Hello friends! I apologize for the delay in getting this up. I would say I was busy but mostly I really didn’t feel like rewatching this episode or talking about it.
To be fair to DNR, it wasn’t a spectacularly bad episode. It was, however, a bit of a blah episode (highly technical industry term, trust me I’m a doctor) coming off of a three week break that left me a lot of time to sit and stew about how much I really, really, really do not like season four.
Season four has been like a Michael Bay movie. Tons of action, lots of plot, lots of characters running around in service to the plot with little to no internal characterization of their own unless it’s incredibly basic and shallow, no actual progress of any kind really at all. Seriously, guys, think about it. Who are these people at this point? What are they doing? Why are they doing it? Why should I care? What does any of it matter when it’s just going to get reset if not by the end of the episode, by the end of the next one?
I don’t even know who Clarke is anymore because I’m pretty sure she’s only had one line this season (in 401) about how she’s feeling personally and having nothing to do with the plot. Bellamy is (still) pretty much defined as sad about Octavia, sorry about the massacre and determined to do better aka exactly where he was at the end of season three. Octavia just pings back and forth from “I am skaikru!” to “I live for murder now!” from episode to episode with no kind of consistency. Kane and Abby pass the idiot ball back and forth and/or disappear entirely depending on what the plot needs from them. Raven has basically transformed into a gigantic plot device.
What is this season even about aside from don’t die? “Transcending tribalism”? Super unfortunate phrasing aside, how is that new? The show has played with that theme from the beginning when a group of hostile strangers were dropped into the middle of the woods and had to figure out how to get along to survive.
As far as I can tell, there’s no overarching thematic drive (which sucks because that was one of the best things about this show) and the biggest unique point about the season was the timeline to imminent destruction and that’s been so thoroughly wasted at this point I can’t deal with it. Pro tip: the urgency of a limited timeline wears off like whoa after the fiftieth “IF THIS DOESN’T WORK WE’RE ALL DOOMED wait jk it doesn’t matter” plot cycle.
Anyway, none of that is DNR’s fault specifically but the episode was emblematic of a lot of my issues with the season. Jam-packed with plot that debatably make sense/ends up being meaningless by the end of the episode and character moments that either miss the mark or only land because of work done in previous seasons.
We open with Raven, Murphy and Emori alone on Science Island. They’ve been left behind to dismantle the tech because I’m assuming it was decided it’ll come in handy when they’re living in a bunker for 5 years. What they’ll do with a random hatch door I couldn’t say but that’s what Murphy’s dismantling and packing up.
Emori’s justifiably skeptical about the likelihood of the the group returning to pick them up but Raven assures her she’s too awesome to be left behind. Murphy is weirdly faithful about the group’s good intentions after last ep and that brings me to wasted character opportunity number one. Murphy was devastated when they decided to sacrifice Emori. I’m struggling with the idea that he’s all ‘well they didn’t sacrifice you so it’s cool.’ That’s a lot of willing expansion of goodwill for someone who has only recently decided the sky people weren’t collectively the worst. I can accept that he’s focused on the end result and not how they got there but to me it retroactively makes the depth of his despair and fury last episode hollow. He was feeling some big, massive emotions and now he’s just let them go and it’s irritatingly anticlimactic for me.
Then Raven starts hallucinating the rocket powering up and goes to check it out only to find Becca in glasses at the helm. Cue seizure. Becca’s appeared to convince Raven that bunkers suck and space is better and Raven should say screw survival and realize her lifelong dream of spacewalking (?????).
“I know seeing me is technically a bad thing, but do the glasses help?
I have a couple of questions/issues here that I’m tabling in favor of wait and see. It feeeeeeeels a lot like Raven’s stuff is entirely to get her working on the rocket for what I’m assuming are future plot reasons and if that’s all it is I’m going to be cranky. However, a friend of mine came up with a super interesting theory that the Becca Raven is talking to is actually Alie and is twisting her melting brain around to get her into space where, if you recall, Alie’s programming is waiting on what’s left of the Ark.
If that’s the case, it’s a neat enough twist that all is forgiven on my end. Unfortunately, after this season, I’m not in a place where I trust the show to be that smart so my fingers are crossed but I’m not holding my breath.
The emotional showcase of this part of the plot comes when Jackson and Miller turn up all flirty to pick up the rest of the crew. Raven decides she’s staying behind and says an incredibly emotional goodbye to Murphy where he apologizes for shooting her back in season one and she forgives him and I cry for like twenty minutes. Because I am cranky and bitter, I can’t help but point out that the reason this moment feels so earned is because it’s built on a lot of previous, solid, lasting character work and not abruptly manufactured to give it weight.
Highly upsetting and rude, tbh.
