9:05 pm EDT, May 27, 2020

‘The 100’ season 7, episode 2 review: One garden, two serpents

The 100 season 7 continues strong with the episode 2, “The Garden,” a meditative look at who Octavia Blake becomes without a war.

“The Garden” is a gorgeous episode of television. It is one of The 100’s most striking visual journeys, of a piece with season 5’s “Eden” – both directed by Dean White, comprising what is in my opinion his best work for the show.

“The Garden” and “Eden” follow Clarke Griffin and Octavia Blake respectively, in their respective Edens, and with their respective daughter-figures that represent their own chance at a fresh start.

Both episodes isolate these war-torn leaders from humanity and offer them a chance to rest, heal and find some kind of peace within themselves. Both episodes end with that peace being broken, and our heroes re-emerging from the exiles, ready to prove what – if anything – they’ve learned about humanity.

(Also, both Octavia and Clarke try to communicate with Bellamy from their paradises. Though perhaps that particular parallel was unintentional.)

Even more so than “Eden,” “The Garden” is slow and beautiful and soft in a way The 100 rarely gets to be, the directing and editing orchestrating some absolutely gorgeous transitions from Hope to Diyoza that link them and their stories together visually if not textually, and composer Tree Adams putting in some of his best work on the show to date.

It is proof of how effectively The 100 can create and subvert expectations for itself, when it wants to, that the softest episode is centered on two of its most violent characters; women who have been considered and considered themselves villains of their own stories; arch-enemies who just two seasons ago were locked in a short-sighted battle for Eden that ultimately caused the end of the world.

In this garden, there are no snakes. There is only Hope.

Let’s dig up some weeds and talk about The 100 7×02 “The Garden”!

From raising hell…

As she has done so many times before, Octavia emerges from the under. Under the floor; under the ground; under the sea.

As she has so many times before, Octavia sees the light and ascends, because she is reborn – again – into a new version of herself.

Octavia comes ashore, the reptile learning to stand, finding her hand healed (how? Why? Is the explanation still “science”?), a halo of light above her head… and Diyoza screaming in agony.

Baptized in blood, in fire, and now in water, Octavia rises again just in time for another birth, of another Octavia, as the cycle begins again: Hope Diyoza emerges into the world, and Octavia’s transformation from Blodreina into Auntie O is complete.

Octavia follows the screaming to find Diyoza in a house, in the middle of giving birth (covering her lower regions with a blanket, of course, as anyone stuck alone on a planet behind a closed door would do when trying to give birth by themselves!), three months having passed on this planet while only hours went by on Sanctum.

Octavia has to assist Diyoza with the birth, and is hilariously weirded out by it, but then she seems to muster herself and accept her new ~responsibility~.

“We’re doing this together,” she promises Diyoza. And as we later learn, Diyoza is going to hold her to that promise.

When Diyoza passes out, Octavia is left to deal with a newborn the best way she knows how: stick a grimy finger into its mouth, straight out of the parenting book of Bellamy Blake, Best Dad in the Universe.

And hey works. The first time, anyway. Baby Hope is clearly a quicker study than Baby Octavia was.

What follows is a lovely scene – one of many — of Octavia and Diyoza under the stars, beginning to come to grips with their new reality.

Diyoza seems perfectly happy to spend her forever with Hope and Octavia. They got their Eden after all – without having to fight a war for it with their respective people.

But while this might be Diyoza’s idea of paradise, it is not Octavia’s. Because unlike Diyoza, Octavia still has unfinished business on the other side. She wants to get back to Bellamy; to warn him about the Primes and to make peace with him. To continue her own, unfinished story.

Unlike Diyoza, Octavia didn’t walk into the Anomaly out of her free will because she was ready to find peace — even if she did need the healing — and unlike for Diyoza, having Hope isn’t enough.

So, while Diyoza sees freedom in isolation, Octavia sees restriction; this planet is a bigger crawl space, but she’s still stuck under the floor. (And so is Hope.)

While they are talking, Diyoza is casually breastfeeding – which I’m pretty sure is yet another example of The 100 quietly pushing yet another boundary for American network television.

