9:26 am EDT, May 12, 2017

‘The 100’ season 4, episode 11 review: Earth Day

The 100 season 4, episode 11 packed emotional punches of the best and worst kind. One beloved character chose death while two chose life, and meanwhile in Polis, Clarke’s moment of reckoning had arrived.

With “The Other Side,” Shawna Benson and Julie Benson delivered an incredible hour of television, proving once again that The 100 can take its audience to emotional places that most other TV shows can only dream of.

Article Continues Below

The episode also marked the directing debut of Henry Ian Cusick, who plays Kane. Not only was it a rousing success as far as directing debuts go, but I found it a particular stroke of brilliance to have this very character-heavy episode directed by someone going from acting to directing: Cusick is an actor’s director by virtue of being an actor himself, and was thus able to bring out the emotional truths of the incredibly intense, heart-wrenching scenes in Arkadia and on Science Island.

Both Devon Bostick and Christopher Larkin delivered stunning performances in what would be their final scenes together on the show. There were some striking visual choices, too, and Tree Adams outdid himself with the score. All in all, this was perhaps the most affecting episode of the series to date, and not just because of Jasper’s tragic death: like “Nevermore” in season 3, it truly dove into the relationships between the characters and honored some of the show’s core dynamics (also, y’know, the Sinclair factor. I sense a theme).

Not that there weren’t things I would have liked elaborated on, particularly Clarke’s choice and Jasper’s death. That Jasper’s death wasn’t fully about him (and that we didn’t get moments of closure between him and Octavia and Raven) upset me as a fan of his character, though considering the heavy subject matter, I understand the need for this episode to contrast his suicide with Raven and Harper choosing to live, and letting it be Monty’s tragedy, too.

At the end of the day though, the fact that I’m left wanting more of everything can only be a good thing. The main issue fans seem to have with The 100 season 4 is that it’s simply not long enough to serve all the incredible characters and relationships, and I think as far as ‘problems’ go, that’s a pretty good one for a series to have.

Let’s discuss The 100 season 4, episode 11 “The Other Side.”

See you on the other side, Jasper Jordan

In “The Other Side,” The 100 delivered on a promise that has been two seasons in the making. I doubt many fans were surprised that Jasper died; not only has it been heavily signposted within the show that his time was running out, but it had also become clear that the character had no desire left to live — and without getting proper help, any reprieve for Jasper was always going to be a temporary fix. But knowing that it was coming did not make the moment any less devastating.

The 100 is no stranger to heart-wrenching, untimely deaths, but Jasper’s is in a league of his own, because he was the one who stopped fighting. Who couldn’t fight. The ground tried so hard to break him, and it succeeded. There is something so disempowering in watching a person’s will to live being slowly chipped away, knowing that there is no way it won’t end in tragedy, and The 100 captured that feeling almost too well.

Jasper’s death had been in the cards since he tried and failed to save the day in Mount Weather in season 2. The entire third season was building up to his planned demise in the finale when, after a season of falling into grief and despair, Jasper was going to be the one character who couldn’t recover from the devastation that season had caused.

Raven, Monty, Octavia, Clarke, and most of the other characters suffered devastating losses that year, yet were somehow able to carry on, but not Jasper — in this post-apocalyptic, hardened world you need characters that can carry inhuman weights on their shoulders, but you also need characters for whom the PTSD is too much to handle and who can’t take the pressure. Finn was one, Jasper was another.

But he did not kill himself in the season 3 finale as was originally planned; the writers (probably wisely) realized that the season’s deaths had already caused enough devastation in the fandom, and let Jasper live to see another season. They did not, however, waver from their plan of using Jasper’s arc to portray a character within these supernatural, sci-fi circumstances who lost the strength to carry on, falling into depression and eventual suicide.

Jasper regained his will to live only because he knew there was a time limit on the world, and there was never, ever going to be a magical, last-minute recovery for him. And however devastating it was to see Jasper’s story reach its tragic conclusion, I’m glad the writers saw it through.

