The 100 S3E8: "Terms and Conditions" Review and Analysis
Terms and Conditions works well as a bottle episode where tensions in Arkadia rise as relationships fracture under the strain of crossed allegiances.
TINKER, TAILOR, SOLDIER, SPY
The situation on the ground is dire for Arkadia. The Grounders have instituted a blockade, are enforcing a kill order, and poisoned the Arkadian water source. Inside the camp Pike has instituted food and water rationing. They’re critically low on ammunition. Pike might have taken Jaha’s City of Light chip maker, but Jaha and Raven are still working on recruiting people. Kane is leading a small rebellion, and Pike has caught wind.
Everyone is paranoid because everyone should be paranoid. Lovers, family members, and friends are keeping secrets and working at cross-purposes. An atmosphere of tension and fragility permeate each character interaction. This tension—the feeling that the entire camp is on a precipice—is an intense background for an episode that works as an uprising thriller shown at a personal, granular level.
The opening scene of Terms and Conditions is at the gates of Arkadia. Two Grounders bring a message to Arkadia in the form of bloody guard uniform: there will be a blockade and a kill order enforced unless Arkadia gives up Pike. Bellamy instead shoots them and strides back into camp. There are subtle dynamics at work that need a heads up for the next half of the season (or possibly foreshadowing for next season). First, Bellamy meets the Grounders without Pike’s permission. He defies an order after Pike tells him to fall back and instead shoots the Grounders. He is framed in the shots as the head of the camp, his people (including Pike) behind him. Bellamy strides back into camp, and Pike follows, ordering the gates to be closed behind them.
Then spy games begin! Kane, Miller, and Harper listen in on a meeting with Pike, Hannah, Monty, and Bellamy. The discussion about Arkadia’s lack of food turns into a directive for them to start spying on their friends and neighbors. Somehow Kane is getting information, and they don’t know how yet.
At some point, Pike’s team finds the bug Kane and Miller planted in Bitter Harvest (episode 6). They talk about a fake plan to shoot and blow up Grounders, which spurs Kane & co. into action. Kane brings Sinclair on board for a bit of deception. Sinclair pretends to be sabotaging the Rover knowing that Bellamy would be watching out for one of them to make a move. Bellamy catches him and sends him to lockup—which is what Sinclair wanted so he could deliver a message to Lincoln. Kane’s plan is on for tonight.
In a last ditch effort to reach Bellamy, Kane arranges for a meeting in the Hangar. It’s a gorgeously filmed sequence that incorporates the architectural and design elements of the Hangar as well as a midnight blue and soft-focus red/pink/peach palette. At the end of the talk, Kane is haloed in a white-blue light, while Bellamy’s face is half-lit, half-shadowed for a subtle chiaroscuro effect.
Bob Morley and Henry Ian Cusick are electric together. Kane desperately wants to reach Bellamy, and Bellamy desperately wants to believe in Pike and have Kane validate him by turning sides. Bellamy leaves the talk frustrated, and Kane heartbroken.
That scene, played out in public, is directly juxtaposed with an intimate scene in Miller and Bryan’s quarters. Bryan comes in from his shift as Miller is getting ready to leave for his. Bryan asks why Miller hasn’t asked Bellamy to switch details so they can be on duty together. Miller brushes him off a bit, but Bryan presses the issue. Bryan clearly knows that Miller doesn’t like Pike, but doesn’t understand why Miller isn’t standing by his Chancellor. Bryan holds out Miller’s jacket, Millers slips it on. He gives Bryan a sweet kiss goodbye. It is small-scale scenes like this that help further character development and have been largely missing from the first half of this season.
The heartbreaking twist of it all is that Bryan planted a bug in Miller’s jacket so Pike & co. can spy on Kane. Bryan wants to believe that he’s doing it to protect Miller but has serious doubts.
There’s not much time for reflection though because night has fallen. In the Hangar, Pike goes to meet with Kane to accept Kane’s surrender. At lockup, Sinclair calls Bellamy over to pretend to confess. Lincoln throws down Sinclair and starts to fight—but it’s a ruse to get Bellamy to open the door. A riot breaks out between the Grounders and the guards. At the same time, Kane shocklashes Pike, knocks him out, and puts him in the Rover to deliver to the Grounders.
Chaos breaks out in lockup and the hallways. Monty overhears Harper say that the plan worked over the radio. Monty radios to Bellamy and tells him that Kane has Pike and is headed for the gates. Bellamy takes off at a sprint.
Bellamy runs in front of the gate just as Kane is about to crash through them. Kane slams the brakes as Bellamy holds his ground, gun raised to shoot. Kane is arrested and charged with treason and attempted murder. In another sequence of great cinematography, Pike lays out his charges against Pike and Kane gives a stirring speech about needing to adapt to the world as it is not as it was. The camera swoops in and around both of them, creating a feeling of sick certainty to what Kane’s fate will be.
Bellamy looks on, face still but eyes shocked, as Pike lays out the sentence for Kane: execution. Kane meets Bellamy’s eyes in the worst, most soul-sucking I told you so.
But we’re not done with the kicks to Bellamy yet. Moments later, Monty and Bellamy confer out in the hallway. What about Miller and Harper? Monty and Bellamy know that they took part in the riot as well. Hannah comes in to question them if they found other spies and…
Hallelujah! Bellamy says no, clearly choosing the delinquents as his people, the people he will protect at all costs.
THE ART OF LOSING ISN'T HARD TO MASTER
—"One Art" by Elizabeth Bishop
Jasper and Raven teaming up continues the tradition of fruitful unexpected pairings forThe 100. Putting them together makes sense: both are suffering from grief over losing their romantic partners as well as continued trauma. Jasper trauma is psychological as he suffers from PTSD. Raven’s is not only her injured leg, but also the depression of dealing with a painful, chronic condition.
