On the D/L – The 100
Season 1 Episode 15 – “Blood Must Have Blood, Part 1”
Only one more of The 100 season 2 to go and it’s all pretty tense across the board for every group involved in the plot.
I must say I was impressed that the episode didn’t turn out to be the all out brawl I was expecting it to be and instead went for a more sedate, tension filled game of chess. It was all about the planning and the tactics this week and that’s always infinitely more interesting to me in lots of ways.
The opening scene was incredible and really set the tone for the remainder of the episode. Clarke laying out the plan to the people who follow her with confidence and determination was a great moment for her character and really shows how far she has come since being deposited on Earth at the start of season 1. She -and the others- have lost loved ones, had their resolve tested, been under threat of death many times and have still managed to come out the other end of it all the stronger. They are battle hardened now and that really comes across here. I really appreciated the sense of humanity to Clarke as she reminded the army that she and Lexa lead that this was a rescue mission and not an attack. They weren’t going to do anything that would result in the people within Mount Weather being dead. They are only here to retrieve their people and leave.
After this the episode focuses on that mission and the part people have to play in making it succeed. It’s an ambitious plan and relies on a lot of good fortune for everything to work out but at the same time it’s solid and well thought out. The old action movie trope of rising action is employed to perfection here. For those unfamiliar with the term that’s when a problem is presented forcing the character to think of a solution that then leads them to a bigger problem. The episode is full of this but it works really well and doesn’t really feel contrived when it happens.
A good example of this is when Raven is faced with the issue of not having enough bombs to take out the turbines but comes up with a solution on the spot which then leads her to think on her feet and come up with a solution. This works for Raven because she’s faced with an engineering problem and draws on the previously established trait of using her initiative to improvise a solution. It’s something that only Raven could do and it works wonderfully. I also liked that her next problem called back to her injury earlier in the season. Seeing her moment of vulnerability with Wick as she fears being left alone in the situation as well as in her life was a nice touch as well. I like it when Raven is given more depth like this.
That’s only one example of well earned character driven action in this episode. Another great one comes from Cage and his dynamic with his father. Cage has always been one to exude confidence to those around him but when it comes down to it he’s unsure and terrified so him seeking the council of his father makes a lot of sense here. I also like how Dante’s sympathy for the Ark survivors as well as the recognition of the Grounders as a threat plays into the advice he gives Cage. Dante has always had his own prejudices over who he considers worthy of human treatment. As far as he’s concerned Grounders are savages and therefore deserve to used where the Ark survivors are civilised and are worth protecting. Whether or not that’s right is beside the point as Dante always sticks to his beliefs no matter how flawed they are.
I found it interesting that his plan was to form a truce with the Grounders in exchange for keeping the 44 prisoners. It removes the larger threat and still keeps what is needed to sustain Mount Weather. It works from the perspective of saving their own people and the consequences of it should be interesting.
This brings me to Lexa’s betrayal of Clarke. She accepts the deal to free all of the Grounder prisoners and leaves Clarke and her people to their own devices. I have to admit this was something I didn’t see coming but again this was Lexa playing to her strengths. It has been well established that she’s willing to do the thing that will benefit most of her people in the long run no matter how difficult or morally questionable that decision might be so her decision to turn on Clarke is consistent with that. Lexa is clearly upset about it but does it because she feels that it’s the only way she will be left alone. Dooming the 44 Ark prisoners to death is something she will have to live with but in her own mind she has done the right thing.
Clarke’s reaction to this was played magnificently by Eliza Taylor. Her face showed anger, disbelief and a lot of pain as she pondered the ramifications of this as well as the sense of personal betrayal she felt. Her and Lexa had found a lot of respect in one another which has manifested romantically recently so this betrayal is a personal one for Clarke that will naturally hurt a great deal.
I found Octavia’s acceptance by Indra as a Grounder followed by an almost immediate reversal of that opinion to be really clumsy. The only reason this fell apart was because Octavia wanted to help her brother. Surely Indra would be able to accept that and someone could help her out with that. After all, family is important to the Grounders so therefore this devotion should have been respected. I feel like it’s a contrivance to isolate Octavia and make her feel like she doesn’t belong anywhere. To what end I don’t know but I guess we’ll find out.
Maya’s parents being gunned down and her reaction to that works on paper but in practice there wasn’t enough time spent developing her parents to give this the impact it needed to have. From an audience point of view it’s new characters that we met who have now been killed. Sure senseless killing is never nice to see but I wasn’t really invested in them as characters so it didn’t really mean anything. It’s something that happens a lot on The Walking Dead -at least before I stopped watching it- and it was never effective there either.
There was another contrivance that bothered me. Cage’s decision not to have any soldiers waiting at the entrance didn’t make any sense. Surely he should be preparing for the eventuality that the door isn’t as impenetrable as it’s supposed to be. It smells of a clumsy plot point and plays out as one.
I found the cliffhanger to be really effective. Clarke being left isolated as a battle with the Mount Weather residents looms with comparatively little backup is a tense moment to leave the episode on. Bellamy arriving at the Harvest chamber to find it empty is another really effective cliffhanger that builds anticipation for next week.
A well paced and excellently plotted penultimate episode that both works in its own right as well as setting the stage for next week’s finale.
The opening sequence where Clarke confidently lays out the plan and reminds everyone that it’s a rescue mission above all else is really great at showing how far the characters have come and that Clarke is an incredibly natural leader.
After that the mission is put together really well with lots of exciting action that allows the characters to play to their strengths. Raven in particular has some great moments where she gets to use her improvisational skills as well as her engineering knowledge to think her way out of a problem. It’s also great to see a moment of vulnerability from her.
Cage’s dynamic with his father is nicely played as well as reinforcing Dante’s stance on Grounders vs. the Ark survivors. He sees Grounders as savages and Ark people as civilised. This thinking informs his advice in a big way as well as his idea of which is the bigger threat. His plan to make a truce with them makes a lot of sense and solves a major problem for Mount Weather.
Lexa’s acceptance of that truce was a shock that also made sense. She has always been characterised as a strong leader who is willing to do what is best for her people no matter how tough a decision that may be. Her affection for Clarke doesn’t cloud her judgement and the foreknowledge of how this has grown helps the audience realise how tough a decision it was while giving it more impact when she arrives at it. Eliza Taylor plays Clarke’s reaction to this wonderfully and clearly shows how hurt she is by this betrayal.
Octavia’s acceptance by Indra as being a Grounder followed by an almost immediate reversal because Octavia wanted to help Bellamy felt unbelievably forced. Indra should understand the value of family and made sure she had helped. This just felt off to me.
Maya’s parents being killed and her reaction to it felt unearned due to the fact they were only introduced last week. If they had been included from the outset this might have meant more but as it sits it feels a little clumsy.
The cliffhanger of everything falling apart for the Ark survivors at the same time was effective. Clarke’s isolation coupled with Bellamy’s discovery that the Harvest chamber was empty set things up really nicely for next week.