The 100 season 4, episode 4 was all about lies and trust and Lord of the Rings references. It has my sword!
Playtime’s over, kids. As Clarke said, “We’ve had our fun,” and it’s time for things to get serious on The 100 again. This episode officially marks the end of the fun.
Yes, I laughed. Even with all the drama going on. Am I horrible?
Anyway! The 100 season 4, episode 4 propels the plot forward by effectively dispelling with the list plot and ending the weird holding pattern they’ve kept Roan in. A bunch of characters are sent off to the island (!) to make Nightblood, leaving the non-scientific geniuses to handle this little thing called peace.
Because we’re in the Upside-Down now, it’s Jaha and Jasper who ultimately serve as the episode’s voices of reason, while Echo delivers the most anticlimactic killing blow ever (not her fault the promos ruined the surprise, though) and Bellamy breaks all of our hearts.
So long, so long and thanks for all the lists ♫
The 100 is consistently good at introducing really cool plot developments, letting them serve their purpose, and then moving along to make sure no element of the story outstays its welcome.
The list, as cool as the idea was, was never going to be a long-term solution, and I really appreciate it for the functions it served.
Last week, it facilitated a a wonderful scene between Clarke and Bellamy, which cemented their bond before the season gets too busy for luxuries like prolonged moments of emotional vulnerability. It also served another important purpose: to get their names on that list in order to orchestrate this episode’s spectacular throwdown.
Ultimately, this was a way for us to get an insight into how Clarke thinks, and how deep her ‘for my people’ really runs. Aside from putting Bellamy on the list — a choice I think could be argued was the most selfish, because if she truly believed he was ‘needed’ she would have ranked him higher — Clarke was all business, making hard choices and dooming her friends based on her own estimation of their usefulness.
We find out that out of everyone we know, only five people made the list: Abby, Jackson, Jaha, Raven and Octavia. Octavia, presumably, is on the list because Bellamy made Clarke put her there (and she’s young and fertile, ugh, I can’t believe I had to type that). Raven is needed because of her scientific mind, Jaha for his ex nihilo engineering skills, and Abby and Jackson because they’re doctors — a good reason to put her mother first, too.
At the end of the day, like it or not, Clarke thought she was doing the smartest thing. She didn’t choose who she thought deserved to survive, but who would be most useful helping ensure humanity’s survival, should worse come to worst. (Her insistence that they’d find a better way also matters here, because Clarke didn’t think she was actively dooming her friends or, like Jaha said, telling them they had no value.)
In other words: Clarke (and/or Bellamy, depending on how much he helped) tried to pull a Stefan Salvatore and shut off her humanity in order to focus only on how to secure the future of the human race — a future that, lest we forget, she wasn’t planning on being a part of herself. She was trying to be pragmatic, and arguably did her job too well.
Harper is left off the list because of a predisposition for illness (I presume Raven’s brain gave her enough bonus points to counteract her physical handicap and heart murmur), Riley because, while smart (lol), he’s only a trainee guard. Jasper, Kane and the Millers didn’t appear to make the cut either. It all makes a sad kind of sense, especially since we don’t know anything about most of the other Arkadians, but Clarke presumably does (at least she knows their medical charts).
But I think we can all agree that one character’s omission was a glaring mistake:
Even by Clarke’s apparent logic, I think Monty has proven himself to be almost as invaluable as Raven when it comes to the survivability of the species.
As one of the only remaining Farm Station survivors (Riley and the conspicuously absent Bryan also fit this bill), Monty has invaluable knowledge about farming, among many other skills; he was deemed ‘too important’ by Clarke in season 1 to go after the captured Jasper, and he literally came up with the Ark solution in the first place. I don’t for a second believe that he wouldn’t be in the top 98 most useful people in Arkadia, not only inside the shelter during the five-year waiting period, but also afterwards when it’s time to build up a society again. Plus, wouldn’t they want his babies?!
