The 100 3x11 "Nevermore" Review
As The 100 marches on towards its season 3 finale, episode 11 dials up the drama and emotional fallout as the majority of our main characters must put aside their differences to save Raven from ALIE’s possession.
It’s safe to say that the core dynamics and values of the show (which have been severely neglected this season) were front and center this episode. There is so much to unpack in Nevermore; with reunions ranging from apprehensive to outright combative, to characters being called out on previous missteps, and some phenomenal performances all round.
Nevermore is more or less a “bottle episode”, where the Arkadian insurgency and the rover carrying Jasper, Raven and Clarke converge onto the same location as they hatch a plan to get rid of the AI in Raven’s head. What makes bottle episodes work is that all the main characters are forced to interact with each other in a restricted space, which gives the narrative a laser focus onto one coherent plot.
I’ve written before on my frustration with how thinly stretched the separate storylines have been this season, and as a result how that has impacted both the characterisation and the relationships of the main characters.
As such, streamlining the story to this format works particularly well in Nevermore, as many of the core dynamics which are fundamental to The 100 are thrown back together after a season of neglect and must deal with the emotional fallout from that.
The gang struggles to keep Raven/ALIE restrained whilst they puzzle out Raven’s plans to fry the AI from her brain using one of the delinquent’s wristbands and a magnet. The plot itself was relatively simple, but the episode was stronger for it. Embracing its core character interactions whilst doubling down on its sci fi roots firmly establishes Nevermore as one of the best episodes of the series.
The Character Work
For me, the most engaging scenes this week were by far Raven/ALIE vocalising the worst things that Clarke, Jasper and Bellamy have ever thought about themselves - which, given who they are and what they’ve done, is a lot of terrible stuff.
She tells Clarke she is the reason several of her loved ones have died, mocks Jasper’s pain and grief over losing Maya in Mount Weather, and hits every possible button when she goes for Bellamy. We know that it’s not really Raven saying those things, but it hurts to hear, and the reactions of everyone around her are of real pain.
Jasper telling Clarke she has no right to take charge and make decisions for the group was a particularly gratifying moment. Clarke has always been our protagonist and so the audience is asked to empathize with her more than anyone else.
However, Clarke has also been hoisted up onto a pedestal by the narrative time and time again, and other characters have paid the price for her decisions: Raven lost Finn, Jasper lost Maya, Octavia was left in Tondc as the missile approached. Whilst Clarke's choices are so often justified by the narrative as a necessity for survival, that doesn’t make the often blood-soaked aftermath any more palatable for those who suffer a loss. By apologizing to Jasper, Clarke recognized this, and it’s encouraging to see the narrative’s awareness of her not-so-savior status, if only so it can be further addressed later on.
Another moment that stood out for me in these scenes was Raven’s mention of the so-called “Knight/Queen”dynamic between Clarke and Bellamy, a sore spot given their last fraught interaction six episodes ago. I take issue with this descriptor when applied to their relationship, as it implies Bellamy is subservient to Clarke in a way I don’t believe he is.
Yet Raven/ALIE was clearly trying to get a rise out of Bellamy; her words representing the darkest, most twisted thoughts these characters have about themselves, the very worst possible version of the truth. So I’m not too concerned with the invocation of the Knight/Queen trope, as the narrative clearly framed it as wrong, and I hope it can be put to bed in the near future.
The draw to the Bellamy/Clarke dynamic, particularly evident in season one, was that these two view each other as equals - they shared the burden of leading the kids at the Dropship camp much in the same way that they pulled the lever in Mount Weather together. These two understand each other unlike anyone else on the show, which is why their argument in 3x05 was so raw.
Despite the initial awkwardness between these two, they were able to tamp down their personal issues to work together, and cautiously began to slot back into the supportive co-leader dynamic many fans have sorely missed. As such, their reunion this episode inched ever so slightly towards hope for a resolution to the bump in their relationship.
The minor subplot of Nevermore featured Monty and Octavia venturing to the Dropship to retrieve the magnet needed for the plan to fry ALIE. They are confronted by Monty’s now chipped mother, and the fracas results in her death at Monty’s hand as they try to get away. There was a moment whilst this fight was going down where I thought Monty would shoot his mom in the leg, but leave her alive. Perhaps I was lured into a false sense of security by the relative goodness of the rest of the episode, before being smacked in the face with the unnecessary violence, death and emotional trauma I have come to expect from The 100 as of late.
Performance-wise, there are two MVPs of this episode: Lindsey Morgan (Raven Reyes) and Christopher Larkin (Monty Green). Monty’s arc this episode, despite being unnecessarily tragic, gave Chris Larkin lots of meaty emotional stuff to work with, and he pulled it off so well. Larkin brings weight to Monty’s desperation during the fatal confrontation between with his mother at the Dropship, and his despondent devastation in the scenes following it is palpable.
Lindsey Morgan’s portrayal of the Raven/ALIE hybrid was out of this world. Morgan oscillates between screaming and writhing on the bed in an attempt to escape her restraints, to sitting eerily still as she spits vitriol at her friends trying to bait them into revealing her location. The strength of Morgan’s acting, both physical and emotional, elevates the rest of the cast in their interactions with her, and makes Nevermore one of the strongest episodes this season.
After ten episodes of little to no interaction, seeing all the main characters come together in one place, in the same storyline, was a welcome respite to the jumpy, sometimes disjointed episodes earlier on in the season. In this episode, The 100 embraced its sci fi origins in a way that allowed character development to take priority and was all the stronger for it.
With the narrative focused onto one plot, Nevermore gave some sorely needed attention to several of the neglected dynamics. Even when those interactions were painful and hard to take, there was movement towards hopeful resolution in the future. In banding together to save Raven, ultimately the message of Nevermore was that these kids will do anything for each other. It was so satisfying to see them finally get a win, after so long without one.
There is no doubt that this is a group of people who love each other, regardless of how at odds they might currently be. These characters have all staked a claim on one another, and will fight to protect what is theirs.
This kind of story-telling is why I fell in love with The 100 in season one, and it’s why I have continued to watch despite the numerous missteps this season. Hopefully The 100’s return to its core values and attention to its most fundamental dynamics won’t be short-lived, as there is only so much delayed gratification its audience can tolerate. Shocking twists and awful dilemmas have their place, but without hope, and friendship and love, what would we even be watching for?