Spoiler Warning for this week’s episode of “The 100”
Violence, betrayal and mystery are three words to describe the latest episode of “The 100.” As the major conflicts intensify, some relationships are put to the ultimate test. “Bitter Harvest” suffers from some of the problems of previous episodes, but maintains the intriguing and mysterious tone that this season has going for it.
The shocking declaration from Lexa in last week’s episode that “blood must not have blood” is truly put to the test this episode. With the horrific slaughter of nearly 300 Grounder warriors, Lexa’s leadership is constantly brought into question. The leadership skills of Clarke are also brought into question, specifically by Lexa’s advisor, Titus (Neil Sandilands). Clarke receives a special delivery from King Roan of the Ice Nation, the last of the Mountain Men, Emerson (Toby Levins). Rather than deciding the fate of the prisoner herself, Lexa allows for Clarke to pick the sentence for Emerson, either banishment or death. This creates an interesting dilemma for Clarke; killing Emerson would be the opposite of her new non-violent way of leadership, yet the atrocities committed by Emerson at Mount Weather definitely warrant extreme punishment. Throughout the episode, Clarke is left to deliberate on the choice in front of her. This also represents the moral dilemmas that the characters face on this show.
The path of war that Pike is leading the Sky People down escalates further this episode as his plans are revealed. Under the guidance of Pike, several residents from the Farm Station come to the realization that a long term solution is needed for food shortage problems. While outside scouting for soil and water samples, a group including Monty’s mom, Hannah, come across a child from a local Grounder village. They realize that the child is somehow a threat that needs to be eliminated. This scene demonstrates the warped mentality that Pike and his militia have. Thankfully, Octavia is nearby and manages to rescue the child while avoiding being captured herself. At Arkadia, Kane and Miller team up to spy on Pike in order to relay information to Octavia on the outside. Miller places a listening device in Pike’s office which allows for his plan to be brought out in the open. According to the samples taken, the best place to grow crops lies in the location of a Grounder village called Rendon. Pike announces that the residents of Rendon will be wiped out so that Arkadia can expand. The entire underground revolution aspect lead by Kane is a major highlight of the episode. Kane attempts to stop Bellamy, but soon realizes that Pike’s influence has clouded Bellamy’s judgment. He seeks advice from Abby, who gives him a kiss on the cheek, which she claims is a sign of hope; the dynamic between Abby and Kane is always incredibly rich.
With an attack imminent, Octavia rushes to Rendon to warn the residents. They quickly realize that she is Skaikru and ignore her calls for an evacuation. Fortunately, the young boy that Octavia saved earlier appears and vouches for her. The villagers decide that they will set a trap using poison sap; Octavia tries to stop them and is abruptly knocked unconscious. Night falls and Pike’s team marches into the seemingly abandoned village. Octavia wakes up and begins screaming at Bellamy to alert him of the trap. Her warning comes too late as the villagers set the sap on fire creating a poisonous smoke. Monroe becomes surrounded by the smoke prompting Monty to rescue her. Unfortunately, he is too late and Monroe succumbs to the effects of the smoke. This is a major problem of the episode. The character of Monroe was originally introduced back in the first season and although she is relatively minor, her death feels empty, lackluster and forced for the sake of shock value. Even her close friend, Bellamy doesn’t appear to be exceedingly moved by her death. Hannah places blame on Octavia for the death of Monroe. What problems will this create for Octavia? Surely Pike will want revenge for what happened.
After being given until sundown to make her decision, Clarke chooses to visit Emerson. This scene brings to light the harshness of what Clarke did to save her people at Mount Weather. Emerson shares that 26 children, along with many more adults, were killed because of Clarke’s actions. Emerson’s two children were among the many that were murdered at the hands of Clarke in order to save her people. Clarke is most definitely haunted by what she did, but if she had not done it, nearly everyone she cares about would be dead. The cinematography of this scene is stunning and both Eliza Taylor and Toby Levins deliver outstanding performances. Clarke then meets with Titus, who further questions her intentions. Clarke proclaims that all of Skaikru should not be punished for the acts of a few rogue agents. Titus counters her argument, using her actions at Mount Weather as an example of her complete hypocrisy. Later that night, a death ceremony for Emerson is held in the throne room. Clarke is unable to go through with killing Emerson and realizes that the “blood must not have blood” motto has to apply to all situations, not just those that benefit her. Titus is angry, but Lexa gives an impassioned speech about her vision of a new world that does not use violence as a means to create peace; Lexa then banishes Emerson.
The other major storyline revolves around Jaha, A.L.I.E. and the City of Light. The previous episode ends with Raven taking the pill which freed her of her pain. After this, she becomes an advocate for everyone to cross over to the “city.” Jaha essentially begins handing out “keys” like they are candy. Abby becomes suspicious of what these mysterious “keys” really are and questions Jaha, who shows signs of slight memory loss. He explains that the pills he is distributing link up with pain receptors in the brain stem. Jasper is tempted by the promise of no pain in the City of Light, but Abby slyly stops him. Meanwhile, Raven assists A.L.I.E. in locating the second version of her Artificial Intelligence system, named Becca. Raven is unable to find the system anywhere in the Ark’s network. Jaha then reveals that Becca may have been on the Ark’s lesser known thirteenth station that was blown out of the sky long ago. He shares that few people knew about the station, named Polaris. Before the episode ends, Titus is shown to be torturing Murphy for information about the City of Light pill. The camera then pans to a piece of deteriorated metal with the name “Polaris” on it. Are you confused? I most definitely am, but this story is also much more interesting than it was at the beginning of the season. This storyline is a true rejuvenation to the science fiction aspect of this series. Are the Grounders somehow connected to Polaris? What is the real meaning behind the City of Light?
So far, this season of “The 100” has delivered some of the show’s best storytelling and acting. “Bitter Harvest” is yet another compelling chapter in this incredibly underrated series. With almost constant threats the severity of the character’s situations makes for profound intensity. The merging of the various storylines is also nicely done. The problems are recurring and relate to inconsistencies in certain characters. Overall, however, this season is most certainly headed in the right direction. Be sure to tune in to “The 100” next Thursday at 9 p.m. on The CW.