Review: ‘The 100’ Ep 5.02: “Red Queen”

You know what?  I’ve said this before about Octavia and I’ll say it again: Throughout this series O has always been a far more morally steadfast and reliable person than either Clarke or Bellamy, despite the fact that she’s always looked at as being somewhat of a maniac.  Granted, it’s not saying much to be more ethical than a person who mass murdered 300 people in their sleep for (mostly) revenge, or a person who tried to steal the bunker for Skaikru at the last minute to thwart whoever was about to win the Conclave.  But I truly believe that when it comes to sticking to one’s morals, O has always been significantly more solid and kept her hands far cleaner than either Clarke or Bell.  And it annoys me that she tends to get kind of a bad rap because of her wild approach to life and her mercurial personality.

Look, we all hated Octavia in season 1, back when she was FBB (Floorboard Baby).  But even at her absolute worst, way back then, was she ever a bad person?  She was an obnoxious person, yes, but not bad.  Octavia always defended and went to bat for Jasper, Octavia was the one who had to talk everyone down from getting all MAGA on Lincoln when he first showed up, Octavia was the one who trusted Clarke with her life all while Clarke was leaving her to die in Ton DC, Octavia was the one who never strayed from her morals while her brother turned MAGA again and got Lincoln killed, Octavia was the one who took a sword through the torso and got shoved off a cliff all so that she could then drag her nearly-dead self all the way back to Arkadia to warn SkaiKru that Azgeda was about to attack, and Octavia was the one who fought tooth and nail to win the Conclave and then allow everyone into the bunker, all while Clarke was cheating behind her back and stealing it for SkaiKru.

Has O done some bad things too?  Sure.  She killed Pike for revenge even after his imminent threat against her was over.  But god, she really did the entire audience a favor there so I can’t be all that mad at her over it.  Michael Beach, who played Pike, is a super sweet guy, but no one in their right mind would still want Pike around at this point causing trouble for everyone while they try to navigate all these new threats.  Octavia also killed a guy early in season 4 to help Roan get his power back as king, and the guy she killed seems to have just been some juvenile delinquent committing petty crimes.  Very questionable.  But again, on this show, committing a couple questionable murders like this is kinda small potatoes.  At least, when compared to everyone else’s sins.

Now, all that said, Octavia’s path in season 5 is clearly not about to be a good or moral one.  The beginning of her S5 journey in this ep is already very dicey, and I am certain it will only get worse from here.  But this ep does a great job of showing us how a person with mostly good/solid morals can still wind up on an immoral path when put in a leadership situation so dire that there aren’t many ways to keep people from descending into complete anarchy and eating each other alive (literally, I imagine).  And the path Octavia chooses here makes complete sense for her – She is a warrior and she uses her experience in this area to create a new ritual in the bunker that keeps people in line and helps control population.  It’s not pretty, but it works remarkably well.

“Alright!  What punishment does Osleya propose?”

Octavia: “For stealing blankets??  Uhh, give them back.”

A hilarious line from O early in the ep, showing her trying to figure out how to navigate this impossible situation with so many different kinds of people with so many different customs, some quite harsh, all trapped together ready to go at each other’s throats for the most minor infractions.  There’s another moment early in the ep which is quite ironic considering how things end up for Kane: In the beginning, after they first realize they don’t have a way out of the bunker, Kane starts to push Octavia on adopting some of the more harsh Ark-style leadership tactics.  She snaps back, “I didn’t save us all so we could just kill ourselves.”  Kane then accuses her of not being very interested in leading.  Well, guess what Kane?  She does eventually take your advice and look where it gets you!  In the fighting pit with the other people who broke the rules.

Let’s talk a bit about some of the storylines and characters in this ep and then we’ll get back to Octavia:

Niytavia

Octavia: “You should go with them, you’ll be safer.”
Niylah: “Safety’s overrated, I’m with you.”

You know, if I didn’t know any better I’d say that Octavia might have spent the past 6 years in the bunker stealing Clarke’s girlfriend.  Whether Octavia even knows it or not.  Ever since Niylah nursed O back to health last season after she got skewered by Echo, these two have had the cutest friendship on The 100.  I totally ship this, whether it’s as friends or romantic.  My assumption is that this show will play it as friends, but I keep feeling like being cooped up in a bunker for 6 years gives it a decent likelihood of having turned romantic.  We’ll see where the show goes with it.  Funny thing about this ep though – Is it kinda sorta Niylah’s fault that Octavia winds up so insane by the time the 6 years are up?  I think the book she gives her is Metamorphoses by Ovid, which I know absolutely zero about.  But it’s some sort of ancient Roman epic, right?  Is it a coincidence, then that O’s chosen method of ruling over her peeps is gladiator matches?

But Also Is It Really Clarke’s Fault?

