversal filled with meaning. It instead plays as Bellamy once again being an inconsistent character who is being swayed to whichever plot point the story needs him to go in.

Some more thoughts:
  • "Terms and Conditions" was written by Charlie Craig and directed by John Showalter.
  • It's weird having things being so tense between Pike and Kane in Arkadia and at the same time have the Alie story going on with Raven and Jasper breaking into the chancellor's office. But it's still a compelling story because of Raven and how she is able to break free from blindly listening to Alie just because she takes the pain away. She's heartbroken by the fact that she can't remember anything about Finn.
  • Jasper also finds purpose again in helping Raven with this mission to restore the message of the City of Light in Arkadia. It's mostly because he wants to stop feeling pain over Maya's death. But it's also amusing as he reminisces about his friendship with Monty on the Ark.
  • It's great that Miller and Bryan are given more time as an actual couple. It's interesting to see a relationship torn between two different ideologies. But there simply wasn't an emotional understanding between the two to make their personal betrayals feel anything more than a simple plot mechanic to move the story forward.
  • Monty's mom is getting to be just as bad as Pike. She will follow him without any doubt. And now, she's expecting the same of her son who has had a very different experience in this world and with the grounders.
  • This is a necessary episode for the story developments. But I also really miss Clarke and Octavia being badasses.