TV Recap: The 100 – The Tinder Box, 405

2 March, 2017 TV Recap, TV Reviews 8 comments

“There goes 5 episodes of my plot development” – Clarke, probably

What what what whaaaaaaat? What even was that episode you guys? Bananas, that’s what.

I don’t know if you’re new here or if you’ve known all along but for all of its grim, life or death shenanigans, The 100 is, at its heart, a completely nonsense show in the best way a show can be nonsense. Where else are you going to find politically bent morality musings juxtaposed with a gigantic mutant gorilla rampage and people being hung upside down and juiced like oranges right before all of our hearts are ripped out through our noses? Nowhere (well, maybe somewhere but nowhere I’m watching). It’s fucking great.

This episode was light on the gorillas and people juicing but it did feature secret underground rockets and extremely sketchy neuroscience. Oh, The 100.

The Tinder Box, the debut of new to the show writer/executive producer Morgan Grendel (of Star Trek renown), leaned hard into all of the things that makes this show amazing and also the things that make it terrible and while I maybe laughed a touch too hard over the wrong parts and have some major questions about the thought process behind some of the choices that were made by the writers, overall I very much enjoyed myself in a way I very much did not last week so yay for that!

Let’s discuss.


Team Science

The episode opens with Abby and Jackson tucked away in Becca’s secret underground Apple store having a handy exposition-shaped conversation about why Becca created the nightblood (to protect space miners from radiation and survive hypersleep on their way to space Australia, stick a pin in that for future eps, $20 says it’ll be back). This isn’t actually the focus of this scene though, that would be Raven who suddenly starts floating and spinning through the air. I hope Lindsey Morgan had fun with the wire work, her full wattage smile certainly makes it seem like she did. I grinned along with her right up until it was revealed to all be a hallucination (the floating, presumably not the nightblood backstory) and Raven was actually having a major seizure in the corner of the lab.

*record screech* Say what?

Yeah, so, remember back in s3 when Alie warned that frying the chip with an EMP could cause brain damage? Turns out she wasn’t lying. It also apparently juiced the chip to the next level and allows Raven to tap into all sorts of Becca’s memories. She quickly figures out the problem Team Science is having recreating the nightblood is gravity, nightblood can only be created in a zero g environment i.e. space. Sounds like a pretty major road block, right? Wrong. Turns out Becca’s stashed away a mini rocket. I forgive all of the contrived convenience and questionable science at play here because the reveal sequence was so cool and Raven was so happy. Remember I’m shallow guys, it makes a lot more of my opinions make sense.


“This is the best birthday ever.” – Raven, probably


Things aren’t all sunshine and light, Raven may be adorably hyped on brain juice but this seizure stuff is serious. Raven’s brain is basically melting and it’s probably going to kill her. There’s a touching and terrible scene where Abby tries to get her to chill out so she can live and Raven tells her she can’t just sit back and survive long enough for everyone else to die. I have goosebumps through my tears. There’s one more bomb to drop, Raven wasn’t the only one who got her chip sucked out via EMP. By the end of the episode Abby’s also hallucinating this time with less Peter Pan, more Clarke covered in radiation burns.


“Do you think there’s a cream for this?”

Well, fuck.


War! What Is It Good For? Literally Nothing On This Show. Seriously, It’s An Entirely Pointless Threat




The Arkadia scene starts off with a very important character returning to grace our screens and eyeballs with her glorious self: NIYLAH! Hi Niylah! I love Niylah so so much you guys. I don’t even entirely know why? I mean she’s very cool and nice and provides a necessary external control group counterpoint to the adventure squad that gives us a frame of reference for how bananas they are (sort of like Luna minus the whole “get the hell out of my clubhouse I hate you” attitude). Also she is super hot and, like I said, I am super shallow so I’m happy. 

ANYWAY, back to the plot at hand, Ilian comes running in carrying an unconscious and bleeding Octavia. He found her in the woods and she just stopped breathing, yikes! Clarke performs CPR while everyone else watches and freaks out. Chill out guys, Octavia’s a major character and it’s the first 10 min of the ep, she’ll be fine. Sure enough, she wakes up (I would too if Clarke were stroking my hair) and tells Clarke Azgeda and its synonym war are on their way. All of this serves as a highly emotional distraction while Ilian, you know, the guy that’s made it his life’s mission to destroy tech, looks around at all the tech and acts squirrely.

