I was THIS close to being out. THIS CLOSE.
And then they pulled me back in.
I've wanted more from the City of Light storyline since A.L.I.E. showed up in the season 2 finale. I love science fiction and, while I find the fantasy and world-building aspects of this show interesting, adding the sci-fi element may start warming me up to season 3. Especially at the thought of everything about Grounder lore being connected to both artificial intelligence and the original Ark. Color me excited, y'all.
I like to imagine a young Clarke pulling up the film "Titanic" in the small library of films that was uploaded onto the Ark (preserving some important culture, ya know? I hope they also chose The Goonies. I would choose The Goonies.) and thinking, "I really want to reenact this Jack drawing a naked Rose scene some day." Boom. Wish granted. Except for the naked part. This is the CW after all.
Clarke is forced to stop sketching a sleeping Lexa when Lexa wakes up in a frenzy, claiming to hear the voices of past Grounder Commanders. Interesting. Titus spoils the bit of bonding by bringing in a large box sent by newly Kinged Roan. I was hoping the box would include some shampoo for Clarke's hair but it was just Emerson, the last remaining soul from Mount Weather.
Lexa gives Clarke the choice of what to do with Emerson. Clarke wants vengeance meaning his death by 49 cuts. Lexa's reaction is essentially a large "WTF lady" considering Clarke just convinced her to adopt the mantra "blood must NOT have blood." Clarke says this is different. Lexa's choice was preventing a war, Clarke's choice of revenge on Emerson is ending a war. But to Lexa it appears as if refusing to exact revenge is only in play when it's her people and not Clarke's. Lexa looks so confused and a bit disappointed. She's putting a lot on the line because of Clarke and Clarke isn't really returning any favors at the moment.
Clarke's confrontation with Emerson is riveting. I could do without the constant 360 degree camera work during the entire duration of the scene. It was a tad distracting. But these two just let each other have it and it was super intense. Emerson details the number of men, women and children Clarke helped kill in Mount Weather. Two of those children were his. I understand that he lost his entire people group and it's sad that children and innocents were involved but Emerson's reasonings fall flat considering his people spent YEARS draining Grounders for blood. Not to mention, they helped turn many other Grounders into Reapers, just to help do their bidding. So, no Emerson, I have almost zero sympathy for you or your people.
Emerson yells that Clarke will never be able to escape what she did and I think this is her underlying motivation for the season. She wants to escape the horrors of her actions but she really needs to go through a journey of understanding what she did, accepting that it happened and deciding how she wants to continue on as both a person and a leader. At this moment in time she chooses revenge.
Clarke's choice spurs Lexa's advisor, Titus, to try and make peace with her. He clearly loves Lexa and wants to protect her at all costs. He recognizes Lexa and Clarke's relationship to each other, both personally and politically, as something he needs to find common ground with. He asks Clarke to help him protect Lexa by not letting her adopt the idea of "blood must not have blood" so readily. He is fearful that their people will not be accepting and Lexa's position, and life, will be at serious risk.
Clarke refuses to backtrack and let Lexa attack all of Arkadia just because of the actions of a few. She will not allow them to go to war. Titus is clearly disgruntled and admits that they are now at an impasse. Oh, Titus. I automatically don't trust him because I rarely trust a man that is bald by choice, but NOW I'm super sure he's going to do something irrationally cray.
When it comes time for Clarke to exact her revenge on Emerson, she surprises us by choosing not to. She'd much rather he be exiled. Lexa gets way intense with an impassioned speech that includes looking toward a future free of conflict and constant fear. She exiles Emerson with the promise that he will spend all of this days wandering the land reminded that he is the LAST of his kind. Clarke rubs more salt into the wound by telling him that she hopes he lives for forever. DANG, GIRL.
Back in CRAZYTOWN, Octavia and Kane are on a mission to stop Pike from going full Hitler. Octavia follows a group of Pike's people, including Monty's mom, who are collecting soil and water samples. A Grounder child unfortunately happens upon the scene and Pike's group immediately decides to kill him considering he could run and warn his people of them being there. Octavia manages to save the kid who runs off without a thank you. Kids these days.
