Episode Grade: 10
Well, if you're going to devastate your fans, you'd better at least give them one of the greatest episodes ever. This week was killer, in every sense.
The main action, of course, was the Hunger Games-style conclave, in which one warrior from every clan fought to the death to earn their clan the right to survive praimfaya. Now, on most shows, the moment they revealed that more than one main character was in the fight, the audience would relax a little, certain that there would be a heroic twist in which the major players would be saved. Most shows would stop short of killing off multiple fan-favorite characters in a single season, let alone a single episode.
The 100, of course, is not most shows. That's part of why we love it. (I was, no lie, gut-level relieved that Indra wasn't fighting on behalf of Trikru. I could see them putting Octavia through the pain of having to watch her mentor die...but I really didn't want that to happen, and I was so glad it didn't.)
Octavia bravely volunteered as tribute, and Roan fought for his people because he is a worthy king. He could have had someone else do it, but that's not his way. Ilian showed up to represent his clan, much to Octavia's annoyance.
But then we got the first big twist: Luna swaggered in, full of dark portent, announcing her intention to fight for the right to shut everyone out of the bunker. Her goal was to put an end to humanity.
The heart of this episode was Octavia. Indra's gift of her sword for the conclave was a powerful moment. She truly sees Octavia as a daughter. Kane and Bellamy stayed to observe the conclave (each clan was permitted, two representatives), and they coached her before the start, advising her to play it safe at first, to let the herd thin itself out, so she would be fresh and uninjured when she ultimately winds up fighting those who have already engaged in other battles. She at first wondered if the advice was insulting, but she realized the wisdom of it.
Later, she overheard an exchange between Roan and Bellamy, and because her presence was unknown, she got to hear how much Bellamy believes in and admires her. It paved the path for reconciliation between the two, which of course increases the odds that one or the other will die.
Ilian offered Octavia an alliance that they might fight together to improve their chances in this conclave, but she refused. It was hard enough for her to know she might have to kill him, so she wanted to keep her distance in the meantime. Unfortunately, she soon wound up having to kill him out of mercy, as he had suffered a slow-killing blow in the arena.
That fatal blow was delivered by Echo, who illicitly snuck into the arena to help her clan to victory through dirty, underhanded cheating. Bellamy spotted her and snuck in to stop her before she could kill Octavia, too. Kane did try to talk him out of going because more than one representative of any clan in the arena was a disqualifier; they could simply report Echo and let Azgeda get ejected, rather than risk Bellamy's getting caught and ending Skaikru's chances. Bellamy felt that Echo could elude capture, and Kane probably realized that the Grounders would be disinclined to trust Bellamy's instincts anyway.
Bellamy did successfully stop Echo, and the only one to catch him at it was Roan, who was equally shocked to see Echo there in the first place. When he realized what she was doing, Roan condemned Echo, banishing her from Azgeda. Which brings us to the major theme of the episode: honor.
Roan, for all his faults, is a man of honor. His vile mother exiled him, so she didn't have the same impact on him that she had on their people. That's why Azgeda sucks, but Roan is a decent guy. He learns that Echo is cheating, killing without honor, and he is appalled. He later offers Octavia a temporary truce, acknowledging that Luna is too great an adversary for either of them alone, and honestly stating the plan to get back to killing each other after.
Luna is without honor. She is so angry at the world that she wants to watch it die. (Remember there were indications of this back when they first got to Becca's island; Luna wanted to flee, clearly unconcerned with the idea that she would soon be the last person on Earth.) When black rain hits, she is utterly safe, owing to her Nightblood status, but Roan will quickly die from the radiation falling on them; if she were an honorable warrior, she would break off the fight and run, so that he could run as well. She continues to attack, as he gets weaker and weaker, as his face is covered with welts, and his eyes swell shut. It's a humiliating and unseemly death, being weakened by weather to the point that the enemy barely needs to lift a finger for the killing blow. Roan deserved better, not from the show or the writers, but from his killer. She dishonored him in death.
There have been a number of satisfying deaths on this show, mainly among Mount Weather villains, but Luna's may be my new favorite. She'd just done such a vicious job of killing Roan, who was great, and she was snarling and gloating her way to the final execution, which she considered to be easy pickings. But Octavia was smarter than that, and the showy trail of blood she left for Luna to follow allowed her to sneak up and take that walking dumpster fire down. (Sorry, I realize Luna was a fan-favorite for some reason--I assume it's the hairstyle. I always hated the smug bitch.)
In the middle of all this, someone caught Bellamy as he tried to sneak back out of the arena. They captured him and carried him away, and I thought, Oh no, Octavia's victory will be challenged because someone knows there were two Skaikru warriors on the field!
Octavia returned to the tower, the sole survivor. She made the honorable choice to claim the bunker, not for Skaikru, but for all the clans to share. Then she noticed Bellamy's absence....
Which brings us to the big, ugly twist. Clarke made a command decision to save Skaikru, moving them into the bunker while everyone was distracted by the conclave. She had someone out there watching for a chance to grab Bellamy, apparently (maybe she'd have taken Kane and Octavia too if they'd wandered by, but I think we can assume Bellamy was her real goal), and then she locked the bunker for good.
I think when Luna made her announcement about shutting out all the clans, that's the moment when Clarke's survival engine started turning over. I like to believe she meant it when she told Roan that she wanted to see humanity survive, no matter which clan it was. But once Luna made her intentions clear, the stakes were changed. Clarke knew Luna was likely to dominate in this conclave. As a Nightblood initiate, Luna's entire young life was spent in training for exactly this.
Roan sneered at Clarke's disdain for Grounder traditions, and that's the whole problem, yet again. This conclave was a dumb, religiously motivated plan, made egregiously worse by Luna's inclusion. Only zealots would even allow Luna to take part in the conclave, knowing her purpose. They should all have stood together against her...and then of course, and they should have realized there was a better way that would save most, if not all of the clans. But they couldn't see beyond their traditions and their religious dogma.
When I walk myself through it like that, it's easy to see how Clarke reached her decision. I hate that she abandoned Kane, and I'm sad that she didn't believe in Octavia's ability to win the conclave (who knows what might have happened if Luna hadn't shown up; I like to hope that Clarke would have played fair, but I'm not sure).
Mostly, I'm sad for Kane, who's now realizing that Abby is cold as ice. Granted, he knew that she signed off on her own husband's execution years ago on the Ark, but he's changed so much since they came to the ground, and he probably believed she had changed, too. Maybe she found it easier to let go of him this way than to ever have to see how he would react if he learned what she'd done to Luna, and what she almost did to Emori. Maybe sending him to his death is her way of never having to deal with losing his affection and respect.
Well, that was intense. What did you think about this shocking twist? Which character will you miss the most from those we lost in the conclave? Which character on the wrong side of the bunker door are you most nervous about?