The 100 3x10 "Fallen" Review
Episode 3x10 “Fallen” opens up on the immediate aftermath of Lincoln’s death at the end of 3x09, offering emotional fallout, fantastic performances and some long-awaited forward motion in the plot.
“Fallen” paves the way for the slow refocusing of the narrative onto the ALIE story, and packs some serious punches in terms of plot progression. Several characters who have been severely under-utilized in this season are finally given relevance to the story and some long overdue screentime.
Despite these small wins however, “Fallen” still suffers from some the same maladies that have plagued the rest of the season so far: storylines are spread too far apart which leaves the audience frustrated each time we are wrenched away from one story to a scene in another - although less so when compared to episodes in the first half of the season. The episode also continues the now completely predictable trend of gratuitous violence for the sake of shock value alone and without any content warnings before the episode.
In the interest of addressing the three main storylines, I've broken my analysis down by addressing each storyline individually:
Pike and the Kane insurgency
The insurgency who escaped from Camp Jaha at the end of 3x09 hide out in the same cave Bellamy was chained up in last episode. Within minutes of the episode’s opening, Octavia deals with the anger and grief of losing Lincoln by brutally physically assaulting Bellamy (who is still chained up). Bellamy takes the beating, and Kane’s half-hearted attempt at protest ends with him averting his eyes as the beating unfolds.
Kane and Octavia take a bound and gagged Bellamy with them to rescue Monty from Pike at the dropship. After Pike orders his men to shoot Octavia, Bellamy disarms her and gives Pike the information on where the rest of the insurgents are hiding. Yet Bellamy double-crosses Pike - he leads them into the grounder blockade and turns Pike over to the soldiers waiting there.
The narrative’s obvious attempt to villainise Bellamy beyond any recognition of his season 1 and 2 incarnations are most obvious in this episode. Whilst it’s clear Bellamy has made some very questionable decisions earlier on in this season, the narrative has rarely offered any sympathy to his state of mind. Every decision he makes is framed as being clearly wrong, with little exposition to show what his point of view is.
This is in stark contrast to the lengths the narrative goes to explain and justify the morally dubious decisions made by other characters (most noticeably Clarke), where their actions are framed as necessary for survival or selecting the least terrible option from a set of equally awful choices.
This is frustrating, as the audience is expected to go along with this attempt to paint Bellamy as a one dimensional villain, yet does not hold other characters to the same standard. This is particularly true for two characters who have been involved in the Pike/Arkadia plot right along with him: Bryan (Miller’s boyfriend) and Monty.
Bryan has done all the same things as Bellamy. He worked with Pike, he went with the group to clear the grounder village, he planted the bug in Miller's’ jacket - yet he was allowed the chance to help last episode, and is now sitting pretty with Kane’s insurgency. Similarly, Monty has been on Pike’s side and helped him spy on his friends, but the insurgency came to his aid when he is being held hostage by Pike.
Bellamy is the only one of the three being distrusted by his loved ones, held accountable for his actions, and (violently) punished. I call shenanigans.
After last episode, it was extremely satisfying to see Bellamy lead Pike into a trap, and see him turned over to the grounders. Pike’s reign of terror conveniently comes to an end right before the main characters must converge in the ALIE storyline, yet I can’t help but feel like his plot added very little value to the narrative. His story stalled the plot back in Arkadia whilst Clarke was hanging out in Polis, and all the characters involved have ended up back where they started the season except marginally more traumatised, and not involved in the overarching ALIE plot at all.
Back at Arkadia with ALIE
After half a season on the back burner, the ALIE storyline finally gained some traction in “Fallen”, and I can’t help but wish this had been the focus from the beginning of the season. The 100 is at its best when it throws up questions of humanity or morality and the main characters must work together to defeat overcome an obstacle - and the ALIE plot seems to be gearing up for just that.
