The 100 – Season 7 Episode 13
The 100 returns from another hiatus and reunites much of the cast in a single location while addressing the various plot threads at play.
For some of the runtime of this episode there was an old school The 100 vibe to it in terms of it being a frenetic crisis that was challenging the characters in different ways. Of course there was little to no story progression to be found but as a situation it was entertaining enough and after nearly a season of routine disappointment it’s about the best that could be hoped for at this point. Sheidheda and Indra being forced to work together against a common threat while discussing their differing views on leadership is entertaining because of the spectacle that plays out as a result but it’s not enough to offer enough of a counter to the shortcomings the episode and season have. Sheidheda’s supposed death is quite clearly a misdirect and paints Indra in a less than flattering light for not being smart enough to confirm her kill.
Having this play out against a backdrop of an eclipse releasing the madness inducing toxin was a nice piece of continuity that helps solidify this as a recurring problem that they’ll have to deal with as long as they inhabit Sanctum. It’s woven nicely among the various scenarios as an added complication and helps increase the sense of urgency throughout while also being a good example of taking advantage of recent mythology in a way that enhances the story. It also serves as a reminder that being on a different planet is a really weird experience with its own challenges outside of the conflicts that exist between people.
Injecting Cadogan into Sanctum proved interesting to a point as it’s almost the direct opposite of his singular vision for a unified Human race in pursuit of the betterment of the species. Sanctum is full of violence, clashing agendas and people who claim to be motivated by their relationships with other people. Cadogan’s disdain for the primitive -by his reckoning society is well played by John Pyper-Ferguson and suggests a potentially interesting situation to be developed with him in the mix. As with everything it doesn’t go much beyond the suggestion but it’s welcomed when it’s there and seeing him surrounded by such chaos makes for a strong contrast to the uniformity and obedience he enjoys in Bardo. It’s not entirely unfamiliar to him as he remembers when Earth was a lot like this and his understanding is that such attitudes led to its destruction so it’s not alien to him but it is certainly a culture shock and factors in well.
Lip service is paid to his ideological clash with Clarke though it’s delivered really clumsily with her reminding him that Madi was foremost on her mind when bringing the anti-toxin for everyone. Naturally that runs counter to Cadogan’s core belief and he comments on it. At this point the opposition between familial connection and what Cadogan considers necessary for the betterment of the Human race is well established so any coverage should be devoted to exploring these positions and challenging them through different levels of scrutiny rather than simply reminding the audience that the characters don’t see eye to eye. Without adding depth to these beliefs they are ultimately meaningless as the recent episodes have continued to prove.
It seems that part of the rationale behind this episode was to tie up a few loose ends in order to streamline things for the final run of episodes. In theory that’s a reasonable idea considering it’s the final season so everything that is unresolved by the end will forever be that way; in practice the resolutions are weak and only serve to highlight how underdeveloped these plots were in the first place. I’ve mentioned in previous reviews that the complexity associated with many of the threads was stripped away over the course of the season until what was left was a hollow shell of what was being developed early on. This was particularly evident in Sanctum with the different factions being replaced by Sheidheda thinning the herd and being the only real game in town as far as that aspect of the season goes. Sheidheda is always entertaining but The 100 used to excel in having complex social dynamics in opposition to one another so to see that pushed aside for a simpler and less interesting option is a disappointment.
The major plot thread that is resolved has to do with Nikki’s desire for revenge. Now that Raven is back in Sanctum Nikki has the opportunity to confront her and Raven encourages her to go through with it because she’s guilty of everything she is being accused of. In the end Nikki is unable to go through with it and leaves her to live with what she’s done. This could have been a satisfying conclusion if there was any sense that it was building up to this. Nikki remains a really shallow character which makes her decision feel like a shock for all the wrong reasons. There was no reason to believe she would do anything other than kill Raven because her behaviour so far has painted her as being driven by nothing beyond murdering Raven. There’s no attempt to explore why she would decide to spare Raven’s life at the last second because the complexity required to justify such an action doesn’t exist. The fact that she takes greater pleasure from letting Raven suffer by having to live with her decision could have been interesting but with nothing to her beyond a visceral need for vengeance her decision feels baffling. Raven’s remorse is similarly surprising because up until this point she hasn’t expressed much in the way of regret; the show actively portrayed her as being comfortable with that decision because it was in service of what she believed to be the greater good. There were instances where she was shown to understand what she had condemned Clarke for so many times but that more helped her justify why she was right to make that decision rather than leading her down the path towards being deeply remorseful.
