The 100 – Season 7 Episode 2
The 100 tells the story of Hope’s upbringing while offering more answers around what the anomaly does and how it works.
This show has certainly been venturing into weirder territory following the move to a new planet with more sci-fi driven plotting that is very different to what has been done before in a lot of ways. I don’t have an issue with this because it’s natural for storytelling to evolve over time otherwise there is a risk of things becoming stale and repetitive. The real challenge is keeping your audience on-board with the changes which means that certain core elements have to be retained in order to keep things recognisable.
The 100 has always been intensely character driven. Narrative progression is defined by how the characters react to the things they experience and how that reaction informs their decision. For the most part the relationships are the story with everything branching out from them. This foundation allows for everything from relatively low stakes storytelling like romantic relationships to large scale politically driven plots with everything always coming back to the characters. Preserving this approach as the plot becomes more sci-fi driven means that there’s always a relatable starting point with the connection coming from how the characters react to what they have to deal with.
A great example of this working is how the temporal anomaly plot is being handled. For the moment it’s an enduring mystery that is being unravelled at a measured yet reasonable pace but the real story here is Hope’s upbringing and the key relationships in her life. This episode is all about how being brought up by Diyoza and Octavia shaped her with the anomaly plot weaving seamlessly in and out of that. It’s a deceptively simple story about growing up in an isolated environment with a fantastical backdrop and it’s actually very brilliant in its execution. We’re drip-fed information about how everything works while watching Hope receive important life lessons from the two women raising her.
Before analysing the wonderful character work on display here I thought it’d be best to bullet point the answers that we have so far been given about the anomaly and other surrounding details as it is largely factual information that is interesting but doesn’t prompt a lot of analysis. The information is dropped quickly and not always organically so I do feel it’s useful to bear it in mind as it will become important as we move through the season:
- The anomaly is essentially a gateway that connects three worlds; Sanctum, Sky Ring and Bardo
- Time moves differently on Sky Ring because the planet orbits a black hole meaning that time distortion is in play
- Hope’s one day on Sanctum equates to about 100 years on Sky Ring
- The masked men are known as the Disciples, they live on Bardo and are lead by someone called Anders
- Sky Ring is used as a prison for Bardo. Anders sends those he feel need to be punished to Sky Ring for a period of time that counts down on their arm
- There are two ways to travel between the worlds. The first is using the stones -as shown at the end of the last season- with a specific code and the second is by being tagged
Based on this information it appears that time on Sanctum and Bardo will pass at the same rate with time on Sky Ring passing at a much slower rate. This is a clever set-up as it allows Sanctum and Bardo -sure to be one of the major conflicts of the season- to remain in sync while vast chunks of plot can take place on Sky Ring over a very short period of time in the other two places. This episode gives us an idea of what that might look like with Hope living for 20 years and very little time passing for those on Sanctum. As long as the rules are applied consistently then this should make for an engaging device that can be used in really intriguing ways.
In the case of this episode it allows the early years of Hope’s life to play out while very little time passes on Sanctum. This means that Octavia and Diyoza can have significant character development when the other characters don’t change. It’s a good way to quickly move these characters into a healthier emotional space without having to spend several seasons getting them to that point. On one hand it is a cheat as time is being manipulated to make this possible but on the other it makes perfect sense in context as the situation is set up as being a stable one for both of them for a long period of time.
The most immediately striking thing in this episode is how much Hope changes Diyoza. Motherhood mellows her significantly with her focus completely shifted to ensuring that she gives her daughter the best life possible. Her tendency towards violence and her desire to take control are practically gone in favour of her maternal instincts. The change feels entirely justified because the setting believably inspires contentment and Hope is so named because she provides Diyoza the opportunity to make those changes. Ivana Miličević conveys this shift perfectly without losing the edge that made the character so engaging before now. It’s as if Hope gives her the purpose her life was lacking before and she’s determined not to waste the opportunity.
