I have a confession to make you guys. The last few episodes I’ve been focusing as hard as I could on the positives and ignoring my growing fear that post-403 The 100 was turning into a show that, while entertaining to watch, wasn’t really something I felt that strongly about and maybe I should just chill out and get my life back.
Then 407 happened.
This episode was nearly every single thing I love about the show all wrapped up in one tight, evenly paced, beautifully plotted and 100% character driven hour of fantastic television and honestly what more could a girl ask for? Rhetorical question. Sure, yes, this episode is a bit of a trope fest but it’s a committed, well-done trope fest and the heavy focus on character connections makes it work for me.
The point is, this episode was strong as hell and more importantly (to me), strong in a way I felt the previous three haven’t been and in a way I really need the show to be to keep me engaged. It wasn’t a perfect episode, (I’m still not 100% sure what Bellamy and Clarke’s character arcs are though I think I have a much better handle on it), but it had everything I needed to recommit to seeing where it all goes (bonus points, at no point did Bellamy have a conversation about the massacre or anyone tell Clarke she doesn’t know how to be in charge).
Plus, like, there’s a lot of showering.
Full disclaimer, I’m still reeling from the episode and I faced a full pot of coffee to write this so it might be a mess. Whatever, let’s break it down.
Smells Like Teen Spirit
In the woods, Octavia and her A+ high ponytail are aimlessly riding along (choose your own headcanon for how she ended up with Helios after running out of camp on foot) and Ilian is failing miserably to sneakily tail her.
Before Octavia can express her displeasure in a stabby sort of way, thunder booms and burning rain starts to fall. Heyo! The much hyped black rain has finally arrived! Octavia drags Ilian up on Helios’ back and they all run off to find shelter. It’s kind of cute how for all of Octavia’s I’m the Queen of Darkness Death Is My Gift posturing, when she’s not actively pretending she’s a hard ass with a heart of stone, her instinctive response is to save people and by cute I mean not cute but life’s too short for me to open a new tab with a thesaurus and figure out what I mean.
Anyway, they find a nearby cave with a handy fresh water pool, leave the horse outside (I’m sure he’ll be fine), and strip down to their undies to wash the acid off. As this is the CW, we all know what comes next, right?
I mean, come on.
As they wait out the storm, Ilian tells Octavia about his feelings and she tells him feelings are for losers. He pokes at her a little bit more until she cracks. Things get hella dramatic and she tries to run out into the rain to end it all. It’s tragic as all hell and the true rock bottom for the girl who always fights her way back.
I know some people are probably upset that Octavia’s rock bottom didn’t involve Bellamy in any way and legit, however, I have some counterpoints. First off, I’m camp Octavia’s conflict with Bellamy isn’t so much about Bellamy specifically as much as neither one of them has learned how to exist independently of the other yet (and I think this episode made great strides in that regard for both characters). Anyway, because that’s where I’m coming from, I think it’s both right and good that Octavia’s crack is about her and her alone, independent of her brother.
Second off, because of the aforementioned extreme codependence, Bellamy was never going to be able to get through to Octavia like an outsider could. Not only is it sometimes hard to accept the things people closest to you tell you as true and not what they want you to hear (see Bellamy and Kane’s conversations over the radio, the Blake parallels were strong this episode), but the Blakes specifically are so deeply entangled with one another there’s far too much baggage for them to have this kind of conversation at this point. Octavia’s been lost and she’s needed to find herself by herself. This isn’t a journey that Bellamy could take for her or be a part of because a huge chunk of her problem is how much of her life he’s been her whole world.
Thirdly, there’s something to be said for Ilian’s approach. Kane and Bellamy have both been taking a ‘this path is bad and not who you are’ sort of tactic which is hard to accept when you’re deeply entrenched in your trauma because it tells you a) what you’re feeling is wrong and b) what you’re feeling isn’t real. Ilian, on the other hand, goes for ‘this isn’t all that you are’ which is a subtle but unspeakably important difference because it acknowledges the reality of what Octavia is going through and offers a light at the end of the tunnel. This may be who she is now but it isn’t the entirety of who she is and once she gets past it she still has it in her to be someone she doesn’t hate. Sometimes it takes an outsider to help you cope.
So anyway, with Ilian unwilling to let Octavia commit suicide, she turns to him and begs him to help her feel something else. Cue the sex we all knew was coming from the moment the previously on was basically the Octavia/Ilian show. In the moment between Octavia begging and then kissing him, Chai Hansen does a marvelous job of conveying Ilian’s uncertainty and desire in one slightly flabbergasted look that was absolutely clutch for keeping this scene from getting creepy. I hope the show appreciates the hell out of their casting crew because damn that team hits a home run every time.
