Review: The 100 Ep 5.03: “Sleeping Giants”

OMFG.  This ep … Jesus Christ.  There. is. SO. MUCH. to unpack here.  First off, I gotta say, this has to be the best 3-episode start to a season The 100 has ever had.  Even season 2, which is basically the best of the first 4 seasons … wait – was 2.03 the one where Anya and Clarke escaped Mount Weather and beat the shit out of each other at the Drop Ship?  O.k. no that’s 2.04 I think; that is still one of my favorite eps of this series.  Anyway point being, season 2’s first 3 eps were more of a slow burn overall, with Clarke trying to figure out how to get out of Mount Weather for a lot of that time, and the rest of the folks trying to find various people and figure out what the hell was going on around them.  Season 5, on the other hand, has just been nail-biting intensity almost the entire way through.  We got some breathing room at the start with the backstory on Clarke’s 6 years, but even that was filled with quite a number of trials and tribulations and awesomeness.  What I’m trying to say is that every minute of this season so far has felt like a full meal.  Thank you Bekka Pramheda for our daily bread.

I’m certainly jinxing it for ep 5.04, but I’m going to go ahead and just enjoy this goodness while it lasts.  I believe it was Yana – wait no it was Selina Wilken who called ep 5.03 a “love letter to Bellamy Blake.”  This is 100% true, as Bell gets to go full-blown hero here (swoon), but I would argue that it’s actually a love letter to literally every major character in this ep.  It’s insane how much they packed into 42 minutes here.  Let’s talk about how each character gets to shine in this ep:

Harper

I feel bad that I almost always lump Harper in with Monty in my reviews, but a lot of that is because a decent amount of how she’s been written so far is to provide whatever set-up or motivation is needed for Monty’s storyline.  Case in point: Harper’s nonsensical foray into Jasper’s suicide cult that lasted for a couple eps last season just to give Monty a reason to stay back at Arkadia and be there when Jasper finally died.  She’s kinda gotten the short end of the stick in the past, but in this ep it feels like maybe she’s getting a chance to be her own person.  Here she was able to help Emori with the dropship/pod thing and give Emori the pep talk she needed to feel confident in getting the SpaceKru down to Earth.

Emori

Remember what I said about Harper’s character mainly being written to provide set-up and motivation for Monty?  Emori has played exactly the same role, for Murphy.  But guess what!  This season is letting Emori become her own person as well.  And I’m totally here for it.  This ep really shows us that she has grown by leaps and bounds in these past 6 years; she’s gone from Grounder to Junior Spaceship Captain during this time.  And we start to see in this ep that Emori’s growth over these 6 years is likely what led to her breakup with Murphy.  She’s not the person she was 6 years ago, and it sounds like Murphy has been much more stagnant in terms of his personality and attitude.

And let’s get real for a second here – There’s no way in hell anyone in their right mind would let the newbie take the lead in flying and trying to dock the space pod, clearly an extremely complex maneuver, in such a critical moment when everyone’s lives are at stake.  If anyone should be blamed for Emori’s rough docking/landing it’s Raven for being crazy enough to let her take the wheel at all at this point in her learning curve.  (And by Raven, I mean the writers, who wrote it this way just to add extra drama/tension.)

“I kicked John out because he never did anything to help get us home.  But when it really mattered, I’m the one who almost got us all killed.”

What Emori fails to realize here is that the only reason she fucked up is because she actually tried to do something.  The entire issue with Murphy is that it’s real easy to sit back and point out everything everyone else is doing wrong when you aren’t doing anything at all.  How can you fuck up if you don’t even try?  Emori should be praised for putting in the effort to learn and having the guts to try something so difficult, for the betterment of the whole SpaceKru.  Luckily she was able to get her head in the game by the last 10 minutes of the ep, and she got everyone down to the ground without a hitch.  From Grounder to astronaut in 6 years, I’d say that’s a tad impressive.

Echo

Echo spent the entirety of seasons 3 and 4 as a psycho murderer and an extremely obnoxious thorn in everyone’s sides.  In short, she was goddamn awful.  But we can see that in these past 6 years, she has grown as well.  The work ethic and dedication that allowed her to be such a calculating and effective spy and assassin in the past has allowed her to be pretty helpful in space now that she has focused her energy on more positive goals.

