From high atop his perch, Cage Wallace is sitting smug as a rat in a rich man’s pantry watching the growing army of Grounders billow in numbers at the foot of the Mountain; wondering – with his trigger finger poised happily to strike – as to how they could be so foolish to attack when he has something as deadly as an acid fog at his disposal. Or so he thinks.
Indeed, as we embark on this new chapter of CW’s The 100 – entitled “Bodyguard of Lies” – we re-join Bellamy deep in the heart of Mount Weather as he races to neutralise the threat of the fog so Clarke, Lexa and their combined forces can attack without fear of certain death. But while he’s done well to keep hidden in plain sight up until now, all of that is about to change as Cage and Emerson decide to make public the slaughter that occurred in the common room, in the hopes of pinning it all on the intruder and the 44 and subsequently cause the residents of the mountain to flush the captives out into the open. Because for all his darkness, power and ego, Cage knows that without the 44, his grand plan for life on the ground – not to mention his coup d’état – will have been for nothing.
And he is not the only one dealing with some serious spanners in the works. Jaha and Murphy are edging ever closer to the so-called City of Light. But a terrifying discovery just on the edge of the city leads to some very explosive consequences, leaving both to wonder if their quest may now all have been for nothing. Back at the Ark Camp, things are no simpler. Raven finds herself enlisting Wick to help her find a way to take out the acid fog before Bellamy is discovered and Cage has a chance to use it against the allied army. And it’s an alliance of minds that has every chance of turning into something much more, in a climate where the pre-dawn of war has caused more than one person to do a stock take of their real feelings and intuitions about the world and people around them.
Octavia for one, has cottoned on to the fact that it was just a little too convenient that Clarke and Lexa should have disappeared when they did, only for the missile to hit moments afterward. And Clarke’s admission and excuse that she kept quiet to keep Bellamy safe? It’s cold comfort for the newly-minted Grounder warrior, and that is something she makes very clear. But when the Grounder Commander tries to have Octavia silenced, the near fatal act becomes the catalyst for Clarke to finally hold Lexa properly and personally accountable: not just for her actions, but also for her growing feelings for the Sky girl who has utterly tipped the world – and the Commander's life – on its head.
Swords are drawn. Teeth are bared. And more than one heart has been put squarely on the table. So, with that positively light hearted intro out of the road, let’s dive in and take a look at the episode shall we?
MUTINY AND MORALITY
Octavia Blake is incredibly smart, not to mention resourceful, bold and acutely aware of her surroundings. So it’s no surprise at all that she puts two and two together very quickly, and realises that Clarke and Lexa must have known about the attack before it hit. And in a similar vein to Abby, Octavia is abhorred by the fact that Clarke let so many people die in the name of battle tactics. She is doubly filthy, though, that Clarke is using her brother as an excuse for her actions, believing that Clarke's choice to let the people die to protect him is anything but what Bellamy would have wanted.
In one sense, you have to agree with her. Perhaps he would have. But the truth is Octavia is wishing for an ideal set of circumstances that was never going to happen in a climate of conflict, and especially one like this: that is so fraught with politics, lies and subterfuge. It's true: if Bellamy had more time, more resources, perhaps there may have been another way to conceal himself without his concealment coming at the cost of hundreds of lives. But there wasn't. In the end, the generals leading the battle made the most informed tactical choice they could, with the fraction of a second they had. And that’s exactly what Indra tells Octavia when she confirms that she too realises Lexa and Clarke knew what was coming for them. This is war. People will die; perhaps even them at some point. And Indra's respect of Lexa's decision to let her comrades die in the blast ultimately boils down to the fact that she knows the Grounders' survival to date has been due almost entirely to Lexa's ruthless but tactically brilliant leadership. And given that they are now facing the greatest and deadliest threat they have ever faced, they are going to need that leadership now more than ever.