Based on his overall arc and the incredible work Devon Bostick put into crafting a character fighting this very real battle, any other outcome would have felt disingenuous. Bravo to everyone involved for the care they put into Jasper’s journey, and for the commitment to tackling this difficult, painful, important topic.

The realism of Jasper’s journey

There are very few characters on the show I can’t find a way to identify with or relate to, but Jasper’s journey has always struck a particular chord with me (which is honestly why I have perhaps written a bit less about it than I should have).

Across the board, The 100 has always been very committed to making its characters as realistic as possible, but nothing on the show has felt as real or relatable to me as seeing Jasper push away everyone who cared about him, isolating himself, and making himself so incredibly, deliberately unlikeable (both within the show and to a large part of the audience) — because that’s what happens when you suffer from this kind of depression and PTSD.

The 100 neither glorified nor romanticized Jasper’s mental illness, and I commend them for that. So often, stories treat depression like a problem for the narrative to solve, but in reality, no one is writing a quick fix solution for you. There is no cathartic moment of truth that will set you on a new path of meaning. There is no one waiting in the wings to make you feel special when you need it most. Everything feels so completely, impossibly, insurmountably dark and hopeless, and the pain itself comes to feel like a comfort. A part of you don’t want to let someone else take it away from you, because then what will you have left?

Of course, in the real world, there are ways to get help. There are people to talk to and places to go when you feel like your immediate circle of family, friends and acquaintances won’t or can’t understand. But within a fictional, post-apocalyptic narrative there would be no such resources for Jasper, and seeing as the world of The 100 is contingent on the characters fighting for their lives and losing loved ones on a daily basis, there was never going to be a realistic chance for him to catch his breath and recover. That feels real to me. I’m not Jasper; none of us are Jasper, and his journey is not our journey. But that doesn’t mean it can’t be an important mirror to something that can happen in real life, seen from a safe distance through the lens of fantasy fiction.

As a part of this tragic story, Jasper and Monty also came to represent what unfortunately happens a lot in real life when someone begins spiraling into depression, and their loved one is incapable of understanding and/or is facing a hard journey of their own and isn’t able to take on another’s burden, too. In seasons 3 and 4 you saw Monty repeatedly try to reach out to Jasper, but always with the expectation that Jasper would ‘snap out of it,’ and a growing frustration as he didn’t.

When Monty suffered his own traumatic loss (having to kill his mother, twice), Jasper did try to reach out in turn, but at that point, Monty wasn’t in a place where he was ready or willing to accept Jasper’s comfort. Both of them were suffering, neither was in the wrong (and the narrative never positioned them as such), but the end result was poising them both for inevitable tragedy — Jasper’s was choosing death and Monty’s was being left behind.

Monty, for all the good he is, was never able to understand what Jasper was going through, just as we’ve seen him struggle to comprehend Harper’s pain in season 4. It is a glaring ‘flaw’ in his otherwise remarkable character, and an important characteristic to display in fiction, since that is unfortunately often what happens when one person develops depression and their loved ones aren’t able to understand what they’re going through.

Monty is great, smart and generally lovable, but he is simultaneously the ultimate example of the ‘get over it’ friend, who doesn’t understand why a depressed person can’t just get better. It doesn’t make him a bad person, it just makes him real. His pain and frustration watching Jasper choose death over him was almost too heartbreaking to handle.

The tragic love story of Jasper and Monty

Love stories come in all forms, and The 100 has had its fair share of tragic ones. But few have been more long-lasting, important and heart-wrenching than Jasper and Monty’s, whose love for each other was real, all-encompassing and pure, but ultimately not enough.

Jasper’s original death scene in the season 3 finale would have been a bittersweet homage to Battlestar Galactica, in which a similarly polarizing character killed herself under very similar circumstances, but I’m glad they didn’t go for that. Having Monty there, making this moment specifically about their relationship, made Jasper’s final moments about more than the shock and grief of seeing someone give up. It made it about Jasper’s life, too, a micro-moment of celebration for this character who, at the end of all things, just wanted to make sure his best friend would be alright.

