Mark Watches ‘The 100’: S03E16 – Perverse Instantiation, Part II

In the sixteenth and final episode of the third season of The 100, Clarke brings the fight to Alie. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to watch The 100.

Trigger Warning: For blood/gore, consent.

Well, shit.

There’s no denying that while I’ve been largely entertained by The 100, my thoughts on it have changed. It’s not that the show was never flawed, and I hope I’ve explained that in reviews for the past two seasons. Instead, The 100 was a show where I could look beyond the flaws because everything else they were doing was so invigorating and exciting. I did that with season three, but many of the writing choices have felt confusing, bewildering, or downright enraging. “Perverse Instantiation, Part II” reminds me of The 100’s strengths and weaknesses of this season as a whole. It’s exciting and tense; it relies on shoving other characters into the background in frustrating ways; it can give us intense emotional catharsis, or it irritates me with a lack of insight into certain characters.

I have no idea how there’s going to be a season 4.

But let’s talk about the events that lead to that, because I think the show has written themselves into an incredibly difficult place. That’s not a bad thing; I like challenging stories, and The 100 has certainly been ambitious over the course of three seasons. But the trauma of the events of season three hangs over everything, and I don’t know how they’ll move beyond it. At the start of the finale, with a “healed” Abby helping her daughter with a bizarre blood transfusion, “Perverse Instantiation” felt like the end of the world. I wasn’t surprised by Clarke being the person to enter the City of Light to fight Alie; the show posits Clarke as the main character anyway. But I was more interested in logistics and execution. What would the whole City of Light look like? How would Clarke deal with Alie knowing she was there immediately upon entering? How would she get to the Citadel?

I’m happy to say that I was satisfied with the look of the city and the way that Raven’s hacking was folded into the action. I understood the importance of the Flame, first as a shield to prevent others from seeing her, and then as a method for her to access information she otherwise would not have had. That included the signs that led her to the Citadel, as well as the appearance of Lexa. (DON’T TOUCH ME, I’M STILL RAW.) The writers even found a way to represent Clarke’s physical state in the Throne Room. All of this contributed to a sense of terror that felt real. If Ontari’s heart could not be kept pumping – even when Murphy had to do it manually – then Clarke’s body would reject the flame. If any of Alie’s chipped humans got to her, she would die.

So she has help. Raven’s hacking has a very real effect on her journey, which includes her creating a door directly to the Citadel when Clarke needed it most. But the Flame also provided her with Lexa. Her appearance is bittersweet. I was instantly reminded of the chemistry between these two characters and how meaningful their relationship was to The 100. And then I felt sad because I knew it was gone, that this version of Lexa was just a glimpse, and that if Clarke was going to save everything, she’d have to definitively sacrifice Lexa, too.

And that’s not even remotely the only thing going on. OCTAVIA, Y’ALL. Was it foolish of her to ignore the plan in order to go after Pike? Of course. I saw that as the whole point. Octavia’s need for blood was so intense that she let it cloud her judgment. Is it as bad as what Bellamy did? Not at all, and I don’t think the show was trying to say it was. But I appreciated that Bellamy had insight into what his sister might have felt, and so he did his best to implore her to set aside her anger so that everyone could survive.

About that survival, though… I have no idea how they’re going to do it. I needed to know why Alie had done such horrible things, and I finally got the answer, just prior to Clarke “saving” the world. But in doing so, I am shown why Alie was so desperate: in six months’ time, the world will be uninhabitable due to the degradation of the world’s nuclear power plants. Her methods were hostile and violent and horrible because Alie assumed that the ends justified the means. That was what Alie 2.0 was for: to give her programming a moral context to work with humanity instead of against it.

I do not suspect that Alie is lying. I think she’s telling the truth. Alie never really lied, did she? She obscured the truth at times, but can she construct actual falsehoods? Is that in her programming? Regardless, Clarke’s decision to hit the killswitch still works within the morality of the show because free will – and all the messy implications of that – are vital to human existence. Without that, Clarke can’t imagine living.

That scene where she flips the switch is so painful, though. You can see all the trauma and hurt rush back into these people as soon as their chips no longer work. LOOK AT KANE’S FACE, MY HEART IS BREAKING ALL OVER AGAIN. The same goes for Jasper, who experienced peace and happiness willingly. He is distraught upon returning to normal. But if there’s hope for the future, it is in friendship. Companionship. Community. Swearing to others that together, anything can be conquered. In a way, it felt like a callback to the first season, didn’t it?

Yet I still can’t imagine a future. What of Jaha??? That man unrepentantly sought a destruction future and seemed overjoyed to torture others. Yet there’s not any real chance here to even address him post-Alie, and it feels super weird. He was the other major antagonist, and his story fizzles out in “Perverse Instantiation.” There are no nightbloods left, so how can the Grounders have a Commander anymore? Will their religion change because its origin has been exposed? Will everyone return to their own communities? WHAT ABOUT THE NUCLEAR THREAT? How do they find and stop the spread of radiation??? CAN THEY???

And what story is there for Octavia, who rejects Pike’s gesture of reconciliation by STABBING HIM IN THE STOMACH. While a Pike plot might have been interesting, I think Octavia’s story is a lot more compelling. Will we see Indra again, or will she only be mentioned by another character? (Whose writing decision was it to punish Indra for saving Kane’s life by CRUCIFYING HER????) What about a future for Bellamy or Raven or Abby or Miller or Bryan or Harper?

I don’t know how much feedback ever reached the writers room for this show, but in a lot of ways, this season has felt like a learning opportunity. I am still incensed by Lexa, so much so that I feel tired just thinking about the reasons this show did her wrong. (And Sinclair. And Pike. And Jaha. And Hannah. And many others.) I want this show to be a lot more respectful with its non-white characters, and I’d really like it if there more fulfilling storylines for everyone.

We’ll have to see. I’ll come back to The 100 after season 4 airs. Until then, I’ll be moving on to a show called Terriers, which I know nothing about. Thanks for following along, friends!

The video for “Perverse Instantiation, Part II” can be downloaded here for $0.99.

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About Mark Oshiro

Perpetually unprepared since '09.
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