Prior to that conversation, Octavia told Clarke that once the battle was over, so was their friendship. So the question remains: did Octavia take on board Indra's insight the way Abby had to, Kane's last week? Did she see the lie Clarke told for the necessary evil it was? I wonder. Because I really do believe that as a team, Octavia Blake and Clarke Griffin could achieve great things. Not just in and of themselves because of the juggernaut character growth they've experienced in this conflict, but because they are two characters who have the power to unite those who were once enemies. They are both proof that what has gone before matters nothing in predetermining what lies ahead. That what matters isn't where or to whom you're born: it's who you're born to be that will change everything. One can only hope that they’ll live long enough to make that level of difference.
YOU PUT YOUR RIGHT FOOT IN…
Okay sorry, maybe the hokey pokey is not the best song when discussing a minefield, but you get my drift. Because indeed, this really was a case of ‘put your best foot forward’ this week for Jaha, Murphy and Co. who finally reached the outer perimeter of the much hyped City of Light. It was quite clever actually, the way it was staged, to have that strange, sharp, pearly light glinting against the sky just behind the tall sand dune that momentarily seemed like it would be the last hurdle to jump before reaching their final destination. But sadly it wasn’t to be, as both the world’s worst comedian and world’s unluckiest spectator ended up as bird food due to a sandy clearing full of bombs, and some terribly placed signage, right below the final hill before the revelation of the great city.
Firstly, obvious things out the road. Emori was telling the truth about how to find the city. Which means at some point in their very short time together, Murphy must have made enough of an impact on her for her to tell him where they needed to go. Which makes me wonder – and hope, to be honest, because I really enjoyed her character – whether or not she will be back, and if she is, what she will mean for John’s story in particular going forward. Because truth be told, of every character that has really forced me to do an emotional 180 on how I felt about them, there have been none more infuriatingly comprehensive than Murphy. I mean seriously. I hated the guy. We all hated the guy. EVEN THE GUY WHO WROTE THE GUY HATED THE GUY. (‘Cockroach’, remember?) And yet here he is: on the other side of a desert, in a boat the size of a butterdish, floating off towards only heaven knows what with two frightened tagalongs and a former politician who sounds like he’s just eaten a rack of brownies made by Snoop Dogg and Yoda. And I am WORRIED. I am FEELING THINGS about John Murphy and I don’t know what to do with them. In which case, I have to wonder: can we look forward to a Kane-style transformation? From bad guy to beloved anti-hero? Or is he still the same deadly, murderous cockroach deep inside that he was before? I literally cannot guess either way. All I know is that the guessing is driving me mental and it’s awesome.
NEARER MY FOG TO THEE
One of my favourite lines Shakespeare ever wrote was an insult. He is now as valiant as Hercules that only tells a lie and swears it. It is at once a picture of pure arrogance, unadulterated ego, and utter cowardice, and for my part I think that’s the exact picture we got of Cage in those final moment of this episode, too. Because after weeks of him drilling innocent kids to death to steal their bone marrow –of tyrannical grandstanding and power plays – suddenly we saw it: the face of a bully, whose threats have suddenly become very, very empty looking.
I’ll be honest and say that I was surprised actually at the idea that once the acid fog was gone, there was no real backup as far as defence systems for the mountain. It reminded me of the Titanic, weirdly: a showboating idiot shouting how ‘even God couldn’t sink this ship’, standing on a deck covered in only a fraction of the life rafts they would need a few days later as an iceberg destroyed their floating tower of Babel and sent thousands of people to their deaths. Cage is that guy, experiencing the sudden horror of just how exposed he has left himself and his fortress, all because he was too overconfident to believe that someone from the Ground – or indeed the Sky – could be smart enough to thwart his plans.
CHIEFS AND INDIANS
Which is one of the other reasons I’ve loved this whole contrasting plot arc with Bellamy spying inside the Mountain. Now people, here is where I need you to please take off your shipping hats. And goggles. And whatever other ship related paraphernalia you are wearing. Because it matters. Every character is important in and of themselves, independent of who you think they should be with. Their individual identities are not founded in who you think they should be knocking boots with. Bellamy included.
