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  • Erin Brown

REVIEW | The 100 - Episode 5.02 - "Red Queen"


No one worth possessing Can be quite possessed; Lay that on your heart, My young angry dear; This truth, this hard and precious stone, Lay it on your hot cheek, Let it hide your tear. Hold it like a crystal When you are alone And gaze in the depths of the icy stone. Long, look long and you will be blessed: No one worth possessing Can be quite possessed. Sara Teasdale

No.

Not again.

Dark hair falls over darker eyes as knuckles tighten over a hilt. Her limbs sense battle, like sharks when that first drop of blood hits the water. A fight in the throes of its own birth is snarling right outside her door, seething like a cut snake. But rather than fear tangling with the need to fight, it’s desire. Beckoning her warrior self to come out of its hole. Again. Scarred skin stretches in fretful reflex as it pulls taut over flesh and bone. Jaws clench tight. Blood glitters, sparks. War. Is this what she fears – this commander with the crimson blood – or what she desires? Still. Why is this desire to fight still so conscious in her bones?

No old debts have been forgiven in the wake of Praimfaya – especially not those of Skaikru, who seem to be at the heart of almost every betrayal in recent months. But Octavia…she has almost stopped wondering now if her former people will ever learn their lesson, especially now that they’ve committed an act like this. Behind an impenetrable steel door, a splinter of Skaikru have barricaded themselves in with all the food and water; still believing – after everything – that their lives are somehow of greater worth than the Grounders, they have shut the majority of survivors out to starve and seem intent of following through. Only three are trapped there that want nothing to do with it: a medic who, in a world of death, has finally found something thing worth living for, and two chancellors who have tasted too much of love and despair to give each other up to die. No matter how much one may want to.

Feuds and the fear of starvation begin to course violently as one through the underground hive: washing the world in shadow and blood, as none too slowly, these briefly-hopeful halls begin to echo the dark intent of survival at all costs. Fear is no longer a slinking and timid thing, but arrogant and inexorable as a lion in tall grass.

And yet. Even now, deliverance stands in their midst, waiting: hope in one hand, the horrors of yesterday and more for tomorrow, in the other. A wise man once said that ‘Life finds a way’. But here, in the belly of the beast of humanity – as a weary man holds a fairy tale up to the light for one child, deep voice tender as he remembers the cruelly short life of another – life…life may just wish it hadn’t.

CARPE NOCTEM

Before we get to the key characters and the turns their paths took in this episode, for me it feels really important to stop and take particular stock of the role that Skaikru have collectively come to play in this narrative, as it now stands. Their entitled behaviour – a useless shard, really, of a system that was broken and in need of repair long before Praimfaya, but one that continues to cut the world around it with reckless abandon – has cost an inordinate amount of lives on the ground. And the longer they continue to behave as they do, the more you do kind of start to feel yourself siding with the Grounders at times.

Because yes, it’s frightening living with the ground clans. Yes, their friends and loved ones were murdered by Grounders in the past. Yes, the fear of starving to death is real and present and terrifying. Yes, lives are going to be lost.

But there are two big things that Skaikru either cannot get their heads around, or are just determined to remain willfully ignorant, of.

Firstly, the fact that their lives are no more important than those of the other humans around them. It was sickening watching that moment where Jackson is made to bring those over-full trays of food to Kane and Abby, and he says that the majority of the other Skaikru know those beyond the door will starve and they’re fine with it. To me, it was one line but it symbolised pretty much everything Skaikru have come to stand for now, in the context of the greater story. Whatever trauma they’ve lived through up till this point, their current selfishness is still gobsmacking, and yet it’s made infinitely worse by their rampant collective elitism.

But it’s a superiority complex entirely without base.

Because secondly, Skaikru have just as much innocent blood on their hands as anyone else. Yes, there are many like Kara Cooper, who have loved and lost in heartlessly cruel circumstances. But her suffering is no more or less important than anyone else. Was the injustice of Illian losing his family any less wrong, because he was a Grounder? Was Pike any less of a monster because he taught a bunch of kids the skills they’d need to survive in the wild? No. No they’re not, in either case.