It was a selfless final act in what some viewers have considered a selfish story (note: suicide is not, in fact, a selfish act but an act of desperation); as a by-product of Jasper’s depression and PTSD Jasper had been putting Monty through so much grief, repeatedly dismissing him when he expressed how much Jasper wanting to kill himself hurt him — and for that reason, both for Monty’s sake and ours, he needed to be with Jasper in this moment to understand that he had made this decision not to cause Monty pain, but because his own pain was insurmountable.

The way they handled Jasper’s suicide and the way they allowed Monty to express both anger and grief at his decision was a bold, brave choice, continuing The 100’s tradition of introducing tough topics for its audience to debate rather than present broad moral ‘solutions’ to impossible dilemmas. And I think they made the right choice, all things considered.

Aside from serving as a beautiful goodbye to Jasper, his death scene was also a sign of commitment to the depth of feeling between him and Monty. It was a moment which lesser shows would not have been able to follow through so truthfully and without restraint, because they would not have dared to have their characters say “I love you.”

The 100 is at its absolute best when it allows its characters to be completely true to their emotions, whatever those emotions may be, and once again it has proven that it is willing to go where few other shows dare thread.

As a Merlin fan, I couldn’t help but notice the striking resemblance between Monty and Jasper’s scenes in this episode and the death of Arthur in the series finale. The visuals, the dialogue, the nature of the friendship and the tone of it all was incredibly similar — but a key difference that immediately struck me was that Merlin and Arthur never got their ‘I love you.’

Five years later, I still feel betrayed by Merlin (clearly, since I’m still going on about it) for not adhering to the characters’ emotional truth, for whatever reason they chose to hold back in that crucial moment.

Because look at The 100. Just look at this show — for all the nitpicking we do, for all that we sit at home and complain that our faves don’t get enough screen time — The 100 goes balls to the wall on everything, whether it’s death, pain, love or loss. Jasper and Monty LOVED each other. Full stop. And the show let them express that, no caveats, no restrictions. Just love. Jasper was dying, and he needed Monty to tell him he loved him. And Monty did.

It was wonderful to get to see Monty and Jasper experience this moment together — a moment that is usually reserved for lovers or family in fiction because of the inherent intimacy of dying in someone’s arms — and both Devon Bostick and Chris Larkin absolutely knocked it out of the park. I can count on one hand the number of times a TV show has made me cry the way this scene did. I can’t stop thinking about it.

(And I’d just like to note for any potential storytellers out there that I think the ability to express this kind of love and have the fans take it at face value comes exactly because The 100 so deliberately defies the ‘no homo’ trope that rules most media. It lets characters form romantic attachments with whomever they are drawn to, and that in turn normalizes platonic love, too. It’s all just love (is love is love is love). This is something that Hollywood at large simply hasn’t figured out yet, and it infuriates me, and makes me appreciate The 100 all the more fiercely.)

In a scene framed by the Earth which they had spent their childhoods dreaming about, the goodbye scene served as a subtle tribute not only to Jasper, but to his friendship with Monty. It was an absolutely gorgeous, devastating moment full of poetry and emotion worthy of the characters and their relationship.

In peace may you leave this shore, Jasper. In love may you find the next.

Long live Harper and Raven, who both chose life

While we haven’t spent as much time with Jasper over season 4 as we might have wanted, especially considering the weight of his story and death, Jasper nonetheless represents an important part of the show, the tragedy of his non-recovery serving as a mirror to characters like Raven and Harper, who did choose life over death.

After losing Jasper (one half of his heart), Monty immediately ran to find Harper, only for the show to reveal that she had not drunk the jobi tea that gave the rest of the hopeless Arkadians relatively painless deaths; while Jasper and his people decided to end the suffering they had endured since landing on the ground on their own terms, Harper chose life, and she chose love.

