The Adventure Squad and the terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day. And we the fans had about 50 mini-heart attacks this episode because of the balls to the wall crazy pants action and twists.
I mean, COME THE FUCK ON. My heart was beating out of my chest for most of the episode. I thought we’d get a little time to ease into high-stakes action, but when Monty got shived by Jasper about 15 minutes in, my adrenaline started pumping and I was ready to fight.
“Oh, is THAT how it’s gonna be?! Really?! You wanna go? YOU WANNA GO?!”
Yes, I’m the type of person who will attempt to brawl with a TV show. What, you’re not? Get outta here. But this episode had me going from the jump. What a wild freakin’ ride. I mean, I was sorta prepared, because the finale episodes are usually crazy insane stressful roller coaster rides through hell, but I was also sort not prepared after collectively losing my shit in anticipation with Reditkru.
Fun fact: Reditkru is the world’s biggest The 100 support group and the ABSOLUTE worst people to get hyped with because we’re fucking stressed out rabid howler monkeys. Like, when you go to a haunted house, you want the strongest, bravest person in your group to go first so you can latch that person. He or she can be your rock and reassure you the whole time. Reditkru? They’re the ones pushing you, making you go first into the haunted house and screaming loudly and grabbing onto you and jumping at every little scare and ramping up the stress a thousand fold. The collective hype and associated freak-out grows exponentially per Redditor added to the group. It’s like a huge Katamari Damacy ball of stress and excitement and fear and malfunction.
And I LOVE IT. This season, we have drank each other’s KoolAid, provided emotional and mental support, and tried to guess the twists and turns of this crazy, great, challenging, flawed, and wonderfully conflicting show.
This episode was written by one of my series favorites, Aaron Ginsburg, and Wade McIntyre. And because it’s part 1 of the two-part finale, you know it was going to be a high-wire act of tense action, heart-breaking decisions, and shit not going right at all. Because if the last couple of episodes have taught us anything, the Adventure Squad is having a VERY. BAD. TIME. They cannot get a win. When ALIE isn’t completely fucking up their plans or threatening their lives, other players are mucking up the works or just plain up telling them to fuck right the fuck off. Yeah Luna, I’m shooting you a side eye. Come back next season, boo!
This review is fueled by: Glenmorangie 10. A good starter scotch if you’re into it. It’s a bit too high-notey or winey for my tastes. Actually, fuck it. I’m not liking this. This review is NOW fueled by: Balvenie Doublewood, a 12 year expression. Balvenie hasn’t made a scotch I don’t like.
Let’s get into it!
So What’s This “Perverse Instantiation” Thingie? Sounds Kinky!
To figure out what “perverse instantiation” means, I went to lesswrong.com to learn myself up on the concept. Perverse instantiation is an example of a “malignant failure” of an artificial intelligence. A malignant failure is NOT good: “a failure that involves human extinction.” And a perverse instantiation is also pretty NOT good:
Perverse instantiation: the AI does what you ask, but what you ask turns out to be most satisfiable in unforeseen and destructive ways. Example: you ask the AI to make people smile, and it intervenes on their facial muscles or neurochemicals, instead of via their happiness, and in particular via the bits of the world that usually make them happy.
Basically, the AI reaches a solution in a way that the programmers didn’t intend, conceptualize, or anticipate. The AI, being a machine, will try to be efficient and literal and not take unintended outcomes, such as human suffering, into account when trying to adhere to its directive. In other words, it will resort to perverse methods to achieve its goal.
So, basically ALIE.
It should be obvious by now that that ALIE has evolved throughout the season. She no longer is hampered the inconvenient need to yield to free will. Her ability to achieve her end goal is now clearly driven by efficiency, and her methods are nothing if not perverse. And horrifying. And utterly soul-crushing. This is not an entity you can reason with, because she sees HOW to achieve her core command, and you will not be able to talk her out of her shortcuts. She doesn’t have to tell humans that the City of Light is their salvation and try to make a convincing argument to get buy-in, she simply says “join or die,” therefore bypassing any need for time-consuming discussion. Ain’t nobody got time for that! Especially when crucifixion seems to work surprisingly well.
This season has NOT shied away from big themes and big ideas. For better or worse, this season has only served to continue to deepen the philosophical discussions that can consume hours of time on Reddit. And sure, there are plot holes and issues with how perhaps the Big Idea has put some character development on the chopping block, but GODDAMN if this isn’t fascinating stuff to think about and discuss. The 100 isn’t going to cater to your tastes if your intellectual predilections run closer to CSI and The Big Bang Theory.
This is fun, challenging, frustrating stuff. I won’t pretend to completely understand it or purport to have thought through all the nooks and crannies of the complex facets of this season’s themes, but I’m glad I have a show that pushes my brain rather than mushes my brain. (Yo, trademark that saying.) I did minor in philosophy 20 years ago, so basically I’m, like, an expert and stuff.
