The Mountain Men are the bad guys—that much has been clear since the season 1 finale when they SWAT team-ed in and put Clarke in a white room. The writers tried to throw us off the scent with chocolate cake and a warm painter president, but smart viewers always knew there was a secret (although, we probably didn’t suspect it was a HARVEST CHAMBER). They play their Big Bad role well, but here’s the thing: People under the ground aren’t that much different than people were on the Ark.
The episode starts with a shot of a girl—named Keenan Mykulak according to the video feed—in her Undergrounder tinged-yellow hospital gown as she awakes in a field. At first she’s shocked to be outdoors, but when she realizes she isn’t immediately dying, she takes in her surroundings. Just like The 100 when the Dropship opened, this is her first time to see the ground. It’s hard to even imagine what it’s like to never feel the dirt on your feet or smell the air, but somehow every actor they hire on The 100 portrays it perfectly. It’s a sweet moment.
Until you realize that she’s just a lab rat. Dr. Tsing and Cage are counting how long she can last outdoors. And it’s only 4 minutes and 10 seconds until she starts to develop the signature radiation burns. Cage wants to bring her back in, but the heartless doctor thinks Keenan won’t be able to keep what’s happened to her quiet, so inside they get “a full reading” as they watch (and we listen) to her die. Cage looks evil, but he doesn’t have the stomach for it like Dr. Tsing does.
Cage: “The blood of The 47 could be our permanent solution, that’s what you said.”
Dr. Tsing: “Science takes time, Cage. There are dead ends and blind alleys on the path to every breakthrough.”
Cage: “You call that a blind alley? She’s one of us.”
Dr. Tsing: “No, of course not. I call that sacrifice… for the greater good.”
“The greater good.” Something we heard one Chancellor Jaha talk about endlessly with the Council when making life-or-death decisions on the Ark. Underground they steal blood from Grounders to live. In space they “sacrificed” a chamber full of people for others to live. The only difference is in the Sky, there were people like Jake, Clarke, and Abby who spoke up, and underground, we only know of Maya, who happens to be missing this entire episode.
Dr. Tsing later tells Cage that the blood of The 47 will never be enough to get them to the ground, but she has thought of another, more permanent solution: bone marrow. Only problem is that they would need so much that it would kill all of The 47. It’s Cage’s job to convince his father that it’s in the best interest of their people to move forward with this plan.
Cage does this in a manipulative, underhanded way: He takes his father outside. He tricks President Wallace into thinking he can enjoy the outdoors, smell the flowers, feel rain on his face… and then drops the other shoe—they have to go back inside. Cage tells him that in order to stay outside, they’ll need to take all of the bone marrow from The 47: “They’ll die so that we can finally live.”
It’s not hard to see the logic—they have hidden underground for 97 years, and they finally have an escape route—but that doesn’t make it any easier to stomach what these people are willing to do. The 100 captures the lengths mankind is willing to go to in order to survive with such nuance; and never more so than in this scene. Cage makes another appeal: “This is our world. We deserve this.” But Wallace shuts him down: “We are the keepers of history. What we’ve done to the outsiders has corrupted our legacy. I can’t go down that road any further.”
Good for President Wallace. But his word might not matter as the closing scenes show Harper (who returned so quietly last week I almost forgot who she was) strapped to a gurney while Dr. Tsing extracts bone marrow from her hip. If her people didn’t know she was down there already, I’m sure they would have figured it out from those screams. As we’ve often seen in Mount Weather, the show can easily lean toward horror flick—and that’s not a complaint.
Pre-Harper getting jabbed with giant needles, she met with Miller, Monty, two random kids, and their newly minted leader Jasper. They quickly realized their “let’s wait on Clarke” plan was not the best—although it was sweet that they had faith in her. Instead, they’re going to escape. How you ask? With their criminal skills.
Monty, the computer whiz; Miller, the thief; Harper, the hall watcher; and Jasper, the “mastermind” crack into President Wallace’s office to find proof that Clarke’s alive. They find a password-protected laptop, and Monty starts to crack the code. (Quick aside: My 5-year-old laptop takes longer to flicker to life than that 97-year-old one? Okay, sure.) The computer holds images of Camp Jaha—now that the kids know that their people are alive, they’re staging a break out. Probably minus Harper. Sorry, Harper.
NEXT: We are Grounders …