Octavia’s portion of the episode is basically entirely filler. She’s hanging out on Ilian’s farm attacking soil like it personally offended her and not doing a very good job pretending she wants to be there. After Ilian’s neighbor shows up and mentions there’s a war on, Octavia basically stops pretending and after a pointless post-coital cuddle scene, kills the neighbors and tells Ilian this is who she is before taking off for Polis.
At this point I don’t even know why I’m wasting words asking logical questions about the consistency of Octavia’s character but here we go anyway. If you recall, Octavia originally became a warrior not because of a deep, driving desire to beat people up but because she was looking for a place to belong. Sure, she took to the warrior stuff like a duck to water, but the underlying drive was about finding a home.
To have her tell Ilian that the murder aspect of warriordom is all she is now is a little weird to me. Personally, I think it would’ve landed a lot more if she’d said something like “my people need me” and then the audience could’ve tensely waited to see if she meant skaikru or trikru and it would’ve been a lovely culminating moment when we find out she’s there to fight for skaikru, having decided that that’s where she belongs, but whatever, I don’t write the show.
Over in Arkadia, Jaha rallies the troops to pack up and head to the bunker we learn is loaded with both a hydroponic farm and a still. Huzzah! I’d hate for them to have to survive without alcohol. Unfortunately not everyone is on board with not dying. Jasper and an annoying plot device, I mean Riley, decide to stay behind. Dude has zero consistency and just shows up to make episode events happen. Remember in 404 when he lead the Clarke’s the worst parade because he didn’t get a spot in the Ark? Now he’s got a spot and he’s all nah I don’t want it and it’s a blatantly transparent maneuver to tee up Jasper’s DNR squad proposal. Weak.
“Everything just feels so pointless this season.”
In the big emotional centerpiece of this plotline, Harper caves to her lingering “I sort of killed that rando” guilt and depression and decides she doesn’t have the energy to give the bunker a shot when it’s probably just going to end in disaster and go nowhere anyway. It’s kind of like Harper’s been paying attention to the trajectory of this season.
I get that this is supposed to be a big, heartbreaking rift between her and Monty and it’s beautifully depicted by Chelsey Reist and Chris Larkin but I‘m struggling to get remotely invested. Harper’s mini-arc has been so rushed and around the edges of the rest of the plot, it’s not really a thing I’ve put much stock in. On top of that, a lot of the emotional weight of this scene depends on me caring about Monty and Harper as a couple and I’m still struggling with that. We’ve never really seen anything to show us why they’re a couple and why we should care so I’m left with the assumption that Marper exists because the show wanted a couple and those two characters were unattached. That’s fine and dandy but it’s not enough to give what are clearly supposed to be an emotional character moment any actual depth and resonance.
“I don’t know what I’m doing here either, I’m Tired.”
Meanwhile, Bellamy, Jaha and Monty bicker over whether or not to accept the DNR crew’s decision and from what I can tell, Bellamy is only in this scene because the writers needed to have him do something in Arkadia so he’d be around to say goodbye to Jasper at the end, so they stuck him here. Jaha eventually accepts that consent is real and they head off to the bunker leaving a rover and Monty behind in case anyone changes their mind.
The squad that left Science Island pulls up in Polis to find Kane holding the idiot ball. He’s decided the best way to deal with Indra’s NO AZGEDA ALLOWED bunker policy is to betray Roan and hand him over to Trikru. Yeah, sure, okay, I mean up until this point Kane’s been all we must work together and diplomacy is always the answer but the plot wants what the plot wants. Abby gives Clarke a rundown and Clarke’s all “mom, why are you and Kane randomly dumb as a bag of rocks whenever the plot needs you to- wait, never mind, answered my own question.”
Predictably, it fails. Echo turns up out of nowhere because she’s psychic or something and Azgeda take the sky people prisoner. It’s like 401 all over again right down to Clarke’s grimy gag and Roan inexplicably being all I’ll do whatever Clarke wants even though she keeps fucking my life up and her people repeatedly keep secrets from me and betray me for literally no reason other than creating drama. Listen, it’s hilarious how Roan is apparently completely helpless to deny Clarke anything but logically it makes no sense. Friendship really is magic, I guess.
Roan takes Clarke along when he goes to hash it out with Indra because she’s the bestest at getting people to listen to her even though her own people continually tell her to shut up because she’s the worst and that quickly devolves into a shouting match. If only they had a commander to force them to fall in line…..cue Clarke’s lightbulb and my thousand year sigh. Sure enough, she goes tearing off to show off her fancy new nightblood and demand Gaia make her the commander.
“Let me put on my bad idea face, I know something will come to me.”
I have so many issues.
