There are a lot of reasons to praise The 100—genderless politics, meaty discussions about leadership, complex character motivations, everything about Lincoln—but the one that comes to mind after watching "Survival of the Fittest" is that the writers not only know where they're going, but they know where they've been.
It's nice to see that something that was first mentioned six episodes ago—like the City of Light—or something that happened a season ago and a half ago—like Murphy being hung after Wells was murdered—hasn't just been forgotten because there are a thousand other things going on at the moment. Far too often shows introduce storylines or drop hints of future possibilities only to forget about or ignore them in favor of something bigger or badder that came along after.
On The 100, everything has consequences, actions have reactions, and people can be forgiven, but not forgotten. It's a wonderful thing to watch a show and know that the writers aren't just throwing things at the wall hoping they'll stick, but that they have a plan.
This week, the show paired characters into several unlikely duos and the result was, in a word, terrific. The most surprising pairing was that of Jaha and Murphy, who found common ground as outcasts within their own camp. Murphy was pardoned for the part he played in Finn's massacre, but he was still treated poorly, not just by the Grounders who held him responsible because he stood by and did nothing, but by his own people. Kane assigned him to work detail after a skirmish with a Grounder, and it's easy to see why Kane would react this way—he wants to solidify an alliance, not destroy it, so blaming your own man rather than the perceived enemy was his only option—but the underlying mistrust of Murphy still lingers in the camp.
So Jaha pulled some strings despite no longer being in charge, and had Murphy take him to see Wells' grave where he used his talented silver tongue to convince Murphy to join him on a quest for the City of Light, the possibly too-good-to-be-true city we first heard about earlier this season. Even more exciting than the idea that Jaha has recruited a pretty sizable group of survivors to make the dangerous trek, is that he was able to recruit Murphy, a man who at the beginning of the hour still harbored resentment for Jaha sending the Hundred to Earth on what was a suicide mission for many. As Jaha pointed out, the two men have a lot in common, and sometimes good people do bad things for good reasons. Ultimately, a few people had to die so many more could live, and I think Murphy might even understand where Jaha's coming from. I never expected to see Jaha and Murphy in the same room together, but now that they're on this quest, I can't wait to see what happens.
The other intriguing pairing of the episode was that of Kane and Octavia, two characters who want the same thing—to live in peace with the Grounders and work towards building not just an alliance that will be over once they rescue their people, but a real future with them—but who represent two different attitudes about how to achieve said goal.
Octavia has come a long way from the young woman we first met in the pilot, which was made all that more obvious by the fact she squared off against a Grounder three times her size because she believes, like the Grounders, that "what doesn't kill you makes you stronger." It's important to note the show didn't take the expected route in this fight—Octavia's ass was well kicked by the time Indra stepped in—but she never gave up, even when it was clear she couldn't win, and that's respectable.
Thanks to her relationship with Lincoln, Octavia knows more about the Grounders than anyone else—for instance, she knows why the Grounders won't pick up a gun (legend has it their people will supposedly be slaughtered if they do)—and it's her knowledge and determination that make her the key to bridging both societies. Following the fight—in the pouring rain, by the way—Indra asked Octavia to be her second, which is a very big deal and hopefully the first step toward building that connection. Indra isn't a very likable character at the moment, mainly because she's been a gruff, one-note character who opposes Lexa's leadership, but I hope this new connection to Octavia, my favorite new warrior princess, will prove fruitful in more ways than one. Maybe we'll get to know why she is the way she is, similar to how we've steadily gotten to know more about Lincoln.
In the beginning, we didn't understand why Lincoln had saved Octavia, someone he didn't even know, and we didn't understand why their relationship was important to him (we knew why it was important to the story overall). But during their trek to Mount Weather, Lincoln told Bellamy a story about how he had once tried to save a man who'd come from the Ark in a ship like Raven's, but when he told his father about it, dear old pops made him kill the man. Lincoln's comment about how "the world's been trying to turn me into a monster for as long as I can remember" was harrowing and sad, but told us a lot about his character. And it put his time as a reaper in a new light.
Lincoln has been fighting to be a good man, a savior with morals and ethics, his entire life, which made that final scene with Bellamy in Mount Weather even more heartbreaking. The only way to continue the ruse of being a reaper was to accept the injection and become a reaper once more, and Lincoln's internal battle—no doubt driven by his own craving for more of that red drug—was written all over his face. What a well-acted scene between both men. There was no dialogue, just subtle facial expressions and eye contact, and it's in these silences that characters often speak the loudest. (P.S. Please let Lincoln be okay, thanks.)
The last and most familiar pairing involved Clarke and Lexa as they found new respect for one another as leaders after escaping
Donkey Kong a wild gorilla. Lexa wondered why Clarke hadn't left her behind when she became wounded, because apparently Lexa is new? This juxtaposition of their leadership styles is fun to watch—Lexa wounded her own man to ensure that he would be left behind and they could escape (plus, he'd attacked Clarke and she failed to kill him, because that's not who Clarke is) and Clarke definitely believes in leaving no man (or woman) behind. Clarke and Lexa's relationship is full of teaching moments—the Grounders apparently believe in reincarnation and that's how their leaders are chosen, for instance—but their friendship continues to grow as they work toward their common goal.
I'm sure there is a faction of fans 'shipping Clexa after this episode, but it's really important for this Sky People/Grounder alliance to hold—not just until they can rescue their respective people from the clutches of the Mountain Men, but hopefully for much longer—and these two capable women are the keys to its success. Here's hoping we get to see much more of this partnership as the season progresses.
– So Clarke is counting on Bellamy to sneak into Mount Weather and unlock the cages and unleash an army. Whoops. That's going to be difficult, considering he's now going to be locked up himself. (I have to think he was kind of upset he was chosen for the harvest and not the Cerberus program).
– What are the odds that the City of Light exists? I'm intrigued by this new storyline so early in the show's run, but it does feel good to have an ultimate goal in mind, kind of like how Earth was always the destination on Battlestar Galactica and it gave people hope and something to live for.
– Angry Female Guard died this week, and I'm kind of sad about that. She was beginning to grow on me!
– IT WAS A WILD GORILLA. On the one hand, I totally understand this. Those beasts can be very scary. But on the other hand, I was kind of hoping for something with less bulky strength and more razor-sharp teeth. Still, I thought it made for an interesting adventure, and it reminded us that humans aren't the only living creatures in this world. The survivors have more to fear than just fellow men.
– Seriously, I'm really worried about Lincoln.