Lindsey Morgan’s portrayal of Raven in “Fallen” was absolutely phenomenal. We really do feel Raven’s desperation to keep ALIE out of her head via sensory overload (and reciting from Edgar Allen Poe's 'The Raven', no less) as she convenes with Abby and Jasper. When Raven is given back her pain and then taken over by ALIE, Morgan’s mimicking of the creepily monotone voice and physical motifs of Erica Cerra’s portrayal of ALIE were spine-tinglingly chilling.
However, it is frustrating to see Raven embroiled in yet another plot in which she suffers physical harm. When ALIE takes over Raven’s physicality, she slits Raven’s wrists in an attempt to manipulate Abby into taking the City of Light chip. The image of Raven cutting herself, and then falling to the ground in a pool of her own blood, was potentially triggering and particularly upsetting for fans who have expressed a desire for Raven to have a plot that does not revolve around her being physically harmed.
To my surprise, another character who shone for me in “Fallen” was Jasper. Despite being mostly been pushed to the side this season, without Jasper this episode would have fallen apart. He is apparently the only person left in Arkadia who has not taken the City of Light chip, despite considerable reason to want to escape his pain.
Jasper kidnapping Raven to drive her away from Arkadia was clearly a piece-moving plot point, to allow the main characters to converge next episode (finally!) in an attempt to save Raven. But as one of the original delinquents, Jasper risking his life to save his friend was very much a manifestation of the bonds-forged-through-fire aspect I loved so much in earlier seasons.
Clarke made an appearance for less than a minute at the end of “Fallen”, running into a frantic Jasper driving away from Arkadia with Raven in tow. Clarke’s complete erasure from this episode and relevance to the built up of the ALIE plot is more of the same inability to handle so many stories in so many different locations at once.
I understand why Clarke was mostly excluded from this episode (and similarly from 308), as it gave the other storylines a breather to catch up to the movement in Polis. However, I have to question why you would separate your protagonist so severely from the other main characters and plots that she misses several episodes. If your protagonist has missed almost two episodes out of 16, and hasn’t been part of the overarching plot to be resolved by the end of the season, there is a problem.
Still in Polis
I have to ask why there is even any story left in Polis at this point. The heavy-handed focus on Polis in the first half of the season could at least be justified by the presence of the protagonist, and the unfolding of a relationship that had many fans excited. Yet now neither of those characters are present in Polis, and in my view the scenes from this episode could have been cut out completely.
One of my biggest issues with this episode is actually located in the Polis storyline, and that is Ontari’s “seduction” of Murphy. It shouldn’t need to be said that coerced consent to sex under threat of torture/death whilst chained up does not equal consent - it’s sexual assault.
It worries me that the writers thought this was an appropriate scene to include, especially given that this show’s core demographic are teens and knowing the backlash that Reign received last year for telling a similar storyline. I’d like to believe this is going to be addressed and handled with appropriate care going forward. However, given that season 3 in particular has continually stumbled into offensive and harmful tropes and glossed over potential scenes addressing various character’s state of mind, I am wary.
In terms of the story being told, “Fallen” was perhaps one of the most gripping of this season. Seeing the ALIE storyline finally take focus, and with such bone-chillingly creepy performances from the City of Light initiates, this episode felt like a return to the sci fi values of season 1 - something I am very much in favour of.
However, this episode's missteps marred my overall enjoyment of the story. Not least of which is the physical abuse of Bellamy, the sexual assault of Murphy, and Raven’s self harm - all of which were featured on an episode with no content warnings prior to airing.
The unnecessary Polis scenes and complete erasure of Clarke from the narrative are troubling symptoms of a clear desire to give more focus to Polis, and how that has damaged the quality and pacing of other storylines as a result.
For me, the biggest draw to The 100 was its character relationships established in seasons 1 and 2 set against the backdrop of post-apocalyptic survival decisions and a dash of sci fi. The progression of the plot in “Fallen” was a welcome change of pace from the first two thirds of this season. If the currently very separate storylines can come together (and preferably with minimal pointless and overly sensationalized violence), then I look forward to seeing our main characters work together to defeat ALIE for the remaining episodes leading up to the finale.