In this ep, she adds value and helps the team in a couple ways: 1) She provides an important assist that falls right in her wheelhouse when she helps finish off the suddenly-awake giant space thug who’s trying to attack.  2) She is instrumental in coming up with the plan to use the cryogenically frozen Eligius prisoners as leverage for when the SpaceKru gets down to the ground.  Oh and she adds a kind of touching moment towards the end, when she tempers everyone’s celebrations at making it down to the ground safely with “We’ll celebrate when Raven and Murphy are down here with us.”  She also brings everyone back to reality by reminding them that the baddies will certainly be waiting for them outside.

As annoyed as I was that Echo survived season 4 and made it up into space despite having murdered Ilian and Gina and trying to murder Octavia, at the very least we can say that she’s adding some value now.  As opposed to the S4 finale when all she did was cause needless drama when they were trying to get the ship ready to launch before Praimfaya.  So.  You know.  It’s an improvement.

Monty

O.k. well Monty is the one major character who is pretty much just doing his usual thing here, and to be fair, Monty is always a critical team member.  He does have a moment right as he hears about Raven staying behind where he jumps out and tries to take her place.  Bellamy smacks him down from his hero routine, but Monty is always a good egg, if a little cautious and anxious about everything (a man after my own heart).

Raven

Raven, per usual, does all the heavy-lifting in this ep; without her this team would never be on the Eligius ship, they would never be able to get back down to the ground, and they’d all be dead because they never would have made it into space before praimfaya hit to begin with last season.

Raven is a brainiac, but one of her other key qualities is that she’s as selfless as she is smart.  You can always count on her to fall on her sword to ensure a clever SkaiKru game plan can come to fruition, and she’s in classic Raven form in this ep.  As it always is with this show, it turns out that SpaceKru’s brilliant plan to use the 283 sleepy psychos as leverage has one fatal flaw that only Raven can deal with – They want to turn off Team Diyoza’s comms to the spaceship so they can’t wake up more of their baddies, but if they do that, then SpaceKru won’t have the ability to remotely pull the plug on them either.  That means someone needs to stay back in order to be able to do this if need be.  The only people with the skillset to do this are Raven and Monty, and of course Raven’s gonna be the one to insist it’s her.

Our girl makes up a story to Bellamy about a supposed escape pod still on the ship that she can jump into if any more of the baddies wake up, because she knows if she’s honest with Bell that she literally has no way down, he’ll never agree to let her stay.  That’s so Raven!

Murphy

Murphy is still mostly the same sarcastic brat he’s always been, but he continues his evolution of having breakthrough moments here and there.  In the climactic moment after Raven insists she has to stay back while the rest of the group is trying to get the eff out of dodge, Murphy has a sudden change of heart and jumps back into the ship area, telling the others he’ll stay and keep Raven company.  He inserts a perfectly Murphy-sarcastic quip about how with Emori at the wheel, this is the survivor’s move.  The look on Emori’s face in this moment is a mixture of shock and maybe kinda sorta remembering why she loved him to begin with.  And I don’t even doubt that at least some of his motivation here truly is to make the survivor’s move.  It seems to maybe be a mixture of that plus wanting to prove that he’s not the worst person ever.

Would he ever in a million years have done this if he’d known Raven was lying about the extra drop ship on board?  Fuck no.  But I can’t say I blame him for that.  His “Son of a bitch” at the end is absolutely priceless.

Murven

I definitely do not ship these two romantically, because I like Murphy with Emori and Raven dating the guy who shot her and nearly paralyzed her would not be healthy for her.  But I think they’ve got a great friendly-slash-antagonistic brother-sister love/hate dynamic, so I really can’t wait to see where these two go in the next couple eps.  And holy shit, the parallels to one of my favorite scenes in this entire series:

“You know what?  You were right.  Dying alone would have sucked.”

Gah!!

Madi

I’ve made no secret of how nervous I’ve been about Madi’s character potentially fucking everything up like late-addition TV kid characters always do.  But once again in this ep, she impresses me.  Probably even more so than 5.01 – She’s in this ep far less, but every one of her scenes are extremely important and I must admit, precious as hell.  Remember how I said I hoped she’d be able to act as an advocate of sorts for Clarke, as her only companion for these past 6 years?  Well in this ep she does that and then some.

First off, I feel a tad uneasy watching Clarke teach her lessons like “It’s best to shoot this guy in the head because he’s gonna steal your land and try to hurt you.”  I always hate watching kids get jaded by the world around them.  But there’s nothing we can do about that, given the world they live in and the threats they have to deal with.  On the upside, this all means that Clarke has taught Madi survival skills and shooting skills that come in extremely handy once SpaceKru shows up.  Bellamy may be the hero who gets all the glory in this ep, but Madi has to save his ass before he can even do that.

