The 100 – Season 7 Episode 4
The 100 starts to move the major pieces around so that they can inevitably converge on a central point that moves the plot forward.
This season’s major advantage is also its major disadvantage. There are a lot of characters with arcs to resolve as well as a lot of stories to develop and conclude. This is a good thing because there’s a wealth of content that can be explored meaning there is never time for anything to become stale but there’s a real danger of there being too much going on for the available episodes to handle.
As always, The 100 excels at character. The smaller moments that have little to do with ongoing plots but have everything to do with how the characters relate to one another, learn and grow are what this show does best. A great example of that can be seen in the opening minutes where Hope finds herself alone after Diyoza and Octavia are taken through the anomaly. She happens upon a prisoner named Dev (Kamran Fulleylove) who eats a poisonous berry and has to be nursed back to health. The fact that Hope does this without hesitation says so much about her. At this point in her life she has no concept of malice because she had been brought up to be the embodiment of what her name suggests. We know from “The Garden” that Octavia and Diyoza resolved to work together to make sure Hope was better than either of them and the way she reacts to Dev shows that they succeeded. Dev takes a shine to her as well; he teaches her how to defend herself and looks after her for the time that they’re together. Much of this is done through visual storytelling with a musical backdrop to help convey the emotion and it works brilliantly. We see how close they become over a fairly long period of time and it answers the question of where Hope learned her skills. Even though Dev never becomes a character because he isn’t around long enough to do so there’s still a clear sense of his importance in Hope’s life which gives his loss the right impact.
Orlando’s (Darren Moore) presence is used as a contrast to the connection between Hope and Dev. It’s agreed that they will have to use him in order to secure their escape. This is something that causes her a lot of discomfort as the idea of using someone else in order to secure your own goals is less than palatable for her. She talks as if she used Dev and that ended poorly for him which makes sense as a takeaway from that situation from her perspective even if what was depicted in the opening minutes of the episode tells a different story. Hope’s perception of that relationship has been clouded by how it ended and she feels responsible for what happened to him. Knowingly doing so with another person doesn’t sit well with her but there’s also an awareness of the greater good at play especially with Echo and Gabriel feeding into the decision.
The decision is made more difficult by the fact that they have to wait over 4 years until they’ll have a chance to pass through the anomaly as that’s the time left on Orlando’s sentence so there’s plenty of time to bask in the guilt associated with the decision to actively use another person. It’s something that Echo is more comfortable with because of the hardship she has endured in her own life but Hope comes from a place of relative innocence and has only met a handful of people in her life so has a lot of trouble with it. It’s an interesting dilemma that adds constant tension to these scenes due to the knowledge that someone is being exploited. Added to that is Orlando having a reverence for Hope after finding the remains of her childhood around the cabin. From his perspective she was last there over a century ago but for Hope it has been almost no time at all. The fact that he has almost mythologised her childhood is really compelling and the discomfort that causes everyone weaves into this really well.
Orlando’s presence also allows for greater development of the mystery that is Bardo. It is revealed that he’s a 12th level disciple who follows someone known as “The Shepherd”. This is most likely a deliberate callback to the doomsday cult/pyramid scheme that Jaha discovered during the events of season 4 where members had to level up to the 12th seal so that they could be granted entry to the bunker and survive. Bill Cadogan’s buzz phrase at that point was “from the ashes, we will rise”; the first part of which was the title of the first episode of this season so there is a clear connection being drawn. Considering all that is revealed about how easy it is -relatively speaking- to travel between planets it’s entirely possibly that Cadogan is still alive and at the head of the cult on Bardo. Some of the dialogue suggests that it’s a riff on Christianity as well with references to disciples, the significance of the number 12 and the fact that Orlando was punished for not observing a Holy day. I like the reminders of the Earth as it was in our time through how the details have been repurposed and reinterpreted over time. It’s an awareness of what has come before without the full historical context. That sort of thing adds texture to the universe the show occupies and makes it feel all the more lived in.
The problems in this plot present themselves most clearly at the end of it. Echo’s decision to leave Orlando on the planet while they travel through the wormhole makes sense because she recognises his loyalty to the Disciples and sees that as a liability that will definitely create problems for them at a later point. Despite that it’s very cold to leave him stranded for years alone after his sentence was supposed to be up and her lack of compassion for that isn’t entirely justified particularly with her spending over four years with him. The narrative shorthand for the passage of time is Hope and Echo having shorter hair which works to illustrate that but it also highlights that there is so much of that time we don’t see so there’s no real sense of how the relationships have developed. Based on how this part of the episode plays out it seems that not a lot has changed which is very unrealistic.
Those in Sanctum become involved in this plot when Captain Meredith (Josh Blacker) shows up with his squadron of soldiers in high tech suits to issue threats along with cryptic rhetoric about Clarke being “the key to winning the last War Mankind will ever rage”. It seems to be going peacefully at first until it becomes known that Clarke is the target because Echo and her group are deemed responsible for the death of Orlando. I couldn’t help but feel for Orlando as clearly the prospect of an indefinite period of isolation drove him to suicide which really isn’t something anyone deserves.