Humanity is Wonkru, whether they like it or not. Only whether they act like it, is a choice.

And yet. Skaikru are so busy looking at the Grounders and judging them for their attacks on Sky people, that they neglect to acknowledge how they have been more than satisfied to sit by and watch while people like Pike went out and massacred innocent Grounders – men, women, children – by the hundreds, on their behalf. They were fine with people dying, as long as it wasn’t their people who died. They were fine with taking, as long as it wasn’t what belonged to them that was being taken.

Skaikru are colonisers in that sense, of the very worst kind.

Their soft hands and trigger fingers have wreaked insane carnage in the lives of the original peoples of this land, and they have been more than content to see it done if it meant that the lives they dreamed of all those years in space, could finally start to be lived. Grounder lives aren’t lives to Arkadians. They’re a price to be paid. Collateral damage. Indeed, I think you could argue that the humanity Abby has so often mentioned – her eyes and face always full of fear, as she speaks of her worry that they might lose it – has actually been lost for a very long time.

But that’s not to say that the Grounders are innocent bystanders, by any means. This is a level playing field now in a lot of ways: every high place has been brought low by Praimfaya, and the ground is equal underfoot for all now. Such is the very heart of the ideal of Wonkru: they will rise, or they will fall, but either way they are all bound to do it together. Indeed, they’re alive when so many others are not, and it should be enough to make them push them all towards doing better. To play their parts in making a better world for not just those who live now, but those who are to come. But it’s not enough, and in fact it does the opposite. Less than three months and it’s Lord of The Flies: The Director’s Cut.

I particularly loved that moment when all the clans are together right at the beginning of the episode, and one clan declares it’s ready to basically whip out the guillotine because another clan stole some blankets. What shall we do? Their wide-eyed faces stare at Octavia expectantly; so ready to burn it all down for something so stupid. Octavia’s ‘just give them back’ and the ensuring incredulous glare between delegates…well, it’s ridiculous. And so it should be. We should be aghast at these people.

Why?! We ask ourselves. How could these people be so dumb to be so petty when the whole damn world just burned down around them?! How idiotic are these priorities?! Why in the actual blue hell are they pouring their energy into this, when they have so many bigger fish to fry?!

If you didn’t pull up short and feel the reality check being delivered there to us as the audience, with all the delicacy of a well-timed bitch slap, then I recommend you go back and watch that scene again. Because a statement was made in that moment, and it’s so important we listen.

Because it is so easy to look at this story and bask in our wonder at the stupidity of these people.

It’s so easy to judge them all – Skaikru and Grounder alike – for pouring all their energy into stupid, fruitless pastimes that are designed only ever to break down, not evolve. We’re so quick to pass sentence on them for the way they waste breath on goading each other into justifying their mutual dislikes; worse because they’re doing it in a contained environment that’s already struggling under the sheer weight of humanity that exists within it.

But we forget that this isn’t an image.

It’s a reflection.

Of us. Of people in 2018. People who have all the evidence in the world, and don’t learn.

It’s hideous, it’s necessary, and it is devastatingly on point.

Because isn’t social media exactly like that bunker? Isn’t it the ever-buzzing hive we go to when we’re desperate to escape the reality of what’s going on outside. And yet how often do we turn up and find that we brought all our devils in out of the cold with us? The cruel word. The bullying blow delivered from behind the coward’s veil of a phone screen. So often our better angels left outside to burn, because we are too consumed with our own opinions and desires to be right and loud, to hear those angels screaming. No matter how loud they get. And yet. Even as those things echo in our ears, still we wonder, once that hatch door is closed, just why it’s so dark. So cold. So void of justice and peace and kindness. And we forget that all of it starts not with a mob, but with single person making a choice to speak. An individual, making a decision with real time consequences, about what is easy to put out into the atmosphere, and what is right.

These online halls we’re in now? They’re full of monsters too: ones so often that we’ve put in there to claim someone else, just so we’re not eaten alive by the things we feel are chasing us. We watch scenes like these, in ‘Red Queen’ hoping the best for the people we care about. Hoping that the shadows don’t claim them, but never sure that they’re going to be safe. But how different that world would look if the people who survived chose simply to do better. To be better.

