Mark Watches ‘The 100’- S01E09 – Unity Day

In the ninth episode of the first season of The 100, this episode was explosive. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to watch The 100.

Trigger Warning: For discussion of terrorism, classism.

I can’t even believe this show any more.

From the dramatic irony of the title (SO MUCH UNITY HERE!!!) to the brilliant parallel stories that unfold here, this show is clearly not interesting in making anything easy for us. And I think that makes it all the more exciting! Even when it’s using tropes of miscommunication – which I normally detest – it does so in a way to build a story. And what story would that be?

That humans have an enormous propensity for selfishness.

The Ark

Most show save their shocking plot twists for the final five minutes, but The 100 will do it whenever the fuck they want. The bomb blast during Unity Day ceremonies was terrifying to watch, but the story that unfolds from it made me feel even worse. I think that the writers for this show understand that the political situation about the Ark is so hopelessly complex that they’ll actually do a disservice to themselves if they don’t portray it that way. It didn’t take me long to figure out that the terrorist attack as orchestrated as a means for Diana to get the workers onto the drop ship. If you think of her intentions outside the bomb, you might even be able to see her as a hero. She’s fighting for the underclass, for the people routinely ignored by Jaha and the members of the ruling class. And that’s undeniably a good thing! That’s something I find admirable!

But what The 100 does is constantly shift perspective. We don’t learn of Diana’s attack through her eyes, even if we understand that there is a culture of exception within the Ark. No, we see how her bomb blasts kills and injures children, how it takes Kane’s mother away from him, and how it risked the entire population of the Ark just to make a point. We see how Diana selfishly chooses herself as the savior of these people, though I don’t imagine she’s part of the working class herself. No, she imagines herself as the leader of a revolutionary movement, one that will remember her as the hero who liberated the poor from the Ark and gave them a life on Earth.

From her eyes, that’s what this looks like. But it’s a version of history that ignores her assassination attempt on Jaha AND Bellamy; it ignores the terrorist attack, the deaths, the stabbing of Dr. Griffin (!!!! WHAT THE FUCK IS WRONG WITH THIS SHOW !!!!), and ignores the fact that launching the drop ship just sent the entire Ark into chaos because it has no power.

Diana may have killed thousands of people, all so she can be a hero in history. That doesn’t absolve Jaha and his group of their sins, and I think the show does a fine job of demonstrating how awful the ruling class is on the Ark. He lied to them about the drop ships! But history is not a straight line and it is not a singular narrative. It matters how you look at it.

The 100

The miscommunication issues are even worse on the ground, though I think the end of this episode makes that clear. There are layers of secrets; there are unspoken intentions; and there are contradictory morals at work. At the center of this, both Finn and Octavia – for their own reasons, of course – want to pursue peace with the Grounders instead of fighting with them. Again, I think that the script for “Unity Day” does a fine job of showing us all the angles. Octavia fosters an attraction and appreciation for Lincoln; Finn does not believe the extended violence is sustainable in the long run because they’ll inevitably repeat the past. On the other side of this conflict are a bunch of frightened people who have been terrorized, gored, and shot at by a bunch of strangers who have never said a single word to any of them. I understand Clarke’s decision to ask for back-up, and I recognize it as a smart move. These people need to protect themselves, and it’s silly not to assume that they’re risking their lives in this situation.

But that complexity is what makes this story so volatile and so difficult to categorize. The meeting on the bridge between Clarke and Anya (oh my god, it’s Dichen Lachman!!!) was symbolic of that complexity! Both sides don’t trust one another, and both sides brought backup and weapons. But more importantly, we finally get a crucial perspective from the Grounders. This entire time, the Grounders have seemed like nothing more than a malevolent force. Why did they behave as they did?

From the Grounders’ point of view, a group of people crashed into their territory. (Which suggests that there are other groups??? I WANT TO KNOW.) They then immediately lashed out at the world around them, threatening to trespass on land that wasn’t theirs. Their flares actually crashed to Earth and torched a village. To the Grounders? The 100 are a destructive force prone to violence. Why wouldn’t they react as they did? They were merely trying to defend themselves!

Obviously, neither narrative accepts all of the facts, and each side is biased towards their own narrative. And unfortunately, their unwillingness to see the other side ends in gunfire and a rain of arrows. It’s a disaster, more so than I could have expected, and these two parties are most certainly going to war. Where does that leave Lincoln? And what role does he play within the Grounders???

The Drop Ship

YOU HAVE TO BE KIDDING ME. Until I see dead bodies, I’m not assuming anything. BUT STILL. HOW DARE YOU.

The video for “Unity Day” can be downloaded here for $0.99.

Mark Links Stuff

– I will be at numerous conventions in 2016! Check the full list of events on my Tour Dates / Appearances page.
– My Master Schedule is updated for the near and distant future for most projects, so please check it often. My next Double Features for Mark Watches will be seasons 1 & 2 of The 100, Death Note, and Neon Genesis Evangelion. On Mark Reads, Diane Duane’s Young Wizards series will replace the Emelan books.
- Mark Does Stuff is on Facebook! I’ve got a community page up that I’m running. Guaranteed shenanigans!

About Mark Oshiro

Perpetually unprepared since '09.
This entry was posted in The 100 and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.