Spoiler Warning for this week’s episode of “The 100”

Michael Beach as Pike and Henry Ian Cusick as Kane -- Credit: Dean Buscher/The CW
Michael Beach as Pike and Henry Ian Cusick as Kane — Credit: Dean Buscher/The CW

The brutal and harsh world of “The 100” is shown in full force in the latest episode. The main story rapidly moves forward as viewers are treated to a series of flashbacks to life on the Ark. With powerful performances across the board and thrilling plot twists, “Join or Die” is one of the season’s best episodes.

Following the capture of Pike back in “Fallen,” the main source of danger has shifted to A.L.I.E. and the City of Light. Arriving in Polis, Kane and Pike witness the shocking and brutal state of life under the new Commander. Blood literally runs through the streets as dozens of A.L.I.E.’s minions sit meditating. Kane and Pike are greeted by Jackson, Jaha and Ontari who try to persuade the new arrivals to swallow the City of Light key. Pike refuses and threatens Ontari before being rushed away to a holding cell. Kane is also taken away after refusing, but Abby appears and tells Jaha that she would like to deal with him personally. Under Ontari’s leadership, Polis has been invaded and conquered by A.L.I.E.; this is a stark contrast from Polis under the leadership of Lexa.

Kane is truly tested during this episode as Abby is essentially used as a bargaining chip to draw him over to the City of Light. In a private room, a frantic Abby meets with Kane. She pretends that she hasn’t taken the key and begins questioning Kane about the location of Clarke and the others. She also attempts to seduce Kane, but he quickly realizes that she has turned over to the dark side. This maniacal manipulation just shows how truly sinister A.L.I.E. is, as Abby is being used completely against her will to further the City of Light agenda. Kane is dragged away and taken to a metal cross, where he is literally crucified as a form of torture. Nails are driven into Kane’s body as he screams in pain, however, he doesn’t break down and give into Jaha’s promises to stop the pain if he takes the key. Although, the situation drastically changes when Jaha takes out a gun and points it directly at Abby’s head. After holding out for so long, Kane realizes that he must give up to save Abby’s life; this clearly demonstrates the strong connection that Kane and Abby have. Henry Ian Cusick delivered the strongest performance of the episode as a tortured and conflicted Kane.

The major highlight of this episode is the use of flashbacks that serve to develop the characters and show how far they have come. Six months prior to the current events, Kane, Abby and Jaha prepare to send the hundred to the ground. They enlist Pike to teach some of the teenagers skills that will help them survive on Earth. With just two weeks until the hundred are to be sent to Earth, Pike attempts to teach a variety of survival skills; Octavia, Murphy and Jasper are just a few of his inattentive students. Pike is frustrated and confronts Jaha, asking to be sent down to Earth with the teenagers. Jaha rejects and demands that Pike assure his students pay attention to the lessons. With time running short, Pike decides to teach the students about survival by using violence; Pike beats up Murphy as the other teenagers rush to help. Pike’s message of helping each other in order to survive is made clear through this demonstration. Showing Pike’s life on the Ark helps to humanize and develop his character; while his tactics are brutal, his overall goal is survival. The flashbacks continue as the 100 prisoners board the Dropship; Abby is shown saying goodbye to a tranquilized Clarke. A slowed down version of the Imagine Dragon’s song, “Radioactive,” plays during the final set of flashbacks; this is an homage to the series premiere which used the original and more-upbeat version of the song. The flashbacks perfectly showcase the clear development that each of the characters have undergone since arriving on the ground.

In a Polis holding cell, Pike is chained up with several other prisoners that have refused to enter the City of Light; Murphy and Indra are among these prisoners. Following Pike’s massacre of the Grounder army of three-hundred soldiers in “Hakeldama,” Indra is looking for revenge. Using her chain as a knife, Indra sentences Pike to a traditional form of Grounder punishment by cutting him three hundred times, one cut for each of the people he killed. Murphy rallies the other prisoners against killing Pike, claiming that strong survivors will be needed in the fight against the City of Light soldiers. Indra agrees, but promises Pike that she will get revenge soon. After only making sporadic appearances this season, it’s great to have Indra back in action; Adina Porter always delivers a stunning performance as Indra.

While the situation in Polis escalates, Clarke, Bellamy, Octavia and Jasper search for Luna. Using Lincoln’s map as a guide, the team arrives at a marked location that appears to be a dead end. Octavia, looking to assure Lincoln’s death wasn’t in vain, pushes the group to keep searching. Jasper accidentally discovers a way to signal Luna; he throws leaves into fire, which turns the flames green. A group of Grounders arrive and begin questioning Octavia; the Grounders are initially suspicious, but Octavia mentions Lincoln, prompting them to be more trusting. They distribute vials of an unknown liquid and Octavia immediately drinks the substance before collapsing to the ground. Jasper, Bellamy and Clarke panic, but quickly follow Octavia’s lead and drink from the vials. They wake up in a rusty container, unarmed and confused. The container doors open and a woman walks in; it’s Luna. Clarke explains that Luna is the last surviving Nightblood and shares the importance of Luna assuming the role of Commander. Luna declares that she has given up violence and killing before rejecting Clarke’s offer. She exits the container as Clarke and the others follow closely behind; the group is revealed to be on an old oil platform in the middle of the ocean. What purpose does this oil platform serve and why is Luna hiding out on it?

“Join or Die” is one of the best episodes of the season as the threats continue to escalate. The flashbacks were well-done and are interspersed nicely throughout the episode, displaying immense story and character development. The expedition to find Luna is also full of character development, specifically for Bellamy and Octavia. Will Clarke be able to convince Luna to become the Commander? Be sure to tune in to “The 100” next Thursday at 9 p.m. on The CW.

Jeffrey Kopp is the Community Editor of the Niner Times. He is a senior double majoring in Communication and Political Science. His interests include writing and keeping up with an excessive amount of television shows. He is also the go-to expert on all things “The Walking Dead."