The 100 returned strong with “Echoes,” but the second episode of season 4 is even better.
After a fantastic season 4 premiere, it’s hard to imagine that The 100 gets better from here — but it really, truly does.
“The burden of leading weighs heavily upon Clarke and Bellamy when different challenges force them to determine who will live and die.”
The crown truly does lie heavy in this deceptive and cleverly titled episode that explores the moral complexities of doing ‘the right thing’ for one’s people.
To tide you over until next Wednesday, we’ve put together a spoiler-light teaser article to whet your appetite for The 100 season 4, episode 2, “Heavy Lies the Crown.” Follow the butterflies…
1. It’s all in the details
“Heavy Lies the Crown” was written by Justine Juel Gillmer, who also brought us the tense and terrifying, yet comfortingly delinquent-centric “Demons.” This episode is similarly harrowing, but below the drama the main focus is still on the core character dynamics.
One of my favorite moments of “Heavy Lies the Crown” is small and narratively insignificant: In the middle of a tense sequence, Bellamy reaches out to hold Harper back, anticipating her reaction before she even has it. It’s a subtle reminder of how well these characters know each other and, more importantly, how aware the show is of all the dynamics, even those that aren’t ‘relevant’ to the main story. The attention The 100 pays to its non-romantic, relatively minor relationships provides extra layers of meaning to every scene, and is one of the things I love most about the show.
And Harper and Bellamy aren’t the only characters whose dynamic is put under the microscope this week. The episode sheds light on both old and new relationships and rewards fans who’ve been paying attention to the emotional development of the lead and supporting players over the course of the series.
2. The Bravenlarke of it all
As I discussed at length in my review of “Echoes,” Bellamy and Clarke emerged from the tower in Polis as true partners in leadership. Not because they agree on everything, as they certainly don’t, but because they’re able to understand and respect the other’s point of view, and balance each other out.
As Jason Rothenberg said in our recent interview, Bellamy remains “mostly heart” in their heart/brain dynamic, but he also pointed out that Clarke can’t fully be the ‘brain,’ being “obviously smart as hell, but also very compassionate.”
Enter Raven, whose pragmatic perspective in “Heavy Lies the Crown” completes what we might call the ‘triangle of leadership.’ While Clarke is looking for a way to save everyone, Raven is more realistic, and wants Clarke to accept that this might not be possible, and instead focus on saving as many people as they can.
While Clarke and Raven debate the moral dilemma of ‘all’ vs ‘many,’ Bellamy has to make a decision between ‘many’ and ‘few.’ The promo for this episode reveals that he and his team have to decide whether to bring the hydro-generator they’ve recovered in Ice Nation home to help save a larger group of people in six months, or blow it up to save a group of slaves today. It’s an impossible choice, and ultimately a huge crossroads moment not just for Bellamy, but for everyone involved.
In many ways, this is the episode in which both Clarke and Bellamy figure out what kind of leaders they want to be. Clarke is particularly conflicted, ultimately finding the top a very lonely place to be before discovering that there is, in fact, one other person in Arkadia who truly understands her position.
Meanwhile, Raven, not wearing a heavy crown of leadership (yet?), is firm in her convictions and bolstered by scientific superiority. The dynamic between Bellamy, Clarke and Raven and the points of view they represent should definitely spark some big debates in fandom in the weeks to come.
3. Say hello to your new friend(s)
“Heavy Lies the Crown” introduces a couple of new characters. As the promo stills reveal, this is the episode in which we meet Ilian, a new recurring character played by Chai Romruen.
Before the season started, Ilian was one of the two characters I was most excited to see (the other being Tati Gabrielle’s, who was briefly seen last week shouting, “This is blasphemy!”), and let’s just say I wasn’t disappointed. His introduction scene is harrowing and should inspire instant sympathy.
The episode also marks the first appearance of Stonewall actor Ben Sullivan, who plays Riley. I assumed he’d be a one-off character, but according to IMDb, he’s set to recur throughout the season. I’ll leave the how and why up to speculation.
All I’ll say about Riley at this point is that he’s a member of Skaikru and not a total stranger to our heroes, but there’s a very good reason we haven’t seen him before now.
4. Kabby patties, brace yourselves
Meanwhile in Polis, the newly appointed Skaikru Ambassador is still fully convinced he can save the world through diplomacy. Isn’t Kane just the best?
Abby is still treating Roan, who — probably like every bad patient she’s ever had — insists that he totally doesn’t need more than a couple of days to recover from a bullet wound. Y’know, #JustGrounderStuff.
But don’t worry, there are several scenes of Kabby together, too, including a moment we’ve all been waiting for. That’s not what you need to brace yourselves for, though, because there’s a lot more to come for them. Not to be dramatic or anything, but this episode will make you feel all the feels.
5. Long live the king?
So much for the Age of Azgeda: Aside from his #1 fan Echo and the Skaikru dream-team, Roan and his very heavy (looking) crown is not exactly a hit with the Grounders. A new clan is introduced this week, whose leader poses a particular threat.
It’s already proving tough for Roan to justify keeping Skaikru in the coalition without revealing the truth about what they’re trying to do, and this episode makes it clear that both Clarke and Roan took a huge leap of faith in “Echoes” by trusting the other. Because, as Echo points out, who’s to say Clarke isn’t lying to save her people’s skin?
Meanwhile, Octavia comes into her Skai Rippah role in a big way, and her steely focus on her appointed task should chill you to the bone. She’s committed to keeping Roan safe, taking Bellamy’s instruction very seriously — perhaps even too seriously — yet an edge of sincerity reveals itself in a sobering exchange with newcomer Ilian.
Yes, the post-Lincoln Octavia is deceptively devoid of emotion, but we all know the fire is brewing just underneath the surface. Marie Avgeropoulos’ acting this week is off the charts, and the disconnect between her and Kane’s diplomatic strategies is surely a sign of things to come.
Above all else, “Heavy Lies the Crown” is about choices. Through the tribulations of current and past leaders, the episode reveals some uncomfortable truths about the burden of leadership, and further adds to The 100‘s over-arching narrative of “there are no good guys.”
The episode is also about friendship and loyalty, at once celebrating and challenging how much the delinquents love and trust each other. A lot of things will be thrown up in the air by episode’s end, opening up for exciting new possibilities.