Since this has been such a rollercoaster week for The 100 fans, I’ll preface this post by saying that I wrote most of it on the night of episode 5.10 and then in the couple days following. Then on Saturday Bob and Eliza swept into SDCC to smooth things over a bit and to add some happiness back into the fandom, though it doesn’t change my opinion at all on the type of content that’s going to be delivered to us in the last 3 eps of the season (i.e. probably not what we’re looking for other than a crumb or two). But just for context, the fandom was still about as far down in the gutter as we’ve ever been when I wrote this post/review. I think it adds to the anger levels I had while typing it. Heh. Here it is:
Gosh. I do not envy people who review this show – and who also tend to enjoy it for similar aspects as I do – who have to review it in an unbiased manner this week. It’s been a rough, rough week for what I’m pretty sure is the biggest chunk of the fanbase this show has left after it lost most of the Lexa/Clexa fans in 2016. And what a complete mindfuck really, considering how unfazed I remained through last week’s extremely disturbing ep. I saw 5.09 as something that was very painful and unfortunate but also necessary to drive the story forward. I was worried that it was happening so late in the season, but shit, at least it was/is happening.
I remained pretty unfazed and optimistic that season 5 would end its season well, until literally 3 days ago. In just 3 days’ time, the entire rug has been completely pulled out from underneath us. Bizarrely, a lot of it happened off screen, but then unfortunately tonight’s ep seemed to confirm many of the concerns that were stoked by those off-screen incidents/comments. I’m gonna be completely transparent and just detail what the incidents were:
The One-Two-Three Punch(es)
Incident #1: Tasya at a con in France on Saturday. This is all paraphrased and like third hand, so take it with several grains of salt:
Fan question: Now that Octavia has compared Bellamy’s love for Clarke to his romantic relationship, that makes it canon. Do you think Echo is aware of Bellamy’s non-platonic feelings for Clarke? (source)
Tasya: Has he spoken about loving Echo? Yes he has. <laughter> So I think your friend might have it backwards. <laughter> Um … I think that the bond between Clarke and Bellamy is … like … I think it’s more of a respect/brother/sister thing and I think like those moments might have passed, you know? <cheering> (source)
Must’ve been a Clexa-heavy audience. And notice the random reference to “your friend” in Tasya’s paraphrased response that doesn’t match up to anything in the question – this indicates that the quotes are not exact and that key information is missing. So again, take them with several grains of salt.
That said, I actually have no issue with TV actors making comments in defense of and from the perspective of their character, even if it seems totally wrong based on what the actual show is portraying. I don’t think there’s video of the panel from this con so I have no idea what the tone of Tasya’s comments were. It’s entirely possible that they were spoken in a manner of playful ribbing the way you would with rival sports teams or boxers trash talking before a big game/match. If so, it seems pretty harmless. We just have no way of knowing either way though.
But I think what really threw people for a loop with this is that these comments were spoken by an actress who knows everything that happens in the entire season, including the final 4 eps. If this actress, who knows everything that happens in S5, thinks Bellamy/Clarke have a brother/sister dynamic and that Becho is in love with each other and on solid ground and not at all threatened by Bell’s relationship with Clarke, it indicates that this is what the actual show will be portraying as well. So of course this started to send people into a tailspin, but I think many fans were explaining it away with the hope that Tasya was deflecting and/or maybe got defensive based on the question.
Incident #2: Jason “promotes” the rest of The 100 season 5 in TV Guide Magazine’s special SDCC issue. Then this happened. Tasya punched us and then Jason TKOed to finish us off. When asked what the hell is up with Bellarke by TV Guide for their SDCC issue (of course they asked, because everyone is wondering WTF the deal is), Jason answered with the following:
“Emotionally [Clarke & Bellamy] are in very different places. He is with Echo, and that’s a real thing, not just a flash in the pan.”
