The 100 S3E14: "Red Sky at Morning" Review
Red Sky at Morning is a thrilling episode that leaves all three of our hero groups more screwed than they even know.
I loved this episode. Loved it. There are some flaws, but the technical aspects worked together to create one of the most riveting episodes of the season. At the end of it all, our heroes are completely up the creek, which is most excellent going into part one of the finale next week, Perverse Instantiation Pt. 1.
LUNA/ISOLATIONISM & CLARKE/MORAL BOTTOM
Red Sky at Morning finally introduced us to Luna, a character that has been mentioned since season one. Lincoln always told Octavia that Luna lived by the sea, and she would help whoever came to her. Luna is the last known nightblood besides Ontari. Clarke & co. think that if they can get Luna to take the Flame then Tech Squad can access ALIE 1’s kill switch. Then, presto, shut down ALIE 1 and everyone under the thrall of the City of Light will be saved, and they’ll have a new Commander to boot.
When we left the Rover Squad (Clarke, Bellamy, Octavia, Jasper) at the end of Join or Die, they were on Luna’s oil rig in the middle of the ocean. She had refused to take the Flame and still refuses. The Rover Squad is hanging out with the Boat People, waiting for their ride back to the shore. We get a bit of a view into Hippie Commune, The 100 style. People are playing games, telling stories, and Luna herself is teaching kids how to repair netting. Life seems pretty peaceful aboard the rig. Both Jasper and Bellamy notice this and clearly long for it.
Clarke, however, is not to be deterred by flirting and fireside chats. She has one mission, and that is to get Luna to take the Flame. Her plan? Activate it and shove it into Luna’s neck herself.
Consent is a major theme of this season, from the major story arcs (ALIE) to episode-arc sexual encounters (Ontari and Murphy, Murphy and chipped!Emori, Kane and chipped!Abby), to the motifs of gags, tranquilizers, and handcuffs/chains. Clarke’s arc on the consent theme has been an indirect one. In the beginning of the season, Roan kidnapped her at Lexa’s behest. Lexa kept her, unwillingly, in the tower for a week between 3.2 and 3.3. Clarke then worked on the side of consent by exorcising Raven from ALIE’s possession and rescuing the Delinquents from Emerson. But as the timeline has progressed and their last hope against ALIE has refused to help—our hero contemplates the impossible. She decides upon the path endorsed by Jaha/ALIE—take away a person’s consent and free will to get them to do what you want. Octavia and Bellamy know that this decision—even to try it—is wrong. Super wrong. Luna doesn’t want it. Octavia even throws out, “Even ALIE gives people a choice.”
What choice do they have? To Clarke’s mind, at this moment, either Luna takes the Flame or everyone—everyone—becomes a minion of ALIE. There is no surviving if that’s the case. There would be nowhere to run, nowhere to hide.
Clarke follows Luna outside, and at first, Clarke tries to talk to/coax her. Luna is not naive—she suffered at the hands of the Grounder system, and then explicitly rejected it to form a new society. The Oil Rig of Peace is an incredible accomplishment in the world of The 100. Their way of life, as far as we are shown, is sustainable and happy, and they clearly work hard for it. It’s a brief vision that demonstrates to both the viewers and the characters ready for it (most obviously Jasper and Bellamy) that there is another way possible.
Luna can’t be swayed. Clarke activates the chip, tries to put it in Luna, and promptly gets thrown down for her trouble. “I didn’t flee the conclave because I was afraid I would lose. I fled because I knew I would win,” Luna tells her. She takes the chip away from Clarke, and says she’ll get it back when they leave.
On one hand, Clarke is right that this threat will not go away. Luna’s isolation a world in which ALIE is active is not tenable, and puts thousands of others (including her commune) at risk.
However, Luna is not a naive little peacenik, and she’s not a coward either. She knows—better than Clarke—the brutality of their ways. She killed her own brother in the Conclave before fleeing. Luna will not be a part of a system that perpetuates such violence. Her conclusion is that the Grounder system is so destructive that the only way is to create a new society. And in their world, the only way to protect that society is to live out in the middle of the ocean.
Luna’s stance serves as an interesting foil for all sorts of characters. Her peaceful commune serves in direct opposition to both Grounders and the Ark. Her pacifist stance is more comprehensive than Lexa and Clarke’s blood must not have blood—Lexa and Clarke both tried to enact a huge societal and cultural shift in a matter of weeks, without a plan, without a foundation for it to actually work. Of course, it backfired most hideously. In one lens you could see blood must not have blood as another example of taking away choice from people: when autocratic leaders decide something is best and, on a whim, apply it to a whole society. No one on the council voted for that, as a result they almost-unanimously (save for Clarke) gave a vote of no confidence for Lexa. Finally, the Oil Rig of Peace is a clear place of consent. Grounders choose to give up fighting and then are allowed to live in the commune. That’s why it seems especially villainous for Clarke to not only abuse their hospitality, but try and take away Luna’s choice.
Because of Clarke’s recklessness, there is no opportunity to find a middle way. ALIE follows the Rover Squad onto the rig through Luna’s boat captain and reeks havoc. Luna is forced to break her vow of non-violence and kill her people, including her partner, Derrick. At the funeral service, Luna pretends like she will take the Flame. Instead, she drugs the Rover Squad and ships them off the rig.
