Here Are the Real-Life Massacres Invoked by The 100 Season 3 So Far

Friday, 19 February 2016 - 10:21AM
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Friday, 19 February 2016 - 10:21AM
Here Are the Real-Life Massacres Invoked by The 100 Season 3 So Far

Spoilers for The 100 season 3 follow!


Last night's episode of The 100 had a few rough spots; Bellamy's transformation into one of Pike's anti-Grounder goons has been incredibly rushed and underdeveloped, and the decision not to show the massacre of the Grounder peacekeeping army happening onscreen (perhaps as a result of pressure from the network, but that's just speculation) undercut the emotional impact of that huge event considerably. But even so, this episode, and this season in general, have served as fascinating depictions of the road to genocide, and have drawn parallels to several real-life atrocities in the process. Here are all of the international/colonial skirmishes that have been directly or indirectly alluded to on The 100 this season:

The War on Terror


This is the most fully developed real-life parallel to the conflict between the Arkers and the Grounders, and the most timely. Anti-Grounder sentiment has been broadly drawn as similar to anti-Muslim sentiment in America since Pike arrived, and this parallel was made much more explicit with the explosion at Mount Weather. Jason Rothenberg intended for this season to be an allegory for the War on Terror, as he explained to Variety:

Opening quote
"What I was trying to create with Pike was - I'm not going to use the political figures that [we know in real life] by name in terms of the type of story we're telling with when Mount Weather [is destroyed]. When it blows up in episode three, when Ice Nation destroys Mount Weather, that's sort of a catalyzing event. That's a definitive, culturally politically shifting event.

It's their 9/11, and if you remember here after 9/11, that's what happened. Suddenly intelligent people lost their minds. Suddenly every Muslim was the enemy. I've been told not to talk about it in these terms, by the way... We were going for this 9/11 event that was going to have all of this anti-Grounder sentiment rise up in Arkadia, much the way that in this country, after 9/11, there was all this anti-Islam sentiment. People who love this country as much as anybody were suddenly being turned terrorists in the minds of [some] people. And that's what happens in the show."
Closing quote

Let's unpack this allegory a little bit. Ice Nation is termed a "fringe" group in The 100, and are clearly intended to draw comparisons to radical terrorists groups. When Pike and others from Farm Station turn against all Grounders as a result of actions taken by Ice Nation, they are acting just like many Americans after 9/11 who decided that "every Muslim was the enemy" based on the actions of a relatively small radicalized group, a sentiment which sadly continues to be prevalent almost fifteen years later. 

Rothenberg admitted that Pike is meant to be a stand-in for real-life politicians, likely those who were responsible for making the knee-jerk decision to declare war on Afghanistan when the conflict was with al-Qaeda specifically. To be fair, Pike is arguably even more unreasonable than American politicians, since Lexa actively disowned and then killed the Ice Queen, while Afghanistan refused initial requests for extradition of Bin Laden and other terrorists involved in the 9/11 attacks. However, Bush declared war less than a month after 9/11, so attempts to resolve the conflict diplomatically were absolutely minimal, and many (myself included) would interpret that war as a show of strength rather than a necessary measure. Pike's constant blustering about proving their strength to the Grounders and "wiping them out before they can wipe us out" is a blistering critique of the emotional, irrational motivations behind American foreign policy during the War on Terror.

And although Bellamy's character development seemed rushed to me, Rothenberg's explanation of his actions in the context of the War on Terror allegory actually made me like those creative decisions a little bit more, as that "coming out of left field" feeling was intentional on the showrunner's part:

Opening quote
"I knew liberals after 9/11 that became conservatives overnight, and it didn't make any sense to me and I didn't agree with them. But it was a phenomenon that I found fascinating, and in a small way, I'm trying to do that with Bellamy."
Closing quote


The Holocaust


Comparing any fictional genocide to the Holocaust is tricky, as the event still looms so large in American consciousness, it will probably be in the back of our minds no matter what. And the War on Terror parallel is definitely more apt, but last night's episode directly alluded to the Holocaust when Pike told Abby that the sick Grounders in Medical weren't being turned away, they were being "interred." This is not only an evocative reference to the Holocaust but a savvy one, as internment was the atrocity that was specifically perpetrated in America. Paranoia and fear of the "other" led to unjust and unconstitutional detainment in this country, and the same phenomenon occurs on a smaller scale in The 100.

American genocide of Natives


It's interesting that in three seasons, there actually haven't been that many obvious parallels between the Grounder/Arker conflict and the colonization of America. But with the arrival of Pike, and particularly his line in last night's episode, "This is OUR land now! They can leave, or they can die" was presumably meant to remind us that America was founded on a large-scale genocide, and was built on land that didn't belong to us. Native Americans did, in fact, attack colonists, and there was a lot of mistrust between the two groups, but ultimately, we responded disproportionately by massacring them, just as Pike and Bellamy do in this episode. I wouldn't be surprised if there were an attempted relocation in future episodes, which would draw parallels to the Trail of Tears, the forced relocation of the five major Native American tribes that led to the deaths of thousands of innocent people.
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