‘The 100’ : Kane, Pike, and the Burden of Leadership

Spoilers through the most recent episode of The 100, Season 3, Episode 8: “Terms and Conditions”. 

If there’s one thing to be learned from watching The 100, it’s that not everyone can lead. Many of the characters think they are capable of the job and we as fans may wish such a position of power for them, but much like the real world, that isn’t the case for the majority and it only makes the situations more dire.

In the first season we’re treated to the growth of both Bellamy and Clarke as leaders, but right now in the story, neither has earned that title and nor should they based on their exploits.

In my Defense of Bellamy article I stated that Bellamy isn’t a leader. Like his sister, he’s much better suited to the soldier role. We like to view Bellamy as a leader because of the strides he’s made since season one, the respect he commands from the delinquents, and his relationship with Clarke, but at the end of the day, Bellamy is more comfortable with taking orders than giving them. When he’s backed into a wall, sure, he can dole out some leadership, but he’s like a good non-commissioned officer (NCO), and once the situation settles, he falls back into ranks.

And I mentioned in my article about Lexa that Clarke is on her way to becoming a leader, following in Lexa’s footsteps, but that she still hasn’t found her place. Lexa is the embodiment of a good leader, one willing to change and adapt for the sake of her people. Whether or not her people agree is another matter entirely but she sees herself in Clarke and helps to steer her in the right direction. Given recent events, whether Clarke stays on that course is another matter entirely.

Instead, it is Pike leading the charge for the Arkadians, and it’s turned out to be a disaster for Skaikru. Pike is not a bad person. I’ll say that again because it’s so important to drive home: Pike is not a bad person. Pike has never concealed his true intentions from Arkadia. What you see is what you get with Pike, a man who is trying to keep his people alive the only way he knows how: violence.

In fact, he’s awfully similar to someone we saw in season one: Kane. Kane recognizes Pike’s poor decision-making because Kane has made those exact decisions. Kane was willing to float Abby because he claimed he was bound by the law; he believed he was protecting his people. Kane spear-headed the Culling that led to the unnecessary death of 300 Arkadians because the numbers showed that everyone would die if he didn’t. Kane was so steeped in the hierarchy of command, so sucked into the “us versus them” mentality that he couldn’t see the harm he was doing until he was faced with the massacre of all the people he strove to protect. Kane wasn’t a bad person, he was simply a  flawed leader, one without proper experience to guide him.

Let us pause for a moment and admire the beauty that is Kane’s beard. He’s much more handsome now, no?

And that’s why Kane couldn’t just kill Pike in last night’s episode, “Terms and Conditions.” When Pike quotes the law as reason, when he uses his people as a motivator for his actions, when defaults to numbers instead of humanity, Kane only hears a younger version of himself and the guilt piles up. Kane feels responsible for giving Pike power, for letting Bellamy’s mental state reach the breaking point, and for not being a better example to his people when it comes to Grounder relations. His experience tells him that if he outright sends Pike to his death, he teaches Bellamy and the other Pike supporters only one thing: they were right to not trust him. But if Kane could steal Pike away, show him what Grounders are really like, show him Lexa and Indra and Nyko, then maybe he could have the peace everyone so desperately desires. That’s not say that the stubborn Pike would concede, but in Kane’s mind, it’s worth a shot.

Pike, on the other hand, guided by months of pure instinct, does what Kane so desperately tries to avoid: by sentencing Kane to death for treason, he turns Kane into a martyr, and judging from previews for episodes forever away, it’s going to lead to his downfall. You see, as we saw so clearly in last night’s episode, that’s the difference between Kane and Pike: Kane knows how to move his pieces five steps ahead and Pike is the epitome of being unable to “see the forest for the trees.” It doesn’t make Pike a bad person because we know his intentions are good, we’ve seen the exact intentions play out in Kane, but right now, it only makes him a bad leader. Without Lexa leading the Grounders, the people of Arkadia need Kane more than ever.

The 100 returns March 31st on The CW at 9pm EST. 

(It’s also returning for a fourth season!)

Jen Stayrook
Jen Stayrook
Don't let the fancy nerd duds deceive you; Jen’s never been described as “classy.” You can find her on Twitter where she stalks all of her favorite celebrities: @jenstayrook. Or you can find her on Steam or Xbox dying in every game she plays as "Rilna." Email: jen.stayrook@theworkprint.com

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