The 100 – Season 5 Episode 13
“Damocles Part 2”
The 100 closes out its fifth season with the resolution to the conflict between Wonkru and the prisoners while setting the stage for next season.
This season has had a very limited narrative focus when compared to previous seasons. Octavia has been the central character and the season has been building to her leading Wonkru on a campaign against Diyoza’s people. There are advantages and disadvantages to such a confined focus with the advantage being that in theory there is more time to understand Octavia and how she makes decisions. The disadvantage is that other characters are sidelined to some extent with their particular arcs serving as secondary to the overall story.
I would say that this season has been mixed in how it handles all of its characters. Octavia reclaiming her humanity stagnated before feeling rushed towards the end and some of the other character stories felt underserved despite how interesting they were. That’s not to say it wasn’t compelling viewing every week but I can’t help but feel that more could have been made with what was on hand.
The previous episode ended with Madi saving Octavia’s life after she decided to sacrifice herself so that others could escape. As I mentioned last week having her saved by Madi doesn’t diminish her sacrifice because the willingness to do it was clear and felt earned. Her rescue comes with a role change for her as she now recognises that Wonkru will no longer follow her after she mistakenly lead so many of them to their death. Instead of resisting that change and reverting to her fear based leadership style she willingly stands down and lets Madi take charge which might seem like a bizarre choice given how young she is but traditionally the keeper of the Flame becomes the Commander so she is just recognising and respecting that. Madi does seem to be getting the hang of the knowledge that now exists within her and finding a way to define who she is after bonding with the Flame. The episode doesn’t address this directly but it can be seen from her behaviour that her fluctuating personality is starting to settle.
Madi is able to use her knowledge and inherited experience to press the attack once again. It isn’t clear why her strategy is any better than Octavia’s but she has people following her who are committed to laying down their lives for her which definitely seems to make a difference when it comes to achieving victory. The action sequences aren’t all that memorable but they do get the point across and move the plot along while keeping Madi’s development as the focus. A notable drawback to this is that Octavia is largely sidelined for much of this episode which is somewhat jarring considering the entire season has been focused on her development. It’s almost as if her arc was building up to her handing leadership over to Madi and then fading into the background because there was nothing that could be done with her after that point.
This is certainly true for much of the episode but not for all of it. There are some really great moments of closure for Octavia after she relinquishes leadership to Madi. One of them is with Abby who has resigned herself to dying with Kane but is convinced to live on by Octavia who refuses to let Abby off the hook for encouraging her to be a “monster” during the harrowing events of “The Dark Year“. As far as Octavia is concerned if she has to live with what she did then Abby also has to so she refuses to accept that Abby can die as an escape from her guilt. It’s a good scene as it highlights the complex antagonistic relationship that has grown between these two characters while also signalling hope for some form of absolution on their part. It’s certainly something they can both work towards even if it can’t ever be truly achieved.
Octavia has a similar moment with Bellamy taking place before they go into cryo sleep. She makes the point of telling Bellamy that she loves him and needs to hear it back. Bellamy finds it difficult to respond but does tell her that he will always love her because she’s his sister though it sounds more like an obligation rather than an intense emotion that he’s proud of having. Given all that has happened between them this season it’s reasonable that Bellamy would feel that the brother/sister connection has been tainted especially after Octavia condemned him to fight for his life in the pit. Prior to this conversation Madi helps give him perspective on this decision by pointing out that Octavia loves him and that she tried to contact him every day during the 6 year time jump between seasons. Bellamy is understandably salty after being sent into the arena and sees that as Octavia severing that familial bond but Madi makes it clear that it was a mistake on Octavia’s part and that she knows that she shouldn’t have done it.
The conversation between Octavia and Bellamy just before she goes into cryo sleep is excellent because it shows a rare vulnerability to Octavia who just wants to know that her big brother will be there for her when she wakes up. The issue of Bellamy wishing she was dead from last week is brought up and Bellamy has the chance to clarify that with some perspective. What follows is really open and honest while acknowledging that their relationship has been irrevocably changed; he tells her that he wishes a part of her was dead and that’s something Octavia accepts as fair because she has awareness of her own mistakes and is at the point where she is dealing with the regret associated with them. It’s a powerful step forward for them both individually and together while setting up a fresh and fascinating dynamic for them going into next season.
