One of the best episodes of The 100? CHOOSE.
The second entry into season 5 is a light little romp into the gladiatorial pits of existential hell. This frightening new world forged by Octavia – with a distinct Jaha flavor – is an example of extreme pragmatism dipping its toe into a little blood sport flair.
And man, I dig it. But I’m worried. Octavia takes a pretty dark turn here and while I like exploring new character depths, what does this mean for her the rest of the season? Octavia conflicts me, y’all.
“Red Queen,” written by Terri Hughes Burton and directed by P.J. Pesce, is likely to be at the top of many “best of” lists when it comes to fan favorites. This was a great episode and I enjoyed the living heck out of it, but y’all, I gotta be frank: the episode left me with one, sad, lasting impression: maybe humanity doesn’t deserve to make it in the end. We are AWFUL.
My mind shot back to the Abby/Kane convo where they were buried under rubble after the TonDC bombing (same circumstances, same sentiment). They wondered if after everything they’ve done/become, do they deserve to survive? Like, is fighting tooth and nail to live by any means necessary, while your soul slowly shrivels away, while you take human life without batting an eye, worth it in the end? I guess that’s for the viewer to decide. No biggie. Like choosing what flavor ice cream to get.
There’s a lot to think about and a big time jump to deal with. We see the beginning of Octavia’s evolution – her metamorphosis as it were if you’re going to be literal about Ovid’s book – but how does she become that cold Octavia in the end, looking down at Kane, seemingly untouched by sentiment or personal ties?
This was also a big episode as it was Jaha’s swan song. I’ll admit, I cried, but not just a normal cry. The type of cry where you’re like…”okay, I just have a light cry going, this is the extent of it…OH GOD NO NOT THE TRAVELER’S BLESSING, I didn’t plan for this now I have to go to lie down.”
I’m not overly dramatic. Not at all.
Let’s get into it!
HOLY CRAP JAHA I LOVE TO HATE TO LOVE YOU
Theolonius Jaha has been one of the best characters this show has given us. He’s confusing, complex, rational, dangerous, intensely smart…it’s hard to know if we’ll remember him as a hero, a villain, an strict amoral rules lawyer, a great leader, an insane prophet…that’s up for you to decide.
Seeing Jaha, the father, is a rare glimpse of who he is as a regular human being, with only one person to care for, to make decisions for, to protect. I like the softer side of Jaha, what he is when he’s not asked to bear the weight of leading his people. This is who he was with Wells, who he raised to be a good man. And from what little we saw of Wells, he was everything his father couldn’t be due to the Chancellorship. Wells was fair and kind and ethical. He did what he believed to be the right thing for his friends and balked under the whims of those who would do harm for their own gain. Wells is perhaps the best version of Jaha, before Jaha took on the weight of responsibility to be a leader.
As a leader, Jaha is pragmatic and strict, understanding that the boundary between survival and death is very slim and fragile. Up on the Ark, he enforced its rules, regardless of the human toll, and this lead to a lot of people taking a dislike to him. But again, he was the ward for what he believed at the time to be all of humanity. With stakes that high, you simply don’t fuck around. No time for shenanigans.
Love him or hate him, I understood him. He was, I believe, a better leader than Marcus or Abby because he was willing to do the unthinkable in order to fight the enemy of humanity: death. It meant making hard choices and an unwavering commitment to enforcing Ark rules, regardless of the context of a “crime” such as having more than one child or stealing medicine. Selective enforcement of the rules would have meant chaos and corruption.
There’s something weirdly fair about the rules on the Ark and the Exodus charter, even though the punishment is excessive and cruel. But this was the social contract Skaikru agreed to live under, the stakes being what they were. No one is punished unduly because of their circumstance or identity or access to power (unless you’re Abby, let’s keep it real, fam).
All rules are applied the same across the board. Of course, the punishment for defying the rules is death, which is horrifying, but at least everyone is treated the same. But do you take any cold comfort in this? I don’t know if I do. At least the boundaries are starkly drawn and not arbitrary. I guess that’s a good thing?
