"Terms and Conditions" left me feeling confused and annoyed. Although the episode introduces three major plot developments, I'm not sure it's a worthwhile episode of television. Obviously, this is a problem.
After last week's strong and emotionally devastating episode, I needed some time so I could adjust to losing one of the show's best characters. (RIP.) Instead, this clunky hour of television goes too far; it doesn't even acknowledge Lexa or her death.
When I wrote about the season premiere, I mentioned that The 100 is an inherently feminist show. At the time, almost every character in a leadership role was a woman, and I loved watching both younger and older women make difficult decisions and then wrestle with the consequences. As this season has progressed, though, I've watched as many of my favorite female characters get sidelined. Indra has been relegated to a smaller and smaller role, and we're no longer looped into her leadership decisions for Tirkru. Storylines focusing on the depth of care that Octavia puts into her relationships have suffered — it's been weeks since we've seen her grapple with everything that's happened to Lincoln, and she's been isolated from the other delinquents so we can't even watch her interact with Jasper anymore. Raven has barely gotten any screen time — and instead of watching the plucky young mechanic who felt like she could fix everything, she's seemed more and more defeated by her physical limitations.
Worse, many of the season's most shocking deaths have taken out could-be-promising female characters. Gina was introduced as Bellamy's girlfriend, then killed and abandoned as a character. Monroe died in a harrowing poisonous-gas attack two weeks ago. And last week, we lost Lexa, who was arguably the strongest female character I've ever seen on television.
What changed? Why is this happening? Perhaps the scope of storytelling that The 100 is trying to tackle cannot organically unfold within a 16-episode season. It might be that, to understand all of the mythology that we've worked our way through this season, some character development had to suffer. Regardless of the cause, "Terms and Conditions," goes one step further, giving us an hour of television without most of the regular female cast. Though on the surface this makes sense — many of these characters are not at Arkadia and the entire episode takes place there — it's a weird choice on the heels of a major female character's death. And if the writers explained where exactly Abby was this episode, I missed it entirely — shouldn't the former chancellor be at least aware of the political mess that's going on in her settlement?
I hate feeling as though a show I love is letting me down. But for now, let's talk about what did happen in this episode, shall we?
Just as they did when Finn killed 18 villagers in season two, the Grounders are seeking justice for what happened with Indra's army. Two Grounders on horseback arrive to explain this to the people of Arkadia, showing hacked-up Sky People corpses to underscore just how serious they are. Bellamy reacts by telling Pike that he's seen this before, then picks up his gun and kills the Grounders. It's a cruel, decisive move, and even Pike looks a little surprised by how quickly Bellamy chooses to kill them. If I had thought that Bellamy were redeemable, this move would have convinced me otherwise. It's hard to continue suggesting that Bellamy has good in him when we've watched him act so ruthlessly on his own accord.
Kane planted a bug in Pike's office so he can listen in on the extreme decisions that Pike and his group of loyalists are making. Unfortunately, Pike is on to this — he knows there's a traitor and he wants nothing more than to find the person responsible for foiling all of his plans. After Pike finds the bug, he decides to bait the mole by talking about a mission that'll decimate the army positioned outside Arkadia. The mission hinges on using one of the rovers, so Kane goes to Sinclair, the one person he knows who can wreak havoc on the car.
Before Sinclair can do any real damage, Bellamy appears to arrest him. Pike and his group of loyalists interrogate Sinclair before sentencing. For a moment, I believed Pike would order Sinclair executed; even Bellamy showed some apprehension to that course of action, though. Executions were commonplace on the Ark, and Bellamy's mother was floated for having a second child. It sort of makes sense that Bellamy would balk at the idea of execution, but to be honest, I wasn't really buying it. Earlier in this episode, this guy literally shot two Grounders dead without consulting anyone else. Ultimately, Pike decides to have Sinclair arrested and takes him to lockup, sticking him in a cell with Lincoln and the other Grounders. When Lincoln asks Sinclair what he did to get into the cell, he reveals a little twist: He wanted to get arrested so he could enter the cell. They stage a prison break, Kane wrestles Pike into a Rover, and then he hightails it out of Arkadia to deliver Pike to the Grounders.
Monty manages to radio this information to Bellamy, who blocks the exit. Kane has to decide between running Bellamy down and disposing of Pike, or being arrested. He chooses the latter. Of course, this time around, when the conversation about sentencing happens, Pike chooses to give Kane the death penalty. Bellamy is definitely not on board, and it's supposed to read as a flicker of hope that this may be the moment that pushed Bellamy back to the good side. Again, I'm not convinced. Bellamy's decision to side with Pike still makes only tenuous sense to me. I also just don't believe that Bellamy would ever see the situation as "us versus them." Why would someone who killed two Grounders in cold blood be hesitant to execute a traitor planning to kill the Chancellor? Simply because the traitor is one of his people? I don't buy it.
The one real breath of relief this episode comes from Raven, who's still working with A.L.I.E. and Jaha. To figure out where the pod from Polaris really went, she needs more people on her side, so she recruits Jasper to help her find the device that makes the City of Light chips. As they search Pike's office for the device, Jasper casually mentions Finn. Raven realizes she can barely remember anything about her ex. She begins to panic; as soon as this doubt creeps in, she's able to think more clearly. I was really not onboard when Raven first took the chip, so when I realized that Raven could be the character who blows the lid on this whole A.L.I.E business, I was thrilled. Please, The 100: Don't let her backslide in the next episode.
- Miller and his boyfriend are a real missed opportunity. While character development seemed to be taking place in Polis, it's almost nonexistent in Arkadia, which means scenes like the one between Miller and his boyfriend suffer. We're supposed to take for granted that they have a loving, trusting relationship — and that the betrayal is egregious — but it doesn't land that way.
- What do we think Kane was reading in that scene where he sits, barely even looking at his book, and watches over Sinclair as he works on the Rover?
- Speaking of Finn, I believe Pike intimated that the Sky People gave Finn up to the Grounders so they could kill him. It's an interesting rewrite of events and I'm not sure what to make of it. Finn turned himself in, then Clarke did the actual killing — which added much nuance to the whole "blood must have blood" philosophy. The way that Pike mentioned it this week, though, makes it seem very black and white.