Roan’s army marches on Arkadia only to be run into a Clarke in full grumpy cat face shaped road block. There’s a tense standoff where Roan’s archers take aim at Clarke and she responds by having her hidden riflemen sight on Roan, he then drops a hostage bomb with a casual “your move wanheda” and Clarke and Bellamy make dramatic eye contact for so long even the camera man forgets Kane is there. Roan and Clarke then stalk off to parlay because even though Roan had the upper hand, Clarke said please very nicely and that’s the magic word.


1+1= ……..Octavia?


There’s a nice little sidebar where Bellamy has a visible lightbulb moment and figures out that Octavia was probably the one to warn Arkadia that Azgeda was coming. On the one hand, it mildly irritates me that this happened SO QUICKLY after last week. What a wasted opportunity for some major Bellamy character restructuring. I’m not entirely sure what the point of that twist ended up being, apparently nothing, maybe an Echo thing, idk. On the other hand, I love that Bellamy put the pieces together like that. The show (and audience for that matter, ask me how much I hate the fandom version of the head and the heart) often fails to highlight how smart the character is so I’m digging that aspect.

BUT BACK TO THE OTHER HAND this actually just makes me even more mad at 404 (idk why I’m holding this entirely against 404 and not 405 but here we are). The biggest thing it had going for it for me was the set up for future eps and, well, lmao. I was already deeply frustrated with the priorities of the jail cell scene and by having Bellamy immediately figure out the O situation, it makes it even more apparent that scene wasn’t really about Bellamy at all and that sucks. The Blake relationship is inextricably woven into the character guts of this show and if they’re going to mess with that, IT SHOULD BE FOR THE SAKE OF THE BLAKE’S DEVELOPMENT AND STORIES NOT IN SERVICE TO A NON-BLAKE CHARACTER AND A NOOB NO LESS. Stick a pin in that, I’m almost there.

As Clarke and Roan parlay in a cave, I’m entirely distracted by the gorgeous scenery, dramatic lighting and Roan pacing around like a caged tiger (also it was pretty great how he totally called Clarke’s bluff about being willing to sacrifice Kane and Bellamy). They’re basically catching each other up on what they missed in each other’s storylines and, spoilers, all of it’s going to become entirely moot by the end of the episode so whatever.


Do you think the DP got a boner when they came up with the whole symbolic light of a middle ground compromise? I do.


Meanwhile, whoever was supposed to babysit Riley fell asleep on the job and he’s run off to assassinate Roan, typical Riley. Monty goes to warn the army, gets taken hostage and Echo and Bellamy set off to track him down.

So let’s talk about the becho thing. It’s been made increasingly clear since the end of 401 that Echo’s being teed up for some kind of major character arc where she ultimately becomes team sky people. I am less than pleased the show seems to be using Bellamy’s character beats to do it. You know how it’s super annoying when movies and tv blatantly use ladies to develop male characters? Turns out it’s just as weak when the genders are flipped. The two of them hike through the woods and bond, discovering they maybe have more in common than they thought. I also have major side eye for Bellamy being all cool with Echo now that he knows she didn’t actually kill Octavia (she still stabbed her in the stomach and knocked her off a cliff like, come on, the fact that Octavia survived is purely magic of Hollywood stuff and in no way effects the Echo side of the equation so I’m not entirely buying Bellamy’s abrupt no harm, no foul turnabout).

I get that the writers are leaning hard into making up for Bellamy’s s3 detour into xenophobia but it feels artificial right now and it’s not landing for me. I already believed Bellamy had Major Regrets and had learned from his mistake/wants to do better (and super prefer when that’s being explored in scenes that are actually about him and his character development like 403) so the heavy hand they’re driving it home with here seems over the top and more about bringing Echo into the fold. That said, I am intrigued by the two of them connecting over a shared exhaustion with war and I think there’s some interesting stuff to be mined there but I don’t love how the show is going about it as of right now.

Make It Go Boom

Remember how Ilian was looking squirrely? Yeah, that wasn’t an accident. After using Octavia to get into Arkadia he wanders about collecting all of the fuel he could find before holing up in the server room and building a bonfire. Octavia and Niylah find him before he lights it up and Octavia gives him her best Blake Motivational Speech™. I like how it brings her a step closer to understanding her own trauma (“this won’t bring your family back”) but tragically she doesn’t have Bellamy’s practice and it fails to land. If only she’d clued him in to the radiation. Remember when open communication was a thing?


Well, fuck.