I don’t know. This show fucks with my system of ethics and morality more than I’d like to admit. Or maybe it appeals a great deal to the very strong pragmatic part of me that’s like…eh, could Thanos have a point? I mean…I think I may be a monster?
Regardless of my monsterhood, Jaha’s death did affect me…especially when he said “take me to my wife, take me to Wells.” Yeah, lost it there. This guy, who had been so problematic in the past became so human in that scene because we were reminded of his pain, his loss. I will miss the perspective he brought to the show, the type of leadership he represented. I have to wonder, in the end, if he could have imagined how Octavia applied his lesson. Because if you ask me, she went a shade too far when death became sport.
A Devil on Each Shoulder
Octavia has two very important conversations that completely sway what she becomes in the bunker, and not necessarily for the better.
The conversation between Jaha and Octavia is one of the most important bits of dialog for both characters, not just in this episode, but of the whole series. It was beautiful and frank and helped Octavia understand what it takes to be a leader – at least one in the mold of Jaha himself. It’s all very black and white – you’re either with Wonkru or you’re pushing Wonkru closer to death.
I don’t know if this scene between Octavia and Jaha helps her to forgive him regarding the death of her mother, but there’s no debating the efficacy of it. It WORKS. Jaha knows that you can’t wrap yourself up in the trappings of leadership – the gear or the Commander’s cloak – you have to MAKE people follow you through action. Symbols and a Nightblood Commander are past traditions that Octavia can’t follow. Those aren’t her traditions. She’s not a Grounder. She’s not a Nightblood. And she knows that trying to put on the vestments of other’s expectations won’t make her feel like less of a fraud.
That push from Jaha – MAKE them follow you – lead Octavia to doing what she knows best. She’s a fighter, so she fought. She killed. And killed. And killed some more until people bent a knee.
Now, I have difficulty understanding how Gaia regards Octavia…is she believer looking for something to believe in, willing to bend her faith and criteria of how the spirit of the Commander is protecting their people, or a bit of an opportunist looking for someone not just to believe in, but shape to her own liking? Everything we’ve seen of her leads me to believe the former, but I don’t put it past Gaia to view Octavia as an opportunity. She may be a little bit of both. Also, Gaia is a Flamekeeper and based on how Titus interacted with Lexa, it’s an advisory role. The Flame may never be in play again, but if Gaia believes the spirits have manifested themselves in a different way to save all their people, then she still might serve in that Flamekeeper capacity.
I’m going to say it right out: I don’t trust Gaia. I like Gaia, I think her dynamic with both Indra and Octavia is immensely interesting, but I don’t know what she wants out of Octavia. Not completely. Do y’all think that she wouldn’t drop Octavia in a hot minute when a Nightblood presents him or herself? I don’t know. I just think someone as religiously devoted to the Flame and its tradition might easily renege on any current commitments she has. I guess we’ll find out when Gaia realizes what Madi is. I’m not sayin’, I’m just sayin’.
Now, what exactly pushes Octavia to say that justice should not only be meted out, but dispensed in a gladiator pit? I’m sorry, it’s one thing to hold people responsible for their crimes and executing them, and something completely different when you make them fight to the death for a shot at survival.
That’s not justice, not by any means. Because the worst offender – say a murderer – could easily beat out people who steal food or meds, and therefore there is no “fairness” in the outcome, nor blind justice. I doubt very much that Jaha would have wanted this to be how Octavia leads and adheres to a system of laws. It’s barbaric. While executing people isn’t great (understatement of the year?), it can be done without becoming a garish spectator sport, with people actively cheering the spilling of blood.
Gaia sure seems to be fine with it though.
While Indra is…well, Indra.
And I guess now it’s not just enough to win, but you must win the favor of Blodreina? WHAT IN THE BLUE HELL?! What fresh nightmare has the bunker been evolving into as Octavia grew more comfortable as its queen? I mean, this is a couple degrees too far. Is this the legacy of leadership that Jaha imagined? He wasn’t perfect – not by any stretch of the imagination – but he wasn’t cruel. He didn’t make people kill each other just to earn a chance at living based on Octavia’s whim.