There’s a lot of plot here which means there’s a lot to keep up with and there’s no indication of any time to slow down and actually process the information. The Sanctum scenes in particular are concerned with moving things along, answering questions, asking new ones and taking the characters away to put them in different scenarios. I’m very interested in how all this works because it’s an intriguing science fiction concept and the high level details are easy to follow especially in the way they are explained. The multiple planets connected by wormholes where time passes at different rates has a lot of potential particularly for when the characters inevitably join up again. If some of them have aged to a significant degree then their perspective on life might change completely to the point that they can impart very different wisdom on the others. It all depends how it all comes together particularly when Bardo is a planet of unanswered questions. There’s talk of extracting memories which explains how they have such comprehensive information on Clarke on the others while suggesting that Bellamy might be in a pretty bad way when he’s eventually found. It’s glaring that we’re a quarter of the way through the season and he hasn’t appeared beyond a quick cameo in the opening episode so hopefully his absence will be justified and his return worthwhile.
I found there to be a stark contrast between the Sanctum scenes and the Sky Ring scenes because of the differences in pace. The Sky Ring scenes had a far more deliberate pace where individual moments were allowed to happen and settle where the Sanctum scenes were constantly moving onto the next thing. Clarke has a quick conversation with Raven about the choices she made in the previous episode before things move on, Raven feels guilty about killing the soldiers briefly before moving onto investigating how the wormholes work and so on. These moments are good and make sense for the most part but there’s no time for anything to settle. Fair enough in crisis situations people have to be alert at all times but the pace is relentless which means that some of the information being thrown at the viewer risks being lost in the mix. There is one notable exception involving Clarke and Gaia where they both take the time to acknowledge their partnership, think about Madi and come up with a plan that is likely to be in her best interests. The fact that it doesn’t end up that way and Gaia is taken to parts unknown doesn’t take anything away from that and the moment reinforces the strength of that partnership.
With different configurations of the main characters scattered over such a wide distance it’s hard to see how everything will come together into a cohesive whole by the end. Of course there could be a brilliant plan that has it all make sense in the coming episodes but I’m left wondering what will happen in Sanctum without Clarke around to help manage the situation. There’s an argument that things might progress more smoothly without her around but the problem of Sheidheda gaining support in the guise of Russell still exists and there are less people to deal with him. Seeing Murphy, Emori and Indra taking charge would have a lot of potential though equally it’s possible that the others will be gone for very little time from Sanctum’s perspective so it’s a plot that can literally pick up where it left off. The shifting momentum between the various plots could prove problematic though we have yet to see how it all plays out.
A good episode that both answers and asks questions while still allowing for really strong characterisation. The opening minutes showing Hope being mentored by Dev after she shows him kindness were a great near silent depiction of a relationship developing over time. The fact that she helps him without hesitation reinforces the purity of her upbringing and the innocent perspective that she brings to the table makes her stand out in really interesting ways. It’s not surprising that she feels that she used Dev in the same way that they will have to use Orlando even though what is depicted on screen isn’t the case. Her perception has been clouded by the way it ended and she always carries it with her. Orlando having a reverence for Hope brought on by the way time passes on Sky Ring/Penance is a great character detail that helps add to the mounting tension throughout these scenes. Echo’s decision to abandon him because she recognises his loyalty to the Disciples is really cold but makes sense from her point of view even if her lack of compassion isn’t entirely justified though the rapid time skip with no indication that the relationships have changed all that much doesn’t help with that.
The Sanctum scenes are much more rapidly paced than those on Penance which makes the two plots feel disjointed. On Penance there’s time to let moments settle before things move on but the Sanctum scenes burn through plot rapidly so any strong character beat is somewhat undercut by the fact that things need to move on. We do get some compelling answers and the sci-fi plot involving planets where time passes at different rates is fascinating but moving this on at the expense of the characterisation is the wrong decision, especially in this show where characterisation is its strong suit. There are exceptions such as the excellent Clarke and Gaia moment that reinforces the strength of their partnership. At this point it’s hard to see how the various plots will come together and how things like the Sheidheda thread will tie in but there could be a grand plan that will have everything make sense. Bellamy’s absence is definitely felt so hopefully his return will be worthwhile and he will be used well when he reappears.
- the near soundless endearing and meaningfully developed Dev/Hope relationship in the opening minutes
- Hope’s perception of her relationship with Dev being clouded by how it ended
- Orlando being used to answer certain questions, tease connections to plots in previous seasons and open up other mysteries
- the fun and easy to follow sci-fi plot developing involving time passing at different rates and other concepts
- the really strong Clarke/Gaia moment that reinforces their excellent partnership
- the jarring differences in pace between the two plots
- the time jump happening with no real indication that much had changed in the character relationships
- moving plot forward too quickly at the expense of characterisation
- Bellamy’s very noticeable absence
What did you think? Select your rating in the “User Review” box below
User Review( votes)
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.