The 100: Spacewalker
December 18, 2014 9:27 PM - Season 2, Episode 8 - Subscribe

Clarke has Lexa's ultimatum. Is peace worth it?
posted by vibratory manner of working (9 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Two plotlines this time, one present and one past. It's like watching Arrow, but with less archery.

In our flashback plotline, we learn the truth about Finn's spacewalk that got him thrown in jail and ultimately sent to the surface: he never did it. The whole thing was to cover for Raven, who went on an illegal spacewalk at his suggestion after failing her exam for medical reasons. Which then it turns out was pointless because Geata overrides that and gives her a job working in zero-G immediately after that all goes down. This is an interesting plotline in that it tells us more about Finn's character in a way that touches on why he behaved the way he did when he killed all those Grounders. More directly, it parallels his decision to give himself up to save Clarke in our present-day plotline.

Finn's shown to be someone who is willing to be reckless and go to extremes when it comes to making his partner happy or protecting her. That said, I'm not actually that invested in Finn, so I'm not terribly invested in seeing him display the same traits in an earlier, less dire situation. If I was a Finn fan this would all be much more fraught.

In the present day, Clarke returns from speaking with Lexa to deliver her ultimatum: hand over Finn and have peace, don't and get wiped out. Most of our main characters want to protect Finn, while a lot of the unnamed masses want to hand him over.

Of particular note is the ongoing conflict between Abby and Jaha. Jaha is sitting in prison, and lazily advocates for handing the kid over, calling Abby on her potential hypocrisy. They sent the 100 to the surface to (probably) die, what's changed now? Abby deflects and pins sending the 100 to the ground on Jaha- "That was a different time and a different chancellor". That may be, but Abby was part of the same power structure. Her hands aren't as clean as she thinks they are.

After Abby tells the grounders to fuck off, they send Kane in. Kane thinks that Lexa might agree to a trial run by the Ark survivors, but that's not terribly important because it doesn't go anywhere. What is important is more of Abby-Jaha-Kane power dynamics. In the past, Kane has been our hardliner who doesn't trust Jaha or Abby to do what needs to be done, but that dynamic is totally gone for now at least. After ceding his chancellorship to Abby, he really seems changed. I don't think he trusts himself to make the right decisions anymore. That said, I think he trusts Jaha even more than Abby, and he's startled to see Jaha in handcuffs.

Jaha has taken up a political position somewhere in the realm of realpolitik - he's entirely focused on survival, but not in a way that causes him to take up the sort of hardline policies that used to characterize Kane. He'll give up Finn because that's a direct and only real path to survival, but I don't think public floggings are on his todo list, should he regain the chancellorship.

Abby is interesting. She wants to protect every single one of her people, which causes her to act conservatively at times. She's been continually put into conflict with those who want more aggressive action: Jaha, Clarke, Raven. She's reacted (reasonably) by re-asserting her power. I don't see how else she could have handled Jaha attempted to take the Chancellorship by force, but on the other hand there's the time she slapped Raven. I don't know where her Chancellorship is heading, long term. She said she's not giving it up "until this is over", but is she really going to be willing to give it up anytime soon? How long is "this"? The immediate crisis, or the longer one? And who would she give it to? I don't think Kane wants it at this point, although that could change, and there's a lack of trust between her and Jaha. We haven't actually seen a fair election actually happen on this show, for all the times the chancellorship has changed hands.

Meanwhile, the kids are getting themselves into trouble. They've all snuck out to the landing ship, and the grounders quickly find and surround them there. Along the way, Finn refuses to shoot a grounder when he has the chance, which the AV Club reviewer thinks is contrived. I'm not so sure - I don't think it's meant to show that killing innocents isn't the "real" Finn. That ship has sailed as far as I'm concerned. I think it's a combination trauma and character growth. He doesn't want to kill the grounder because he's killed so many already and that's really affected him.

In the landing ship, there's some good Murphy bits, and eventually Finn realizes that he needs to give himself up to save Clarke (and Raven and Bellamy, but mostly Clarke). He does so.

Clarke goes to speak with Lexa, and plead for Finn's life. The part where she presses against Indra's spear until she starts bleeding is great. Lexa is great - "You bleed for nothing" "Then he dies for you". Clarke gives up, and then under pretext of just saying goodbye goes to Finn, tells him she loves him, and kills him with her hidden blade. It's the right thing to do, and she's very lucky that Lexa accepts this instead of calling of the truce and wiping out the entirety of camp Jaha in response.

Throughout the episode, there's a real sense of inevitability to Finn's death. There was no way around it, and there hasn't been for some time even before this episode. Once he opened fire on those civilians, this was the only possible result. Clarke tries to compare it to the deaths she caused in the battle at the landing ship, but there's a real difference between deaths during a battle in a larger war and killing civilians after rounding them up in their village. Everyone knows it, even Clarke I think, although she's willing to forget that difference when she's desperate.