Arkadia goes boom in a truly magnificent display of special effects. Ilian pulls Octavia and Niylah out of the wreckage like the gentleman he can be as the Adventure Squad returns to survey the extent of the damage. Boy howdy is it extensive. Clarke and Bellamy search the wreckage for Octavia and lit by the glow of the burning ring sky person and grounder alike watch their salvation collapse. This sequence was stunning, so stunning I’m not even bothered by the fact it entirely undermines all of the conflict of the previous episodes. Who doesn’t love a ⅓ season reset? Well, probably a lot of people but I’m not one.

So far this season has been one desperate plan failing one after another and it really drives home the fact that the world is ending and drags the audience into the stress, frustration and desperation the characters are feeling. On a weekly episode viewing, the frustration perhaps outweighs the rest of it but I think this is probably a great example of how a lot of this show is geared more towards binge viewing (which makes sense seeing as the Netflix audience seems to be its bread and butter). We have a week off before 406 so I’m down to take one for the team and test this hypothesis. Whether an episodic-ly airing show should prioritize binging is a fascinating essay into the changing landscape of tv in the binge era for another day.

The Riley Issue


Just shoot him put us all out of our misery.


I have a bone to pick with you show and its name is Riley. Let me be clear, I have no problems with newcomer Ben Sullivan who is giving this his all but its not working and I want to know why they’re trying so hard to force it.

We’ve all caught on to the fact that this is clearly supposed to be Bryan’s big arc, yes? This isn’t the first time the show has rearranged itself around actor availability (believe it or not I’m not talking about Lexa here, I think that was a different but related issue, I’m thinking of the clumsily handled Gina/Sinclair bandaid over a Wick shaped hole), and after the fairly unified wtf reaction in s3, you’d think the writers would’ve learned one character is not the same as another but alas, it appears not.

I don’t have an issue with the show introducing new characters. I’ve found Ilian’s introduction to be quite well done so it’s clear they’re capable of bringing in a noob and organically building them up which, if anything, makes the Riley factor all the more frustrating. I know you can be better show, so be better. 

He’s being handed major story beats clearly meant for someone the audience has some emotional attachment to and previous knowledge of but without that emotional attachment and previous knowledge, it makes everything surrounding said beats hollow. It doesn’t matter if Bellamy knows Riley, we don’t know Riley. The characters seem to think he’s a smarter, better person than a rogue assassin but for all we know this is just a typical Wednesday for him. He can break down and cry all he wants in the face of a Blake Motivational Speech™ but for the audience (or at least me) it just feels like wasted screen time.

I also don’t believe the writers aren’t fully aware of what they’re doing. Two separate characters explicitly state he shouldn’t even be here (to one of which Monty responds “that seems to be the consensus” which, bitter lol). Are they going for some sort of metatextual in joke? I appreciate that kind of self aware commentary under the right circumstances but when they’re hanging major development around a rando anyway it has the opposite effect and infuriates me. If you know what you’re doing is weak, WHY ARE YOU DOING IT?

On the other hand, since Finn died I’ve been bereft of a character I can comfortably hate for breathing so that’s kind of a relief, I guess. 


Additional Notes:

  • “Any word from Jaha? Did they find Bellamy’s unit?” “Yeah. They’re back and we forgot to tell you.” So Monty is still mad at Clarke then.
  • This is the second episode we’ve opened Clarke’s story with her wigging out about Bellamy being gone. Just sayin.
  • I see Jaha found a new way to be relevant. I still don’t trust it.
  • “What if it’s a trap?” “It is a trap, we’re already in it.” Roan’s “why is everyone around me completely incompetent” faces continue to be my fav
  • “We’re taking your ship.” What up Charles Vane
  • “Your life was saved for a reason” re: Riley, literally what reason? To drive me up the wall? If so, A+ job it’s working
  • Remember how I said my fav part of 404 was the set up for future eps? Lol, joke’s mostly on me (the science stuff stands)


What did you guys think? My social circles are sharply divided over this episode. Personally, while I recognize its weaknesses and understand the frustrations, I had a lot more fun with it than last week so I’m willing to be lenient. What about you?

Meg Morley

Meg Morley

Co-bloggery at Cuddlebuggery
Meg is an all-around book nerd who just really wants to talk about books, preferably with other people but by herself will do. Find her on Goodreads.

8 Responses to “TV Recap: The 100 – The Tinder Box, 405”

  1. natalia h

    I too had more fun this week than last. I even looked at the time with last week’s episode. Never a good sign for me.

