The 100 5×03, “Sleeping Giants,” made us all sit up and pay attention! Here’s our review of the heart-pounding and heart-warming episode.
With those two words, Bellamy Blake destroyed us all.
How auspicious that “Sleeping Giants” should air less than 24 hours after the news that The 100 has been renewed for season 6, because in so many ways, this episode feels like a gift to the fandom: a reward for all the passion poured into this little show that could, and for our patient (and sometimes not so patient) waiting.
Whatever I imagined Bellamy and Clarke’s reunion might look like, I admit I wasn’t expecting something this… epic? As always, my fatal flaw is underestimating the power and scope of this story, because in hindsight, of course it was going to be this epic. It’s Clarke and Bellamy!
But way before that incredible cliffhanger, “Sleeping Giants” proved itself to be one of the standout episodes of the entire series, with so much credit going to director Tim Scanlan for evoking all the emotions of Aaron Ginsburg and Wade McIntyre’s script, from the humoristic and heart-warming elements to the terrifying, blood-curdling and suspenseful.
“Sleeping Giants” is tightly constructed like an action thriller, the suspense building and building and building until finally reaching its breaking point.
I really commend the structure, more than anything else: the episode manages to maintain this incredibly tight, suspenseful pace even while offering a cornucopia of wonderful character/relationship moments and intriguing information. There is not one moment in this episode that does not feel vitally important for one reason or another.
Aside from being a celebration of Bellamy as a character and a leader, “Sleeping Giants” is also a fantastic episode for Raven, Murphy, Madi and Emori, and of course newcomers Charmaine Diyoza and Zeke Shaw. And of course it is a huge episode for Clarke, challenging her in ways she has never been challenged before.
Beyond this, the episode also manages to capture the season’s sense of fragmentation, as groups divide and come back together in new ways, and we see old and new versions of who the characters used to be weave in and out of each other. Raven is Clarke; Madi is Octavia; Clarke is Lincoln; Eligius are the delinquents; Charmaine is Clarke; Bellamy is Kane. Everyone is a chameleon or a shapeshifter in this episode, using words and information as weapons and each fighting their own individual battle.
Although not as overtly as “Red Queen,” this episode encapsulates the theme of metamorphosis that appears to characterize The 100 season 5, revealing new facets of the characters and parallels that might change how we feel about them.
Let’s dive into The 100 5×03 “Sleeping Giants”!
Kill or be killed. Simple as that.
“I used to think that life was about more than just surviving, but I’m not sure anymore. Animals don’t feel guilty when they kill. They just do it. They kill, or they get killed. [It is] us or them. Kill or be killed. Simple as that.”
Clarke Griffin’s priorities have changed. Clarke Griffin has changed.
In the first minutes of “Sleeping Giants,” we see just how far she is willing to go to make sure she is the one who kills, as opposed to the one who gets killed.
At this point, Clarke has determined the Eligius prisoners to be unambiguous threats. They held Madi at gunpoint. There are no good guys.
To support the theme of circularity, Clarke is shown behaving like the Grounders when the dropship first landed in season 1. Setting traps; shooting from the treeline; pretending not to speak English.
There is so much of Lincoln in Clarke’s behavior and strategies when dealing with the newcomers, but there is a key difference: unlike Lincoln, Clarke is not a pacifist, and she has absolutely no qualms about playing dirty.
When watching this harrowing scene of Clarke letting the impaled Eligius prisoner suffer, and having Madi watch as she does so, I couldn’t help but think back to “Wanheda, Part 1,” where we saw a similar Clarke who had been living in the wilderness, dealing with her demons, with red hair and dirt on her face and so outwardly bestial in her behavior.
And yet, when it came down to it, Clarke trapped a little white rabbit not to kill it, but to attract a big, scary panther. Her target was a fellow predator; the rabbit was bait, but it was not collateral.
In season 5, we are long past rabbits and panthers, and Clarke is long past caring about what becomes of her collateral. It is a scary development, and is meant to be jarring. We know it is meant to be jarring, because Madi — the voice of the audience — is jarred by it.