Raven took ALIE’s City of Light (CoL) chip in Hakeldama (episode 5), and in this episode, Jaha convinces her that they need Jasper’s help to find the CoL chipmaker that Pike confiscated. What ensues are several scenes that explore the nature of loss and grief as well as the value of both pain and joy in how we remember our loved ones.
In the server room, Raven tries to needle Jasper into remembering Monty’s password so they can unlock Pike’s office. Since Monty is in charge of electronic security, it will be his password, not Pike’s. Jasper makes a joke about Monty’s last name (“What’s Monty’s favorite color?” Raven asks, probing for details that could be in the code. Jasper’s face cracks into a smile, “Green.”) He tells Raven about the times that he and Monty got high and watched the moonrise while playing “on which planet would you rather." It’s then that he hits on the password—it’s an alphanumeric code representing the word Earth. Monty’s password codes are a favorite memory involving his estranged best friend.
Raven and Jasper break into Pike’s office to look for the chipmaker. Jasper continues to talk about how crazy Arkadia’s situation is at the moment—grounders at the gate, one life to save them all—just like what happened with Finn, Raven’s ex-boyfriend and childhood sweetheart, not even four months earlier.
Raven doesn’t even pause in what she’s doing. Jasper continues to say that he’d love to remember the good stuff, like holding Maya’s hand or listening to music, but he wants to forget the painful memories. Is that how it works? You can think of your first kiss and just be happy?
Of course, Raven says, but then she pauses, clutching the necklace in her hand. She’s clearly confused and conflicted. ALIE appears and starts giving her directives to take the chipmaker that Jasper found and get out of the office. But she can’t. Finn was real, some part of her knows that, but she can’t access it.
Raven realizes that not only can’t she remember the bad stuff, like how he died, but she can’t remember the happy memories either. Not him giving her the necklace. Not their first kiss. Nothing. Raven values her intelligence and competency—they're essential to her identity. She was the top mechanic on the Ark—the youngest Zero-G mechanic—and is an essential scientist and engineer in Arkadia. ALIE messed with her mind, and Raven doesn’t know how.
Raven, the show’s fearless, badass mechanic looks terrified. She grabs Jasper, leaves the chipmaker, and they run out of Pike’s office.
Those two scenes—the first with Raven questioning Jasper in the server room and the second with them in Pike’s office—are a subtle, effective parallel that digs into both the joy and sadness of loss. For the first time all season, Jasper laughs and smiles when he remembers Monty. He seems to come back to himself, to the goofy kid with the goggles in season one. The tragic memories of Maya’s death are a part of him now, but so are the good times like holding hands and listening to their favorite music. In the final montage of the episode, he is alone again, listening to music on Maya’s old IPod, an inscrutable look on his face. Does he want to live with the pain, but also the happiness of her memory? Or does he want to forget everything like Raven did?
In Pike’s office, as Jasper questions Raven on Finn, he brings up memories that would be happy, even formative, for Raven. Finn giving her the Raven necklace, which was a present for her eighteenth birthday (Spacewalker, season 2 episode 8). It’s a symbol of her and Finn’s love, but also their tumultuous, complicated relationship that saved her as a child but broke her heart once they arrived on Earth. Those memories are intricately woven into the fabric of who Raven is.
But she can’t remember. In the last scene, as she sits alone at her workbench, she holds the necklace. Who gave her this? Why does she always wear it? What does it mean that she can’t remember? Raven tried to escape the pain, but ended up removing part of herself.
How is she going to get it back?
The problems in Terms and Conditions are due to the previous precarious developments of this season, mostly in the form of the controversial character turn Bellamy took during episode four, Watch the Thrones. Because this episode begins to deal with the cascading consequences of Bellamy’s decision to follow Pike, the poor development of that arc comes even more into focus. To be frank, Bellamy is portrayed as a stupid, naive True Believer to Pike’s cause, and parts of this episode hinge on whether or not you ever bought that development. I never have, even with my best attempts at rationalization, so the Bellamy scenes were frustrating.
Alas! Terms and Conditions is also the episode that turns this plot corner. By the end, with Kane sentenced to execution, Bellamy finally realizes that his trust in Pike and his own stupid decisions might have cost Kane his life, and might also doom Sinclair, Lincoln, Miller and Harper.
The tense, twisty cat-and-mouse game set against a settlement on the brink effectively brought several relationships to the cracking point. Underlining the main plot was Raven and Jasper’s side arc, which was a subtle consideration of memory and grief. My only wish is that the emotional work done in the ALIE arc would be connected to the deterioration of Arkadia as a whole. There is powerful material there about how an individual’s pain and suffering can magnify into fear and terror on a broad scale.
The 100 is a show that always looks great, but the cinematography and camera-work this episode was outstanding. Some of my favorite scenes include the framing of Bellamy and the gates of Arkadia in the cold open, the standoff between Bellamy and Kane in the Hangar, the chaotic riot, and the gut-punch of a montage at the end. Michael Blundell and his team should be congratulated. Magnificent work.
The superlative cast deserves a shout-out, too. Bob Morley brings Bellamy’s conflict to life with nuanced physical acting and micro-expressions. Henry Ian Cusick’s man-on-the-brink is tragic and his desperation is palpable. Lindsey Morgan, Devon Bostick, Christopher Larkin, Chelsey Reist, Donna Yamamoto, Johnathan Whitesell, and Jarod Joseph were all excellent. Each performance added incredible texture and tension to this episode. There was also an unease in Mike Beach’s performance of Pike this episode, after Bellamy shot the Grounders and when he sentenced Kane to execution, that made me think his storyline is going to go differently than expected.
The 100 is on hiatus until Thursday, March 31st. See you back here for episode nine, Stealing Fire.