The CW’s The 100, Perverse Instantiation: Part Two TV Show Review. The 100: Season 3, Episode 16: ‘Perverse Instantiation: Part Two,’ tried to collect on a full season’s worth of tragedies, grudges, and (let’s face it) emo moments, only to compromise the final result. In an effort to at least make it seem epic, the story rolled out at four settings – the Genius Bar, at Real World: Arkadia; the make-shift OR, at Real World: Polis’ throne room; wherever the front lines for that room’s defense was, at Real World: Polis; and the virtual world of the City of Light – and the principal players broken into teams, with varying degrees of in-house hangups/ conflicts.
It does sound kinda epic, when put in those terms – with Monty (Christopher Larkin), Raven (Lindsey Morgan), and Harper (Chelsey Reist) dealing with their Jasper (Devon Bostick) problem, at the Genius Bar (Monty & Harper work well together – good-on-ya, Monty); Abby (Paige Turco) & Murphy (Richard Harmon) getting messy in the throne room, for the sake of a Clarke (Eliza Taylor) field trip to CoL (for her best fresh-off-the-bus, into the big city impression); Octavia & Pike (Marie Avgeropoulos, Michael Beach) playing throne room defense, as they kept one eye on the Alie (Erica Cerra) horde, and one on each other, while Bellamy (Bob Morley) kept on eye on both (at least at first); all contributing to Clarke’s struggle to navigate & survive Alie’s virtual zoo for humanity, determined to pull the plug on the A.I., once & for all.
Trouble is, once put into practice, the endeavor seemed less like an epic, and more like too many cooks over a crock of broth – with the restaurant owner tossing ingredients at them from outside the kitchen. The goal: everyone gets catharsis, as soup for the soul.
I’ll admit, that not-at-all-inspired-by-The–Matrix EMP device was a really convenient all-in-one fix, regarding the retrieval of Abby, for starters. No, literally, that’s where the episode started; but that was fine – clearly there was a lot of catharsis to get out of the way, before the major doings got done. First up on the to-do list: an act of desperation, on Clarke’s part, that was just so crazy, most of her team (and the audience) should’ve guessed what it was right away. That action took effect a little too right away, it seems; but, again: ground to cover. Unfortunately, the episode painted itself into a corner, trying to fit as many emo-as-action moments into a single concluding chapter. Things were bound to seem slap-dashed, inconsistent, or just left-out.
Case in point: Octavia & Pike. Pike has had a lot of reason to come around; so it seemed like a no-kill policy, for staving off Alie’s masses, was the consensus. Well, since there’d be no fun in that, the resistance’s position had to be hamstrung, to the point where they’d have to kill their way out; as it so happened, there was some lingering Lincoln-loss rage that needed using; Octavia felt compelled to use it, when she noticed the expiration date was up; viola: the resistance loses ground, the plan & no-kill order are the first casualties, and the last stand becomes more interesting. Call it an off sense of timing, on her part; but, hey, when the recipe calls for acts of emo, keep a mop in the kitchen.
Yes, Octavia just shoved both hands into all the blood to be spilt – from both sides – for some of that catharsis this episode needed to get out of the way. I don’t blame her (or her shoulda-known-better brother) – I blame the script.
One glaring example of important details that the finale just didn’t seem to have room for: Indra (Adina Porter) being regulated to an off-screen mention (and Roan just ceasing to matter at all), in the scheme of things. That tact never works.
As something of an Information Age ignoramus, m’self, I wasn’t entirely clear on why it would take being spotted, by one of the Red (Wicked) Witch’s cyber monkeys, for Alie to know that Clarke was walking in her Cloud. Would an A.I. need a resident program to interact with an invasive one, in order to know that an intrusion has taken place?
Moot point, as it initially turned out, since Clarke went unnoticed (‘cause second-chip-is-better-chip reasons). So what does an invisible woman do, loose in a virtual big city? In this case, go stalk one of the people who just happened to cross your path at a very timely moment.
Set that aside, for a bit, since a dash of carelessness needed to be added. I suppose exhaustion would be the perfect reason for Abby & Murphy to not notice Ontari (Rhiannon Fish) crashing on the OR table; but that delay did make Clarke’s trip more interesting, it did. It also gave Abby & Murphy something to do, until the deteriorating Real World: Polis conditions converged.
