The 100 Just Became a Slasher Movie, and It Was Kind of Awesome
Spoilers for The 100 season 3 follow!
The 100 has had some great (and gruesome) deaths in the last three seasons, and it's had its scary moments here and there. But in terms of genre, it's always stayed within the general realm of "dystopian sci-fi show." Then, last week's episode (which fittingly referenced Edgar Allan Poe in its title) saw a terrifying and body-contorting Raven channeling The Exorcist, and last night's "Demons" was essentially a standalone slasher film with a slightly lower body count. And that's not a complaint; on the contrary, it's very much a compliment. "Demons" might not have been The 100's best episode, but it was certainly the scariest, and while the shift in tone could have been jarring, it was so well-done that it was nothing short of refreshing.
The primary plotline once again got the gang back together (which is another reason the last two episodes have been so strong), as Harper, Miller, Bryan, Octavia, Jasper, Raven, and Sinclair (Aw. RIP Sinclair) are all attacked and/or kidnapped by a genuinely frightening hooded figure, who turns out to be Mercer, the very last Mountain Man. Clarke spared his life back in "Bitter Harvest," but he's still looking to exact cruel revenge on her by forcing her to watch all of her friends die slowly by suffocation. Now that A.L.I.E. has emerged as this season's major threat, it might have bothered me that this villain doesn't have too much of an impact on the overall plot, but the psychological groundwork has been laid beautifully. All season, Clarke has been tormented by her actions at Mount Weather, and the return of Emerson was the perfect way to force her to face her demons. Typical of The 100, there wasn't any easy resolution, just as there isn't for Octavia, who's still mourning Lincoln, or for Bellamy, who's vainly trying to redeem himself and repair his relationships, or for Monty, who's processing his mother's death in last week's episode. But they're all forced to face their issues head-on in one way or another, and can at least imagine the prospect of moving on.
But amidst all of this heavy thematic work, the episode also gleefully trafficked in some of the most ridiculous horror tropes, from the Latin incantations to the flickering lighting to the music box playing a creepy lullaby that's lying in the middle of the floor--for some reason. It would have all been a little too much, but a canny bit of self-awareness saved the day. Continuing the meta commentary from last week, Monty says to Clarke when she starts to investigate the music box, "Following the creepy music is a bad idea." I laughed out loud, and then laughed again when Clarke proceeded to follow the music anyway, cuing Monty's muttering: "Or we could follow the creepy music." I never thought I would be comparing The 100 to Cabin in the Woods, but here we are.
Funnily enough, the most jarring parts of the episode were the ones that had the most impact on the ongoing arcs of the season. I love Murphy, but both of his romantic subplots have been--for lack of a better word--icky. It's a testament to Ontari's awfulness that I was almost happy to see Emori again, but I still couldn't bring myself to care about their reconciliation. However, the subplot was vastly improved when A.L.I.E. and Jaha came into the picture to put Phase 2 of the A.I. takeover into motion, and I can't wait to see how it plays out. The first half of the season had its share of problems, but the last few episodes have raised the stakes considerably, and we're likely looking at a blood-soaked and devastating home stretch, even by The 100 standards.