10:05 pm EDT, March 22, 2017

The 100 season 4, episode 7 review: Survivor’s guilt

The 100 season 4, episode 7 delivered so many emotional blows, I’m still trying to catch my breath.

I don’t know about you, but I was so damn impressed with this episode of The 100, which managed to be both terrifying and delightful at the same time.

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While not exactly a bottle episode, it effectively utilized the technique of putting its characters into confined spaces to force emotional confrontations, and I think we made a lot of headway with several major arcs, from Bellamy, Octavia and Kane to Emori, Harper and Murphy.

The apocalypse has been an abstract concept to everyone until now, and while we’ve probably only gotten to see a slice of the chaos it will cause, it’s already clear that it’ll force everyone to be more extreme and immediate in their actions, because the threat of extinction is suddenly very, very real.

Bellamy’s inability to save the two Arkadians (including one of the 100), Harper’s breakdown and Kane’s loss of morale likely mark the shape of things to come. Oh boy, if we thought things seemed hopeless before

But wait, it’s not all bad! One character had a major (and very sexy) breakthrough this week! Let’s discuss.

Seeking a friend for the end of the world

So after all that, Octavia just needed to get laid?! Ohh there are so many inappropriate jokes I could make here about Ilian’s special powers and it’s taking every ounce of professionalism I have not to make them. I’m counting on you, Tumblr.

Anyway. After both leaving Arkadia at the end of last week’s episode, Ilian has somehow managed to keep pace with Octavia, who in turn somehow managed to get a hold of her horse despite running out of camp without it. Hey, I don’t make the rules.

The black rain catches them unawares in the sepia woods, but luckily Octavia knows a cave nearby, and brings Ilian along because she’s not completely heartless after all, and/or she already recognizes what a dreamboat he is. Either explanation works for me, to be honest.

In this cave they proceed to strip to their underwear, and obviously all that angry energy + two attractive nearly naked people = sexytimes.

And, yes, this is the oldest trope in the Book of Tropes. But honestly the development felt really earned, both because Ilian and Octavia have had electric chemistry ever since they first met, and because it happened at the moment when Octavia had reached her absolute lowest point — going from trying to achieve numbness through killing Ilian to walking into the black rain to just end everything — and was ready for her turning point moment. Either she clawed her way out of the darkness right now, or she’d end up losing her will to live just like Jasper has done.

Luckily Octavia is a fighter and always has been, admitting to Ilian in an uncharacteristically vulnerable moment that she just needs to feel something other than the all-consuming pain that is so close to pushing her past the point of no return.

And let’s just take a moment to appreciate the nuance with which Chai Hansen chose to play this moment: Ilian could easily have been either too eager or too unwilling (both versions would have made this scene very uncomfortable), but instead he hesitated for just the right amount of time to convey that while overwhelmed, he was thinking the options over in his head and giving into her advances fully aware that he was doing this because she needed it, while also clearly showing that Ilian is attracted to Octavia, too.

Chai Hansen and Marie Avgeropoulos’ acting in this scene, coupled with the fact that Octavia speaks to him first the next morning and extends her hand to him (literally reaching out) in yet another moment of vulnerability, has really sold me on this tentative relationship. It is not love, not even close, but they both need someone who understands, and if the show chooses to explore this connection I think it could grow into something really quietly beautiful.

I do have to confess that the moment when she threw the knives into the water (read: washing away her sins) made me me slightly worried that they’re going down a path with Octavia in which she’ll eventually be ‘done fighting’ completely.

Because while I’m glad she’s (hopefully) finally done being this cruel and twisted Skairipa version of herself, being a fighter is so essential to who Octavia is; becoming a warrior was something that gave her both physical and mental strength and a motivation beyond her drive to be with Lincoln (in fact, the more she embraced the Grounder lifestyle, the more of a divide formed between her and Lincoln, who always wanted peace).

After having been cooped up in a tiny room with only her family all her life, the Grounders offered Octavia freedom and independence: through becoming a warrior and learning how to fight and control her physical body, Octavia carved out a space for herself in this big, scary world that was hers, and this gave her an autonomy and confidence she’d never had before, which was neither dependent on her brother nor her lover.

Octavia was at home with a sword in her hand, and riding on a horse next to the rover. She was deeply in love but she was also deeply independent, and those two things rarely go hand in hand for a female character. I’d hate to see her lose that.