Also interesting this episode: Lincoln, strapped to a table, voluntarily this time.

Clarke: "He's not a Reaper anymore, he doesn't need to be restrained."
Lincoln: "Yes I do."

Clarke: "You know that's not who he is."
Lincoln: "It is now. We've all got a monster inside of us Clarke, and we're all responsible for what it does when we let it out."

Fantastic opening shot of Clarke walking through the fog, escorted by two Grounders on horseback.
posted by vibratory manner of working at 1:27 AM on December 19, 2014 [2 favorites]

I really liked the blood begets bloods plotline, although it didn't take long to figure out that Clarke herself would take Finn's life in the end.

It was interesting how Lincoln described the process, that Finn was to suffer through 18 deaths until he would be released by his own. I wondered if the Grounders believe in an afterlife, so that they want to make sure the suffering is equalized before the sweet release of death comes. Nowadays, (in the few countries where capital punishment is legal) it is believed that death is penalty enough, even for heinous crimes. In most parts of the world (where the concept of death penalty was abandoned long ago) execution is seen as inherently inhumane.
posted by travelwithcats at 7:21 AM on December 19, 2014 [1 favorite]

This was a pretty great episode, I felt. Also another great recap, vibratory.

Most of our main characters want to protect Finn, while a lot of the unnamed masses want to hand him over.

This marks one of the rare occasions so far when I felt like the Grounders were being completely reasonable. Finn was, indeed, responsible for a war time massacre of civilians. His execution was guaranteed from that moment, sooner or later - the only real question was how much trouble the whole situation would create first.

The fact Lexa was willing to settle for just him - not even asking for Murphy - definitely puts me on board with Lincoln: she's a visionary. It's interesting that she's a bit of a parallel to Clarke, too: while Lexa was actually trained for her role from childhood, and has seen battle, she's still brand new in her position as leader of the Grounders.

Of particular note is the ongoing conflict between Abby and Jaha. Jaha is sitting in prison, and lazily advocates for handing the kid over, calling Abby on her potential hypocrisy.

Just the once, I'll defend What's Encryption Abby. I think there's a parallel between her and Finn in the episode.

I agree with your assertion that when Finn did not shoot the Grounder, it wasn't about redemption so much as trauma. He knew he'd done something horrible, and didn't want to keep doing it, even though one act of mercy couldn't redeem him.

I think Abby's doing the same thing about Finn: she sent the 100 to die. She got her own husband floated. She's done all manner of horrible things... and I think she wants to stop, not because she feels it will save her, but because she can't live with continuing down that path now that an alternative may be possible.

I feel this way because it's blatantly obvious that giving Finn to the Grounders isn't just expedient, the way Ark executions used to be - it's honestly the right thing to do at this point. I think she was tweaking Jaha because she's pretty upset with him because he doesn't seem to *mind* throwing anybody under a bus. (Jaha is honestly pretty horrible, but in a way I find believable.)

Clarke goes to speak with Lexa, and plead for Finn's life. The part where she presses against Indra's spear until she starts bleeding is great. Lexa is great - "You bleed for nothing" "Then he dies for you". Clarke gives up, and then under pretext of just saying goodbye goes to Finn, tells him she loves him, and kills him with her hidden blade. It's the right thing to do, and she's very lucky that Lexa accepts this instead of calling of the truce and wiping out the entirety of camp Jaha in response.

Loved that whole thing. I'm impressed the show would have Clarke go there, because it really was the only way to 'save' Finn at that point. Also, Clarke didn't just save Finn from torture: she likely saved the Ark/Grounder alliance on her side. Ark culture favors casual execution, which is why it makes sense that most of them were in favor of handing over Finn. However, they're used to that all being quick and clinical - I doubt any of them would've soon forgotten seeing Finn cut up and screaming. Clarke's swift execution will prevent a lot of hard feelings among them, even though it's unlikely anybody will point this out within the show itself.

Other thoughts:
* I didn't much care for Indra at first, but I do after her talk with Abby - bravery really *isn't* justice, and the Sky People really are pretty duplicitous, especially by Grounder standards. I'm happy to see more Grounders than just Lincoln switching from 'menace in the fog' to 'actual people.'

* Raven's various flailing attempts to save Finn felt very realistic, given her age and desperation. I like that the other characters didn't play along.
posted by mordax at 9:27 AM on December 19, 2014 [1 favorite]

Oh my gosh I loved this episode - even through drawing the whole "we have to hand over Fin plotline was a bit drawn out over the whole episode. Maybe that's because I was also in the "hand him over" camp at the end of the last episode. (I may be harsh...)

