The 100 has set up a potential romance between Miller and Jackson, and we obviously need to talk about how great this is.
Well, gang, The 100‘s done it again! Eric Jackson (Sachin Sahel) has never had a love interest on the show before, but it looks like we might — barring complications, impending apocalypses and the off-chance that I’m reading way too much into a smile and a shoulder grab — get to see him growing close to Miller (Jarod Joseph) in future episodes, making him the series’ sixth confirmed LGBTQ+ character.
The pair, whose official shipper name appears to be Mackson (according to Sachin himself, anyway. My pick was Guard Medic, but whatever), emerged out of nowhere in the most recent episode of the series, when Jackson ‘innocently’ suggested that he keep Miller company, and then this happened:
And then, later in the episode, THIS HAPPENED:
…And yes, okay, perhaps a cynic might wonder if I’m jumping to conclusions based on these brief, relatively subtle moments. ‘It wouldn’t be the first time,’ I mutter as I sip my Minty tea. ;)
Luckily episode writer Miranda Kwok has, via The 100 writers’ Twitter account, maybe-kinda-ish clarified that, if not a setup for a full-on epic romance (this is The 100 we’re talking about!), these moments were indeed meant to signify something:
— The 100 Writers Room (@The100writers) April 27, 2017
— The 100 Writers Room (@The100writers) April 27, 2017
Now, this surprising development is obviously exciting for other reasons besides just delighting my wasted little shipper heart.
First of all, if this is meant to be more than a cute little pre-apocalypse fling (let’s just roll with it), a Jackson/Miller relationship would be a vehicle through which the show could expand on and explore both of the characters, both individually and in relation to the other.
Eric Jackson has been on the show since the pilot, but we only learned his first name a few episodes ago; his primary relationship has always been with Abby, and aside from him being a good doctor who cares a lot about his patients, we don’t really know much about him at all. (If you want to learn more about how Sachin Sahel approaches the character, I warmly recommend listening to his Meta Station podcast interview.)
Since film and TV doesn’t let you inside a character’s head like a novel would, we primarily get to know someone through their interactions with other characters: the more different people a character interacts with (and the more different kinds of interactions they have), the more sides of that character we get to see. Close friendships or, in this case, a potential romance, would allow us to see Jackson ‘at home,’ revealing a side of him that’s disconnected from Abby and his professional life — if he’s even able to separate those two parts of his life.
I’m always here for any story that involves more Jackson, and this is a perfect opportunity for us to finally get to know him better. Since I can’t even begin to imagine what his and Miller’s dynamic would be like, I’m very intrigued to see how the writers use this newfound connection to (hopefully) let us into Jackson’s state of mind a little bit more.
While Jackson is a character I’ve always wanted to see more of, Miller is much more familiar to us already, and I’ve long considered him one of my favorites. (I’ve been disappointed by how little we’ve seen of him in season 4 though, but obviously with such a huge cast, I’m just happy he’s around at all!)
Like Harper, he upgraded from being ‘one of the 100’ in season 1 to being a part of the Mount Weather squad in season 2, when the show brilliantly decided to separate the B-team from the lead characters in order to allow Jasper, Monty and their extended circle of friends to take the spotlight.
Miller was suddenly more than just Bellamy’s henchman with the cool beanie. The captivity forced him to drop his guard (ha ha), and both he and Harper suddenly felt infinitely more familiar to us simply by engaging with the characters we already knew.
When Miller was revealed to be gay in season 3, with a subtle reference to him having a boyfriend that exemplifies The 100‘s commitment to normalizing LGBTQ+ characters and relationships, it opened up a whole new chapter of his story. The representation he provides is important, whether or not he’s in a relationship, but with Bryan presumably gone (more on that later) I’m happy we get to see him explore something new — with another character I’m already invested in no less!
Like most of the fandom, if the outcry of delighted surprise last Wednesday was anything to go by, I never once considered the possibility of Jackson/Miller before this week’s episode.
And don’t feel too bad if you didn’t see it coming either: Jackson and Miller didn’t interact much at all prior to season 4, and only really started sharing the screen once they went to Becca’s island (and after their initial scramble to get to the bunker we haven’t seen them together at all).
But after seeing them interact in “DNR,” I wonder why I never saw the potential before: Miller and Jackson are opposites in so many ways, a soldier and a doctor, yet they’ve clearly bonded over their shared terrible experiences. They’re both established characters on the show with very different priorities (but a shared work ethic), equals in the audience’s eyes because we’ve known them both separately before seeing them together.
Since this is a brand new development, we really have no idea what to expect, but that’s part of what makes this so interesting — The 100 has a fantastic ability to throw the most random sets of characters together and make magic happen, after all.
