Errgh, o.k. Well, remember last week when I said that with the shockingly long winning streak of season 5 episodes, 5.06 would certainly be the first one to break the streak? It didn’t … I mean, look. It didn’t suck in terms of the quality of the episode itself. It was an interesting ep, reasonably well-written and well-produced. Where the suck factor comes in is purely in terms of the level of enjoyment I got out of it. Why? It was just … rough, storyline wise. And character wise. We had to endure a lot.
This paragraph is something I wrote right after my first watch of the episode: “Even with how strangely buttoned-up Bellamy has been this season, this was the first ep that actually gave me flashbacks of season 3 for him. I mean that in the sense of, I just don’t entirely get what he’s doing. I can’t identify with his motivations. Like, on paper I can kinda get it, but in the execution I’m disconnected with him. I’m totally out of his headspace. This isn’t anything even near the scale of S3 from what I can tell (I hope); as at least he’s not turning into a mass murderer this time. But he does definitely have that similar feel of BizarroBellamy like he did in season 3A.”
<tries to shake off the creepy creeps>
Here is my feeling on this after my second watch of the ep: I tried to see things more from Bell’s perspective on my second watch. I have thoughts on whose eyes we are supposed to be viewing this season through, and whether the writers’ intention on that has been effective. I’ll get to that later, but for now I’ll just say, while I’m definitely not finding it easy to view this season through Bell’s eyes or headspace, my rewatch of the ep allowed me to understand his POV a bit better. But it definitely took effort and careful viewing.
Before we get into the details of my Bellamy analysis, let’s first talk about the ep overall, because there were definitely many things here to enjoy.
Diyoza vs. Octavia
“In war, the greatest victory is the one that requires no battle.” -Sun Tzu
I quite liked the central plot of this episode: Diyoza (and Kane) attempt to defeat Octavia not through violence but by convincing her people to defect. This weakens WonKru both in numbers and in their confidence and allegiance to their leader. Even those who didn’t attempt to defect will now be looking at Octavia as taking the L, big time. Her power over her peeps has been weakened. WonKru’s faith in her has been shaken. And they’ve been tempted by Diyoza’s bounty of food and the promise for lush, green livable land. It is a brilliant plan and it worked like a charm.
Watching Octavia have to just basically stand there mortified while suffering through Diyoza’s offer to WonKru during the first food drop is pretty priceless. There’s nothing she can do. I think I’ve mentioned in my previous reviews the fact that I’ve been unsure how O will maintain her power outside the bunker. Her people were desperate and reliant on her in the bunker, and the situation now that they are not all trapped together in a small enclosed space is much different. Will O continue to lose them or will she regain her death grip on WonKru soon? Diyoza is a formidable enemy. Her character continues to impress me.
Octavia vs. Echo and Becho and Bellamy
I was honestly pretty surprised by where this dynamic went in this episode. I expected O to spend the entire rest of the season antagonizing Echo, and, well, who am I kidding I’m sure she will still do that. BUT, I was shocked at how quickly O at least gave in and agreed to strategize and partner with Echo to try to gain an advantage over Team Diyoza. It’s a much smarter way to deal with the problem of course, because if all she does is shuts Echo down, she’ll be doing nothing but making yet another enemy. She needs all the allies she can get right now. Still, it really makes me wonder where this goes from here. This can’t possibly be it for that whole Octavia vs. Echo thread, right? I mean, I’m sure it’s not, it’ll probably just be more underhanded from here on out. Octavia may be playing the long game with Echo too: Like, on top of gaining a spy, she can put Echo in the position of possibly slipping back into her old sketchy life again and undermining her relationship with Bell. I certainly would not put this level of deviousness past O.
It’s just … hmm. I actually hope this dynamic is truly moving forward quickly, because I don’t want the entire season to just be O vs. Echo. Let’s get on with it and let it evolve. I’m just very curious where it goes from here. Especially if Echo’s mission ends up being successful. Knowing this show though, something major is bound to go wrong.
