Now that’s what I’m talking about. Not to downplay the importance of what’s up on the surface or in space, of course, but my two favorite characters are in the bunker, so this was the season premiere in my heart. Let’s catch up with Octavia and Kane, shall we?
The episode starts 42 days after Praimfaya, just like last week. There’s an uneasy peace in the bunker, because everyone is still just grateful to be alive, and they believe they only have to ride out the five years before the radiation dissipates. With an end in sight, people can put up with anything, even each other.
But then, Clarke comes to Polis and starts digging. Abby and Kane, though barely on speaking terms at the moment, go toward the sound, because Abby hopes to open up and let Clarke inside. Instead, they discover that they are buried under thousands of tons of rubble. They’re not opening this door anytime soon… and actually, there may never be a way to open it.
The news quickly spreads, and the fit hits the shan. Kara, a fierce and angry Skaikru citizen, is the hydroponics expert, and she points out that they had just barely enough food to get by with the huge population Octavia brought in, but that was based on the five-year plan. Now that they were stuck down here forever, the crops and the arable soil would never support this many person. Kara’s got a huge chip on her shoulder, but it’s hard to blame her; her husband wasn’t on Clarke’s list, so she woke up in the bunker a widow after Jaha and Kane made their deal last season.
Octavia is determined to be a good, generous, forgiving leader. She keeps getting reminded by Gaia that her red blood means she could never be a true Commander anyway, and so she’s trying to forge her own path, specifically rejecting the cruelty of the Ark, as she remembers it.
Kara stages a coup and locks herself and some fellow Skaikru rebels in the farm section. She has Abby and Kane cuffed together as her prisoners, explaining she won’t kill her own people, and she expects they’ll eventually admit her way is preferable to sharing their dwindling resources with the Grounder clans.
But of course, not all of Skaikru was in the farm section when this went down. They’re out there being attacked by Grounders who want someone to punish for the betrayal, and Octavia will only be able to hold them back for so long; they’ll get hungrier and angrier the longer this goes on. She interrupts an attack on Jaha and promises to end the siege and restore order. Jaha’s engineering expertise comes in handy once more. He has a plan to cut power to the door locking mechanism so they can re-enter the farm.
Jaha leads Octavia to where he’ll need to be in order to complete this plan, and she realizes he’s bleeding badly. He starts his work, then stops just short and points out that the moment he opens the door, the raging Grounders gathered outside the farm will rush in and slaughter everyone, guilty and innocent alike. He refuses to let that happen, so Octavia will need to ensure that it won’t before he finishes the job. She laments that she doesn’t know how to control the Grounders, how to stop what’s coming. She tells him she’s not a leader, just a warrior.
“A warrior needs a war…on the Ark, we made death the enemy,” Jaha tells her. This is a lesson only he (and possibly Kane) could have taught her, and it’s the final step toward understanding how to lead society on the brink. She can’t be the benevolent leader she hoped to be, and she has to understand finally that the brutality she perceived in her youth on the Ark was necessary. If death is the enemy, then anything and anyone that brings death closer is also the enemy.
She goes to confront the Grounders gathered outside the farm. “You are Wonkru, or you are the enemy of Wonkru. Choose,” she says, over and over again, as she takes on attack after attack, cutting down her enemies until they learn. She is the Commander. The rest of the crowd sees her covered in blood but still ready for more, utterly determined, speaking with absolute conviction, and they lay down their weapons. She instructs that the door will be opened, but the innocent will be spared, and the Skaikru rebels will be taken alive to answer for their actions properly.
As soon as Kane and Abby are free, Octavia leads them to where Jaha is still bleeding out. He calmly acknowledges that Abby won’t be able to save him this time. His fight is over. He asks Octavia to watch over Ethan, the orphan he’s been caring for. He is like Moses, having brought his people to safety and given them hope, then dying before he can see them enter the Promised Land. It’s a worthy end for a complicated character. He’s been hero and villain throughout the story, often both at the same time, but he got to die heroically, saving his people one last time and imparting the valuable lesson that made Octavia a leader capable of turning these clans into Wonkru.
What does she have in mind for a justice system, though? That inspiration comes from a memory of Bellamy reading to her as a child from the same books about Ancient Rome that helped him choose her name. She has all the criminals, including Grounders whose petty infractions she’d initially pardoned, gathered in a circle in view of the populace.
In Ancient Rome, she announces, the guilty had one chance to earn their freedom: the gladiatorial arena. She tosses her sword into the center. Kara doesn’t hesitate to kill everyone, including her co-conspirators, because she’s a survivor.
Cut to the present time, and Kara stands alongside Octavia. In the arena, five new combatants appear… including Kane?!? Uh-uh, no way, not okay with this turn of events. I need the next chapter of this story immediately!
Gaia’s developing respect for Octavia. “The blood of our enemies is her armor.”
Miller and Jackson, going strong! I love these two together.
Abby and Kane, chained together, finally manage to talk through their issues. I needed these two back on solid ground. I also love their shared horror at the opulent meals Kara serves to try and convince everyone this coup is for the best. It’s another reminder that Skaikru leaders were walking the walk; they weren’t living it up at the expense of their people. They are horrified at wastefulness and selfishness.
Question for you: What do you think Kane did to wind up in the arena?? I’m on the edge of my seat here. I need him to be okay.