Uuuummmm …. hmm. Well …. errgh. This episode reminds me a lot of ep 3.02 last season: “Wanheda Part II”. Hah, if you go look at my review for that ep, you can even see that I started it off almost the exact same way. It looks like that ep did not have the same director or writer, but for whatever reason the issues I had with both of these eps were very similar. And ep 4.06 in particular already had 2 things going against it before it even aired:
- We had no new ep last week so everyone was chomping at the bit to get the new ep tonight.
- This ep was suuuper hyped up by a couple reviewers who had seen it ahead of time, as well as a few of the cast and crew.
In terms of point #2, I know to always take that stuff with a massive grain of salt, because the more you get your hopes up for anything, the more likely you are to be disappointed. Ep 3.02 was pretty hyped up last year too because it was part of the first 4 eps that were in the screeners. It’s hard to ever live up to that hype, but it does happen. Ep 3.13 is a recent-ish example of a 100 ep that delivered on the hype. And 3.07. But then sometimes you wind up with an ep like tonight’s, where, it was perfect in concept – there’s nothing I love more than an ep specifically geared to draw heavily from its history – but the execution of it ended up not fully clicking into place. I just re-watched it and there was plenty to like here, but it didn’t reach the level of awesomeness that it should have. Let’s talk about why (as well as the stuff I liked).
The Stupid Choppy Slow-Mo Effect Thing
I hate it. Tonight it showed up early on, in the scene where the angry Arkadia mob breaks into the jail cell and kicks the shit out of Ilian. I mean o.k., on second watch I can see what they were going for here – with the lights flickering, the choppy slow-mo was like adding to the strobe light effect. It wasn’t as bad on second watch but I would prefer they never use this thing at all. I think they used it for one fight scene in 3.02 as well, and it’s the first thing in this ep that put me off in the same manner. Ep 3.01 has another good example of it, which I complained about in that review. I’m 100% good with slow-mo, so no issues there, but when they do this weird choppy version of it, it always looks exceedingly cheap and cheesy and ruins any scene it’s in for me. I want to strangle whichever editor it is who loves it so much.
Why couldn’t I understand anything anyone said in this ep? What was going on with the sound mixing? Is sound mixing even the right thing to blame in this situation? I can never understand half of low-level grunts coming from Roan, but tonight I also had to rewind at least 4 other scenes with other characters a thousand times. Raven, Murphy, Luna, and Niylah. Speak up!! Enunciate! I feel like I’m missing key plot points when I can’t hear WTF anyone is saying.
God. O was so up and down in this ep for me. First off, I don’t get why they gave us that heartwarming scene with her and Bellamy last week if it meant nothing whatsoever. Like, the fact that she hasn’t even softened to him a teeny tiny bit is crazy enough, but this went far beyond that: The level of venom she spit at him tonight was like, it hasn’t been this extreme since the middle of last season right after Lincoln died. And even back then, when O was kicking the shit out of Bell telling him he’s dead to her, at least she wasn’t threatening to kill him. “Why do you think you’re still alive?” What the! Maybe if she had delivered this line differently – say with more anguish rather than with cold psycho killer-ness, it would have made more sense to me. As it played onscreen, it just felt like too much of a 180 from the very last scene they had together and a weirdly giant escalation from literally every interaction they’ve had in the past 10+ episodes. It was all too jarring to me to fully get into the scene.
On the upside, I liked the scenes of O and Ilian talking in the hospital, with O telling him he’s about to get got. I like these two together and if the show takes their relationship the way I’m thinking it might then it should be an interesting storyline. But then at the same time, we have to face the fact that Octavia was fully back in FBB mode in this ep. Floorboard Baby has returned with a vengeance and I’m not sure how long she’ll stick around. Uggh. Long, deep sigh.
Don’t get me wrong, of course I get why O was so angry at Ilian. He saved her life only to use her to get into the Ark, and then she basically delivered the Ark’s demise to Skaikru when she was trying to save them. Which, to be fair, she really did still save the people despite accidentally causing the Ark’s destruction. There were only two options available there, and both involved the Ark being rendered useless: it would either be stolen by Azgeda or destroyed by Ilian. So there’s nothing O could have done to save it. But in terms of the way she dealt with it tonight – Honestly I think what caused me the most annoyance was the angry mob, and Octavia joining up with them just made it worse. I’m getting tired of these angry mobs wanting to kill someone for some stupid reason. Like, yes, I get that they all look at Ilian as sentencing them to death from radiation. But since we the audience can see past that, it makes it tedious to watch the Arkers still stuck in that mode of not seeing the forest for the trees.