Like, NOT COOL Octavia. Not cool at all.
I wonder how this system of punishment sits with folks like Indra, Miller, Kane, Abby, and Jackson. I don’t think that any one of them is quite okay with it, but after 6 years, what sway do they hold with Octavia? How much compassion and humanity is left in Octavia after what she’s done and the decisions she’s made?
And what will Bellamy think when he sees what little sis has been up to?
Oh, we in for some fireworks this season.
Niylah’s Koffee Kart and Sundry Goods
Niylah is busy in the bunker getting her hustle on. Much respect. But I have questions.
Where exactly does she get her stuff to sell/barter?
My head cannon: In a dark, deserted corner of the Bunker is a pile of dead bodies, stripped off all their worldly possessions. Niylah is a serial killer and her modus operandi is selling off the trophies of her victims. IT COULD HAPPEN.
I. Hate. Kara. Cooper. Full. Stop.
I cannot believe how much I hate this newly introduced Kara Cooper character (to be very clear, just the character, not the actress). From the first moment we see her, she’s throwing shade at Octavia for making the decision to save more than just Skaikru, a decision that, at the time, seemed reasonable. First of all, who exactly are you, Kara, to be questioning the decisions of people who lay their lives on the line for you?
Secondly, your plan to lock Skaikru into the Hall of Plants (I don’t know what they call it, so let’s go with that) was a Peter Quill-esque level of poor decision-making based on lots of anger but zero logic. And to make it worse, she lacks the charisma and killer mix tapes of Starlord.
Dear jerkface Kara, where are you guys going to go to the bathroom? What about sleeping? Food prep, showers, activities to stop one’s mind from turning to jell-o while you wait for the rest of the bunker to starve? Oh, and guess what, genius, they won’t die out quick because they’ll start EATING ONE ANOTHER.
These folks are all of two hours into their big bunker take-over and bored as fuck already. No way they’ll last months as the rest of Wonkru outside experiment with cannibal tartare recipes.
Kara’s plan has all the elegance of a 6 year old running away to their backyard fort, until hunger and the realization that the world is a very confusing and complex place forces said little kid to slink back into the house.
NO KARA, A LITTLE “WONDERWALL” ON ACOUSTIC GUITAR ISN’T WHAT YOUR PEOPLE NEED TO GET THROUGH THIS. THEY NEED A PLAN MADE BY AN ADULT WHO HASN’T HALF-ASSED THIS WHOLE TAKEOVER IDEA.
Farm Station is all a bunch of jerks, save for Monty.
You are Wonkru or you are the enemy of Wonkru. Choose.
You are Wonkru or you are the enemy of Wonkru. Choose.
You are Wonkru or you are the enemy of Wonkru. Choose.
That Was A Dope Fighting Scene, Y’all
Even though I have a hard time believing Octavia is some ninja savant after just a couple months on the ground, my suspension of disbelief was purely suspended all over the place as she whirled her way through those Grounders, making quick work of those who wouldn’t yield.
Babe Ruth was pretty dang good to begin with, but became a legend when he pointed to the outfield fence and then drove a homer over that fence. This scene is where Octavia’s legend was solidified. I said in my trailer analysis that my favorite scene was Octavia saying “choose.” Back then, I had no context, but now I love everything about the scene, including the “simple” choice she presented to those threatening Skaikru.
I love watching defining moments. And while Octavia ended up taking things a bit further than I would have liked in the end with the gladiator thing, this scene is where she becomes a leader, for good or bad. This episode, much like the book given to her by Niylah, is her metamorphosis into the Red Queen. Long may she reign?
The Kane and Abby Of It All
Abby is not well, y’all. You guys know I love Abby, and I know she’s struggling, but it’s hard watching her lash out in anger (and withdrawal pains?) at Kane, who has tried to love and support her as best he can. They both have their moments in their scenes together, but a lot of what we see is anger and hurt coming from Abby, who even brings up Kane’s willingness to float her back on the Ark. Pack your bags, kids, we goin’ on a guilt trip with a little detour into Woman Can Hold A Grudgeville.