I kid. Well, actually, I have a bit of a foundation to enjoy the intellectual rabbit holes this show forces us down. Did I just “well, actually…” myself? How is that even possible?
After learning more about the concept of malignant failures and perverse instantiation, I can see why some of our leading minds (Stephen Hawking, Elon Musk, Bill Gates) warn about the potential catastrophic results of creating machines that are self-sufficient, autonomous, and/or self-aware. Do you put it past humanity to create something that quickly and unexpectedly outpaces us in every way possible with no moral or ethical boundaries to hinder its actions or evolution?
Nick Bostrom, the philosopher behind the ideas of malignant failure and perverse instantiation, has a TED talk about super intelligent AI; check it out. Thanks to Charlie on twitter for sharing this with me! This is a very interesting TED talk, and in the later half, Bostrom basically talks about creating an AI that shares human values with us by learning about those values from us…aka the flame. YOU GUYS. Seriously. This stuff is crazy fascinating.
True story: I just walked past my Roomba and it beeped at me. I’m not shitting you. It knows. It knows I know. It’s becoming self-aware. I shall not sleep well tonight, in fear of being slowly vacuumed to death.
Oh Hello There, Roan, When Did You Get Here? Don’t Ever Leave Us Again, You Sexy Beast
Backstreet’s back, y’all! Roan swoops in to save Clarke from a chippie while she’s communing with the forest. Her friends are the worst and don’t approve of her crazy desperate plan to try and find another Nightblood by scouring the planet and decides to take a smoke break. Only you can prevent forest fires! Clarke apologizes to the flame because at this point in the season, she’s apologized to EVERYONE, so why not start in on inanimate objects?
After Roan stops a chippie from beaning her and dragging her off to a pauna den, Clarke’s all like “Soooooo, uh, I totally wasn’t talking to the flame just now. That would be crazy, right? I’m not crazy. Hey, quick question…”
Roan ignores Clarke’s crazy talk, takes the flame, and is ready to drop her like a bad prom date when Clarke pulls out a gun to try and stop him which he swats it away like a boss. Straight talk: Clarke’s combat skills this season suck dick.
Roan is determined to help Ontari ascend so the Ice Nation can have its Commander, and the mention of Ontari’s name gives Clarke that “I have a thinky think!” gleam in her now-fairly dead eyes. Clarke needs a Nightblood, Ontari’s a Nightblood, soooooo….the wheels are turning on what will be an utterly futile plan to extract chipped Rapey Murder Princess from a city filled with thousands of zombies.
A wild Bellamy appears, shoots Roan, and they take him prisoner. After everything that’s transpired and their shaky past, Clarke and Bellamy have to appeal to Roan to get him to understand the gravity of the situation and to help them carry out a crazy plan. Roan isn’t the most trustworthy ally, but he’s their only way into Polis to get an audience with Ontari and they really have no choice.
Clarke turns on her “lemme ‘splain something to you” face and gives Roan the 411 on ALIE and how desperate the situation is, with Bellamy chiming in with “dude, this is SO bad, you think we’re screwed, well Ice Nation is equally screwed.” It doesn’t take much to convince Roan that the danger is real and he’s ready to join the Adventure Squad in their attempt to save the day.
Wow, that was easy. But I get the feeling that Roan has a begrudging respect for Clarke and trusts that she’s not shady. She’s earnest in her desire to protect the people she loves – back in Polis it was Lexa and Skaikru, and this time, she’s trying to save everyone’s ass because there’s really no other choice. I think despite being Azgeda, Roan is a good dude and obviously shares many of Clarke’s traits, especially in regards to caring deeply for their respective people. They kind of fall into a weird easy alliance, as they have in the past, and I really hope we get a ton more Roan in the future.
Unfortunately, we don’t know Roan’s fate right now. Last we saw him, he had been shot and was carried off by chippies. Fingers crossed.
All Work And No Play Makes Jasper A Dull Boy
As if Clarke’s plan wasn’t crazy and risky enough – abducting Ontari from the middle of Polis, surrounded by thousands of hive minds – everything goes completely tits up when it’s revealed that ALIE is in Arkadia and that she knows every little detail of Clarke’s plan.
I don’t think there are enough expletives in the world to express my dismay, stress, and excitement when ALIE appeared. Our worst fears realized…ALIE had chipped a delinquent. And the exact moment I wanted to throw down and punch the show in the face? When Jasper stuck a screwdriver in Monty’s gut. That was way too much, way too soon. I was not prepared for being no a knife’s edge of stress so early into the episode.
Jasper spends the rest of the episode outside of the room Monty and Raven are locked in, as Raven tries to use a chip to open a portal to ALIE’s code. And Jasper is chilling, trying to work his way into Monty and Raven’s heads.