It’s not that I’m saying I could make a better list than Clarke, but that’s kind of what I’m saying ? But I also think that’s the point. There was never going to be a perfect list; no matter what criteria Clarke used to decide who lived or died, she was still in the position of deciding who lived or died.
This should never have been any one person’s right or responsibility, and the writers needed to show that even Clarke couldn’t accomplish this impossible task in a way that would satisfy anyone completely, including the audience. The fact that other characters are questioning her choices is important; we should be, too.
Clarke explaining that she also weighted the list to young, fertile females gave me strong flashbacks to the pilot episode, in which Kane explained to Cece (REMEMBER CECE? Never forget) that he would “take us down to a cosmic Adam and Eve” if he had to.
It is interesting that Clarke would come to represent Kane’s point of view while Jasper and Monty play Jake and Abby in this little repeat performance of what got them all into this mess; Jasper (Jake) first tries to broadcast the truth and gets imprisoned before Monty, initially defending Clarke (Jaha/Kane), ultimately echoes Jake’s sentiment that the crisis would “bring out the best” in their people, saying, “people might surprise you.”
When Clarke still refuses, Monty (Abby) takes matters into his own hands, and reveals the truth. People get mad, and for good reason. Clarke, bless her, tries to explain herself and that only makes it all a million times worse.
Because while she has her reasons, it is all too easy to poke holes in her logic; this is such a great way of showing how much Clarke is slipping and how much of a toll the lonely road of leadership is taking on her. After all, as Jasper says: When Jaha sounds reasonable, it’s time to reassess.
But it is Jaha, ironically, who ultimately comes to Clarke’s rescue, because he is nothing if not a motivational speaker. And they really should have run this whole list thing by him, because he immediately comes up with a plan that, while not necessarily perfect, goes a long way toward ensuring cooperation without having to lie.
A lottery that they’re only eligible for if they do their work. Tell everyone the truth and keep them productive.
Of course, as Clarke points out, considering she’s trying to genetically engineer the future of the human race, a lottery might leave them with a faulty batch. Locke, I mean Jaha, makes the excellent counterpoint that, “People have to feel like they have a say in their fate.”
And here’s when I realized I was more of a sneaky bastard than I thought I was, because my immediate next thought was: Why don’t they just stack the deck? Do a lottery, but make sure certain people make it? This is awful and unethical and this show has officially corrupted me, but I mean… under the circumstances, isn’t that the best option?
At the end of the day, there was no perfect solution, of course. Clarke making the decision to lie rather than tell the truth is what matters about this story; she’s come a hell of a long way from the Ark, and as much as it breaks my heart, I also love it because it’s character development.
It isn’t like she’s a whole new character — this is the same Clarke who agreed with Lexa’s plan to let Mount Weather bomb TonDC, even knowing some of her people were inside — she’s just gone through her fair share of hell circles, and she’s lost her innocence and idealism. ‘There are no good guys,’ because good isn’t a luxury they can afford.
When Clarke tells Jaha, “I hope you’re right,” Jaha just laughs, because, well, in this particular instance, he is.
Jaha was Chancellor for however many years, and despite (or maybe because of) his delusional savior complex, he knows the importance of earning his people’s loyalty and trust.
After Clarke’s list fiasco and Jaha being able to step in and offer comfort where she couldn’t, I could totally see the Arkadians flocking to the more charismatic leader as the apocalypse nears… Because in a crisis, people want what they know. We just have to hope that this doesn’t end with him leading them all to their doom (again).
We leave this storyline with a wonderful scene between Clarke and Jasper, which might be the realest Jasper has been since season 2. He wasn’t pranking or snarking or talking about his impending death; he was speaking honestly and pointing out a truth Clarke can’t let herself forget: “If you think you have the best idea, you have to convince people, not lie to them and lock them up.”
And that’s the difference between a dictator and a leader — the question is how important diplomatic leadership is when it’s about ensuring the survival of our species. One might have asked the same question in season 1, when it was the adults on the Ark making the same choices.