Octavia is initially less inclined to settle down and focuses her energies on going back through the anomaly. It’s not easy because it can only be accessed by swimming to the green light in the lake but she can’t hold her breath long enough to reach it. It’s an obsession that defines the early part of her time on Sky Ring with the main issue being that her goal is only just out of reach. A solution seems to present itself when she stumbles onto a dead body wearing a high-tech suit but Diyoza sabotages it to prevent Octavia from returning to Sanctum. She does so because she’s worried about attracting unwanted attention that could end up putting her daughter in danger but she’s also looking out for Octavia and trying to stop this obsession from taking over her life and preventing her from focusing her mental energies on something healthier.
Diyoza asks Octavia what makes her so driven to go back to Bellamy and Octavia tells her that she needs to tell Bellamy that she recognises that he was right about the darkness that was within her. She also wants to show him that she has the ability to overcome it and that she understands everything he did in order to protect her. It’s a catharsis that she feels that she needs and to her it’s necessary to make things right with him. Ultimately she outlines this in a letter that she drops in the lake in the hope that it’ll make it to Sanctum and be found. With no way to safely access the anomaly this is what she has to settle for which begins the process of her redefining her life after accepting that she has to make the best of the situation she has rather than wasting time going after something that is always going to be out of her reach.
Octavia’s inability to reach the anomaly is a good metaphor for the constant struggle that her life has become. She is always fighting to achieve something whether it be acceptance as a leader or proving to Bellamy that she’s a worthy sister. Most of her actions -right or wrong- are in service of proving something to someone else and her desire to return to Sanctum is no different. Accepting that she can’t go back there means that she focuses on herself for the first time in a long time and finds something else to define her.
Diyoza and Octavia collectively raising Hope mirrors Clarke raising Madi with Gaia in the previous episode. The adult Hope repeating stories she has been told about people is a direct reference to Madi’s upbringing as well which frames the characters as almost legendary figures in the eyes of the next generation as well as being fairly one dimensional from that perspective as the stories will have been curated to make a particular point and tinted by the longing in those that tell them. In the case of Hope this means that she has an expectation of those she has been told about that they won’t be prepared to live up to because they have no idea what they are supposed to be in her eyes. They can either disappoint or exceed those expectations depending on how their actions are interpreted. It’s an interesting angle to approach the foundation of a relationship and I’m glad to see the writers going back to this after it worked so well with Madi.
There is a major difference between the Clarke/Gaia and Octavia/Diyoza parental dynamics. Clark and Gaia read as a platonic connection that may or may not develop into something more where Octavia and Diyoza have a much deeper bond that has been forged from their shared experience. The circumstances are far difference as Clarke and Gaia have a support system surrounding them meaning that they do have others to fall back on when needed where Octiavia and Diyoza only have each other. They banded together and looked out for each other when nobody else was prepared to accept them. This has created a very unique bond between them that is powerful and used brilliantly in the context of building a stable life for Hope.
Octavia changes a lot after abandoning her obsession with returning to Sanctum though her protective instincts kick in before that. The callbacks to her own childhood with Octavia using what she remembers Bellamy doing when raising her were a really nice touch and a good way to involve Bellamy in the episode in a small way without him appearing. His influence is all over Octavia’s parental actions and it’s definitely a positive one. Rather than getting back so that she can make things right with Bellamy she honours him by using what he taught her to benefit Hope. This is one way she can make him proud even if she can’t show him that she has bettered herself.
Unfortunately the lack of understanding of how the anomaly actually works ends up causing issues when Octavia’s letter is found by the disciples of Bardo who send troops to investigate its origin. They capture Octavia and Diyoza but not before Octavia hides Hope in the wall of their house in yet another callback to her own childhood. This action shows how much Octavia has grown as she chooses not to fight because protecting Hope is more important and allowing themselves to be captured means that they have a chance to escape later to make it back to her. Tragically that isn’t something they manage to do and Hope has to spend 10 years of her life without her mother or “Auntie O” which shapes her just as profoundly.