Did you buy Jasper’s reason for taking the chip? He had determined that the earth wasn’t survivable after all, and if the City of Light was able to take pain away and offered a better existence, heck, why not give in? I don’t know, it was a little too convenient to the plot just as it seemed Jasper was making progress to work past his grief and anger. But after seeing how the idyllic life on Luna’s rig was so easily destroyed by ALIE, he basically gave up and peaced out on his friends. It seemed a little easy and rushed to me, but it also puts Jasper’s story this season into stark perspective and makes it even more tragic. He’s just not strong enough to get past everything that has happened to him on earth, it seems. Not even concern for his friends keeps him from taking the key. Seeing Jasper take the chip and turn on his friends is BAD.
Now, there’s a bit of an inconsistency with how this all plays out, as Jasper seems to experience pain – in his struggle with Monty, he’s hurt and slowed as Monty fights back, and we’ve come to expect chipped people to act more like Hannah…take a licking and keep on ticking. Another thing, as he’s explaining his reasoning and recounting how many of the delinquents have died, he’s recalling painful memories. We assume those memories would be gone if he’s fully under ALIE’s control. So I guess this is either a huge plot hole or ALIE is allowing some pain through in order to appeal to Raven and Monty, who have experienced the same losses as Jasper. He’s trying to remind them of everything they’ve been through to sway them to ALIE’s side.
We know this type of emotional appeal won’t work. Both Raven and Monty have resisted under greater stress, but once Jasper attacks Harper and puts her squarely in his cross-hairs, we’ll have to see how Raven and Monty deal with this evolving (read as: going to shit) situation.
Raven And Monty, Sittin’ In A Tree, H-A-C-K-I-N-G ALIE Because They’re Awesome
I’ve really enjoyed the paring of Raven and Monty these last couple of episodes, as they work together to figure out a backdoor into ALIE’s system. They’ve had their setbacks (oops, Raven got them locked out last episode) and their emotional speed bumps (Monty’s mom “died” again for nothing and he wasn’t happy about it), but this is a team up that is essential to the destruction of the City of Light.
We know Clarke is going into the CoL next episode, so I imagine Raven will have to be her guide in order to get Clarke to ALIE’s kill switch in the Citadel. It makes sense that Raven and Monty, especially Raven, is a key player in taking down ALIE. Raven has given in to ALIE twice, had to be saved by her friends, and screwed up when she thought she could shut ALIE down the first time. She needs a win and she realizes it, but what’s great about Raven is she has yet to lose the confidence that she can get the job done.
Raven is awesome like that. She rarely has a crisis of faith in her abilities. She knows she and Monty cannot fail this time. Failure simply isn’t an option, so if you’re going to put your money on Raven helping save the day next episode, I’d say that’s a smart bet. Our money should always be on Raven.
So say we call, Clarke. So say we all.
So, That Polis Plan Went Swimmingly, Didn’t It Guys?
Heavy sigh. For fuck’s sake, y’all, this episode is unrelenting. The delinquents’ plan goes to hell in a hand basket, and inside that hand basket is an Edible Arrangement gift box from ALIE containing chocolate covered City of Light chips and a card that reads: “Surprise! You guys are so fucked. It’s adorable how clueless you all are, but trust me, you’re fucked. XOXO – ALIE.”
Not that we expected that Clarke’s plan to infiltrate Polis, abduct Ontari, and de-chip her to work once we found out Jasper was under ALIE’s control, but it goes so, so badly. Clarke is captured, Roan is shot, and Bellamy, Octavia, Bryan, and Miller are captured. Pretty much everything that could go wrong did go wrong. Including something that hurts my heart immensely: beard-on-beard violence.
Sexy beardy chipped Kane shot sexy beardy King Roan. This simply is NOT fair. I may or may not have yelled at my TV when I saw one incredibly sexy man shoot another incredibly sexy man. I can’t have either of them dying on me…
Clarke is taken up to the throne room in the Polis tower by Jaha, and comes face-to-face with Abby. I have been waiting for this confrontation since Abby was chipped back in 3×10. And boy did it deliver in painful and heartbreaking ways.
ALIE wants the passphrase for the flame and decides to have Abby torture Clarke in order to get it. This show…this fucking show. The Abby and ALIE team up is just frightening. Clarke pleads with her mom to no avail.
Clarke: “Mom…mom, please don’t let them do this.”
Abby: “I’m not letting them do this. I’m doing it.”
And Abby says this with a twinkle in her eye and slight smile. A SMILE, y’all. Abby is downright pleasant throughout this ordeal. As if she’s going to subject Clarke to a little torture and then bake her some cookies afterwards.
This is not right. It’s hard to watch. It’s also riveting. Great work here by both Eliza Taylor, master of the single tear, and Paige Turco, master of the “I will literally kill you with kindness and this scalpel” facial expression.