    ““This is the best birthday ever.” – Raven, probably”
    They’ve been on Earth for so long and not a single birthday has been celebrated. WHAT IS BELLAMY’S SIGN?? Hahaha.

    I agree with your take on Riley, I think you put your finger right on it and I thank you because i couldn’t really get WHY I don’t like him at all, I was just ready for him to be a total asshole, when I first saw him, just because. I can always use a second character to hate when jaha is not around. (Also, your Finn hate gives me life).

    • Meg Morley

      “I even looked at the time with last week’s episode. ” Whomp whoooooooomp (same though)


      (birthdays and wonder at snow are probably the #1 and 2 thing on my please do the thing show wishlist)

      Yeah the Riley thing is just weak. Like it was funny when he was introduced but in hindsight a major red flag and I’m like, flabbergasted that they’re following up so hard with it. It made me roll my eyes through a Bellamy motivational speech (that and the fact that it existed for Echo) I NEVER ROLL MY EYES DURING BELLAMY MOTIVATIONAL SPEECHES. WEEEEEEEEAAAAAAAAAK.

      Fucking Jaha, I can’t even hate Jaha anymore because he’s being interesting all of a sudden.

      (Finn sux 4 eva)

  2. Ashley

    My biggest issue with this episode is how people didn’t keep track of both Riley or Ilian. We know Riley has PTSD, we know Ilian was a stranger to Arkadia so WHY is nobody keeping a close eye on either of them?? Also this just illustrated some poor writing, in my opinion, because it made it glaringly obvious that they were both about to do something really freaking stupid, so when they did none of it was a surprise. I did not enjoy this episode.

    • Meg Morley

      Lol, right? They were so obviously in need of babysitters but screw that we have a plot to accomplish!

      (do we know Riley has PTSD? DO WE REALLY KNOW ANYTHING ABOUT RILEY?)

      You are not alone in not enjoying the episode. It seems like everyone basically had the same issues but the amount of rage they inspired varies. I am camp easily distracted by fire and shiny things so I let a lot go but I know many, many people who are Deeply Annoyed.

  3. Kate Copeseeley

    Hmm… my overall thoughts on this episode, mostly smh at the huge freaking plotholes. BUT they destroyed the ark and with it my least favorite backup plan ever, so I’m cool. Like seriously, finally I feel like WE CAN GET DOWN TO BUSINESS BECAUSE YOU ALL WERE JUST IN A FREAKING DREAM ABOUT LIVING IN THE SHIP AGAIN.
    -Team Science-
    Rolling eyes about the convenient space ship, but I’m sure it will give us some really really interesting storylines, so I’ll put away my mutterings and just enjoy it.
    Was it minors or miners? I’m unclear. But yeah, that was super interesting and I missed that because I didn’t have subtitles. boo.
    Really nervous about the hallucinations and not just because Raven’s are true. What does that mean about Abbie’s???
    -The War To End All… oh wait, nevermind-
    So obviously, they wanted to get Roan to join up with the gang, but still be a king, so they manufactured this war/takeover idea and there we go. The whole idea was just again, spinning in circles. Like the thing with Octavia. I have such rage about that, Meg.
    WHY IN HEAVEN’S NAME WOULD YOU HAVE A DEATH SCARE AND DO ABSOLUTELY NOTHING NOTHING NOTHING WITH IT? What was the point exactly? And if you tell me it was because they want Echo and Bell to be friends I will be even more mad. I think frenemies would just be way more fun.
    I had to laugh over your comment about the camera man forgetting about Kane when Clarke and Bell are exchanging their super meaningful glances. SO TRUE, not that I’m going to complain too much. haha
    And I completely agree about Riley. Every single thing you said is spot on. He’s a character with strong emotional beats when we have no emotional attachment to him. Freaking Riley.
    -Go Boom-
    Here is another ragey part of the equation for me… WHY IN THE HELL IS ILIAN RUNNING AROUND THE SHIP UNIMPEDED??? Like, if they had just shown ONE shot of him knocking someone out when they questioned him, I would be wayyyyyy more cool with that sequence, but come on… he just had full run of the ship? Again, eyerolling.

    As I said up above, I’m going with it because I freaking hated the Ark idea, but these little things where it doesn’t make sense at all, just make it seem like there are really lazy writers out there. I don’t remember feeling this critical before. I’m going to have to go back and rewatch and see if it was always this apparent to me, or I’m just more sensitive to it now.
    Excellent recap, as always!

