The 100 season 4 was a lean time for us Kabby shippers, but season 5 is already keeping us so well fed.
There were multiple times during “Red Queen” where I literally clutched my chest and said out loud (and occasionally yelled out loud), “What kind of Kabby fanfic is this?”
After about the third iteration of this, my lovely yet bewildered husband finally asked whether that repeated exclamation meant that we were watching a good episode or a bad episode.
The answer to that question is neither. The only way to describe this episode is fucking fantastic.
Fighting like an old married couple
We get our first Kabby scene four minutes into the episode, and it’s immediately clear that Marcus’ decision to keep Abby in the bunker and alive against her wishes has had far-reaching consequences.
We find out that Abby biting out the words, “No, I can do it,” is the most she’s spoken to him in a month, and the scene itself is filled with sarcasm, bickering and pointed looks — a far cry from the tenderness between the two in their last scenes of “Praimfaya.”
So why do I like it so much?
Because even within this strained environment, it’s still so obvious how much these two care for one another. It’s immediately clear — from how Abby reminds Marcus to get his damn helmet on, to the firm yet gentle way Marcus tells her to stop banging against the hatch — that even if these two may not get along with one another right now, that undercurrent of devotion and care is still there.
It’s the most old married of old married things — to be genuinely and understandably upset with someone, but still interact with them in such a way that it’s also impossible not to show that you love them, too.
Likewise, this scene immediately addresses one of the major flaws of the past two seasons — which is that the show has things happen to its characters and then doesn’t give them the space or time to react to them or live in the aftermath.
But this season has already shown itself to be different from the previous two. The writers are committed to exploring how these narrative choices impact the characters, both as individuals and in relationship to one another.
This not only makes the story more interesting, it makes the characters more real to us. They stop being characters playing out what a relationship is like and instead become two flawed, complicated people attempting to navigate the complex realities of loving one another.
Locked in a room
For about the first quarter of the episode, Kane and Abby are engaged in an emotional standoff, staring at each other from across the room while simultaneously pretending that they are not staring at one another from across the room.
And then Kara stages a coup and ends up handcuffing the two of them together, thereby officially taking her place as BunkerKru’s #2 Kabby Shipper (we all know that Dr. Eric Jackson is #1).
Why, you ask? Because a woman as tough and competent and ruthless as Kara is not going to put the only two people capable of rallying Skaikru behind them and against her right next to each other where they might plot to overthrow her. A woman as smart and strategic as Kara would instead separate them as far away as possible from one another to keep this from happening.
But she doesn’t do this. Why? I can honestly come up with no reason other than that she ships them and finds their tense separation as difficult as the rest of us do.
So rather than prolonging the tension, she decides to literally trap them in a room together and force them to work out their issues. She even sends in Jackson, BunkerKru’s #1 Kabby Shipper, who is ostensibly there to give them food but probably actually there so that he can check on how operation Get Kabby Back Together is progressing.
And the progress — at least in these initial scenes of them locked together — is slow and painfully personal in that way you can only be when you really know and love someone.
TV couples are often in conflict, but the conflict is so rarely organic or realistic. Many times, it feels like a storytelling move inserted solely for the sake of ratings. But that isn’t the case here. The conflict here isn’t some manipulative device designed for high drama, nor is it played for overblown dramatics. Instead, the source of it is a natural consequence of the story, and the conflict itself is quiet and tense, spoken in half-whispers and hissing remarks.
The narrative then gives space for Kane and Abby to explain their point of view, and the scene gives room for them to be hurt, honest, and angry with the other person without assigning blame in either direction. In doing so, it deepens both their relationship and their individual characters.
Their initial scenes in the first quarter of the episode allow us to feel the weight of their individual choices; these scenes of them handcuffed together in a room give us the opportunity to feel the weight of their shared history.
These scenes remind us that real, healthy relationships don’t exist in a vacuum — they are forever shaped and bounded by the choices we make, the history we carry, and consequences of our actions.
Angst and an almost-kiss
Finally, all of these interactions culminate in a scene that is so deeply emotional and so genuinely romantic that it seems to not just be ripped directly from my fanfic dreams, but taken directly from the very depths of my soul.
A member of Skaikru, who has apparently been toting around a guitar through this entire end of the world ordeal, starts to play a soft, romantic tune. I want to point out that he is sitting right next to Kara and directly across from Jackson, so I assume the previous scene was the two of them realizing that operation Make Kabby Figure Out Their Shit Pronto was not going as planned, which meant they needed to start pulling out all the stops.
Anyway, thank God for BunkerKru’s KabbyKru, because it’s due to their machinations that we get a backdrop of soft guitar music as we slowly pan back over to where Kane and Abby are handcuffed together.
Kane is looking at Abby with pure devotion, then launches into a romantic, poetic monologue that nearly caused me to faint because I was holding my breath through the entire thing.
I couldn’t bear to lose you. I had just gotten you back. The world was ending before our very eyes, but I thought I could weather any storm as long as you were by my side. But you weren’t by my side, were you? Because you decided that you didn’t deserve what we had, you didn’t deserve to survive…Abby I’m sorry but I’m not that strong. I would do the same thing a thousand times.
Their previous scenes explained each of their motivations for doing what they did and feeling how they felt, but they were still jagged with anger and defensiveness. Now, after hours of being trapped together, and with the soft strumming of the guitar around them, their words and actions are gentler, their edges softened affection and tenderness.
The rawness of their emotions is still there, but they’re able to communicate as adults and from a place of love because they’ve finally been able to push past the more immediate feelings of anger and frustration.
Where Marcus before couched his feelings in practicality — You’re a doctor, I would’ve saved you even if I didn’t love you — here he fully embraces honest sentiment and emotion. He allows himself to be made completely vulnerable in his love.
And where before Abby framed her anger in her loss of agency — You took away my choice, Marcus — here she reveals her deeply-held conviction that she didn’t deserve to live. That she still doesn’t.
It doesn’t mean that those initial sentiments aren’t true, but that they were never the whole truth. They were the truth each of them could speak while still protecting themselves.
But here, those protections have finally come down. After 46 days of near silence and a half-day or so of cutting remarks, Kane and Abby are finally once again opening themselves up to one another completely.
Did you ever regret — opening the door to save me?
And of course Abby shakes her head no, a sorrowful look in her eyes that Kane even feels like he has to ask. In that question, she allows herself to once again embrace her love for him. And in her answer, he once again finds the love that he was searching for.
And in this scene, I find myself crying into my husband’s shoulder, no longer stressed by their tension but instead simultaneously DESTROYED AND BLESSED by this ship, this scene, this show and this season.
So bring on episode four, you wonderful, beautiful writers. I feel like I can weather anything after this one.