In examining what a good leader is, pretty much the entire external spotlight to date has been on the likes of Clarke, Lexa, Jasper and Cage. How have they marshalled the troops? How good have they been at holding it together so the people around them have faith that everything is going to be okay? Who has been the most convincing figurehead for hope? But if we’re going to ask those questions, then at least for me, I have to go back to something I remember my dad teaching me when I was growing up. And that was that in life, if you want to be a chief, you first have to learn how to be an Indian. If you want to lead, you must learn how to follow before anything else. Bellamy for me has absolutely stood up in this department; indeed, he is the one leader we are not looking at anywhere near enough, as a leader. He is doing inside Mount Weather in a lot of ways what Octavia is doing on the ground: leading not by command but by example. He’s putting himself on the line; that his people might have a chance to go free. It kind of reminds me of all those famous generals you see throughout history that have first risen from the ranks of foot soldier. You realise the reason they are at the top is not because they were born to it – like Cage thinks he is; or born for it – like Lexa believes she is. But rather, they’re at the top of the command chain because at some point they were a person that the people around them realised they could look to for courage, for informed authority, and – perhaps most importantly of all – an understanding of what it means to be the soldier taking the direction, as opposed to a leader whose only experience is in giving them.
And indeed as he undertook such a potentially deadly risk to destroy the Mount Weather defences – knowing that his efforts to free his friends may come at the cost of his life – Bellamy gave me the exact same feeling in my bones as Octavia did in last week’s episode. Because I have no qualms in saying that if I were a soldier in this war, given the choice between Lexa and one of the Blake siblings, I will choose a Blake every time. For me, I’d be less inclined to fight for a leader – even a great one – who simply looked in my eyes and said ‘go die for me’. But I’d be there in a heartbeat for a leader who I could count on to not only lead me into battle, but still fight beside me as an equal; as one who actively acknowledges that I am not simply fighting for them. Rather, we are fighting for each other.
Because ultimately I think to be a true leader, you must first learn how to submit to a purpose – and by default, the people affected by that purpose – that is greater than yourself. To lead as one who not only asks you to give your life, but who you could trust to give theirs for you if they had to. In contrast, I look at leaders like Lexa – honourable, brave and brilliant though she might be – and wonder if much of the time she is more concerned about the survival of her people, than she is about the people themselves.
And given the first very heated exchange that passes between Lexa and Clarke in this episode, you’d be forgiven for wondering whether Clarke isn’t harbouring the same kind of doubts about her.
Which brings us of course not just to a moment in an episode, but a defining moment of television across the board in 2015: the revelation that Clarke Griffin – empowered woman, reluctant hero, brave leader and flawed human – is bisexual. Yep. You heard me. Your leading lady kisses girls too.
Indeed finally this week, the undeniable chemistry between Lexa and Clarke finally smouldered over into a lingering kiss that marked a massive milestone in modern day television, and the reaction has – to say the least – been intense, not to mention actually quite fascinating. Now, if you head down to the ‘Final Thoughts and Questions’ section, you’ll see there that I’ve put a link to a Tumblr post by a wonderful human being named Layne Morgan, who beautifully answered a question the other day on just this topic. I put that there because in truth, I literally could not in any way shape or form have expressed with her same eloquence, why this moment was so important. Not just to the LGBT community, but to all of us. Because to be honest, that is a whole post in itself. And truly, Layne did it more beautifully than I ever could.
But this, I will say. If it is considered ‘progressive’ to represent a part of our human community – in any part of our culture – with respect, dignity, cleverness and beauty, then we are doing something wrong. If it is considered ‘progressive’ to portray a gay or bisexual woman as a capable, strong, flawed, broken, brave leader – whose gender or sexuality have nothing to do with her ability to lead others, or even simply engage with them – then we are failing each other and ourselves. Badly.
Because such portrayal is not progress. It is, rather, an inalienable human right.
A right that we should be able to expect our fellow human beings to treat us with dignity in all things, just as they should expect us to do the same for them. Because if you want to talk about who we are born to be and what we are capable of, we are born to be ourselves and born with every tool we need at our disposal to treat the people around us as our equal. The problem is, we don’t. We’re so busy creating stereotypes and expecting people to fit them – so we, selfishly, stay comfortable and never feel threatened – that somewhere along the way, the importance of trying to understand each other for who we are, as we are, got lost. It’s for that reason that our TV shows and our movies and our books and our magazines and our online worlds, are full of impossible expectations; of razor sharp cycles of criticism that never sleep; and two dimensional token characters that might be widely liked, but are only ever as deep as your nearest carpark puddle. And it’s for that exact reason that The 100 – a show which flies wildly in the face of all such wasteful pursuits – is as refreshing, as it is important.
