Raven Voices All of Our Complaints in a Meta Episode of The 100
Spoilers for The 100 season three follow!
I've suspected this for some time, but last night's episode made it official: The 100 season three will be much better upon re-watch (or binge-watch, for that matter). Last week, I argued that the treatment of Bellamy's storyline redeemed much of what came before, and demonstrated that the writers know what they're doing (even when they make a few mistakes along the way). "Nevermore" took that self-awareness to a whole new level, and through the mouthpiece of A.L.I.E.-possessed Raven, the writers voiced many of the concerns viewers and critics have had all season. I see what you did there, The 100.
Raven took all of the show's problematic characters--and many of the problematic writing choices--to task, and it was great (as was Lindsey Morgan, who turned in an Emmy-worthy performance this week). She was possessed by A.L.I.E., and was clearly trying to provoke them into making a mistake, but like all great villains, everything she said was an exaggerated, cruel version of the truth. First, she called Clarke out for playing the martyr while she causes so much death:
"Everywhere you go, death follows. You always want to save everyone, but what you don't realize is that you're the one we need saving from."
Let's be clear: I really like Clarke as a character, and of everyone who was verbally abused by Raven, she deserved it the least. But there is definitely an element of truth here, especially when it comes to her actions at Mount Weather. She always has good intentions, but there's a price to pay for the hubris of taking matters into your own hands, which she does a lot. Raven was obviously being unfair and provocative when she blamed Clarke for Finn's death, or her father's, but Clarke needs to take some responsibility for the deaths at Mount Weather, or at Tondc, all of which were caused by Clarke deciding unilaterally what was best for other people. Maybe it's necessary for someone to take on this burden, but Clarke should at least leave room for the possibility that she made the wrong decision at Mount Weather, because the stakes are too high not to.
Much more deserving of Raven's ire was Bellamy, whose storyline continues to get retroactively better as a result of other characters' reactions. A.L.I.E./Raven reminded us that Bellamy has always been sort of a jerk, and has always acted in his own self-interest (and, by extension, Octavia's). By placing his actions this season in the context of his actions throughout the show (and kudos to the writers for always remembering the details of these characters' histories), his motivations were elucidated somewhat. While I agree with many of the criticisms that his turn to the dark side was rushed, it certainly wasn't unfathomable. His actions were irrational and out of character to some extent, but real people act irrationally and capriciously all the time. His actions were unlikable, but that doesn't mean they don't make sense.
It's generally impressive that the writers have a handle on how the viewers would be feeling right now enough to make the characters stand-ins for the critics (and not just Raven--when Octavia tells Bellamy that "turning Pike in doesn't make you one of the good guys," I felt like she was speaking for all of us), but possibly the most impressive meta-commentary was on Jasper's storyline. His development hasn't been criticized as much as Bellamy's, because it's more irritating than unrealistic, but it's been a bit of a drag on the season. But when Raven calls him out for wallowing in self-pity when they've all been through loss (and many of them suffered more significant losses than his), that tells us that the writers at least know that he's been annoying as hell this season. Jasper isn't being annoyingly self-centered because the writing has gone downhill, but because people in real life are often annoyingly self-centered, especially after they've been through trauma. Once again, even if we don't agree with all of the writers' choices, at least we can rest assured that they know what they're doing.