Episode grade: 10
On Becca’s island, Abby, Jackson, and Raven are hard at work. Luna’s sleeping off all the blood loss she’s suffered from Abby’s many tests, so dude, let her sleep. Raven’s brain is working overtime, which suddenly manifests in a hallucination of zero gravity. It’s Raven’s happiest moment in a while, until she snaps back to reality by way of a grand mal seizure.
Our other favorite badass Skaikru woman is still bleeding out on horseback, slowly but surely headed to Arkadia…but her increasing weakness causes her to fall out of the saddle, right in the path of Ilian, the anti-technology fundamentalist who totally knows she murdered his pal in Polis.
Cut to Arkadia, where Nylah is delivering the meat she’s dried from their latest hunt. Clarke is clearly conflicted about Nylah; she wants to invite Nylah into the Ark, but that can never happen. Still, she makes sure Nylah is in radio contact, in case anything changes.
Just then, Ilian arrives, carrying Octavia! No one else knows him, so they thank him for returning their friend, then leave him all alone to explore their home, which is 100% tech. Even if he’d only saved Octavia because his City of Light PTSD made him resistant to being a bringer of death, he’s now absolutely on a path to destroy Arkadia. It’s so frustrating to watch everyone just ignore this threat inside their front door.
To be fair, they are kind of busy…not only do they need to rush Octavia to the med bay, they’ve just received her warning about the approaching Ice Nation army. It’s a bad day to be Skaikru.
They gather to work out their battle plan, and Monty shocks us all by invoking Pike! I mean, for real, dude, the “element of surprise” lesson from Pike was that time he slaughtered 300 allies in their sleep, so…not the best example.
Fortunately, there’s only one direct route from Polis to Arkadia, so they’re able to meet Roan’s army in a perfect spot for a checkmate. It’s a nice little gully, so Clarke can meet the army on the ground, while her sharpshooters watch from either side at a safe distance and height. Roan instructs his archers to aim at Wanheda; Echo points out to Roan that there are now a half dozen gun sights trained on him. This is the best chess match since Harry Potter.
Roan calmly produces his hostages, Kane and Bellamy. “Your move,” he says. (Small aside, I love the costume design choice to incorporate old license plates into Grounder armor.)
Here we have one of the most beautiful bits of acting in the episode, as Bellamy realizes that the only way Clarke could engineer this standoff is for someone to have warned her that Azgeda was coming; he instantly knows his sister is alive, after all. He will then whisper his belief to Kane, but it’s unnecessary; the performance was so vivid and clear, the audience already knew what he was about to say. Well done, Bob Morley.
As Clarke and Roan finally agree to a parley, Monty notices that one Skaikru weapon fails to immediately stop targeting Roan…it’s Riley, the Farm Station guy who was enslaved by Ice Nation until just a couple of weeks ago, when Bellamy boneheadedly detonated the hydrogenerator to free him and the others.
So…two things. One, they should never have brought Riley on this mission. Two, Riley, you dumb SOB, we just wasted our future to rescue your ass, don’t turn around and bite us in ours.
Riley barely agrees to stand down…but he quickly abandons his post to sneak after Roan and kill him anyway. Monty surrenders to Echo in order to ask for help stopping Riley. Echo lets Monty trade places with Bellamy, because she can’t resist a Bellamy team-up.
Meanwhile, Octavia has awakened and realized that Ilian is loose in Arkadia, which is very, very bad. And off in Becca’s bunker, Abby and Jackson have realized that Raven probably has severe brain damage…but Raven’s all don’t-care-we’re-all-gonna-die-so-let-me-use-my-skillz. Raven has an epiphany about her hallucination from before: It was a message from her subconscious about the necessity of a zero-G environment to manufacture Nightblood. She also subconsciously knows where to look for a rocket–the Vesta IV is right there in the bunker! Nice nomenclature, too. Vesta is a mother goddess, and by flying Vesta to create Nightblood, Raven and Abby will become the mothers of humanity’s future.
Roan and Clarke are in a cave, trying to work through their disagreement like grownups, which is a nice change of pace. Roan invokes the memory of Lexa, correctly pointing out that Clarke is failing to live up to the standard she held Lexa to, the ideal of placing her loyalties more broadly than with “her people.” Ultimately, they see each other’s points, and they agree to treat Arkadia as a true last resort, not just for Skaikru but for Azgeda, 50/50. (This also fails the broader loyalty test, because Trikru isn’t exactly at the bargaining table, for instance, let alone the other ten clans.)
Just outside the cave, Bellamy and Echo have found Riley, and Bellamy points out to Echo that shooting a man while he’s got his finger on the trigger is pretty much guaranteeing that the gun will go off in the direction it’s aimed. So, let’s talk, Riley.
Bellamy is exactly the right person to have this conversation, because he murdered the hell out of an army full of sleeping allies not long ago. He begs Riley not to indulge his rage at the cost of starting another war, and he promises that this action would be one he’d never escape in his own mind. Bellamy saves the day, for now.
Abby is still trying to get Raven to sit down and take a breath, because she’s a doctor and a surrogate mother figure, and Raven’s probably had a stroke. Raven is way too excited to relax, and she says the brain damage is a small price to pay for the ALIE/Becca knowledge left behind, which no doubt resulted from the use of an EMP to kill her City of Light connection. Since the City of Light kill switch ended the general population’s connection, they had a clean break, leaving nothing behind.
Of course, Abby also got free of the City of Light via EMP…she and Jackson quietly acknowledge that she may be in danger of similar side effects. Sure enough, Abby’s hallucinations start up shortly. (The delayed effect makes sense, as Abby was in the City of Light a couple of days longer than Raven.)
Finally, yes, Ilian is a dumb fundie jackass whose belief in the need to eradicate all technology will be enforced on the entire world around him. He won’t listen to any arguments, because he’s a fanatic, and his belief in what’s right is all that matters to him. He sets Arkadia ablaze, and both armies return to watch the pyre and contemplate how screwed they all are.
Considering Ilian’s insanity is a direct result of the City of Light, I’m inclined to blame Jaha for this entire turn of events. What about you?