6:19 pm EDT, March 22, 2017

How Murphy and Raven quietly developed one of the best dynamics on ‘The 100’

The 100 has many amazing friendships, partnerships and romances, but the complicated relationship between Murphy and Raven is particularly powerful.

Raven Reyes (Lindsey Morgan) and John Murphy (Richard Harmon) have had a messed up yet wildly intriguing dynamic since he accidentally shot her in The 100 season 1 finale.

While Murphy wasn’t targeting Raven specifically, he had just tried to hang and kill Bellamy — her friend and ally — and had caused many of her other friends significant pain. It wasn’t surprising that, as she was bleeding out on the dropship floor and he stumbled into her rifle sights, she pulled the trigger.

The 100 Raven season 2

But, almost as if by fate, she had run out of bullets. And Murphy (who also believed himself to be dying) slid down to the ground, enemies lying side by side on a battlefield waiting for death.

Murphy even cared for Raven the best he could, claiming that he did it because he didn’t want to die alone — but at this point, it’s probably safe to assume that there was a little tinge of guilt there, too. She reciprocated by asking for his tragic backstory, which he provided, and her would-be scornful “boo hoo” lacked heart.

As moving as this sequence was, it was originally intended to be even better. A deleted scene from The 100 season 2 reveals that their willingness to help each other went both ways, with Raven offering Murphy a piece of rope — not to hang himself with, but to help him stay alive:

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With or without the inclusion of that scene, it’s safe to say that as they lay dying together, something changed between them. If they had died that day, it certainly wouldn’t have been as friends, but it would at least have been in bitter, regretful solidarity.

But they didn’t die that day, and Murphy was in for a slow and grudging redemption-adjacent arc, trudging through half a season of ‘shut up Murphy’s even as he — for his own survival, of course, but maybe also for something like penance — began working with and helping the delinquents.

When Finn massacred the Grounder village, Murphy tried to stop him; Murphy, for all that he campaigned to be villain of the year in season 1, always had more of a conscience than he wanted to admit to himself, and had learned the hard way that bitter revenge was not the answer.

And Raven, because of what they went through in that dropship, had become inextricably linked to that conscience. So when she asked him along to help protect Finn, he went, and when it turned out she brought him just to give him to the Grounders, there were tears in his eyes as he realized how deep her hatred of him truly ran.

Credit: Mostly Murphy

Murphy was angry, he was scared, and above all he was hurt that, after all they’d been through and how hard he’d tried to help, Raven still had so much contempt for him that she considered his life to be expendable.

Raven was confirming his own worst thoughts about himself, validating his own self-hatred and confirming that no matter how hard he tried to do better, he never could make up for what he’d done — and that, if they’d gone back to that dropship, she’d still have pulled the trigger.

Raven, of course, had every reason in the world to hold contempt for him, and from her perspective, sacrificing Murphy to save Finn was an easy choice. Considering that these two characters are on practically opposite ends of the morality spectrum, Raven is neither expected nor obligated to forgive him, and Murphy certainly doesn’t have any right to demand absolution from her.

Raven is one of if not the best character on The 100, her brain and confidence giving her the strength to cope with the many horrors of the ground. It’s fair to say that she has experienced more trauma than most characters on the show, but she is also the character with the most tenacity and strength of spirit, and has emerged stronger for every hardship.

She is an inspirational force who always strives to do good, and it’s no wonder that Murphy appears to hold her up as someone capable of passing judgement on him; she’s earned that right. He has always respected her in his own way, and perhaps even recognizes their shared inability to give up (the one way in which the two characters truly are a lot alike).

This was also why, for Murphy, Raven’s willingness to sacrifice him to the Grounders was the ultimate sign that no matter what he did, he would never earn the delinquents’ trust. Ultimately this led to him leaving with Jaha, while Raven grieved for Finn, moved on with Wick, helped bring down Mount Weather and grew close with not only Abby, Clarke and Bellamy but Monty, Jasper, Harper and Miller as well.

In The 100 season 3, even though Raven and Murphy hardly interacted all season, they experienced parallel physical abuse storylines, Raven trying to claw ALIE out of her head in Arkadia while Ontari kept Murphy in chains and forced him to have sex with her in Polis.

Both Murphy and Raven survived these gross violations and both played huge roles in the final fight against ALIE, but neither escaped the season without fresh battle scars to add to their respective collections.

Significantly, this was also the year Murphy truly formed a connection to Emori after first meeting her in season 2, his selfish survival instincts expanding to include her. As the Bonnie and Clyde of The 100, this pair of smooth criminals certainly aren’t vying to be Samaritans of the year, but through Emori, Murphy is learning to love and let himself be loved.

Emori simultaneously serves as a manifestation of the ruthless ‘every man for himself’ mindset that Murphy preaches but isn’t always ready to practice and as an ‘excuse’ for him to perform increasingly selfless acts of compassion.

Murphy went up into the Polis tower in the season 3 finale allegedly to save Emori, but ended up staying to pump Ontari’s heart with his bare hands to keep Clarke alive and help save the world.

First he did whatever it took to survive; now, he’s doing whatever it takes for himself and Emori to survive. How long until that protective instinct expands to include more people (or a people)? After all, as selfish as he is, Murphy always shows up when someone needs him.

Not that he would ever admit this about himself, of course; Murphy is many things, but he has never tried to big himself up, finding it easier to be his worst self and avoid disappointing people when he can’t live up to their expectations. Luna was right on the money when she identified that he hates himself more than Raven ever could.

But while Murphy doesn’t respect himself, he clearly respects Raven, possibly more than anyone else barring Bellamy. As evidenced by their scenes in “A Lie Guarded,” he would risk his own safety to save her without a third thought (he did have a second thought there, but hey, he’s Murphy), and when she went off on him in “We Will Rise,” calling him a leech and saying she hated him, it truly hurt him.

A part of him clearly still craves Raven’s forgiveness and validation, her violent outburst wrecking him like she’d tried to trade him for Finn all over again (enjoy the bonus Sea Mechanic goodness free of charge):

Now midway through The 100 season 4, Murphy has evidently earned the tolerance of some of the other characters, most notably Clarke and Abby. And last week, Luna was able to connect with him in a way few could because of the horrific things they’ve both done in the past.

But I think that, in Murphy’s mind, the only one who can truly absolve him of his sins is Raven. Murphy has hurt so many people, but Raven is literally a walking reminder of his crimes; if she can forgive him, anyone can. Maybe if Raven forgave him, Murphy could even forgive himself.

And it seems like Raven might finally be coming around — just a little, tiny bit — offering him the merest sliver of the acknowledgement he needs by telling him “thanks” after he and Luna helped solve the rocket conundrum in last week’s episode:

With Raven’s brain damage probably putting her out of commission for the time being, it’ll be interesting to see how Murphy moves forward, and how his and Raven’s dynamic continues to develop.

While I don’t see a reality in which Raven could or should be true friends with someone like Murphy (she deserves to be around people that make her happy, cough Luna cough), there are really strong messages buried in this relationship about forgiveness, growth and morality, and I like to think that we are at least building to a mutual understanding between these two broken souls.

This would pay off seasons’ worth of relationship building and character development. A brokered peace between these characters would allow Raven to let go of some of her pain by if not forgiving Murphy then at least acknowledging that he has become a better person, and would lead Murphy to a place where he no longer hates himself for who he used to be.

What do you think about Murphy and Raven’s relationship on ‘The 100‘?

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