Birth, death, dismemberment, sex, sure; but breastfeeding stills seems a social taboo that the media doesn’t quite know how to tackle except to use it as a reason for other characters to comically overreact to it.

The 100 just throws it in there like the natural, undramatic fact of life it is, which is exactly how you normalize it. I don’t want to counteract their effort by making too big of a deal of it here, so I’ll just say: bravo for trying to make a little bit of positive progress, and for not giving up, even when your efforts go largely unnoticed. We notice.

On a related note, I also just want to say that this relationship that the show has built between Octavia and Diyoza really is uniquely beautiful and complicated and unlike anything I’ve ever seen on television before. A discordant pair of soulmates that were destined to either love each other or kill each other and somehow found a way to bring each other peace — it’s pretty spectacular.

…To Raising Hope

In flashes we see Diyoza, Octavia and Hope spending the next 10 years together, in something like happiness, even though all three of them know that Octavia would leave if she could – and repeatedly tries to do so.

By the time Hope is three years old (the kid in the bed looks much older, but okay), Octavia can hold her breath underwater for two minutes, which means she is painfully close-yet-so-far from reaching the Anomaly at the bottom of the lake.

Hurt that Octavia isn’t content to stay there with her and Hope, Diyoza has been watching Octavia’s attempts with what is probably a mixture of apprehension about whether she’ll kill herself trying or whether she’ll succeed.

Being a former NAVY Seal, she can tell Octavia exactly why she’ll never make it, no matter how hard she practices holding her breath. Octavia, being Octavia, will flat-out refuse to accept defeat, even if it kills her.

But perhaps Octavia knows, deep down, that her endeavor is pointless. Perhaps Octavia needs the purpose, to avoid driving herself mad.

The episode does a good job balancing the peaceful simplicity of their Hobbit life as Diyoza experiences it with the sense of mind-numbing monotony that someone like Octavia must find punishing; Octavia has proven repeatedly over the course of the series that she is a warrior at heart, not a farmer, and while it’s important to see her learn to plant and grow things, she has certainly suffered enough in involuntary isolation to commit herself to a lifetime of it.

(It reminds me of the early seasons, when Lincoln wanted to bring Octavia to Luna so they could live in peace, and it seemed the most outrageously un-Octavia-like path for her to take. I always wondered how long she’d have lasted on Luna’s rig before jumping off and swimming ashore to find herself a war.)

For Diyoza, it’s simple. She thinks she has found paradise. She thinks she has given her daughter a life free of pain and war. She wants Octavia to stay and share her responsibility, but she also wants her to share her joy.

From her perspective, she and Octavia are the same; they’ve committed the same crimes against humanity and they are in need of the same exile, and they have, impossibly, found a peaceful island to build a life of together. And Diyoza genuinely doesn’t understand why Octavia isn’t content with that.

After all, as far as she knows, there is no way out, and there is no reason to want one — so when she tries to convince Octavia to be happy with them, part of the reason is certainly because she loves Octavia. She wants Octavia to be happy, and she thinks this is the best and only way to achieve that.

Of course, Diyoza also wants Hope to be happy, and Octavia is a tactical advantage for ensuring that victory.

She didn’t force Octavia to come here, but now that she is here, Diyoza will do anything in her power to mold Octavia into a loving parent for her child; someone to help give meaning to her days and someone who will, for a few decades anyway, keep Hope company after she is gone.

But ultimately, I think that the person whose happiness Diyoza is most concerned with ensuring is her own, even if that means taking away both Octavia and Hope’s chance to pursue lives (and deaths) of their own choosing.

When farming with an older Hope — an absolute dead ringer for the actress who played young Octavia in season 1 – Hope begins to play fight with Octavia because, well, she wants to be just like her. She also, heartbreakingly, wants to help her save Bellamy.

(It is an indication that Hope wants to believe there’s a bigger world out there for her, too, and maybe also derives some purpose from Octavia’s refusal to give up looking for a way to leave.)

In their scuffle, Octavia clangs her head on a dead astronaut that someone planted in her potato patch (man, only on The 100), wearing one of the biometric suits belonging to the people of Bardo.

And this is it. Her way out. Not by activating the suit, but by using it as diving gear. There is no reason to think it won’t work. And it’ll take Octavia away forever.