Uhhhh … k. I don’t … I mean … o.k. let me take a deep breath here. A lot of fans have done a lot of complaining this season about Echo and Becho because it was a relationship that developed off screen during the 6 year time jump, and has had very little screentime devoted to it even in season 5 itself. With, I should say, the little amount of screentime it has gotten this season being devoted in large part to how Octavia and Clarke are reacting to the whole thing. I understood these fans’ frustration, but I felt pretty sure that these were all signs that Becho wasn’t a relationship that the writers wanted us to be deeply invested in beyond simply being concerned for how it effects Bellamy and having the knowledge that Echo has now bonded with SpaceKru. And I honestly have zero problem with the ‘ship getting minimal screentime if that’s the case.
But after seeing Jason’s comments which indicate that the audience is supposed to truly care about Becho and be invested in this relationship for the long haul, I was … confused. I am confused. I don’t understand why, as a showrunner, you would toss in a time-jump ‘ship with zero flashbacks to its development, and then spend literally one episode putting any real focus on the relationship, and then expect your audience to give a shit about it. Especially when it’s clear the relationship has been thrown in primarily as an obstacle to the OTP that the majority of your fanbase (the Lexa/Clexa people are mostly gone guys, deal with it) has been waiting for for 5 long years. The audience is not stupid, we watch enough TV to understand tropes and plot devices. But very often it seems that showrunners run on the assumption that we’re all brand new.
And yet, here we are. I guess Jason is the one who’s brand new if he thinks this approach to telling this story is going to be at all effective. And the bottom line of all of this is that if anything at all was going to fiiiiiiiiinnnnnnnnnaaalllyyyyy happen with Bellarke by the S5 finale, Jason would have attempted to give his audience at least a tiny nugget of hope in this SDCC interview. That is, at least, if he understood the concept of promoting his TV show. Instead, he implied that Becho is here to stay and will likely continue right through season 6. Not shockingly, this sent the fanbase from tailspin to full-on riot mode, especially as it corroborated what Tasya said a couple days prior. It felt like a confirmation that Jason has officially cockblocked the central relationship on his show past the point of sanity, past the point of good storytelling, and past the point of everyone’s willingness to wait for it. And now is when he’ll start losing viewers.
At the very least, I thought, this will set my expectations going into the final 4 eps of the season so abysmally low that a) I won’t have to stress about whether the eps will be good and b) if anything even slightly decent happens I’ll be pleasantly surprised. I went into ep 5.10 with this frame of mind, and it was honestly really nice. I’m on vacay with fam right now and we were out doing fun stuff tonight, and I was able to just casually watch tonight’s ep whenever I got to it without stressing about any of it.
And then I watched the ep. And now I’m somehow totally riled up and angry again. I did not expect this. I expected to either be pleasantly surprised or to come out of it like “eh”. I didn’t expect to hate it. I haven’t outright hated an ep of this show the entire season, and yet here we are, at ep fucking 10 of a 13 ep season, with me angry as hell.
Incident #3: The Episode (5.10)
I can’t review this episode right now. Well, I guess this still will be a review, angry as it is, but I can’t rate the ep yet. I will have to wait to see how the rest of this season goes because I can’t be anything but completely exasperated right now. I watched the ep on my phone in the hotel room since I was out and couldn’t watch live when it aired, and watching an ep on your phone is not ideal. Still, I don’t expect that I will enjoy the ep a whole lot more when watching it in HD on my big screen TV when I get home (Update: I was right about this. The experience is generally better on the big screen/HD but it didn’t make me like the ep more).
So this episode review is in large part going to consist of the list things I have now officially reached the end of my patience for on this show:
The Episode Review: Things I’ve Lost My Patience For
#1 Octavia’s preposterously irrational behavior.
DAFUQ!? I haven’t even complained about this in my previous S5 reviews because as crazy as O has been this season, all her decisions, as horrible and evil as they may have been, have made fairly decent logical sense to me before now. But tonight was effing batshit. I suspect ep 5.11 is the ep that’s supposed to make this all make sense to us, but structuring your storytelling this way seems very inadvisable to me, because it forces the audience to spend an entire week just thinking O’s decisions in 5.10 make no fucking sense whatsoever. I don’t know why you’d want to make your audience sit there for a week thinking, “God that storyline was stupid and ridiculous.” Like, you literally just purposely wrote a shitty nonsensical story so that you could wait a week to finally explain it.