In the morning, Ilian takes off (after an adorably awkward morning after conversation with Octavia, I don’t really ship these two but I love the dynamic?). Octavia throws her daggers away, symbolically trashing the emotionless assassin she was trying so hard to be and goes after him, literally reaching out a hand to help him home. Have I mentioned how much I’ve missed the show being on fire with its symbolic showing vs on the nose telling? Spoilers: SO MUCH.
Welcome to Rock Bottom, population: everyone
Massive shout out to the visual team, top notch work as per usual. I’m really into the coloring here.
Bellamy returns from the failed fuel run just in time for the black rain to come rolling in. Arkadia puts the drills in action and everyone rushes inside. In the stampede, Harper shakes a red shirt off causing him to fall and get trampled and left out in the rain. Kane and Bellamy rush back out to get him because of course they do but he’s suffered major burns from exposure and thus we kick off an arc all about how Harper deals with the horrifying responsibility of causing someone’s death. I am excite.
Also, everyone strips out of their shirts to wash the acid off and pause to appreciate the dedicated ab work that went into prepping for this scene.
Bellamy suits up in a hazmat suit he patches up with duct tape (AMAZING) and prepares to go back into the storm to collect the stragglers because of course he does. It turns out duct tape isn’t a great sealant against acid and instead of turning around, Bellamy makes a break for the rover determined to save who he can save today regardless of his own well-being over Kane’s increasingly frantic radioed protests. Stick a pin in this, I ADORE the Kane/Bellamy dynamic this episode but that’s going to come to a head later.
This will end well, I’m sure.
After taking off in the rover, Bellamy soon finds himself stuck in a mud pit in the woods. As someone who routinely has to cope with snow driving, it became immediately apparent how this scenario was going to go. Kane manages to talk Bellamy out of going out into the storm on foot by pointing out that would only result in three bodies instead of two and for a second, while the trapped dude lays the betrayal on thick, I honestly thought Bellamy was going to do it anyway. Instead, Bellamy radios in and to the tune of heavy, tragic strings, he tells them he can’t get to them.
While it can be argued accepting you’re going to lose some of the people you’re trying to save is a character retread for Bellamy, for me, the newness of him directly confronting that and accepting the loss before it’s unquestionably too late and choosing self preservation is actually a huge new step. Plus, the visual symbolism of the rover lights turning off in the storm as the scene fades to black is a beautiful touch, foreshadowing how this is going to affect him going forward.
Much like his sister, Bellamy hits his rock bottom. In a gut wrenching conversation with Kane, he lays out how deeply he feels like he’s failed to save anyone, especially Octavia. Kane tries to comfort him, telling him you can’t save someone who doesn’t want to be saved, telling him he’s proud of him, telling him his mother would be proud of him. Dad!Kane is in full force aaaaaaand Bellamy shuts him down with a “you floated my mother.” Real talk guys, I legit fell out of my bed when they brought up Aurora (I have a Thing about Aurora, we don’t have to get into it, but this felt like a present).
God this moment was so good. It was brief but it managed to encompass all of Bellamy’s underlying trauma and expose the cracks in the Kane/Bellamy foundation which, for as much as I love what the show’s been doing there, desperately needed exposing. It’s great that Kane has been trying to be Bellamy’s family, but they’ve never acknowledged that Kane was instrumental in destroying Bellamy’s family. When these guys eventually get to a point where they can hug it out it’s going to be earned in a way their relationship hasn’t been up until this point.
This also perfectly tees up the following moment with Kane and Harper where she’s mourning the loss of the red shirt she pushed. He tells her “who you want to be doesn’t always win,” a powerful line (made all the more powerful by being earned throughout the episode through characters that have been with us since the beginning, that we have long standing emotional attachments to, just saying) that sums up where everyone is at right now.
Gratuitous Harper pic because this was a big episode for her and that should be acknowledged.
Bellamy returns to Arkadia, silent and grim and meets Kane waiting for him in the yard. The awkward tension between the two men is basically a third character in this scene. Kane doesn’t know how to reach Bellamy right now and Bellamy is clearly not in a place that can be reached. He repeats Kane’s earlier line to him about being unable to save someone who doesn’t want to be saved, ostensibly about Octavia but obviously actually about him.