It is an almost impossible decision for Octavia to make — choosing between the paradise she has found with a family who wants her and the reality she still feels like she belongs to with a family who needs her — and it clearly breaks her heart to leave Hope behind to live and die without her.

She knows that by choosing to return to Sanctum, she will leave Hope and Diyoza to age and die without her; she knows that by leaving, she is making the rest of their lives worse than if she’d stayed. She feels awful about it. She loves them.

But ultimately, she chooses her brother. She chooses the fight. Auntie O is not her final form; love for any one thing or person is not the sum of Octavia’s whole existence (which is, I was surprised to realize, an unusually non-obsessive way for someone to live their life on this show).

But while Octavia might have chosen Bellamy over Diyoza and Hope, Diyoza chooses Octavia over Octavia’s right to choose. She destroys the suit, essentially killing the last shred of hope Octavia had that she could ever leave.

The devastation that wrecks Octavia in that moment, and the way she falls into Diyoza’s arms in utter surrender, speaks to just how much she resents having to stay.

The way she raises her chin and soldiers on, committing to the life with the woman who essentially became her pseudo-jailer (and taking none of it out on Hope) speaks to Octavia’s resilience and compassion and the decision she has made to love them.

It might not be the life she chose, but Octavia is nothing if not adaptable. She can choose to commit and make the best of it. She’s done it before.

And she does, after all, derive genuine happiness from this life. She loves Hope. She loves Diyoza. There is, perhaps, even a little bit of relief in the choice being taken away from her, because this way, she doesn’t have to give anything up.

Diyoza, meanwhile, has undergone the — dare I say it — actually interesting version of a ‘mama bear’ transformation, having grown soft but not weak, exhibiting the same ruthlessness but with a newfound gentleness and stillness that we might attribute to the feeling of purpose and belonging she has found in being a mother to Hope.

Diyoza takes away Octavia’s free will, but she does it to preserve the Eden that, at least in some part of her mind, is all of their best chance for a happy, peaceful, loving life that they wouldn’t be able to find elsewhere.

Hope is safe and happy here, and based on what Diyoza knows about humanity, she is unlikely to be as safe or happy elsewhere.

Octavia is also safe and happy here. Octavia loves them. Diyoza knows this. The best thing for Octavia and Hope, from Diyoza’s perspective, is for Octavia to accept that as being enough.

But even acknowledging that Diyoza wants them all to have a happily ever after, we know that she has also already calculated that (barring illness or tragic accidents) she is the one who will die first, leaving Hope with Octavia and eventually leaving Hope alone.

Therefore Diyoza is the only person who will actually get her ‘ever after’ with the two people she can’t live without. She accepts this. She feels like she is owed. Even at the cost of Octavia and Hope’s free will and rights to live full lives.

Selfishness and selflessness all mashed up into one; an instinct to protect her child and a love for Octavia morphing into a suffocating hold. It’s fascinating because it’s layered and complicated and we can all choose which of Diyoza’s many overlapping motivations we empathize with.

But one thing is clear: as in every war she’s ever fought, Diyoza employs any means to achieve the end she believes is right, and she is prepared to accept any collateral damage her actions might cause.

If we have hope, what does Hope have?

When Octavia tries to convince Diyoza that it’s worth the risk of her going through the Anomaly to get help for them with the words “Hope can have a real life”, Diyoza immediately rebuffs her by pointing out that if it takes Octavia much more than five minutes to come back, there won’t be any Hope left to salvage.

And that’s a fair argument. But I still think that, if Diyoza understood or believed in the value of letting her daughter experience ‘life,’ with all the joys and despairs that come with it, she would at least consider risking it, wouldn’t she?

By this point, Diyoza has written off humanity completely. She genuinely just wants to stay in isolation with Octavia and Hope, in the safety and monotony of now, forever, and has no hope of aspiration of giving her daughter any kind of future (in complete contrast to what Monty and Harper, who believed that humans could be better, wanted for Jordan).

Hope’s life and death will be a closed loop, as far as Diyoza is concerned – much like, a long time ago, Aurora Blake had an ambition to keep Octavia hidden inside the Blake family cabin on the Ark forever, ‘forever’ being as long as she herself is alive to ensure it.

