The desert-crossing failed, and Wonkru is regrouping at Polis, licking their wounds in the ruins of the once-great city. Clarke is forced to introduce Octavia to her biggest fan, Madi, but she wisely conceals Madi’s true nature, claiming that she’s another transplant-recipient Nightblood, not a born Nightblood. Clarke fudges the truth to Madi about the reason for the deception, because Madi’s fangirl worship wouldn’t allow her to see the threat Octavia presents. She says the problem is that Wonkru is so dedicated to Blodreina that they might attack a true Nightblood as a threat to their Red Queen.
Octavia, healing from the sandworm attack, immediately renews Echo’s banishment. Bellamy doesn’t take it well, tells her if Echo goes, he’ll go too. I kind of see both sides here, because it’s the unique nature of Bellamy and Octavia’s relationship that they dig their heels in and expect the other to accept their truth instantly. In any other pairing on the show, you could expect some degree of communication before the decision–let me explain how this person has changed, one might say; but please remember how legitimate my reasons for distrusting this person are, the other might reply. But not B&O. These two are the only siblings in their universe, and they can’t see straight, like ever.
But before this argument can play out fully, an interruption from Commander Diyoza! She’s come up with a great plan to sow discontent among Wonkru, after talking with Kane. She airdrops a few pallets of food and announces that she’s reconsidered: There’s enough room in the valley for everyone, as long as they come as individuals, not Wonkru. She’s inviting them to overthrow Octavia in exchange for food, safety, and a future for their people. It’s not a bad deal. And of course, Octavia falls right into this trap, setting fire to the food rather than allowing her starving people to accept comfort from the enemy.
Diyoza’s announcement included instructions to any defectors about when and where she would return to collect any who chose to leave Wonkru. Now, all over the camp, people are whispering amongst themselves about getting out, escaping Blodreina’s cruel society, putting “the dark year” behind them at last (the popular fan theory is cannibalism. But I’m just not sure–mostly because of how offended Cooper looked the previous week at the idea of just abandoning their dead without any funeral rites).
Octavia summons Echo with an offer, not unlike Lexa’s offer to Roan long ago. To end your banishment, complete this task for me. In this case, use your old spy skills to figure out who’s planning to defect so that we can execute the traitors. Holy Hannah, Octavia is far gone.
Echo uncomfortably takes the deal, but it only takes one conversation with a couple of would-be defectors to convince her that this is not the person she wants to be anymore. She offers Octavia a compromise: She’ll go and be a spy within the valley, and her first task will be to place a necessary piece of tech Monty has created to co-opt the Eligius systems.
Madi sleeps peacefully while Niylah comes to visit Clarke. But this isn’t just about old times… Niylah is here to find out the truth about Madi on behalf of her Red Queen! She sees Wonkru’s unity threatened by Madi’s Nightblood status just as Clarke foresaw. Clarke is ready to run because she doesn’t have it in her to attack Niylah… but Gaia does! It looks like Madi’s secret has been guessed by several people already, and Gaia is still a Flamekeeper, Wonkru or no.
Gaia wants to kill Niylah, and Niylah expects Octavia will kill Madi. Clarke prepares to flee to keep Madi away from Octavia.
But there’s chaos in the camp as defectors start to run for the prison transport. Madi disappears in confusion. Cooper is up in a tower window, shooting at the defectors as they flee. Bellamy confronts Octavia over this betrayal (and the attempted murder of his girlfriend, as he sees it), but she coldly informs him that what she did was legitimize the defectors who made it through, such as Echo, by making it clear they were fleeing, not being sent as spies. It’s an excellent way to justify taking revenge on your people for leaving you, I suppose.
Octavia’s eyes gleam in a somewhat terrifying way as she informs Clarke that Madi told her everything and is now a subject of Blodreina. The perils of blind fandom.
On the prison transport, Echo shows us once again the quick wit that made her a great spy. She realizes they’re about to be searched, so she hides Monty’s tech inside the open wound of a fellow defector. Girl’s a genius.
Meanwhile, back in the valley, Emori’s managed to get Murphy’s tracker off, and they use it to blow up a group of prisoners who were hunting them. McCreary survives, so now they have a pretty valuable hostage.
Man, I miss loving Octavia. Just like I missed loving Jasper–the performances are still mesmerizing, the storytelling still glorious and engrossing–but a favorite character is almost like a friend, and this is almost like running into an old friend and finding out they got into hard drugs. With Bellamy in S3, it was different; you could see the looks of uncertainty and disquiet in his face when Pike gave an order that he didn’t want to follow. He still went along (for a while, anyway), but you saw that inner struggle that you knew would eventually lead to his choosing the right side again. With Octavia, there’s such a hardness to the Blodreina mask she’s donned. Who can say if it’s a mask at all?