How different would ours look if we did the same?

The difference here is that these fictional characters are in the control of writers, in a room. Their destinies and their choices aren’t their own. But here, in the real world, our choices are ours. It’s strange. For a lot of this episode, I kept thinking about that quote from Dumbledore in Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban. Happiness can be found, even in the darkest of times, he says. If one only remembers to turn on the light.

I don’t know. Maybe it’s something to think about this week as you engage with others online over the things you saw here and will see in future. As we consider collectively what it means to be accountable to ourselves and each other, for what we contribute – no matter how big or small – into the ether of this life. We can either be each other’s devils in the dark, or we can be lights in the dark sky of what it is to be alive, in what is so often a mean world.

EVOLUTION

The theme of faith is one that in so many ways seems to swim against the tide in the context of a story so dominated by fact and human instinct. For ages, much of what we’ve seen has occurred because the characters met a threshold of physical necessity or danger. Running out of oxygen. Escape Praimfaya. Too many people. Not enough space. Even dealing with ALIE was a kind of face to face combat, with a known, tangible foe.

Faith, though. Faith requires us to trust in something not only greater than ourselves, but greater than our understanding of all things. It requires us to acknowledge not just our brokenness, but also our inability to see with a perspective that sits higher than our brokenness. It requires us to trust that we have limits for a reason, and to be humble enough to consider that our boundaries are not necessarily the boundary of all things.

And it’s for that exact reason that, when she was first introduced to the story, Gaia added – for me, at least – a really formidable depth to the narrative. She was a kind of touchstone for something that existed beyond science, beyond lab coats and feats of engineering. For her, the role of the Flame, of a Commander – it’s never been about power. It’s about the pursuit of truth in the context of a greater plan: one that does not necessarily need to be understood by the people it affects, for it to be right.

But, in much the same way petty politics reduces the capacity of power to enact good, the shackles of old religion still existed for Gaia, in a way that reduced her faith. Nightblood. A Commander has always been a Nightblood. Therefore, a Commander must always be a Nightblood. But the arrival of Octavia on to the scene? Her leadership flew in the face of every rule of a belief that has shaped Gaia’s entire life, from the way that she’s lived it, even to the way she was prepared to die when Trikru lost out in the conclave.

So when Gaia finally comes around by the end of this episode, and her belief evolves, I felt like it made for a really great foil in the face of Skaikru’s arc. Gaia’s growth embodied the idea that even the deepest, longest-held mentality about life and the way it should be lived, can grow and improve through challenging the norm, and to me that felt hugely important. There was a lot of hope in that, because it showed that such growth could still happen in the context of conflict and high-pressure situations. Given what life looks like in the bunker six years later, it feels like soon, the hope of such change is going to be more vital than ever in not only surviving each other, but also the enemy they have no idea waits for them now above ground.

THIS OLD LOVE

I remember all the way back in Season 1, watching the dynamic in between Kane and Abby, and it felt so clear even then that if they were to survive, at some point they were going to be together. It’s weird, you know. In a world like this, hook ups between characters seem so often like necessary points of punctuation in the greater sentence. Remember Raven and Bellamy, for example? This is a high-pressure environment and letting off steam in more ways than one, was always going to be a necessary plot device in making the narrative more believable.

In hindsight, what I don’t think I was prepared for was the gravitas and sheer, natural beauty of what these two characters would become once they were together. I wasn’t ready for the intimacy and nuance and resilience of their bond. It’s so…well, different, I guess, to what I’m used to seeing.

Because both Kane and Abby have experienced emotional and mental growth that is, at least I think, incredibly unique in the context of a show that is predominantly defined by the actions and reactions of the children at the heart of the story. So often, the parental figures are background landmarks in stories like these – their growth, seemingly always attached and perhaps limited to the various lessons they learn about how they view their kids. But in the case of these two, their capacity to grow and affect the audience, as a couple, has been no less exquisite, because of their holding that more mature place in the story.