Octavia, meanwhile, understands perfectly that a life lived in isolation with only a mother and a sibling, and no hope of ever having a life or an identity of her own, is hardly a life at all. Sky Ring is bigger than the Blake cabin on the Ark, but a prison is a prison; isolation is isolation.

But of course Octavia – despite what Diyoza thinks – also has a very different outlook on life, in that deep down, however much she’s suffered, she believes the pain is worth it. We’ve seen Octavia be happy only very briefly on this show, and it was a very long time ago, but that happiness has been enough to drive her to fight for others’ happiness ever since.

Yes, even when she has fought for reasons like revenge and domination, Octavia has had a drive to fight for something, a sense of fairness or justice or a better world. She has always believed there was a reason to keep fighting. That there was something to fight for.

Diyoza is denying Hope the chance to find something to fight for. She is denying Hope the fight, full stop, even while Octavia is (poignantly) teaching her in secret.

Diyoza’s actions in this episode also betray what must be her ultimate conviction that the pleasures of humanity are intrinsically linked with pain, and that to let life in, you also invite death, which explains her almost ethereal conviction that they have to stay pure in the Garden and resist all temptations to leave.

To take a bite out of the fruit of knowledge — to seek the tempting, glittering green light slithering beneath the surface of the lake — means exposing them all to the pleasures and sins of reality, which would cast not just Octavia but all of them out of the Garden, exposing them to the harsh realities of humanity as Diyoza knows it.

She knows what it means to be tainted and she has deemed humanity unworthy; she would rather be back in the Garden, ignorant and pure and content, and never more or less — and she would rather her daughter stayed untainted and safe than letting her live a life full of pain and uncertainty. (And what parent doesn’t have that same wish, deep down?)

In Diyoza’s worldview, we can’t have companionship without conflict. Any group of humans is an army. Anything desirable will provoke violence. Diyoza’s way to peace is to eliminate the rest of humanity from the equation.

It is not just interesting in its Biblical implications, but also in terms of The 100’s slow inching towards a reckoning with its over-arching ‘break the cycle’ mission statement which, we assume, will eventually lead to either the conclusion that the cost humanity’s continued survival is that we will always be locked in conflict, or that we can find a way to have our garden and eat our apple too.

For Octavia’s part, how she reacts to Diyoza’s actions shows remarkable growth and maturity. She was locked away. Again. But while her first instinct is to attack, the anger almost immediately melts into despair; rather than blame Diyoza, Octavia immediately turns her regret at not being able to leave inwards. She is angry at herself for not making peace with Bellamy, and guilty that she feels like she has found peace without him. Whatever happiness she has felt for the past 10 years have been marred by the fact that she has felt like she didn’t deseve it.

But she lets those emotions go. Because this version of Octavia is first and foremost ‘Auntie O’. She might not have chosen this family – she might have left them behind for Bellamy if she could have — but they are her family, and once her choice to leave them is taken away, she commits fully to her life with them. She compartmentalizes her anger, never letting any resentment she might harbor towards Diyoza affect her relationship with Hope (even if Hope still picked up on her sadness).

At the end of the day, Octavia is a chameleon who never gets to choose who she becomes next, but once the choice is made for her, she adapts and evolves and endures. This is no different. But – like Diyoza — she has found a new peace and stillness in this new form, in this new place, and as bittersweet and resigned as it may be, this is still the happiest we’ve seen her be since she thought she would get to run away with Lincoln. There is a sense of belonging here, of home, of purpose.

And then it ends.

Because the moment Octavia makes her peace, sending a final letter to Bellamy and accepting her fate, the snake enters the garden.

Emerging in a Green that definitely is not good, the Anomaly disciples desecrate the sacred place with violence. The letter didn’t go back to Alpha, but onwards to Bardo (Planet Gamma?), and clearly its contents piqued the interest of whomever calls the shots there.

Diyoza tries to fight the warriors off with a staff, like the Gandalf she is, and when she realizes that Octavia’s bad handwriting means that they don’t know “hope” is a person, she calls out a clever and chilling instruction:

“Octavia you fool, there is no Hope, come out now!”