The idea that O would go through with all of this shit despite Monty giving her the perfect solution to avoid it, and then be so committed to that stubbornness as to burn down Monty’s entire fucking farm at the end is beyond belief. Monty saving Indra/Gaia/Bellamy/WonKru was by far the best and most satisfying part of this episode, and it was all literally burned to the ground 30 seconds later. All because S5 Octavia is (according to this ep) a stupid dumb selfish asshole who can’t understand logic. I’m fine with O being evil, but the moment you turn her into a complete idiot, you lose me. My patience for her is officially gone now.
#2 The Flame
Christ. I said this last week too but if Clarke does not destroy this thing once and for all by the end of this season it will become a deal-breaker for me. I didn’t word this statement quite so strongly last week, but this week pushed me there. This lore is several seasons old and serves very little purpose at this point other than to pit Madi against Octavia and to keep referencing Lexa and Becca. I’m o.k. with pitting Madi against O this season, but the constant referencing of seasons-old storylines/characters has officially passed its expiration date. It’s stale and barely anyone who still watches this show gives a shit about it anymore.
And that gets to what I think is killing people the most about this storyline: Clarke left Bellamy to die at the end of 5.09 because she didn’t want The Flame in Madi’s head, and now she won’t even just fucking destroy the thing to accomplish her original goal. Madi spends the entire episode going through a very disturbing transformation, being tortured by horrible dreams (memories) of past commanders, which is all exactly what Clarke was terrified of. It’s why she almost killed O and why she left Bell/Indra/Gaia to die. And yet!! Now, watching that horrible transformation happen, knowing Madi certainly won’t live long as Commander, Clarke won’t follow through and just destroy the god-forsaken thing. Stupid. So stupid.
This leads me to my issues with Clarke in this ep. I said in my 5.06 review that one of the biggest successes of season 5 has been to make Clarke very relatable, as I’ve always felt she tends to be under-appreciated as a series lead. She’s not a warm or cuddly character at all, and that personality is why I personally love her, because I am very similar. But for many it’s not so easy to love/relate to this type of protagonist. This season, letting Clarke lead with her heart changed all that, and it really pulled in the general audience and put us on her side. We’ve all been super bummed that this had to come at the expense of Bellamy, but at least we were with Clarke. Better than nothing.
And that’s another reason I hated 5.10: Clarke lost me. I think she lost most people. Well, she lost many folks at the end of last week’s ep, but I personally was able to rationalize her leaving Bellamy in 5.09. Now that she’s refusing to follow through on fixing The Flame Problem though, it’s all for not. Now all she’s doing is being infuriatingly irrational (just like Octavia) while ignoring every comment Madi makes about Bellamy’s life currently being in danger. Fans of Clarke and Bellamy are usually Bellarke fans, and now we’re watching Clarke totally blow off Bellamy’s probable execution while prioritizing someone who’s been dead for over 6 fucking years over the very daughter she dumped Bellamy to save. Pull your head out of your ass, Clarke. You’re being a dumb asshole now.
I’ve said before that when I’m pushed out of Clarke and/or Bellamy’s head, that’s when I have issues with this series. Well, now we’re here. I’m at least a bit more in Bellamy’s head now than I was in the first 7 eps, BUT:
#4 “My Family”, “Our Family’s Waiting”
Oh go fuck yourself Bellamy, honestly. Fuck your family I don’t give a shit about this family unit that suddenly appeared in my face with zero development. Don’t get me wrong, I love most of them as individual characters, but their arrangement as a family means nothing whatsoever to me/the audience. Not to mention the fact that most of the time Bellamy uses the phrase, it’s for the express purpose of throwing it in the face of someone who’s not cool enough to be part of his amazing wonderful family. Also constantly saying “my family” just sounds cheesy AF, it’s like nails on a chalkboard to me at this point. I hate it.
This episode used it again in an innocuous way, but because Bellamy said it in such a rude way last week, plus I was already so annoyed with this ep, this instance of it was my breaking point.