There’s another moment of closure and self reflection for Octavia when she talks to Diyoza about their failures as leaders. It’s a very brief conversation but it gives them the opportunity to see how similar they are despite being in constant conflict with one another. Diyoza thinks her downfall was liking being in charge though it’s not clear how or why she comes to that conclusion. The important takeaway from this brief interaction is that they have both experienced humility and find themselves cast out from their groups.
Madi as a leader does have some merit because of the influence she takes from others. Clarke was able to give her a strong upbringing where she was loved so that’s a positive influence on her that is reinforced when she stands victorious over the prisoners and has to decide what to do about them. Bellamy urges her to let them live because doing so would break the cycle of violence and death that has defined their time on Earth. He talks about going to War when they first came to Earth and wants Madi to be better than that so more positive future can be built. Madi takes this advice and lets them live so that they can “prove that the deserve it”. It’s a very fair minded approach and shows that there is hope for a future without conflict.
I’ve mentioned before that McCreary exists to be an antagonist and very little else. There is some complexity to him in that he won’t kill Diyoza until after she has their child but on the whole he’s a complete sadist when seems almost entirely bereft of empathy. This is reinforced in this episode when most of his dialogue is about harming others along with his mutually assured destruction approach. Clarke tries to exploit the one weakness he apparently has by threatening to kill his unborn child. Any possibility that she might be bluffing is dispelled by Eliza Taylor’s sincere and confident line delivery when she says that there’s nothing she won’t do to protect her child. The standoff is broken by McCreary launching the missiles that have been a constant threat for quite some time which turns the situation into yet another doomsday scenario.
Raven even addresses the fact that life as they know it is going to end once again which means that the only option is to escape into outer space and live on the Eligius IV space station. Of course not everyone is nearby so there is a tense race against time to get everyone onboard the transport ship before the missiles hit. This plays out as you might expect with stragglers being unaccounted for with seconds to go only for them to show up and everyone to make a daring escape at the last possible moment. It might be a cheesy trope to throw in but it works because the characters are well developed enough to be invested in. Their potential loss creates tension and a ticking clock is always an easy way to raise the stakes as it creates a natural sense of urgency associated with definite disaster when time runs out. This whole section of the episode is pretty chaotic though not always in a good way. The episode does a good job of establishing who is a risk of not making it in time though there’s no real sense of how far away they are or how unlikely it is that they’ll make it. This also leads to the unceremonious killing of McCreary which feels right for his character in some ways though does come across as something of an anticlimax considering how much he has been built up the past few episodes.
Following the missile hitting the surface the plot takes a vastly different turn starting with a rational conversation about what their next move should be now that Earth is uninhabitable for at least 10 years. There aren’t enough resources to sustain the group so the only real choice is to go into stasis until Earth is habitable again. It’s an easy decision because it means that nobody will age and can start fresh once they wake up.
Of course there are complications to this plan that start to become clear when Clarke wakes up and is met by someone she has never seen before. He introduces himself as Jordan (Shannon Kook) and reveals himself to be the son of Monty and Harper who decided not to go into cryo sleep and live their lives happily alone together. It’s a lot to take in for both Clarke and the audience but it’s also a fascinating development as it moves the characters forward in time 125 years while still keeping them the same age and introducing a brand new element into the show. Monty and Harper’s long life plays out in the form of several log entries designed to catch Clarke and the audience up on the highlights of their lives together. It’s a lot like the ending of Passengers except that it’s well done and gives two long running characters a wonderful send-off. The videos are endearing and powerful without a hint of tragedy to them. We see the chronicles the lives of two people who were happy just being together and believed in a peaceful future. Jordan is the symbol of that future and it makes for a refreshing way to have two characters leave the show without them being brutally killed in some way. Monty and Harper deserve this ending and the way it plays out is perfect. Jordan is a character without much definition at this point though that’s deliberate as he’s an element that can be fleshed out later on.
