Review: ‘The 100’ Ep 4.05: “The Tinder Box”

the_100_405-1Uuhhhh … WOW.  I gotta say, for as much as I pay attention to The 100 news and trailers and interviews and teasers and the occasional straight-up spoiler that pops up on Twitter, I am honestly shocked at how much the show has managed to surprise me this season.  Like … before tonight’s episode, each ep gave me maybe one decently-sized surprise.  But the thing about tonight’s episode is that both major storylines ended up taking the entire season in a wildly different direction than I ever imagined.  Granted, I am not the type who does much speculating; I purposely try to avoid this because I want to just enjoy the ride and be surprised.  But still, when I’m this obsessed with a show, it’s impossible not to at least speculate a little bit as I read hints and spoilers along the way.  And still none of those hints or spoilers got me to where we are now.

I’m also shocked at how many scenes from the full-length season 4 trailer showed up in this episode.  Like yes I always figured that the shot of Clarke with radiation boils all over her face must be some sort of dream or hallucination, but I thought it would happen later in the season, and I never thought it would be Abby hallucinating due to chip-induced brain damage.  Also the scene where Niylah is helping Octavia walk and they both look shocked at something in front of them – I had assumed this would take place at Niylah’s house, not in the Ark.  And there was also the Raven seizing scene, although the one we saw tonight may not be the exact same one as in the trailer. The only scene that was easy to predict was the one where Octavia was lying injured on the table telling Clarke “war is here.”  We knew from last week that this must be how this week’s ep would start.  Oh and of course we also knew to expect the scene where Clarke confronts Roan’s army.  In any case, lots and lots of trailer scenes here.

It’s tempting to say at this point that we’ve now seen most of the scenes from the S4 trailer, but I just watched it again and there are still a good handful of them yet to come.  At least a few of them are definitely in the next episode (which we apparently have to wait two weeks for, UGGH).  Beyond that, there are still scenes coming up of black rain and people covered in boils and dead people wrapped up and Murphy and Emori boning and Octavia back on her feet in some sort of assassin gang.  So we still have a ways to go.

I’m currently taking a tally of which storylines have unfolded the way I expected this season, and which ones have surprised me.  These are the ones that have played out as I expected:

  • I figured that we’d have at least a couple iterations of Azgeda being allies and then turning on Skaikru, and going into tonight’s ep I figured they’d make up again.
  • I could tell just from the S4 trailer that Octavia would likely get hurt at some point and then recover, and would be doing assassin stuff for some length of time.
  • The fact that Clarke had to make a list of 100 people who could survive in the Ark certainly was not a surprise because I figured the new radiation wave would cause major parallels to season 1’s Ark storyline.
  • We knew Ilian would be trouble in some way shape or form.
  • We knew Jasper would be obnoxious and useless.
  • We did see Raven seizing in the S4 trailer and we saw her have a brain twinge last week, and the fact that it is a result of the infinity chip is as I expected.

Now for the stuff that has surprised me and/or totally thrown me for a loop this season:

  • I didn’t see the nightblood solution coming until pretty well into ep 3.
  • I expected Octavia’s turn as an assassin to involve her regressing back to the worst version of herself, when it has oddly ended up being Octavia as the most awesome possible version of herself.  It’s more like Octavia reaching her full potential.  The promo pics for 4.06 make me wonder if she’ll go a little crazy in that one though.
  • The fact that the mysterious girl with the flame, who we now know as Gaia, would turn out to be Indra’s daughter.
  • The discovery of Becca’s lab I honestly should have seen coming because where the hell did I think that fancy high tech setting was from several scenes of the trailer?  I didn’t put any thought into it, clearly.  I also didn’t expect the flying forest bullets from the trailer to be from drones.
  • The existence of Riley, who I started to warm to last week, before I lost every ounce of my good will towards him this week.
  • While I did consider the possibility that Skaikru would need to find a way to get back into space to survive the radiation, the scenario we ended up in is clearly quite different than that, and it’s not anything I’d ever imagined.
  • The fact that Abby would also start to have brain issues for the same reason as Raven never even once crossed my mind until tonight.
  • That the Ark would be completely blown up and destroyed!!??  HELL no.  At least not like this.

Let’s talk in more detail about tonight’s storylines.