And then there’s Blake vs. Blake in the training ring. Probably the most satisfying moment in this episode is when Octavia lists off the names of Echo’s victims, including Bellamy’s own murdered girlfriend, Gina. I especially love that she lists my precious pure-hearted Ilian, who I keep feeling like is getting totally forgotten when it comes to why Octavia hates Echo so much. She shot a fucking arrow through Ilian’s neck!! And she was cheating while doing it! And then, of course, there’s the time Octavia herself was murdered by Echo, but luckily managed to live through it. Heh. R.I.P. Helios. 😦
Here’s what I’m not a fan of: I don’t like Bell (and the show) trying to act like the stuff Echo did in the past was the exact equivalent of what everyone else has done. This claim isn’t entirely without merit, because yes, killing someone is killing someone, and most people on this show are guilty of that. But motives and tactics matter in a world where you kinda have to kill a person or two to survive on a daily basis. Echo has done some cold-blooded shit, and I know she was a spy, but I don’t see that as a great excuse. Pre-time-jump Octavia never would have hunted people like animals in the name of cheating to try to win a Conclave. Clarke has done some twisted-ass shit but even she would never help plant a bomb somewhere to just blow up a bunch of her enemies who weren’t even trying to attack her. Bell, on the other hand, murdered hundreds of people in their sleep once. So. Maybe I just suddenly realized why he relates to Echo. Mystery solved.
But I’m still irked that the show seems to be telling us we should agree with Bellamy here, or at least that we should see both his side and O’s side. Or is that even what they are telling us? I’ll touch on this at the end of my review.
Murphy and Emori gave us by far the most purely enjoyable storyline of this ep. I’m so glad these two are working their shit out, and I’m glad they are evolved characters from what we saw before the 6 year time jump. I mean, Murphy is basically the same, but he was already evolving even before the time jump, so I’m o.k. with where he is now. Emori, meanwhile, has grown by leaps and bounds: She has become so much more of a 3-dimensional person now, and she’s learned to care about others and to be a team player after gaining a makeshift family in space and taking on the responsibility to get them home again.
Emori constantly setting off Murphy’s shock collar while trying to disable it is pretty hilarious, though maybe I should be ashamed for finding it so funny. For some reason when he smacks the pliers out of her hand I keep LOLing. But it also helps build to exactly the kind of angsty argument you want to see from your favorite ships: Forcing the characters to hash out their problems and admit to each other how they feel, how they felt, and why they did certain things. I’m glad to see at least one ship getting to do this. It’s very satisfying. Hint hint, grrr.
And they have a hostage now! Fun! McCreary is kinda McFucked right now. Oh and only Memori could get turned on by blowing people up.
Bellarke vs. Becho
Tonight’s ep gave the Bellarke fandom the hard punch in the face from reality that we all knew was coming, but were blocking out of our minds as long as possible. I think a lot of us were shocked at how much Becho was downplayed in eps 5.02-5, with a couple Becho scenes being cut or filmed differently than scripted in 5.03, and then the big 5.05 Becho reunion happening off to the side and mostly out of the camera’s focus, while it instead focused on Clarke and then Octavia’s reactions.
The reveal in 5.01 that Becho became a thing in space was both extremely predictable and not a huge deal to me when this season started. If anything, it almost made it more likely to me that Bellarke was going to become a thing, because it felt like the writers were trying to add some angst for Clarke and Bellamy to overcome – something to add emotional drama to it all, and to kinda force them to confront their feelings. After 6 years apart you kinda want there to be something to force this to happen. It’s not like they got any time to work their shit out in seasons 1-4 either. Having them come back together after 6 years and then just be like “O.k. let’s date!” almost feels too easy/unsatisfying.
But then in the next 3 eps Becho was so surprisingly downplayed, with Bellarke so much a point of focus, that I think most of us kinda got lulled into a state of Bellarke euphoria, almost forgetting that Becho would actually be a legit obstacle this season. And now that it’s here, suddenly we’re like, oh crap … this Becho thing is not just some little fling. This shit is serious as a heart attack. We wanted a little Bellarke challenge, we didn’t want another entire mountain to climb. Heh.