And the way she just instantly knows who he is and that she can trust him with her and Clarke’s life … OMFFFFFFGGGGGGGGGGGaahh.  I think my heart exploded several times.  A bit more on this in the Bellarke section below.

Clarke

Remember how I said I hope the season 5 premiere bodes well for Clarke’s journey this season?  Well, so far, so freakin’ good, man.  While Clarke was the focus of the premiere and Octavia/Bunker peeps of 5.02, this is the ep where the SpaceKru takes control and gives us their story (even if it’s by showing us their present-day situations).  But Clarke is a huge part of this ep too, and I think it’s a great ep for her.  The thing I love so much about Clarke’s story here is this:

Again as I mentioned in my 5.01 review: While several folks had to be sort of like taken care of and coddled in the season 4 finale to make sure they could make it through the 5 (really 6) years ahead, no one really gave a second’s thought to how Clarke would get through it.  Because she always just … does.  She deals.  She’s always the one who has to be responsible and make sure things work out for everyone.  And in the finale, that translated to prepping Bellamy to potentially survive without her, and then it translated to staying behind and trying to get the satellite working so that everyone else could make it up to the Ring and actually turn the power on.

And then in these past 6 years, this has translated to Clarke having to literally try to make the entire planet bend to her will, all by herself.  Luckily she succeeded early in finding Eden, but she had no one other than a small child to help her figure any damn thing out when it came to the details of surviving every day life out there.  Let’s not forget how tiny Madi was when Clarke found her.  Luckily Clarke has had far less people to take care of than usual during this time, which by comparison is a giant relief, but she’s also had zero adult people to talk to, confide in, or help herself stay sane.  And to make matters worse, she’s had no idea if anyone is even alive.  Where as the SpaceKru and BunkerKru at least have each other while wondering if the other folks are alive or dead, Clarke has had none of her OG homies and has had to worry about whether they are all dead.  It’s great that she has Madi as a companion, but as Madi is a kid, it’s also a huge responsibility to make sure she stays safe and to try to raise her well.

The Eligius baddies then coming down and Clarke having to completely bear the brunt of that is just an extension of her entire life up until now.  And that is what makes it so extra satisfying at the end of the episode to see Clarke finally get some goddamn support after these 6 years, and to finally know that Team Bellamy is here to save her and to help her carry the weight of the damn world.  When she hears Bellamy’s voice, you can see her kind of relax her whole stance momentarily, realizing that it’s the first time in 6 years that she can actually let her guard down for a split second now that other adults are there to help her carry the load.

So from Clarke’s perspective I would call this ep both a love letter to her and a gift to her in getting her people back and having them come to her rescue.  The girl really deserves it after all these years.

Bellamy

This was definitely Bellamy’s ep to take charge and shine, and boy did he.  We can see how much more level-headed he is after 6 years in space, attempting to live by the advice Clarke gave him in the S4 finale to allow his head to play a bigger role in his decision-making, along with his heart which we’ve already known is pure and golden.  I love that he has put in so much effort to heed Clarke’s advice and sort of incorporate the “What would Clarke do?” thought process into his decisions, now that she is of course dead as a doornail and no surprises will be coming up in that area for Bell anytime soon.  Heh.  But I really really don’t want Bellamy to lose his heart either, and I was glad to see in this ep that while he is more calm and collected these days, he still uses his heart plenty in his decision-making.

After all, if it were up to Murphy and Echo, they would have just killed all the sleeping prisoners without a second thought.  Bellamy was the one who stopped them from doing this, and it was motivated by his desire for them all to try to be good people.  I have a feeling that this will have been a mistake in the long run, but in the short run it worked just perfectly, because he never would have been able to save Clarke so swiftly otherwise.  And he’s right that had they killed all of them, then the Eligius folks would have no qualms about killing all our favorite characters for revenge.  Also maybe they can now use it as leverage to hopefully get some help from the Eligius peeps in opening the bunker.  We’ll see.  So at least in the short term, this decision was really the perfect blend of head and heart.  Good job Bell.

Bell’s moment of pause to ask Murphy what he thought they should do with the sleeping prisoners was another example of using a good mix of head and heart: The heart comes into play in that he wants Murphy to feel included and he wants to boost Murphy’s self-esteem.  This is also a strategic move though, as a good team leader knows that if his/her entire team is not engaged, then the team will not function well overall.  That’s where Bell’s head comes into play.

