The 100 Review by John Keegan

The 100 1.04: Murphy's Law

The 100 1.04: Murphy's Law

Written By:
T. J. Brady and Rasheed Newson
Directed By:
P. J. Pesce

After Charlotte’s shocking decision to slash Wells’ throat at the end of the previous episode, I was a bit worried that the writers would back off a bit.  Or, alternatively, try to set up a strict definition of right and wrong among the Exiled.  Thankfully, while the immediate situation is resolved, the new sense of law and order is not much better than what they had in place.  The only difference is that Bellamy has been forced to abandon the notion of “do what you want” as a guiding principle.


The notion of absolute freedom is very attractive as a philosophical ideal.  So long as one holds onto a strict definition of individualism, or lives apart from the rest of society, it’s largely viable.  But as soon as other people are involved, there is a geometric expansion of accountability.  It then becomes a balance between freedom of the individual and good of the society, and there has yet to be a perfect equilibrium found between the two.


One major advantage of “government”, however much one might dislike the very notion, is the ability to overcome the danger of the mob mentality.  I love how well the episode depicts this problem right at the start, when the Exiled choose to turn on Murphy and string him up.  As with the previous episode, very little is held back; Murphy is actually hung for quite some time before Charlotte’s confession earns him a reprieve.


And then the ugliness really starts.  Murphy was a complete jerk, someone ill-suited for any measure of power over others, and so I’m sure a lot of people wanted him dead.  Charlotte’s a younger girl, and clearly has a warped sense of right and wrong.  Pragmatically, she has to be punished, as does Murphy in the end, but overcoming the lack of law and order is the trick.  And seeing as they came out of a society where any crime was punishable by death, there is a natural tendency to avoid anything nearly so strict.


All that said, I feel like the Exiled are fooling themselves when they back away from executions in favor of banishment.  They have just enough evidence at this point to suspect that someone on their own would have very little chance of long-term survival.  So is this mercy or justice, or merely a way to assuage their guilt over the responsibility for killing one of their own as punishment?  After all, if they can convince themselves that Murphy’s death would be some fault of his own, or an act of nature, then how can it be their fault?  Yet, objectively, is the intended purpose any less lethal?


It was inevitable that Clarke would assume some degree of authority over the Exiled (now down to 94), but I’m not so sure that’s a good thing.  Bellamy has tried to be the leader, and he failed miserably on his own.  Forming a Council is usually the best way to go, but that still puts the burden on those who step up should anything go wrong.  And without a clear sense of justice or law, that’s not the greatest position to be in at the start.  On the other hand, the vast majority of the Exiled seem to be more willing to follow than lead, so what choice did Clarke really have?  At least she’s a more convincing lead character than many other teen dramas out there!  (Looking right at you, Star-Crossed.)


Back on the Ark, the drama unfolds as one would imagine it should.  Abby’s intense desire to find and save her daughter is heightened when Clarke’s wristband stops transmitting.  Breaking the law to achieve her goal is inevitable, and given how often they’ve reinforced the strict code on the Ark, I don’t see how she’ll be allowed to live.  If she gets another reprieve from the Commissioner, is this a sign that the conditions on the Ark are eroding the society that they’ve been trying to maintain?  The message seems to be that both the Ark and the Exiled will need to find a new way to operate if humanity is to survive.


Our Grade:
The Good:
  • Very little compromise on consequences
  • Romance elements are thankfully minor
  • Surprisingly topical in current political climate
The Bad:
  • Charlotte’s choice was a bit too telegraphed

John Keegan aka "criticalmyth", is one of the hosts of the "Critical Myth" podcast heard here on VOG Network's radio feed Monday, Wednesday & Friday. You can follow him on twitter at @criticalmyth

The 100 by - 4/10/2014 7:03 AM262 views

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