#5 Torture Porn
The 100 has always been torture porn to a large extent. That’s kind of the entire point of the show, so I’m generally willing to forgive a lot when it comes to the show torturing its audience with demented shit and destroying what little joy it creates pretty quickly after it’s created. With “The Dark Year” airing next week, I have a feeling I’ll have a lot more to say on this topic at that point, but ep 5.10 is what started me thinking on this.
My fear is that we’re getting to the point where Jason is stripping nearly all the joy and brightness out of his show. This is a common problem for shows like this – They somehow don’t realize that a darkly-themed show needs balance. What the hell is the point of your show if nothing good ever happens and you spend 95% of your screentime simply trying to make your audience feel like shit? I don’t watch The Walking Dead but I’ve heard it has become a prime example of this in its recent seasons. The Handmaid’s Tale had this problem big time in its season 2 which just finished. I quit watching Sons of Anarchy for this very issue coupled with bad writing, and The 100 has been kinda reminding me a bit of SOA this season, which is not a good thing.
Game of Thrones, not surprisingly, often has this issue too but I think especially in recent seasons they’ve been doing a good job with delivering emotional payoff and some light among the darkness often enough to keep their audience motivated and enthralled and getting enjoyment from the story.
Tonight’s 100 ep felt like torture porn because we finally got a big triumphant win when Monty and Harper saved everyone near the end of the ep … but then before we were even done cheering, Octavia was literally burning it all down with questionable CGI. It’s exasperating. I expect we’ll finally get some wins in the season finale as we always do, but the middle eps of this season have been oppressively dire. Let’s not forget that 5.09 was devoted in large part to SpaceKru completely fucking up what was left of Clarke/Diyoza’s plan for peace, all based on a stupid misunderstanding (i.e. bad writing, I think). I was able to forgive it last week thinking that things would really come together in the last 4 eps of the season, but instead all we got this week was just more torture porn. It’s hard to keep an audience with you when week in and week out all you’re delivering to them is pain and losses caused entirely by stupid character decisions.
The only concrete exception I can think of this season is the ‘ships that Jason will actually allow us to have: Marper, Pilot Mechanic, and Memori. I’ll have a hell of a lot more to say on this topic by the time of the finale, but I’ll save it for that timeframe so I can see how rest of the season shakes out.
#6 Abby (More Torture Porn)
I really could not even deal with any of the Abby storyline in this ep. I’m realizing that I’ve now listed all 3 of the main storylines of this ep as key reasons why I hated it. I literally hated every single storyline in this episode. Wow. That is very rare and it’s not great.
I don’t even know what to say about Abby at this point. Her entire storyline this season has been a long slog of misery, and it only got significantly worse in this ep. I mean we’re at the point now where we get a scene of Abby desperately scooping up spilled pills from the floor while Vinson literally eats people alive right next to her. I just … this scene basically sums up her entire storyline this season and I can guarantee you it’ll only get worse in 5.11.
I have thoughts on drug addiction (and other similar) storylines that I went into in my 5.08 review, and that definitely continues to apply here. But now we’re at the point where we’re starting to add in other demented things while we still have zero hope of improvement on the drug front, and next week we’ll get the horrific story of what put Abby in this terrible state to begin with. It’s … look again I have no problem whatsoever with gory fucked up stories, otherwise I’d never be such a fan of this show and many other shows like it. I can deal fine with this stuff as long as it’s well-written and as long as I can find enjoyment/hope/lightness somewhere in the story. And I didn’t get any of that in this ep. Even Vinson couldn’t save me.
#7 The Dreaded Choppy Visual Effects
Oh god. It’s interesting that whenever I dislike eps of The 100 based on their content, they almost always seem to be the same eps that use the horrible choppy visual effects that this show loves to use, that just look cheesy AF. See my reviews of eps 3.01, 3.02, and 4.06 for reference. I loved 3.01 but really disliked the other two. This episode used those effects more liberally than I’ve ever seen the show use them and it was … bad. Who the hell thinks this looks good?? It looks soooo cheap and cheesy to me. Why won’t anyone make it stop?
