Welcome back to our reviews of The CW’s The 100. To read more coverage, click here.
I suppose it’s only fitting that following of the most action packed and thrilling episodes of The 100 that also carried one of the most aggravating character moment in the shows history, there was only fallout left to explore in its wake. With only two episodes left of season four, a season that hasn’t lacked in its air of hopelessness, “The Other Side” finds its characters at a new low.
The most frustrating aspect of the episode was, unfortunately, Clarke. Clarke is a character who has been one of the most consistently interesting parts of the series and a singular driving force at times. It’s unsurprising that because of how much of the focus is on her in a given episode that sometimes we’re not going to like what we see and this is one of those cases. Clarke has, once again, taken the hard role of leader and by locking her people in and calling it “saving humanity” has thrown her of the deep end. She’s being rash and selfish and playing god just as Jaha does but without the dawning horror at the end of their actions. With only two episodes left in season four it’s fine to paint Clarke as a morally gray character – as all of the characters have been since day one- but we’re going to need a moment of redemption as well as the remaining lead characters get their moments to shine. Bellamy is getting to play the hero, Monty is taking up a leadership role to try and help save lost souls, Octavia was the warrior winner of the conclave while Raven’s sheer force of will caused her to create a miracle. Clarke doesn’t need to be likable, but she can’t end season four feeling like a villain either.
Otherwise, “The Other Side” was a moving, fast paced episode that embraced the flirtation with finality that has been lingering in the shadows of the season since episode one. Every action taken is felt deeply, every consequence real and visceral and the dawning realization of the next five, sunless years ahead of these characters becoming ever clearer.
There was some tremendously haunting and beautiful cinematography in this weeks episode which added to the overall sense of tragedy. From Raven sinking alone in the freezing ice bath as her heart rate slows, once again relying on her own intellect to be courageous enough to live another day to Niylah and Clarke taking comfort in one another in a bunker that could’ve held triple the bodies if Clarke hadn’t acted so rashly, the grays and blues highlighting that isolation.
But no sequence in the episode is as breathtakingly raw (perhaps this season) as that of Jasper and Monty’s last ever interaction with one another. First, the cameras approach of Jasper as his sinewy and drug soaked body is silhouetted by the toxic but stunning backdrop of a world on fire. The second, of Monty and Jasper’s foreheads touching, as they create a frame where while the world is on fire behind them, as seen in between their faces, the most devastating thing that’s taking place is right in front of them, damn the black rain and death wave.
I have not always had very favorable opinions of Jasper (honestly, I still wouldn’t list him as one of my top ten characters the show has produced) but in the context of the series this is a remarkably painful death. In one of the more tragic moments since season one’s “Twilight’s Last Gleaming”, Jasper taking his own life after having endured and lost so much over his time spent on earth feels like a real loss. It’s possibly the best representation of the caustic reactions Jaha’s first decision of sending the 100 delinquents to the ground in the first place. Jasper was a victim of a painful and brutal world and despite how aggravating his character could be (very) it’s a loss that’s deeply felt. Devon Bostick is wonderful and Christopher Larkin does series best work.
It may not be the best episode the series has done, and it certainly stalls the momentum of last weeks action packed hour, but the highs of “The Other Side” equal some of the finest the show has ever done. If they had managed to sustain that quality for the entire episode, it would’ve been something wonderful.