    • Meg Morley

      “WE CAN GET DOWN TO BUSINESS BECAUSE YOU ALL WERE JUST IN A FREAKING DREAM ABOUT LIVING IN THE SHIP AGAIN.” This is absolutely what happened and I’m actually weirdly giddy about it? Like, I sort of love that they got the rug pulled out from under them AGAIN. It exponentially increases the desperation factor like WHOA and I am anticipating even worse choices in out heroes’ futures. HUZZAH

      (it is totally miners as in those who mine stuff but I can’t spell so thanks for the catch)

      (listen I type these on my phone while watching the episode STOP JUDGING ME LET ME LIVE)


      “So obviously, they wanted to get Roan to join up with the gang, but still be a king, so they manufactured this war/takeover idea and there we go. ” OBVIOUSLY but as this is my desired outcome, thumbs up. I’m sorry it gives you the rage though. Things have definitely been on the way too blatant side of maneuver-y the last two episodes, imo.

      I could write an entire post about the death scene and using Bellamy as a short cut for Echo development by the principle of emotional transference and how the show has a not knowing how to write for Bellamy when they want him to be a boy scout problem (I’m having s2 flashbacks and it’s making me super nervous) but I’m trying to control my blood pressure and the more I think about it the more incandescent with rage I get, tbh.

      ” had to laugh over your comment about the camera man forgetting about Kane when Clarke and Bell are exchanging their super meaningful glances. ” WHAT’S A KANE? NO ONE KNOWS

      Fucking Riley.


      I wasn’t ever all that against the Ark idea but I also don’t think I ever thought about it too hard because it never seemed like it would actually end up being the plan. Or at least not all of the plan. Idk. I’m curious to see how your rewatch goes and if stuff works better all together or not. I’m serious about testing the binge hypothesis. S3, particularly 3a worked infinitely better for me when I watched it all at once than it did week to week.

  4. cidermice

    You articulated a tonne of my frustrations with this episode, including the Bellamy-Octavia story (what’s going on?????), the usage of Riley (who cares????), the fumbling around with endless discarded plans without the building up of a larger narrative (UNTIL the Becca lab discovery and supercomputer!Raven–I found that plotline the most cohesive and interesting this episode, which was a reaction that surprised even me, because I’m generally not super into the sci-fi elements of the show and enjoy the Impossible Morality Decisions more). At this point–a third of the way into the season!–it feels like the characters and the plot are trapped in a weird limbo holding pattern, where both plot and character continually gets undone and circle endlessly around each other. I want the driving pattern of a larger story–the Becca one, the Bill Cadogan one, whatever. They’ve spent too long offering interesting puzzle pieces and trusting that ooh, shiny!, is enough, without giving enough narrative forward momentum to hold our attention. I think your point about bingeing and how that changes show-writing is fascinating.

    Anyway, like you said, I love this nonsense show. I want to trust that it’s going somewhere or that this structuring is the writers making a deliberate point about the muddledness of war and apocalypse and the messiness of human cooperation, but I also would love to see the show move away from ~parallels and ~callbacks and plunge into a place where it has such potential to go. Like, I loved the Bellarke List Scene for its luminous mutual absolution and moment of tenderness and step up in the Bellarke relationship–it was a very mature, universal, gorgeous beat in a CW teenager show. I love the development of Raven as a leader and her relationship with Abby, which feels true and interesting. I was interested in the Youth Inherited The Earth idea with the Jake/Clarke Abby/Bellamy parallels, because my investment and interest is in the construction of a society and how power is produced and enacted. But then with this episode it feels like the show is dabbling in too many things without committing to one specific direction or idea. The Blake relationship (?????) feels like a casualty of that. Whatever, I’m just rambling, but I wanted to say I really enjoyed your meta, and thanks for your weekly recaps!

  5. Greg

    Ooh nice recap. I was like what the frick is going on when Raven started floating? Then it was like, oh seizure. Geez, crazy going on in Becca’s lab. And yes- Niylah. I have no idea what role she will play in the future but she’s at the Ark. Nice.

    The Bellamy lightbulb moment was awesome. Just that look as it dawned on him… although I see your point, it seemed very sudden and kinda manipulative to pull the grief thing last time and then 10 mins later go “nope everything’s fine.”

    I’m not buying Bellamy and Echo either. I mean I liked it when he asked her “don’t you ever get tired of it?”- that was a nice moment- but still. I like that they went big and blew up Arkadia. Where will they go next? Interesting point about Riley, I’ve been wondering what the deal is with him.

    And Roan almost reminded me of Charles Vane during the impasse, so that was a welcome development.

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