Gabriel remains one of the strongest fixtures on the rare occasion he is given significant coverage. The toxin bringing Josephine back by way of hallucination to serve as the proverbial Devil on his shoulder was a nice touch because it’s great to see Sara Thompson back in this role and allowed Gabriel’s morality to be tested by forcing him to confront his innermost desires while also being faced with things isn’t all that comfortable admitting. Using the example of having no idea who Nate is was great because it highlights there are so many things he’s ignorant of ranging from minor details up to things that are broadly consequential. The Josephine manifestation encouraging Gabriel to claim The Flame for himself and represent Humanity in the test makes sense as it’s consistent with Gabriel’s character that he would believe he’s the only one morally equipped to do so. His morality is at odds with that of everyone around him in that he has ethical standards he works very hard to uphold and is always the first to speak up when he thinks someone is going too far. He rarely succeeds in dissuading them but the attempt is noteworthy and it’s bound to be running through his head that nobody else is worthy to represent Humanity in whatever the test shapes out to be. Of course it’s likely Clarke will be the one to take the test but it’s very clear that she is very far from being the best choice at this point.
Character assassination is prevalent this season. In some cases it’s relatively minor such as with Raven where she is compromised but not entirely broken but in other cases it’s what has been done to Clarke. She hasn’t been a huge presence this season which automatically limits what can be done with her but what is done when she does appear is painfully weak. Her mental and emotional focus is on Madi when she returns to Sanctum which makes sense given the maternal bond that has been well established but her character has been stripped to the point where she has little else. Earlier episodes had her be a physical manifestation of grief when she thought Bellamy was dead and then she largely transitioned to an embodiment of disappointment following his baffling transformation. It presents the illusion of complexity because each of her appearances have her exuding different qualities but those qualities define her for that period of time and don’t inform what follows. She returns to Sanctum like she had never been away with the entirety of her attention being on protecting Madi as she mostly ignores everything else happening around her.
One of the cornerstones of the show since the beginning has been the Clarke and Bellamy relationship. It started off adversarial and slowly transitioned to them being united in their leadership of those around them. Their values don’t always match up and they always challenged one another in really fascinating ways that made their relationship a constantly evolving and believable one. The reduced roles for both characters means their connection isn’t the pillar of the show it once was but it can’t be said the time they do spend together is used well because so much is done to tear both characters down to husks of their former selves which actively sabotages the relationship for reasons that elude me.
Bellamy’s shift to devout follower of Cadogan was unearned, that is something I’ve stated on several occasions and no matter how often the same rhetoric was repeated it didn’t become any less true. There are real world reasons for Bellamy having a reduced role and I suspect that has a lot to do with how he was positioned this season but it feels like the writers saw this as a problem they couldn’t solve rather than an opportunity. Having less time with Bellamy over the season is a real chance to make those appearances count. Every minute he’s on screen becomes more significant because there are far less of them so they all have to be devoted to finding a satisfying resolution for his character, making use of the complex relationships developed between him and the other characters and making sure that the viewer recognised that time as valuable. His absence was treated as a mystery and his non-death was used well to an extent but his return was underplayed and the use of his character since then has been terrible.
Once again, he does little more than repeat the same tired platitudes about ascending to a higher state of being, benefiting mankind and how enlightened he has become. Clarke may have been stripped back to a shallow husk of her former self but at least she’s recognisable to a degree; the same can’t be said for Bellamy as there’s nothing left of the character that once existed. Arguably Bellamy never returned from the mountain though I would argue that he didn’t actually make it out of the previous season. It makes his death more palatable in some ways since the true essence of the character has been gone for a long time but that doesn’t alter the fact that killing him off in this way is an unforgivable disservice to him.