The two stories within this episode are told in parallel with the scenes featuring Hope’s childhood seamlessly tying into her present. Information noted in those scenes enhances the present day narrative and adds depth to what she says. We slowly understand how strong her connection to Octavia is and what motivates her to take certain actions. The clarification that she was tagging Octavia rather than stabbing her to kill her was done well for instance even if the reaction from Echo and Gabriel is fairly muted. It makes sense for Gabriel to be able to accept this information at least to some extent but all of this should be a lot for Echo to take in as it’s a challenge to everything she understands about how the world works.
Generally speaking the Hope/Echo/Gabriel scenes are about answering questions, deepening the mystery and moving the plot forward. It could easily not work at all but everything remains focused on the characters. Hope’s determination to find her mother keeps things moving and the shift from hostility to acceptance where Echo is concerned is believable. her life had been spent believing one thing about her based on a singular account of the sort of person she is but when she spends time in Echo’s company she begins to form her own opinion and understand that the perspective she has been given through her upbringing isn’t all there is. Their bond goes both ways with Echo recognising Hope’s loyalty and strength. It’s very much a battlefield bond that is defined by circumstance and very well handled in the context of the episode. Trust is beginning to form because Hope is so forthcoming with information and Echo consistently proves that she can be counted on.
Gabriel doesn’t fare quite as well as Echo and Hope because his main job is to puzzle through the information and start to plan a way out of the situation. This means he does a lot of technical work and theorising but not a lot else. He does fold into the ongoing dynamic really well but more could be done to develop him as a character. It’s the right place for him as he understands how the technology works and has the right mind to figure out their next move but more depth is required to make it meaningful.
An excellent episode that does a great job balancing the increase in sci-fi driven plotting with strong and relatable characterisation. Diyoza and Octavia sharing the responsibility of raising Hope is particularly well done because it makes great use of their particular dynamic. Where Clarke and Gaia take a platonic approach to raising Madi, Diyoza and Octavia have a far more profound bond because of everything they have been through together. They supported each other when they had nobody else to turn to and that has created something powerful. Diyoza is significantly mellowed by motherhood to the point that she seems to have found purpose with Hope being her entire priority. Octavia takes a bit longer to get there because she is obsessed with going back through the anomaly to return to Sanctum. She does this because she wants to find Bellamy and tell him he was right about the darkness within her while showing him her ability to overcome it. Instead she has to articulate this in a letter when Diyoza forces her hand which ends up inviting more trouble to them. Octavia’s parental style is a nice callback to her own upbringing with Bellamy including the unfortunate detail of having to hide Hope in the wall. This shows how much she has grown as fighting back is a secondary concern to her in this moment because being captured means more of a chance to escape and protect Hope.
The other story follows Echo, Gabriel and Hope and adds context to the Octavia/Diyoza/Hope plot through Hope explaining certain details about her life. In some cases there is too much information given to the viewer about how certain things work. Gabriel taking it in his stride makes sense to an extent but Echo should have more difficulty making sense of it all. Another issue is that the information isn’t delivered as organically as it could be which makes it stand out. Despite that, the characterisation remains strong especially where Hope and Echo are concerned. They form a believable battlefield bond and Hope’s assumptions based on the limited perspective she was given growing up create the right kind of tension in their dynamic. It’s resolved believably with both coming to realisations about the other that deepen their connection. Hope’s determination also carries the plot nicely. Gabriel suffers slightly as his main job is to sift through the information in order to figure out their next move which means that character development takes something of a back seat for him. He works well in the overall dynamic but more depth is required in order to make his role more meaningful.
- the Octavia/Diyoza dynamic as they raise Hope together
- making great use of their unique bond and adding more depth to it
- Octavia’s acceptance of everything Bellamy said about her and her ability to put it behind her
- Diyoza’s renewed sense of purpose now that her priorities have shifted
- adult Hope’s determination carrying the other plot nicely
- her battlefield bond with Echo
- the exploration of limited perspectives and assumptions being changed by first hand experience
- more answers to the ongoing mystery
- too much information given with little time to actually process it
- Gabriel’s character development suffering because his role is to sift through the information
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