There’s so much depth in this week’s episode of The 100, but it’s so plot heavy that many of the ideas and themes the show is trying to highlight get lost in the action.
There are only two episodes left until the season is over. I’m not sure that A.L.I.E. will be the big bad for season four, but instead of getting closer to a solution, at the end of this episode we got further away. It’s the same tactic that the showrunners used for the penultimate episode last season: The plot moved quickly and effectively throughout the episode only to leave the characters without any semblance of a plan. Unlike last season, though, it raised the stakes: at three points during “Red Sky at Morning,” we almost believed that A.L.I.E. would be defeated.
The first hiccup comes at Arkadia. As the show reminds everyone in a clunky bit of expository dialogue, Raven and Monty have a plan. They’re supposed to go through the code for potential weaknesses, making notes so that when Clarke is finally able to get Luna to take the Flame, they can help out. Under no circumstances are they supposed to try and solve the entire problem themselves. I know almost nothing about computers — but one of the great side effects of Raven being un-chipped is that she’s now a super computer mastermind. Monty, who I think actually has formalized training in engineering, sort of rolls with this. At one point, he says he’s happy to just help Raven, then clarifies that he won’t slow her down. If I’d studied codes and computer science and was usurped by someone who had artificial intelligence implanted in their brain stem, I’m not sure I’d be this nice. Along with her superintelligence, Raven is also armed with Becca’s journal, and when Monty takes a nap, she dives right in, entering in the administrative passcode. She’s seen a weakness and wants to find out what it is that A.L.I.E. is hiding. Monty wakes up and freaks out, but it’s too late: Raven’s already in the thick of it. A.L.I.E. notices almost immediately that she’s been invaded and flips out. Jaha, who wrongly assumes that Monty is behind this attack, brings Hannah back into the mix, asking her to speak to her son.
I’m not sure how it is that Raven is able to tell that though Hannah is dead, her mind is still intact and is able to interact with computers to talk to her son. The science of The 100 is consistently confusing for me. It’s a weird reveal and one that I’m not sure I fully understand: What exactly happens to you after the taking of the chip. Can your mind and soul and personality become binary and then get transferred to the server that A.L.I.E. controls? We’re not given a whole lot of time to think about this, because as soon as Monty really understands what’s happening — that A.L.I.E. is using his dead mother to manipulate him — he asks Raven to hard delete her from existence. Seconds after doing this, Raven is able to see that there’s a kill-switch, but A.L.I.E unplugs herself from Arkadia’s mainframe.
In Polis, Murphy, Indra, and Pike have a similar agenda. Murphy almost accidentally realizes that Jaha has A.L.I.E’s power source with him. The three of them head to the Temple so they can disconnect it. When A.L.I.E. and Jaha realize what they’re up to, they send Emori to distract Murphy. Throughout this planning, we get to see Pike as a natural leader, making decisions and interacting with other prisoners. It makes it easier to understand why the Farm Station came to trust him instantly. He encourages Indra to pick up a gun so that she can fight the chipped soldiers as they walk in. Emori reveals that the backpack is some sort of nuclear power supply and could decimate all of Polis. By the time the backpack is ready to be smashed, though, Emori reveals that everyone’s brains are uploaded to a server. If Murphy kills the backpack, their minds will be gone, too. He hesitates, then shakes his head. He can’t take the chance. Pike, however, can. He smashes the backpack to bits, and, after it’s over, Murphy crouches down beside Emori, who smiles radiantly. “You’re too late,” she mentions. A.L.I.E.’s migration is complete. She’s uploaded herself to the actual lingering Ark in space, isolating and insulating herself from external threats.
This plot point brings up even more questions for me. If minds are all on a server, what exactly happened to Raven? Did her mind come back from the server through an EMP? Will everyone return with superintelligence? What’s the benefit of A.L.I.E. even being in space? If they disconnect her from the Earth, would she be able to find a way back? Why did she have to use the escape pod that Becca used for the transfer — did Arkadia somehow not have a way to communicate with the space station?
Neither one of these moments seemed entirely dire, though, because, for some inexplicable reason, I spent the majority of this episode believing faithfully in the persuasive powers of Clarke.
After Luna’s initial refusal to take the Flame, Clarke tries, again and again and again, to explain that it’s necessary to take the Flame. The mythical, soft-spoken Luna refuses each time. It’s a thought-provoking sequence, and I really wished that we’d spent more time on the rig with Luna, who frankly is the most confusing badass we’ve seen on the show. Luna explains that she didn’t leave the conclave because she didn’t think she could win. She left the conclave because she knew she would. In the first round, she was forced to kill her brother. She renounced the violent way of life that was required to rule and decided to create a safe haven. Her nonviolent pacifism is nice in theory, but it’s predicated on the idea that someone else will make the hard decisions so that she won’t have to. Even when Clarke explains that Lexa is dead, that there’s a looming threat, and that they’re desperate for help, Luna still maintains that her safe haven is perfect just the way it is. Of course the first peacenik we see on The 100 is actually loony: She thinks that she’s doing something better than everyone else by stranding herself on an oil rig in the middle of nowhere, choosing not to kill, not to save a large group of Earth’s population. She may call it a nicer, gentler way of life, but I couldn’t help but think it was just selfish.
Somehow, weirdly, A.L.I.E. manages to plant herself on the rig. Bellamy attributes it to a drone that they saw at Nylah’s trading post, but I’m not convinced. Even though they’re living happy, safe-haven lives, more than one person on the rig takes the chip. Eventually, Luna’s lover, desperate to stop her from being water-boarded anymore, takes the chip. She’s forced to kill him — no one on The 100 knows how to fight to maim — and Clarke thinks they’ve won. Now that Luna knows what they’re up against, she’ll take the Flame. Instead, Luna drugs everyone and kicks them off the oil rig.
- How did A.L.I.E. know that Sinclair was dead? Can she just return freely to Arkadia and check in, or does she have to be with someone who has taken the chip? Had anyone taken the chip when Emerson made his appearance?
- Monty and Harper get it on this episode, and I have almost zero feels about the whole situation.
- Jasper spends his time on the rig mooning after a girl who tells a bizarre story about her encounter with a shark. Octavia mentions that it’s the first time that she’s seen him even remotely happy. The girl ends up dying, but it does seem to hint at some larger change within Jasper.