And I should probably clarify: There are justified angry mobs too, and I can deal with those. Like the one in 4.04 when they found out about The Secret Ark List. The Arkers had a right to be pissed about that, because Clarke lied to them. Tonight’s mob, though, was just obnoxious.
Anyway. Then we had the final scene of Octavia nearly executing Ilian, which started off well for me, in that I like the fact that Octavia is working through her shit even if it’s in an almost-murderous way. Plus, I knew she wasn’t gonna kill Ilian. I didn’t have any proof of it, but I just knew she wouldn’t go that far, and I’m glad I was right about that. The callback to Pike and Lincoln was nice and it did make me tear up. At the same time, there was also something a little on-the-nose about the dialogue or maybe just the way it played out that felt a teeny bit After School Special-ish. It is crazy how in scenes like this, there is such a fine line between heavy-hitting emotional impact and cheese. It’s like the scene with Clarke shoving all the papers off the desk in 4.02 where that on-the-nose line about “It’s too many people!” ruined it for me.
This time I’m not entirely sure what it was, but the lines were like, “This is the exact spot Pike killed Lincoln, can you believe the stunning parallels, Octavia!? Can you believe the imagery??” Octavia, “I know I was there bitch!! It’s possible I may have made a rash decision here! <gun hand trembles>” I’m ever so slightly paraphrasing. OH and Kane pulling the black rain trick in the middle of it! I mean come on are people really that stupid that they can’t just look up and see and feel that there is no water falling from the sky? And then Kane like, “Octavia hello! Did you not hear me?? I said black rain sweetie! Let’s go! Come on.” Haha the silliness of this little fake-out was too distracting.
And this scene was indicative of how I felt for the entire duration of the ep – As soon as I would start to get into any major scene, something off-putting would happen and pull me out of it. It happened in every storyline tonight. For instance:
Raven vs. Murphy vs. Luna Therapy
It didn’t help that I could not even understand what it was that Murphy mumbled to piss off Raven so much. She just all of a sudden started yelling and shoving Murphy and I had to rewind 4 or 5 times to try to get what Murphy even said to set her off. Was it “All work and no play makes Raven a dull girl”? That statement doesn’t seem particularly offensive, but I suppose it was just the straw that broke the camel’s back as far as Murphy’s flippant attitude goes.
I like any time these two go at it and work through the terrible history they have together, so it would take a lot to put me off to this scene, but then we got Luna coming in to calm Raven down. And it was … weird. I’m actually a fan of Luna’s whole peace & love hippie thing, because we had basically none of that in this series before Luna’s crew showed up late last season. But this scene was like, out of nowhere Luna jumps in with this new agey chanting bit and smashing her face up against Raven’s that totally took me out of the scene. I know she did that chant with the kid who died a few eps back, but it’s clearly something that Luna’s people are very familiar with, along with knowing the general situations where it would be used. To use it on Raven, who knows nothing about it, seemed like Raven might just be like, “Wait what are we saying? What kind of sea miracle?”
But somehow this sea miracle worked, because that’s how it was written. I think the rest of this storyline was well done for the most part, and it was nice to see Murphy verbally articulate his guilt and self-loathing about what he did to Raven. One of the best scenes this show has ever done is in the S2 premiere when Raven has been left in the Ark to die and Murphy slithers his way back in there. Murphy then tells his tragic tale of how his dad got floated because he stole medicine for Murphy as a kid and Murphy blamed himself for his father’s death. And then Raven, despite being nearly dead at this point, still has enough petty left in her to respond with a faint “Oh boo hoo.” So perfect. These two haven’t gotten much of a chance to interact since then, so I am really happy they are making a point to force them to work out their shit this season.
The process of devising solutions to impossible problems is one of the things The 100 does best, and this storyline did give us plenty of that goodness. I have frustrations about the outcome of it but I’ll get to that in a bit. For now I’ll just say, clearly it was tonight’s scene of Raven seizing that was in the S4 trailer. Not real encouraging that this was the final scene of the ep, eh?