Despite initially trying to drive him away by telling him she didn’t love him (and confessing that she didn’t think herself worthy of his love), Harper chose Monty in a way that Jasper couldn’t. While a part of me regrets that Jasper’s death had to be framed in this way, I understand the necessity of it, both for Monty’s character and for audiences at home. Harper made the brave choice, and the choice we would want to be strong enough to make under the same circumstances.

Raven, alone on Becca’s island with only the manifestations of her subconscious for company, made a more elaborate version of the same choice, fighting tooth and nail to stay alive, even risking death to save herself. Where Harper’s story was bittersweet, Raven’s was triumphant; a victory over these impossible odds The 100 throws at its characters.

Where Becca turned out to be the devil on her shoulder, the angel was none other than Sinclair. An amazing surprise that The 100 had very successfully kept under wraps until it was spoiled in a sneak peek — unfortunate, but in no way undercutting the emotion of seeing Alessandro Juliani back on the show! I was flailing the entire time he was on screen. It was a little weird. Don’t judge me.

Sinclair’s death always struck me as frustratingly unnecessary (though in season 4 it became apparent that he needed to die in order to elevate Raven to chief engineer), so seeing him back and having the show acknowledge his importance to Raven — and us — was really satisfying.

Raven’s story was cathartic, and the Bensons allowed her a bit of dialogue the show usually shies away from, including the very expositional “I don’t choose pain, I choose life.” But it was a welcome (and much-needed!) change, honestly, for The 100 to lean into the ecstasy of Raven choosing life, and have this storyline be so unquestionably positive compared to the other two.

We got some amazing exchanges between Raven and the manifestation of her self-worth through the person who loved her like a daughter (I’m not crying you’re crying — oh who am I kidding, we’re all crying), and a genuine reason to smile in an otherwise pretty miserable episode. (I should also note that the story choice of Raven ever being in a position where she would choose death over life only worked because she was so convinced there was no way to save her brain, and the moment there was even the wildest chance of survival, she immediately jumped to take it.)

That Raven Reyes will always choose life despite all her pain and suffering is an incredibly important, inspirational part of the show. May she never, ever die.

Clarke’s choice

In this episode, Jaha served the same function for Clarke as head-Becca did for Raven (coincidence?), basically seducing her to the dark side and grooming into the same kind of isolated, hard-edged leader that he was on the Ark.

Clarke has been slowly transforming into Jaha all season, cutting herself off from people and isolating and elevating her own point of view, and this was her moment of reckoning.

Was she gonna go Full Jaha? She very nearly did — except, say it with me: Clarke has something Jaha doesn’t. I had no idea how relevant my “she has Bellamy” comment in the season 4 preview post would end up being!

Clarke was never going to kill Bellamy. There was never a version of this story in which she would be capable of doing that. But the show made us doubt it, even for a second, and that’s pretty incredible/terrifying.

That said, in this moment, I don’t think she was prepared to fatally shoot anyone; this entire season has been leading up to Clarke having to choose between the human race and individual lives (once again we come back to the season-defining dilemma of saving 20 slaves or 500 Arkadians in the second episode), and that it should be Bellamy’s life specifically continues the running theme of Bellamy being Clarke’s particular weakness.

Faced with the choice between saving her people and saving Bellamy, she chose Bellamy. As sure as she was that she had made the right choice by shutting the bunker doors and letting the technology-savvy Arkadians figure out how to stay alive for the next five years, she was not ready to kill Bellamy to ensure humanity’s survival. She’d rather take the risk if it meant he survived.

Clarke has had very few moments of genuine humanity (as opposed to talking about saving it) this season, but most of them have been about finding ways to save Bellamy Blake. Make of that what you will.

Before we arrived here, Abby and Bellamy had to do some shenanigans, and you can’t imagine my joy at a) seeing Abby fight for her man rather than accept Jaha and Clarke’s selfish plan and b) teaming up with Bellamy to make it happen.

It made sense — both of them had people they loved on the outside — but it was also just a delightful, unusual pairing, uniting the two ‘hearts’ at the core of the series and letting them fight for what was morally right.

