Just in case we were inclined to go easy on skaikru because we most often see the world from their point of view, this episode opens with a chilling and gut-wrenching scene to remind us of the horrors ALIE inflicted on everyone else. Meet Ilian, who murdered his entire family under instructions from ALIE. In case there was any question how much the blame for ALIE's actions could be attributed to the 13th Clan. Raven will later explicitly point out that Jaha was the one who taught ALIE how to overcome free will in her subjects; if she knows that it's fair to assume that the City of Light connection gave its prisoners a decent amount of shared knowledge.
On a much happier note (not to mention hotter!), Kane and Abby are finally getting it on. 'Bout damn time. As she goes to get dressed, she hesitates about putting on her necklace that bears her late husband's wedding band. Kane sees this hesitation and once again proves how amazing he is; he takes the necklace and puts it on her, so she knows he's not threatened or jealous, that he understands and accepts every part of her. Later, she leaves it off for real, and he accepts that too...passionately.
On the ground in Polis, an insurrection is brewing. The ambassador for Trishanakru is ready to challenge Roan for leadership because this "hands off skaikru" order is an outrage to the vengeance-driven Grounders (remember, Lexa started talking about "Blood must not have blood" very shortly before her untimely death, so that social change never got off the ground). Octavia is lurking nearby, looking like an assassin in a video game.
Also perturbed about Roan's attitude toward skaikru? Echo. She begs him to change his mind or at least confide to her what his decision was based on. This is a bit of Queen Nia's legacy of exiling her son, of course: He doesn't trust his people any more than they trust him. He actually finds skaikru relatively easy to work with, because unlike every other clan in the coalition, they don't have a complicated past and a network of secret alliances. Echo was raised by Nia, so she can't see Roan's point of view at all; to her, Nia was a great leader, but to Roan, she was an abusive, then absent, mother.
Kane brings Roan Octavia's discovery about the impending challenge. He offers to try diplomacy, and oh Kane, I love you, but no. That is never going to work. Roan and Echo train, testing Roan's physical readiness for a fight to the death, and it's clear he would have no chance. His wounds are still healing, and there's nothing more Abby can do for him medically. Echo offers to fight in his stead, and he refuses, aware that he is barely holding onto power as it is; any sign of weakness would end him anyway.
Echo tries to talk Roan into issuing a proclamation that challenges for leadership are now outlawed, but Roan is a man of honor. He says, "I told you, I won't be that kind of king." I'm seeing an ominous similarity to Kane's honorable insistence on holding a fair election...and Clarke's determination to set an example of peace by declining to execute Emerson...it almost seems like honorable acts are doomed to bring dire consequences in the world of this show. I hope Roan breaks this pattern.
After Kane's diplomatic approach fails, Octavia takes a more direct approach. She walks right up to the ambassador and stabs him straight through the ear into his brain! She wipes away the blood and leaves quickly, and with their level of technology and anatomical understanding, it's safe to say no one will ever prove he didn't die of natural causes.
So Roan is safe...for now. Ilian tells Octavia he knows it was her. From the disturbed look on his face, Kane is also realizing Octavia did this. Worse, Echo clearly suspects.
Meanwhile, back in Arkadia, our core crew is brainstorming solutions to the big problem. Raven wants to put the word out, crowd-source the answers, but Clarke and Bellamy are in secretive leader mode again. They really haven't learned as much as one might hope from all that went down with Pike!
Raven's in need of extra hands, not to mention experienced engineers, but she isn't interested in one man's help: Thelonius Jaha. He explains that he was an engineer before he was Chancellor, and he's ready to make himself useful again. She snarls at him and tells him to do the grunt work and stay away from her. Seems fair.
Jaha is smart enough to know they're hiding the true purpose of the work he sees being done, and he talks to Clarke about the burden of leadership that she now understands. He's not wrong, and she hates that.
Jasper, cheerfully welcoming their impending doom, is also not wrong when he tells Clarke their people deserve to know what's coming. He's wrong about enough else, though, so it's still a day that ends in -y.
Monty realizes that the Ark itself presents their best shot at surviving nuclear radiation, but they would never survive in a closed environment long enough for the world outside to become safe again. They need a water source, and there is one available...the hydro generator that came down with Farm Station. Problem: Farm Station crashed in Azgeda territory, and Bryan has major PTSD about going back.
Miller and Bryan have a private moment in which Miller learns the unsettling truth that Bryan never stopped supporting or agreeing with Pike. Miller has clearly thought that Bryan realized Pike was wrong and stood up to him at long last, but Bryan considers that he betrayed Pike, for Miller.
They set off for Farm Station, only to discover it's in use. Bryan snarls, "They've moved in," and he's clearly feeling the itch in his trigger finger. Before they have time to settle on an approach, they are surrounded by Azgeda warriors. King Roan's emblem doesn't seem to do much good at first, but the chief of this little outpost grudgingly agrees to honor his king's orders. He tells our gang they can have what they came for, but nothing more. This sounds fine and good until they see what's behind door number 3: slave laborers of all ages, some of whom came down from the Ark.
While they work to detach the hydro generator, they debate how to handle this turn of events. Bryan is gung ho to free the slaves, using the generator as a bomb to gain the advantage they need. Harper concurs because she has PTSD about Mount Weather. Monty points out that they have a mission, and it's more important than anything--that saving hundreds of their people six months from now outweighs freeing 25 people today who will then also die in six months. Miller agrees with Monty, knowing he's risking his relationship in the process. Bellamy is the tie-breaker...and of course, Bellamy is carrying all sorts of guilt right now.
Unfortunately, Bellamy has not learned the lesson Clarke probably hoped he had; he's still rash, emotionally driven, easily manipulated by others' intensity in the heat of the moment, and unable to focus on the long-term consequences. So, of course, he agrees to blow up their only current survival plan in order to free the slaves.
After the bomb goes off, their last opponent is the chief who let them in, and Bryan informs Monty this should be his kill because this is the guy who killed Monty's father. Monty declines to take this life, but he does free the slaves, and they're eager to kill their tormentor.
The Bryan and Miller relationship is really on the rocks when Miller admits he still thinks freeing the slaves was the wrong choice. Bryan won't have long to hold this grudge, though, since the world is about to end, and he just damaged their chances of surviving it.
Finally, with their plan A well and truly screwed by Bellamy, Clarke gives in and tells everyone what's up...but she does it in a very bad way, massively overpromising in the name of fostering hope. This is so going to backfire.
Even worse, Roan promised Echo she could go check on skaikru's progress soon...when she sees they're primarily focusing on saving their people and barely giving a thought to saving the other clans...plus they just killed a bunch of Azgeda warriors at Farm Station...they'll be lucky to live long enough to die of radiation poisoning.
Would you have voted with Bryan and Harper or with Monty and Miller? Tell us why in the comments!