They really weren’t kidding when they said it feels like season 1 again.
Uhhhh, so… is anyone else, like, legitimately super sad about Nyko?
For real, though. Ty Olsson has been a part of the show since season 2. I’m pretty sure he’s the last remaining member of the Battlestar Galactica brigade (edit: NO HE’S NOT! Thanks to all my fellow BSG fans for pointing out that Chris Shields, aka David Miller, was Roslin’s guard!).
Nyko was the first Grounder aside from Lincoln who seemed open to accepting Skaikru, and even after they put him through so much pain — Octavia almost killing him, watching Finn slaughter half his village — he still called them “good people” right before their mission got him killed.
RIP Nyko, you were the last vestige of a simpler time, and I’m so sad Nyko/Luna isn’t happening.
Okay, but the rest of this storyline was awesome though. My favorite bit was this beautiful Memori exchange:
What? I see no difference.
Murphy also had some great interactions with Raven, first by risking his life to save her and later having her maybe-kinda grudgingly admit that he’s not the absolute worst. A part of Murphy clearly really cares about Raven’s approval, so this was a nice little moment of acknowledgement for him.
As they’re scrambling from the drones, it’s also Raven who discovers Luna heading toward the boats, and what ensues is my favorite scene of the whole episode.
First, Raven tries to stop her with a gun, confirming all of Luna’s worst fears. Raven, of course, is thinking of the countless lives that she won’t be able to save without Luna’s help, but Luna — whose perspective is so important because she’s one of the few characters left who stops to think about if they even deserve to survive (on the Ark that was Abby’s job) — counters: “What if the fight is all we are? We pretend we’re more than that just to make ourselves feel better, but it’s a lie.”
Luckily Raven, whose conviction is so inspiring it’s basically keeping them all going at this point, is able to draw on their shared experience with Adria last week; the concept of children as the ultimate innocents is something we’ve seen a lot of the characters grapple with, most recently Bellamy and Raven, and it gets through to Luna.
This was the scene:
I’m sorry. I’m almost done now, I promise.
Look, I’m just going to ignore the fact that the promos spoiled Octavia’s fate, because I actually loved the fake-out for what it tried to be, and it’s not the writers/actors’ fault that this wasn’t a secret that could be kept (though that would have been awesome).
The episode opens with a conversation between Kane and Octavia that, to me, felt like a long time coming: Kane tells Octavia all the things that fandom have been screaming at her: She’s gone rogue, she killed what Kane tellingly refers to as a “boy,” she’s confusing justice with vengeance and there’s a “darkness” inside of her that is twisting her into this hateful, ruthless person.
I’ve said before that I think it’s brilliant to take a character with so much trauma and truly let it corrupt her soul, but it doesn’t mean I like or condone her behavior. It’s always good to be reminded that the show doesn’t, either.
Kane has never looked more like a disappointed dad who just wants to ground his daughter, but you can’t ground a Grounder, and so he dismisses her from his guard detail instead.
This proves to be a good move, because the next moment he’s been taken capture, a frustrated King Roan sick of being lied to. Echo’s also snatched up Bellamy and not-Bellamy, and guess whose throat she slits? lol. Echo is president of the Bellamy fanclub; you all know it’s true.
This episode, all about the importance of trust and the repercussions of lying, finally gave Roan a bit of agency, and after thinking a bit about it, I don’t feel as betrayed by his sudden turnaround as I did initially.
Roan is risking everything by trusting Clarke, despite everyone telling him not to. The thing that sets Roan apart from his Ice Nation brethren is his ability and willingness to trust, but he expects that trust to be reciprocated with truth. And now he finds out that Skaikru are a) building a shelter for themselves and b) making their own Nightbloods.
And they didn’t tell him. Not until he had Bellamy on his knees did Kane reveal the whole truth. That’s not good enough. In Roan’s eyes, Skaikru broke the alliance by lying to him, and Skaikru started this war. I don’t like it, but I understand it.