I have more to say on this in the next section …

Bellarke

Jesus Christ, this is one of those eps that a Bellarke fan really needs to watch twice (i.e. a thousand times), because we all spent the first watch of this ep stressing like hell about how and when Bell was finally gonna realize Clarke was alive, whether he would be reunited with her by ep’s end, how Madi would be involved, etc.  I was sweating and squirming and swearing at the TV for the entire episode.

I love that it all starts with Bellamy hearing the Eligius crew capturing Clarke and talking about her, clearly thinking it has to be Octavia.  The audience knows he doesn’t know it’s Clarke, but we know it’s her and it has us on the edge of our goddamn seats.  Oh Bell, you just wait.

Murphy: “Bellamy, if Clarke were here this wouldn’t even be a…” Bell: “Well CLARKE’S NOT HERE!!”  Ouch, clearly a sore subject with Bellamy.  And Murphy really knows how to push Bell’s buttons.  I sense Bell may still be harboring a bit of … I refuse to say “guilt” because he truly has nothing at all to feel guilty for.  Even if we look at this from the most selfish version of Clarke’s perspective, what would she rather have happened?  a) Bellamy stays behind to “save” her and then she gets to watch him (and everyone else) die an excruciating death from radiation poisoning because it would’ve been too late for the space ship to make it up to space??  Uhh, hard pass.  Or b) Bell stays alive and Clarke gets to see him again in 6 years?  Option B, obviously!!

So instead of “guilt”, let’s just call this a still-very-easy-to-re-open wound.  Or regret – You can regret something even while knowing you had no control over it whatsoever.  We see this again when Raven insists she has to stay back on the Eligius ship while the rest of them get back down to the ground.  “I left Clarke behind to die and … and … I’m not doing that again.”  This time there’s less anger in Bell’s voice and more straight-up pain.  Oh and I can’t forget the moment where he reminds the team that they need to honor Clarke’s memory by trying to do better this time when they return to Earth.  The ghost of Clarke is still very much with him mentally, helping to guide his decision-making processes and, well, I’d imagine he still has moments of missing her too.  Maybe occasionally replaying scenarios in his head and such.

And then we have the last few minutes of the ep.  One thing I will say for the writers and their generally weird handling of Bellarke throughout this series – In ep 5.01 I was super annoyed that they removed Bellamy as the person Clarke was addressing in her radio comms.  But in 5.03, the writers come through for us, in that as soon as Madi finds the Space Kru in the forest, she specifically goes straight to Bellamy, addresses him by name and says “Clarke knew you would come.”  Yes, she ultimately means everyone, but Bellamy is Clarke’s #1.  He is her conduit to the rest.  I’m glad they made that obvious here, and maybe they made it vague in the premiere so as to not be too on-the-nose in the lead-up to this?

Clarke: “Madi … no!”

Bell: “Madi, no.”

Holy wow.  Parenting attempt #2?  Second time’s a charm?  They are so in sync already and Clarke doesn’t even know Bellamy’s here yet!

“She is.”

<dies>  Everyone has written practically everything there is to say about the ep’s climactic moment, but I just want to add one thing here: When Diyoza says, “283 lives for one?  She must be pretty important to you.”  My initial reaction to this was like, “Well duh lady, obviously Clarke is worth way more than these 283 randos, who mostly all sound like assholes anyway.  This is a great bargain, honestly.  If you had 2,000 of your people on that ship, Bell would be threatening all 2,000 of them; he wouldn’t even give it a second thought.”  But the key to this is that we don’t get to hear this expressed, normally.  The 100 has been infuriatingly stingy in the past few seasons with declarations like this when it comes to Bellarke – we haven’t gotten a “but you care about him more” type of quote in ages, have we?? – and the fact that it was thrown in here was significant.  It felt like a step forward.

And again it was a great use of Bell’s head and heart – He would do literally anything to save Clarke, but immediately busting straight out with the threat to kill Diyoza’s people doesn’t really do any harm; he can still easily use this as leverage for everything else he wants going forward too, as long as SpaceKru is in control of those cryogenic chambers.

Parallels

Season 5 is definitely set up to be a major parallel to season 1, with the roles reversed – Skaikru are now the Grounders and the Eligius crew are in the position that Skaikru was in season 1.  This episode plays that out very clearly, with Clarke using the exact same tactics the Grounders did in season 1 to trap and kill the scary space people.  Clarke uses booby traps just like Grounders did on the Delinquents when they first came, but she also has guns to make her killing tactics a bit more efficient.