Yes, okay, the show via Roan and Abby, puts a stop to the whole farce and Roan calls out the extreme bullshitness of Clarke deciding to be the commander so she can save the “savages” and bare minimum kudos for that. Here’s the thing though, for me, the inclusion of that line only tells me the writers are aware of their criticism but the rest of the scene tells me they don’t actually understand it. While Roan is calling Clarke out, she just looks, I don’t even know, annoyed? The problem with her behavior hasn’t landed with her as far as I can tell. Then the show doubles down by continuing to show the grounders as fearful and skeptical of the science that the audience is being shown is true (all nightblood came from science, remember?) and that is what is truly at the heart of the colonialism/white savior complaints. You can do all the lipservice to “we’re not writing a colonialist narrative!” you want but when you keep showing the technologically advanced invaders as more rational and enlightened than the lowtech, superstitious native people, you are writing a colonialist narrative.
Erin on Meta Station broke it down incredibly eloquently in their 408 podcast and if you don’t have time to listen, let me summarize: the colonialism narrative comes from the sky people’s belief that their way (science) is right and reasonable and the grounder’s way (their culture) is little more than moronic superstition. The sky people haven’t accepted that this is the grounder’s culture and keep trying to override it with their way because they believe it’s better and because they are the primary audience pov, the narrative structure and plot reinforces that the sky people are right. So no, having Roan’s line about saving the savages being bullshit doesn’t actually fix anything when you have Clarke standing there rolling her eyes and the grounders declaring all science is bullshit, let’s do war instead.
Furthermore, let’s talk about the Clarke of it all. Becoming Commander is a HUGE DECISION that would have MASSIVE consequences on Clarke’s life, not to mention the grounders’ and the sky people’s and does she even think about it at all? Has she considered how she in effect chose to leave her people to set herself up as Lexa 2.0? Is that what was behind it, a desire to connect with Lexa again via the flame and/or continue to uphold Lexa’s legacy by literally becoming Lexa? I don’t know, none of that was covered in the rush to make plot happen. As far as we were shown, Clarke flippantly made a gigantic decision that would shift the course of the entire political landscape as a shortcut to get people to do what she wanted in the moment and that’s a steaming pile of bullshit.
Who is this person? When did she become this person? This isn’t someone I can or want to root for. What happened to the girl who had (what I thought was) a major revelation at the end of the last episode about inspiring people and leading by example versus making unilateral command decisions on their behalf? Honestly, who is Clarke Griffin anymore besides an empty vessel that moves plot? What is she thinking or feeling? Why are we nine episodes into the season, four from the end, and I’m asking these questions??????
“Dammit Roan, I had a bad idea! Stop ruining it!”
Anyway, after exposing Clarke’s nightblood as a scientific fraud, Roan and Indra decide a fight to the death is the only answer and we end the episode with Clarke and Bellamy discussing the current state of the plot and me reaching for my liquor so I can drink to forget.
At least next week is going to have an epic sword fight.
- You know what would’ve felt earned with the Marper scene? If Monty said something like I can’t believe you and Jasper are doing this to me after I had to kill my mom TWICE. It would’ve been a selfish, low blow but man would we have felt that because we lived with his anguish and trauma last season. Unfortunately that would mean Monty would have to care that he did that and from what I can tell he’s over it.
- I love that Niylah is apparently everyone’s bff.
- Lmao @ Murphy: they’ll come back or they won’t either way let’s have sex. Very believable teenage boy.
- JACKSON AND MILLER WERE TOTALLY LATE BECAUSE THEY DECIDED TO BANG IN THE BOAT AND MAYBE THE ROVER ON THE WAY BACK I WILL HEAR NO ARGUMENTS TO THE CONTRARY
- How much more sense would Clarke make this season if she were actually Lexa and Clarke had died? All of the “you were born for this” and “you’re upholding her legacy” stuff would make approximately a billion times more sense given Lexa actually was born for command and Clarke was the one who convinced her that blood should not have blood.
- CRACK THEORY TIME
- At the end of 316, Lexa was actually the one who came out of the COL having switched places with Clarke’s consciousness on the dismount and Roan and Niylah are somehow in on it and that’s why they keep saying that kind of stuff to Clarke.
- (for the record this is not a real theory and I do not think that Lexa would ever do that to Clarke, I’m just trying to make sense of the nonsense, okay?)
- (but what kind of awesome horror movie invasion of the body snatchers twist would that be)
- Petition for Clarke to never say “I had no choice” ever again, she’s exceeded her quota.
- Team Abby, all the way.
- Jasper and Bellamy’s goodbye was super heartbreaking and the “whatever the hell you want” was a nice callback (and once again I have to poijt out it landed because it was built on carefully, previously, done character stuff).
- Jasper’s totally dying.
That’s all I got, folks. What did you guys think?