I honestly love the flawed, beautiful characters on this show so much. But given how each episode tends to twist the knife in the last five minutes, I often start these recaps mad as hell. So here I am again, so mad. But, it’s unfair to let one twist (you can’t even call these things "twists" anymore) at the end completely taint an otherwise very strong episode, so let’s start with the good.
Octavia has grown so much over the four seasons of this show. She’s had to fight for her existence and her agency her whole life, so I loved that she was this stealth, vengeful warrior who got stuff done at the beginning of the season. But obviously that can be a lonely role. In this episode, she's once again rejecting her brother because of what happened to Lincoln. She’s determined to be angry, to give in to darkness. She says that Octavia died when Lincoln died.
Octavia, like the rest of Skaikru, is dealing with the fallout from Ilian’s attack. Since he destroyed their viable solution for survival (well, for 100 people’s survival), they want him dead. Kane tries to stop them. He doesn’t want mob rule to dictate how they punish people, but it’s clear he’s fighting a losing battle.
Octavia unleashes the mob on Ilian, proclaiming, “It’s the end of the world, Kane, darkness is all we have left.” She tells the men she gets the kill and leads Ilian outside, so he’s on his knees and she has a gun to him. It’s so crazy reminiscent of Lincoln’s death that of course Kane has to point this out, and we get flashbacks to Pike shooting him. Jaha makes the crowd disperse by sounding a fake alarm for black rain. This all gives Octavia time to think about who she’s going to be.
Marie Avgeropoulos is so good in this scene. The flashback beside her is devastating, but honestly her face just tells us everything we need to know: all the pain and despair and confusion. And then she decides not to kill him and runs away. I loved this whole scene so much. I love that the women on this show are these complex, fiercely loyal, violent characters who still manage to rise, so much of the time, to the occasion. So maybe Octavia isn’t Octavia anymore, or the Skairipa; maybe she’ll rise to something more.
Then we have Clarke — my beloved Clarke, always fighting for her people. We first see her this episode in bed with Niylah, a drawing of Lexa on her wall. These rare glimpses of intimacy and connection are such great respites from the devastation of this show. I basically started sobbing in this scene. How nice is it to see this couple being tender, trying to protect each other?
Niylah says that Lexa would be proud of Clarke because they’re all her people now (Triku, Azgeda, Skaikru) and Roan reiterates later that Clarke looks out for everyone. I think we still need a powerful scene to illustrate that. Yes, Clarke always wants to help everyone and thinks of the group before herself, but, still, I just really think we need a rousing, rallying speech from her.
But the one person who does seem changed by the events of the last episode is Roan. He realizes that the 10 barrels of hydrazine are all they have left in terms of a plan for survival, so they all have to be in it together now.
So now, I’m afraid, I have to go negative. One thing this episode suffered from was an incredibly compelling promo that, along with the episode title, made me cry every time I thought about it. Before watching this episode, I thought, Okay, allow yourself to be in it. Don’t think about how predictable everything is. Maybe this time will be different. And…y'all know it wasn’t different. I was duped!
The driving action of this episode is simple: Clarke, Bellamy, and Roan have to transport the only 10 remaining barrels of hydrazine left on Earth to Raven so she can get the rocket into space to make Nightblood. Monty reiterates this to us in hilarious expository dialogue; then, later during the action, Roan again is like we need all 10, right? Gulp!
The first obstacle for the rover and the cargo truck is a bunch of Trikru people blocking the road. After the news of the impending apocalypse got out, more than half of the Azgeda army deserted to be with their families, fighting Trikru as they went. So when the Trikru people discover that the Azgeda king is with the rover, they attack with arrows, and our heroes narrowly (a million asterisks) escape. The next obstacle is that the ice has melted and their desired route to the lab is now a river. Bellamy complains at this point about what else could go wrong and…has he watched this show before?
Bellamy and Roan drive the rover to find a better crossing point, but when they do find one and radio Clarke, she doesn’t answer. They go back to find the cargo truck missing and the dead body of one of the guards. They instantly assume it was Trikru who stole the cargo to weaponize it. But, after a conversation with Bellamy about how everyone’s always just protecting their own, Roan realizes that it was his men who took the hydrazine.