Part of that has, I think, to do with the fact that their relationship has been anything but smooth sailing. The love Kane and Abby feel for each other has weathered a thousand hellish storms of unimaginable loss, bitterness and sorrow. Both of them have had to forgive formidable trespasses committed by the other at different times, and yet for all their intermittent fighting, for all their disagreements and clashes, none of those things were ever stronger than the bond they share with each other. In particular, I loved as they sat there – with Abby still so mad at him for ignoring her wish to leave her outside the hatch door – how Kane reminded her of the fact that he was no more able to abandon her to Praimfaya, than she was to leave him to it after it looked like Jaha had stolen the bunker for good. This is love bigger than the end of the world. This is family. This is soulmates, neither of whom incidentally have ignored the people they’ve lost or had to let go in the journey towards this moment. The process of grieving and moving on has played a tangible part in the outplaying of their feelings for each other, and I loved that so much about them. I loved the rawness and honesty of that.

Incidentally, it’s also the thing that has me petrified to see Octavia looking over Kane six years later, as he now stands in the ring to fight for his life, for reasons we don’t yet know. I’m with him on this one: I only just got them back. Don’t ask me to let them go again so soon!

But for me, what the really interesting thing here is, is that they should be telling this story – exactly as they’re telling it – right there beside Clarke and Bellamy. Because it’s the same kind of bond. The same formidable love and sense of loyalty that causes them to not give up on each other, even when one or both is consumed by the darkness of their worst.

Now, what that parallel means as we progress further through the story, is really anyone’s guess. The very nature of the world of The 100 is defined by its madness and unpredictability. Literally anything could happen. But for me, I feel like something that matters is genuinely being said here. Because think about it. It goes back in a lot of ways to Gaia’s arc. That faith. That idea some things – no matter how fierce or wide or deadly the horizon may be – are always going to be more powerful than what’s coming, but powerful in a way that exists beyond what we can measure with fact or reason. Faith, that drives us to hang on when everything else tells us to hold on to ourselves first.

And for my own part, it’s this particular point of robustness in The 100, that I love above all others. I treasure so much the ability of this story and these characters, to carry the weight of the heaviest and most profound of lessons and ideas, and to so often do that in the most surprising ways.

Speaking of which, what a tender and beautiful surprise it was to see Miller and Jackson turn out to be together. You know, while Miller, for me, has always been a bit of a strong silent type – perhaps a little more of an enigma than his fellow survivors: people like Monty or Harper, etc. – Jackson has always held a real soft spot in my heart. His kindness has always been evident, as has his loyalty, but the thing that’s always captivated me most about him is his gentleness. It’s a quality that runs so contrary to the brutality that has become a stock standard part of this story: a contrast blown into even further violent relief as we compare it to characters like Octavia, who basically spent this entire episode up to her neck in blood and violence.

Having Jasper and Miller be together now…well, in a lot of ways it sort of reminds me of when you go hiking, and you find those massive rocky hillsides where it seems nothing will ever be able to grow. And yet, look hard enough you’ll see them: flowers blooming lush and strong in the crevices, where new life seems impossible. Now, will their love paint a target on one or both of them in the days to come? Undoubtedly. But so has it done for any characters in this story who have found love of any kind with each other. To me, that’s not the point. The point is exactly what Kane says when he describes them. It’s about knowing what you love and fighting for it. What happens from here on out is anyone’s guess, but for my part, these two getting together was such a sweet and necessary point of loveliness and life, in what was an otherwise very brutal chapter of this story. An hour steeped in incredible death.

HER FEARFUL SYMMETRY

All of which brings me to the two final characters I want to look at here. First, Octavia. In a lot of ways, while Clarke has been the great protector throughout this story, Octavia has been its greatest dragon slayer. I’m not sure how many other people have picked up on this incidentally, but there have been some absolutely massive, unmistakable visual parallels with – of all things – the character of Aragorn, out of Lord of the Rings. The hooded figure in the corner, that appears suddenly in the night to stride out to meet Death and all his friends with absolute conviction, and yet who for so long seemed determined to fully accept the role and mantle of leader. That whole scene in Season 4 after Echo stabs her and sends her off the cliff, after which her horse finds her, and together they ride back – out of the very jaws of death – to warn a people they do not call their own. And now here, she reminds me of him again: kitting up in the darkness as a bloodthirsty, riled up army prepares to assault a stronghold of men and women, still grappling with their own demons.