And even if it remains a subtle little background plot, knowing that Miller and Jackson are involved would be enough to broaden our understanding of who they are as people — though, since I love them both individually and am already loving the idea of them together, I’m obviously hoping that this development might be an indication that they’re both going to get more screen time in season 5, similarly to how the Harper/Monty relationship has been used to expand their roles and further their individual arcs.
Of course it should not go unsaid how incredible it is to see The 100 reveal yet another character to be LGBTQ+. It continues to amaze me how consistently they challenge the heteronormative idea that, unless a character is specifically introduced as non-straight, their sexuality isn’t up for debate.
As was the case for every other character that has been revealed as queer before him, Jackson’s sexuality is unquestioned and inconsequential within the narrative. It’s just another part of who he is, and very decidedly not a big deal — so, to follow the show’s lead, I won’t make too big of a deal of it here, either, other than to just re-iterate how great it is. Because while it might not be an issue within the narrative, it continues to be important to see LGBTQ+ characters on screen, and the fact that Miller and Jackson are both men of color just makes it all that much more significant in terms of representation.
Having multiple LGBTQ+ characters running around saving the world, none of them defined by their sexuality, is very important to me personally as a viewer, and I know a lot of my fellow fans share this sentiment. It’s one of the things that originally made me realize how truly special The 100 was, and I’m genuinely happy to see the show remain committed to normalizing non-straight sexualities and introducing new same-sex relationships even after receiving (rightful) criticism for the way in which Lexa was killed off in season 3.
Within the reality of the show, Jackson and Miller are just two characters like any others who have discovered that there is something between them, whatever that something might turn out to be. And let’s hope it turns into a lasting thing, if for no other reason than because, in a show as bleak as The 100, we should welcome anything that might actually bring the characters some happiness.
Okay Mackson is great and all, but what about Bryan?!
Ah yes, we should probably address the elephant who’s very notably not in the room: Miller’s actual boyfriend Bryan.
Miller reuniting with the boyfriend we didn’t know he had in the beginning of season 3 was wonderful, and there was nothing not to love about Briller. Despite their limited screen time it was obvious that there was a rich history there, a trust and a love that they’d carried with them from the Ark — and which they were fighting to hold onto on the ground.
After Pike took command of Arkadia, Bryan and Miller found themselves on opposite sides of the ‘civil war’ that followed, and although their relationship initially survived despite their ideological differences, their disagreement about whether or not to save the slaves in season 4, episode 2, proved to be the final straw for Bryan, making him realize that they were just too different (or had changed too much since landing on the ground).
Although they didn’t technically break up in this scene, we probably have to assume that this is the last we’ll see of Bryan, and that the breakup happened off-screen.
Based on behind-the-scenes info, it seems like Bryan was originally meant to play a bigger role in season 4, but when Jonathan Whitesell joined the cast of Beyond they had to cut down his arc and the character was (rather abruptly) written out of the show.
As frustrating as that is to us as viewers, scheduling conflicts (particularly when it comes to high-profile guest stars) are kind of an unavoidable part of TV production, and we probably have to make our peace with Bryan and Miller never getting a proper goodbye scene. (Though I don’t think it’s too much to ask for the show to explain what actually happened to him, or at least give us some kind of confirmation that he and Miller did indeed break up and he’s not out there all alone with the chickens.)
Whether or not Bryan comes back though (and if he does, hello love triangle), the little hint that something could be going on between Miller and Jackson has already set the fandom ablaze. It’s hard for us to agree on anything en masse, but I’ve seen an overwhelming outpouring of excitement about this pairing, which came out of nowhere but just makes so much sense.
Jackson and Miller both deserve to find some comfort at the end of the world; clearly, as we’ve seen across the board this season, the knowledge that the end is almost definitely night is having a profound effect on all the characters, and seizing the moment (because, in the immortal words of Buffy Summers, “tomorrow you might be dead”) seems like a valid coping strategy to me.
Who knows if Jackson would have so boldly offered to ‘keep Miller company’ if he hadn’t thought this might be the last opportunity he’d get? Who knows if Miller and Jackson’s connection will extend deeper than ‘company’ in future episodes? We don’t have any answers yet, but I remain hopeful that The 100 really just introduced an adorable new couple for us to get overly emotionally invested in (oops I already am).
I’m so intrigued by how this unlikely pair might deal with their newfound, tentative feelings for each other, and hope it will lead to us seeing more of them both in future episodes. Mackson is just one more aspect of this rich, multi-faceted story that makes me proud to call myself a fan.