“This isn’t right,” Madi tells Clarke, making this the second moment in as many episodes where Clarke’s charge expresses clear and obvious discomfort with the way her ‘mom’ is acting.
Just like in “Eden,” we are getting a very strong sense that Madi and Clarke’s moralities simply don’t align, as much as they love and value each other. Madi, the child of Eden, retains an innocence that Clarke has long since lost. (We might even be tempted to wonder if the corrupting snake in the garden is in fact Clarke herself.)
I think it is significant that Madi keeps witnessing Clarke at her most cold and merciless, and that she is flat-out disagreeing with Clarke’s decisions. Will it eventually lead to a larger conflict between them? I don’t know. But I kind of hope so; much like Abby had to realize that Clarke was her own person doing things her own way, there might come a day when Clarke will have to make the same discovery about Madi.
Of course, for those of us who’ve known Clarke since the beginning, this behavior is nothing new. The 100 is not a show in which any character can be put on a pedestal, and Clarke has never had a particularly steady moral compass. That is one of the main reasons she is such an interesting and unusual protagonist.
Even setting aside the huge sacrifices Clarke has made in the name of the greater good — letting a bomb fall on TonDC, eradicating Mount Weather, closing the bunker doors — Clarke has always had flexible morals when it comes to the inherent value of individual human lives.
In season 1, Clarke killed a Grounder healer who had done her no harm because she was trying to get back to the dropship. In season 2, she sent Carl Emerson back to Mount Weather with half a tank of oxygen, not caring if he made it or not. In season 3, she tried to force the chip into Luna’s head against her will. In season 4, she had no qualms about testing the Nightblood solution on the supposed Bayliss.
Most of the individuals that get caught in Clarke’s crossfire are not her personal enemies, but they are acceptable losses in a war she is fighting against ‘the other side.’ Like a soldier on a battlefield, Clarke is able to abstract from the individual, to instead see a generalized ‘enemy’ and act accordingly. Kill or be killed. Simple as that.
But even though it tracks with who Clarke has always been, her newfound ruthlessness and seeming lack of emotion about the terrible acts she is performing does mark a significant change. This is no longer simply a case of ‘us’ vs ‘them,’ or making hard choices that hurt her soul, but that she ultimately has determined is the lesser of two evils.
As she said in her “Eden” monologue, she has come to see humans as animals; she is predator, Charmaine is predator, and this Eligius prisoner is prey. And this is new. This is a Clarke who has come to believe in black and white absolutes, and who is not currently able to see the big picture.
Due to her circumstances, Clarke has been whittled down to a much less emotionally complex version of herself: this is ‘mama bear’ Clarke on a single-track mission to keep Madi safe (something that overrides even her usually so unshakeable strategic sense), and I am so interested to see what happens when the fragmented pieces of who she used to be — represented in the forms of the people she cares about — begin to come back to her.
As we get further into the season, it will also be interesting to see how she’ll morally align with similarly ruthless characters like Charmaine and Octavia versus more morally conscious characters like Bellamy, Madi and Kane.
’First, we pray’
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: the Eligius characters are the best new characters The 100 has ever introduced. They are so formidable as a unit, but we immediately get to see beneath the supposedly iron-clad exterior and understand that these three main players — Charmaine, Zeke and McCreary — are as different as they can possibly be, with conflicting beliefs and agendas.
This episode gives us incredibly rich insight into the ways each of their minds work. McCreary obviously seems the most straightforward (and he has been described as the closest the show has to a black-and-white villain, so that makes sense), completely despicable and irredeemable in the audience’s eyes for the way in which he tortures Clarke — and, more significantly, the pleasure he takes in it.
We’ve seen torture before — Clarke herself impaled a guy just moments earlier — but this is no “no choice” situation. McCreary just fully gets off on putting a collar on a young woman and tormenting and humiliating her in public.