The framing of the moment that led up to this was essentially a battle of beliefs. Clarke was standing up for what she believed in while Bellamy was in opposition to her committed to what he now believes. A better version of this conflict could in theory exist where Bellamy’s shift is fully justified and forms the basis for a season long ideological conflict between the two characters that culminates in this moment. The version that actually exists is two characters completely divorced from almost everything that once defined them having an altercation about something trivial. Madi’s sketchbook represents her safety in the sense that if Clarke has possession of her then it can’t be used to put Madi in danger but the importance of that one item isn’t developed enough to be worth Clarke killing Bellamy over. Adding insult to injury is the fact that she doesn’t actually gain possession of it so we’ll likely spend a significant amount of time with her regretting this action because ultimately there was no positive gain from it. None of this tracks with who either of these people are supposed to be because their conflict was simplified to Clarke having the sketchbook being good and Bellamy having it being bad. Where was the long and meaningful conversation about trusting Bellamy to do the right thing or Clarke being caught up in her singular view of the situation? Instead it was relegated to bland declarative statements about Clarke being right and Bellamy being wrong. Ultimately Bellamy was killed by her for nothing more than presumably setting up emotional turmoil for her in the coming episodes. It’s an insult to nearly seven years of character development and clear indication that the production team no longer understand what they’re doing with these characters.
Realistically there wasn’t much chance of justifying Bellamy’s changed beliefs and mindset but as long as he was alive there was there was at least a possibility, however remote. His death means that the conclusion of this character is giving his life in service to something that runs in opposition to everything he was supposed to stand for because of a life changing experience that the show was completely unable to sell. His death becomes before there is an opportunity to gain closure with Echo, Octavia or any other character he had a strong connection to. His interaction with Emori even promised that when she asked him how he came to be dressed in such a way prompting the response “another time” when in fact there will be no other time. There is so much unresolved and it’s baffling that anyone would choose to end Bellamy’s contribution to the show in this way. There is firmly almost no chance of the show wrapping up in a satisfying way at this point.
A terrible episode that completely mishandles the characters, offers minimal progression and has a truly baffling ending. Some of the runtime of the episode had an old school vibe to it with a frenetic crisis that involved all of the characters and challenged the characters in different ways. There was little to no progression but seeing Indra and Sheidheda being forced to work together was entertaining in itself even if Indra was painted as less than intelligent for not confirming her kill. Bringing back the madness inducing toxin was another nice touch as it makes good use of recent mythology to establish a threat that weaves naturally throughout the various plots. Gabriel is also a strong fixture and the manifestation of Josephine as a way for him to confront his innermost desires worked really well. It was also good to see Sara Thompson back as Josephine for what likely amounts to the final time. Using the hallucination to highlight that Gabriel deep down feels worthy of taking the test was a clever way to present that knowledge and makes sense for his character.
Resolving Nikki’s desire for revenge with her letting Raven live with the guilt associated with her choice is surprising for the wrong reasons. Nikki isn’t a deep enough character for that nuanced approach and Raven hadn’t previously shown enough remorse to suggest that she regretted making that decision so ultimately it doesn’t work. Clarke and Bellamy suffer most in terms of how their characters are portrayed because their diminished appearances over the course of the season mean that the writers have stripped them down to shallow husks of their former selves. Clarke fares better in the sense that she’s recognisably Clarke to an extent but Bellamy is unrecognisable thanks to abandoning everything he’s supposed to stand for in favour of devoutly following Cadogan. This episode once again repeats the same rhetoric we’ve heard before and fails to justify this. This makes his death a terrible decision because it feels so trivial and there’s no complexity to his conflict with Clarke that leads to it. He dies without having moments with Octavia, Echo or anyone else he was close to just to push Clarke forward in away that doesn’t make much sense. it’s baffling and there is firmly almost no chance for the show wrapping up in a satisfying way at this point.
- a well paced and entertaining crisis situation
- the return of the toxin and how that naturally worked with the various plots
- Gabriel continuing to be a strong fixture
- the manifestation of Josephine
- Nikki’s decision not to kill Raven being surprising for the wrong reasons
- failing to justify Bellamy’s shift in beliefs and mindset
- Bellamy and Clarke being reduced to shallow husks of their former selves
- the Bellamy/Clarke conflict having almost no complexity
- Bellamy’s death doing a significant disservice to his character
- Bellamy dying without gaining any closure on any of his relationships
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