The 100 – Season 5 Episode 4
The 100 reunites the characters in the bunker with those on the surface as Murphy and Raven maintain the holding pattern that acts as leverage against the prisoners.
Patient storytelling is definitely one of the strengths of this show as proven by this season so far. This is now the fourth episode and we’re only just beginning to bring the characters together. The first three episodes were focused on exploring the different groups of characters and catching the audience up on what has happened over the 6 year time jump. To do that takes a lot of time and the writers did a great job devoting pretty much entire episodes to exploring what the past 6 years have meant for the characters. Time skips are often tricky narrative devices as they are seldom justified since there often isn’t enough change in the status quo to justify it. That isn’t the case here as everyone has been irreversibly altered by what they have experienced.
Starting to bring people together not feels like about the right time as we have a sense of what these people have gone through so the next logical step is to explore how the people they haven’t seen in over half a decade react to this. Clarke and Bellamy are the first characters to be reunited and it makes for a really endearing moment. It was established in the first episode of the season that Clarke had given up on ever seeing her friends again because she had no idea if those who were sent into space would ever come back and she couldn’t get into the bunker. In her mind she had basically written them off as dead and resolved to make the most out of her life in an idyllic environment with Madi. The arrival of the prisoners impacted that plan somewhat but there was still no hope that she would see the people she cares about again.
Clarke’s reaction to seeing Bellamy is about what you would expect given the circumstances. Eliza Taylor delivers an excellent performance showing Clarke being equal parts shocked and happy. It’s clearly a moment she imagined countless times but had given up on experiencing again. Bellamy tells Clarke how grateful he is to her for saving their lives and the pair embrace to show how glad they are to see one another. It’s a great moment that feels a long time coming thanks to it being delayed until this episode.
At this point Bellamy is in charge to a degree. He has leverage over the prisoners because he can have the rest of them killed if there is any sign of a threat from them. He sets the terms of the negotiation by putting a fail-safe in place when he tells Raven to pull the plug on the sleeping prisoners if he doesn’t report in on the hour every hour. This makes for a believable stalemate as the prisoners may have superior numbers but Bellamy is holding all the cards for the moment.
Bellamy’s goals are really simple and reasonable. First of all he wants to free the people trapped in the bunker then he simply wants for him and his people to live in peace on the planet. Ideally he’d like to find a way to coexist with the prisoners if possible but it’s a big planet so there’s no real need for them to be near each other if they decide that living in harmony with one another isn’t possible for them.
Inside the bunker things are growing more tense as the resources are presumably more strained than they were the last time Woncru were featured. This episode picks up where we left off with Kane entering the arena to fight for his life after committing a crime. He is accused of stealing medicine which makes him an enemy of Woncru as far as Octavia is concerned so he has to fight for his life. He does this brutally kills someone else in the ring with only his reaction to go on. It’s a really effective way to convey this information without delivering a gratuitously violent death for whoever the other combatant was because it shows the toll this takes on those who have to fight and how disgusted Kane is with himself for taking the life of another.
Of course, Abby is the one stealing the medicine because she is dealing with an addiction and Kane is covering for her. Abby’s addiction is the weakest part of this episode because the peramaters of it haven’t been properly set. What has caused the dependency? How does it affect her? What does Kane enable it? These are all questions they the episode doesn’t attempt to answer so it adds little more than Abby shaking as she takes pills and displaying some erratic behaviour. I suspect this will be explored once Clarke has a chance to catch up with her mother but for now it’s less than interesting.
Octavia understands what Kane is doing and resolves to make Kane fight in the ring until he’s prepared to admit the truth of the situation. We may not see most of the 6 years that have gone by but the impact of it is evident in the scene between Octavia and Kane. There is mention of “the dark year” with the implication that the society only survived whatever that was because of Octavia. Her disgusted reaction to the mere mention of it strongly suggests there is some unresolved trauma associated with the decisions she had to make during that time. I suspect this will be explored in some way in a later episode but for now it hangs over her as something she is having difficulty processing.
Kane makes a strong appeal to Octavia’s humanity by encouraging her to find a better way to keep the people together. He sees her leadership as an opportunity to build something better than what came before. Kane’s experience of being in a position of power and making decisions that condemned good people to death makes his insight important because he understands what Octavia is dealing with and acknowledges his own mistakes in the decisions he made. Basically he wants a brighter future for the people and knows that Octavia has the potential to lead them in a more positive direction. Marie Avgeropoulos‘ performance in this scene is excellent, particularly when Kane encourages her to show mercy and build something better. Her expression softens for a brief moment before returning to being detached and dispassionate. Using little more than body language Marie Avgeropoulos shows how conflicted Octavia is between what she deems necessary and what she would actually like to do. As always there are no easy answers for anything on this show and even though she doesn’t want to see Kane fight to the death she is bound by the law she made otherwise it’s possible she could lose the fear and respect of the people which might be the only thing holding this society together.
Dumb luck is what spares Kane from death after he refuses to fight and uses the arena as a forum to outline his thoughts on how the people have lost their way. Octavia once again tries to retain order by entering the arena herself and reiterating what it means to defy her. She repeats the mantra “You are Woncru or you are the enemy of Woncru” and shows no hesitation when it comes to punishing Kane for defying the law. It makes sense for Octavia to do this because it feels like a fragile system in the bunker so she has to show strength in order to keep the people in line. Sparking Kane might open the floodgates and cause the people to lose the fear inspired respect they have for her so she can’t ever show weakness in the face of defiance.
