This week after black rain hits and destroys, Kane tells Harper something all these characters have to face, eventually, “Who you want to be doesn’t always win.” For these people every waking moment is filled with moral and ethical decisions that undergrad philosophy majors would salivate over. This week really upped the ante, giving almost every single character a crisis about their humanity. As dark as it got, the show is at its best when it focuses on the characters and their strife. So this week’s episode really worked for me. Let’s dive in.
“Just make me feel something else.”
If you’ve read any of these recaps before, y’all know I’m going to start with Octavia. She’s running away from camp, followed by Ilian at the start of the episode, but before you can get him to scram, the black rain comes and they have to hide together. Somehow they find clean water in the cave they’re in and strip off their clothes to wash off the burning from the rain. At this point, because we’ve all watched a TV show before, we know they’re going to get it on. Ilian talks about every bad thing that A.L.I.E. made him do and how he doesn’t know if he can face going home. Then he asks Octavia what her sad story is. He says she can’t feel nothing like she claims, he saw the pain in her face when she tried to kill him. This causes her to freak out and try to kill herself in the rain.
It’s sudden, but it feels right with the momentum of her character this season. She’s a tough warrior, yes, but she’s also brimming with emotion. She’s been in so much pain this whole time and dealing with it by suppressing it hasn’t been working. Of course it’s all going to boil over in this huge, almost fatal outburst. But then Ilian stops her and he’s holding her back and she’s kissing him and they have sex.
Look, I do think that the crazy-hot kids on this show should be using sex as a coping mechanism more. I mean, their lives are nonstop nightmares and sex can be a fun distraction from feeling hopeless all the time. But I’m not 100% sure how we’re supposed to feel about it. Is she taking advantage of him? Is this a balm that will help her heal? Or is it what she makes it out to be: just a temporary distraction? If so, is it sustainable?
At first I didn’t like this development, but now I think of it as a messy step in the grieving process, that feels honest, if not healthy, given all the trauma she’s gone through. In an ideal world, Octavia would get more time to grieve, but since there’s no time, I hope she’s still aware that she’s gonna need that Nightblood cure soon.
“You can’t save someone who doesn’t want to be saved.”
The black rain catches Skaikru off-guard (so I guess they should’ve done a few more drills). A boy grabs onto Harper as everyone is running for camp and she pushes him off her so he falls to the ground. When I first saw this I thought she was totally in the right, but re-watching it he was definitely the victim of someone pushing him from behind. Dammit! Harper has to spend the rest of the episode watching him die.
Once inside, Bellamy and Kane get a call on the radio from a man and his son (Mark and Peter) in need of rescue. So Bellamy channels his Octavia sadness into trying to save someone else. Did anyone else randomly start crying when Bellamy said Peter was one of the original 100? Man, way to pull at our heartstrings, show!
Bellamy tries to walk in the rain in a duct-taped hazmat suit and it just instantly fails and he’s exposed. He makes it to the rover and heads out to save his friends, promising Kane he won’t go to extreme measures.
Bellamy tells Mark he’s almost there on the radio, only to hit some mud and get stuck. Remember: whatever these people do, there’s gonna be another, bigger, worse, obstacle in the way. Bob Morley does so much stunning acting with his eyes and the writers play it up so amazingly well. Bellamy has to call Mark and tell him he’s not going to make it to him, he’s stuck. As an increasingly-desperate Mark lashes out, Bellamy is helpless and destroyed and trapped in the rover, forced to face his failure. When the rain passes he tries to call again to see if Mark survived and is met with silence on the other end of the radio. Honestly, the silence is so much more effective than watching someone die. It’s so haunting.
Harper’s guy dies too, leaving Kane to comfort her with the fact that everyone loses their humanity sometimes. Yeesh! Kane’s main purpose this episode is to just try to comfort people with the fact that everything is terrible and they are hopeless in the hands of an unjust world. He tells Bellamy he didn’t fail Octavia: “You can’t save someone who doesn’t want to be saved.”
But this is wrong! Octavia does want to be saved. She could’ve beat Ilian and jumped in the rain if she wanted to. It’s only been a few months since Bellamy betrayed her (right, that’s the timeline of this show?). He’s gotta keep fighting for her! Maybe with everyone else this quote is true, but you know who it’s definitely not true for: your siblings. Your siblings who you swore to protect. It reminds me of my favorite Thorn Birds quote, “With hate, you just keep hitting; you hit until they stop hitting back. With love, they never stop.”
