The universe got a little bigger on The 100 Season 2 Episode 12, as we meet new Earth survivors and learn of another group to fear.
Wastelanders are the desert equivalent to Mountain Men, but with less technology and more radiation resistance.
While Jaha and Murphy take a journey of faith, the rest of the Arkers are leaving nothing to chance in their looming battle with Mount Weather. While these two storylines could not be more separate, they are combined in "Rubicon" to form an episode that is equal parts heart and mind – The 100 at its best.
Clarke has developed immensely as a character over the course of the series, emerging as a leader who is capable of making the hard calls. Finn's death was a turning point for her – one that heightened her strength as a leader, but also dulled her ability for compassion. After all, when you are backed into a corner and forced to murder the one you love, flipping the emotional kill switch becomes a survival instinct.
But how far is too far? The title of the episode "Rubicon" alludes to a line that, when crossed, commits a person to a course of action. Has Clarke crossed that line by idly allowing Ton DC to be annihilated with civilians inside? If not, she is doing a dangerous tight rope walk of said line and a stiff breeze could blow her across.
One of the themes The 100 has been so great at tackling is the idea of survival, and moreover what it means to survive. If survival is defined at simply living, at what cost does this become dangerous? Do the ends justify the means? And, if so, how far is too far?
For Cage and the "evil" portion of the Mountain Men, the ends (surviving on the ground) justify the means (killing). For Lexa, Grounder justice is a fair and reasonable legal system. And is it really any less just than the Arkers sending people out the airlock for petty crime because they didn't have the oxygen stores to sustain their numbers?
While you can argue that to varying degrees these are all not okay, they are a gauge by which we can ask – Clarke, what are you thinking? You just let an entire village of people get lit up by a missile?! Kane was in there. Octavia was close. Let's reel it in, girl. We need you.
Their blood is on your hands. And, even if we win, I'm afraid you won't be able to wash it off this time.Abby
One of the many things that I love about The 100 is that it takes us there – to that line, and then...It. Does. Not. Stop. Lexa isn't wrong. Tactically speaking, Bellamy hadn't finished his mission and alerting the Mountain Men to the inside man would have put the kibosh on their plan quicker than Jasper can pull a contraband gun on Dr. Tsing. Oh wait.
They are in a new world, one with different rules, one where every move they make has potentially dire consequences and the best they can hope for is to choose the one with the least dire of consequences, like a post-apocalyptic choose-your-own-adventure.
The battle of survival is won on two fronts: physical and mental. They can win the war with Mount Weather, but will Clarke's humanity be a casualty of war? And if so, what does that mean for the survivors?
Being a good leader means knowing which battles to fight.Kane
I have faith that she will pull herself back from the brink, and that faith is an important component of humanity – which is why Jaha and Murphy's desert journey to the City of Light set side by side with Clarke's descent into the dark place of ends-justify-the-means logic is a perfect fit.
Jaha and Murphy are my new favorite duo. They are representative of the clean slate afforded by this new world. For Jaha, the journey to the City of Light is redemptive – a way to save the people that he failed on the Ark. For Murphy, the journey is a fresh start, a new purpose. For both, faith plays an important role.
Touch me again and I'll end you. In a non-criminal way.Murphy
Jaha is leading a group through the desert with no direction. The biblical metaphor is hard to miss. However, even without that imagery, the idea that he will find this mystery destination with no knowledge to guide his journey is the opposite of Clarke's carefully calculated battle plan.
At the same time, while the desert can't be too far from Camp Jaha, it seems like another world entirely. And, as Murphy makes the decision to keep on truckin' to the City of Light with no food or weapons and only the very vague direction of a woman who held him at knife point, we can see the role that faith is beginning to play in his story. Although, he clearly connected with Emori – so maybe that has something to do with his decision and what he is following is not faith, after all.
Jaha: I believe this is what they call having faith.
Murphy: Nah, I just have nothing better to do.
The introduction of the Wastelanders adds another element, as well. Those we have met in the Dead Zone (Emori and the young boy Jaha first encounters after landing on Earth) are physically affected by birth defects caused by the radiation. The universe building is extraordinary and I can't wait to learn more about this new group.
Did Clarke cross the point of no return? Should she have at least warned Octavia and Kane? Are you intrigued by the introduction of the Wastelanders? Has Murphy met his match in Emori? "Rubicon" was action-packed and I couldn't touch upon all the details here. What were your takeaways from this game-changing episode?
So much happened tonight, that it will take days to fully process. There is plenty of time to watch The 100 online before next week, and "Rubicon" is definitely one of those episodes that warrant a rewatch.