Love won, the doors opened, Octavia got to keep her promise to the Grounders (minus Echo), and we finally got our long-awaited Blake family hug.

I’m digging it, you guys. I’m digging Octavia’s confidence in her brother, the extremely emotional ‘I love you,’ the hug, and Octavia flat-out stating that Bellamy gets the #1 spot on the new list.

It doesn’t absolve their troubled past, and we’ve still got a bit of lingering imbalance in the way Octavia treated him post-Lincoln’s death, but the Blakes were never ones to sort things out rationally. They’re working through their issues and moving towards a healthier relationship. That’s ultimately what matters.

And now, the fact that the bunker holds 1,200 people is suddenly super relevant, seeing as there’s 12 clans adding Skaikru and subtracting Floukru. Each clan gets 100 spots — and thus, The 100 comes full circle. Look how that worked out! I wonder who makes the new list…

For your consideration:

  • So Echo was banished after all. She totally deserved it. I may or may not have cheered a little. But I’m also super into her character, cause she’s twisted and interesting and just begging for a signature The 100 quasi-redemption arc, so I hope she sticks around!
  • And speaking of… Murphy. Oh, Murphy. I would have liked to see a moment of him realizing that Clarke had put Bellamy in the exact same position as he had been only a few episodes ago: tied up and desperately pleading for the life of someone he loved. But I still liked seeing him so genuinely conflicted about what was happening. Hashtag character growth.
  • That moment between Clarke and Niylah was beautiful and necessary — Clarke needed to explain her position, and she could only do that with someone who was truly neutral and who cared about her. It felt a little out of place, mainly because I didn’t want Clarke to feel any sort of absolution for what she was doing, but it’s always nice to see Niylah in any capacity. She’s one of the show’s last remaining genuinely good people, and we need her to balance out all the moral grey.
  • Man, I wish we’d had a moment of Abby and Clarke going head-to-head about what exactly Jake Griffin would and would not have wanted.
  • Soooo about that Cadogan/Becca/Grounder origin story… we gettin’ that, or nah?
  • RIP Riley, I guess. He died as he lived: randomly, and without purpose. Can’t win ’em all.
  • Also RIP Bree. At least now she’ll never be mistaken for the show’s other blonde ladies again.
  • Despite my initial reservations, the significance of Jasper’s life and death were not undercut by the relief we got seeing Harper and Raven make different choices. In fact, having sat with it for a bit, I think it’s the opposite. Knowing that some characters were able to choose differently underscores Jasper’s importance as someone who simply was not, bringing us back to Jasper representing the darkest, most dangerous form of depression and letting Devon Bostick’s contribution to the series stand out as unique and important on its own merit.
  • And finally, I just want to reiterate that presenting a suicidal character within a sci-fi setting and having him ultimately go through with his choice is obviously a huge, heavy decision for the show to make, and I hope everyone affected by Jasper’s story is able to reach out for help if you need it. As far as The 100 telling this story, I’m glad they did, and that they allowed it to ring so true; I am personally of the belief that it is vitally important to allow fiction to tackle social taboos without trying to dictate audience responses (what is fiction if not a window into our own minds and an opportunity to challenge our preexisting worldviews?), and my only hope is that we get to see Monty continue Jasper’s journey beyond the character’s demise; Jasper’s decision to end his life may have ended his suffering, but it won’t end Monty’s, and I think The 100 owes it to both characters to show us the lingering effects of this story choice in future episodes.

Next week on ‘The 100’

Season 4 has gone by in a flash, and next week is already the penultimate episode!

In “The Chosen,” we’re back to Skaikru having to make a list of 100 people, which will be decided by a lottery. Who makes the list? Who doesn’t? Should we just not bother wiping our tears away until the season is over at this point?

‘The 100’ returns Wednesday at 9/8c on The CW

We want to hear your thoughts on this topic!
Write a comment below or submit an article to Hypable.

Introducing the Hypable app

Free for iOS and Android