“There is no life to be found in violence. Every act of violence brings us closer to death.” —Bell Hooks
Part One of the season 3 finale is here. It jumps around from location to location quite a bit, especially at the end, and I can’t tease out the storylines, as they’re so intertwined. So forgive me if it feels disjointed. I’m doing my best.
I expected another salty review, given how this season has been going. There are some good moments this episode I’m grateful for. They’re necessary given how perversely violent this episode is (see what I did there?). Mostly, I’m angry.
Before I get started, trigger warnings for violence, self-harm, child abuse, and torture (again), because we haven’t had enough this season already.
Let’s get started with some salt shall we? Welp, the rover is back up and running again after being stuck behind a fallen tree, because Clarke and Co. are using it to get back to Arkadia. I have no idea how this thing keeps working (the running theory is they keep it charged via solar power). The season’s must have changed in the past 36 hours as well, because the team is standing around in an open field with large patches of snow—last episode, it was raining.
Anyway, despite having asked Clarke for direction at the end of last episode and quite literally looking to her to lead them, everyone is questioning her decision to keep looking for another nightblood.
Frustrated, Clarke goes for a walk in the nearby snow free woods, where she gets a private moment to apologize to Lexa 2.0 in pretty much the exact same spot as she and Lexa shared a moment of trust in “Survival of the Fittest” (2.10). ALIE shows up and random zombie dude attacks Clarke, but Roan shows up too and shoot him down. After saving her life, Roan takes 2.0 and walks off. Clarke tries to convince hi to join her team, but her words have no effect. Bellamy’s gun pointed at his head seems to soften him, though. Clarke says they want the same thing: Ontari as commander. Bellamy continues his shoot first, ask questions later vibe by shooting Roan in the arm to prove he’s not chipped.
At Arkadia, Raven greets the returning team by asking about Luna, who they explain chose to not join them. Clarke introduces King Roan of Azgeda to everyone as they lead him away to a holding cell so Clarke and Bellamy can make plans for busting into Polis. She explains that they’re on the same team. He wants a commander from Ice Nation, and she wants Ontari to have the flame because she’s the only nightblood they now have access to. He’s totes on board, no questions asked, because he’s cool like that.
The plan is to kidnap Ontari from Polis, disconnect her using a new wristband that Raven the Badass Mechanic built from spare parts, and give her 2.0 so they can get the kill switch to shut down ALIE. Raven and Monty are a team again and have a plan for getting to ALIE.
As team Clarke leaves Arkadia, we see ALIE standing with those remaining, so we know that she has a spy there. This means she knows they’re using Roan to bring the flame to Arkadia, and now Clarke and Co. are walking into a trap.
Speaking of Clarke and Co., they’ve arrived on the outskirts of Polis now. Roan needs Clarke to give him the flame in order to make Ontari come with him. She reluctantly agrees, but only if she goes with him as a fake prisoner.
Clarke: “I’m not letting that out of my sight, and I’m the only one that knows the pass phrase so you can tell them that without me, Ontari can’t ascend”
Bellamy is against this idea; he doesn’t trust Roan. Neither does Clarke, apparently, but she trusts Bellamy and has a plan for him, Miller, and Bryan to cover them from the tunnels under Polis.
Back in Arkadia, Jasper and Monty are in a supply room looking for a motherboard for Raven to use to help her get ALIE’s code back up and running in Arkadia. Jasper seems suspiciously interested in knowing the details of the plan while also not looking very hard for the motherboard. He tells Monty he’s happy for him and Harper, which surprises Monty because Jasper hasn’t been happy about anything for a while. Jasper opens up about how much he was angry with everyone but is done blaming now and they have a genuinely touching moment together.
If you thought they were friends again, nope! Surprise! Jasper is chipped and ALIE needs him to keep Monty from getting the motherboard to Raven, so Jasper picks up a screwdriver (?) and stabs his best friend in the stomach. Unlike Lexa, Monty is able to find enough adrenaline to grab the motherboard and run down a long hallway to Raven, where he warns her about Jasper and they shut him out in the hallway. Realizing that ALIE knows their plans ant the Polis mission is a trap, they try to radio the rover but get no response.
In Polis—mysteriously free of the nearby snow—Roan leads a bound and gagged Clarke through empty streets. He promises that once they get Ontari, he will speak to her on Clarke’s and Skaikru’s behalf.