And let’s be clear about why this ep is causing a bit of a meltdown in the Bellarke fandom, and why many teens* on the internet feel that all hope is lost now: While we the audience do see internal pain and conflict on Clarke’s side from this, which is a huge step forward for her character and is greatly appreciated, we now see zero conflict whatsoever from Bellamy. We can’t seem to ever get to a place where these two are both pining for each other at the same time. Bell is just straight-up madly in love with Echo now and that’s all there is to it. Clarke is alive again and that’s cool and all, but there is absolutely no internal struggle Bell is going through in regards to Clarke having any effect on his relationship with Echo. His struggle there is all on the O side, which, to be fair, is a far more pressing problem for him right now. But still, we have zero indication right now of anything on the horizon that will start any kind of romantic conflict in Bell.
In a sense I totally get it – Bellamy spent quite a while being pretty desperately in love with Clarke, particularly coming out of season 2 and through season 3. Even if he didn’t realize that’s what it was … I mean the dude completely lost his shit in season 3A while Clarke wasn’t there to make him feel warm and fuzzy. And during that time, the situation was flipped: Clarke was the one too busy with other shit to deal with him. She was busy hanging around Polis in silky pajamas making business deals in soft candle lighting, and falling in love with Lexa. And Bell was mad, and jealous, and turning into a psycho murderer. He hasn’t ever really gotten an indication at any point that Clarke was going to open herself up to their relationship turning romantic. Even at the end of S4, Clarke was mainly just prepping Bell to possibly be without her again. She wasn’t professing some romantic love to him or anything.
So he moved on with his life. He had 6 full years to move on, while he was certain Clarke was dead. What the hell else was he gonna do? I totally get it. And if this was ep 6 of a 20 episode season, I wouldn’t be sweating his lack of romantic conflict tonight at all. We’d have time. Hell, even if The 100 still got 16-ep seasons I wouldn’t be sweating this too much. But there are only 13 eps. We’re coming up on exactly halfway through the season. No one wants Bell to half-ass this thing, or break up with Echo and then start dating Clarke 2 seconds later. But with only 7 eps left, I don’t know what direction this can go, other than yet another season of the writers pretending they are about to finally make Bellarke happen, and then being like, “PSYCH!! We fooled you gullible twits yet again. Thanks for the ratings. Come back next season … that’ll be the one guys … really … I swear <busts into laughter>.” I want to say I’m joking here but hopeless moments like this do make me wonder if the writers really have been fucking with the audience for this entire 5 seasons (and beyond). Which would be too weird and dishonest.
* Some folks got offended at my references to “teens on the internet” in my reviews, because it kind of implies that I think all shippers are teenagers. So here’s a clarification on that: I’m super old. And as you can see in this review, I clearly ship Bellarke. 😉 What I meant to refer to by “teens” is that a lot of the most vocal and passionate Hundy fans on social media tend to skew younger. I think. I could be wrong. But generally when I say “the teens” in my reviews I’m specifically referring to tweets and Tumblr posts I’ve seen by people who I thought were young’ns. I must be so old that to me, everyone is a teen. Lol. In future reviews I won’t say “teens” cause I’m not out here tryna offend Hundy fans in their 20’s, 30’s etc.
In my 5.05 review I talked about the fact that with Becho so out of focus, Echo herself hadn’t been given much to do yet. I could tell from the preview for tonight’s ep that she would have a significant storyline in this one, so I wasn’t sweating it. And indeed tonight, she got to do what she does best. She powered through Octavia’s taunts to work out a strategy with O to hack the Eligius ship’s “eye in the sky” and disable it so that they can no longer track WonKru’s every move. It’s a good plan and this is right in Echo’s wheelhouse: She is a spy and this is a classic spy mission. The reason Echo drove me insane in past seasons is that she was always using her skillset against SkaiKru, and even in the end of S4 when she befriended them, she did nothing at all during the prep to get the ship into space other than to completely waste precious minutes of everyone’s time on her own obnoxious melodrama.
