The 100 – Season 5 Episode 7
The 100 ramps up the tension between the various factions and asks difficult moral questions that don’t have easy answers.
One of the main through lines of this season is that Octavia is becoming inhumanly ruthless. She has lost all concept of empathy and rules her people with an iron fist. Her inability to compromise has caused those who were fiercely loyal to her in the past to doubt her leadership. This episode gives us the makings of a coup as there are preparations being made to overthrow her and install a new commander.
Unsurprisingly Madi is the best candidate though Clarke tells her not to be because she wants Madi to be kept safe from the obvious danger that comes with challenging established leadership. It’s easy to see Clarke’s point of view because she is witnessing what Octavia has become and is understandably concerned. Her maternal connection to Madi makes her very protective of her adopted daughter so the advice she gives makes sense in context of what Clarke thinks will keep her safe.
There is a side effect to Clarke’s overprotective nature that she is completely blind to. By trying to keep Madi safe Clarke is actually suppressing parts of her identity that she happens to be proud of. For example she encourages Madi to speak English because her native language will draw too much attention and tells her to hide her innate skills so that she isn’t identified as a suitable candidate to challenge Octavia. In many ways it’s the opposite of what a parent should do as she’s effectively encouraging her child to hide her strengths and show weakness instead though it is for valid reasons at least from Clarke’s point of view.
The effect this has on Madi is pretty much as expected. Octavia forms the counter to Clarke’s advice by embracing Madi’s skills and giving her the encouragement that she craves. The episode ends with Octavia making Madi her second in command for the upcoming conflict along with fully accepting her as part of Wonkru. This can only drive a wedge between Clarke and Madi as for now Octavia looks like the more encouraging role model. Eliza Taylor’s silent performance as Clarke looks on at Octavia grooming her daughter for War sums up her feelings on this situation perfectly and suggests that Clarke realises the mistake she’s made out of a desire to protect Madi.
Octavia’s lack of empathy is further displayed through the experiments she has been running with the carnivorous worms that were recently introduced. She is actively breeding them so that they can be introduced to Shallow Valley and used to kill all of the prisoners therefore leaving the area empty for Wonkru to settle it. It’s an undeniably brutal tactic that definitely fits with Octavia’s current mindset and further shows how corrupted by her misguided sense of necessity she is. Octavia is willingly using her own people to breed the worms which also fits in with her mindset of necessary sacrifices though the methodology is different here. Those being used to breed the worms don’t have the same chance of survival that they would have fighting in the arena. Being used as breeding stock for the worms is nothing short of a death sentence but Octavia sees this as the titular acceptable losses because it serves her perception of the greater good.
Perhaps the worst thing to take away from the revelation is that she undoubtedly has a point. As far as she can tell Charmaine and her people are a technologically advanced threat who have no interested in peaceful coexistence with Wonkru so Octavia sees this as a “kill or be killed” scenario and she wants her people to come out on top. There is a definite power vacuum on Earth at this point and the current leadership see War as the only resolution to that which unfortunately means that there will likely be a lot of bloodshed to come.
Not everyone shares the sentiment that War is the only way out. Clarke, Monty and Bellamy are the main voices arguing in favour of a better way, at least on the Wonkru side of things. Clarke openly asks Charmaine what it would take to have them coexist peacefully and Charmaine makes it clear that nothing short of a complete unconditional surrender would allow this. This is possibly too much even for Clarke who wants a peaceful life but also doesn’t want to be subservient to Charmaine particularly with her being such a controlling presence. I suppose the only option at this stage is overthrowing Octavia and Charmaine in favour of people who have a more open minded and cooperative outlook.
Part of the problem is how Charmaine and Octavia see themselves. Charmaine won’t show weakness of any kind in front of her people because she knows that will be the only excuse they need to overthrow her. She is known for being ruthless and ruling her people through intimidation and fear. On the other side Octavia has literally become a celebrated warrior who is essentially the stuff of legend so there’s no way she can back down from her position as that would also mean showing weakness and her people losing respect for her. Whether that’s true for either of them is irrelevant at this point as the important thing to bear in mind is that they are both stuck in their current mindset and can’t get away from it. This makes them ineffective leaders as neither of them are prepared to realise that.
Monty is perhaps the most thoughtful campaigner for peace with his very simple ideas about cooperation. The Algae Farm has become a metaphor for a simpler time where there was no conflict and that’s clearly an ideal he holds dear. Monty has no desire to be in a War because he feels that it won’t get him anywhere and actually misses being marooned in space where life was an awful lot simpler. The discovery of Jasper’s suicide note adds credence to this idea as it offers more extreme support of his thinking. Jasper’s final words talk about the bad things in life being about people being the problem. Lots of terrible things have happened because of the choices made people people who are scrambling for power and dominance. Jasper’s thinking is that Human beings don’t deserve to inherit the Earth and on some level Monty seems to agree with that assessment. I do think Monty’s opinion is more tempered than that as he seems to be more anti-War than anti-people but agreeing with the sentiment in a moment of passion makes sense for him.
