Alright so I’ve never experienced physical blue balls but after last night’s episode of The 100 I feel like I can definitely say I’ve experienced the emotional version.
I had a complicated reaction to 406. While watching it live I was pretty disconnected and more than a little annoyed with how a lot of it felt random and/or like treading water but when watching it again this morning I liked it a lot more. Maybe it just needed to percolate and settle in my head. Maybe the trick is to not dick around on twitter while I watch. I don’t know.
My biggest overlying issue is the same issue I had with 404 and 405 which can be summed up as: The 100 is written for binging, not week to week viewing. While that’s a legit artistic choice, it can be incredibly frustrating while watching it episode by episode. A part of me wants to say fuck it and wait for the rest of the season to come out and watch it in bulk on Netflix but I’m the personification of fomo and lbr I don’t have the kind of self control to not watch as soon as an episode airs.
It would be nice if the show could help a girl out and step up the story advancement next week (instead of just the plot) and hey! judging by the trailer I’m going to get my wish. Tricky moral quandaries ahoy. I am excite.
ANYWAY, now that I’ve vented my primary source of salt, let’s recap.
I do so dearly love Dean White’s visual direction.
We open with a super bummed Jaha posing dramatically in the rain, presumably contemplating how his ticket to the top just went up in flames while watching people pick through the smouldering rubble of Arkadia (or at least part of it because there’s plenty left next scene? idk, anyway). Jasper wanders over and we get some black rain foreshadowing (it’ll look like regular rain but people will fall over screaming and die, super) and Jasper urges Jaha to join team nihilism by quoting Dr Suess at him with an eerie amount of cheer.
Meanwhile an angry mob has headed over to the jail to try and take out Ilian. Oh those sky people, always down for a rousing conciliatory murder, it’s almost like blood must have blood is a universal concept oh wait it’s exactly like that and it’s almost like the show is making a point about how no group of people is actually better than the other and we’re all vicious and violent when provoked and maybe if we could stop doing that the world would be a better place.
Anyway, Kane breaks it up by firing his gun at the ceiling (wheeeeeere did that bullet go? ricochet is real) and yelling a bit. Team murder reluctantly shuffles off and Ilian gets to live another day, huzzah.
“I DO NOT HAVE TIME FOR YOUR NONSENSE MY WIFE’S BRAIN IS MELTING.”
Later, under the hugely concerned eye of Monty, a random red shirt whips the crowd into a fuck Ilian frenzy (the previous frenzy wasn’t frenzied enough I guess). Monty, bless him, tries to get Jaha to put a stop to it but Jaha’s joined Jasper on the side of drinking his problems away. Monty gets a Wells would be ashamed dig in and goes off to find Kane to arrange a guard for Ilian because the two of them are too good for this group.
The guards arrive not a moment too soon but it’s no use, Octavia has fully subscribed to team nihilism is neato and lets them in because what’s a little murder when it’s the end of the world? She joins forces with the mob on the condition they let her be the one to kill Ilian and drag him out into the yard to set up an exact replica of Lincoln’s execution scene. We know it’s exact because while Kane tries to talk her down, they overlay some upsettingly explicit shots of Lincoln’s death (not the flashbacks I was hoping for show) in a weird music video montage sequence technique they’ve never employed before and I hope they never use again because it was corny af. and honestly deeply unnecessary? If you didn’t catch what they were going for with that scene from the promotional stills released a week and a half ago I don’t know what to tell you.
In the end, Octavia can’t bring herself to shoot him, she’s not as emotionally shut down as she wants to be, and she cracks and runs out of camp crying. Isn’t it tragic how both of the Blakes cope with grief and trauma by trying to be monsters? Correct answer: yes. Then Jaha cuts Ilian free and sends him out of camp ($20 says he and Octavia end up running around together) and gives Kane a metaphorical you tried floppy star by repeating his new cult’s tagline (or something, idk, maybe Jaha just really loves his new cult).