Truth be told, the bunker going south early on is way more Clarke’s fault than anyone else’s.  If she had never made all that racket trying to get in and clear the rubble, the bunker peeps would never have realized so early on that they were trapped, and thus wouldn’t have had a complete meltdown so quickly.  Thanks a lot, Clarke!  Funny thing is, Clarke was lucky as shit she was unsuccessful trying to clear that rubble and get into the bunker.  It was not a cute 6 years down there.  Then again, she’d be the only person with the luxury of just peacing out again once shit started to get sketchy down there.

Gaia

Gaia, ever the purist, starts the episode vehemently against Octavia as commander because she’s not a nightblood.  This girl is like the ultimate fanatic … the ways of The Flame and the Commanders are her religion and she is a zealot to the extreme.  As the episode goes on though, she starts to see how Octavia can be an effective commander even with the fact that she’s just a regular old red-blooded lame-o.  O takes charge at the end, wasting fools who try to cross her left and right, and she just keeps busting skulls and slicing and dicing until everyone left bends the knee.  Octavia’s methods really are very in line with how the Grounders do things, with their commanders also having to be very skilled warriors, and incorporating those skills into how they rule.

“You are WonKru, or you are the enemy of WonKru.  CHOOSE!”

As this scene begins, Indra lurches forward, with her gut instinct being that she needs to help Octavia fend off all these big angry brutes who want to kill all the SkaiKru in the farm area once the doors open.  But Gaia stops her, knowing that Octavia needs to do this on her own to essentially establish her dominance and win respect from WonKru.  And then again at the end when Indra tries to get O cleaned up before the first cage match, Gaia stops her.  She knows O looks far more badass drenched in the blood of those who just tried to cross her.  Gaia knows what she’s doing when it comes to the most effective tactics of a brutal dictator.

Kabby

Let me start this off by reiterating what I said at the end of last season: Abby’s ridiculous notion that she should have been left out of the bunker is bullshit and stupid and doesn’t even make sense.  She’s the main doctor for all of surviving humanity; she doesn’t have a choice but to be in the damn bunker.  For her to expect anything otherwise is preposterous.  They’ve got Jackson as a doctor too, but you need as many doctors as you can get and Abby has more experience.

And this is why I thought the dialogue in the scene where Abby and Kane hash this whole thing out was great: Kane is having none of Abby’s b.s.:

Kane: “Imagine that, wanting to save the person he loves.”

Abby: “You took away my choice, Marcus.”

Kane: “I’m not gonna apologize for saving your life, Abby.  I made the right call.  You’re a doctor.  I would’ve made the same decision even if I didn’t love you.”

Abby: “Really??  Then why were you willing to float me on The Ark?”

Kane: “I couldn’t bear to lose you.  I’d just gotten you back.  The war was ended before our very eyes.  And I thought I could weather any storm, as long as you were by my side.  But you weren’t by my side, were you?  Because you decided that you didn’t deserve what we had, you didn’t deserve to survive.”

Abby: “I didn’t.  I don’t.”

Kane: “How could you ever think that I would be able to carry you outside and shut the door?  Abby, I’m sorry but I’m not that strong, I would do the same thing a thousand times.  Did you ever regret, opening the door to save me?”

Abby: “No.”

Welp!  Looks like that’s settled!  And despite my exasperation at Abby’s illogical behavior here, these interactions made for a great Kabby episode.  Also of note: This episode seems to establish that Abby is still having headaches after getting the remnants of the infinity pill shit out of her head, and that she’s having to take meds for it.  This may become a theme this season.

Kara

This ep introduces us to Kara, kom SkaiKru, who is mad as hell and she’s not gonna take it anymore.  Her dad was killed in the culling on The Ark, and her husband didn’t make the cut for the bunker when Bellamy let everyone in and Octavia took it for WonKru.  She also happens to be in charge of the hydroponic farm.  She is the main antagonist for this episode, locking everyone but SkaiKru (whoever she could round up) out of the farm to starve to death.  She’s also kind of the catalyst for Octavia formulating her plan to use gladiator fights to punish the rule-breakers and cull people at the same time.  She wins the first gladiator fight, and when we flash forward to 6 years later, we see that she’s gone from Octavia’s nemesis to her right hand woman.  This should be interesting.

Jaha

If we ever thought an upcoming character death couldn’t possibly be more telegraphed than Lincoln’s (or Jasper’s for that matter), we thought wrong.  Jaha’s was literally spelled out for us via an announcement after writing on season 5 began that he was leaving the show.  I’m really confused as to why this was announced at all; this isn’t generally the way you kill off a character.  You usually keep it under wraps till the death happens.  Sometimes the actor will get cast in something else (as Ricky Whittle did) and you can’t control that, but you certainly can control whether you purposely announce it to TVLine, EW, etc.  Weird.  Either way, we all knew Jaha wasn’t gonna make it past this episode.