I adore how strong Clarke is in every episode. It's so great having strong female leads in tv.

I really liked that she mercy-killed him at the end although I wish I could have gotten a bit more into it but I was interrupted by my well meaning husband. Here's the scene in my house.

Clarke is telling him she loves him as she's killing him.

My husbands trying to open and read a Christmas card as this is happening.

I (half jokingly) spaz and say "Hey! Could ya wait a minute. She's killing him! A main character is dying and she's killing him!"

Show ends. Husband is allowed to read the Christmas card.
posted by Crystalinne at 11:26 AM on December 20, 2014 [2 favorites]

So I finally got what I'd been waiting for – the Sky People, and Clarke in particular, accepting some measure of accountability for how they've harmed the Grounders – but for the wrong reasons. Clarke saw the situation as tragic because it meant losing Finn, not because Finn’s massacre itself was horriffic.

And, on one hand, that's a totally believable tragic flaw for Clarke to have. But, on the other hand, I don't get the sense that the show is treating it as such. I often feel like The 100 is a tragedy that doesn't know it's a tragedy: The story of a group of settlers who can't stop perpetuating a cycle of violence with indigenous people, while also treating those settlers as heroic and wholly justified in their actions.

A few weeks ago, when Lexa was observing Jaha and Kane in the cell, things could have turned out quite differently if Jaha or Kane had shown any concern that one of their own had slaughtered innocents. (Finn would probably still be dead, but tensions would be lower, and maybe they could have gotten to a peace treaty without Clarke pulling a miracle out of her hat.) Jaha was desperate to find a more peaceful way to proceed, but it never occurred to him to show empathy for the dead, ask who carried out the massacre, ask who was killed, or promise to bring the responsible people to justice. Again, that’s a reasonable tragic flaw in Jaha’s thinking. But it doesn’t feel tragic if Jaha isn’t called out on it or if there are no repercussions, and I doubt there will be.

The series has repeatedly shown the Grounders’ hostility to be the result of actions by the Sky People. This goes all the way back to Unity Day, when Anya told Clarke that the signal flare destroyed an entire Grounder village. (A much bigger loss of civilian lives than Finn’s massacre, and something I was hoping would be brought up again.)

But the series also wants to portray the grounders as unreasonable savages. A few episodes after Unity Day, Lincoln told Clarke that “what my people are doing to yours is wrong,” undercutting the validity of Anya’s grievances and absolving the Sky People of responsibility for their part in continuing the hostilities.

When the show uses the trope of the bloodthirsty native, I keep hoping it’s a slow buildup to subverting that trope; to leading the settlers to understand their role in the cycle of violence. But I suspect they’ll keep playing it straight, which is a shame.
posted by Banknote of the year at 4:50 PM on December 20, 2014 [3 favorites]

I agree about the show's colonialism. Like you say, there's enough realism in the show that the Ark people keep playing their role in the cycle of violence, but not quite enough understanding to play it that way explicitly.
posted by vibratory manner of working at 6:02 PM on December 20, 2014 [2 favorites]

Clarke is definitely filling up one of the voids in my tv viewing life now that the Legend of Korra has come to an end, that void being a strong female lead. (Double points for walking into a blade and letting it cut her)

I got a tad choked up when Clarke was in the process of stabbing him as I simply reflected on how wonderful, in a terrible situation with nothing but extreme pain and torture awaiting, to be given a death embracing the one person you love above all else. The way his head simply lowered onto her shoulder, as if he had fallen asleep, was a lovely touch. Wonderful isn't the right word, but it's about as humane a death as Finn was going to have from that point on.

I also appreciate that we're being offered more Grounders as people rather than vicious enemies.

Jaha. I don't know, I continue to like him, but only when he's separated from his leadership responsibilities. Can he just go on a walkabout or something? Explore the changed Earth?

Mount Weather. Total props to the President. He's had dangled the most inviting reason to sacrifice the 47, to live outside without burning to a radioactive crisp and turned it down...or did he? The thing with the bloom in the jar, did that indicate he was changing his mind?

Thanks, by the way, for all the great comments to catch up on!
posted by Atreides at 6:43 PM on December 20, 2014 [1 favorite]

One thing about Finn's arc that I did appreciate: The whole mess started as a result of torture producing bad information. Since torture is so often shown as a reliable truth serum, I was glad to get a more realistic depiction. The tortured Grounder was willing to say anything to spare himself, Finn took it as truth and fucked up horribly.

Now let's see if Bellamy remembers this the next time he's in a position to torture.
posted by Banknote of the year at 9:12 AM on December 21, 2014 [3 favorites]

I gotta admire Clarke and the show for this. They do not do easy ways out around here.
posted by jenfullmoon at 10:27 PM on February 6, 2016

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