The woman without a clan, and yet with the fate of all clans in the palm of her blood-soaked fist. The girl in the floor, now the great foe and battle-hardened monarch in the night.

You are Wonkru. Or you are the enemy of Wonkru. Choose.

Metamorphoses, indeed. I swear, with every utterance, it was like she was telling herself the same thing. Choose. It was insanely powerful and compelling viewing, and one of the best scenes this character has ever had I think.

And Niylah’s gift…Perhaps its strangely poetic timing, or maybe it’s just her lovely, inimitable way of seeing the strength in people before they see it in themselves. Whatever it is, you realise what we’re seeing here, with the lingering images resurrected by the idea of Metamorphoses. Change is no longer coming. Change is here. This is, as a wise old grey wizard once said, the deep breath before the plunge. Just as the Sky girl became the Skairippa, just as Skairippa became Commander, ‘Red Queen’ was an episode that saw Octavia Blake shoved right back in the fire, ripped out again, and sent hissing into the ice water of this new world. She re-emerges, reforged as a new creation.

But it was, to be sure, no ordinary fire. And for my part, I found it an exquisite tough to see that this new evolution of her character came in the process of having to go back and deal directly with the traumas of the one life she has been more desperate to end than any other: that of the weak, frightened girl she used to be back on the Ark. Moreover, to have Jaha be the face of that whole element of her life. It was like…I don’t know. Almost a Jacob Marley moment in some ways. (If you haven’t read A Christmas Carol, by Charles Dickens, the OH MY GOSH KIDS WHAT ARE YOU DOING WITH YOUR LIFE.)

Like the earlier new character Kara – like most of these people, really – Octavia has every reason in the world to hate Jaha, and everything he stands for. Every reason, the least of which isn’t that he floated her mother. At first glance, he is so easy to call the enemy. Arguably, the same way it’s easy for Skaikru to look at Grounders as the enemy. There is just so much to condemn Jaha for, and Octavia has every right to be angry at him. But given what is going on around her, and what others have done in her same shoes, she really has no excuse not to forgive.

In some senses, there was an element of the perfect circle in having this meeting of leaders. Jaha represented an old world that needed to die, while Octavia represents a new one that’s still in the fragile, razored throes of working out whether it really deserves to live. The great imperfection of all it is to be human is on complete show here, and it’s a humbling, heartbreaking and almost visceral thing to watch. It’s the kind of moment where we’re not entirely comfortable with that addictive desire rising inside us to judge these characters for what they’ve done to reach this point.

Because whatever it is about them that makes us made, they’re also tied very tightly to a point inside us as well. Yes, Octavia has been hideous to her brother. Yes, she’s inflicted her grief on others with all the subtlety of a dagger into flesh and lashed out horribly at times. Yes, she’s acted selfishly and had moments where you just wanted to throttle her. But she’s also watched the person she loved most be shot dead right before her eyes. She’s a sister who watched that, knowing what side of the line her brother stood in that moment. She’s watched her mother be floated just for having her, executed by the man whose life she now has to save.

On the other hand, you have Jaha. We’ll discuss him more in the next section, but he has been a horribly divisive character. He was the first and longest conduit through which ALIE infected the world and he barely changed a jot in his mode of operation. He’s incited mutiny at moments when peace was necessary, behaved at times like a complete megalomaniac, and arguably has done more to stoke that aforementioned elitist fire in the hearts of Arkadians, than any other character put together. And yet. He’s a father who, like Abby, had to sacrifice his son to the ground. He’s watched his people, his home, be absolutely obliterated, and in the meantime, must bear the weight of knowing the terrible bloodshed he wreaked in bringing ALIE into their lives. And now, he’s the adoptive father of a boy whose family he gassed into unconsciousness and laid outside the bunker door to be burned in a nuclear meltdown. Now, he’s putting the lives of every other person outside the farm wing door at risk, just to save the life of a child he orphaned.

