“Perverse instantiation,” in Nick Bostrom’s A.I. superintelligence theory, is a “malignant failure,” or a failure that involves human extinction. This specific type of malignant failure involves an A.I. interpreting an unfortunately-worded instruction in the most destructive way possible, like a real-life vengeance demon.
The obvious parallel is A.L.I.E.’s decision to make the world a better place by nuking the human population, but it can potentially refer to any and all of A.L.I.E.’s throwing-the-baby-out-with-the-bathwater decisions. Bostrom gives the skin-crawling example of an A.I. interpreting the directive to “make everyone smile” as “freeze their facial muscles into permanent smiles like even creepier Jokers.” That’s A.L.I.E. 1.0’s world domination plan, and the theme of the third season of The 100, in a nutshell.
(P.S. I’m sorry I’m so far behind, I will do my best to fill in the gaps. But here’s what you need to know from the last few episodes: Bellamy’s plotline was somewhat redeemed by the show’s meta-commentary that he’s sort of always been an asshole; Monty and Harper are a random, but adorable pairing; Raven is a bad-ass, and Lindsay Morgan is the best actor on this show; Pike got infinitely more likable once he was placed in an underdog position, but I still hate him; and Ontari is pointless and literally the worst, now and always.)
All right, let’s get on with the recap:
Previously on The 100: Clarke and the gang tried to stop A.L.I.E. by implanting the Flame in Luna, but Luna refused it; A.L.I.E. got everyone to take the chip by threatening their loved ones, because that’s kind of her thing; and
Jasper someone in Clarke’s crew got chipped on the sly, but we don’t know who it is (it’s obviously Jasper).
Clarke and co. are gearing up to go back to camp, but Clarke is dead set on finding another Nightblood to implant the Flame into. Octavia points out that if A.L.I.E. could find them on Luna’s rig, they would be risking the destruction of (even more) innocent Grounder villages. I’m sure Bellamy wouldn’t object to that or anything, but aren’t all of the Nightbloods dead? Wasn’t that the whole point of the Conclave, to have a Nightblood Thunderdome? (Which raises the question: how do the baby Nightbloods grow up fast enough to take part in the Conclave, when it probably happens every few years? Do only some of them compete in the Conclave?)
Clarke points out that if they don’t find another Nightblood, there won’t be any more Grounder villages, period. Fair point, but when Clarke starts thinking about the good of the many, everyone should probably watch their backs. When she realizes no one’s on her side, she goes off in the woods to brood and stare longingly at the Flame (aw, Lexa!). A.L.I.E. sends a crony to ambush her, but he’s shot with an arrow by… Roan! I’m not a huge fan of Roan constantly saving Clarke’s life, but I’m a fan of Roan, so yay!
Clarke is shocked to see him, and he literally just grabs the Flame out of her hands without any resistance from her whatsoever. Way to keep your eye on the ball, Clarke. When he tries to leave, she pulls a gun on him, and he knocks it out of her hands easily. Get it together, Clarke! He starts to leave, but Bellamy emerges from behind a tree and pulls a gun on him. And since Bellamy has the sense to stand more than two feet away from Roan, this one sticks. Roan: 2, Bellamy: 1, Womankind: 0.
Bellamy gruffly asks Clarke if she’s okay, putting on a good show as the macho-savior-man, and Roan gives him a HILARIOUS once-over. I really hope they make Zach McGowan a regular next season (and not just because I’m sort of in love with him). Clarke wants Roan to come with them so they can work together to put the Flame in Ontari, but in an overkill effort to make sure Roan isn’t chipped, Bellamy shoots him in the arm and knocks him out. I hope the show doesn’t forget that Clarke is bisexual, but that being said, this love triangle has the potential to be a lot of fun.
They arrive back at camp, and take Roan into lock-up to concoct a plan. Monty points out that Bellamy unnecessarily shooting Roan might not have been the best way to enlist his help, but, you know, details.
Luckily, Roan is the bigger person and accepts Bellamy’s petulant, “Sorry about your arm” non-apology, since he stabbed Bellamy’s leg back in “Wanheda part 2”. (Nice continuity there.) Roan isn’t afraid of A.L.I.E. at first, but when they explain to him that A.L.I.E. controls people and brings them into a hivemind, he gets on board.