So I chose to read the ending where Bellamy says Kane’s quote back to him as Bellamy talking about himself. He’s been stripped down and lost his sense of purpose, he doesn’t want to be saved either.
“I don’t need you to protect me, Clarke. I protect myself. I always have.”
So by now you’re probably like “Wow, she got so mad at how bleak the last episode was, why is she not mad at this one?” Or you’re new, in which case, welcome. See, I think this episode benefited exponentially by not showing us the result of the Nightblood trial at the end. That way, we ended with uncertainty rather than just hopelessness and anger.
The second thing this episode benefited from was not having frickin’ Murphy and Emori (or anyone really) getting on their pedestals and yelling at Clarke about her morality. The beginning of the episode sort of teased that that was coming, but instead Emori hands Clarke her (fake) grey area.
So here’s the deal: Abby thinks they can still find a Nightblood solution, if they inject people with Luna’s bone marrow. PARALLELS! But they don’t acknowledge that this would probably kill Luna given the amount they need and the quick time they need it in. I guess they thought this episode was heavy enough. Abby tells Clarke that they’ll need to expose someone to an extremely high level of radiation (in their convenient radiation chamber) to test if it works and debates if it can be morally acceptable to kill someone to save everyone. It’s weird that no one just lies to her and says, “Hey, it’ll prob just work and no one will die.” Lying to yourself can be a very, very powerful coping mechanism.
Emori takes Clarke back to a super-nice home with a kitchen and a shower and arrow-pillows which are still in style in the future. Murphy is playing the doting husband, cooking in the kitchen. I think it makes me super boring that this is the most I’ve ever been attracted to Murphy. I mean, he was tied up and stuff last season and I still liked this more.
Anyway, Emori tells Clarke where the shower is so Clarke will leave and Emori can tell Murphy that they need to get out of there. She overheard Clarke and Abby and realizes that as the outsider, she’s probably going to be the person sacrificed. This episode is so smart though, because it doesn’t beat us over the head with Clarke trying to think of who to save. Instead, we get a scene of Clarke just relaxing, taking a shower. Honestly, how nice was this? We desperately need these brief respites just watching this show, so of course the characters need it ten billion times more. She goes to lie on the bed, and I’d watch like, 2 minutes of her sleeping. Not like a creep, just because she deserves it. But instead she hears a broken window in the other room. Then she realizes there’s blood on broken glass. This is why we can’t have nice things!
So, instead of coming to lecture Clarke as he had planned, Murphy has to save Emori from the intruder. Honestly, I love how quickly Murphy went back into survivalist mode in this house. You can take the boy out of the apocalypse…
How quickly did you all guess the twist? I did kind of instantly, but I still thought it was satisfying. So, early in the episode Emori says that Clarke will obviously do whatever it takes for her people to survive and Clarke reminds her that they’re all her people now. And Emori also knows it takes like, almost nothing to justify revenge killing someone who wronged you on this show. So she spins a tale about this poor intruder, just looking for food for his family. She says he did terrible things to her and her brother. And everyone believes her. Then Emori lets Clarke believe it was Clarke who came up with the idea of sacrificing this guy to test the Nightblood cure.
Abby’s torn up about it, but still goes through with it. Then Emori confesses to Murphy, of course she doesn’t know this guy. She just accused him so that she wouldn’t be the person sacrificed. Murphy and Emori have always looked out for number one, it’s one of the few things we can depend on on this show (and that men with guns will mess everything up), so…it just felt right to me. Maybe not morally right, but right for the characters. Also, I think these guys would’ve gotten to “let’s sacrifice this stranger” without Emori’s accusations; they just made everyone feel a little better about the decision. A grey area! But also, what’s the morality in that? I mean, he said he had kids.
A few final things before I go. One, I know this show does a lot of explaining off-camera, but how is this Nightblood solution gonna help them in regards to the “no clean water in a few weeks” issue? Like, won’t they die of dehydration even if they survive radiation? Are they just gonna keep re-exposing themselves to the poisoned water because they think the Nightblood will help them ride it out? Seems like not a great idea. Two, the tightening of the noose with the “a few more weeks” of clean water makes me again, want to double down on my “there’s something bigger going on, like some higher power testing them, probably like aliens or something” theory. I’m a season 5 truther! Recognize. Something else is definitely going on. Three, Here’s that final song. I looked it up. May we meet again!
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