While they talk outside, we get flashes of Octavia, Bellamy, Miller, and Clarke running through the tunnels to get into position. Once in position, Bryan and Miller hope for a better future (which means one of them will probably die next episode) and Octavia looks on with pain in her eyes since Lincoln is gone. Bellamy tells everyone they’re going to use non-lethal force to subdue the zombies.
Bellamy: “The only person we’re here to kill is ALIE.”
Roan and Clarke come upon some zombies sitting in front of the tower whereupon Roan announces himself, revealing that he has the chip and wants to speak to Ontari. Instead, Jaha greets him and demands the flame. When Jaha mentions that he knows about their friends in the tunnel, Roan threatens Clarke. He knows Jaha and Co. want her alive. They’re surrounded, as are Bellamy and Co. in the tunnels, and Roan makes one last attempt to get Clarke free pushing her away and telling her to run. They’re stopped by Kane, who shoots Roan while Clarke stares at his fallen body.
Back in Arkadia, Monty seems to be doing pretty well for someone who was stabbed in the stomach. Raven plans to go ahead with their plan to hack into ALIE again using the motherboard. Despite their friends being in a trap, she believes she can hack into the kill switch on her own again. Monty distracts Jasper to keep him away from Harper (who isn’t with him and Raven), so Jasper explains that he took the chip on the rig after being punched a few times. He complains that they ruined Floukru’s peaceful vibe, which is what ALIE wants to bring to the world: an end to their pain. He’s seen that the ground isn’t survivable like the Sky People thought it was in S1.
In Polis, Clarke is taken to her mother, who hugs her. Clarke swears she’ll never swallow the key. Abby says they just need her help with the flame, but Clarke refuses. As Grounders drag her over to a device and strap her in, Clarke begs her mom not to let them torture her. Abby says she won’t. She’s going to do it herself (FLAMES), and she starts stabbing Clarke with a scalpel while Clarke weeps and screams at her mom that this isn’t her (BURNING HEAVING BREATHES). Ontari and Jaha look on with creepy smiles.
When this doesn’t work, Abby says they need to use Clarke’s weakness: her friends, starting with Bellamy. In the prisons, the guards start to take Bellamy, but Murphy, Indra, and Pike appear from the tunnels. Bellamy and Murphy have a nice moment of recognition for Murphy saving Bellamy’s life while Octavia tells Indra that Pike shot Lincoln. Bellamy and Murphy keep the crew together, though, and instead of cutting and running like Murphy planned on, Bellamy leads them back up to the tower to save Clarke and get Ontari.
Murphy: “You know what? After this, doing the right thing can kiss my *ss.”
Pike shoots a Grounder on the way and Bellamy yells at him because he’s team non-lethal tactics now remember? Pike, Indra, Octavia, Miller, and Bryan are going to stay on the ground floor to operate the apparently winch operated elevator (don’t ask me how it actually works or how it was installed) while Murphy and Bellamy head up. Indra and Octavia get a nice chance to bond and grieve together as well while they are on lookout. Octavia mourns the loss of Lincoln, who was her home. Indra says that Octavia’s home is now with her, and I get teary.
Kane comes out of nowhere with his gun, wounding Pike and Bryan, but Octavia and Indra get the upper hand and knock him out. Bellamy and Murphy are attacked in the elevator by Grounders on the floor they were stopped at (due to Kane shooting at their friends) and one manages to get inside after Bellamy closes the doors. Murphy gets choked out, but Bellamy breaks his own code of non-lethal tactics and shoots the guy in the face. Down below, Pike and Bryan fight through the pain and get the elevator going again to get Murphy and Bellamy to the top floor.
In Arkadia, Jasper recites the names and deaths of all the Delinquents while Raven gets ALIE back online and starts hunting for the kill switch. Harper arrives as if on cue and Jasper takes her hostage, promising Monty he won’t hurt her if Monty destroys the machine Raven built.
Back in Polis, Jaha is preparing a noose and a stand, which Abby assures Clarke isn’t for her. Instead, Abby herself steps onto the stand and slips her neck in the noose. Clarke tells her mom not to let them do this to her, but Abby counters that they aren’t doing it, Clarke is (because what is emotional abuse anyway?). She steps off the stand and hanging herself. We are treated to gratuitous, lingering shots of her struggling to breathe while Clarke screams, apologizes for it, and weeps. Tell me again how ALIE gives people a choice about whether or not to take the chip. While you’re at it, tell me why yet another gratuitous self-harm scene was necessary.