Robellarke’s Road Trip
Rooooaaad Triiiiippp!! Lol one of the ridiculous things about all the hype over this ep was the sheer volume of how much story they claimed was going to be covered. It was like, “In this week’s ep, Octavia maybe murders Ilian, Octavia takes a long devastating journey to self-realization, Raven devises a plan for getting the spaceship into space, Raven and Murphy sit down with a counselor and work out every issue they’ve ever had, Jaha and Monty sit and negotiate about some random shit, Bellamy worries about Octavia, the Kru develops a plan to get the hydrazine to Becca’s lab island, Roan and Clarke and Bellamy go on a long elaborate road trip to deliver said hydrazine, Roan and Clarke and Bellamy have to fight off 50 people with an epic truck chase thrown in, Clarke juggles Roan and Bellamy’s rivalry through witty banter and hijinks ensue, And Bellamy and Clarke have an amazingly awesome scene to fulfill the hopes and dreams of every Bellarke shipper!” Oh and let’s not forget the leaked spoiler of Clarke somehow finding time to hook up with Niylah in the midst of all this! In one episode.
Haha it’s like, none of this was technically untrue, but the only way all of this plot can be shoved into one 42 minute episode of television is if every single one of these plot points is just a drive-by affair. I had a feeling there was no way this episode was going to be able to cover all these amazing things and do them full justice. Robellarke was a good example of that – I really wish I hadn’t seen all this hype ahead of time because then I could have just appreciated this storyline for what it was, which was kind of a rush job with a few entertaining moments. It was slightly confusing plot-wise though. Like, I’m going to be honest and say that I can’t tell the difference between Trikru and Azgeda in scenes where I know none of the characters, especially where there’s too much action going on to decipher differences in tattoos and facial scarring and clothing and yadda yadda. So it was like, o.k. so Trikru is attacking, but then someone steals the big truck, and Roan is fighting them, but wait is that Trikru? Azgeda? Why would Azgeda even do this? On second watch I realized that Roan mumbled a key bit of set-up for this to Bellamy in the prior scene, but per usual I couldn’t understand what he said on first watch.
And then there was the truck chase scene, which, sometimes I prefer that a TV show just play it a little on the safer side when it comes to trying to reach too far beyond their means, and this was a perfect example. It ended up being Mad Max without the budget, which meant a lot of green screen and Roan taking a super fake-looking jump. This stuff distracted me in a scene that could have been more effective if they hadn’t tried to do quite so much fancy shit beyond their budget.
And then at the end, after Raven (with Murphy and Luna’s help) had finally devised the perfect plan to get the space ship up in space and back on the ground in one piece, we have the goddamn punctured barrel. I know this is The 100‘s M.O. but my god it just left me exasperated. Can’t anything ever go right!? Lol I mean yes, this was because I was already annoyed, so I had a short fuse by then.
Bellarke and Niylarke
This has been a damn good season for Bellarke shippers, as they have been showered with some level of Bellarke goodness in almost every ep so far. Tonight seems to have been the first ep to put a damper on the riches though, with Clarke indicating that Niylah is more than just a f*ck buddy. Either that or she’s just genuinely wanting to make sure Niylah is around to get the nightblood when it’s time, because Niylah is a good person and probably deserves to survive more than anyone on this show if we’re being honest. Or both. I dunno, but it did make me wonder if The 100 is gonna draw Bellarke out so long that they get cancelled before they ever bring this damn thing to fruition and leave at least half the fandom with a tragic case of blueballs. I mean Christ, it’s a damn good thing they got renewed for season 5, but I’m not sure they’ll even get around to it by then at this rate.
Continuing on the theme of drawing deep into character history, part of what was happening with the Niylarke scene was Clarke moving on from Lexa. We had the Lexa drawing pinned up on the wall with Clarke pensively looking at it as she was about to get up out of bed. Regardless of whether Clarke goes next-level with Niylah or keeps it casual, I do think the writers have to be extra careful with how Clarke begins to move on after Lexa, and this seems to be a good way for them to play that out.
And then despite the hit Bellarke shippers took early in the ep, they still managed to receive a couple small gifts at the end. I was actually too distracted by the green screen and Roan refusing to pull back that stupid barrel hanging off the back of the truck bed to fully appreciate the Bellarke smiles as the trucks avoided collision. I did enjoy the talk on the shore with Clarke’s comforting words to Bell about Octavia, but the use of the word “special” made me laugh a little. Haha “special” just sounds so … patronizing. Couldn’t she have used another word? Any word. And then Clarke quickly stopping Bell from his terrible thoughts about not seeing her again was kinda squee-worthy too, but of course got cut off immediately with the stupid barrel emergency. Pfft.
