(*This post contains MAJOR SPOILERS from episode 3×09 of the 100. If you haven’t seen it yet, read no further!*)
We’ve heard it time and time again: The 100 is a story about survival and the difficult decisions that are necessary to survive, a story in which no character is safe. We’ve heard it so much that it has probably been permanently ingrained in our minds.
It’s the tone the show set from day one. Ever since the pilot episode, in a Lord of the Flies-esque manner, children and young adults were thrust into situations where they had to do the unthinkable, where they were constantly surrounded by the fear of death and violence. I get that. I understand the looming threat death poses in this world and for the most part, (to me at least) in the first two seasons, it was compelling, yet tragic nonetheless. Death was present but not everywhere you looked.
What I’m having a hard time understanding is why death has been maximized this season. Not just “death” but brutal, horrible, grotesque death, the kind of death that is used primarily for shock value. The 100 used to highlight storylines and character development. Now it seems to jump at the opportunity to present suffering, tragedy, and death every chance it gets.
When did brutality replace compelling stories and character development?
In the past few episodes alone, we have experienced character deaths in rapid succession. Just this past Thursday, fifteen minutes into episode 3×09, all of the nightbloods, children, were brutally and mercilessly slaughtered in their sleep following the tragic, heartbreaking death of Lexa in 3×07. Then Titus died. And then there was Lincoln, who was tragically and gruesomely executed at the very end of the episode. Each death came so quickly, one after another, that we didn’t have time to process these losses. We are united with Clarke in that we, too, had no time to grieve or reflect.
Speaking of, let’s think about Clarke in the latest episode for a moment. Clarke just watched the woman she loved die in her arms, and after being locked in the room where the tragedy took place, any hope the nightbloods represented for Clarke’s people (because of Lexa’s promise) was destroyed. Slaughtered. Then, Titus, the man who killed Lexa, blamed Clarke for killing her and if that wasn’t enough, Ontari referred to Lexa as a “bitch.” And since she had to escape from Polis, Clarke never got to say a proper goodbye to Lexa. All of the hopes and promises that Lexa and Polis provided throughout the season were destroyed in one episode. And that was only Clarke’s storyline from last night. Apparently grieving the tragic loss of Lexa was not important for Clarke as it was replaced with even more death, pain, and suffering.
Yes, you can argue that the show must go on and that character deaths have always been present on TV, but there is no denying that the numerous deaths in the latest episode were extreme, gory, grotesque, and gratuitous. Was it necessary for Aden to be beheaded by Ontari just minutes after having a tender moment with Clarke? Was it necessary to show the disturbing details of Lincoln’s execution? So much emphasis was placed on these shock value deaths that the entire episode was rather predictable. From Ontari’s entrance, to the mention of Luna as the 8th nightblood, to Clarke stealing the commander’s chip as the new Flamekeeper, to Lincoln’s death: everything was utterly predictable. The show is now so focused on death and how to shock the viewers that the potential for interesting plots and twists are being largely overshadowed.
The deaths weren’t well written or consistent with the characters. They seemed to devalue the characters themselves, undermining and destroying their development, especially Lincoln and Lexa. These two incredibly strong warriors, who valued peace, suffered dishonorable deaths along with the nightbloods. (Yet, somehow Titus ended up with the most honorable death without facing the consequences of killing Lexa…)
While yes, death and violence have always been a major part of The 100, it is now being handled insensitively, with social issues and diversity not being taken into consideration. A story about survival does not mean that death is lurking around every corner or behind every door.
Survival should be about more than just brutal death. These characters, and the fans deserve better than that.
So on behalf of the fans:
(And Titus…thanks for giving Clarke the chip..?)
My favorite line of the episode was from Clarke, as she spoke on behalf of the fans: “I don’t understand. If nightblood is so rare, then why do you let them kill each other? That has to be the dumbest succession plan.”