I suppose the Genius Bar keeping Jasper-Alie in the loop earned them their own chef hats – making their situation as desperate as everyone else’s. Why else would they allow Alie in the room?
Of course, what all those Real World plot chefs really brought to the broth was a heaped helping of fan service. Okay, maybe it wasn’t meant to be fan service, really; but after all the IRL drama that came out of a fan-fav’s surprise death, this turn might as well have been an offering to angry spirits.
I am, of course, referring to Lexa’s (Alycia Debnam-Carey) pulling-fat-out-of-the-fire moment.
Considering what Alie had been able to do with CoL, there should be a small army of Commanders at the disposal of a virtual Flame wielder – as it’s the same collective principle – but, for some reason, Lexa seemed to be the Flame, itself (which should cue a Cheap Trick power ballad – but I’m not going to).
Ah, well Clarke cared for (and knew) only one Flamer; so one resident of the Flame was all we got; one resurrection was all the showrunners likely figured they needed, in order to get Clexa fans off their ankles.
Anyway, Clexa, more catharsis, and a last stand happened (the kind of last stand that having only one Flame champion allows, ‘cause: drama), a little birdie told Clarke which rabbit hole to backdoor through, and Clarke took a meeting with the Oracle & the Architect.
Or maybe it was with Glinda, The Good Witch, with the Wicked (Red) Witch warning about a lot more than just her own socked feet curling under the City of Light, should Clarke drop it.
I have no idea why it took an entire season for Alie to share any sound logic behind her grand scheme, other than getting our inner Shyamalans to go “what a twist!” I’m not even sure I buy the feasibility to the scenario that inspired it; but, hey, even A.I.s need catharsis – so Clarke’s odyssey ultimately served to reunite Alie & Becca, for one last round of running out the clock with hard choice talk, while a last stand gets on its last leg.
The good news, is that Clarke got to make another of her patented unilateral pronouncements – for the whole Human race – before doing something drastic, at the last minute. The better news, is that with all the guilt (among other things) restored to the former Chip-for-Brains, everyone got a catharsis moment – and everyone got to be on the same page as Clarke, Bellamy, and Pike! The best news: it was all so formulaically silly, my absurdist sense of humor thought better of the finale – heck, the whole season – than it really deserved. I even felt inclined to pardon certain bits.
Things I won’t bother mentioning: bad surgery prosthetics; Murphy going squeamish about hand massaging an organ (or the necrophiliac angle I won’t go into); an entire virtual city full of people focused on catching a hobbling pair, and never managing to catch up to them, somehow (“the Flame offers some protection,” or somesuch); Alie not being able to guess what a body of water could be used for – a use I imagine a lot of viewers guessed correctly; Jasper missing the part about at least one other species that acts against its best interest (I mean, really, why do some stories even bother using The Matrix for material?); and Bellamy’s role being reduced to agreeing with Clarke, promising to live with what he’s done, and covering for Octavia – since defaulting to a season 1 Bellamy version would be better than working through this last let down of a character upgrade, I guess.
Ultimately, Octavia found her sense of timing (so one less loose end to close on), which sort of overshadowed the next big secret that Clarke & Bellamy will be sharing (yes, I’m underselling what happened – it was a throwaway scene!). Other than that, another season of The 100 is a matter of anyone’s guess. Assuming Alie was lying, that is; otherwise there’s only one place to go with another season.
Season 2 peaks have long been a pet peeve of mine (see Millennium or Andromeda, for examples), and I’m afraid The 100 just met that criteria. All the cynicism aside, I’m usually left hoping for more of whatever great allusion, to history/ fiction, I see in a show – even if just in terms of potential. Then I deal with the fact that, more often than not, this is just projection, on my part. Still, every so often a film or TV series actually seems to strive towards those unfair expectations, and by the second season finale of The 100, I began to consider it one of them. Now I’m beginning to think that the showrunners may have developed more ambition than they can actualize, with this series.
The end of season 2 gave me a great idea about what to expect from season 3. Season 3 has left me expecting nothing but the end. So much for good set-ups….
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