And while I think this parallel works quite well, I just have to point out one little nitpick I have here: When the delinquents initially came down in season 1, they weren’t trying to kill or kidnap or do harm to anyone or steal anyone’s land.  They were simply trying to get to Mount Weather to find supplies to survive.  It was only once they started getting huge ninja stars to the face and spears to the chest that they started realizing they needed to defend themselves.  The Eligius crew, by comparison, start out very aggressively right off the bat by trying to kidnap Clarke and Madi and take over their village.  Clarke has a very clear cut reason to defend herself here, and she can see that the only way to stop herself from being kidnapped and interrogated is to simply kill these people.  She may “fire the first shot” in this ep technically, but it was Eligius who fired the first shot in 5.01 when they tried to kidnap her and Madi.

Clarke, in the interrogation scene with Diyoza and Zeke and McCreary, is clearly Lincoln in the drop ship.  She stays silent to pretend she doesn’t speak English and to try to trick them into saying too much in front of her.  Now she is the one who has been living on the ground this whole time.  And like it was with Lincoln, they are desperate to get info from Clarke about what the hell is up with the planet now and who is on it and what kind of obstacles they are facing.

The Diyoza vs. Clarke dynamic is really fun here, and can also be seen as a parallel to Clarke and Anya in season 1, only, once again, the roles are reversed.  Diyoza is S1 Clarke and S5 Clarke is now Anya.

Eligius Crew

I know McCreary is a psycho serial killer and all, but is it bad that I’m kind of attracted to him?  I’m sure that’ll change as the season goes on, but maybe it should have changed here, as he spent most of the episode punching our dear Clarke in the face and electrocuting her.  So why I kinda have the hots for him despite this is not something I can explain.

I like what they’ve done with this season’s baddies though, as they come off simply like another group of people who have different goals than our protagonists.  Does their group of people consist mostly of murderers?  Sure.  But the show smartly focuses mainly on the trio of Diyoza (not just some run-of-the-mill psycho but clearly a commander of some sort), Shaw (a pilot who helped them get down to earth and I think was not one of the prisoners), and McCreary (the resident psycho with a winning personality).  And most of the time they can’t even agree with each other on the right approach to their predicaments.

The way the antagonists have been positioned this season isn’t new for The 100 – They essentially did the same thing in season 2 with the Mount Weather people.  They were also positioned simply as people with different and conflicting goals than our heroes.  But I have to say I find the Eligius group to be far more likeable and tolerable to watch on my TV screen than the Mount Weather jerkoffs.  So let’s see where this season takes them.  Hopefully I won’t regret saying this.

Few more final random thoughts before I end this:

  • I know nothing about landing a space ship on Earth, but isn’t there some level of timing and precision involved in hitting your target??  Like, how the hell is it that for this entire series, every time anyone returns to Earth from space, they always conveniently land in or near the exact right spot??  Why don’t they ever accidentally land in China?  Or even just like, Michigan?  I think in past seasons I’ve heard them refer to a timing window they have to use to land in the right place.  But there was none of that in 5.03 and the fact that they landed like a 5 minute drive from Clarke and Madi’s village was pretty preposterous.  I think?  But at that point in the ep I couldn’t possibly care less, as I was counting down the seconds left in the episode that Bell had to find Clarke.
  • I keep hearing that Clarke is going to be the one who uses her heart too much in her decision-making this season, but so far, she has still been plenty driven by her head.  She’s had no issue whatsoever picking off Eligius crew one by one to avoid having to deal with them in the future, no matter how nice they are to Madi.  She’s killing those poor schmucks left and right without even a second thought.  Madi: “But he doesn’t have to suffer.  We can [put him out of his misery] now, right?”  Clarke: “Eh … not quite yet.  The chess pieces are not quite where we need ’em yet.”  Clarke: <shoots another Eligius dude in the head>.  Savage.  Though in a sense she’s using both head and heart here, as she’s willing to waste mofos like nobody’s business to keep Madi safe.
  • Emori when she realizes that Raven has to stay back on the ship: “So let it be John [instead]!!”  Hahaha ouch.  I am certain that this is a major part of what prompts Murphy to stay behind.

My rating for ep 5.03: 94/100

God.  These grades are crazy high for 3 eps in a row … it’s unheard of.  But they have been really great eps!  It has to drop off soon.  It can’t continue to be this good for so long.  I think the only thing bringing this ep’s grade down is the thing with the space pod getting down to earth in the exact right spot so easily, which I’m pretty sure is very silly and unrealistic.  Maybe someone who knows more about space travel than I do can tell me I’m wrong (or right).

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