Kane is willing to die for his ideals because he believes that fighting won’t accomplish anything. He says that there is more to saving his people than simply keeping them alive and he’s willing to die to prove that. His death could possibly make him a martyr that will encourage others to speak out against the laws that govern the bunker though we will never find out as the prisoners pick that moment to open up the bunker and let them see the sun for the first time in years.
Having access to the surface will definitely change things for Woncru but it’s currently unclear what form that change will make. The prisoners make up a new faction that clearly serve as the antagonists for the season but the relationships within Woncru are hardly stable on their own. Bellamy and Octavia’s scene together briefly shows this by making it clear that they have grown further apart in the past few years and Bellamy has returned to Earth to find a sister that he doesn’t recognise. There was tension in their relationship last season that looks to have been amplified by their absence from one another. Interestingly Bellamy has become a more measured and confident leader while Octavia has become stronger and more morally compromised. The difference is that Octavia’s authority is recognised by those around her so Bellamy doesn’t really have anyone to lead at this point.
There is a subtle indication of a potential legitimate challenge to Octavia’s leadership when Clarke enters the bunker. Her previous identity, Wanheda commanded respect from the people and there was certainly a reaction from the crowd when Clarke appeared which suggests that there might be some conflict there as the people could look to someone else for fairer leadership. Enough has certainly happened to set up Clarke and Octavia as different takes on leaderships with the people being the deciding factor in what they want. Bellamy has yet to realise that he doesn’t really command the necessary respect to be a serious contender for leadership but his current morality should make his voice one that is worth hearing.
The escape from the bunker opens up so many possibilities for the show in the future but the immediate problem that has to be dealt with is the prisoners. Charmaine proves herself to a formidable antagonist by only going along with what Bellamy asks of her until she is able to undermine the advantage he has. She has Zeke work on hacking into the prison ship so that Raven is unable to pull the plug on the other prisoners until that proves to be too time consuming a task. Her clever alternative is simply opening the ship’s airlock doors and getting rid of the problem that way. Without that leverage Bellamy has no hope of maintaining this tenuous partnership and he completely loses control of the situation. There is some depth to Charmaine yet to be explored around the circumstances that motivated her to shift from decorated marine to dangerous terrorist. Through Charmaine and the rest of the prisoners we stand to get some important insight into what Earth was like before the point it became uninhabitable.
I find Zeke to be a really interesting character so far despite limited development for him at this point. It appears he is being set up as the representative of an alternate viewpoint to that of Charmaine among the prisoner population. He mentions how little there is left of the Human race suggesting that he wants to find a more peaceful way to solve problems. He takes charge of the situation by reminding everyone else that he’s the only one who knows how to pilot their ship so it’s clear that he’s able to handle himself despite having opinions that may not mesh with those of his fellow prisoners. The earlier mention that he’s the only one who has never murdered someone also supports this idea.
Raven and Murphy’s scenes together in space are really compelling. I mentioned last week that they make for an engaging pair and this is certainly proven here with Raven being the workaholic stressed out by the situation and Murphy wandering aimlessly trying to amuse himself to pass the time. Raven throwing herself into her work is a cover for the trepidation she has about potentially being responsible for so many deaths if she’s ordered to pull the plug. She recognises the importance of what she is being asked to do and what that means for her friends but killing that many people definitely won’t be an easy thing to live with. It is something she is apparently willing to do but there is always the uncertainty that comes with her capability.
Murphy looks to absolve her from that responsibility as he sees carrying out that potential order to be his purpose for being there. He’s unsure of his own motivation for staying behind outside of possibly looking to impress Emori but he feels that he’s capable of shouldering the moral burden though it’s unclear if he could actuallt bring himself to do it as steps were taken to remind the audience that he is fundamentally a good person.
The dynamic between Murphy and Raven is really strong. Thankfully it hasn’t gone down a romantic route quite yet so their relationship is framed as being slightly antagonistic as Raven finds his antics irritating. Their interactions bring some much needed levity to the episode in several ways including having them spend time kicking a ball around and actually having fun. It’s rare on this show with routine life or death apocalyptic situations so it makes for a refreshing change of pace.
An excellent episode that reunites many of the characters and puts things in place for the rest of the season. Clarke and Bellamy’s reunion is played really well on both sides and Bellamy taking charge of the sitaution by using the leverage he has against the prisoners to get what he wants is well handled. It’s the only time Bellamy is actually in charge and that disappears when the prisoners negate his advantage. The situation inside the bunker is less than idea with Kane speaking out against the brutal rule of law that now exists. He uses his experience of a similar system to petition Octavia to handle things differently and it’s something she clearly actively considers before reverting back to her detached authority. She thinks that showing strength is the only way to command respect and keep the people in line but Kane feels that there’s a better way and uses the arena as a forum to get his point across. Before Octavia has to kill him to establish her lack of mercy the prisoners open up the bunker and free everyone inside. From here things change and it’s possible that Clarke represents a legitimate challenge to Octavia’s leadership.
Charmaine continues to prove herself a formidable opponent when she manages to remove the advantage that Bellamy has therefore meaning that he can’t leverage her into helping them any more. Even though his goals are fairly simple and peaceful Charmaine has a need to establish dominance and wants her people to join her in that. Zeke looks to be ideally placed to offer the counter argument among the prison population and seems to be heading in that reasonable direction so it should provide an interesting internal dynamic to compliment the fractured internal dynamic within the Woncru population. Raven and Murphy’s scenes together are interesting for a variety of reasons. Seeing them process the prospect of being the one to kill hundreds of people in their own way makes for fascinating character driven conversations and seeing them actually have fun brings a much needed dose of levity into an otherwise dark and grim narrative.
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