Octavia and Diyoza are so in sync that Octavia immediately picks up on it. So she does what any Blake would do, and hides Hope under the floor. Tells her to stay quiet. “You be brave,” she instructs.

Why the disciples want them, how long they manage to keep their memories of Hope hidden, and how Octavia escaped and made it back to Sanctum (and not in a suit… so did she have to planet-hop between the Anomaly stones until she got back to the first one?), are all questions I’m sure we’ll be pondering for a while!

Welcome to… *checks notes* Skyrim?

Ten, 20, or hundreds of years later, Octavia is born again into a new entity, Hope Diyoza, emerging from the same lake and exuding the same restless, angry, ruthless energy.

Just so it’s out there: I love Hope Diyoza. Shelby Flannery plays her with a wild, chaotic, wonderfully weird energy that livens up any interaction she has and clearly signals the turmoil that is constantly at a boiling point inside her.

Because lest we forget, Hope Diyoza isn’t just a peaceful child who grew up safe and loved and who is now Inigo Montoya, Prepare To Die-ing her way through the world. Hope Diyoza is the daughter of Charmaine Diyoza, freedom ferrorist and Paxton McCreary, mass murderer lunatic with crosses branded into his back. A constant fight to the death between nurture and nature must be waging inside her at all times, regardless of who she chooses to be.

Hope is only the latest in a long line of children on The 100 who have been raised in isolation from the world, and who are ripped suddenly from the safety and boredom of parentally supervised solitude and into harsh, bloody, violent madness.

She shares her backstory with not only Octavia but with Jordan, Madi, Echo and, arguably, Clarke, but of course every take different from the last. For Hope, she was raised not to want any other life than the one she had, by a parent who never felt guilty about denying her a future.

Hope aged 0-10, was perfectly happy and content with her life. Sure, a visit from fun uncle Murphy might be cool, but she didn’t know what she was missing. So the destruction of the only life she ever knew came suddenly and brutally and clearly scarred her for life — it wasn’t just a brutal end to her childhood, but the fabric of her entire existence being ripped out from under her.

Up until that moment, her biggest and only fear was that Octavia would someday leave her – even if child!Hope didn’t seem overly upset by it, adult Hope reveals to Echo that she was perfectly aware that Octavia wanted and tried to leave her behind – and in that moment, her biggest fear came true.

We know she spent another 10 years on Planet Beta (sorry, but ‘Sky Ring’ is just not as funny as they think it is), at least some portion of that time with a prisoner named Dev, who taught her to fight. She didn’t have to be alone or fight to survive, but her life must have been shaped from that point on by the singular purpose of rescuing her mother.

The frustration and anger and pain she feels now, when she is stuck where she started and it appears the deal she struck with Anders hasn’t been honored, is all-consuming. She has no time or energy for anything but her mission; she finds Gabriel and Echo’s questions a nuisance and has nothing to offer them but sarcastic comments.

(Even if the “Do you live here” / “Octavia said you were smart” exchange was a little weird. I mean… it was a perfectly reasonable question.)

Hope is just a refreshing presence on the show, and I really like her interactions with both Echo and Gabriel, expository as they undeniably are.

Having said that, “The Garden” is basically one half Octavia/Hope backstory and one half Anomaly backstory. This is the Anomaly half.

We learn so much about the mythology of what is actually going on here that it would probably be helpful just to start by summing it up. We learn that:

  • A number of planets are connected by Anomaly stones, but you can only travel between them linearly unless you have Bardo suits.
  • Sanctum (Alpha) is the first; Sky Ring (Beta) is the second; Bardo (Gamma) is the third.
  • Because of its distance from the black hole, time moves faster on Sky Ring than on both Bardo and Sanctum, with one day in Sanctum amounting to hundreds of years on Sky Ring.
  • The Bardo Boys in fancy suits are “disciples” of a “Master” of some kind.
  • Some members of the Eligius III crew made it to Bardo, and Gabriel assumes the planet’s human population descended from them (presumably boosted by a batch embryos like on Sanctum).
  • The Anomaly stone system was first made “thousands or millions of years ago” by another group of humans wishing to escape their home. (But were there many copies and did they have a plan?)