It should sicken you, and make your blood boil. This is not a man we are expected to feel a lick of sympathy for. I can’t wait to very deeply hate him (with all respect to William Miller, who is amazing, but McCreary is E V I L).
Zeke Shaw is the good cop to McCreary’s bad cop in every way, almost (dare I say it) too good to be true, and clearly signposted as an eventual ‘good guy.’
“Sleeping Giants” gives us little hints about why he’s even involved with these people: he “traded jets for spaceships” and will “choose speed over death any time,” and through the captain’s log video on the mothership, we can probably deduce that he was the one member of the original crew of Eligius IV that the prisoners spared because they needed his piloting skills.
Shaw is ‘with them’ only in the sense that neither party really has much of a choice but to put up with the other, but based on this episode, it seems clear that he is not actually with them.
He is kind to Clarke when she’s doing her Lincoln thing, telling her about his pre-war life in Detroit, going to church and riding his Harley. The soft strumming of Tree Adams’ guitar further underscores that yes, we’re meant to like this guy. (I really hope we get a Zeke Shaw theme on the soundtrack).
Depending on where the story goes, he could even be the one who eventually puts a chink in Clarke’s ‘there are no good guys’ armor, but that obviously all depends on whose characters’ storylines we can expect him to intersect with in future episodes.
Charmaine Diyoza, everyone’s new problematic fave, is squarely in-between McCreary and Shaw, but that doesn’t mean she’s half of each. She is very much her own person, exuding a fascinating mix of grim nihilism and self-righteousness, and seeming to stoically believe that she is completely within her right to do what she does, whatever she does.
She is cruel, but not unreasonable. She cares about her people, but she evaluates them on ‘usefulness.’ She is seemingly straightforward, and yet every word that comes out of her mouth is careful and calculated.
We learn in this episode that Charmaine was a colonel-turned-freedom fighter against a “fascist government” (presumably some time after 2018, but how much time after…?). We learn that she had no idea the world had ended.
The scenes in which she squares off against Clarke are thrilling and terrifying. What Charmaine says is “We were just trying to get back home. And then your people start killing mine. Surely you can understand why we were upset.”
What she actually means is “I’m you, but stronger.”
Not for one second does Clarke have the upper hand — not when she’s trying to trick them, and not when she’s laying all her cards on the table. For a master manipulator like Clarke Griffin to be so spectacularly helpless against Charmaine’s vastly superior powers of deduction should frighten us, and make us pay attention.
Over the past four seasons we’ve seen Clarke Griffin conquer and reign wherever she goes, but within minutes of this usurper’s arrival, she is effortlessly dethroned. She can’t outrun them, she can’t outsmart them, she can’t overpower them.
For possibly the first time ever, Clarke has met a seemingly unbeatable enemy — because Charmaine is so much like her, only harder, better, faster, stronger (♫) and emotionally hardened in a way even post-time jump Clarke can’t measure up against.
Clarke’s attachment to Madi (heart) overrules her intellect and cunning (brain), which puts her at a severe disadvantage against an enemy who does not seem to have a similar emotional distraction.
But caring for other people can be a strength, too. I think there is more to Bellamy and Madi’s spectacular rescue of Clarke than just a big cinematic reunion moment. I think this is the show’s way of telling us that the only way for Clarke and the rest of our heroes to stand even the wildest chance against Eligius is — you guessed it — together.
Bellamy Blake, official Best Dad in the Universe™
Most of the time, I think the writers tell this story however the hell they want to, doing their very best to tune out fandom whims and headcanons. But every once in a while, the fan community undeniably influences what makes it to screen, and this is one of those times.
Bellamy Blake’s dad powers activating every time he is within a 50-mile radius of a child that looks even vaguely like Octavia is practically a fandom meme (a bellameme, if you will) at this point, and by some stroke of divine genius, the writers actually chose to get him the mug to prove it!