They plan to kidnap Ontari, fry her A.L.I.E. chip with an EMP from an Ark bracelet Raven put together, and give Ontari the Flame. Meanwhile, Raven is going to access A.L.I.E.’s code, and Jasper *innocently* asks exactly how they plan to do that. It’s so obviously him that’s chipped, it’s not even a spoiler anymore. They all hug goodbye, with particularly adorable hugs between Monty/Harper (aw!) and Bellamy/Raven, in which Bellamy tells Raven, “You got this.” Aw. A.L.I.E. watches them leave without interacting with anyone, and even though we clearly know who’s chipped, it’s extremely creepy.
Then, A.L.I.E. has a hilariously expositional scene back in Polis, in which she reminds us that now she knows they’re using Roan to reach Ontari. Ontari and Jaha practically rub their hands together and cackle as they say, “Then they’ll bring the Flame right to us.” “And we’ll be waiting.” Now I’m just waiting for them to say, “We have her right where we want her. [Evil laugh]”
At Polis, the group plans to send Roan with the Flame to draw out Ontari, and then they’ll abduct her–somehow. Doesn’t she have about a thousand drugged-up, pain-resistant guards? Clarke says she needs to go with Roan because she doesn’t trust him with the Flame, but honey, that’s really not the primary problem with this plan.
Bellamy doesn’t like the idea of Clarke pretending to be Roan’s hostage, and takes her aside to say, “You’re going to trust that guy with your life?” Clarke sweetly says that Bellamy will be covering them the entire time, and she trusts him. Aw. This is so cute, I’ve almost forgotten that Bellamy is a mass murderer. (Just kidding, I haven’t at all. And last time I checked, Roan has saved her life several times and hasn’t exhibited any genocidal tendencies, so there seems to be more basis for trusting him than Bellamy.)
Back at Arkadia, Jasper is gently prodding and gets Monty to tell him their entire plan: to use one of A.L.I.E.’s chips to “open a portal” and enter the kill code they get from the Flame. (Gotta love sci-fi pseudoscience. All those fun, semi-nonsensical buzzwords.) Jasper says that he’s happy for Monty and Harper, and Monty’s alarm bells immediately go off, since Jasper’s been such an emo little shit all season. Jasper actually expresses contrition for blaming everyone else for his pain after Mount Weather, and he and Monty share an adorable little hug. Suddenly, it seems like he’s not chipped, since the chips are supposed to make you forget the things that are making you sad, while Jasper not only remembers Mount Weather, but claims to be dealing with his feelings about it. But it turns out that’s just a fake-out, and Jasper viciously stabs Monty in the gut on A.L.I.E.’s behest.
Monty is a champ, and runs into the control room with Raven and locks the door, stab wound and all. They try to reach Clarke and Bellamy to tell them that they’re walking into a trap, but Jasper has cut off communications. He slowly knocks on the door and says in a monotone voice, “Let me in, Monty,” like a cheesy horror movie villain (not a complaint, I fucking love it).
Monty starts to worry about Harper, who’s out patrolling the halls. Raven reminds him that as long as Jasper’s trying to get in, he’s not looking for Harper, so Monty talks to him over the intercom to keep him occupied. Monty says he doesn’t blame Jasper for taking the chip, since he was tortured, but Jasper exposits that he wasn’t tortured. He was “punched a couple of times,” presumably by a few of A.L.I.E.’s henchmen on the rig, but he took the key because he wanted to. Considering how surprising it was that Jasper didn’t take the key to begin with, I would much rather have seen this transition play out onscreen, even if it meant sacrificing the decidedly unsurprising reveal that he was the mole.
But then this scene gets even more annoying, because Jasper starts whining about his dead girlfriends again. Jasper, HOW ARE YOU STILL WHINING?? Seriously, only he could take a magic pill to rid himself of all pain and still manage to talk about his pain all the goddamn time.
(Keep in mind that Monty just had to kill his mother twice last episode, and he hasn’t taken the key, but he’s still complaining less than Jasper. Just saying.)