Becca’s Lab

the-100_405-4It looks like Luna, Murphy, Miller, Emori, and whoever else was with the Nightblood Adventure Squad were conveniently napping and/or playing cards in another room this week.  That left us with Raven, Abby and Jackson to try to save the world by re-creating nightblood using whatever specs they could find of Becca’s.  The first scene with Raven “floating” completely threw me off.  But it looked super cool and I was hoping against hope that it would be real, all while knowing the writers would never let Raven off that easy.  So of course it ended in her seizing and bleeding out her mouth.  Oh and it also ended in the discovery that her newly-discovered brain power would kill her!  Because of course.

I talked a lot in my season 3 reviews about the way this show loves to straddle that torture-porn line with Raven.  I’ve always been a bit conflicted by it because there’s no denying that it’s a clear and purposeful theme with her character, but at the same time I do love how unbreakable she is.  Each character of course has their own set of strengths they bring to the table, and Raven’s is that she will jump right in and sacrifice herself for her people with zero hesitation, and she has done this, many many times over.  She’s just managed to survive every time.  She is as selfless as they come, and she proved it once again tonight.  There’s no point in choosing her own survival just so everyone can die in 2 months, she does have a good point there.  But still, this involves sacrificing herself either way.  Let’s hope we can find something magical or sciency to save her by the season finale.

Now, in terms of Raven’s eternal suffering, I guess at least we have Abby to share it with her this season?  Which I guess is fitting, since these two have always had the mother-daughter relationship that Clarke can’t always participate in when she’s busy trying to play mother hen to the entire Skaikru and now to every human on earth.  It’s almost more like Raven and Clarke are siblings in a sense, because they each have strong bonds with Abby but they also each have different roles or “coverage areas” in Abby’s life, as siblings tend to do.  I have to admit though, I was confused until a good ~20 minutes after the episode ended as to why the hell Abby would have the same chip-induced brain damage as Raven.  I had completely forgotten that Clarke disabled the chip in Abby’s head using the exact same method they had used on Raven.  The effects of this thing remind me a lot of the buggy versions of The Intersect from Chuck.  I really hope these two don’t wind up with permanent brain damage, or worse yet, dead.

Azgeda vs. Skaikru vs. Riley

the_100_405-3God, this episode was SO fucking tense.  It makes last week’s ep seem like a walk in the park by comparison.  I was nervous and squirming around on the couch the entire time.  And the thing is, like I mentioned earlier, I went into this episode assuming Azgeda and Skaikru would kiss and make up.  So I wasn’t even necessarily all that nervous about this storyline going into it; the only thing I was nervous about was how quickly Bellamy would realize O was still alive (and therefore be capable of thinking with a level head).  But as it turned out, Bellamy was cool as a cucumber (realizing early that O was alive helped).  The motherfucker we had to worry about was goddamn Riley.  Everyone’s best buddy has turned out to be a complete nightmare, as all the other Farm Station people have, really.  We should’ve seen it coming.  He pulled a full-on Pike.

I honestly found it very obnoxious that with this entire Azgeda vs. Skaikru stand-off scene, Riley is the one we had to worry about fucking it all sideways.  I get it because the point is that in situations like this, shit tends to go wrong that you’d never expect to go wrong.  But that didn’t make it any less difficult to endure, and on top of that, it was hard to take the staggering levels of irrationality that went into Riley’s behavior.  How the fuck he thought killing Roan would help anyone in that situation is beyond me; what kind of idiot is this guy??

I would be lying if I told you I wasn’t hoping Echo would just shoot that arrow through Riley’s thick skull.  I’d be lying if I told you I wasn’t still disappointed that she didn’t.  The one good thing we got out of this was Bellamy wisdom: “Trust me when I tell you that if this turns into a massacre, it will never get out of your head.  War made me a murderer.  Don’t let it happen to you.”  Bell making it clear again that he learned his lessons from his turn as a psycho killer last season.

We also can’t forget Monty being the other hero of the Riley debacle.  He was the one who caught the situation to begin with and risked his life to get shit handled.

Clarktavia

the-100_405-2Awww.  I hadn’t even thought about Clarktavia in forever.  Look I mean obviously Clarke is gonna be the one to tend to Octavia when she first gets brought in because she is the only one there who has decent medical skills.  I hadn’t expected Niylah to be there at the Ark in this ep, but it was a convenient way to get coverage for Octavia while Clarke dealt with the Azgeda debacle.  I also read that Niylah will be here for a decent stretch of eps now, so it seems that she’ll have more to do after this.