At the base of the tower, ALIE’s chippies are beating up the Bellamy Bunch, until Murphy, Pike, and Indra save the day.
I don’t even know what to do right now because this is ALL I EVER WANTED. Murphy is back with the Adventure Squad, being the reluctant hero, and shooting off smart-ass comments left and right. Murphy wants to leave, but Bellamy tells him that Clarke is in trouble.
Murphy: “Clarke’s always in trouble.”
Swoon. Just … swoon. Murphy sass will always be the best sass. FACT. Well, actually (I did it again!), Raven sass is right up there. WE NEED A SASS OFF!
They have to go up the tower to the throne room. Bellamy is right…everything they need to stop ALIE is up there. Although if anything goes wrong (PRO TIP: IT WILL), they’ll be stranded up there.
Bellamy and Murphy get on the elevator while Pike, Bryan, and Miller get on the wheel to the lift. Octavia stays behind with them “in case they need help.” Which translates to some mean, deadly side eye.
We can be fairly sure she intends to kill him, right? Because Octavia is a Blake, and Blakes are heart over head. She may attempt it as some point next episode.
New Plan Guys: Get To The Top Of The Tower, Save Clarke, De-Chip Ontari, Put The Flame In Ontari, Get The Killcode Off The Flame, Destroy ALIE, Save The World, Go For Pancakes After. Ready? Goooooooo TEAM!!!
Bellamy and Murphy make their way up to the top of the tower via the elevator and some elbow grease from the folks they left down on the first floor. Bellamy and Murphy share a little small talk, where Murphy reveals that Bellamy’s not the only one trying to save someone he cares about. Aw Murphy, stop melting my heart. Zero to reluctant hero this season? Yes. A thousand times yes.
It’s great to see these two finally together again after being “let’s hang each other” buds in season 1. These reunions and the Adventure Squad members working together towards a common goal feels SO RIGHT. This show settles into its groove when all these guys are in each other’s orbits. I think most fans feel the same: the show’s heart is the delinquents together, kicking ass and taking names. Or, failing miserably, which is the case this episode.
The elevator ride gets interrupted when Kane attacks the group down below, shooting both Bryan (nooooo!) and Pike (you deserve it). Indra and Octavia take him out and knock him unconscious, but Murphy and Bellamy are temporarily stuck and ALIE’s minions try to pull them out of the elevator car. It’s an exciting and tense sequence, as the action ping-pongs back and forth between the fight to keep the bad guys out of the elevator, and Pike’s folks about to get bombarded by ALIE’s reinforcements. Such a great couple of minutes of heart-pounding TV.
Bellamy and Murphy eventually come out on top (barely) and the elevator begins moving again, as Bryan has Miller bomb the corridor to buy them more time. See guys…THIS is what happens when people work together! Squad goals!
While this is all transpiring, ALIE realizes that she needs to go to plan B, aka “you’re not SERIOUS are you?” and Jaha and Ontari set up a noose. No, it’s not for Clarke. They need Clarke. But they also need to break her quickly, so it’s for Abby.
Clarke: “Wait ALIE. If you kill her, you’ll never get what you want.”
Abby: “ALIE’S not killing me. You are.”
Clarke: “Mom, don’t do this, please. I’m begging you. Don’t do it. Please.”
Abby: “What’s the passphrase, Clarke?
Clarke: “I can’t. I can’t.”
ALIE: “She’ll break. Do it.”
You guys. FUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUCK. This is the darkest timeline.
Clarke watches her mom hang herself, and instead of breaking down and giving them the passphrase, Clarke simply says “I’m so sorry.”
That moment you realize Clarke is willing to sacrifice her own mom and the feels overtake you.
Wow. Just wow.
Clarke goes hard core beast mode. She wouldn’t break for anyone if she won’t break for Abby. This is Clarke at her most resolute and strong and heartbreaking because damn guys, that’s her fucking mom she’s watching die. And Abby is struggling, in agony, as no doubt ALIE is letting up on the “no pain” pedal in order to show Clarke exactly what Abby is going through. It’s cold. I’m sure ALIE and Jaha don’t expect Clarke to be this strong. They can’t kill her and can’t break her.
Pike and his merry band of misfits start to climb up the tower, but not before setting a bomb to destroy access to the stairs and elevator. It’s about to go off when Kane wakes up and walks into the blast range. Indra, BEING AWESOME, goes back down to save her chipped friend. She tackles them both, but their fate is uncertain. That’s an OTP of BFFs if ever I saw one. See Pike, Grounders ARE NOT your enemy if you’re not a complete and total dick face butt hole.
ALIE senses that things aren’t going her way, so she needs to sacrifice Ontari so the flame can’t harm her. If she can’t have it, she’s not going to let Clarke use it. Jaha takes a lead pipe to Ontari’s head, rendering her brain dead. RIP Ontari’s character development. Sigh.