Over in Becca’s lab, Raven is playing with her new rocket by running simulations with little success (she’s shooting for not fiery death and doesn’t have enough fuel to achieve it) while Murphy keeps an eye on her and plays with a remote control car. Pause to note Murphy/toys is my new favorite thing, it’s a small detail but it’s done so well. Lindsey and Richard are both aces in this scene, perfectly conveying Raven’s maniacal fixation on making a clearly not working scenario work and Murphy’s resigned acceptance that she’s going to keep doing the same thing in a loop.
Raven’s brain damage also manifests in her decreasing ability to not lose her temper. Over the course of the episode she lashes out at Murphy both verbally and physically and it says something about how far Murphy’s come that he sticks around and takes it so he can keep an eye on her and be her outlet. Luna also pitches in, periodically cuddling Raven up and murmuring mermaid mantras to her. Sure, okay. I’m not invested enough in Luna for this and it doesn’t help that she radiates eat vegan! Love kale! (Fuck kale).
It’s deeply important to me that we dwell on this hilarious little sidebar for a second.
Luna isn’t only around to talk Raven down, she also plays therapist to Murphy. I’m super hyped for Murphy acknowledging how much he hurt Raven and it’s nice that Luna talks him through his self-hatred and regret. I’m a little taken aback how well the previously remote Luna has gotten to know them but fine, whatever, I’m sure she’ll grow on me any day now.
Eventually Murphy and Luna get through to Raven and inspire her to figure out how to calculate a controlled rocket crash into the water. Before she takes off to run a new simulation she pauses long enough to thank Murphy and my heart does a thing. They have SUCH an interesting relationship and I’m glad we’re getting to see it develop.
YAY THE NEW SOLUTION WORKS. It requires every drop of fuel the Arkadians have to spare but it works! HUZZA- wait, shit, spoilers for the Mad Max storyline, Clarke just radioed in to say they lost a barrel and Raven collapses in a violent seizure. Super.
The Clarke parts of the episode kick off with a bang (don’t judge me). Clarke’s chilling in bed with Niylah, contemplating her sketch of Lexa, now framed and hung on the wall (nice literal tribute to Lexa touch). Clarke exposites the episode plan at her (heading to science island with rocket fuel, check) and Niylah tells her Lexa would be proud of her for trying so hard to save everyone. Then Clarke asks Niylah to go steady/move in (!!!!!!) and Niylah’s like mmmmm too heavy.
So here’s the thing. I’m bellarke af, right? I don’t pretend otherwise. I’m also super into Niylarke and would be totally okay with the show going there while still being low key sad if my other ship doesn’t mush faces (the life of a multi-shipper is complicated). It’s too soon to tell if the show is going there or not (giving you the benefit of the doubt here show you’re welcome) buuuuuut if this scene is just thrown in there to remind us that Clarke’s into girls and doesn’t actually go anywhere with it, I’m going to be mildly annoyed. My dudes, that’s a kind of shitty way of depicting bisexuality and a disservice to f/f ships but whatever I’ll be salty later if the situation calls for it. Clarke and Niylah are really cute together and I’m glad the show showed us a different side of their relationship (specifically one where Clarke is like, present and not totally emotionally shut down).
(To be explicitly clear because I’ve seen some rumblings about this, I am not pre-emptively annoyed because of the “promiscuous bi” stereotype because imo the worst thing about that idea is the underlying assumption that promiscuity is a bad thing which heyo with the slut shaming. I’m annoyed because if they’re shoving Niylarke in there with no intention of a follow up beyond this episode to ~prove Clarke’s bi-ness, to me that just feeds into the incredibly damaging idea that it isn’t enough to exist as bi/pansexual and reinforces the garbage idea that you need to hit some illusive “visible queerness” quota to count and, I cannot say this emphatically enough, fuck. that. noise.)