Abby keeps dipping into the “I’m not worthy of surviving” well and Kane tells her that he can really only get through these difficult times with her by his side. Abby will need to understand that she’s earned the right to live and to be loved if she’s going to make it out of that bunker. And Kane needs her. He isn’t strong enough to let her go. It’s all very touching and they seem to get somewhat on the same page with each other until they’re interrupted by the Grounders trying to break in and kill off Skaikru.
I dunno guys…Kabby both have some very pronounced strengths, but their weaknesses seem to be amplified by one another in moments like this. I’m not saying they’re not good for one another, but I am saying they perhaps need each other more than any two people in that bunker right now. To each other, they represent a path to healing, and that’s not a bad thing, not at all. And they have zero regrets in regards to doing what it takes to save the other…that’s important stuff. Man, I just need these two crazy kids to make it in the end.
Now, what do y’all think Abby is taking? We know there are side effects from getting her plug into the City of Light forcibly pulled, but how bad off is she? Is her mind still suffering from ALIE after-effects. Does Kane wind up in the fighting pit for stealing drugs for her? How addicted is she? This worries me a great deal.
In many ways, Abby and Kane are at the moral and ethical heart of the show. Sure, they’ve done horrible things, but they beat themselves up about it like nobody’s business. And because of their age and perspective, sometimes serve as the Greek Chorus to help frame the actions of others. And lord knows they have enough guilt for everyone. The only people who would best them in a self-flagellation contest are Bellamy and Clarke.
How will Abby and Kane live under the rule of the Red Queen? You have to think that Kane will say something to the effect of “this isn’t what Jaha meant for you to become” and many dramatically pained looks from Dad!Kane who will feel he has once again failed Octavia.
Don’t worry Kane, I’m sure the guilt will be shared once Bellamy hits earth and finds out how Octavia has gotten by in bunker life as the leader of Wonkru. I wonder if there will be any resentment from Bellamy towards Kane, thinking Kane should have been a better, more forceful mentor to Octavia.
The Mackson Of It All
How do I feel about Jackson and Miller being a couple?
While I still think a better ship name is “Jacker,” I love these two together.
How will Miller aligning with Octavia affect their relationship? I’m a weeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee bit nervous for them.
Jackson, god love him, is not a violent man. When he thinks he can wrest the gun away from Poopyface Kara Cooper, he misses his window of opportunity. But thank god…he’d be like a kitten in a lion’s den. I don’t know what Miller is doing at Octavia’s side, or if he’s okay with blood being spilled for sport as well as justice, but he didn’t seem 100% copacetic with the going’s on. He and Indra both looked a bit uncomfortable with the situation. Perhaps he’s loyal to Octavia out of a shared history, friendship, or being a part of Skaikru. Despite it all, I hope Mackson is still together, holding on to what they have in a very cruel world.
Geez…I just admitted I want Kabby and Mackson to make it, so you know it’s all going to end horribly because we can’t have nice things. I’m going to kick rocks now.
Blood Must Not Have Blood Is Dead
I hate to say it, but Lexa’s hope for peace, for the clans to get along and not shed each other’s blood anymore, is dead. At least for the time being. Maybe it’s true that peace isn’t always an option when circumstances are at their most stressful or dire, but I’m kinda bummed that we’re turning away, yet again, from real progress. I always want the Grounders to “make good” and stop with the clan warfare. Their first instinct is to raise fists.
But then Skaikru goes and does something stupid to solidify themselves once again as THE WORST.
I’m glad that the show makes it hard to pick a side, that no one is 100% right or wrong, but man, after Kara Douchecanoe Cooper and Skaikru pulled their little “this is our bunker now!” stunt, I am full-on Team Prison Ship.
From week to week, I’m ranking characters by likelihood two die in two buckets: gonna die and long shots. Now that we have a dead character, I’ve also included a May We Meet Again.