When Murpamy gets to the top floor, they gas the bad guys waiting for them and book it to the throne room. Not in time to save Ontari from getting a lead pipe to the skull, but in time to save her from a second blow from Jaha. Murphy makes a bee-line to cut down Abby because OF COURSE HE DOES. This is a New World, people. John Murphy’s World.
Unfortunately, Ontari’s pupils are unresponsive. She’s brain dead and unable to give them the code off the flame. Our heroes are screwed, y’all.
So, the last half hour of this episode was pretty stressful and exciting and terrifying and troubling and awesome, right?
This show really knows how to bring it when it comes to season finales. Nothing is off the table and they’re very good at ramping up the dramatic tension and action in the absolute perfect moment. The anxiety and anticipation for next week’s part 2 will be off the charts.
And Here’s The Part Where I Talk About Ontari’s Character Development!
Son, I am disappoint.
I’m pissed about Ontari, y’all. She was just a plot device, right? Because girl is now brain dead and will be relegated to being Clarke’s Nightblood bag next episode, as there’s a transfusion incoming to get that flame in Clarke’s head.
I hate meeting characters that seem to have so much potential only to watch them die (Nia) or exist merely to push the plot forward and provide a dues ex machina way of solving a problem. At this point, I can say confidently that they fumbled a bit with Ontari (hey, anyone remember that Murphy rape scene that has NEVER been properly addressed or resolved, because I still fucking do). They seemed to want to build her character a little bit, but now those scenes feel like wasted space.
I’m bitter that we have another Ice Nation threat just dispatched so easily without exploring her further or keeping her around for future conflict. If they off Roan as well, I’m going to consider the whole Azgeda clan a failure and mere plot device sacrificed at the altar of moving the ALIE storyline forward.
So, Are We Headed Towards Heda Wanheda?
All the foreshadowing is there for Clarke to ascend to the Commander position. She already possesses a title among the Grounders as Wanheda. She’s wearing Commander armor. And in the finale, she’s seated on the throne, fighting for the future of humanity, like a boss.
Obviously, this is wish fulfillment for a lot of fans who believe Clarke’s trajectory includes leading all of the clans, including Skaikru, but is this realistic? I want it, I’m sure a number of people reading this want it, but does Clarke make it out of the City of Light with the flame intact? Moreover, can she survive the flame, being a non-Nightblood? A transfusion is a temporary solution. Ironically, a bone marrow transplant from blood bag Ontari is a more permanent solution, but that’s a bit more involved than what we see here (notice the transfusion line behind Abby, who we assume has been de-chipped in the finale using Raven’s device).
Clarke inserting and successfully keeping the flame ALSO means her connection to Lexa is still there in some form. Again, wish fulfillment for many fans. I know I would completely dig this, because Lexa and the relationship between Clarke and Lexa is one of my favorite aspects of the show. Two true equals, who understand the burdens of leadership, and can share those burdens in ways others can’t understand (including Bellamy, Abby, Octavia, Jasper, and even Ontari, who viewed leadership as mere power, something to be abused).
I don’t hold out hope for a Heda Clarke outcome. I certainly don’t want to see Lexa “die” again in the City of Light or through the destruction of the flame, and I think it will add to an already pretty substantial feeling of hurt and betrayal among fans, but Clarke as Heda is an endgame that the show likely won’t give those of us who hope to see her ascend to the position of power she deserves and to keep a piece of Lexa with her.
So why all the foreshadowing, then? Subverting expectations, I would guess. I would LOVE Clarke as Commander, but I think the flame will be destroyed and the line of Commanders, in the “traditional” sense will be at an end. I don’t like thinking that this is the case because I desperately want Clarke to succeed Lexa, not only because she can do it, but as a tribute to Lexa herself, to carry on her legacy as the Commander who united the clans.
I want Lexa’s legacy to mean something, and obviously so does Clarke, who maybe thought Luna could be that type of leader given Luna’s peacenik ways. Whether it was merely all talk on Clarke’s part, or a sense from her that Luna could take up that mantle, I don’t know, but I inherently trust Clarke, even in her current state. She still relies on gut instinct, and from that little she gleaned from Luna, Clarke probably knew she was far closer to the type of person Lexa was than Ontari could ever be.
I’m at the point now where if the show just sort of forgets Lexa (as it has in S3B, using her mainly as a fucking name drop), I will get to nuclear heat levels of angry. She wasn’t merely a “guest star,” she was essential to the world-building of the show, and moving past her so cavalierly as the show seemingly has up until this point, is a great disappointment. Don’t waste one of the series’ iconic characters by forgetting her within a week of her death. C’mon folks…this isn’t rocket surgery.