More revelations are dropped as a result of the log entries. Monty figures out that Earth isn’t going to bounce back from the latest catastrophe and is a lost cause so he tries to find another solution to the problem that is the last thing I would have imagined this show would do. There is information about a “goldilocks planet” located in a binary star system that is perfect for everyone to settle on. The 75 year travel time is somewhat dubious considering the distances that would have to be involved but pushing that aside this is a complete game changer as it creates a completely new environment for the characters to explore next season and brings with it so much potential to literally build a new world from scratch. It also acts as a rebirth of sorts for the characters who leave a lot of emotional baggage on Earth that doesn’t necessarily have to follow them to this new planet. There is also the fact that with Monty and Harper gone it basically means that Bellamy and Clarke sort of have a kid now in a weird way.
A well put together and emotionally resonant finale that wraps up the character stories of this season while laying the groundwork for next season. Octavia relinquishing leadership to Madi is something that feels earned as Octavia has realised the mistakes that she has made and decides to take responsibility for them. Madi is finding her feet as a leader but is joined by people who are motivated to follow her which allows them to be victorious. It’s a little neat but it works well enough when considering the background. Madi is able to break the cycle of violence and death when she decides to save the prisoners following Bellamy’s advice and she returns the favour by telling him that Octavia does care about him despite how poorly she has shown it. This allows for reconciliation of sorts that still acknowledges how much their relationship has changed. Octavia’s vulnerability comes across well and it makes for a really honest moment between them. Similarly she refuses to let Abby die because she feels that accountability has to be taken for their actions during the Dark Year. McCreary comes across as the unfeeling antagonist he always has and is believably crazy enough to adopt a Scorched Earth policy for Shallow Valley. This leads to his unceremonious death and a by the numbers ticking clock that works because it’s genuinely unclear if the characters will make it in time.
The latter part of the episode begins with a rational conversation over what the next move should be. Cryo sleep is seen as the only alternative as there simply aren’t enough resources to sustain everyone for very long. The only option is to sleep until Earth is habitable again and start fresh. This doesn’t go to plan as Clarke wakes up 125 years later to a new face in the form of Harper and Monty’s son Jordan. They decided to stay awake and live their lives peacefully together. Their lives are chronicled in log entries that powerful, moving and make for the perfect send-off for two long running characters. It’s refreshing to see characters exit the show without being brutally killed in some way. Monty reveals that Earth was deemed a lost cause but a suitable alternative was found in a nearby binary star system which allows everyone to start fresh free of the baggage that haunted them back on Earth. It’s an exciting development with limitless possibilities.
Season 6 wasn’t something that was planned for as far as I can tell. The ending of this episode could have easily been the end of the entire show as it puts the characters in a position where they can have a fresh start and closes the book on everything that happened on Earth. Since season 6 is happening we will get to see what building a life on a new world will be like for them. Hopefully this means that The 100 will move away from Apocalyptic stakes and focus more on smaller scale character drama that stems from trying to work out how to best make use of this new world. There is already a mystery associated with the Eligius III not being heard from for some time and that will possibly be the source of some conflict though I’d like to see a compelling mystery take the place of yet another faction competing for dominance. It’s also possible that aliens could be introduced but that would be a step too far in my opinion.
The introduction of Jordan is fascination. He is replacing Monty and Harper who died of natural causes after living a happy life so a lot of work will need to be done to define who he is and where he fits into the dynamic of the show. Bellamy and Clarke are clearly tasked with taking care of him to honour their friends but he is also clearly old enough to have his own personality and behave like an adult. His childhood was fairly stunted because he could only interact with his parents so it’s likely that he will have a similar view on the others as Madi had in the beginning after hearing about them from his parents. Their perspective on the group will be different to the one Clarke had so it’ll be interesting to see how that plays out. There’s definitely a lot of potential to evolve the show into something new and fascinating so roll on season 6.
We’d love to know your thoughts on this and anything else you might want to talk about. You can find us on Facebook and Twitter or just leave a comment in the comment section below. You’ll need an account for Disqus but it’s easy to set up. Don’t forget to share your rating in the “User Ratings” box
If you want to chat to me directly then I’m on Twitter as well.