#8 The Mid-Season Plot Drag
When I wrote last week’s review, I was starting to think about the fact that the middle part of this season has had some major pacing issues. Eps 5.01-5 were very eventful and fast-paced eps in terms of plot movement. We had the flashbacks from the past 6 years to bring us up to speed, SpaceKru finding a way to get back down to Earth, Diyoza’s people getting to Earth, Bellamy rescuing Clarke, all the reunions, Bell/Clarke freeing everyone from the bunker and discovering the horrors inside, and the discovery of the worms with some important characters reacquainting themselves with each other.
Ep 5.05 ended with a total failure on WonKru’s first attempt to march on Shallow Valley, so plot-wise you could actually say that was the beginning of the plot stagnation. But I forgave it in that ep because the worm stuff was entertaining and Clarke and Bellamy trying to figure out who each other are now was very compelling to me. Now let’s think about what’s happened in the middle eps of the season between then and now:
- 5.05: March to Eden attempt and fail. Back to Polis.
- 5.06: Echo makes it to Polis as a spy, Octavia gets a hold of Madi. WonKru still in Polis.
- 5.07: Echo disables Eligius’s eye in the sky, O plots worm mayhem, Clarke snaps (re: Madi) and makes a deal with Diyoza that involves killing Octavia. WonKru still in Polis.
- 5.08: Abby finds a cure for the Eligius crew’s illness, C&B&I try and fail to stop O’s worm mayhem plan, Bellamy snaps and poisons Octavia. WonKru still in Polis.
- 5.09: Murphy causes chaos in Eden which totally fucks up the peace plan between Diyoza and Clarke/Bell/Indra, Bell puts the flame in Madi’s head, Clarke peaces out. WonKru still in Polis. I guess at least SpaceKru escapes their collars in Eden.
- 5.10: Bellamy/Gaia/Indra spend the entire ep trying not to have to kill each other because of stupid O, Monty saves everyone only to have his solution ruined 30 seconds later. At least Clarke/Madi make it to Eden I guess.
Basically, we spend 5 full episodes physically idling in place when it comes to the main plot of “WonKru battles Eligus Kru for Shallow Valley”, and it’s only right at the very end of 5.10 that WonKru finally starts marching towards Shallow Valley again. And I think that is the key as to why this is the ep where it all really hit me – I think it’s common for some idling to happen in the middle of the season, but by ep 5.10 the show really needs to have gotten its ass in gear. And this episode proved that it still was in no hurry to get moving. 5.09 ended with what looked like Indra/Bellamy/Gaia already about to be forced to fight in the pit, yet 5.10 slowly meandered its way back up to that scene and didn’t get back there till right towards the end. Thank god WonKru is finally on the move now but Jesus Christ it was the very last scene of the ep.
It’s not that the back-and-forth strategizing between the two groups isn’t also interesting/important, but this season only has 13 episodes so I think we all would have been much happier spending 2-3 eps on this rather than 5. If the show had taken advantage of that time to let the main characters interact a lot and hash stuff out it would have been worth it, but they really didn’t. Even Clarke and Bell just had awkward lukewarm lame interactions the entire time until the the big Madi blow-up which wasn’t even until 5.09. After a 6 year separation, we all want focus on how the main characters’ rifts will be worked through, and tonight’s ep showed us that likely all of this is going to be saved for the finale or the last couple eps of the season. For instance, tonight we got a lot of screentime devoted to Octavia standing around contemplating her stupid thought processes when the show could have used that time to give us some scenes of important long-separated characters actually communicating with each other.
And this now means we’ll get maybe 5-10% of what we wanted out of this season character-wise after that 6-year time jump by the time the season’s out, tops. Meanwhile we wasted 5 episodes spinning our wheels arguing about worms, arguing about whether to kill Shaw, arguing about whether to put the Flame in Madi, Abby getting wasted, Murphy fucking up the plans, and letting Octavia stare at herself in broken mirrors. Uugghh.
Stuff I Liked
- Madi, #1 Bellarke stan, repeatedly reminding Clarke that she left Bellamy to die, the second time reminding her that Bell also saved her ass from Diyoza in ep 5.03. The downside is that Clarke ignores everything Madi says.