Kane and Miller (very happy with his screen time this episode) manage to put a bug in Pike's room so they can overhear future plans. One of those plans involves the water and soil samples from before. Pike tells his group that Arkdia is at risk of being out of food in less than a year. They have to expand their land area in order to start growing more crops. Monty, being from Farm Station and having experience with this type of thing, is there and immediately questions how they can expand into a Grounder village.
I am now in week three of being frustrated with Bellamy Blake. He is in this constant state of appearing super conflicted and of raising concerns with Pike only to immediately fall back in line when Pike sternly suggests that it’s “for the people.” I guess if the writers want to make Bellamy THIS dumbed down and malleable, then they might as well commit.
Bellamy is again unsure of Pike’s plan to infiltrate and take out a small Grounder village. To be honest Pike’s stance is horrid and completely xenophobic, but his commitment to taking care of HIS people makes sense to me. I hate him, but he seems to have completely honest intentions with leading the Arkers to a place of sustainability and growth. His way of taking out anyone who interferes with that is deplorable but in a weird way he isn’t a villain that put himself in this position out of sheer selfish intent. But also he can still die by a thousand cuts, k?
My issue of the week with this Arkadia storyline is the inclusion of Monty. Must we bring Monty into this?? I get his relief to have his mother back. I get wanting to be on her side simply because she’s his mom. But he HAS to know about the Grounder murder. He comments unfavorably, in my opinion, on the task of wiping out another village. And yet he is still on the team that ultimately heads to the village to enact the plan. It doesn’t sit well with me. I need to know why he thinks this is okay or I need to know why he is conflicted. This is where the show needs to pull back and let these characters express more of their inner thoughts because I’m just not connecting. It’s honestly making me hate so many people on this show. So many that I once LOVED and cheered for.
A character I don't think I could ever hate is Octavia Blake! Miller helps Octavia successfully sneak off on her trusty horse to the Grounder village Pike is targeting. She wants to warn them and hopes that they will leave before Pike can get there. Miller poses the question of the Grounders wanting to put up a fight instead but Octavia thinks that they will be willing to stop a potential war.
Octavia is wrong. The Grounders are immediately hostile because they know she is from Skaikru and they are pissed about the murder of the Grounder army. The kid that she saved before steps up and speaks out on Octavia's behalf. The seemingly good will doesn't last long though when the group knocks her out and sets up their camp as a trap.
Bellamy, Monty and company approach the empty camp and question how the Grounders knew. Octavia manages to get out of her bindings and yells to warn them that it's a trap. The Grounders reign down fire which releases a toxin that immediately engulfs Bellamy and co. Unfortunately, one of our originals, Monroe, doesn't make it out alive. For a second I thought this show was going to kill Monty too and I WAS NOT HERE FOR THAT.
Anyway, Octavia is once again taken by the Grounders because they are pissed at her interference. Pike is also pissed at her interference and tells Bellamy that he needs to gather any evidence he can on she and Kane's attempts at sabotaging them. He is asking Bellamy to go against his own sister. The sister that he jumped on a falling drop ship for. The sister that he punched Murphy in the face for just because he called her some unkind words. The sister that we were led to believe he would do ANYTHING for. And Bellamy agrees with Pike. I CAN'T. Give me something, writers. Please. Who is this Bellamy? What is THIS motivation to go against Octavia? Why do you hate him, and the people who love his character, SO MUCH??
The potentially less racist, but just as crazy, people in Arkadia are giving in to the City of Light. Jaha is handing out pills like he's a Colorado pot dispensery opening for its first day. Abby is SO skeptical and she can't figure out the technology. She ultimately clears Raven for work because despite not having use of her leg still, she feels no pain. Raven is elated.
A.L.I.E. approaches Raven and asks that she help find some information on her creator, Becca. Becca apparently left Earth for the Ark and took a second AI system with her. A.L.I.E. wants this alternative version. Raven is riding high and is more than happy to assist. Jasper is witness to this bouncy and smiley Raven and wants in. First, he apologizes for taking Finn's ashes and losing them. This renders a non-reaction from Raven, which is odd to me.