The S5 version of Echo who works to the benefit of SkaiKru is someone I can be completely fine with, even if she still employs some of her dirtier tactics every now and then. Speaking of which, it wasn’t until the last scene of this ep that we saw why it was titled “Exit Wounds”. Although to be precise, I’m pretty sure Echo shoved that flash drive into an entry wound, not an exit wound. Lol. That chick was shot in the back. No matter. Point is, this is precisely the kind of questionable yet effective tactic Echo is best at. She may have evolved enough to not actively betray and eff over potential WonKru defectors, but she’s still willing to further injure a seriously injured woman by shoving a flash drive into her bullet wound, in order to complete her mission. Is this an indication that she may start to slip into some of her classic sketchier tactics? Or are we supposed to see this as not a big deal and just her doing what needs to be done to complete the mission? My take: Present-day Echo needs to share at least some basic characteristics with her former self in order to be compelling. Turning her into a girl scout would be boring as hell. I hope we don’t go that route.
Monty and Harper
I’ve been worried about Monty’s lack of storyline this season, but at least he’s given a little bit more to do here. Harper, though, only gets like one line. Monty’s best moment is probably when he asks why the hell they’re even trying to help Octavia disable the eye in the sky. Just to help her start a war? Bell has a good point though, that disabling the eye would greatly help advance their own interests too – saving Murphy Emori and Raven. I’m still holding out hope that Monty and Harper will be given more to do as S5 continues.
Clarke vs. The World … and Niylah!?
Shots of Clarke sitting or lying wide awake in tents, worrying the night away, seem to be a theme in the past couple eps, and there’s a reason for that. Last week I talked about how despite the fact that Clarke had spent the past 3 eps being surrounded by hoards of people for the first time in 6 years, she was still very much alone in the world. And in tonight’s ep, Clarke’s isolation only grows. She can’t even keep control of Madi anymore, for crap’s sake. Madi is all Clarke has, and now even she has kinda unknowingly effed Clarke over and aligned herself with Octavia.
“How do you explain the sun to someone who’s never seen it?”
“Niylah is not your friend. You are WonKru, or you are the enemy of WonKru. That’s what she believes.” Niylah!? Even Niylah?? Now there’s something I never thought I’d see. I wasn’t sure what to expect out of Niylah and Clarke’s relationship when they reunited, but it certainly wasn’t this. I joked in my ep 5.02 review about Octavia spending the past 6 years stealing Clarke’s girlfriend, and it turns out I was more right about that than I ever could have imagined. It may not have been romantic, but Niylah has become a true devotee. This is a shock but it’s also an interesting twist. Again though, it drives home the fact that Clarke has literally no one left.
Like I always say, I experience The 100 through Clarke’s eyes, and tonight was an extremely disturbing episode for her. Thus, it was extremely disturbing for me as well. 5.06 doesn’t start off great and things only get worse from there. And I’m left worrying about how the hell Clarke is going to deal with The Madi Problem next ep. Judging from the 5.07 preview it looks like things are going to get worse with this before they get better, as it shows Madi doing what looks like Conclave-type training. Uggh.
The description for tonight’s ep said that Clarke would work with an unlikely ally to try to keep Madi safe, and the preview had shown her holding a knife to Gaia’s throat. This plus the fact that Gaia is such a zealot with the Flame stuff led me to believe that Gaia would be the threat in this episode that Clarke had to protect Madi from (i.e. she would be trying to force The Flame on Madi). That made me picture the unlikely ally being Octavia. But it turns out it was the other way around. Turns out Gaia is afraid, with good reason, that O will perceive Madi as a threat since she’s a natural Nightblood, and thus will try to harm her to eliminate the threat. Gaia wants to keep Madi safe for different reasons than Clarke does, but since their short term goal is the same here, the partnership works for now.
And while Bellamy isn’t technically gone for Clarke right now – He’s still physically there to help her try to chase down Madi when she needs it – he also at the same time really is completely fucking gone. The Bellamy she knew, anyway. It’s interesting, we see another pained look in Clarke’s eyes when she sees Becho making out towards the end of the ep, but it’s a little hard to tell if it’s still just her worrying about escaping with Madi, or if it’s a reaction to Becho spit-swapping. I figure we’re supposed to perceive it as both. Otherwise they wouldn’t have set up the shot this way.