The writer pulled some incredibly sharp storytelling moves in this episode, in that she helped both Octavia and Jaha to exorcise some old demons, and close up old wounds, but did so in a way that humbled us as viewers too, cutting our all too judgemental knees out from under us so we could be in that mire with them.

In Octavia’s case, that way was momentous. Game changing. Because regardless of how vicious or dark the world we saw by the end of this episode, is, we know that something altered for Octavia here in a way she can never come back from. Make no mistake. The Blodreina we see in those final gasps of this chapter, is not a painted Skairippa. Not at all. She is a new being, made all the more powerful now not because she holds the keys to the arena of life and death, but because old shackles have now been broken. And freedom, like love, can drive us to great and terrible things. Including survive the impossible.

BECOMING

One of my favourite lines out of a film recently came, funnily enough, out of the most recent Underworld movie. I won’t spoil it totally, but there’s this scene where the main character is watching another person in the grip of death. She watches as a priestess of sorts lowers the shrouded body into the ice water, and Selene asks. Is she dead? And the priestess shakes her head briefly before replying no. She is…becoming.

In a weird way, that line was on my mind a lot in this episode, as we farewelled one of The 100’s most divisive and yet profoundly complex and galvanising characters: Thelonius Jaha.

Now, I’ve said it on more than one occasion. I’ve quite openly and freely expressed my desire that Jaha be strapped to any number of rockets and shot back into the far reaches of space, never to sow his insane and sometimes cataclysmic seeds of madness, into the minds of Sky people, again. But, as with all such characters in the stories that speak to us most, hindsight is a double-edged sword: neither of which are particularly forgiving in the long run.

While that whole idea of true faith has been evermore deeply examined in this show, Jaha was probably the first who helped us look at faith through the lens of absolute belief; conviction, as it exists on that sharp but intricately barbed edge between fact and madness, need and desire. Having lost Wells the way he did – and especially, once he got to earth, not having the same ‘luxury’, for want of a better word, as Abby did when she found out Clarke was alive – the elements were all there from very early on, for Jaha to be driven to the point of desperation. When he took the chip from ALIE, you didn’t have to step back far to see why it would have appealed to a grieving father just wanting to get through the pain of his son’s death. But always, always intertwined with that was Jaha’s absolute need for power, and his belief – one that filtered well and truly down to his people – that ultimately, he knew best. And in his mind, what was best – even after Wells – never wavered. It was all about his people, and for the longest time, his people to him, were all about having someone to lead. To be elevated. There were enough times that his ego came into play, that I feel like that’s a fair assumption to make. And yet. Out of nowhere, he would be the guy who turned around to make that giant sacrificed that got his people to move – for better or worse – to the next square on the board. Giving himself up to stay behind when Abby and Kane came down with the rest of the Ark, for example. Even claiming the bunker.

And now, in perhaps the most tragic twist of all, in protecting a frightened little boy from the cruelty of the life Jaha had helped bestow on him. There was a strange echo of Kane, of Bellamy in that moment, as he put Niylah and the boy under the bed. All that had gone before…but no. This was the moment. A final, singular point of choice and chance, to do better than yesterday.

And it’s this complicated interweaving of light and dark in Jaha that perhaps made him one of the most profound points of reflection in this show. He was not a painting, but a mirror into which it was so often painful and infuriating to stare. Never far beneath his divisive surface, there was always, always a complicated, detailed reflection of the humanity in all of us, just waiting to be glimpsed – sometimes in part, sometimes in full – between the many waves and ripples Jaha regularly sent through the waters of the show’s audience. In short, he embodied so much of the spirit of what this story is, down at its extraordinary bones. And for that, trying and difficult as we may have found him at times, we owe Jaha a tremendous and magnificent debt.