In the chancellor’s office, for the first time in maybe ever on this show, a group of dudes gather to figure out the next move. Monty lays out the situation (shitty) and Clarke makes a timely entrance like fuck the Ark anyway. Roan mentions that there’s also a small issue of his army deserting him. Bellamy tries to give him shit because they’re burning trikru villages and Roan’s like seriously, you? (HEY GUYS REMEMBER HOW BELLAMY SHOT UP AN ARMY LAST SEASON BC THE SHOW DOES AND IS NEVER GONNA LET US FORGET OR MOVE ON)
Anyway, the point is, the woods are hostile territory and Clarke, Bellamy and Roan are about to take a highly volatile bomb made of humanity’s last hope through them over rough terrain. In case anyone thought that was a sound plan, Monty later reiterates it isn’t.
BUT BEFORE WE GET THERE THE CUTEST THING HAPPENS.
“I don’t know how to deal with people being nice to me anymore.”
Kane and Clarke share a moment where Kane’s all I AM COMING WITH YOU MY WIFE NEEDS ME and if it were me I would’ve been like ‘fuck yeah Kane screw Arkadia, they’re going to try and murder people with or without you so you might as well bail’ but Clarke has a higher tolerance for people than I do and convinces him to stay because they need him. Then she says she’ll give Abby his love (!!!!!!!!!!) and Kane gets all mushy and adorable and pulls her in for a hug that Clarke totally didn’t expect or know what to do with for a second before she tucks her face in his shoulder and I’m not crying you’re crying shut up.
Selina Wilken talks about this a little more in her excellent review over on Hypable but I’m going to reiterate it here: so far Clarke’s emotional arc in this episode is all about allowing herself to love and be loved and that’s such a satisfying thing after the love is weakness arc. Clarke’s been using her love for her people as her motivation to keep going, keep trying to find a better situation all season and now we’re starting to see her applying that on a personal, internal level too and I love it.
Unfortunately not everything is happy family fun times. Bellamy swings by the medical ward to say bye to Octavia and hug and make up and she is Not Having It. In spite of hitting a literal rock bottom in 404, she’s not quite at her emotional rock bottom yet and is clinging to her rage at Bellamy for everything that happened to Lincoln in an incredibly transparent attempt to keep the grief at bay.
“Fuck off Bellamy I’m in the middle of some very important angst.”
It’s tragic and it’s harsh and this scene hurts so much. Kudos to Marie for the delivery of “Octavia is dead. She died when you killed Lincoln.” The show went a little bit in an eerie direction with it and I appreciated that choice over the obvs high drama route (it’s the little things).
I gotta say, the lingering consequences of Bellamy’s 3A arc work infinitely better for me when they’re depicted in the shattered remains of the Blake relationship than when the show is relentlessly reminding us (either via Bellamy or another character to Bellamy) that Bellamy participated in a massacre and feels really really really really really bad about it hey did you catch that let me repeat it four more times just in case.
Maybe it’s because the way it’s depicted here is shown via negative consequences to a vital emotional relationship that’s been a part of the show since the beginning instead of told (repeatedly) through dialogue and speeches to new characters with no emotional stakes for the audience. IDK WHO CAN SAY REALLY.
On the road to Science Island, Clarke tries to comfort Bellamy, once more urging him to give Octavia time. Bellamy’s not having it and reminds her time isn’t something they have so much of right now. Before that conversation can go somewhere interesting they run into a trikru road block looking for medical aid. Clarke, being Clarke (love that line), pops out to help but there’s nothing she can do and the delay gives a curious child time to see Roan chilling in the back of a wide open truck which makes total sense given how they previously laid out that trikru wouldn’t be so happy to see him and they have to be careful while driving through their territory. Swords and bows are drawn and the convoy takes off with trikru on their tail.
The hits just keep on coming and they roll up to a river blocking their road. Clarke sends Roan and Bellamy off to find a crossing while she stays behind to help guard the fuel. It’s an arguably blatant plot maneuver to set up what happens but I don’t know anyone who wasn’t digging the idea of some Bellamy/Roan alone time so I’ll allow it.
I don’t have a witty caption for this I just really like this shot.
Their side mission is a bust and they’re gone just long enough for Clarke to stop picking up the radio. They race back to where they left her and the truck and find nothing but the dead body of one of the Azgeda guards. Uh oh. They follow a trail of bodies and find Clarke held hostage and driving the truck to Polis. Plot twist, Roan’s guards staged a coup and kidnapped her and the hydrazine to go make bombs for the glory of Azgeda.