Most excitingly, Gabriel unearths a memory chip from a ‘Colin Benson’ (s/o to the Benson sisters! Miss you), a member of the original Eligius III mission, that reveals none other than Becca Franco, having just implanted the chip in his head and joyfully explaining how much fun she’ll have with his memories once he’s dead.

After uttering the absolutely absurd combination of words “Time dilation is sexy as hell because you get to the future faster” (it’s a testament to how much I like this show that I’ll just move swiftly along), she makes an intriguing reference to “that pompous ass Lightbourne” being afraid that Beta is too far from the black hole compared to the others.

Basically, this scene confirms that Becca, Russell, and whomever else they worked with knew about the existence of the black hole planet network and set out from Earth to discover all of them.

Was Earth one of the planets? Is there an Anomaly Stone ON Earth?

IS BECCA ON BARDO?

Oh wait, they killed her. I bet they wish they hadn’t, hm?

Russell’s branch of the Eligius III crew obviously made it to Sanctum, but the rest went on to visit and potentially populate the rest of them, including Bardo – which means that the Bardo population is descended from Earth humans as well.

What with Hope calling the warriors “disciples”, it would appear that Bardo, like Sanctum and Earth, is structured around some kind of cultist religion.

It would therefore be perfectly reasonable to assume that, like on Sanctum and Earth, their leader has a Becca-brand memory chip in their head that dates back to pre-apocalyptic Earth — or, just to shake things up, this faction might have chosen to embed their leader chip in an immortal robot-computer!

Either way, this leader is probably the “Master”, right? Definitely somehow connected to Eligius, Second Dawn, and all that other good stuff.

(We’re verging on a conclusion that is much too close to Battlestar Galactica for comfort here, but could it be that the humanity that came to make up the Grounders on Earth post-first-apocalypse were at least partly composed of Eligius III crew members who left Earth before the bombs and used the Anomaly stone to return?)

We also learn that every mind has its own unique code, which they call a biometric signature or a consciousness code.

(I’d be interested to know if it makes a difference whether someone has a memory chip in their head or not – like, did Clarke’s code change when she had Josephine’s chip in her head, and if yes, should it not just have pulled over her chip and not her physical body?)

When they put the code on Octavia’s back into the Anomaly stone on Sanctum, they pulled Hope over to their side, which of course begs the questions: who wrote Hope’s code on Octavia’s back, and where were they hoping to pull her?

And where was Hope, when she was pulled over? Wherever it was, she had a) met this Anders dude, b) been given a tag by him and told to get Octavia, c) presumably been initiated into some kind of plan to find and get to Octavia that wasn’t just “let’s wait and see if Octavia happens to input your code into an Anomaly stone somewhere” (UNLESS Octavia’s plan when escaping Bardo was to pull Hope and Diyoza through with her, and Anders was privy to this plan).

And if they had already had Octavia as a prisoner, and presumably knew where she’d gone, why didn’t the Bardo people just pull Octavia over by inputting her code into the Bardo Anomaly stone? It definitely seems like there is more to the deal Anders struck with Hope than we’ve been told.

Interrupting quaint exposition time is Orlando: a bonafide caveman with an Apple Watch embedded into his arm, who Hope identifies as a Bardo disciple who is serving out a five-year isolation sentence.

Orlando arrives just in time to smash Gabriel’s computer and destroy their way off the island planet, which I suppose is a marginally more elegant way of forcing them to stay than if Gabriel had tripped over a rock and dropped it himself.

Luckily though, there’s only five years until Orlando’s sentence is up – and Hope, for one, doesn’t see a problem riding it out, spending a bit more of her own life in isolation, knowing that it’ll only be moments for her mother.

Echo, meanwhile, isn’t super thrilled about spending another five years on something called “ring” with a small group of people, which… fair. (Why does this keep happening to her?)

And I’m not sure how Gabriel feels about anything, he just seems excited to be there. But I’m not complaining. He’s such a damn delight.

Let’s just hope they find a way to hack that Anomaly stone and get out of there before anyone starts thinking about getting quarantine bangs, eh?!

