The 100 – Season 7 Episode 12
The 100 deals with the fallout of Bellamy’s shift in allegiance as Sheidheda continues to force his authority on the people of Sanctum.
This season has been massively consistent in overall quality as my previous reviews have outlined but among the consistently excellent elements of it have been JR Bourne’s performance as Sheidheda and Murphy’s growth into a community leadership position. Murphy’s self serving nature has been a constant obstacle preventing him from living up to his full potential but this season has really focused on him growing beyond that and slotting naturally into a role that feels right for him.
It’s still unfortunate that the complexity of the situation in Sanctum has been stripped down to a shadow of what was promised but the focus on Murphy and Emori’s handling of what the situation has become goes some of the way towards making up for it. Emori takes on more of a supporting role at the moment with Murphy being the central figure which makes a lot of sense in context as his unorthodox thinking proves to be the perfect foil for Sheidheda’s aggressive campaign to remove all potential opposition to his leadership.
Unfortunately the writers seem to have a lack of confidence in their ability to show Murphy’s growth as they have other characters reference how much he has grown. Both Indra and Emori comment on how impressed they are by the man he has become. In the case of Indra it’s somewhat satisfying to see her at the point of respecting him given her less than flattering opinions of him in the past but the execution of this was really heavy handed with some very clumsy dialogue. Emori shouldn’t have to point out how impressed she is with what he’s becoming as that should be evident in how their relationship is portrayed. Murphy’s behaviour is enough to get this point across and the trust Indra places in him by coming to him unprompted is enough to show the shift in her opinion of him so it’s unnecessary to use dialogue to directly draw attention to it.
Despite that, Murphy is used really well in the episode. His concern for the people he’s protecting and his desire to keep them safe from Sheidheda comes across very clearly with his well honed survival instincts prominently displayed in dealing with the various problems that come his way. The episode opens with Murphy and Emori willingly kneeling before Sheidheda because both of them know that they’ll be in a better position to resist him if they don’t resist right away since anyone that doesn’t kneel before him will be instantly killed. Emori makes this clear when she urges others to kneel so that they can fight another day. It’s the kind of pragmatic approach to be expected from those characters and leads naturally into what they set up in order to resist Sheidheda in small yet definitive ways. At the moment he holds all the power as he has a lot of followers and no qualms about killing anyone who might stand in his way. Murphy and Emori’s plan involves ensuring their survival and then making use of the reactor to guarantee that they continue to survive.
Chess has been used frequently to illustrate how strategically Sheidheda thinks and the games he plays with various characters normally indicated how easily he could manipulate them. In essence he would typically be thinking several moves ahead which would assure his victory over them. Murphy is different because he doesn’t underestimate Sheidheda so doesn’t play to win. This comes into play in a really satisfying way in this episode when Emori threatens to blow up the reactor if he doesn’t back away. Murphy points out that the people hiding in the reactor have nothing to lose as letting him through the door guarantees their death so it makes no real difference whether they die by being shot or die from a reactor explosion. It makes a difference to Sheidheda as the second option means that he and his followers die. Murphy rightly calls it a stalemate as neither of them can beat the other at this point without a personal loss they can’t come back from.
Sheidheda’s conviction is clearly shown by his immediate slaughter of Nelson and the rest of the Children of Gabriel -except one- when they refuse to kneel. It’s important to establish that Sheidheda is serious and will carry out what he promises without hesitation in order to ensure that the stakes are believable. Wiping out the Children of Gabriel is a further simplification of the overall situation and the loss of Nelson feels ill advised given how much potential he had but it was the right move in terms of establishing the threat level for this episode. The stakes feel meaningful and there’s a great deal of urgency associated with the situation.
Indra sits on the sidelines of this conflict by choice as she recognises that it would be suicide if she were to move against Sheidheda now. She is shown to help Murphy and Emori in subtle ways while pledging her reluctant loyalty to Sheidheda who takes pleasure in humiliating her by making Trikru clean up the blood of his recent victims. Indra proudly stands with her people and helps clean up the blood even when Sheidheda tells her that she doesn’t have to. There exists the potential for a complex dynamic between these characters that there probably isn’t enough time left in the show to properly develop. At this point it seems that Sheidheda respects Indra and may even be afraid of her which means that he takes more pleasure from her being subservient to him. Indra clearly deeply detests him and the position she feels forced into for what she considers to be the greater good. Her allegiance to him means that Madi is safe and that’s very important to her so she will stay in this humiliating position until she is able to gain the upper hand. Any time the two characters interact it’s really engaging and JR Bourne plays Sheidheda’s delight in having Indra in this position brilliantly. Adina Porter plays the barely concealed contempt and the anger sitting just beneath the surface equally brilliantly.