But considering that we still haven’t gotten the trailer shots that show her in full war paint walking through Polis, I’m going to shelve these fears for now. Octavia clearly isn’t done fighting any time soon (and pain doesn’t just disappear overnight, unless Ilian was just that good), and can hopefully turn her pain and anger into something constructive. Maybe she fights for peace?

Whatever happens from here, one thing is clear: Octavia was right when she said that the person she used to be is no longer there. Because before all this happened, she was a child, and she’s just gone through the most brutal transition to adulthood imaginable. When she hopefully emerges from the darkness it’ll be as a fully formed person, and I can’t wait to see what she’ll become.

In terms of Bellamy and Octavia, I also think this means we’ll see her emerging as an self-realized adult who doesn’t ‘need’ Bellamy in the twisted, unbalanced way she’s needed him before. He doesn’t have to be a parental figure who feels like he has to shield her from all evil, and maybe, eventually, they can emerge stronger and healthier for it. I sure hope so.

Watershed moments

In Arkadia, Bellamy has only just returned when the rain hits, and despite them having so thoroughly prepared for this moment, there is still complete chaos as everyone scrambles for shelter.

During the chaos, a man grabs Harper, and she pushes him off (let’s call it her Titanic moment) — only for him to fall down into the deadly rain. Even though Bellamy and Kane bring him inside, it becomes clear that he isn’t going to make it, and Harper is desperately torn up about it.

Between this and her panic at seeing Octavia nearly die, it seems like they’re setting up a big survivor’s guilt crisis for Harper, which would actually be a brilliant story thread to pursue with this character.

Through the whole series, Harper has always been the one who defied expectation and survived whatever the narrative threw at her (she’d even been marked for death by the writers a few times), seeing one friend after another die while she, miraculously, escaped every catastrophe unscathed. Now, she’s inadvertently caused someone’s death — at least that’s how she sees it — and just like so many of the other characters, she’s teetering on the edge of a breaking point.

It’s no secret that I adore Harper, and Chelsey Reist’s physical strength (on full display this week, heyo six-pack abs!) coupled with the character’s vulnerability is wonderful to watch, so I’m very much looking forward to getting more from her, heartbreaking as it’ll be.

I also enjoyed her conversation with Kane, who was juggling vulnerable adopted children left and right this week, and told her what might be my new favorite Kane line: “Who you wanna be doesn’t always win.”

When even Kane’s hope falters, you know the world is doomed

I don’t think I fully realized how important Kane’s tenacious optimism was to me until this episode. Since landing on the ground, Kane has tried so hard to be a good man, struggling under the knowledge that the people he’s leading just don’t share his morality or conviction (but being too good and feeling too guilty to ever say that out loud).

Last week, we saw him lose the fight for his people’s soul, needing Jaha of all people to help him control the masses and stop them from killing Ilian, and this week, it seems like his armor is well and truly chinked.

He can’t stop Bellamy from risking his life for the Arkadians. He can’t offer him words of comfort (at least not any that Bellamy is ready to hear). He can’t save Harper from the pain and guilt of losing the man whose death she feels responsible for. He can’t be there for Abby as she makes the hardest decision she’s ever had to make. He tries, and tries, but he can’t, and all of these failures are weighing as heavy on him as they are on Bellamy.

Even though Kane’s people don’t listen to him, he’s become something of a conscience for Skaikru, the one always trying to be better than he was. He said it himself — that version of oneself doesn’t always win — but I really, really hope that he’s going to be able to keep trying.

’You can’t save someone who doesn’t wanna be saved’

‘Fess up: Did anyone else think the line “Your mother would be proud of you, I know I am” was gonna be followed up with an “I am your father” reveal? JUST FOR A SECOND?!

I know, I know, that theory has been shot down, but man, could you imagine? I just really need Kane to be someone’s actual dad, okay?

Of course before we get too caught up in the adorableness of it all, Bellamy has to remind us of the unfortunate fact that Kane floated his mother. (But that was Evil Space Kane! Totally not Good Guy Grounder Kane’s fault, right?)

And maybe this is ~controversial, but I’m actually glad he went there! Look, you all know I want The 100 to rebrand as a Kane-centric show titled ‘100 Kids and Counting,’ and the Bellamy/Kane dynamic is particularly special to me, but no relationship on this show is without nuance, and I always love when characters bring up their own history. Kane may have come a long way, but he definitely overstepped his boundaries just a little by comparing his own parental love for Bellamy to the woman he helped execute.