Because the issue surrounding how we represent the communities around us in art and culture is an issue that goes far beyond whether or not a beautiful, brave, smart, beloved TV character is gay or straight. Beyond the marginalisation of our Middle Eastern and Muslim friends by the persistent depiction of their peoples as a whole, as terrorists waiting to happen. Beyond the ill-informed assumption that to be a feminist means you must hate men. Beyond the obnoxious caricaturing of Christians as nothing but bible bashing, judgemental right wing climate change deniers. This is bigger than all of that.
Instead, this is an issue that goes straight to the heart of what it is to be human. To the core of what it is to acknowledge that underneath all our cultural baggage, the people around you are exactly as human as you are, and deserve to be respectfully and honestly represented in what we see, what we hear, what we read and what we watch. And you, whoever you are dear friend, deserve no less than that either.
So I encourage you. When you look at Lexa and Clarke together on screen – whether you ship them or you don’t – be thankful that the characters you care so much about are being written by people who see it as a right that you and the humanity around you is represented with dignity. With strength. With honesty, cleverness and ambition. Because in this is an integrity and an impact that cannot be bought with cheap storytelling, meaningless sex, mindless violence and characters that don’t make you feel something deep in your heart and your gut. This is TV that teaches us to expect better, and do better. Value it, because it’s rare.
GREAT MINDS THINK ALIKE
And while all these heavy duty questions of humanity did really make for a deep episode, to be straight up the icing on the cake for me was something that ultimately boiled down to just plain happiness. I’ll be honest and say in the beginning that I wasn’t Raven’s biggest fan. A lot of that I think had to do with the fact that the whole Clarke and Finn thing had just started up, and she just flew in like the fly into the proverbial ointment. But to the credit of both the writers and the effervescently wonderful Lindsay Morgan, it did not take long for me to really be made to feel a great affection for Raven as a character. She has been through so much, and for my part, often this season I look at her and all my brain echoes with is the scene of her standing up on that hill in the night, watching Clarke kill Finn. I was thinking back, actually, in writing this review, in trying to remember the last time Raven actually looked happy, even for a tiny moment, and truth be told she hasn’t for a very long time.
Enter stage left, Kyle Wick. Played with effortless warmth, wit and sass by Steve Talley, Wick has been a breath of fresh air from the moment we met him that brutal night on the Ark when Chancellor Sydney nicked off with the Exodus Ship. Indeed he was one of those characters that you just kind of felt would come back in one form or another someday. He’s been through terrifying things himself, and yet seems for the most part devoid of the jaded sadness that dominates when most others are on screen. Instead he sweeps through the room like a cool breeze on a hot day, and literally it is the best thing. But what I love most about Wick is that he challenges Raven at her heart. Not just to keep going, or to fight, or to not give up. I think he challenges her to be happy, where she can be, even if it’s only for a moment. Which meant that when these two finally did the horizontal foxtrot on the work bench (side note: prolly a lucky thing they didn’t leave the radio on, otherwise Cage’s head may have exploded) it meant more than just a quick, easy escape from pain or threat – like it had been when she slept with Bellamy that one time. Instead there was a warmth, a safety about Wick and Raven together, and for my part I really hope we get to see that bloom further.
It takes a particular kind of show – not to mention a particular kind of team behind it – to back itself enough to go to those really huge places on a weekly basis, let alone save it for a season finale. Having Clarke and Lexa kiss. Having Bellamy blow the acid fog chamber. Having the 44 get in a knife fight. Clarke killing Finn in front of ten thousand bloodthirsty Grounders in the night. We weren’t made to wait for the season finale to experience any of that.