The survivor of the Children of Gabriel massacre has one survivor; Luca (Dylan Kingwell). Indra brings him to Murphy and Emori who put him with the others hiding in the reactor. This leads to a really strong scene between Madi and Luca who have the fact that they have experienced the loss of everyone they care about in common. Prior to this episode there wasn’t really any coverage of Madi’s perspective on her losses so it’s really interesting to get it here in the context of her using it to help Luca process what he has just experienced. She delivers a moving account of witnessing everyone she cared about die along with her personal experience of things getting better when Clarke helped her deal with her loss by giving her a family again. The implication is that Madi is offering to take up a similar role in Luca’s life while making it clear to him that he doesn’t have to suffer alone or in silence. It’s great to get Madi’s perspective on what she experienced and her description paints a very visceral experience of what she went through.
Nikki may have failed to amount to much as an antagonist but she’s used really well here as a further example of Murphy’s ability to manage difficult situations. He reiterates to her the sacrifice her husband made and the reasons he made it while also clearly outlining that her choices are either to be held prisoner in the core where she’ll eventually be killed by radiation or be more cooperative. Murphy’s promise to honour Hatch when the situation becomes less urgent is very sincere and the hint that Nikki might not be entirely willing to back down makes sense. She’s now more of a random element that may be used to heighten tension at a key moment later on or perhaps her grief could be pointed in a positive direction. The uncertainty surrounding her is established well and Murphy’s brief negotiation is nicely done.
On Bardo, Bellamy is confirmed to be a full believer in Cadogan’s teachings. He cleans himself up and dons a robe while talking in a very detached obedient manner. There is an attempt to justify why he changed his mind by having him detail the turning point for him as was seen in the previous episode but it still fails to be believable because it runs counter to Bellamy’s character to be so easily sucked in by complimentary events that could easily be an unlikely coincidence. He does state that his experience is simply another once thought impossible thing in a string of impossible things which admittedly does make some sense considering the characters have had to deal with a Matrix style digital construct, new planets with actual alien life on them, time dilation, consciousness being transferred into new bodies among other things so Bellamy receiving a sign from an evolved being pointing him towards a particular belief system is less outlandish than it once was. What doesn’t work is Bellamy’s shift from being a sceptic to a believer with no hint of scepticism lingering within him. For the moment he seems to have become an entirely different person and the expectation that we as viewers should just run with that is very concerning. It also seems unlikely that he could be believably redeemed in the time left.
There are shades of his former self within that in his discussions with Cadogan. His loyalty to his friends is still apparent as shown by his continued focus on making sure that his friends are safe. He also tests Cadogan’s commitment to his own beliefs by directly asking about how close he was to Anders. Cadogan passes the test and is very direct about the fact that his friends have to face consequences for the crimes they have committed within that belief system. Bellamy’s offer is to explore the possibility of repairing The Flame using the technology that Cadogan’s people have access to but this is in exchange for the guarantee that his friends won’t be harmed. Cadogan’s reluctant but mentions his daughter which Bellamy uses as an additional incentive for him which seems to work. It’s a fairly simple conversation though not a bad one as it shows that Bellamy hasn’t been completely changed by this one experience which is at least somewhat reassuring and also suggests that Cadogan may not entirely live up to the commitment to being fully detached. It’s easy to understand why he would have difficulty as his followers have been conditioned into that way of thinking for their entire life where he originated those ideas while having close personal attachments to his family. The fact that mention of his daughter and the possibility of seeing what happened to her is a big part of why he changes his mind suggests an uncertainty on his part that may come into play in the near future though equally it could be forgotten or simplified as many things have.
Ultimately anything positive from Bellamy and Cadogan’s conversation is countered by his behaviour elsewhere in the episode. There’s very little of who he was in the interactions he has with Raven, Echo and Clarke. They all recognise that he isn’t the same person and all he has to counter it with is vague statements about the greater good. It’s too significant a shift for Bellamy without proper justification. It’s good that the other characters acknowledge that but the in-universe justification for such a profound shift in Bellamy’s mindset is nowhere near good enough.
There was room for some interesting interactions on Bardo. One particularly unexpected pairing was Hope and Jordan who had an interaction that focused on their unique status as outsiders to the overall group dynamic that has built over years. Hope is grieving over the loss of her mother two episodes ago and is struggling to process her feelings. Her loss is tainted by guilt as she feels directly responsible for Diyoza’s death and she has no way to deal with it because she doesn’t feel that she can turn to anyone. Jordan extends her an olive branch by highlighting their overall similarities. Both were raised in near isolation hearing stories about the people they now interact with but not actually being part of those stories. As such neither of them feel particularly close to the reality of those people. Hope was raised for 10 years by Octavia and Diyoza but since most of her life was spent apart from them her memories of them became exaggerated as tends to happen when separated from people for a period of time. It will be intensified for her due to her perspective on them being that of a child. Jordan’s observation is enough to get her talking and she opens up to him about her guilt which gives her feelings the outlet that she sorely needs. It’s a great character beat for both with Jordan being compassionate, understanding and supporting where Hope gets to the point where she unravels. The structure of this season means that I hadn’t previously drawn the connection between Hope and Jordan in terms of their background so I was pleasantly surprised to see how naturally they fit together. They represent the next generation and what the future could be. Hope and Jordan have been tainted by the mistakes of those who came before them to different extents though they still have greater innocence than most and may be best suited to building a better future. I’d like to see more of this pairing.