Another interesting scene with Orlando finds him in a grotesque stilleben; rotting corpses (including ‘Dev’, who arrived on Beta shortly after Diyoza and Octavia was taken and taught Hope how to fight) and a game of chess.

My conspiracy theory senses always tingle when I see a game of chess. It’s symbolism 101: one character is playing the others without anyone, including the audience, being aware of it.

Of course, on this show, a game of chess has historically only ever been a game of chess (this one doesn’t even say “Property of Wells Jaha” on the side). But… Orlando has Ben Linus eyes, is all I’m saying.

Anyway, Orlando has a doll called ‘Hope’ and seems to have an affinity for the bearer of the name. Maybe it’s simply that he saw it written on the wall of the cabin and made himself an imaginary friend, or maybe – considering he was on Bardo until recently — he has some awareness of Diyoza and Octavia and the deal Hope struck with Anders.

As the episode goes on, the two storylines begin to come together, and finally collide as Echo discovers the letter Octavia tried to send to Bellamy buried in the garden, and it causes Hope to finally break down with all the pain and anger that she’s tried to suppress.

Hope and Echo have been snapping at each other all episode, but in this moment, Echo pulls Hope in for an absolutely heartbreaking hug that, when I watched the episode the first time, really made me want to see more of this unlikely friendship.

Hope clearly grew up learning to dislike Echo because Octavia did, but it would seem like there’s a shared intensity of purpose that just might lead to them genuinely caring about each other.

Of course right now, any bond they have is based on a shared desire to rescue the people they actually care about.

Echo promises to get them all back, whatever it takes. And it’s Echo. We know she means it.

One for the road for Octavia Blake

As we near the end of The 100 and begin to consider where the show succeeded in reaching its own sky-high potential (and where it unfortunately did not), I want to take a beat in this review to just highlight the masterpiece of a character the show and Marie Avgeropoulos have crafted in Octavia Blake.

Over the course of the series, Octavia has gone from the Girl Under the Floor to Sky Girl to Skairipa to Osleya to Blodreina and back to Octavia — and now, she has metamorphosed again, into ‘Auntie O’, baptized by the Anomaly, blood washed away, grounded in dirt and grass, as far from the sky as she could ever get.

It would seem inconsistent for any other character. Indeed, every time the show has tried to impose a similar transformation on Clarke – Wanheda, ‘mama bear’, whatever – it has fallen flat, because Clarke Griffin came into the world of the show with a strong sense of self and has held onto the pillars of her youthful morality for dear life ever since; she doesn’t shed her skins and sins as a coping mechanism, she lets them pile on until they suffocate her.

Octavia, by contrast, was a blank slate when we met her. Not because she wasn’t anything, but because she had spent her childhood believing she could never become anything, so the moment her feet hit the ground, she realized she could be anything and tried to become it all at once.

And ever since then, Octavia has drifted between people and names and causes to believe in, in simultaneous and conflicting attempts to break free and to belong. She has been so many people already, and she can still be anyone, because she has learned to adapt to what she and the world around her needs her to be.

Over the course of the series we have seen Octavia become and become again, building herself up and tearing herself down; ‘Octavia’ was the common denominator for all the people she tried to be, but never the sum of her identity.

Skairipa. Too little. Blodreina. Too much. Auntie O, maybe. For a while, anyway. She never expected or wanted it to stick, but she was happy to become it. (Happier, indeed, than she has been to be anyone else for a long time.)

This type of character and this cycle of extreme change from storyline to storyline is such a natural fit for The 100’s form of storytelling, which is similarly experimental and want-driven and moldable to fit whatever they want the story to be at any given time.

I’ve often found Octavia the hardest character to write about because her psychological layers aren’t always cohesive (to me), but in retrospect, lack of cohesiveness is probably one of Octavia’s core traits, from which the show has never wavered.

Octavia’s development is defined not by a wavy thoroughline (like you would normally expect) but by sectioning; her arc has very neatly been divided into little separate chapters, each given clear endings/beginnings in the form of symbolic deaths/rebirths and literal new character names every time she becomes someone new.