In the same way, as the audience, we owe an extraordinary debt of gratitude to the phenomenal Isaiah Washington. In taking his final bow here, Washington gave Jaha a life – and death – that not only served as a fitting farewell to a great character, but also as a profoundly incredible catalyst for the evolution and growth of other key characters. Jaha was a leader, and for better or worse, the legacy he left behind here is of no less worth or gravitas than that of any commander on the Ground – we should never forget that. Indeed, it will be so very interesting to see how that part of what he left behind – in all that he taught the people around him – will now go on to shape the days and fights to come.

But this is not how I want to say goodbye to you, Thelonius Jaha. You who have driven me so very mad to write about all these years. Your last words were not for what you were in life, but who: a loving husband, and a father who just wants to go now and be with his boy. So, my old and complicated friend. I don’t commit you to the dark you leave behind. Instead, I leave you to the glow that beckons you home.

There’s a light on in the attic. Though the house is dark and shuttered, I can see a flickerin’ flutter, And I know what it’s about. There’s a light on in the attic. I can see it from the outside, And I know you’re on the inside… lookin’ out. A Light in the Attic, Shel Silverstein

May we meet again, sir.

FINAL VERDICT

In a weird way, it’s hard to know where to start to sum up an episode as powerful as this. It only showed us one portion of this greater story and yet at the same time, gave us an overwhelming amount to unpack. And that is no small brief for a writer to take on, which is why I was just blown away by the work of Terri Hughes Burton in Red Queen. So much lay on the back of this episode, and much like Clarke’s rebirth of sorts in ‘Eden’, this needed to be Octavia’s. And good grief but did she deliver on this, as well as scripting a death for Jaha that was so far beyond fitting. Truly. This script had such a tenacious, profound heart to it and I thought it was amazing.

Equally, this episode needed a director who could take all that content and place it in a visual framework that really made the dialogue and creative vision hit home with the audience. P.J. Pesce was excellent at such a helm. He directed this episode with so much clarity, and in particular I had a heap of time for the way he ensured key scenes were blocked. Particular moments like when the people sitting behind the locked door are all hunched still, beginning to feel the brutal weight of what they’ve condemned the people on the other side to. That moment when Octavia drops the blade into the pit and tells the criminals to fight. And finally, as she sits dark and mighty over that same pit six years later. There was so much vision here, and honestly it made this episode not just something to watch, but also something, I think, to experience. Additional 50 points to Pescedor for the flamenco swag he showed on that guitar too. Is it just me, or is that, like, the first distinct musical moment we’ve had since the Anthem was raised in season three in the Polis Throne room? Either way, it was such a cool touch on an already great piece of television.

All in all though, it is a fraught and explosive world that lays ahead now. Farmers have become fighters. Little boys have become young warriors in waiting. Hope has been compromised with what seems like the most mortal of wounds, now that they know the ruins of Polis stand between humanity and the sight of the sky again. Another seemingly impossible divide. A handful of lives hovering overhead, tangled in starlight and questions. An enemy above: one they could never have predicted. And a purgatory below: desperate for freedom, and release from more than one kind of prison.

Between them all, she waits. A child at her hip, hope in her veins, and the blistering, powerful fire of one who stands ready again, to overcome.

FINAL THOUGHTS AND QUESTIONS

  • Everybody in this whole fricking hole in the ground needs to eat a Snickers, STAT.

  • Sure like the new baddies are bad and they’re gonna do some damage, but holy crap on a cracker, O is gonna hand some asses back on platters first.

  • NIYLAH AND OCTAVIA, THO.

  • So many people have seen so many people naked on this show and yet not enough people have seen each other in anything less than a tank top recently, and I really feel like that’s an important piece of intellectual fact we should consider moving forward I AM LOOKING AT YOU WRITERS ROOM.

  • How shit would Tinder be in that bunker.

  • If anything happens to Kane, seriously though, writer’s, I will catch a plane and come over and have a stern-ass word with ALLLLLL O YO MAMAS

  • His Aslan hair gets more flawless all the time, and also go on wit cho fine self, Paige Turco, you ageless goddess

  • Is it reunion o’clock yet, asking for a friend

  • SASEPH. JACHIN. WHAT DO I CALL YOU NOW and also p.s. I love you.

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