Octavia and Clarke find more common ground over their experiences with motherhood. The calm and resolute Octavia returns in this conversation; even though it’s very brief it does constitute a positive step forward in their relationship as Octavia is now in a position to understand the rationale behind some of Clarke’s more questionable decisions. The actors are consistently great at selling the changes in these characters even though the season hasn’t necessarily done a good job of making the years lived by the characters as evident as they should be but no complaints about the cast having to portray these changes after the fact. Assuming it’s possible to accept the changes then these scenes work really well because the dynamic shifts in a believable and compelling way.
It’s still very concerning how slowly narratives are progressing given how near the end of the show is. It’s good that time is being taken to deliver engaging character moments and that at least some of the characters are developing in compelling ways but there remains a massive imbalance between that and the storytelling. All that really happens here is the suggestion that it might be possible to repair The Flame and many of the characters end up in the same place by the end. Things will likely move very quickly which means that the ending will feel rushed overall. There are so many questions left to answer and threads to tie up that it’s difficult to see how this will be done in a satisfying way though at least many of the characters are in a better position to interact in the next episode assuming the focus doesn’t drift elsewhere as it has done previously.
An episode that highlights Murphy’s growth in a really clear and compelling way while making great use of particular character pairings. Murphy’s growth has been consistently strong over the course of the season as he moves towards a position of leadership with his pragmatic approach working well within the confines of the situation. Some of the dialogue pointing this out is unnecessary and heavy handed as his actions clearly show how much he has grown. His unconventional thinking proves to be a strong foil for Sheidheda’s attempts to take over and the way he sets up a scenario where none of them can win feels ideally suited to his character. The massacre of the Children of Gabriel unfortunately further simplifies and already overly simplified situation but the resulting conversation between the survivor, Luca and Madi is great. It allows for unique insight into Madi’s life before she met Clarke and puts her in Clarke’s position where Luca’s concerned. Indra remains on the sidelines but her reluctant allegiance to Sheidheda provides an opportunity for an interesting dynamic that may not have time to be explored properly. Nikki is used fairly well here as another example of Murphy’s ability to manage the situation. There is still a hint that she may not be willing to back down which makes her a random element that will likely be used to heighten tension at a later point but Murphy’s brief negotiation works well.
The confirmation that Bellamy is a full believer in Cadogan’s teachings is disappointing and the further attempts to justify it completely fail. There’s no good in-universe reason for his mindset to shift so radically. It is comforting that there are shades of his former self as seen in his conversation with Cadogan where he negotiates for his friends to be let go by appealing to what is important to Cadogan but it’s still too large a departure from what we know about the character. This is acknowledged by those he interacts with but it’s unlikely that Bellamy will be redeemable by the time the show comes to an end. There were some really strong interactions on Bardo such as Jordan and Hope who bond over the fact that they are both outsiders to the overall group dynamic having grown up outside of it. They represent the next generation and the possibility of building a better future and it makes for a really strong scene. Jordan’s compassion and support for Hope while she grieves and unravels is brilliantly done. Octavia and Clarke’s brief conversation where Octavia highlights that she understands some of Clarke’s questionable decisions after having experienced motherhood further evolves this complex and compelling relationship. Even if the show has been unsuccessful in putting across the years that have passed, the actors never fail to sell it. Unfortunately this is another episode with very little plot progression. All that really happens is the possibility of The Flame being repaired is suggested and many of the characters end up in the same location. Considering how little time is left it’s looking less likely that things will be wrapped up in a way that doesn’t appear rushed.
- Murphy’s character growth continuing to be highlighted as he thrives in his current role
- continued strong use of Chess as a metaphor for the conflict between Sheidheda and those opposed to him
- the suggestion of a strong Shedheda/Indra dynamic
- excellent insight into Madi’s life before she met Clarke through her supporting Luca following his loss
- Jordan and Hope relating to one another in a very unique way
- Octavia and Clarke finding common ground through their experience of motherhood
- Bellamy’s transition from sceptic to believer still failing to be justified
- further simplification of the Sanctum situation
- still very little plot progression
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