Jasper considers taking the City of Light chip, and is encouraged by Jaha, but is stopped last second by Abby. She demands to know what it is made of. Jaha explains that it is a silicon-based neuro-inhibiter. It latches on to the parts of your brain receptors that recognize pain and frees you from it. Abby asks to test to see if there are any dangerous side-effects. When Jaha pauses she asks him if he would have given it to Wells, his son, before knowing more about it. Jaha stares blankly and asks, "Wells?"
Holy poison fog, batman! Jaha FORGOT the existence of HIS SON. Raven's non-reaction to the Finn ashes now makes sense. This chip is blocking pain but it's also blocking painful MEMORIES. It's stripping its takers of the people, places and times that were difficult for them. That seems like a weirdly peaceful idea at first, but this has the potential to take away so much of who a person is. Or who they have grown to be because of those painful times. AHHH.
But that's not even the craziest thing to go down this episode! In the final moments of the episode we find Titus torturing a recently captured Murphy for information on both Clarke and the City of Light chip he was carrying. This scene interchanges with one back in Arkadia. Raven tells A.L.I.E. that second AI tech she was tasked to find was not on the Ark. At least not in the 12 stations that make up the Ark. This prompts Jaha to remember the 13th station. The station that was blasted out of the sky, leading to the first Ark Unity Day celebrated by all of the other stations.
It is here they theorize that the 13th station may have held the 2nd AI and that its creator, Becca, might have purposefully ejected the station in order to destroy the tech. So, where is this 13th station? Did it just crash and burn? In a WTF game changing reveal, we discover smallish ship sitting in Titus' chamber. Jaha's voice over explains that the 13th station was named "Polaris" and on the ship in Titus' room, we see the same word. Only this time the "-AR" is scratched off leaving it "Polis." The name of the Grounder capitol.
My brain hurts. I think this show may actually have a continuous narrative that has been weaving throughout all of the seasons, we just haven't been privy to it until now. I like this. It's building on current plots and moving those forward but it's also now connecting everything from the cause of the nuclear war to the birth of the Grounders and their culture. Did this 13th station hold a group of Sky people that became the Grounders? The amount of years that have passed (a little less than 100) makes me skeptical of thinking Grounders as a whole are descendants of the Station, but maybe a few had grandparents on it? Making them descendants of sky people? Throwing a wrench in this ongoing Grounder/Sky People conflict?
Maybe the original AI creator of A.L.I.E. was on this 13th station, and the people who survived the nuclear war on Earth look to her as some sort of god considering how she fell from the sky and the technology and advancements she could have brought with her. Is this is the basis of the Grounder's beliefs, philosophies and general way of life?
And lastly, Lexa's comment about hearing the voices of past Commanders when she sleeps strengthens my thoughts that the Grounder Commander ceremonies and conclave are connected to the City of Light. Maybe those with the night blood are somehow affected, thus able to be influenced by some A.I. being (that perhaps existed separately from A.L.I.E. on the 13th station).
Is some form of artificial intelligence, A.L.I.E. or her possible counterpart, responsible for an entire peoples culture and chain of command? The same AI that scorched the Earth in the first place could still have control over its inhabitants, manipulating their every move for her own weirdly cultish purposes. I don't know! But if so, someone really should have just given A.L.I.E. a copy of The Sims. It's a much easier way to exert control over a population of people...and less dirty.
I love that this City of Light storyline can finally connect some plots for us. The constant Grounder politics was getting old. I want to know how this entire world even came to be and the fact that it all appears connected in some way is fascinating. So, I am definitely back on board with most of the show. My heart won't let me dig too deep into other parts because it'll just get angry and it doesn't want to get angry.
However, my heart does get insanely happy with the potential of Abby and Kane. Everytime Kane and Abby are in a room together my first though goes to “AAAAND KISS.” It’s like my heart is completely glossing over that time in season 1 where Kane nearly floated her. Or that time in season 2 where he ordered her public lashing. But look, the heart wants what it wants.
May we meet again,