- Clarke destroys the worms. Well, not destroys, but gets them out of the Rover, at least. We’ll see if they now come back to haunt WonKru as they march through the desert.
- I did kinda enjoy the first scene of Clarke fighting Madi. It’s every scene after this that makes me want to strangle Clarke.
- I always love Indra. This ep is no different. She uplevels every scene she’s in and she gets to actually kick some (Bellamy) ass here, which is fun. And the fight scene overall is good.
- Vinson: Even when he’s eating people, I still love him. As long as he’s not eating people I know.
- Monty & Harper saving everyone is of course the highlight of the ep before Octavia fucks it all sideways. Related: Monty & Harper should have anticipated O burning the farm down. Thinking she’d have any other reaction was stupid.
- Bellamy begging Octavia not to be a complete dumbass is entertaining and he’s adorable while doing it. Too bad O refuses to listen.
- I’m really glad Gaia didn’t die (I knew Indra wouldn’t). I’m still worried about her surviving the season though.
- Gaia trying to pull a Katniss->President Coin on Octavia is hilare. Too bad it doesn’t work. This ep made me hate Octavia so much that I’d rather her be dead than to do the stupid shit she did here.
- I’m still not convinced that the fighting pits would be at all persuasive to WonKru now that the bunker is open. These people are not as desperate as they used to be. Like yes, they still have a food shortage, but it seems more possible now to try to sneak out of Polis to get to Shallow Valley and surrender.
- It makes no sense at all that Octavia would let Clarke take the worms in the Rover. I get that the plan was for the guy to kill her/Madi so they couldn’t leave, but I don’t get how O wouldn’t have them take the worms out of the car before Clarke even gets to it just to be safe.
- Octavia trying to save Bell by helping him kill Indra does not make me empathize with her in the least. She owes Indra everything and this fighting pit nonsense is a problem O herself is creating. Just stop acting like a dumbass; problem solved.
- I realized from Twitter that at least part of the motivation for including Flame stuff this season is The 100 prequel series that I’m pretty sure Jason is working on. This would at least make far more logical sense, but I don’t think it’s gonna make most of us care any more about it on this show.
- Coming off two eps that were pretty cluttered with storylines, this ep focused on just 3, which normally I would love. I just wish the content of the 3 storylines they gave us had been more enjoyable.
- Lexa’s ghost is one of the main stars of this episode, but isn’t it interesting that Lincoln’s name has not been uttered once this entire season? Wouldn’t Lincoln be disgusted with who Octavia has become? Isn’t that relevant? Wouldn’t it be a good argument for someone to throw at her?
- This ep wasted the awesome Erica Cerra, who was only in it for 5 seconds with weirdly-filmed/edited flashbacks. You could barely even tell it was her if not for her voice. This was no ep 4.12.
My rating for ep 5.10: I dunno yet. Not high.
If this ep had happened far earlier in the season I don’t think my reaction would be this strong. But this is ep 10, and it’s supposed to be one of the best eps of the season according to Jason. I think I enjoyed this ep even less than 5.06 and that’s saying a lot. An ep like 5.06 will make you nervous for what’s to come but it will also have you chomping at the bit to see more, to see where it goes. An ep like 5.10 will simply deflate you. It’ll kill your sense of hope and excitement for what’s to come. That is the worst possible feeling for a TV episode to leave you with. Especially this late in the season.
Like I alluded to earlier, a lot of this is ep 5.10 bearing the brunt of me realizing that the 4 episodes leading into it may not have been as effective as I’d hoped. I was disturbed by the middle part of this season, but I was giving it the benefit of the doubt that all the set-up that was being done in these eps would have a great payoff by the time we got to the last 4 eps of the season. We didn’t get that in 5.10, and 5.11 looks like it’s going to be a lot more idling while we go through Dark Year flashbacks. Sigh. The idea of making the 11th ep of a 13 ep season a flashback ep seems like a terrible mistake to me but we’ll see how it goes. It’s hard right now to figure out what kind of crack the writers were smoking when they came up with the overall plot structure this season, but we’ll see if it makes any more sense next week. <Marge Simpson grumble>