Bellamy’s contribution to the episode is more or less confined to being in opposition to Octavia’s methods which feels limiting in some ways though works well enough in context. The main issue with it is that Bellamy retreads well worn ground rather than actively developing. There is a moment of clarity when he and Clarke mutually agree that they aren’t exactly innocent of questionable leadership decisions. That argument could be brought out at any time though it’s no reason to go along with what Octavia is doing. The benefit of their experience is that they have already dealt with making mistakes as leaders so are in a good position to warn others against making similar mistakes. Octavia’s unwillingness to listen is a severe barrier to that and she is even less willing to listen to Bellamy given the current state of their relationship.
Echo’s role as a spy plays out in interesting ways. She has no loyalty to Octavia so uses the opportunity to further her own agenda of survival. It takes almost no time for her to own up to being a spy and she manipulates the situation to suit her own ends. Turning Zeke in is one such example but that’s her way of finding a way to accomplish her mission of hacking into the ship’s surveillance. It seems harsh and it speaks to Echo’s More complex motivations that involve her playing both sides of the conflict. She’s playing a dangerous game that could have lethal consequences for her depending on who finds out what she’s up to.
Zeke is a fascinating character so far. His conversation with Raven adds so much context to his loyalty to Charmaine. Everyone in this show has darkness in their past that they either try to hide, atone for and embrace and Zeke is no different. Raven says he’s a good man but Zeke recounts the time that he felt the prisoners were being mistreated causing him to deactivate their collars. It’s not as simple as him being a good man among bad people because his actions arguably caused this entire situation. As with prior episodes he is given a lot of attention and I wouldn’t be surprised if he ends up being groomed for future leadership.
Kane is continuing to try to make the best of the situation with Charmaine. He feels that out of the available options he has more chance of survival with her because he sees her as being more reasonable than Octavia is. It’s not a perfect system because Kane does clash with Charmaine repeatedly but it feels like there is a grudging respect between them that can certainly be built on. The situation with Abby continues to be problematic because she is still addicted to the pills but can’t actually function effectively without them. Suprisingly the show is going down the route of making strong arguments for Abby’s addiction being about being functional rather than chasing a high. It’s arguably just as bad though it’s easy to see why it comes across as necessary in the current situation.
Abby is hard at work on a cure and thinks she’s making progress but won’t be able to complete the work without her pills so she and Kane are walking a knife edge at this point between feeding Abby’s addiction to save people and helping her beat the affliction. Abby does seem focused on curing this illness and has even more motivation when Charmaine reveals that she’s pregnant. This situation will continue to be tense and so far it’s interesting enough because there is no simple answer.
Another excellent episode that builds on the complexity of the oncoming conflict. Octavia’s lack of empathy reaches new levels in this episode when it turns out that she has been breeding the worms in preparation for an attack on Charmaine’s people. It’s a brutal tactic though it’s easy to see her point of view when considering how formidable the prisoners are. Part of the problem here is that Octavia and Charmaine are unwilling to compromise as leaders so War seems inevitable. This is made clear when Clarke asks how things can be resolved peacefully and the only answer is total surrender. There are rumblings about overthrowing Octavia and it’s possible that either Kane or Zeke could overthrow Charmaine. There’s also other problematic things going on such as Octavia taking Madi under her wing and encouraging her to live up to her potential where Clarke asks her to suppress it so that she isn’t identified as a threat. It’s complicated and interesting because the points of view can be understood. Morality is a big theme in the show at present with Monty’s point of view offering a more morally driven take on the situation as he craves no conflict whatsoever. Bellamy’s role within that doesn’t really move him on but supports this position.
Echo as a spy is a little convoluted though she is portrayed as being somewhat self serving. She admits to being a spy immediately and uses that to accomplish her mission anyway though demonstrates no loyalty to Octavia because she has no reason to feel beholden to her. Having her turn Zeke in is fairly savage as actions go but it’s what seems to be required though it does provide plenty of opportunity for Zeke to be further developed. The interplay between Kane and Abby is fascinating as well with the show making strong arguments for addiction allowing someone to function rather than the long withdrawal rendering them useless. Abby needs to find a cure at this point or she is worthless to Charmaine and it is causing friction between her and Kane. Charmaine’s pregnancy makes this even more urgent at least from her point of view.
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