And then we get that fateful scene, when Echo chases Octavia on horseback and they face off on a cliffs’ edge, their sword fight reminiscent of Anya and Clarke’s scuffle by the dropship in all its artful brutality. To her credit, Echo tells Octavia twice that she wants her alive.
And, when Octavia falls, Echo’s face is full of so many mixed emotions, a clear attempt to at least partly outweigh the pretty horrific thing she just did (for all intents and purposes, Echo just killed Bellamy’s sister — think about that).
It’s clear that Echo is being set up as an Anya-type character, who’s spent her whole life making herself hard, and won’t let herself believe in such a soft and fragile thing as peace. But a small part of her wants to. Something about Bellamy, in particular, strikes a chord with her.
And when she tells him about Octavia and watches him break down, she genuinely looks regretful. I’m not excusing Echo — I don’t think she needs excusing because her character is what it is — but it’s important to point out that she’s living life the way she was taught to live it, and everything about Skaikru and their values is throwing her off-center.
But enough about Echo. What an absolutely heart-wrenching moment this was for Bellamy.
Even though we know Octavia wasn’t dead, knowing that Bellamy thinks she is is hard enough; his sobs are so overpowering, primal, everything he stands for and every front he’s ever put on completely broken down.
Imagine if he lost her for real, guys. Would he become like Octavia after losing Lincoln? Let’s hope we never find out.
Return of the King
Octavia is not dead. She lives to fight another day, with Brego there to bring her back to Helm’s Deep to warn them of Saruman’s approaching army.
I’m just saying, if Octavia goes on to raise an army of ghosts next week, I won’t be the least bit surprised.
For your consideration
- That opening scene was gold. Jaha finally got ‘floated’ like so many of these kids’ parents, and it didn’t even feel malicious. Nice to see them all laughing for a change. (Except Riley, who is apparently not about fun. I bet he, Wells and Clarke were just a trio of sunshine on the Ark, huh?)
- Jasper’s character is so interesting. He’s cruel in his misery; one thing is wanting to die, another is a big, theatric fake-out that — had that actually been black rain — would have traumatized everyone, including his best friend. It’s hard to watch, but it feels real.
- Abby and Kane communicating via walkies was adorable. “Stay safe” is their “always.”
- I can’t BELIEVE how rude fan favorite Riley was to my homegirl Darcy in this episode. Wait, what show am I watching? Who are these people?
- Does anyone else feel personally offended that Harper wasn’t on the list? I’d pick you first, Harper. Well maybe second after Darcy. She’s just too important (apparently).
- Trikru has the WORST LUCK, oh my God. They’re the real victims of this show. I can’t believe there’s still any of them left other than Indra, who’s clearly impervious to massacres.
- Miller’s face when Abby almost gets shot was ALL OUR FACES. Shit. That was too close for comfort.
- On the island, as they approach ALIE’s lab, Abbykru wonders what the drones were protecting it from. My money’s on the Smoke Monster.
- When Emori suggested that she and Murphy could hunker down in the bunker, it made me realize: There are certainly several smaller shelters around out there that might end up saving a few stragglers (kind of like during the original apocalypse). Like Finn and Clarke’s hide-out, or the one with the guns, or even the dropship? I wonder if this is an option the characters will pursue, or if it’s all about the Nightblood now.
- The look on Raven’s face when she sees Becca’s lab can best be described as ‘techstasy.’ Girl’s in her element now. Can’t wait to see where that story goes.
Next week on ‘The 100’…
The 100 returns on March 1 with season 4, episode 5, “The Tinder Box.”
It’s a tense, emotionally charged episode that taught me what a tinder box actually is (here I just thought it was an H.C. Andersen reference). It’ll bring certain characters closer together, and features more than one game-changing plot twist.
Just another day on the ground, right?!
Share your thoughts on The 100 season 4, episode 4, “A Lie Guarded,” in the comments!