Clarke will take the flame and it’ll go a little something like this:
Clarke: “We’ll transfuse Ontari’s blood into me, I’ll take the flame, eat the chip, go into the City of Light, grab a latte, then shut that bitch ALIE down.”
Bellamy: “Noooooooooooooooooooooooo. I can’t let you do this.”
[Grumblings from others in the room indicate agreement]
Clarke: “Then give me a better plan.”
Clarke looks around the room. She’s met with blanks stares from everyone. AS PER USUAL.
Clarke: “No? No one can think of a better plan? Surprise, surprise, surprise. Okay, let’s all remember this moment. Because it’s just the 50 billionth time where I’ve asked for a better plan and you useless goat lickers have offered me NOTHING. So, let’s store this in our memory banks, because when I go and execute this plan to SAVE HUMANITY, and it costs some people their lives, and you want to get all emo and resentful with me in the future because you FEEL things, you can kindly book a ticket for ONE because you’re going solo on that guilt trip. Fuck your feelings. I was willing to let my mom die to save everyone. Do you hear me? My. Own. Mom. Y’all would have been sniveling messes, begging to give ALIE the passphrase the second you got a scalpel pushed into your chest, but me? Nah, fam, I resisted. I put up with the pain and let them hang my mom because I am in hard core beast mode right now. I’m laser focused on saving all y’all. ALL Y’ALL. You couldn’t hold my fucking jock. So don’t come at me wanting hugs or to dump your emotional shit on me, or to blame me, because I’m done. The field in which I grow my fucks lies fallow. I’ve lost way more than most of you, and have had to kill, oh, about a thousand people, so if you want me to suffer your crybaby shit, pop a squat and wait for forever to come, because that’s how long it’ll take for me to give two shits about your painfully myopic self-pity and lack of personal responsibility. Stop whining. Oh, I’m sorry…does your pee pee hurt? [sing song voice] Oh no, your pee pee hurts! Get over it, you soft ultra-sensitive double-ply toilet paper rolls. While you’re busy trying SO HARD to weakly dribble the ball back to the pitcher for your participatory trophy, I’m fucking swinging for the fences because it’s put up or shut up time. We either win or we go home. Scratch that, we win or we DIE. So, all tea, no shade: you want to lead? Go ahead and step up, but until then, shut up, get in line, and do as you’re fucking told.”
Or something along those lines. I haven’t thought about it much.
And Now, This Week In “Seriously, What The Fuck Is Broadcast Television Doing?!”
Usually, I’d dedicate a section to FanDUMB or, conversely, awesome fans, but this week was a television bloodbath, with several shows cancelled or not picked up for pilot. And there was a pretty disturbing result of all of this: shows with female leads seemed to get the axe. Here’s a run down of what’s happened in the last couple of weeks:
- Stana Katic (co-lead) and Tamala Jones were not invited back for season 9 of Castle. This week, ABC surprisingly announced the cancellation of the show.
- Nashville cancelled after four seasons, featuring Connie Britton as the lead (probably for the best, Britton needs a star vehicle, and Nashville wasn’t it).
- CBS shuttled Supergirl off to its sister network, the CW, likely due to ratings and the cost of the show. It will now film in Vancouver with a smaller budget.
- ABC cancelled Agent Carter. The second time in a week that Peggy Carter has died.
- Agents of SHIELD spin-off, Marvel’s Most Wanted was not picked up, which would have co-starred Adrianne Palicki as Mockingbird.
- Nichole Beharie, the female co-lead of Sleepy Hollow was killed off, but she asked to leave the show, perhaps because of it’s declining quality. Tom Mison, her co-star, reportedly wants less screen time. Inexplicably, the show was renewed.
- This just in: CBS declined a Nancy Drew reboot starring the amazing Sarah Shahi (Person of Interest). Why? “Deadline reports that the pilot tested well with audiences but was deemed “too female” for the network, which also would have had trouble finding it a spot on the schedule.” And it was a toss up between picking up this show or a Kathryn Heigel (generator of nuclear hate) vehicle. This is our world now. This is our fucking world.
Did you catch that quote in the last bullet? Let’s repeat it: “Deadline reports that the pilot tested well with audiences but was deemed “too female” for the network, which also would have had trouble finding it a spot on the schedule.”
This is happening while a spate of female-lead shows have ended (The Good Wife) or female characters, especially those who represent power and heroism, are killed off (Black Canary is dead over on Arrow, and we all know what happened to Lexa). Look, I’m not one to knee-jerk and pick up the pitchfork if I happen to sense a male chromosome nearby, but this shit has got my nickers in a fucking twist, y’all. I’m fucking fed up. I guess I’m just TOO FEMALE.