This episode’s celebration of Dad Bellamy goes so much deeper than a visual gag, of course. “Sleeping Giants” proves, even more than “Eden” did, how much Bellamy’s leadership style is influenced by who he is at his core, which is a protector. Bellamy grew up keeping his sister safe, and now he is keeping his new family safe in much the same way: by keeping them close.
The idea of leaving yet another person he loves behind to die is simply unfathomable to him. As much as Bellamy is driven by the desire to save his sister, he will not do it at the expense of Raven’s life. This, more than anything else, shows how far he has truly come from the person he used to be.
It is only Raven’s lie that convinces him to allow himself to go. It is convincing enough to make him believe that he isn’t abandoning her, but rather acting in the best interest of everyone he cares about.
Before we get that far, Bellamy has to moderate yet another discussion about some huge life-or-death decision (another day, another trolley problem), and we get to see the relative ‘democracy’ of SpaceKru in action as the gang debates whether they should — and would be able to — eliminate the threat of the sleeping Eligius prisoners.
Murphy and Echo argue that it is strategically the best choice (which is true), while Bellamy sees it as murder (also true), and gives the iconic trailer line “Clarke didn’t die for us to live just so we could make the same mistakes.”
Ultimately, it is Echo who pitches secret option #3: leave the prisoners alive, but use them for leverage to barter for peace. (Leverage is the new lever, clearly.) And for what it’s worth, even after the obvious best solution has been found, Bellamy still wants and values Murphy’s opinion.
This really is a Bellamy who has lived up to his full Kane potential, and I love that he is emerging as the voice of reason even while clearly still fighting his own personal battles.
There is one major dad-moment for Bellamy yet to come, of course. But first…
Raven Reyes, big damn hero
“Six years ago, I promised myself I’d find a way to get us back down. Bellamy, this is it. Please let me get you all home.”
When I spoke to Lindsey Morgan about Raven’s arc in the first four episodes of The 100 season 5, one thing that struck me as so poignant was the way in which she described Raven’s burden as stemming from an inherent belief that them being in space is her fault.
“They wouldn’t be here, they wouldn’t be in space at all, if she hadn’t decided to spacewalk-suicide herself,” she told me. “So there’s a lot of guilt that’s on her, and it weighs heavy on her.” And that really has defined those six years in space for her, and narrowed her entire existence to this singular, all-important point.
We’ve all made jokes about how strange it is for Raven to be the only character romantically unattached after those six years, but after seeing this episode, I think we can deduce that it makes a lot of sense, not just logistically, but from a character perspective.
Because as she says, her one purpose has been getting her friends home. She loves them, and she’s certainly not emotionally unavailable to them, but I think more than anyone else, she’s also come to see herself as a utility for their salvation.
At this point Raven sees her life as having one specific purpose, and she now has a way to fulfill that purpose. And if it takes her dying to make that happen, then it is a sacrifice she does not hesitate to make.
I know I’m beginning to sound like a broken record when I talk about scenes that symbolize post-time jump rebirth for these characters, but I think this is it for Raven.
Her sacrifice in this episode marks the very definite end of the Raven Reyes who saw her life as a tool for saving her friends, and (since we know this is not the end for her) whatever happens next is a brand new chapter, in which she can redefine herself once again as an independent person who does not exist for someone else.
I’m very excited to meet that Raven, and to see what the story has in store for her.
’Dying alone would have sucked’
Talk about a parallel!
I cannot express how much I love Murphy and Raven’s friendship. It is one of several relationships on the show for me that transcends potential romance in such a profound way; I literally do not care how the show contextualizes their relationship, because it’s already so much more than one single thing, and it is the complexity that makes it beautiful.
Of course Murphy staying behind is contingent on him thinking there is a way down. I think he is at least partially motivated by the prospect of finally being of some concrete use to the group, even while continuing to separate himself for them.
Emori’s cutting “let it be John!” line is the final nail in the coffin: this proves to Murphy that he really is the expendable one, and clearly everyone else thinks so, too. This is not what Emori means, but it’s what he hears. Raise your hand if you’ve ever felt like Murphy does here. It is heartbreaking.