MONTY & THE MIGRATION
The 100 employed another callback this episode, and it was probably the best use of parallelism this season (if I never had to say the word parallel again for the next 9 months, it’s too soon…). In last season’s finale, Monty was the one who hacked into Mt. Weather’s system and reversed the intake flows to irradiate the Mountain. He was the one who set it up so Clarke and Bellamy could pull the lever.
In this episode, in one incredible sequence—really, technical perfection—Raven is hacking into ALIE’s “Citadel” and is close to finding the kill switch. ALIE/Jaha, sensing that she’s getting close, use the imprint of Monty’s mother to distract them. Monty’s mom pleads with him to stop—through audio in Arkadia and her appearance in the Citadel with ALIE and Jaha. She tells him everyone in the City of Light will die if they delete the code.
The scenes intercut between ALIE and Jaha and Hannah in the Citadel (with sculpture of birds in flight throwing shadows on them, beautiful), and Raven and Monty in Arkadia. Raven sets up the deletion of Hannah’s code and passes the keyboard to him. He hits delete (effectively killing his mom, again), and ALIE reacts—as if she is feeling something (!). ALIE becomes aware of the danger she is in, and her focus shifts to her ALIE-pack, which is her power source until her ‘migration’ is complete. Right as Raven hones in on the kill switch—ALIE pulls herself from Arkadia.
Monty deleting his mother’s consciousness was mostly for nothing. The only piece of information they found was that ALIE has a kill switch, but they can’t access it because the code is gone. The idea of Hannah’s consciousness still being “alive” in the City of Light is something that Monty has struggled with since she died. That he had to delete her code—and did it despite these reservations— and is devastating to him.
Monty explodes at Raven. He cautioned her time and again to wait for the others to get back, assuming they would return with Luna. Monty is the embodiment of the Delinquent side of together—he was the first person to voice “we survive together” in Nevermore. He killed his mother for ‘together’, TWICE. When Raven acted alone, she ruined their side of the plan. Just like when Clarke decided to take away Luna’s consent, she destroyed the other part of their plan. Two of the main themes this season are unity and consent, and when people act in opposition to them, everything shatters.
RELUCTANT ADVENTURE SQUAD
On the heels of Join or Die, our Unity by Necessity group (Murphy, Indra, and Pike) decides to go after the ALIE-pack. Murphy knows that it’s ALIE’s power source, so destroy it—destroy her. He doesn’t know how prescient his timing is, either, since ALIE is in the middle of the aforementioned migration while being attacked by Raven from Arkadia.
Before the Reluctant Adventure Squad arrives in the lair, Emori and ALIE are chatting, and ALIE drops some pretty pertinent information. She wants the Flame, she says, so she can meet the consciousness of her maker, Becca. The other assumption is that the Flame contains the key to ALIE’s destruction, which ALIE herself wants to destroy.
Murphy, Pike, and Indra arrive, shoot the guards, tie up Emori, then begin working on extracting the fuel cell from the server. As they work Emori continually tries to divert Murphy, and in the final countdown, succeeds in stalling him just enough by telling him that all of the minds in the COL—including hers—will be destroyed.
Murphy can’t do it. He says a broken, “I can’t,” to Pike, who takes the stick and destroys the server.
What Monty could do to his mom (twice), Murphy cannot to do Emori. Those are huge character beats for both of those characters and a powerful contrast. Monty, as the only other person in the control room with Bellamy and Clarke when they all three took down Mount Weather, knows the price of together. He is willing to pay it time and again—even if that means killing his mom.
Murphy, in a inverse way, has also found out the cost of together. He was a straight-up villain in season one, sarcastic (but funny) jerk in season two, and in season two and three is the voice of reason in Jaha’s religious journey. In that time though, he was always alone. Never part of the group. However with Emori, both of them found a together, found a person, found a home. And Murphy—always willing to, you know, murder whoever—couldn’t kill her.
But it’s too late. The migration is complete, and ALIE has transferred her code to the remnants of the Ark. Yeah, that Ark. The one in space.
Red Sky at Morning offered more thematic insight into what is sure to be a jam-packed finale while also destroying any shred of hope our heroes might have. By having both Raven and Clarke act in opposition to this season’s themes, they destroyed the only plan that they had, while also alerting ALIE to the fact that they are coming for her. ALIE also has infiltrated the Delinquents, and it’s most likely that Jasper was chipped while Luna was being tortured.
A couple of plot conveniences must be mentioned, unfortunately. One, ALIE getting onto the Oil Rig is barely explainable. Yes, Cap had just returned from the mainland, but if he got chipped there, why not at least give us a feeling that the Rover Squad was being followed? Two, and most majorly…the Ark still has power? And how exactly did all of that code transmit from a 100-year-old escape pod? Despite these quibbles, the episode worked.
Honestly, I could fangirl for hours over the technical aspects of this episode. The cinematography, editing, lighting, and score were used to maximum effect, ramping up tension to impossible levels. My favorite three moments (out of an episode FULL of them):
1. The choice to cut the score at the height of tension when ALIE pulls herself from Arkadia’s mainframe. The silence added so much devastation and intensity to the confrontation between Monty and Raven.
2. The use of the bird sculpture (migration!) in the Citadel to shadow Jaha and ALIE, as well as give depth to the visuals. Fantastic visual storytelling.
3. The final sequence at the end of the episode. The framing of those shots as the Adventure Squad, defeated, lines up at the beach (and they don’t even know how screwed they are yet!), along with the perfect score—just ended the episode on a breathtaking note.
Now, on to the finale: Perverse Instantiation Pt. 1. That doesn’t sound ominous at all.