I’m probably going to be murdered in my sleep by some corners of the fandom for saying this but Bellamy’s suffering here is a thing of beauty and I’m loving every second of it. For one thing, we made it through an entire episode without a conversation about the s3 massacre and for that I am unspeakably grateful. More importantly, much like Clarke, I haven’t been able to get a read on what Bellamy’s individual arc is going to be this season and I feel like we’re finally getting there.
Bellamy is In Distress and my wifi was not having it.
For all of Bellamy’s talk of having hope in the beginning episodes we’re clearly seeing that he’s entirely run dry, that he doesn’t believe he’s going to live through this and most tragically of all, at this point it doesn’t seem like he wants to. He’ll save himself so he can work to save other people but he’s looking like he’s mentally taken himself off the list. It breaks my heart and I cannot express how relieved I am to have finally (*grumbles* 7 episodes into a 13 ep season) gotten to a space where Bellamy’s on an emotional journey that’s all about him and not a repetition of ground that’s been tread into mud.
Sidebar, dad!kane cannot win this ep and his whispered “I’m sorry” is SO UPSETTING. Kane’s losing hope y’all, that’s….alarming.
Mt Weather Redux
The Science Island portion of the episode opens with Jackson giving a wide eyed with wonderment Clarke a tour of Becca’s lab and all the Griffin Mother Daughter feelings all at once. First, Abby smiles like the sun to see Clarke. Second, “I just needed to see my mom.” Third, Abby encouraging Clarke not to beat herself up for losing the fuel. Fourth, “she’s almost as stubborn as you are,” SIDE SWIPING ME WITH SOME RAVEN IS ALSO ABBY’S DAUGHTER BUSINESS I SEE I SEE. Fifth, Clarke being zero percent cool about Abby’s own brain damage. Sixth, “I want to be here with you.”
I have too many feelings.
Listen, this is probably super weird considering it all happens around a conversation where Abby and Clarke weigh the ethical pros and cons of basically performing a human sacrifice to test whether or not nightblood bone marrow can save them all (gosh that’s familiar, can’t say why though, bone marrow bone marrow has that already been a thing on this show? Also, what’s their plan for if it works and they only have one Luna?), but I think this may be the most genuinely sweet, non-angsty, non-traumatic moment we’ve seen between the two of them? Seriously when have we ever seen Clarke so openly vulnerable about needing her mom? If ever it’s been long enough that I’ve forgotten.
Emori, creeping around and listening in to the Griffin women discuss their need for a guinea pig with visible trepidation, pops out when Jackson catches her creeping and offers an escort back to the mansion kicking off a downright delightful scene. Before we get there, Clarke and Emori have a get to know you conversation as they walk through the woods and I love every second of it, not so much because anything revelatory happens (aside from Clarke declaring she used to love rain and as endearing as that is I gotta ask when???), but because it’s been ages since we’ve seen two characters have a basic conversation and I’m soaking it up like water for a neglected houseplant.
They arrive at the (mysteriously pristine and cared for) mansion to find Murphy dancing (!!!!!!!) and cooking risotto (!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!). Hello pure character beat with no purpose beyond exploring a new dynamic how I have deeply missed thee.
Clarke is me upon realizing the only purpose of this scene is shoring up character relationships.
When Clarke wanders off to take a shower, Emori’s chill immediately breaks and she starts frantically stocking up on supplies telling Murphy they’ve got to bounce. She’s done the math and recognized if the Griffin women are looking for a test subject, she’s the likely candidate due to a lack of character history and/or political importance (I hate that she’s probably right). I adore that Murphy’s reluctant (and even a little annoyed at first) to go. He’s come a long way from the guy who wouldn’t trust the sky people to tie a shoe and instead of running, goes to find Clarke to work it out. My heart.
Meanwhile, Clarke gets a brief moment of respite and it is flat out adorable. She goggles at the plush bedrooms, blisses out in a hot shower (not like that get your mind out of the gutter) and even hesitantly allows herself a moment to lay down and enjoy the comfort of a clean mattress for a second. I cry.
Naturally, as this is The 100, the moment she lies down she hears a mysterious banging noise from an adjacent room. Dun dun dun, she finds a broken window and quickly realizes they probably have an intruder. A touch convenient given Team Science’s need for a red shirt but whatever, I’ll allow it.
Back in the kitchen, said convenient red shirt attacks Emori and she kicks him in the face a few times and it’s gr8. It seems Emori and the red shirt have a bit of a history and we’ve leveled up enough to unlock Emori’s backstory! Huzzah!