That isn’t something Bellamy can be expected to just gloss over, as much as we want him to move forward and work through his traumas as opposed to opening up old wounds. And considering that Kane was trying to ease his guilt — something Bellamy clearly isn’t willing to let Kane do yet — it was an obvious shot to take. (Bellamy and Octavia are actually very similar in that way: they both embrace the darkness, and push those away who try to ease it.)

That said, when Bellamy later parrots Kane’s line, “You can’t save someone who doesn’t wanna be saved,” I think we are meant to take that as an act of consolation; an acknowledgement that Kane’s words of comfort didn’t fall on deaf ears — Bellamy simply isn’t ready to let Kane save him.

Bellamy and Kane might not yet the dynamic father-son duo we want them to be, but they’re not broken yet. In many ways, they are drawn together because of their fatherly instincts (never has it been clearer that Bellamy and Octavia are more like father/daughter than brother/sister than when he talks about ‘failing’ her in this episode), and I think we’ll continue to see that moving forward.

But this storyline did leave me with one question, that feels more pressing than ever: where is Bellamy’s story going?! This season appears to be testing all our heroes in an effort to break them, and since Bellamy started the season being perhaps the most optimistic one of all (saving the slaves because he believed there’d be another solution, holding out hope even when Clarke was losing hers), he’s taken quite the proverbial beating, constantly facing failures and being reminded of his shortcomings.

In this episode he had to face that even when you do the best you can, you don’t always succeed; even when you try to save people, they might still die. But why does he need to learn this lesson — a lesson, we should remember, he’s already learned countless times before, most recently when Lincoln died even after he switched sides?

Where is the show going with this? Short answer is that I have no idea, but I’m hoping they’re setting him up for a major triumph. I’m gonna go with the Meta Station podcast’s theory that Bellamy will eventually broker a peace between Trikru and Azgeda because it’s so brilliant, and would really be a perfect way to resolve his guilt from last season. It would also, incidentally, bring him one step closer to Kane, since Grounder peace has been his raison d’être since he landed.

Domestic fluff

Okay, the Clarke scenes in Becca’s mansion were just so precious. Murphy being a good cook and Clarke being shocked and impressed is low-key my favorite moment of the entire series.

An indulgent Clarke isn’t one we get to see very often, certainly not in ‘modern’ circumstances (when she was in Mount Weather she snapped off a high heel to use as a weapon, winning my heart forever, but otherwise had a terrible time), and I’ve said for a while that Clarke really needs a breather, so I was glad to see the show (kind of) give her one — even if it was ripped away from her immediately, the bedroom scene representing the episode’s overall message of, ‘if you think we’d let you lay down your burdens even for a second then F YOU, here’s some more burdens.’ Ugh, too real.

I was glad to see Clarke and Murphy interact a little bit, too. They have always been an interesting pair because, while there’s certainly no love lost between them, Clarke isn’t as hostile towards him as many of the other characters he’s harmed in the past, even calling him ‘friend’ in season 3.

The little modern AU fanfic insert in the kitchen was only possible because Clarke and Murphy genuinely are on pretty good terms right now, after everything they’ve been through together since season 1.

I’m also very glad the show paired up Emori and Clarke in this episode, for the opposite reason: These two characters have no history whatsoever, which means that for the first time since Maya, we’re seeing Clarke interact with a peer she doesn’t know and who doesn’t see her as a leader or a friend.

First of all, the fact that Clarke sucks at small talk has always been one of my favorite things about her, but it was also just nice to see her take it down a couple of hundred notches and stop existing in this lonely leader place, isolated here with just this person in front of her, who has a concrete issue (or so Clarke thought) that she can help solve. Clarke has been so caught up in the big picture, relating to an individual was a jarring, but necessary, change of pace for her.

This episode ultimately gave us a little slice of vintage Clarke, and served as a nice reminder that (perhaps unlike Octavia) the old, pre-ground version of herself is still in there somewhere beneath the overwhelming decisions she’s always having to make on behalf of one people or another. It also served as a reminder that as much as Clarke’s life has genuinely sucked since landing on the ground, she had a safe, happy childhood — unlike almost anyone other character on the show.

Thinking like a survivor

You know that expression, ‘when people show you who they are the first time, believe them’? While Murphy has legitimately changed and grown a lot since season 1, Emori is still very much a con artist at the core of her being, clearly much more acutely focused on saving her own skin than Murphy is.

