This THE 100 review contains spoilers
The 100 Season 7 Episode 10
With every episode we watch, The 100 tussles with what its ultimate legacy be. A show where in the end, characters grow, move on, and fill their wounds with love and redemption? Or one where everyone is doomed to inevitable violence? Will Hope and Echo be able to turn toward their loved ones and heal from their respective ordeals, or will Hope become exactly what her mother tried to shield her from, while Echo commits an unnecessary Mt. Weather-level genocide in vengeance?
At least for tonight, the answer is toward love and hope, though that certainly seems to be the trend. The fact that we’re even discussing it certainly tips things in favor of the positive, as does the overall trajectory for the last season and a half. Raven’s rescue of Echo from herself was a much more earnest redemption for our favorite mechanic than the one on the death planet, and it had the benefit of re-grounding Echo back within her family circle on the show. Remember when their time on the ring mattered? Her choice to just throw love on Echo felt like a clear sign that the show is headed toward the light, one compounded by the sequence that followed.
All season we’ve been poised, waiting for a major character to actually die. It’s finally here and while it stings to see Diyoza go down like that, it feels completely perfect for her, and the show. After so much well-earned character development and a consistently excellent performance from Ivana Milicevic, she died much like Raven threatened to: by stepping in to make a real and loving sacrifice for someone she loved with her whole heart, saving them not only from immediate peril, but more importantly, from the darker path that those unretractable actions would inevitably lead toward. This feels like the kind of hopeful-dark ending The 100 could land on, where major characters die but in service to loving, character-driven ends and redemptive new beginnings.
It says a lot about the restraint the writers of The 100 showed in this episode that Clarke largely took a back seat, allowing Octavia to make the call about how to treat Leavitt, and only stepping in lightly to talk to Echo about her experience in Mt. Weather. While some fans gripe about any scene that isn’t focused exclusively on a very narrowly defined group of main characters (that frankly hasn’t applied for several seasons), Clarke and the episode were right to turn their attention toward “the three most dangerous women on this or any planet” – and the one she didn’t know about, Hope. For the majority of the Bardo storyline, this family forged on two tours through Penance is where this story’s heart needed to beat.
Perhaps the most successful aspects of the Sanctum plot are where it found its own emotional thrum: Indra existing as both a mother and warrior, and Murphy fumbling toward redemption as our favorite cockroach with a conscious. Gaia has often derided her mother’s lack of maternal instincts, which seems fair, and Octavia clearly got the better end of the deal due to timing.
But seeing Indra, who has spent so much time fearing Sheidheda and loathing her own parents’ choices at his blade, choose to sacrifice herself to save Madi, is a major turning point. It still feels like an authentically Grounder moment, to have Madi come streaming through the air to take out Sheidheda’s eye, without letting her unrealistically kill him solo (or spoil the fun of what I can only assume is a final team-up involving Indra and all of her daughter-figures.) However, with the sly nod to her people to fall in line, and by strategically using her power to spare Madi, Indra manages to help everyone live to fight another day so they can regroup.
Indra didn’t have to choose between being a warrior or a mother, doing the right thing or protecting her people. Of course not everyone can, but it certainly feels like every ounce of power, every bit of training, every skill Indra has ever mastered, was probably so that if she ever faced someone like Sheidheda, she’d have more options than her parents did: kneel or die. And she did it: she’s undaunted, and everyone’s still alive to fight another day.
The only detractor here is the filming style of the solo combat itself. In a season so thoroughly light on action, what a shame to film J.R. Bourne and Adina freakin’ Porter with ever-shifting angles. Did The 100 forget how to film action sequences? Aside from missing out on the sheer fun of watching would should have been epic, it took away from some of the emotional intensity of the scene to constantly be reorienting as the frame shifted nonsensically around the actors. The biggest emotional beats had no real room to breathe, allowing far more of this to spool out in reaction shots after the fact when it could have been baked into the heart of the fight and various capitulations.
Littered across the history of The 100 are obnoxious old white men who are very certain they know the secret to life, the universe and everything. Inside Cadogan’s Mt weather-esque lair everything is opulent, austere and euro-centric, down to the Rothko on the back all. But again and again, Gabriel is a welcome presence, pushing back against this very specific notion of nostalgia, intelligence and gentility.
Meanwhile, something similar plays out in the stone room, where jaded Grounder Niylah calls out how unoriginal and nonsensical Cadogan’s notion of a war to end all wars is. Jordan joins her, bridging the gap between Gabriel and Niylah. He makes perhaps the best use so far of his status as living rebuttal to violence while using his heritage – ethnic, but also familial – to call out the arrogance of Cadogan to assume he can translate an ancient text to mean the exact destructive end he would like it to.
For all the speechifying from Anders, he didn’t grab the bioweapon when he could have, he did the human, instinctual thing and went for his own neck. It was the calm, collected Diyoza who only ever had control of the entire room, who sacrificed herself to save her daughter from destruction and Penance and being stuck on Bardo. It’s Jordan’s knowledge, lovingly passed down from his father, that helps him see that the Bardoan text isn’t about war, but a test. It’s not Gabriel’s flaws for love – like how his desire to save Josephine was perverted into a sinister death cult – that make him like Cadogan, its his love of people like his grandmother whose water was turned off for the rich, or the people he fought with, that makes him human.
Cadogan bellows forward toward a possible war that isn’t in any way seeking him out, seemingly to satisfy his own curiosity and self-importance. It’s to settle the fate of humanity, and ultimately, will likely settle the final message of the show. Right now, it’s this juxtaposition between why different people engage in violence, and the daylight The 100 has created for themselves and their characters to allow them to turn away while still making hard choices with bad outcomes, that gives me hope.
- Can we talk about how only Octavia and Indra have led Grounders with red blood? What a lineage! Y’all better recognize, Sheidheda
- OK who gets more points for selling a goofy line, Sheidheda sneering “ai don fraug him up” (I killed him) or Miller punching “in other words, get the flock out of here”?
- O saying “just hug me back, Miller” is kinda killing me
- “This is Hope, my daughter. Time dilation’s a bitch.”
- Every time Cadogan talks about Trigadeslang sticking around, it reminds me how little sense it makes that his daughter “invented” it, and how disrespectful it is as a writing choice.
- Cadogan, sir, do you really learn from centuries ticking past if you don’t even live them?
- “Good for the cult business though, am I right?” I like having Gabriel here to keep Cadogan honest
- For the curious, Malachi Kom Sangedakru is Sheidheda’s real name. However, he didn’t say his own name in order in the lineage (he kept himself for last) so I still don’t know how much time – if any – there was between him and Lexa.
- I’m excited for Murphy and Emori getting the faithful out, even if it put them in their crosshairs. But locking yourself in with the reactor seems also dangerous???
- It’s rich to hear Clarke say there’s always another choice you can make vis a vis violence/genocide because uh Clarke usually doesn’t take the other choice. But sure! We’re all being better people now!
- Wow, The 100 acknowledged that massacre-Bellamy existed! Just in time for the reveal that he is obviously very much alive. Truly a spicy episode all around.