10:07 am EDT, February 25, 2017

Previewing ‘The 100’ season 4, episode 5: War is coming

Can Clarke stop King Roan and his Azgeda army from marching on Arkadia? Find out what to expect in next week’s The 100 season 4, episode 5 “The Tinder Box.”

Clarke makes a desperate plea with a former allied force in an attempt to avoid a war and ensure the survival of her people.

The fifth episode of The 100 season 4, titled “The Tinder Box,” was written by Morgan Gendel and directed by John F. Showalter. Proceed for our spoiler-light preview!

Where last week’s episode “A Lie Guarded” featured an emotional confrontation at Arkadia while Abby’s island team was in imminent physical danger, this episode flips their positions: This time it’s Clarke and her friends whose lives are at risk, while in Becca’s lab, the conflict is of a different nature.

In the first three episodes of the season, Roan was willing to work with Clarke and Skaikru, despite the fact that this threatened his already precarious position as King of the Grounders without a Nightblood as Commander. But after losing the Flame and discovering that Skaikru have been working to build a shelter for the Arkadians and are now trying to make Nightbloods of their own, Roan is (understandably) feeling betrayed.

Related: The 100 season 4, episode 4 review: All of this has happened before

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Last week, he took action by capturing Kane and Bellamy and massacring the Trikru forces in Polis, claiming that it was Skaikru, not him, that ended the alliance.

In The 100 season 4, episode 5, Roan makes good on his promise of war, taking an army to march on Arkadia. As the promo reveals, Clarke will try to stop them on the way, and she squares off against their army in a rocky ravine, a picturesque rainbow in the horizon adding the only touch of color to this otherwise grim picture.

The 100 4x05 Clarke

The situation should remind viewers of Clarke’s first meeting with the Grounders on the bridge in The 100 season 1: Like when she faced off against Anya, she’s on her own against a leader on horseback, and she’s once again brought backup in the form of Sky People with guns.

But where season 1-Clarke was on a desperate mission to save her people and tried to feed Anya promises she couldn’t keep, season 4-Clarke has learned a thing or two about negotiating with Grounders.

As if stopping a war with her words isn’t a big enough challenge for Clarke though, Roan has brought Bellamy and Kane along as hostages, his soldiers holding swords to their throats as they all stare each other down.

Clarke Griffin may have come a long way since she first landed on the ground, but can she stop a war and bring her friends home safely?

The 100 4x05 Riley

Another problem, to add to the growing list, turns out to be none other than everyone’s favorite newcomer (what do you mean he hasn’t been here the whole time?!) Riley, who is one of two characters in this episode haunted by their past traumas and seeking a way to slay their demons.

As the promo reveals, he’s got Roan in the crosshairs of his rifle, seemingly ready to fire. “One shot,” Monty warns in the promo, “and we’ll be at war.” But no pressure or anything.

The 100 Clarke Roan

Where last week’s episode of The 100 was a thrillingly uncomfortable experience — watching Clarke being exposed, while on the island everyone was a hairsbreadth away from being killed by the drones — “The Tinder Box” is a different sort of tense.

This episode is a lesson in war tactics; Morgan Gendel is a master of his craft, having written for countless TV series including Law & Order and Star Trek: The Next Generation, and the way he juggles different character motivations and points of conflict ignition makes it all seem effortless (it’s not).

The three interweaving storylines may seem separate at first glance, but in fact, they are all reflections of the episode’s over-arching theme, with The 100‘s trio of female leads Clarke, Raven and Octavia serving as the respective focal point of each story.

But many other characters including Bellamy, Echo, Abby, Riley and Monty also prove key players in this subtle game of provoking or negotiating conflict. Everyone has the power to save or doom everyone else at any moment, and all it takes is for one character to take a misstep, and it’ll ruin everything.

More than any other episode this season (except maybe “Heavy Lies the Crown”), “The Tinder Box” really hammers home that The 100 is an ensemble piece where every character’s decisions have equal weight in the narrative, and everyone’s actions have wide-ranging consequences.

10 teases for ‘The 100’ season 4, episode 5

The 100 season 4 episode 5 Raven

  1. There isn’t often cause to be happy on a show like The 100, but this week we’re treated to the full power of Lindsey Morgan’s brilliant smile.
  2. Monty is, once again, the MVP of the episode. Why wasn’t he on the list, again?
  3. Bellamy and Echo have a confrontation.
  4. In Becca’s lab, Eric! Jackson gets to be the voice of reason.
  5. Pike may be gone, but his wisdom (?) has not been forgotten.
  6. There’s a frustrated weariness to both Clarke and Bellamy this week; both are visibly fed up with Azgeda’s war-thirsty way of life.
  7. Every season, The 100 finds new ways of exploring the question: What is one life against the survival of the entire human race? This episode sets up more than one potential future dilemma of this nature.
  8. Clarke isn’t the only one whose way with words will come in handy this week: Bellamy will also find cause to break out his motivational speech superpower.
  9. This episode sees the return of both Niylah and Ilian, both of whom interact mainly with Octavia.
  10. Expect to spend your one-week break between this episode and “We Will Rise” theorizing wildly about what will happen next!

The 100‘ season 4, episode 5 ‘We Will Rise’ airs Wednesday at 9/8c on The CW

Want more The 100 content? Check our our recent interview with actor Bob Morley, composer Tree Adams, language creator David J. Peterson and showrunner Jason Rothenberg!

Here are the rest of the promotional stills for “The Tinder Box,” via The CW:

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