It’s sad in the most weirdly relatable and endearing and simultaneously disturbing way to watch Clarke lose grip on the only real human connections she has left in this world, and then to just fall back into her quiet solitary determination. The scene where she packs up and tells Madi they’re going to escape is a great culmination of this. There’s no one she can really trust and her little family of two is how life is going to remain. She needs to just make sure Madi stays safe, and if she has to sacrifice herself (possible death by Diyoza) to do it, then so be it. And then in the end, she even loses Madi. Poor Clarke is having a time of it.
Octavia’s Evil Reign
I think part of what bummed me out about this ep is that Octavia just keeps getting worse. I had this pipe dream in my head that Clarke and O could come to some sort of understanding in this ep (when I thought O might be the Clarke ally), but that would have required O to act at least somewhat human here. But she’s not running on humanity at all right now; there’s almost nothing left within her from that perspective at this point.
Strategy-wise she’s fun to watch, especially at the end when Bellamy yells at her for shooting her own people, and she comes back with, and I’m paraphrasing: “What are you some kind of idiot? Did you put zero thought into this at all? Diyoza would have totally known something was up if we just let all these people go. Ya dumbass.” She’s got a point. An evil murderous point, but still. Strategy-wise it makes sense. I’m kind of torn this season between enjoying how delightfully villainous O has become, and being worried for where it might take her by the end of the season. I don’t want her to die and I don’t want her to literally lose everything she was. It’s making me anxious.
The one moment of humanity Octavia shows here is when she insists on Bellamy getting in the bunker when she thinks Diyoza is about to bomb them. She says love is weakness and she’s totally above all that, but she clearly still cares. It’s just a tiny hint of the real Octavia, but I’ll take what I can get.
Despite small moments like this, the show is clearly going full-bore with O as a villain this season. And it’s interesting, this ep almost poses O as more of a threat than Diyoza. This is partly because it’s clearly meant to be a more Octavia-focused ep, but if I had to choose which of these two I could deal with better at this point, it would be Diyoza, hands down. At least Diyoza is level-headed and prefers to avoid all-out war if possible.
Character Perspectives & Final Bellamy Thoughts
I’m rewatching the ep now, and in BizarroBellamy’s defense, his first interaction with Clarke in this ep involves her having zero time to deal with him and his Octavia problems. She’s got (Madi) problems of her own to deal with now, and she can’t be at his beck and call as a sounding board for his personal problems anymore. She’s also surely still kinda weirded out about the whole Becho reveal. But at the very least, this interaction shows us that the “you’re not quite the same person” feeling that Clarke is having towards Bellamy right now actually goes both ways. Clarke shut Bell down hard last week at the campfire too. Bellamy has the luxury of Clarke not having had any romantic options while he was in space, so he doesn’t have to deal with watching her with any new love interest. If he did, we might be seeing a teeny bit of the old Bellamy peeking through a tad more. i.e. There might be an angsty look or two. He is definitely pretty butt hurt when Clarke blows him off in this first scene.
It’s funny though, even though seeing these things from Bell’s perspective makes me feel a bit better about him, I’m still super glad Clarke shuts him down here. And I’m glad she snaps at him with “No, YOU don’t understand!” at the end. i.e. I can get Bell’s actions pretty o.k., but I’m still on Clarke’s side.
And this brings me back to the point I wanted to get to: Whose eyes are we supposed to be viewing this season through, at least when it comes to the storylines shown in tonight’s ep? It certainly feels like it’s Clarke’s, because she has been by far the most relatable character in the storylines she’s been directly involved in. I personally am almost always with her as long as she’s not stealing bunkers or letting people blow up at Ton DC, but this season I’m with her more than ever, and I can tell the rest of the audience is too.
And that is the interesting twist this season – in watching this series I have often felt like Clarke Griffin is the most underappreciated lead character on television. The reason for this is that she’s constantly forced to be the voice of reason in every sitch, which often translates to being the party-pooper. The buzzkill. She’s also traditionally been more head than heart, as we know. Which makes her seem more cold than Bell. But because the writers are letting Clarke be more led by her heart this season while Bell’s head has been more prominent than we’re used to, the tables have turned. Way more of the audience is now appreciating Clarke than ever before, which has probably been this season’s biggest success. It just sucks that it has to come at the expense of our connection with Bellamy. Can’t we have both at once?