Now, do we think Emori was lying about her past, or was her past real, it was just the wrong dude? I feel like it was all real, but maybe Emori is just that good at fooling me? Either way, I was totally thrown by that twist (in a good way), and it was wonderful to get some more of Luisa D’Oliveira, who is just so compelling to watch.

Emori’s story is extremely heartbreaking, and even if she used her past to manipulate Clarke in this episode, that doesn’t change the fact that she has led a hard, cruel life. But how much should Emori’s past excuse her paranoia and ruthlessness now? I don’t think there’s a right answer. She’s just one more complicated character making complicated choices — and from her perspective, based on her experiences, she did what she needed to do to survive.

Of course we can pretty safely say that Abby and Clarke wouldn’t rough up Emori and force her to do this against her will (right? The fact that I have even a sliver of doubt is actually pretty worrying). Abby is already balking at the thought of doing it at all; there’d always be a way to find an enemy/someone gravely ill (shhhh nope let’s not go there) or nearly dead. But Emori doesn’t know that, and The 100 is very, very good at keeping track of what its characters know at any given time, and how that informs their decision-making.

Emori doesn’t know or trust these people; she’s an outsider here, on this isolated (or not, I guess?) island. Her only tie to Skaikru is Murphy, whom she knows few of them like or trust. They need to sacrifice someone — of course she thinks they’d pick her. She’s been made to feel expendable all her life. (And when it comes to the whole Mountain Men parallel, Grounders as a whole were made to feel expendable, which is a whole other issue I’m sure we’ll dig into next week.) She’s a survivor, and she’s learned to put herself first.

If any of our main characters had condemned a relatively innocent Grounder to death for selfish reasons, it would be a major red flag, but Emori has never tried to be anything other than she is; she has no need for or interest in redemption — unlike Murphy, who, while impressed by her stunt, hadn’t even considered doing something like that to save himself (though maybe he was just too busy being a ‘ramsay’ in the kitchen).

Since it’s pretty obvious that this test is gonna fail and they’ll eventually have to risk someone the audience is actually invested in, I wouldn’t be surprised if we’re seeing the seeds planted here for Murphy volunteering, ostensibly to save Emori but probably also a little bit for everyone else. Murphy and Emori are wonderful together, but Emori also represents a dark side of Murphy, so it’d be really neat if she actually ended up bringing out the best in him.

For your consideration

  • Ilian’s sleeves are out – of – this – world. I want this shirt so badly. Do you think they sell it at Hot Topic?
  • Legit my favorite thing about this episode was the fact that there were so many CONVERSATIONS. The 100 is at its best when the characters are allowed to speak their minds and express their feelings. Love it.
  • The Arkadians’ loss of drinking water probably means no more shower scenes, so I hope this week’s cornucopia of shirtlessness was enough to keep the gif-makers going!
  • Will anything still be edible after the black rain? Will there be animals? Plants? What happened to all the Grounders? Do they have any water left? I NEED TO KNOW.
  • ”I just needed to see my mom.” Oh, Abby and Clarke’s reunion was so beautiful, I love them.
  • …But did anyone notice how quickly Clarke accepted that they had to perform human trials (!) to test the bone marrow serum? It was Abby who had to remind her that individual lives still mattered, while Clarke is clearly losing her ability to look beyond the big picture.
  • Despite Raven’s second seizure, we learned that as long as she takes it easy, she’ll recover. That’s GOOD NEWS. Less good news for Abby though. Not that I’m worried. Not at all. Hi Claire.
  • Murphy coming to Clarke saying “we need to talk” before the Grounder scavenger attacked indicates to me that he was actually gonna be upfront about Emori’s fears. Which would be a big step for him.
  • Also, Murphy dancing. MURPHY DANCING. I never knew I needed that in my life until this very moment.
  • Emori obviously caught on immediately, but it took Clarke and Murphy waayyy too long to realize they could use this supposedly evil Grounder as a test subject.
  • When Kane tells Abby, “We need to survive, and then we can all find our humanity again,” it was almost a direct repetition of what Abby told Raven earlier this season: “First we survive, then we find our humanity again.” Which again echoed Bellamy’s line from season 1, “Who are and who we need to be to survive are very different things.” It’s almost like this is an over-arching theme of the show…
  • SERIOUSLY THOUGH WHERE IS MILLER? Isn’t Jarod Joseph a regular this year?

’The 100’ returns next week for season 4, episode 8, titled ‘God Complex’

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