He stays behind in a last-ditch effort to actually prove that he is not as worthless as everyone (including himself) clearly thinks he is. And it works — for the first time in a long while, Murphy is fighting back against his own sense of worthlessness, and everyone (including Emori) acknowledges that. There is hope for Memori yet.
But he also stays behind for Raven. Even though we get the sense that he’s been separating himself from everyone, I think it’s safe to assume that Raven probably was one of his least-least favorite people up there, along with Bellamy.
Whatever relationship they’ve had for the past six years — even after Emori moved in with Ravem and essentially ‘claimed’ her in the divorce — Raven and Murphy clearly understand and love each other on a fundamental level that transcends even Murphy’s sense of self-loathing.
And for all that he is a survivor, even after finding out that there is no way down, Murphy does not look completely devastated at the prospect of dying with Raven, and I think that’s beautiful.
Speaking of big damn heroes, let’s give a standing ovation to Madi kom Clarkekru, who swoops in for a dramatic last-minute badass rescue moment again! If anyone on this show has actually “got this,” it’s clearly Madi.
In a moment lifted from a million fanfics, Madi immediately recognizes Bellamy, beard and all, from the collage of sketches and inspirational Bellamy quotes that Clarke clearly has set up somewhere in that village.
DON’T QUESTION IT, just enjoy what is clearly the most adorable moment in the entire series when Madi takes Bellamy’s hand — because clearly she trusts and loves him instantly — and leads him off to help her save Clarke, because of course. Of course. Could this meeting really have gone any other way?
Was it weird that Madi didn’t seem to really recognise or care about literally any of the other SpaceKru members that Clarke has surely been telling stories about and showing her drawings of as well? Naaah.
At least, it’s no weirder than trying to retcon the idea that Clarke has in fact been radioing Bellamy specifically every day for the past six years. Bellamy means more to Clarke than almost any other character on that show, so naturally he will occupy a larger space in Madi’s heart and mind, too.
Bellamy doesn’t get long to react to the completely world-shattering news that Clarke is alive, because the revelation is immediately compounded by the equally world-shattering news that Octavia and Wonkru are still stuck in the bunker.
Nonetheless, he shows up — I’m sorry, he shows the fuck up — to rescue his person, in such an intensely thrilling and heart-pounding sequence that in all honesty exceeded all of my wildest expectations for how the inevitable Clarke-Bellamy reunion would go down.
First, there is that little echo of “Madi, no” that reminds us just how in sync these two characters still are, and how much they’ve really come to mirror each other (before the time jump, I would say Clarke and Bellamy complimented each other; now, Clarke’s priorities are an exact replica of Bellamy’s priorities in season 1).
Bellamy even takes care to send Madi away, a move that visibly reassures Clarke even in her severely compromised position.
Second, there is the literal moment of holy apparition that Bellamy gets to have, stepping out of the light like an angel descending from the heavens.
I would usually consider such a pure hero moment too hammy for The 100, but in this case, it feels so genuinely earned, and works so well thematically to reinforce the idea of these characters having become idealized god-like salvation figures in each other’s memories.
Third, there Charmaine’s line “she must be pretty important to you,” to which Bellamy lays down the two words that (as Meg Bonney predicted on Twitter) has destroyed us all: “She is.”
Can I get a HELL YEAH SHE IS.
I love Bellamy and Clarke’s relationship.
There has been a weird mood in fandom over the past few weeks (months, years); a frustration with a perceived idea that Bellamy and Clarke’s relationship, and the significance of it, has been downplayed in the conversation surrounding the show to the point where it is almost ‘taboo’ to talk about or celebrate how great it is.
And I do agree that it is sometimes difficult to talk about Clarke and Bellamy’s relationship; as long as Bellarke is a ‘Schrödinger’s ship’ (neither confirmed nor denied), there is a fundamental ambiguity that I personally am not keen to attempt to define one way or another until/unless the story does.
