This week, we finally get to see the vicious prologue to the oncoming apocalypse as it emerges through the black rain. As the rain burns and kills everything in its path, the characters are again faced with the overarching moral and ethical dilemma: who dies, who lives, and what becomes of them after these choices have been made. After an explosive couple of episodes, The 100 finally ups the ante in this latest instalment, pairing off the major players in their soul-searching crisis.
Some key quotes:
“Someone other than me is going into that oven.”
“Because today, I am the commander of death.”
“When he’s done talking, the kill is mine.”
My favourite line in this entire episode is: “Who you want to be doesn’t always win.” Said in a bold whisper by Chancellor Marcus Kane as he lays a hand over Harper’s shoulder to comfort her in her guilt, this ominous line is integral to the overarching battle each character is facing throughout the series: who they are and what they have to be to not just survive, but to live. When Octavia puts a knife on Ilian’s throat to tell him that she does not need his help, the black rain conveniently enters their conversation, forcing them to become unwitting allies in their attempt to outrun it. No sooner do we see the two stripping off their clothes to wash off the burns than we receive a narrative indication of something a little more intimate to come. But who didn’t see that coming when they were first seen together on screen, right?
The pair’s exchange in the cave was real, raw, and powerful in its honesty. A post-ALIE Ilian suffers following the deaths of his parents and brothers from his own hands under the influence of the drug. His guilt compelled him to destroy Arkadia in vengeance, but his kind, genuine heart overpowers this sentiment – and Octavia notices. She tells him to go home back to his “little sheep” because he is not a murderer. But Ilian says the same thing to her. Octavia isn’t a murderer, no matter how much she tries to guilt herself into believing it. Marie Avgeropoulos plays the grieving and wounded Octavia with raw intensity. She tries to offer herself as a sacrifice to the black rain to escape the person that she has become, but Ilian absorbs her protest blows and screams. The Octavia who wants to die to atone for her guilt, for her suffering, is not the Octavia who wants to live, to heal – that Ilian sees deep within. As she forces herself on Ilian he politely backs off and we see the real her, the one who doesn’t want to die, but to feel something apart from pain. Ilian understands, albeit hesitantly, and they welcome each other’s bodies as diversion. If a little blasé, it was honest and real – a healing process which these two, unfortunately, do not have enough time to experience in a more traditional and healthier way.
For a friendship that perhaps we didn’t see coming, Clarke and Emori’s scenes were certainly a refreshing change in this episode. As the outsider of their group, Emori lets us see two different sides of her: first, the side that admires Clarke for her willingness to do everything in her power to save everyone, and secondly, the survivor who will do everything in her power to save herself. Emori weaves a fabricated story of her tragic past against the Grounder thief who almost killed her (and more importantly, unceremoniously interrupting Clarke’s rest, like seriously, when will this girl get a break?!). Clarke eventually convinces Emori that the kill that should be hers can perhaps save everyone instead. A bold, leadership move for Clarke. She sympathises with Emori and thinks of a way to save everyone and for Emori to get her revenge also. And so the Grounder becomes the guinea pig to Abby’s bone-marrow theory that may help create the cure, and Emori gets her vengeance. But here’s the catch: as we start trusting Emori and becoming more sympathetic towards her, she reveals to Murphy at the end of the episode that she, in fact, has no idea who the Grounder thief was. She only spared him so that she would be spared from being the guinea pig herself, given that she’s the only outsider in their group. A “survivor’s move”, Murphy says proudly. And we are both proud and terrified of this side of Emori. Because who really is she then? Has she been lying to us all this time?
Whilst Ilian and Octavia are off doing the do and Clarke and co. are finally moving forward to finding a cure, Marcus and Bellamy are left in Arkadia to fight their own moral and personal battles against the repercussions of the black rain’s first wave. While our darling Harper bears the brunt of her guilt after leaving someone to die in the rain to save herself, Bellamy tries to be the redeemer once more as he responds to a distress call from two people who weren’t able to get back in the shelter of Arkadia in time. We see two things here: the leader Bellamy who could not save his sister but is trying to save everyone else – impossibility be damned – and the chancellor Marcus who will save only those who he wants to be saved.
Bellamy and Marcus’ relationship stems from the shared care and love for the same people who mean a lot to both of them: Abby, Clarke, Octavia, and the Arkadians, their people. Bellamy wants to save the two people who need his help because he promised them he would, while Marcus wants Bellamy to not take any unnecessary risks. He tries to coach Bellamy through the process, to help him realise that sometimes, you just cannot save everyone. Bellamy argues against it, a very Bellamy way of redemption. Instead, he falls into despair and guilt for his failed mission. He takes it out on Marcus who tells him that his mother would have been proud of the man he is now. “You floated my mother,” and we all collectively gasp for that burn. Pun intended.
Whatever his differences with Marcus, Bellamy does learn the lesson ‘you can’t save someone who doesn’t want to be saved.’ If this was a musical, this line is the overture we have to look out for down the track. Bellamy having this realisation tells us that he finally has come to grips with his sister’s way of healing, that he simply can’t save everyone, and that Clarke sees him as someone worth saving. And even if he doesn’t think he should be saved, his salvation is Clarke thinking that he should be. And he is going to hang onto that until all of them find their way to survive the apocalypse.
Action-packed, tragic revelations, and moral and ethical themes that elicit gasps and sighs; it’s definitely an episode worth watching.