The culminating action sequence is an absolutely excellent tribute to Mad Max Fury Road right down to the power guitar chords mixed into the score and I loved every second of it. Highlights include slow motion Roan leaping from the moving rover to the moving truck and Bellamy’s last second crack shot to save Clarke after she elbows the dude into position. The whole thing was ridiculously over the top and dramatic but it was amazing and so much fun I don’t care.
Jk, this was the cutest thing in this episode.
Then this storyline closes with legit the most frustrating thing this show has ever done to me and it was mean af and they damn well knew it. Assholes.
Clarke and Bellamy take a breather at the side of the river before they split up to handle their business and reenact the beach scene from 313 which, as some of you may recall, was not my favorite. It’s still not working for me and I honestly don’t know why. But anyway that’s not what pissed me off. So Clarke indirectly tells Bellamy she thinks he’s special while giving him some nervous side eye and that plus their looming separation and the whole running out of time thing he mentioned earlier seems to be all he needs to make some kind of confession. Just as he’s about to tell her SOMETHING ROAN FUCKING INTERRUPTS THEM AND I STG I WILL FUCKING STAB EVERYONE (metaphorically, obviously).
Okay so like, here’s the thing. The show has this problem where they’ve been steadily building Clarke and Bellamy’s relationship into something epic (non-romantic, potentially eventually romantic, whatever, destination tbd but it’s unarguably building something) and they’ve done an incredibly masterful job at it. The problem is that steady build means it needs to go somewhere because they haven’t yet set a precedent for any kind of a holding pattern not caused by plot maneuvering (I have ideas Jason, call me). Generally the plot maneuvering, while frustrating, feels, idk, smooth enough that while it’s slowly killing me I can roll with it. Bellamy starting to tell Clarke something important and clearly emotional just in case he never sees her again and getting interrupted at a clutch moment was not smooth. It was a dramatic ramp up in the space of a sentence past the point of anything they’ve done before only to abort seconds before climax and herein lies that emotional blue balls I mentioned in my opener.
I love that they teed up such a charged moment between them and love that there’s no way that isn’t going to come back in some way, shape or form later on (everything that gets valuable screen time on a tv show gets it for a reason) but I fucking loathe the tactics they employed for putting it off. I’ve never felt so jerked around by the show and it pisses me off more than I can express.
BUT ANYWAY WHATEVER IT’S FINE I’LL LIVE.
- Octavia’s wince when Bellamy tried to tell her about the lives she saved is super interesting to me. She is trying SO HARD to turn herself into a monster but she can’t shut herself down entirely.
- I’m digging the contrast between where Clarke and Bellamy’s heads are at. While maybe Bellamy still has hope that they’ll pull through (does he really? did he ever and it’s dwindling or did he say that to Clarke in 403 knowing that that’s what she needed to hear to keep going?) he’s clearly aware that time is running out and trying to prepare for the end by tying up emotional loose ends. Clarke, on the other hand, is still trying to make plans for the future (asking Niylah to move in) and refusing to accept the nightblood plan is far from a sure thing and their time may be up. I’m very curious to see how much of that is flat out denial and/or what happens if she finally cracks.
- “Make no mistake, what [Ilian] did was a hate crime so let him feel our HATE.” Yeah okay I see how the Arkadians elected Pike.
- Super sad Papa Miller ended up on team just let them kill Ilian, fuck it. I expected better of you Mr. Miller.
- Real talk though when did Clarke learn how to drive?
- Lmao at Jaha and Kane using the threat of black rain to break up the mob. I missed them being a team more than I realized.
- Whomp whoooooooomp a trikru arrow hit one of the hydrazine barrels and they’re down a huge chunk of desperately necessary fuel.
- That probs belongs in the bulk of this recap because it’s a pretty important note but that’s what you get when you wedge it in right after an aborted ship moment I’ve been waiting 4 fucking seasons for.
- GODAMMIT SHOW.