But that does not mean it is not amazing. Whatever this relationship means to the individual viewer, and however it is discussed extra-textually, it is safe to say that within the actual narrative, Bellamy and Clarke mean a hell of a lot to each other. This relationship is at the heart of the show, as Jason Rothenberg has confirmed and reaffirmed many times over.
Bellamy and Clarke are in so many ways two halves of one whole, and the show is always at its best and most hopeful when these two characters are in the same space, working towards the same goal. And The 100 has always used the status of their relationship to set the general mood of the narrative: when they are at odds, everything falls apart around them; when they are in sync and unity, good things can happen.
Of course they are not the only constellation of characters that can impact the story, but as they are also the series’ two leads, the way they play together obviously has a larger ripple effect on the narrative than, say, Murphy and Emori or Octavia and Kane. And exactly for this reason, The 100 has to push and pull the Bellamy-Clarke dynamic all the time; they are an anchor point from which both tension and resolution can spring, and both need to be doled out in careful doses.
Speaking only about how it stands right now, Bellamy and Clarke’s relationship is one of the most well-developed and evocative relationships I’ve ever seen on television, and the writers and actors should take pride in having developed it with such remarkable thought and care, committing fully to the sheer depth of emotion between them.
Whenever The 100 is over, and future viewers stream it all on Netflix in one go (lucky bastards), the thread of Bellamy and Clarke’s relationship will be considered one of the most consistently enjoyable and rewarding parts of the story, with all its ups and downs and twists and turns along the way.
Neither the cast and crew nor the fandom should ever be shy of celebrating Clarke and Bellamy’s story. It is, indeed, “pretty important.”
For your consideration
- What a FABULOUS scene of Emori piloting the pod to the ground, after being so disappointed in herself after failing the first time! Her smile, Bellamy’s smile, how everyone is happy for her (and Echo being worried about Raven and Murphy) is all just too adorable to handle.
- So this is Eligius IV, huh? Soooo what happened to I-III?
- Zeke’s observation of Clarke’s blood — “blood alteration like they had on Eligius III” — confirms that we were all wrong, and the prisoners are not Nightbloods after all! *quietly pushes all my folders of theories into the trash*
- What does it mean that Charmaine wanted to “weaponize the cargo”? Did he mean the prisoners or the hetholodium? What even is hetholodium?
- That very very annoying thing I mentioned in my preview? The prolonged and SUPER LOUD beeping noise when SpaceKru entered Eligius. It carried on for such a long time that I totally shared the characters’ relief when it was finally turned off! Very effective.
- Monty looked back at those cryo pods for such a long time that I’m wondering if there is some kind of hidden significance or foreshadowing there that we’re totally overlooking.
- I have a lot of love for that Harper/Emori scene, mostly because the idea of the two of them interacting in any capacity is exciting to me. But here’s hoping for a Harper scene that is neither about her own nor anyone else’s feelings about a male character.
- Raven quotes one of Arthur C. Clarke’s three laws when she tells Echo that “Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.” First of all, Clarke! Second of all, “The only way of discovering the limits of the possible is to venture a little way past them into the impossible” is exactly what The 100 is constantly doing, and I love it for that.
- Murphy’s frustration that nobody was listening to his (very reasonable) suggestion of killing the prisoners was a little too relatable. Even though I understand the context of his estrangement from the group, it continues to be heartbreaking to watch him basically fulfill his own prophecy of being useless and disliked. The entire story of Murphy is really incredibly tragic.
- “Great-great grandpapi Blake was an astronaut with how many Ph.ds?” “Four?” “And how many do you have?” Hilarious exchange, and a delightful little elaboration on Bellamy’s family history. Looks like geekdom runs in the family! #cantrelate
- Even as precarious as Clarke’s situation was, the fact that she answered Charmaine’s “start with how the world ended” with “which time” is possibly the SINGLE MOST BADASS MOMENT of this entire show.
Next week on ‘The 100
The fourth episode of season 5 is titled “Pandora’s Box,” and as the title of the indicates, all hell breaks loose… just another day on the ground, right?