Jasper starts giving the “A.L.I.E. can take away your pain” spiel, and cites the destruction of Luna’s peaceful rig as a reason humanity can’t be left to their own devices. Except, as Monty points out, A.L.I.E. was the one who actually destroyed the rig, so worst argument ever. Then, Jasper launches into a fairly devastating summary of the entire show, which begins, “They sent us down here to see if Earth was survivable. From what I’ve seen, it’s not.” Ouch. But, yeah.
Meanwhile, Roan leads Clarke into Polis as his hostage, while Bellamy, Octavia, Miller, and Bryan cover them from the tunnels. Bryan and Miller have a cute fantasy session about growing old together in a house on a lake (I would be worried that this means Bryan and/or Miller will be killed off, but they wouldn’t dare after Lexa). This is sweet, but it’s a mark of how little this relationship has been developed that we care more about the fact that this conversation makes Octavia sad about Lincoln.
Roan tries to lure Ontari out with the Flame, but Jaha comes out instead, and the entire operation immediately goes south. The chipped soldiers surround them, more soldiers attack the kids in the tunnel, and Roan puts a knife to Clarke’s throat as a Hail Mary.
Side note: I know they were at a huge disadvantage because A.L.I.E. had a mole, but I feel like this was a terrible plan regardless. Everyone in Polis is part of a hive mind, which means there are literally hundreds of soldiers who could be called by anyone with a chip at a moment’s notice. I suppose it wasn’t impossible that they could gas everyone and abduct Ontari quickly enough that that wouldn’t happen, but “not impossible” is a pretty low standard for a life-or-death plan.
Jaha needs Clarke alive, since she’s the only one who knows the passcode to the Flame, so Roan threatens to kill her. Jaha admits that he needs her, and then Roan LETS GO OF CLARKE and tells her to run. Roan! I thought you were the savvy one around here! Obviously, since Roan let his only bargaining chip go and tried to run through a bunch of soldiers, he gets shot by a chipped Kane. It was just the shoulder/chest area, so according to TV rules he isn’t dead, but I’m still annoyed at his newfound stupidity.
Clarke is taken into the throne room, where Abby is waiting to give her a big hug and try to manipulate her. Clarke immediately knows that her mother is chipped, and refuses to give up the code. They tie her up, and Clarke tries to appeal to Abby’s humanity, but Abby seemingly doesn’t have as strong a will as Raven and can’t resist A.L.I.E.’s control. (I call bullshit on that. But maybe she would shake A.L.I.E. off given more time?)
Clarke, on the other hand, has the strongest will of all. When she won’t give Abby the password, Abby stabs her in the chest with a scalpel! It’s painful to watch, but Clarke won’t acquiesce. I’m sort of surprised they even tried torturing her first, and Abby quickly realizes it’s a non-starter and tells them to fetch Bellamy for some torture.
I 100% thought that Bellamy would be tortured onscreen, since it’s both poetic justice and fodder for Bellarke fans. But they take a left turn, and just when Bellamy is about to be taken away, he’s rescued by the unlikely trio of Murphy, Pike, and Indra. Pike and Bellamy have a tense moment, but are united against a common enemy, while Octavia is not willing to rub shoulders with Pike after he killed Lincoln. Bellamy and Indra tell her that they need all the fighters they can get, and she begrudgingly plays along, but I would still expect that either she or Indra will kill Pike before the season is over (probably Octavia, since Indra already got to torture him pretty brutally).
Murphy, as usual, wants to get out of there, but Bellamy says they can’t leave because Clarke is in trouble. Murphy deadpans, “Clarke’s always in trouble.” Hee. Bellamy says that Clarke is with Ontari and the Flame, which means this is probably their one shot to defeat A.L.I.E. Murphy tags along, with the caveat, “After this, doing the right thing can kiss my ass.”
They fight their way up to the throne room, during which Pike kills some innocent people and Bellamy chastises him. Character growth! (For Bellamy, at least.) Bellamy and Murphy go into the elevator, while the rest of them stay downstairs to pull them up the elevator shaft, and Octavia tells Bellamy she’s staying to help while giving Pike the warrior death glare. (Go, Octavia, kill, kill!)