Instead, in “Bodyguard of Lies” we got another instalment of a story that never reads like the author is waiting for someone better to come along and experience it. Instead, writer Kim Shumway delivered with acute warmth and sincerity an episode that really hit the mark it needed to in order to pave the best possible way towards the season climax of the finale. Of particular note, of course, were the magnificent scenes between Clarke and Lexa. For my part, my favourite was actually that first one where Clarke got right up in her face and really put Lexa on the back foot – that was so good, and made huge strides in regards to character development for both of those women. She did it too in a way that complimented the very capable acting skills of both Eliza Taylor and Alycia Debnam Carey, perfectly. And as she’s been so cheekily promising for a while now, Shumway likewise beautifully delivered some great moments for Wick and Raven, particularly in his dialogue which dovetailed beautifully with Steve Talley’s delivery.
Similarly sharp this week was the directing of Uta Briesewitz. She had a pretty mixed bag this week of both indoor and outdoor locations; up close and personal scenes as well as ones that really had to take in the breadth of humanity that was going to war in this ep. But despite that variance of circumstances, Briesewitz ended up helming beautifully what was a very tight, comprehensive episode vision wise, and I so enjoyed what she brought to the table.
So where does all this leave us, though? Does it leave us on the precipice of certain victory for Clarke and Lexa now that the fog is disabled? Will Cage make a last stand? What will it mean for all of them should Jaha and Murphy reach those distant shores they’ve set off for? Will they come back? And more importantly, could what they find follow them home? Who knows? In the case of the war for the Mountain at least, victory teeters precariously towards the reaching fingertips of the characters we love.
But then again, this is The 100. And this is war. In which case, I have a feeling that when it comes to this particular battle between good and evil, we ain’t seen nothing yet.
FINAL THOUGHTS AND QUESTIONS
Here it is: a vastly eloquent take on the subject of Clark and Lexa. Read it. Because it is amazing.
PSA: The writers are actual, human people. They are not robots. They have actual feelings and friends and families and it’s not okay to treat them like online punching bags when the storyline of their show doesn’t curtail to your exact wishes. So with all due respect, take a breath, maybe a Prozac, and CALM THE FECK DOWN you angry little fraction of Bellarkers out there giving the truly awesome fans of that ship, a bad name. Grow up or go home. This story is bigger than you.
To the rest of the VAST crowd of my fellow Bellarkers out there, keep being brilliant.
And Clexa fans? Your girls were amazing. What an epic week this must have been for you guys.
In fact to all of you incredible fans of The 100 who engage SO FANTASTICALLY with each other online and off – be it with your written talents, or your artistic ones, or just being cool, passionate, informed people to talk to: you are proof that this big green and blue rock can still be an awesome place when we make the effort to be kind to each other. Thank you for being you.
Neat Segue Alert: Hands up who wants to see Octavia turn Emerson into pet food.
Hands up who would help.*
*I wish I had more hands.
Also I think I just boarded a new ship. #TalleyHoe
No really, that could have been my only bullet point and I would have been stoked.
Kane, Lexa, Octavia and Cage are proof that ultimately this battle will be won by the side that has the most people with great hair. LOL BYE MOUNT WEATHER.
Did I mention that I high fived a million angels when Raven kissed Wick? Because I did. I legit gave out more high fives to the dudes upstairs than Orlando Bloom got that one time he punched Justin Bieber in the face.
Also, that guy deserved to be turned into human confetti for telling such terrible jokes, tbh. You are not Chris Rock. You are not even an actual rock. LITERALLY A HALF EATEN WEEK OLD BURRITO WITH SAD FACE DRAWN ON IT USING OFF KETCHUP WOULD BE FUNNIER THAN YOU.
“How’s my boy Monty?” ALL THE FEELINGS EVER, SHUMWAY.
Ten bucks says Jaha thinks that hovercraft is actually a giant alien butterfly and he’s only following it because he wants to hug it and give it a name.
"I shall call him Flying Thingy and he shall be mine, and he shall be my Flying Thingy".
John Murphy has many wonderful facial expressions, but so far I think my favourite is his “If we encounter zombies I am tripping you first” one.
Someone give Richard Harmon an EGOT for being everything and perfect, immediately.
Please take note everyone of all the ways I'm being classy about the love scenes this week. Seriously tho look at all the jokes I am not making.