Unlike last week’s episode, “Join or Die” moves plot, develops characters, and adds nuance to a story that we thought we already knew. It’s effective and compelling, and probably The 100 at its very best.
The episode starts off by sort-of answering one of the biggest questions I had last week: Where the hell is everyone else? I’m still not sure why exactly it took Kane and Pike this long to reach Polis, but in the additional time it took them to get there, much has changed. My reaction mirrored Kane’s when I saw what was happening. Blood splattered the streets. Hacked bodies were visible everywhere. And most confusingly, men were propped up, Jesus-like, on crosses. I knew that Ontari was a little unhinged, but this seemed really, really bad. Then I remembered Ontari had taken the chip.
We’ve known that A.L.I.E.’s moral compass is skewed. We’ve seen her nuke Earth, violently make Raven cut herself, and use some of the worst emotional manipulation ever. Even knowing all of this, what I saw in Polis looked bad. Really, really bad.
From there, it only got worse. Almost everyone in Polis has taken the chip. The people who aren’t taking it are imprisoned, tortured or a combination of both. After Jaha sees Pike and Kane, he offers them both the chip. Both refuse to take it. On Abby’s recommendation, he splits them up. Pike is imprisoned, and Kane’s taken to a room where Abby tries to pull off a version of what Emori accomplished last week: using her feminine wiles to get the information she needs. Kane, bless his heart, doesn’t really know he has the answers she wants, and before he can accidentally give Abby any tidbit of information, he figures out she’s been chipped. It’s a nice little moment, but I found it confusing. Did he really know Abby well enough to get to that realization? Regardless, after he figures it out, A.L.I.E, Jaha, and Abby have him strung up to the cross. Jaha asks him to give up the information he does have, and then holds a gun to Abby’s head as a threat. Kane takes the chip.
Pike has his own demons to contend with. Both Murphy and Indra are in the cell he’s been placed in. Indra reacts to this by trying to carve out 300 cuts on Pike’s body; one for each of the lives that he took in that massacre on her people. I’m not sure exactly how many cuts she gets in, but after a while, Murphy speaks up. Pike is strong. The last thing they should be doing is injuring him, especially considering that no one who’s taken the chip feels pain. After another Grounder agrees with Murphy, Indra finally relents.
The 100 offsets all of this by flashing back to the two weeks before the delinquents were sent to ground. Pike was asked by Jaha to teach a crash course in Earth Skills. The flashback, like many of the flashbacks we’ve previously seen on the show, gives us a lot of information. It actually goes a long way towards establishing Pike as someone who wants to do the right thing. After realizing that the delinquents, who don’t know they’re heading to the ground, don’t really want to learn anything, Pike takes graver measures. He hits Murphy, forcing the class into action. The key to survival on Earth, he says, is to never stop fighting. Michael Beach is a powerhouse in all of these Ark scenes — I loved that he pieced together why the delinquents were being sent to the ground, that when he spoke to Jaha and Kane, his desperation to actually teach came through. I’m still not sure how this Pike ended up on the Ground and became the person we’ve been hating on all season, but knowing all of this goes a long way toward making me care about his future.
Meanwhile, Bellamy, Clarke, Octavia, and Jasper continue their search for Luna, the last Nightblood. When they reach the location on the map that Lincoln’s diary has directed them to, though, no one is there. While Clarke moves into planning mode, Octavia falls apart. Marie Avgeropoulos, also amazing here. She goes through a range of emotions throughout the episode — her grief, anger at Bellamy, will power, and stubborn love for Lincoln — and each one is entirely believable. The team builds a fire, and Octavia comes up with their plan. They’ll wait for first light, then comb out along the water to see if they missed anything. Thankfully, they don’t have to wait that long. Jasper accidentally finds out that the shrubs growing nearby causes the fire to change color and this green fire signals to the Grounders that they’re there. The Grounders agree to give them safe passage as long as all of them drink a weird green liquid. Octavia doesn’t hesitate — she trusts Lincoln, who sent her here. Jasper drinks up too, and both of them fall to the ground, unconscious. After seeing this, Bellamy and Clarke briefly lock eyes before deciding to take the sleeping potion as well.
When they awaken, they’re in an old shipping container. The first person they see is Luna, and Clarke gives her a fairly glowing review of the events that led them here. Will Luna take the Flame? There’s a brief pause, and I did actually wonder if The 100 would make this simple, if Luna would just agree. Of course, she doesn’t, walking away slowly. The group steps out of the shipping container to realize that they’re at sea, stranded atop what looks like an oil rig.
There are three more episodes this season, and I am finally, genuinely curious to see how the writers are going to wrap everything up. This season has been all over the place, but this week’s episode gives me hope the last few will be good.
- I really loved that we slowed down enough to watch Abby tenderly say good-bye to her sedated daughter before sending her to the Ground. We know that Abby loves Clarke, but having that little reminder was touching. It made her desperate attempt to use her love for Clarke to manipulate Kane all the more heartbreaking.
- I like this new, honest communication thing Bellamy and Clarke have going, and it’s nice to see Bellamy getting along with someone again.