Down below, Indra saves Kane’s life from a bomb they’d set up to collapse the hallway. Upstairs, Bellamy and Co. throw a smoke bomb when they get off the elevator, but ALIE knows that they’re coming. Rather than let Ontari fall into her hands, she has Jaha hit her in the head with a large fire poker. She has brain damage, but isn’t dead yet, so he goes in for another blow. But, Bellamy and Co. come busting in, shoot Jaha in the shoulder, save Abby and Ontari from immanent death, and set Clarke free. Clarke rushes to save Ontari, but she’s suddenly brain dead and bleeds out. They have no hope now, and Murphy says they’re trapped.
I’ll get to the torture, hanging, and child abuse, I promise, but I’d rather start with the positive things, because once the anger starts, I won’t be able to stop. Also, I need something to think about other than how much I hate this show right now.
Jasper and Monty’s reconnection scene was well scripted and acted. These two have been bffs since S1 and their distance because of Jasper’s trauma broke my heart this season. I wanted to see them grieve together, especially after Monty lost his mom (twice!), but this was the next best thing. Jasper showed the kind of humility, sorrow, and honesty that you expect from someone suffering from PTSD compounded with mourning his girlfriend. Jasper reaching out to Monty about Harper was genuinely touching. Their hug was beautiful.
Then they had to ruin it by making Jasper chipped, which completely undermines any character growth that the scene depicted. I am livid. Why can’t Jasper have a moment of growth and apology? It turned this moment of human decency and love into a betrayal, just like Bellamy’s ‘apology’ to Clarke right before he betrayed her and handcuffed her to a pipe (3.05). Why does this show have to turn every genuine moment of apology into a lie? It’s a kind of narrative sadism to have Jasper apologize only to stab Monty seconds later. We’re not allowed to have moments of real friendship between these two anymore.
On the other end of the male bonding scale, we have Bellamy and Murphy. They’ve been antagonists for each other since late in S1 (understandably so). Last time they saw each other, Bellamy would have been happy to see Murphy dead, or at least in prison for a long, long time, so Murphy being the one to bust Bellamy out of jail resolved that tension well. I also like them being the team to rescue Clarke. Sure, Murphy was snide about it, but they work well together. Their moment in the elevator when they recognized how far they’d come and that they’re basically ‘good’ was neat. I think these two have a whole hell of a lot more baggage between them than any other pair of characters (even Clarke and Bellamy), and it’s so nice to see them on the same team.
Speaking of Murphy, he’s grown on me this season. I’ll admit, I hated him in S1 and S2. During his entire arc with Jaha I wanted him to shut up and stop whingeing about life being unfair and stupid. He’s never compelled me or drew me in. Until the past few episodes, that is. I can’t even say exactly what changed for me. Part of it was his rape, and the terrible way it wasn’t addressed by the narrative or media (there were jokes on twitter from a reviewer). As a rape victim myself, I empathized with his trauma and hated the way it wasn’t dealt with.
I also think that his scripting and dialogue improved. Him being the voice of reason in prison rather than the voice of cynicism did wonders. His snark is now balanced out better by his no-nonsense, get-things-done attitude. Instead of whining, he’s acting. He’s taking control of things and boy does he. I want more of this Murphy, please.
When Octavia and Indra first interacted, it was all about Lincoln, so I’m so thankful they got a scene later on to just be with each other. Yes, they both cared about Lincoln and I want them to grieve him, but I also want their relationship to be more than about Lincoln in his death even as it was more than about Lincoln when he was alive. These two ladies have a strong bond of friendship, and I want more of it depicted on screen. When Indra told Octavia her home was with her, I genuinely got teary eyed. It was so perfect!
Moving on to Clarke. The opening scene bothered me. This group of people literally just asked Clarke what they ought to do next at the end of last episode and now they’re grumbling about her ideas. And Jasper saying she needs to ‘cool off’ implies that she was overly emotional, which, were you watching the same interactions I was, Jasper? Clarke was actually very, well, Clarke. She was passionately defending what she believed was the right decision (which you all asked her to make BTW). She didn’t need to ‘cool off’ nor have the narrative imply that she was somehow overreacting.
I don’t know what to feel about Clarke and Bellamy’s interactions. It has become so routine for Bellamy to question her every decision, that it doesn’t feel like it comes from anything other than him wanting to assert his opinion and control her behavior at this point. I’m sure that I’m supposed to feel like he is worried about her, but literally everything she’s done this season, he’s questioned. This does not communicate trust or friendship to me. Compare Bellamy’s “I don’t like your idea” (see also, “Demons”, among others) to Roan just accepting that Clarke’s plan is reasonable and doable. If Bellamy truly values Clarke and trusts her, he should, at some point, let her make a decision on her own without feeling the need to undermine it or ridicule it. That would communicate true rapport between them, which is what I would like to see from these two because I genuinely care about their friendship.