But if you want to see the resiliency of TV shippers, look no further than this tweet and gif:
LOL, give them the tiniest bone and they will cherish it for … well, about a week.
Jasper, Monty and Jaha
It’s ironic that the most frustrating ep of the season so far gave us the least annoying version of S4 Jasper. Like, he was still being his useless self, sure, but at least he was mostly staying out of the way (other than feeding Jaha moonshine). I can tolerate him getting drunk, quoting Dr. Seuss, and looking inappropriately nonchalant while O is about to execute someone as long as he’s not actively fucking shit up. It’s a low bar, yes, but this is where we are in season 4 with Jasper.
And then there was the thing with Monty and Jaha and the angry mob, which seemed rather tacked on and random. I’m pretty sure the entire point of it was to give an excuse to do a callback to the past for these characters as well, to go with the theme. i.e. It was an excuse to reference Wells in some sort of dramatic way. I said in an earlier review that I would like to see a Wells callback between Clarke and Jaha, and this ep made me realize that nearly every possible Wells callback scenario is going to just remind me of how mad I am that they killed him in the first place. His character had a lot of potential. I still think they might be able to pull it off for me if it’s a Clarke/Jaha scene, but I’m not sure. And back on the Jaha/Monty interaction, it felt very out of character for Jaha to just give zero fucks about the angry mob that was forming. It goes completely against his nature to ignore something like that.
Final thoughts before I rate the ep:
- I can’t forget to call out the Kane/Clarke scene at the beginning. Kane’s worry about Abby was cute, and the hug between him and Clarke two was very well played. Again going with the theme of the ep, Clarke went on an entire journey through the duration of this hug that you could see clearly despite zero dialogue being spoken. It was like, o.k. hmm this is weird that I’m hugging this dude, he basically killed my father, but these past 4 seasons have taught me what it’s like to be in the position he was in, and now he’s really important to us, and I need him, and he’s actually a good person, and well yeah I guess I’m into this hug, let’s go for it. Lol.
- They killed the black guy again. And he was the only loyal one of all Roan’s dudes.
- Murphy gave me a couple good chuckles during this one. His attempt at doing Luna’s chant was amusing. “I creep on myself for the miracle of a horny mistake.”
- Has anyone else noticed that they have used almost zero songs this season other than the show’s own score? I mean I can’t complain with Tree Adams at the helm, but it is interesting. I guess they’ve chosen to use that budget on other things.
- Despite some dialogue I had issues with, this ep did have some good lines as well. Octavia had a couple good ones:
Ilian: “I killed no one.”
Octavia: “Wrong. You killed them all. And now they’re gonna kill you.”
Ilian: “I didn’t know about Praimfiya. You can tell them that. I never meant to hurt anyone.”
Octavia: “The sword doesn’t care what you meant. It just cuts.”
Kane: “If we let them descend into darkness, there’s no coming back.”
Octavia: “It’s the end of the world, Kane, darkness is all we have left.”
My rating for ep 4.06: 80/100
This ep played a bit better for me on second watch, when I could take away all the antsy-ness and hopes and expectations from the teasers. It’s one of those weird eps where I actually didn’t have much to complain about plotwise (well o.k. other than O & Bell), and the story developments were all interesting, but yet it somehow didn’t work super well in execution.
The climactic Octavia scene is a perfect example: Sad O scenes are absolutely capable of giving us plenty of angsty goodness and making us cry – Think about when Lincoln was killed, when O beat up Bell, and when O was crying over Lincoln’s stuff in her room last season. I cried at the first and third of those scenes and felt the pain of the second. And O’s storyline up until tonight has been SO great, there should be no reason at all why tonight’s O moment shouldn’t have worked like gangbusters too. But it was just, not all the elements came together quite right. So I can logically appreciate the plot developments, but it didn’t hit me in the heart like I wish it would have. I’m still looking forward to what she does next out there and I’m assuming Ilian has to run back into her. We’ll see next week, as well as what the heck happens with the space mission now that we’re down a barrel of fuel.