Octavia sheds skins like the serpent the show compares her to, and maybe for that reason, the writers never lost interest in her or resigned themselves to the assumption that she had nowhere else to go. Envisioned (and performed) as an agent of chaos and as a soul hungry for transformation from the get-go, Octavia was made immune to getting stale or sidelined.

She doesn’t know what she wants. She only knows that she wants. She wants to fight, she wants to live, she wants to help, she wants to follow her instinctive, wild heart. She wants to do everything, be everything, the opposite of what people expect, the thing she thinks people need her to be. It carries through all the Octavias she’s ever been, thanks in large part to Marie Avgeropoulos’ unfailing commitment to putting Octavia’s full heart into everything she does, no matter how raw or dark her actions were.

Octavia might not be your favorite – she isn’t always mine – but I firmly believe that Octavia is the best character on The 100, if for no other reason than because she belongs in this world and she knows how to make it work for her.

I would even go so far as to say that Octavia is the show, personified, both for better and for worse, and I think we also see this reflected in how the audience at times loves her and hates her, alternately sympathizes with and is baffled by her, and generally finds her very entertaining.

Octavia can rise and fall and rise and fall ad infinitum without it seeming like a repeat, because she always becomes someone new and she always enters into new worlds, and – again, unlike perhaps other characters on the show – her new persona builds on past versions of herself.

Octavia couldn’t have evolved into Auntie O without having lived all of those previous lives; this episode is a microcosm of everyone Octavia has been and an homage to everyone who has shaped her, from Octavia becoming Bellamy and delivering her new self into the world, to becoming the one telling the young girl to hide under the floor. Full circle, not cycle.

She truly became.

For your consideration

  • Do we think the Anomaly symbols actually mean anything? Language creator David J. Peterson is credited on this episode, and I don’t recall hearing any Trigedasleng, so it’s possible that they actually developed a code system for the ancient people that made the stones. At a glance, it looks to me like an eclectic mix of Greek letters, Norse runes and stenographic shorthand, so… kudos to anyone who feels like trying to decipher it. If I were to to take a wild guess, I’d say that it has to do with a new dawn, a second sun, and/or the eternal cycle of death and rebirth of humanity. ∞
  • “I hope against Hope that this letter reaches you”. Ha, good one.
  • Seriously, what IS it with Octavia and FARMS on this show?
  • Shelby Flannery and Chuku Modu have such an unexpected, electric chemistry. They seem to hype each other up in a way that is hard to explain, but wonderful to witness.
  • …Then again, Chuku Modu has chemistry with everyone and everything. He spent most of this episode acting opposite a literal brick, and was still somehow one of the episode’s standout performers.
  • But wait, Gabriel still has Josephine’s mind drive… because he wanted to make sure she was really gone. Which means… there’s a chance she wasn’t? And Gabriel didn’t actually confirm that she was???
  • (Should we be worried that Gabriel now happens to be isolated on a planet with Echo, a newly-made Nightblood? I know Gabriel officially represents everything good and pure in the world, but still…)
  • Octavia might have led the Bardo Boys to Skyrim, but she doesn’t have to feel too bad about it if they were going to send Dev there just a few months later anyway, right? One way or another, Diyoza’s peace would have been broken eventually.
  • If the Anomaly stone system is all black hole science, was all that about Octavia and octagons and her ‘fated’ connection to the Anomaly stone just bullshit?
  • The line “What is it about Bellamy that has otherwise sensible women willing to die for him” rubs me the wrong way. It obviously intends to do is to show Hope’s bitterness over the fact that she and her mother were never enough for Octavia and that she sent that letter to Bardo, but it also straight up story erasure – it is in fact Bellamy who is always falling over himself trying to save the various sensible women in his life – and in that context, this just feels like a mean-spirited dig at the audience for daring to care about his character. And that just makes me really sad, because they made all their characters to be cared about, surely.
  • “I serve the Master. I am his shield and his sword, for all mankind.” = Roan Anomaly King 2kBardoTime
  • Hat tip to the Young Hopes, Nevis Unipan and Amber Taylor, who are both amazingly talented and do a fantastic job making us love this character!
  • Seriously. The music. So good.

What did you all think of “The Garden”? Don’t forget to tune in next Wednesday at 8/7c on The CW for The 100 7×03 “False Gods.”

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