I love the scene between Clarke and Emori so much I want to roll around in it and snuggle it forever. First, Emori’s story is tragic. I 100% believe (and saw this was confirmed in a writers’ room tweet) that everything she tells Clarke when it’s just the two of them is true. Because of her hand she was thrown out of her clan and forced to survive on her own and she did by any means necessary. She has a completely different view on survival and necessity compared to I think all of the people we’ve seen so far. She’s done what she had to and doesn’t regret a thing. Healthy selfishness in action.
This leads me to my second favorite thing about this scene: the contrast it draws between her and Clarke. Clarke’s spent the duration of the show telling she’s done the terrible things she’s done because she had no other choice and holding herself apart like those things isolate her from her people. Here’s Emori telling her that even for how horrible all of those things may have been, she cannot understand what it is to be truly alone, truly desperate because underneath it all, she’s been loved. For as much as she’s maybe wanted to cut herself off, she hasn’t really ever been alone. I’m still not entirely sure what Clarke’s internal arc is this season but I’m leaning towards something along the lines of learning you can’t be a good leader when you hold yourself apart combined with accepting love and this exchange shores that up a bit more.
But anyway, back to the plot. After letting Emori punch the red shirt in the face a few more times, Clarke has a lightbulb moment and remembers they’re in need of a red shirt down in the lab.
“ABBY? I know there are miles between us but I sensed your distress.” – Kane, basically
Speaking of the lab, Abby is having a bit of a meltdown. The prospect of deliberately taking a human life in an attempt to potentially save the many is a line she hasn’t yet crossed and the prospect is not sitting well with her. Luckily for her, Kane’s Abby In Distress beacon goes off and he radios to check in. I’ve watched this scene twice now and I still cannot believe the show had two characters have a lengthy on screen conversation over ethics without the plot diverting our attention. How long has it been since they’ve done this? Paige and Ian are phenomenal and both Abby and Kane are so scared and hopeless and I have a lot of emotions because I don’t know if we’ve ever seen these characters this shaken?
That’s basically the theme of this ep for me: sure you may have seen some of this stuff before but not quite like this. I’ve been waiting for the season to deliver on the emotional consequences of the season premise (as opposed to just the plot ones) and after the nods to that we saw in the first few episodes, I finally feel like we’re getting there.
We close the episode in a haunting montage of Team Science prepping the red shirt for treatment. I love love love Clarke coaching Abby. Clarke wasn’t the only one who needed her family to see this through. I even more love the last second reveal that Emori’s been conning them all the whole ep. Murphy turns to her like ‘so if he survives you’ll kill him?’ and she’s like ‘buddy I have no idea who that is I just knew someone was going in that tube and it wasn’t going to be me. Y’all have a collective boner for tragic back stories, I’m just giving the people what they want.’
I FUCKING LOVE HER (and so does Murphy, that little smile when she told him what she’d done flipped my dormant SHIP switch and god am I into them, idk what this says about me but there you have it). This is maybe my most favorite surprise twist this show has ever done? It was both brilliantly telegraphed and obscured and I, for one, was completely sucker punched.
- Oh hey cool so Raven’s brain damage is self-healing? Did I take that right? That means Abby’s is too, yes?
- Clarke takes a likely to fail human trial pretty in stride for a girl who had to be cornered into making a last resort survivor list a few episodes ago. I’m assuming this isn’t a weird character beat and more a signal of how desperate she’s become behind the optimistic denial facade. Still waiting to see that crack.
- CLARKE GIVING MURPHY HER GUN HOW FAR THEY’VE COME I’M FINE
- “You were loved. You were special. I was thrown away like someone’s garbage.” Stick a fork in me I’m done.
- Abby scrambling for the radio when she heard Kane’s voice and the way it trembled when she picked up was so endearing I need to lie down
- Uh oh, Arkadia lost their drinking water that’s no good
- has….has anyone checked on Miller? Is he okay?
- Selina Wilken at Hypable has a beautiful review I highly recommend checking out.
- Be sure to check out this episode’s Meta Station coverage because I can guarantee the Kellamy meltdown will be EPIC.
What did you guys think? Obviously I am deeply overwhelmed by the influx of fresh character beats all at once and that has blinded me to any of the episode’s potential weaknesses (am I who I am). Did that work for you?
I’VE MISSED THIS SHOW SO MUCH.