So after escaping Trikru aggression again, Bellamy and Roan catch up with the Azgeda traitors and the hydrazine and a captive Clarke. Then we get a genuinely thrilling chase sequence in which Roan and Bellamy have to work together to free Clarke while saving all the barrels. It was so exciting to watch — Roan and Bellamy working together, Roan fighting against his people to save humanity! Sure, his people were traitors, but also you felt how strongly bound these people all are, their fates resting on each other. Roan is really the MVP of this storyline. He saw the good of all people above the good of his people and he fought hard as hell to save the day.
As they drive to the lab, Roan asks Clarke if all they have to look forward to after surviving is everyone still killing each other. I guess he’s thinking long-term because he heard about The 100 getting picked up for season 5.
But, well, they aren’t out of the woods just yet. As Bellamy tells Clarke that he’s got to go try to fix things with Octavia before time runs out, Roan delivers some bad news. Can you guess what it is? Yep, one of the barrels got hit by an arrow at the beginning and is empty now. First things first, hydrazine is a fucking liquid, how did no one realize there was just all this hydrazine spilled in the back? Are we supposed to believe it all spilled off the back of the truck? Wouldn’t they notice, given that this is super precious cargo?
Anyway, whatever, fine, they didn’t notice. I know what show I’m watching; I know the games they play. I think this was a bad move. Because it’s not shocking anymore, or exciting. It’s monotonous, and it’s predictable, and worst of all, it’s humorous. When everything just keeps going wrong, why not just add the “whomp whomp whomp whomp” sound to this scene and be done with it? I don’t feel sad when stuff like this happens anymore; it just makes me laugh.
How are we supposed to feel like there’s real tension if it’s always released in the exact same way? How are we supposed to get excited about the momentum of the storytelling and the stakes if they just twist the knife at the end every single time? Why watch 55 minutes of the show if everything is going to be undone in the last five (with commercials)? We’re Charlie Brown and the show is Lucy with the football.
I had major cabin fever staying inside for a whole day because of the snow and I spent 20 minutes trying to relate this show to the song “There’s a Hole in My Bucket.” I watched that video and was like, Is the blonde Clarke? Who’s the guy in this scenario? Fate? Inevitability? Murphy’s Law? "There’s A Hole In My Barrel" loses its effectiveness when it’s the same thing every week.
This is all to say: These people needed one big win, and I think the show should’ve given them one. The episode was called “We Will Rise,” after all! There are still so many things that could go wrong; it’s not like it would’ve solved all the many other problems they are facing (any of the million other things that could go wrong in space, distribution, the question of how effective Nightblood really is because Luna still got sick with a little exposure and she was just able to fight it off but we saw someone dissolve in the first episode...). Ugh, I’m really mad again.
But, again, I love the characters, and that’s what keeps me, fool that I am, watching. Raven was incredible this week. She keeps running the simulation on the spaceship, trying to figure out how she can successfully land the ship with the fuel that she has. It’s making her increasingly frustrated and Murphy is not helping. Maybe he thinks he’s being the comic relief, but to me, he was a stand-in for the lazy guy or gal we’ve all done a group project with. They watch you do all the work and then pipe in with a rude jab to show they are above all this, all while not doing anything to help. It was annoying. So thank goodness Raven snaps on him and starts yelling at him and hitting him. He deserved it! Sure, she was super mean, but he was being a punk and he needed to wake up. Luna comes to soothe Raven and has her repeat the mantra “I give myself to the miracle of the sea.” That mantra actually is the big solution of the episode, but they get there a different way.
So Luna goes to talk to Murphy and tells him that she understands what it means to hate yourself. Richard Harmon is such a good actor, able to convey so much pain while also trying to look so above it all. Murphy goes back to try to help Raven and tells her that maybe the flight doesn’t have to be perfect; it just has to get them home. Then Raven starts thinking about controlled crashes, and Luna says that she should land at sea. When Raven does the simulation, it works! But…this will have to be tabled for now, given our hydrazine issue.
I think Raven acts as an audience surrogate when she finds out the news. Distraught, she starts having a stroke and foams at the mouth. This, incidentally, is how I would react to basically every setback on this show if it were my life.
See you next week for another episode of That Plan Was Doomed Before It Even Got Started. They’ll figure something out, I guess. There is a season 5, after all.
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