The 100 “Terms and Conditions” is a self-contained political thriller stuffed with ultimatums, betrayals, and self reflection on past survival choices. “I have seen this before,” states Bellamy (Bob Morley) at the top of the episode; a significant line of dialogue considering all the “Spacewalker” (2×08) déjà vu feels. The grounders are enforcing the blockade around Arkadia until Pike is overthrown as Skaikru’s leader. Showrunner Jason Rothenberg even had director John F. Showalter return to the show, to follow up Finn’s death, with Bellamy’s fall from grace. We are no longer on the ark, this is not Camp Jaha from season two anymore, but the grounders terms and conditions to occupy Earth still apply, “Welcome to the war against Skaikru.”
Clarke (Eliza Taylor) does not make a single appearance in this entire episode, and more importantly nobody directly refers to Mount Weather. Jasper (Devon Bostick) is still moping around camp as a “drunken idiot” and talks about his deceased girlfriend all the time. There’s a small moment between Monty (Christopher Larkin) and his mother that addresses his own guilt from being in the command center at Mount Weather, “If something lets you survive it’s always the right thing.” The third season has placed the burden of guilt on those who made the decisions at Mount Weather, while “Terms and Conditions” recognizes the remorse from Skairkru’s first attempt at a truce. “You surrendered one of the young lives you swore to protect… and the grounders betrayed you,” argues Pike (Michael Beach) during a confrontation with Kane (Henry Ian Cusick). Now, throughout the third season the farm station infiltration into Arkadia hasn’t been my favorite until this episode. I have appreciated the consistent militant characterization of farm station since they first ambushed Bellamy’s unit in “Wanheda Part 2.” A combative approach that stems from crash-landing onto Azgeda’s war zone territory. Pike’s perspective and leadership style is a great counterpoint to Kane’s present politics and grounder understanding. We’ve seen this juxtaposition before in “Ye Who Enter Here,” another episode that contains a grounder betrayal due to misplaced trust. See… The 100 writers are illustrating through this series that our present perspectives on the world are made up of numerous choices and actions; not one.
“We’re at war and crimes against our leadership cannot be tolerated,” states Pike during his final scene with Bellamy. Any modern-day political thriller would not be complete without parallels drawn to our own government’s decisions following the events of 9/11. Well, we certainly have seen this before as Pike orders both Bellamy and Monty to initiate camp-wide surveillance. This order follows Octavia’s involvement in preventing Pike from initiating an attack on a nearby grounder village (3×06). The lack of originality for drawing this over-used parallel is made up for in its execution. For example, showing Pike, Bellamy, Monty, and others discussing the internal threat above ground, then moving underground to observe Kane’s rogue crew. It captures a very cold war atmosphere, especially because they’re listening in on radio transmissions. This begins the cat and mouse game as both leaders try to outsmart one another. Pike orders another grounder attack, Kane calls upon Sinclair (Alessandro Juliani) to sabotage the rover. “That’s one down,” says Bellamy after arresting Sinclair and putting him in lockup with the grounder prisoners; unfortunately, this was part of Kane’s plan to distract Pike’s people with a prison riot. “Bellamy get out of the way,” yells Kane as he tries to escape Arkadia and offer Pike up on a platter to the grounders; too bad Bellamy is standing by the choice he made back in “Watch the Thrones.” Again, the closing sequence with Pike sentencing Kane to death for treason is superb due to both it’s writing and direction. Kane acknowledges Pike’s refusal to let go of the laws set on the ark, but reminds him that they’re on the ground now, “See the world as it is.” Meanwhile, Showalter uses camera motion to illicit action in this scene. We spin around these central characters as lines are drawn and allegiances shift once more in Arkadia.
I also appreciate how the writers use the relationship between Miller (Jarod Joseph) and his boyfriend, Bryan (Jonathan Whitesell), to highlight how fractured Arkadia has become under Pike’s rule. The scene between them as they continue to be ships in the night oozes with rich palpable tension. “Is any of this worth lying to someone I love,” asks Bryan after placing a bug on Miller’s jacket and reporting back to Bellamy, “It is if you’re trying to protect them.” Just remember that next time Bellamy when Octavia (Marie Avgeropoulos) learns that her boyfriend, Lincoln (Ricky Whittle), has been sentenced to death for treason. Harper (Chelsey Reist) is also on Kane’s side in this battle for Arkadia. She has certainly come a long way since Mount Weather. With Clarke aligning herself with the grounders and Bellamy under Pike’s influence, we are almost seeing Miller and Harper take their respective roles in Arkadia.
While Pike and Kane continue to make Bellamy and others to pick a side, another leader in the camp losses her influence on an important ally. “This has never happened to me before. When I communicate with someone, they listen to me… agree with me,” explains A.L.I.E. (Erica Cerra) to Jaha (Isiah Washington) after Raven (Lindsey Morgan) breaks her link to the City of Light. The political narrative in “Terms and Conditions” is so strong, because the thematic beats are shown in each plot line. Jaha and Raven devise a plan to retrieve the chip-maker back from Pike’s quarters. Raven recruits Jasper for the mission with a promise that he’ll receive the first chip. After spending the day with Raven and learning that she’s forgotten everything about Finn, I don’t think he’ll be taking a chip any time soon. Back in “Hakeldama” we briefly saw this side effect from being under A.L.I.E.’s influence when Jaha doesn’t remember his own son. In turn we learn through Raven’s arc that the emotional pain relief from the chip goes to the extremes of erasing all memories. This raises a very interesting notion about our desire to live in a pain-free society at the sacrifice of reality, “Finn was real.” During a closing conversation between Jaha and A.L.I.E. we learn that both free will and consent are programmed into the City of Light, therefore Raven is able to break the connection. Anyone else notice the irony in this exchange? Their solution to Raven’s rebellion and desire to locate A.L.I.E. 2.0 is for more people to enter the City of Light; funny, she destroyed the Earth because there were too many people (“Thirteen”). Raven’s breakthrough mirrors Bellamy’s ending decision to not disclose either Miller or Harper as Kane’s fellow accomplices. Leadership is hard when you can’t force others to share your perspective on the world.
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