In the elevator, Murphy tells Bellamy that they’re “screwed” because A.L.I.E. knows they’re coming, and Bellamy pretty much admits that it’s a suicide mission. Bellamy, knowing that Murphy isn’t the type to tilt at windmills, asks him why he’s still there. “You’re not the only one here trying to save someone you care about,” Murphy answers, and even though I sort of hate her, I hope he’s talking about Emori. It’s amazing that Ontari and Murphy are so vile, they make literally any other pairing on this show look like an OTP.
Downstairs, Octavia asks Indra how Pike is still alive, and Indra tells her “the dead can’t help us.” She should just tell Octavia about the torture, that might make give her some vicarious catharsis. Octavia sobs that Lincoln was “her home,” which is a little heavy-handed, but it’s made worth it by Marie Avgeropoulos’ sweet and sad performance, and especially Indra’s response in Trigedasleng: “This is your home.” Aw! Give Octavia the Flame already!
Then, Kane comes in shooting, and Indra knocks him out, but not before he wounds Bryan and Pike. Pike continues pulling the elevator up while he bleeds profusely (this would be a funny and anti-climactic death for him), while Murphy and Bellamy shock lash a bunch of chipped soldiers. One of them manages to get into the elevator, and throttles Murphy, as everyone loves to do. Bellamy hesitates to kill another innocent, but is ultimately forced to.
Cue Jasper listing all of the people who have died since they landed on Earth, and their cause of death. He cites Finn as “Death by Clarke,” so this list could go on a while. There are many more “Death by Clarke”s while Raven hacks into A.L.I.E.’s code, and she succeeds just as Jasper says, “Drew: Ninja star to the face. That was a good one.” Yes, Jasper. Yes, it was.
Just then, Harper comes into the hallway and tries to get into the room, with Jasper nowhere to be seen. Monty takes his sweet time warning her, so Jasper gets the drop on her and steals her gun. He tells Monty to destroy the machine, and he won’t hurt Harper.
In the throne room, Abby figures out that Bellamy isn’t coming to be tortured, so she readies a noose. She tells Clarke it’s “not for [her],” and places it around her neck. Clarke begs her to stop, but she just asks for the passphrase. Clarke sobs that she can’t, and A.L.I.E. thinks she’ll break, so Abby steps off her platform and hangs herself.
A.L.I.E. and the writers have used the loved-one-in-peril device several times over the course of the season, but it manages to still be affecting here, mostly because Clarke is such a complex character. She is always looking towards the greater good, but is also fiercely protective of her own (for all the shippers out there, I would argue that the first trait was the basis of her connection with Lexa, while the latter is the basis of her connection with Bellamy). So not only is it horrifying to see Abby gasping for breath while Clarke watches, the tension is ratcheted sky-high because you honestly don’t know what she’s going to do. Personally, I thought she might break.
But, amazingly, she doesn’t. She cries that she’s sorry, but won’t give up the passcode, and I feel like this is a defining moment for her character. In a strange, roundabout way, it’s almost a retroactive justification for her actions at Mount Weather. She’s not Bellamy; she’s not just trying to protect her loved ones at all costs. She’s honestly trying to live up to all of her obligations and serve the greater good at all times. This makes her slightly terrifying, but it also means she has integrity.
The “terrifying” aspect is reinforced even more a few minutes later, when she not only splits her attention from her dying mother to beg Jaha not to kill Ontari, when Bellamy and Murphy burst in, she tells Bellamy to save Ontari, and says nothing about Abby. Luckily, Murphy saves Abby without being told, but Jesus Christ. Clarke is a BAMF, but also–is she about to become a full-fledged antihero? That’s pretty damn dark.
Bellamy frees Clarke, and she FINALLY asks about her mother before tending to Ontari. Ontari is still alive, but in a nice callback to Clarke’s medical training, she sees that Ontari’s pupils are unresponsive. She’s braindead, and can’t give them the kill code.
So many cliffhangers before the finale! I’m not pleased that the entire point of Ontari’s character seems to be to serve as a glorified blood bag, but luckily we’ll have Lexa’s return next episode to get that bad taste out of our mouths. See you next week!