He’s been an infuriating character from the start, mostly in a way that I think makes him more interesting, as he was the character who straddled that line between good guy and bad guy more than anyone else on the show.  The thing is, his goal in life has always been quite clear – He just wants to keep SkaiKru safe.  He wants to ensure the survival of his peeps, and he’s gonna do whatever he has to do to make that happen.  Sometimes that involves being a good guy, and sometimes that involves acting as a brutal disciplinarian (i.e. floating people), and sometimes that involves doing the shadiest most underhanded shit you can think of (stealing the bunker).

The thing that makes Jaha extra perplexing though has always been his penchant for the fantastical.  He has a way of going off the rails sometimes when doing what he thinks is best, like with A.L.I.E. and the City of Light fiasco of season 3.  But no matter how insane the man gets, you never have to guess his motivations.  He’s doing what he thinks is best for his peeps.  While I want to wring his neck a lot of the time, it’s always been hard for me to completely hate him because his intentions have always been pure.  And the dude really knows how to lead, even when he’s basically leading people off a cliff like he did in season 3.

At the same time though, I think his character has run his course, and killing him off now makes sense.  While he comes in handy plenty, he fucks shit up just as often, and I’m kinda sick of having to deal with him doing that.  I’m sick of watching him influencing characters to do bad things in the name of effective leadership, like when Clarke helped him steal the goddamn bunker.  And he went out by doing it yet again – If anyone is more to blame than Clarke for how Octavia ends up from 6 years in the bunker, it’s Jaha.  He does with her here what he did with Clarke last season – He sets O on the path of ruling the bunker in a similar fashion to how he ruled The Ark.

The weird thing is though, much of what Jaha said in this ep didn’t feel like bad advice when he was giving it to Octavia.  When he refused to open the door to the farm, he was doing it because he’s the only one smart enough to think ahead – The Grounders would have killed everyone in there if O had just opened the door without a plan first.  This is a great example of the moments when Jaha comes in handy.  “They won’t listen to me!”  “Make them listen.”  I enjoy these moments when Jaha challenges our favorite delinquents to push them into being leaders, I just don’t always enjoy the outcome of it.  Is the ultimate end state of O’s leadership evolution anywhere close to what Jaha intended?  I’m not sure.  It’s probably not too far off though.

We get a nice tear-jerking send off for Jaha as well.  What makes me more sad than anything here though is that this is likely the last reference to Wells that we’ll ever see.  Jaha is the only one who references him anymore (was his name even on Clarke’s rifle strap?  I have to look).  I can still get mad thinking about how that character was treated, but if you want details on how I feel about it, read the first paragraph of the last section of my season 3 review.

Mackson

There have been few better shots in the history of anything I’ve ever seen than Jackson timidly reaching out for Kara’s gun in her pocket, not even coming close to having the balls to actually grab for it.  “I tried to stop it, I tried!”  “Shh shhshh.  You’re a healer.  Not a fighter.  That’s why I love you.”  Aww.  Mackson are so adorbs.  I still laugh at how Bryan literally disappeared into thin air, but he was annoying so I really don’t miss him.  Mackson here we come.

Octavia Moving Forward

I ended up covering much of what I wanted to say about Octavia’s evolution to Blodreina in the Jaha and Gaia sections, but I will be interested to see what this all means for O going forward.  Will her brutal leadership tactics continue once everyone is let out of the bunker?  Will they even work outside the bunker?  Is The 100 going to turn her into a straight-up villain now?  It makes me sad to think of her going this direction, because of what I said at the start – I really do feel like, and this episode reiterates for us – that O has a good heart and was a good person going into this.  I hate to think she’s permanently ruined from these 6 years, but she might be.  Sigh.

A few final thoughts before I end this review:

  • This episode reminds us a couple times, in excruciating detail, that starving to death is a particularly not-fun way to die.
  • “You’re third generation Farm Station.  You must’ve heard the rumors about the blight?”  Was there some cannibalism on The Ark at some point?
  • I’m both curious and confused as to what the plan is for Ethan this season.  He’s fairly prominently featured in this ep (carrying over from the end of S4), and we see him 6 years older at the end of the ep cheering on the cage matches before getting scoled by Gaia.  But – I will admit that I’m coming back to finish this review after having already seen the first 5 eps of the season, and the kid is not even mentioned once after they get out of the bunker.  At least not yet.  Is he gonna show back up at some point?  Will he have a story arc?  Will he be an antagonist to Madi?  Or will they forget about him like Bryan?

My rating of ep 5.02: 92/100

I’m going to keep this one on par with the premiere because I thought they were both great in different ways.  I think a lot of us went into this ep unsure about it since it was totally focused in the bunker, and I think we all wondered if we’d find it as torturous as everyone trapped down there for 6 years.  But it managed to be a great ep that kept me riveted the whole time, despite the fact that many of my faves weren’t in it.  Now bring on 5.03!

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