‘Heavy Lies The Crown’
So, about that survival plan then? Tonight’s episode of The 100 was a lot of things and covered a lot of ground, but long-term survival definitely wasn’t high on the list. With Clarke in Arkadia desperately searching for a way of keeping everyone alive, Bellamy forced to make another choice about who survives and Raven advocating the need for honesty in times of crisis, ‘Heavy Lies The Crown’ spent a lot of time revisiting old ideas with four seasons’ worth of consequences to bear in mind this time around. Ultimately, however, it all boils down to the choices being made: do you save everyone you can now, or sacrifice a few for the greater good?
It’s a choice The 100 has had its characters face before – sending 100 juvenile delinquents to earth to see if its survivable while saving a month’s worth of oxygen for those still living on the Ark, for example – and there are already clear parallels in this season as a small group try to find a way to survive with a ticking clock forcing their hand. However noble his intentions are, Bellamy’s “we save who we can save today” mantra is quite short-sighted for what they’re dealing with here.
In choosing to blow up the hydro-generator and save 25 people from slavery in the Ice Nation-occupied Farm Station, Bellamy condemned a few hundred more to death now there’s no way to generate water during their radiation-enforced lock-down in the Ark. And, as Monty points out, it feels more like a selfish decision on Bellamy’s part to absolve himself of any more guilt than a choice made for the “greater good” – even if it did make for a neat throwback to the series’ beginning, whittling down the human race’s chance of survival to no more than 100 people. Over in Polis, on the other hand, the other Blake is very much determined to make decisions based on the greater good, and Octavia’s transformation into the cool, calm, collected and ruthless warrior she’s turning into is still a wondrous thing to behold. With Roan still injured and his rule over the Grounder coalition tenuous at best, the Grounders are ready to turn on Skaikru for their role in bringing ALIE and the City of Light into their lives and there’s not much Roan can do to stop it, especially when they learn of the planned coup against him involving new character Ilian (Chai Romruen).
His introduction via flashback to the chipped days of nine days ago was vivid and brutal (and provided a lovely opportunity for Erica Cerra to briefly return), but it also felt a little random. We’ve seen what the chip made people do, and I’m not sure the seeing Ilian’s own experience necessarily gave him an edge over the hurt and pain felt by all the Grounders just because it was on screen. The time spent on him clearly indicates he’s going to become a major player, and maybe the lengthy introduction will pay off in the long run, but the role he played in this particular episode felt a little thin – especially when he’s tied up in Octavia’s storyline, and we’re all just a bit too busy appreciating Octavia-the-assassin to appreciate the mostly-silent new character. Compared to last week then, ‘Heavy Lies The Crown’ was a much slicker operation, but it still feels like this season is finding its feet. There are still a few too many visits to characters that aren’t doing much and too much running through plot points too quickly. In this episode alone we found and lost a solution to surviving the end of the world, while Roan’s rule was both threatened and saved, and that’s a lot to take in without even accounting for the implications of Jasper’s darkly comic lets-live-while-we-can kick and Jaha’s surprising turn as an unexpected soundboard for the difficult decisions Clarke is making.
One thing The 100 has always done well is give us as many different points of view as possible. And, conflicting though they may be, there are always elements of each perspective that we as viewers can understand. If this week was all about the difficult decisions you make as a leader, then it absolutely hit the nail on the head.
‘Heavy Lies The Crown’ was an intriguing mix of political and survival drama with a heady dose of strong character development thrown in too. It may have maintained last week’s breakneck pace just a bit too much to really settle into any one aspect of the episode, but there’s no denying those difficult decisions were made – and whether you agree with them or not is another matter entirely.