Sure Bets, One of These Peeps Is Dyin’
- Abby (+1)
- Kane (+1)
- Kara (previously unranked, new to list because she’s a poopy head and I hate her)
Previous ranked: Jaha (1 – dead as a door nail)
Loooooooooooooong Shots, Place Yer Bets!
- Ethan (previously unranked)
Previously ranked: Harper (5)
May We Meet Again
- Jaha – he was number 1 on my Sure Bet to die board, though I take no pleasure in being right…it was a sorta easy read based on social media. Jaha was an interesting, complex, often infuriating figure in this universe, so RIP.
I realize that not everyone cares if someone dies, and may have some trouble working up a bit of sadness, especially if Jaha wasn’t exactly your jam…consider this your ugly cry starter kit:
Raven Reyes Nookie Watch 2018
Welcome back to Raven Reyes Nookie Watch 2018! Along with Deathwatch 2018, this is a recurring feature of upmost importance.
Since this episode covered the same time period we know is shared by nookieless Raven, we can just go ahead and keep lowering the nookie alert level to depths heretofore unknown by humankind.
RAVEN REYES NOOKIE ALERT LEVEL: A black hole of despair and loneliness
Guess who probably has gotten 100% more nookie than Raven Reyes in 6 years: Kara Jerkface Poopyhead Cooper. That’s right, y’all. And that’s more than enough reason to hate her stupid face aside from her being an awful jerknugget. NO ONE LIKES YOUR DAVE MATTHEWS COVER BAND, KARA.
- Slarke is my ride or die ship – that’s Clarke + soap. Looks like she might be bloodied up a bit next episode. EXCITE?
- This show’s actors bring it, week in and week out. It’s been a delight watching Isaiah Washington as Jaha and he really delivered on all fronts this episode.
- I really dislike Kara Pooper Scooper Cooper, y’all.
- (I can’t wait to see more Kara to hate on, but let’s face it, she’ll probably do something awesome and I’ll have to eat my words)
- WHY IS KANE IN THE PIT? WHY? WHY? WHY GOD WHY?
- What I wouldn’t give for a one-hour exclusive “Indra tells all” interview where she gets to just speak her mind and really spill the tea…
- I hate cilantro, but I still love Echo.
- We must protect Niylah at all costs.
- A lot of Grounder culture seems steeped in the remnants of the Second Dawn’s propaganda, even if the meaning has been completely turned on its head. I’d love to see more history of how Grounders took the scraps of Second Dawn and changed the “dogma” over time.
- Please don’t believe other media outlets in regards to the best Starburst flavors. They are woefully wrong. Pink > yellow > orange and throw the red away. Don’t @ me.
- How many people are crying little cannibal tears because we didn’t get people eating people?
- Hey guys, I’ve been writing most of this while on benadryl so it’s not as cogent or well-written as I’d like but it’s hard staying conscious so thaakand abeliierl pionngg.
- Farewell, Theolonius Jaha. May we meet again.
“Red Queen”: 9.0 out of 10 pools of blood
TWEET/RETWEET: If you enjoyed this review, could you do me a favor and share / retweet / like it on twitter? I hate to ask this because I hate asking anyone to do anything for me, but I’d really appreciate it.
SPOTIFY PLAYLIST OF THE 100 MUSIC!: Hey people who like sounds entering your ear holes! I have a Spotify playlist, which is music from and inspired by The 100. You can find it right here and marvel at my musical tastes. I keep it up to date with anything featured on the show or in promos.
There are some The 100 reviewers/recaps/writers you should absolutely be reading, and I offer them up for your enjoyment; I have no affiliation with any of them, save for being a fan:
- Selina Wilken – a mix of passionate fandom and truly professional journalism.
- Erin Brown – unfairly beautiful writing. Like seriously, stop being so good.
- McKenzie Morrell – recapping her damn face off and great interviews with the cast!
- Toni_watches – piss your goddamn pants funny photo recaps.
- Jo Garfein – great fandom charity auctions.
Disclosure: this is my own indie site. This is on my time, my dime. Becho is endgame.
Several weeks later…
You are Wonkru or you are the enemy of Wonkru. Choose.