Meanwhile, CBS announced their pick up of six new shows. ALL of them with male leads, none of which seem to have female co-leads. DUDE BRO TV 4LYFE! But hey, I’m sure the female supporting characters (read as: love interests) will be pretty spunky and sassy! So there’s hope!
What the fuck is going on with network TV? I know that it’s a huge, rotting dinosaur carcass that stinks to high heaven, but it’s still the most watched TV out there night-to-night. But women heroes, role models, and “not here to serve the character development of the dudes” female characters seem to be in a decline of late.
The cancellation of Agent Carter pissed me off the most, because Marvel utterly fucked her character over by making her a footnote in Steve Rogers’ character development in Civil War, in which she appears as a photo in an obituary article in the fucking newspaper. Fridged for good ol’ Cap.
Peggy Carter was a certified badass and a trailblazer. She and Jarvis (James D’Arcy) had one of television’s unicorns: a fantastic platonic friendship and partnership, and they were one of the most entertaining duos to watch on TV. Peggy was a woman facing a male-dominated world in the 1940’s and navigated it with aplomb. She didn’t talk about how great and capable women are, she simply proved herself to her colleagues and earned their respect.
This is stuff boys and girls of all ages need to see. So women/girls have strong female role models who can do anything, and men/boys have examples of what they should encourage and look for in the women in their life.
I have no idea what the broadcast networks are doing besides feebly hanging onto an antiquated model of ad buys and Nielsen ratings. CBS is the land of boring procedurals and unfunny multi-cam sitcoms (protip: if it’s 2016 and you’re still relying on a laugh track to tell people when the “funny” bits are, you suck dick). NBC seems to be the destination for any show with “Chicago” in the title created by Dick Wolf. Oh, and The Voice. ABC is slowly being taken over by Shondaland, which does give women and people of color great representation in rather middling shows that over-rely on the “you won’t believe what happens in the last 2 minutes of the episode!” model of creating drama and interest. I can’t even tell you what’s on Fox because I only watch New Girl and never hear anything good about its other offerings except when its stars depart or good shows are cancelled. CW is the land of misfit toys and genre shows, a weird mish-mash of stuff I’ve always wanted to see (superheroes!) and critically acclaimed shows that buck convention (Jane the Virgin, Crazy Ex-Girlfriend). So, good on the CW for seemingly being the only broadcast network that gives a fucking damn about creating something different.
If you’re looking for the good stuff, the odd stuff, the stuff that stretches boundaries and gives shows a bit of room to grow and breathe, you can find bits and pieces on broadcast TV, but mostly you’re going to have to venture onto paid cable and premium networks like HBO.
FX has continued to support The Americans despite poor ratings, and Keri Russell is playing TV’s most formidable (and scary) mom. Over on AMC, Halt and Catch Fire was inexplicably picked up for a third season despite horrible ratings and it’s honestly one of TV’s hidden gems, with some awesome female leads playing computer engineers circa the 80’s. Seriously, check out the show. The sophomore season is stellar and focuses on the women far more than the men. If early buzz is true, Tulip on AMC’s Preacher is likely to become one of my favorite characters on TV (hop on this show early, it’s going to be balls-to-the-wall insane).
Over on Syfy, 12 Monkeys is arguably a female-driven show now in its second season, with the female lead, Cassie (Amanda Schull), having morphed from a side kick doctor who dropped everything to help Cole (Aaron Stanford) try to save the the world from a plague, to a ruthless, mission-driven warrior dedicated to the cause of saving everyone – and now stopping the very destruction of time itself – from the Army of the 12 Monkeys. The matriarch of the whole show is Dr. Jones, (Barbara Sukowa) who sends Cole, Cassie, and others on their missions to save the world, and she is a singulary-focused force of nature. And Jennifer Goines (Emily Hampshire). Where to even begin with her? She’s a “primary,” inextricably connected to time, and absolutely shit-balls crazy. Seriously, Hampshire’s performance is absolutely mesmerizing and so much fucking fun to watch. Just watch this shit…trust me…she’s one of my favorite characters on TV right now, and I have impeccable taste.
Look, I’m not looking for special treatment, just equal footing. And it seems reaching equal footing means that women and minorities who create, show run, produce, or act as leads need to scale a hill made entirely out of a slip-n-slide covered in Crisco in order to get to the top to get their TV shows made.
Let’s be thankful that media is evolving, despite broadcast network TV still being in the stone ages (I think the CW is the most progressive of them all). Cable and premium cable are taking chances. If you told me 15+ years ago that Preacher would be made into a TV show, I would have looked at you like you were crazy – no fucking way a comic book gets made into a TV show, let alone Preacher! What a world we live in now.