Anyway I think I’ve written about this in at least one of my season 3 reviews, but Clarke and Octavia have always had such a … harsh … relationship.  It mostly tends to be Octavia being very hard on Clarke … granted, sometimes for extremely good reason (like when Clarke left O + many others to die at Ton DC which I will never fully forgive her for.  Ton DC to this day is the only Clarke decision that I’m still very disappointed in).  But it definitely has always seemed like Clarke would far prefer to just get along with Octavia and be friends because it would make life a hell of a lot easier.  Octavia is generally the one who has very little interest in this.  But I’m always of the same mind as Clarke – I just wish these two would get along.

And tonight O didn’t exactly have a choice or the physical ability to do anything but lay there and flop around while everyone tried to make sure she didn’t die … BUT … it felt different this time.  Why?  Because this time, Octavia came back to Arkadia, which she called “home” for the first time ever, solely to save Skaikru.  It wasn’t as if she just wound up there by accident and then Clarke helped her.  She didn’t even go back for her own self-preservation (i.e. to get medical help).  She purposely fought off Echo + 2 other huge dudes rather than letting herself be taken peacefully, risking her life and taking a sword through the torso plus a fall off a cliff (she just got lucky that it was a magical LOTR-style cliff that doesn’t kill you).  She then drug herself back onto Helio so that Helio could drag her back to Arkadia, specifically so that she could save Skaikru.  Squee, it brings my cold dead heart back to life!

You know, I wonder too – I loved Lincoln, and I am really pissed that they killed him, but his absence in a sense has possibly forced Octavia to grow more than she would have otherwise.  I’m realizing and remembering now that she relied far too much on Lincoln to be the moral compass in her life.  She let herself act like the perpetually angry brat because she knew Lincoln would be the one in charge of doing the right thing.  Kane’s concern now, which he lectured O about last week, is that without Lincoln, she doesn’t have anyone to keep her from going off the rails of morality.  But the past two eps have let her really prove herself and her ability to make the right choices without Lincoln around to influence her.  She’s still going to have to grapple with her tendency to be too savage in doling out punishments to the bad guys, but she has still made great strides over the past season or so, starting in the latter half of season 3.

(To be fair, they still could have given O’s character this growth without killing Lincoln, as characters on this show get separated for long stretches of time anyway.)

A couple more notable things on this one:

  1. Clarke touched lips with a Blake in this ep!  I mean, you know, I’m figuring most Bellarke fans will take what they can get at this point.  It reminds me of this post I saw on Tumblr during the hiatus.
  2. The image of Clarke holding Octavia’s hand as Arkadia burned to the ground was both incredibly disturbing and totes heartwarming all at once.

The Blake Siblings

the-100_405-11This ep almost made me completely forget how at odds Octavia and Bellamy have been for the past full season as well.  I was so relieved that Bellamy could reunite with his still-alive sister that I forgot how angry O has been at Bell since early season 3, and even far more so after Bellamy helped bring about Lincoln’s murder.  “You’re dead to me!!”  O was able to set aside her anger at Bell late in S3 for the good of her peeps, but there was never any actual forgiveness process that took place there.  It was more like, O agreed to tolerate Bell’s presence.  Not exactly a warm reconciliation.

Leave it to near-death situations to make people drop all their emotional walls and appreciate their loved ones.  Bell thought O was dead, and to his credit he was partly right because she was dead for a few minutes in this ep until Clarke magically brought her back to life.  Now, once again, we’re in a situation where there was only one character here who had put any walls up.  Bellamy never stopped wanting to be close with O.  Per usual the wall was all on O’s side, BUT let’s be fair that she put that barrier up specifically because Bellamy turned into a complete monster last season.  She built it for a very good reason.  She was in the right.  But I’m still glad she finally dropped it tonight.  I think Bell has paid his penance now.  Like Clarktavia with the hand-holding, the image of O wholeheartedly hugging Bell was thoroughly heartwarming along with the disturbing image of Arkadia burning to the ground.