That’s the thing though – I suspect the writers do intend for us to be relating far more to Bellamy than we are at this point. It’s an ensemble show, so for instance, for the Raven storyline we are identifying with her and in her headspace too. Same with Emori and Murphy, etc. That’s why the Bellamy factor this season is throwing everyone off. It’s this weird thing where the show wants to really drive home how much he’s changed – a change that involves him being far more reserved – all while seemingly expecting us to still be in his headspace. I don’t think you can do both things. S5 Bellamy so far has actually been very similar to season 3A Clarke. This was the only significant stretch of the series where I was ever pushed out of Clarke’s head and it was frustrating AF. It was also my least favorite stretch of the series, especially because we were totally out of Bellamy’s head at that time too.
Btw I’m realizing that somehow this “hugely changed character” thing is working far better even for psycho Octavia than it is for Bellamy, and I think that’s because it’s very clear to the audience that Octavia is now a villain. She’s a villain who still shows us glimpses of her old self, and in scenes like the one where she’s fighting Bell listing names of Echo’s victims, we can still agree with her because she’s in the same boat as the audience is here – None of us spent 6 year with Echo and we shouldn’t be expected to forgive her at the drop of a hat. Simultaneously, we can also be fine thinking Octavia is terrifying in the scenes where she is terrifying, because it is very clear to us that this is what the writers are trying to convey to us w/her character. I think no one is entirely clear what the writers are trying to convey with Bellamy, and that’s why we’re all in an anxious frenzy arguing about what it’s supposed to be.
Luckily season 5’s quality has been so good overall so far that I’m totally enjoying it (so far!) other than the Bellamy struggles. I just really really hope we can get back into his head soon. Very soon. There’s not much time left. He needs to express himself with Clarke. He is actually very expressive in several scenes tonight, but literally only about Echo – a relationship that developed off camera. I don’t care about shit that happened off camera; I want to hear Bell’s feelings on the things the audience has spent 4 seasons watching him experience. A Memori-style reckoning needs to happen, STAT.
Stray thoughts before I end this:
- Madi’s star-struck looks at Octavia in the beginning of the ep are adorable until they become terrifying.
- The sound quality in the first scene with Octavia and then Becho in the rain is bad – It suddenly gets super distorted halfway through the Kara convo and seems to continue through the Becho confrontation. Did the rain mess it up somehow?
- I do kinda feel bad for Echo when she first attempts to make nice with Octavia. And you can feel Bell being pretty mortified after he promised Echo everything would be fine with O (dumbass).
- Anyone else notice that Kara and pre-time-jump Echo are exactly the same person? Kara picking off defectors gave me flashbacks of Echo picking off Conclave fighters last season. At least Kara was following orders!
- Gaia’s overly polite “hmm!” to Madi’s clear lie about how she became a nightblood is hilarious.
- Bellamy’s new sword skills are pretty damn sexy, even if I did spend a lot of this episode wanting to kick him the balls and smack him in the face.
- I’ve seen a few people online who are mad that SpaceKru was seemingly making plans at one point to defect without Clarke. I didn’t view it this way – I have faith that they would’ve clued Clarke in on this rather than ditching her.
- Look at my list of yet-to-see trailer moments again from my 5.05 review. We’ve seen almost all of them now, save for the Indra->Gaia line and I think a line from Monty about war. We have 7 full eps left of this season and literally ZERO preview clips or pics of what our main characters will be doing. No Clarke, no Bellamy, no Octavia, nothing. It’s terrifying but I also kind of love having no clue. What a thrill. Anything can happen. We are living on the edge, people! <runs with scissors>
- Teens on the internet may get overzealous at times, but they can also be so hilarious. More hilarity here. Lullzzzz.
My rating for ep 5.06: 83/100
This was a mostly solid ep, despite how torturous it was for me to watch at times. Because it felt like kind of a culmination of my uncomfortable feelings about Bellamy this season, I’m factoring that into my grade here. Now there’s yet another goddamn break before 5.07. This season is going by way too fast as always, but somehow The CW is still dragging it out with a ridiculous schedule. Let’s get on with it, people! But also it needs to never end!