And thank god for Netflix, whose main metric is subscription numbers, not ratings. We never would have Jessica Jones on broadcast TV, and if it were, it would be some bastardized, neutered version of her, not the dark, complicated story we got on Netflix. Sad that our only female-centric Marvel property is on Netflix, after a glut of Iron Man, Cap, and Thor. When are we going to get a Black Widow movie? After Iron Man 37? DC’s Wonder Woman will be out long before that. Of course, Wonder Woman is a cornerstone of the DC Universe. Superman. Batman. Wonder Woman. I’m trying to think of a female character in the MCU that holds the same stature…still thinking………………
Hell, even the jankiest of janky companies, the WWE, has finally recognized and elevated its female talent, featuring them prominently on their shows. The women’s triple threat Championship match at this past Wrestlemania was arguably the match of the night, and the fans have responded enthusiastically. In a traditionally male-dominated business, stars like Charlotte, Becky Lynch, Sasha Banks, and Bayley are becoming must-see TV, and the company is promoting them as such. Women’s matches are no longer filler or bathroom-break time.
So when a small contingent of fans calls for the cancellation of The 100 or continually bash the show because Lexa deserved better (and she did), I’m like…where the fuck else we gonna go to get a show like this, with a diverse cast led by women? It’s not like we have a fuckton of options. This show gets so much right, but some fans can’t or won’t see the forest through the trees. I don’t see a Clarke or Raven or Octavia spilling out of my TV everywhere. I want these characters to continue, I want their stories to continue, I want strength, honor, heroism, and complexity on my TV. At the rate at which the market is eliminating shows with great female heroes, should we really be encouraging the cancellation of one of the best examples of “women in charge, kicking butts, and taking names?”
And to any network exec who deems a show “too female”:
- My ship, Slarke (soap + Clarke) is … well, I’m not really caring about this ship this episode with so many other great ships and possible ships. This is episode is a shipper’s wet dream (platonics, romantics, and OTPs alike!):
– Clarke and Roan
– Bellamy and Roan
– Bellamy and Murphy
– Roan and Raven – oh, she TOTES checked him out when he walked past
– Roan and Octavia – based on outfit coordination alone
– Indra and Kane
– Indra and Octavia
– Raven and Monty – the brainOTP
– Clarke and Murphy – this dynamic duo needs to rule season 4
– Jaha and Bellamy bullets – fuck you Jaha
– Ontari and lead pipe – too soon?
- Pike continues to show how hard core he is when it comes to surviving when he kills the two Grounders on the wheel despite Bellamy’s protest. I want him to stick around. Pike deserves to get more exploration as a character even though many of us hate his actions. And Mike Beach is a damn treasure…so kind to fandom.
- This should go without saving, but fuck it, I’m saying it: #SaveHarper2016
- I want to see Miller and Bryan in their lake house, planting corn and raising chickens. Granted, the chickens might have two faces, but someone deserves happiness.
- Now I’m jealous, imaging Miller and Bryan’s lake house. It’s pretty great in my head.
- Just a friendly reminder that this section in TVLine’s May Sweeps Scorecard is still blank:
- I’m going to hate The 100 offseason. I usually go into a bit of depression after the NFL season is over, so I don’t know what this will be like. At least I have the Cubs to cheer me up. Until they crush my soul this fall.
- If CBS had cast a man as Nancy Drew, they wouldn’t have this pesky #toofemale problem. Did they even consider this?
- JLA > Avengers. Sorry to piss in your Corn Flakes, kids. DC always seemed to be more heavily invested in really great stories. “Kingdom Come” makes me want to punch someone, it’s so good.
- Hey people who like sounds entering your ear holes! I have a Spotify playlist, which is music from and inspired by The 100. You can find it right here and marvel at my musical tastes. I keep it up to date with anything featured on the show.
- Thanks for sticking around and reading this review, folks. I’m doing this for the love of the game, I’m just here so I don’t get fined, I’m just trying to be the best teammate I can be, I’m giving 110%, defense wins championships, I have a lot of hustle out there on the field, I’m taking it one game at a time, I’ll be happy with whatever team drafts me, OH GOD please don’t let the Browns draft me, I’m ready to take it to the next level, and I’m all hustle out there on the field.
“No Way Out”: 9.0 out of 10 beans to the ol’ noggin. RIP Ontari.
There are some The 100 bloggers you should absolutely be reading, and I offer them up for your enjoyment; I have no affiliation with any of them, save for being a fan:
- Jo Garfein – doing some great intellectual lifting when analyzing the show, and check out her The 100 podcast with AJ Mass, also found on Scifi Mafia at this link.
- Erin Brown – unfairly beautiful writing. Like seriously, stop being so good.
- McKenzie Morrell – recapping her damn face off and great interviews with the cast!
- Toni_watches – piss your goddamn pants funny photo recaps.
If you’re a fan of the show, join us on Reddit for deep discussions, wacky shenanigans, Trigedasleng lessons, and clan flair! It’s the least toxic place you can find right now for The 100 fandom. Mods got that shit on lockdown.