You know, it’s interesting – Thinking more about an alternate reality where Lincoln were still alive, I’m remembering that another bad habit O had with him was to use him as a free ticket to shun Skaikru and downgrade them to a very low level of importance in her life.  His absence has forced her to admit to herself that Skaikru is worth something to her after all.  But let’s not forget that Lincoln fully joined Skaikru at the beginning of season 3, so O probably would have been forced to get right with Skaikru even if he were still alive this season.  Though she likely would have used the excuse that she was doing it all for Lincoln.  Now she has to admit that she’s doing it because she kinda sorta cares about them.

Bellarke

There was actually a little bit of Bellarke in this ep if you count Clarke’s obsession with finding Bellamy and Bellamy being used as leverage against her by Roan.

Clarke: “We have more bullets than you have men.  You’ll lose.”

Roan: “Maybe, but we’ll both take losses.  Kane and Bellamy among them.”

Clarke: “You think you can shake my resolve?  I was willing to sacrifice my own mother to stop A.L.I.E.”

Clarke: “O.K. FINE YOU WIN WE’LL SHARE!!”

Bwaha you may be a savage most of the time Clarke, but we all knew you were bluffing here.

Arkadia Goes Bye-Bye

the-100_405-12Along with the events at Becca’s lab tonight, this was definitely the other most shocking turn of the season.  I really did not see this coming until Ilian started prowling around the Ark, clearly up to no good.  And even then, I thought they would stop him before it was too late.  But … nope.

In a sense, though, as much as I’m not a fan of ignorance/fear of technology or burning shit to the ground, it feels a tiny bit like Ilian might have accidentally done everyone a favor here.  The existence of a plan B, which was a terrible option to begin with, was not doing a whole lot for everyone other than causing strife and infighting.  The Arkers were pissed at Clarke for making the list, they were turning on each other about who should get to be on the list, and now, Azgeda was ready to wage war on Skaikru in large part because of the discovery of Plan B’s existence.  The only way to solve this problem for everyone would be to erase the option entirely, thereby putting everyone back on a level playing field.  And also giving them no choice but to focus on the far better option, which is Plan A.  Still though, it’s sad to see Arkadia destroyed.  R.I.P.  Where the hell are these guys gonna live now?  Is it still livable at all?  What about all the essential supplies that were in there?  Hopefully some of them can be salvaged.

Tonight’s ep also confirmed that Ilian is a Jaha-type: He thinks he’s doing the right thing, but he’s disastrously misguided.  The fact that he saved Octavia and Niylah (and who knows, maybe some others before them) means that he thought he could save the people by destroying the ship.  Next week’s promotional photos show Octavia ready to go ham on his ass as punishment for this, but I’m starting to wonder if they may eventually end up sympatico.  Then again, this is Octavia we’re talking about.  It took 4 seasons till she’d let Clarke even hold her hand.  Lol.

A few final thoughts before I rate the ep:

  • Abby’s bitchy “WE DON’T HAVE TIME!!” outburst with Jackson made me laugh.
  • “There’s no way Octavia survived my blade, OR that fall!”  Well, right.  I mean the blade was survivable, but the fall – you’re not wrong, Echo.
  • Clarke and Roan are blood brothers now.  Let’s hope they can keep their alliance intact this time.  I’m sure it’ll all be fine.  It always is on The 100.
  • What was Clarke referring to when she asked Niylah if she charged some radio Clarke had given her?  She was clearly stressing on something there and I can’t tell if it was related to something I should have understood from this ep or something that won’t reveal itself till a later episode.
  • One thing I’m always terrible at paying attention to on TV shows is logic issues when it comes to timing of events and plotlines.  But tonight I managed to catch a problem: How the fuck did Clarke and them watch the Ark go up in smoke on the other side of that big-ass mountain, and then get there fast enough that Octavia and Niylah were just barely escaping the Ark??  Yes, it changed from early evening sunlight to the dark of night by the time Clarke and them got to Arkadia, but how the hell could O and N and Ilian have been in the burning Ark that entire time?  Their lungs would have disintegrated by then.
  • Clarke got to go somewhere this week!  She didn’t get stuck with the shittiest job on the show this time – supervising the Ark patching.  And per usual, look what happens when she leaves??
  • Straight up, I do not miss Jasper when he’s absent.

My rating for ep 4.05: 89/100

I would say this ep was about on par with last week in terms of entertainment value, but with less logic issues, and more Riley issues.  And even a bit more intensity.  Plus the stuff with Raven and the floating and the space ship was extra cool.  2 weeks till ep 4.06.  😦

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