It’s the story we’ve been waiting for, and the one most fans called along the way…what happened in the bunker that turned Octavia so very, very dark?
Clarke is trying to revive her mother after finding her passed out beside a pill bottle when McCreary bursts in with a gang of goons, so the two badass warriors are completely outnumbered. She immediately lets McCreary in on the secret that Wonkru has interrupted the Eye in the Sky and is on the march.
Notably, Madi will call Clarke on her complete betrayal of everyone besides her mother and adopted daughter repeatedly throughout the episode, unflinchingly pointing out how much Clarke’s behavior sucks and is unworthy of her legacy. I am liking Commander Madi.
McCreary gives Clarke 24 hours to get Abby back to functional so she can treat McCreary and his men, or he’ll kill Madi, so Abby undergoes a rapid detox.
In a cave elsewhere in the valley, Echo decides to let Kane and Diyoza in on the master plan and that it’s falling apart. The good news is that Diyoza realizes McCreary is following a plan out of her own playbook, literally, so she can predict what he’ll do next and use it against him.
Echo calls Bellamy over the radio and insists on speaking in trigedaslang, I suppose in case McCreary has a way of listening in (it certainly doesn’t prevent Diyoza from knowing what’s up, because Kane is fluent, and it obviously keeps nothing from Wonkru). But also, can we all enjoy how Bellamy speaking in trigedaslang is extra damn sexy? How did they come up with a way to make Bellamy even sexier? I didn’t think that was possible.
But I digress. Echo conveys the situation to Bellamy, and they start working on the new pivot for their plan. After he gets off the radio, Bellamy delivers the news to Octavia, reminding her that by torching the farm and marching them across this wasteland, she’s doomed Wonkru on a slim chance. “We thought we should let you know that you’ve killed your people.” Damn, Bellamy, that was…entirely fair.
As Abby starts to come to, she tells Clarke and Madi the secrets of the Dark Years.
After only two years, the soybean crops were blighted. Kara Cooper saved as many as she could and destroyed the rest, but they will have to wait a year for the remaining seeds to replenish a long-term supply, and in the meantime, they will go entirely without protein in their diet. Abby informs the Wonkru Council that the human body cannot survive without protein that long. They have only one option: to start eating their dead, those who fall in the arena. Abby continues grimly that supply will not be a problem, either, because the increasing hunger will drive people to crime.
The human meat cubes are a little weird-looking, which was a point of discussion online. It’s clear they essentially boiled down all the edible and proteinaceous components of the human body because the fat and bone marrow would ultimately create a gelatin effect like what we’re seeing–think of when you’ve cooked a pot roast and let it cool.
Octavia instructs Wonkru to honor their dead by not letting their sacrifice go in vain; they died so we could live. Most do eat, albeit reluctantly, but a small contingent refuses, led by Kane.
In the valley, Echo leads spacekru on a recon mission, and Murphy has the idea to raid the enemy’s weapon stores. It turns out to be a trap, and things are going very wrong for our friends until Shaw turns up and is a big damn hero! It’s completely awesome (I’m going to gloss over the part where Raven has a negative emotional reaction and gives him the silent treatment because she can’t handle that he put himself in danger, which makes sense for her character but is also a bit of an aside).
As they divvy up the weapons they’ve now captured, Murphy gets the big honking gun that turns people into the pink mist! Ha, love it.
In the cave, Kane and Diyoza have stayed behind. Her pregnancy is starting to wear her down, physically, so she needs the rest. They quietly debate whether either side of this war is likely to let the two of them live. Octavia certainly intended to kill Kane already, and McCreary definitely wants to kill Diyoza. Kane considers their predicament ominously, “How do you choose between the monster and the devil?”
Wonkru is camped within a day’s march of the valley, preparing for war. Bellamy approaches Octavia with an offer. Echo has provided valuable intel that could turn the tide, but he won’t hand it over without a promise that Octavia will accept the enemy’s surrender and share the valley rather than slaughtering them all. She agrees, and while I don’t trust her, I want it to be true. She tries to connect to him a little, but he brushes her off, “I’m not fighting for you. I’m fighting to get back to my family.” Again, entirely fair.
Back to the flashback, we see the true turning point of the Dark Years. Abby gives Octavia some very dark tidings. Back on the Ark, the generation that experienced the blight went through something similar, and those who refused to eat did die, but their wasted bodies were useless as meat for the others. Moreover, the fact of their refusal caused increased guilt and sorrow among those who did choose to survive, creating moralistic objectivity that they can’t afford when survival is on the line.
Abby advises Octavia to make it a crime to refuse the meat. It’s not like it’s bad advice under the circumstances; she has a wealth of history to draw upon for this counsel. But it’s still cruel. Both Clarke and Octavia, throughout the series, have overinvested in following the advice of their elders, and it has often led to tragic results. This is by far the darkest instance we’ve seen. Also, Octavia asks if Abby intends to let Kane be some kind of exception, but Abby coldly points out that Kane is the figurehead of this movement, and if you break him, the rest will follow.
Octavia dutifully instructs Wonkru to eat the damn meat already, and we see the genesis of the Wonkru vow, “All of me for all of us.” One poor guy points out the meat on his plate came from his own brother, but Octavia has internalized her mission here, and she can’t allow for sentimentality or exceptions. She kills this guy, and another, and another…
And Kane begs her to stop, miserably takes a bite of the meat. Wonkru has been broken to Octavia’s will, once and for all, and Abby is right to feel the weight of this. Again, not that the plan was wrong, not that there were good choices. But she led this initiative, and she used Octavia to carry it out. Octavia isn’t a diplomat; she’s a warrior. She turned into a warlord at Abby’s encouragement, possibly because Abby still doesn’t see how strong the younger generation truly are.
As everyone prepares for war, Kane and Diyoza turn themselves over to McCreary, and Diyoza informs McCreary that Wonkru knows his battle plan, so a change of strategy is advised. Kane says he’s doing what must be done to keep the devil out of this garden. And millions of fans are on the edge of our seats, hoping this is another double-cross, that Kane and Diyoza are working a Trojan Horse angle or something because the one thing we want most is Kane to survive this season.