This brings me to the torture. I honestly don’t know what more to say about this that I haven’t said on many other episodes this season. Stop torturing teenage girls. This is not entertainment. This is not Brave™ or Shocking ™. This is deplorable, triggering, and destructive to your audience, which is, in case you haven’t forgotten Rothenberg, mostly teenage girls.
This is the second time they have used gratuitous self harm to attempt to turn a protagonist into a villain. I hated it the first time, and I hate it even more the second. They’ve destroyed both of the mother/daughter(ish) relationships in Abby’s life this way. It’s disgusting
Do the camera shots have to linger so much? Need they show so much blood on-screen and for so long? Do we really need a close up of Abby stabbing her own daughter in the chest with a scalpel not once, but twice? Do we need to see all of Ontari’s blood pooling out on the floor after she was beaten in the head with a metal poker by an adult who ought to be protecting her?
And the hanging scene. GOD. It was so long. They seriously lingered on Abby’s legs kicking in the air and Clarke screaming for it to stop. Abby’s lips turned blue it took so long. And this is ALIE’s plan B for Clarke’s gratuitous violence show because Clarke and her friends outsmarted her. I dont even what to know what she would have done with Bellamy. And then they make Abby blame Clarke for the whole thing? A woman blames her own daughter for her suicide and then Clarke apologizes for something that is literally not in any way her fault. SCREW YOU STOP IT. STOP BLAMING CLARKE FOR THINGS THAT ARE NOT HER FAULT. I STG.
These are things that real people actually experience: parents threatening suicide and blaming them for it. Parents physically abusing/torturing their children and blaming them for it. Adults beating children they ought to be protecting “for their own good.” It’s a thing that happens in real life, not a part of your torture porn fantasy to make people think you’re somehow Brave™ for showing it. And if you’re choosing to show triggering content, don’t make light of it.
I said it last week and I’ll say it again.
STOP. TORTURING. TEENAGE. GIRLS. STOP. TORTURING. WOMEN. JUST. STOP.
I know I’m getting shouty, but seriously. This needs to stop.
Tune in next time for Clarke taking the key but somehow not integrating with ALIE.
Also, next week has been confirmed by writers and some of the actors to be very triggering, even more than 3.07, so stay safe my friends. Take care of yourself and stay away if you need to.
- UGH, the scene in the woods with Clarke apologizing broke me. It was the same place (or nearly) that she fell asleep while Lexa watched over her in 2.10.
- It also felt a bit weirdly green-screened at the beginning? Maybe it was the contrast on the film between Clarke’s bright blue and the forest’s bright green.
- Why didn’t Clarke run when Roan was shot? She could have at least tried to make a break for it knowing they wouldn’t use lethal force on her.
- I liked Roan, I didn’t want him to die 🙁
- “A motherboard loaded with RAM”. *headdesk*
- How does that winch even work?
- Harper finally gets a last name! McIntyre!
- I wonder what Emori is up to since she’s not need to manipulate Murphy right now.
- We know Jasper was chipped on the rig, but we still don’t know how the chips got there. Yay plot convenience!
- Murphy’s “Clarke’s always in trouble” was delivered as this epic drag. It’s not true at all, but still funny, mostly because it’s not true.
- Sooo, does ALIE being on the Go-Sci station in space even matter for the kill switch or was that just to make it seem like Raven couldn’t access her code? If Raven is going to be able to shut her down from earth anyway, why all the build up at the end of last episode for ALIE being in space? All that drama was wasted. It’s basically moot.
- Where did Ontari get hit to cause enough damage to induce massive internal and external bleeding and brain damage? Her temple maybe?
- Soooo….when is Clarke going to look at Ontari’s pool of blood and go “Hey, I could transfuse that into me and become a nightblood”? Why hasn’t she done this earlier? Transfusions made up a huge plot point in S2. I’m just saying.
- With Roan and Ontari now dead, every new plot line introduced this season has been wrapped up except for ALIE. If they destroy her next episode, what is left for them to do in S4?
- How is this much violence, torture, and self harm still rated TV 14?
- As Elizabeth put it, this episode is a yikes/10.