Tuesday, May 2, 2017

The 100, Season Four, Episode Nine: DNR

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DNR is an apt title for an episode in which the characters must decide what to do now that prime fiya is only five days away. Some will refuse to give up and keep fighting not matter the odds. Some will be so caught up in secretarian fighting that they are not concerned with the extinction level event heading their way. Some are determined to use the time to reflect on what has happened before while acknowledging that there  will humans who survive this latest threat. And finally, others will simply give up, tired of the constant threat to their survival, sure in the knowledge that perhaps humanity doesn't deserve to survive.  Each group has a good reason for the position that they are taking.

Emori, Raven and Murphy have been left behind on the island to try and gather any useful tech for the time in the bunker.  It's Emori who first notices that something is really off with Raven.  For her part, Raven is starting to see Becca again and is drawn to the ship.  Murphy is quick to point out to Raven that he cannot help her if she starts to have a seizure and that she must stop using her brain.  As more time passes and Raven begins to become more and more unstable, and Emori begins to wonder if maybe no one will come back for them. Given Emori's life experience, Raven looks like someone that Skaikru would deem to be expendable.

Raven starts to think about taking the ship into space and doing one last space walk.  Those few brief moments when she did her space walk were clearly the happiest and most uncomplicated moments of her life. Yes, deciding to do this would most certainly be a form of suicide but Raven would be choosing to go out on her own terms.  She's all too aware that given the way her brain is functioning, going into the bunker might buy her some extra time but it would be time spent in pain and most importantly, it would be time spent not doing what she loves to do the most. 

Murphy and Emori start to pack up what little food they have access to, preparing to spend their time in the bunker, when Nathan arrives to escort them to Polis.  This is when Raven makes her announcement that she's not going. Murphy believes that it's fault that she's not leaving because of her leg.  Raven it seems has moved on and has decided to go out on her own terms, having realised that her brain is already too far gone and that her death is now inevitable. It's a moment of empowerment even though I found myself hoping that the writers would find a way to save Raven.

At Arkadia, Bellamy, Monty and Jaha are trying to get everyone ready to head to the bunker.  After everything that they have been through, the news that there's finally a place to hide away from the prime fiya is welcome news to many-- particularly because this time -- there won't be some lottery system, due to the fact that the bunker has room for everyone.  Not everyone sees this as a blessing however.  For Jasper, hiding out in the bunker is akin to going back to ark style living and he is simply unwilling to do that again.  

Monty of course is disturbed by Jasper's fatalism in this moment; however, it's Harper's decision to stay behind which really does him in.  Monty tries to explain that Harper didn't turn back for the injured person when the black rain fell because Harper is driven to survive. Harper however is too driven by guilt. I don't buy this sudden change from Harper at all. Yes, I can believe that she feels guilty but guilty enough to simply follow Jasper and throw away her life?  

Jaha is determined not to leave anyone behind and he prepares to use explosives to open the doors.  Jasper, who reveals that he's armed, makes it clear that as long as Jaha and his forces stay out that no one will get hurt.  It's Bellamy who diffuses the situation by reminding Jaha that it was his decision which originally sent the 100 to earth to die in the first place, thus essentially tossing his own hypocrisy in his face. The only difference this time is that the young people are deciding for themselves. Monty questions how Bellamy would react if it were Octavia choosing to stay and he simply says that he would take the opportunity to say goodbye.  I actually believe this line given that he chose to stop searching for Octavia when he realised that you cannot help someone who doesn't want to be helped. In the end, Monty chooses to stay behind with Harper and Jasper in the hope that they will change their mind and head for shelter. 

Octavia has returned with Illian to his farm.  As you might well imagine, Octavia is not a natural fit for the farm lifestyle but she gives it her best go. At night they lie in bed together and discuss the fact that prime fiya is approaching. Ilian believes in reincarnation and sites the fact that crops die in the winter and are reborn in the spring as proof. For Illian, everything is a cycle and so it makes sense to plant food now, even if they won't personally get to consume it. A wrinkle is thrown in Illian's end of life plan when Trikru alliance members show up and try to get him to agree to go and fight Agzeda. With everything at stake however, Illian sees the pointlessness of war and sends them on their way.  When they show up a second time to enlist Illian's help, Octavia is alone in the fields. Octavia tries to keep her head down and not reveal her identity but they recognise her anyway. There's a lot of anger over what happened with the tech and they are determined to make Octavia pay for it. Octavia begs to be left alone and says repeatedly that they don't want to do this. When given no choice, Octavia defends herself and ends up killing them all. When Illian arrives, Octavia is covered in blood and she walks off the farmland explaining simply that this is who she is. 

Clarke is travelling back to Polis with Abby, Marcus and Roan. When they arrive, Abby tells Clarke that Marcus was forced to make a deal with Indra to ban Agzeda from sheltering with them, though he did make arrangements for Roan to be allowed in.  Abby tries to convince Clarke to take comfort in the fact that Roan won't be killed.  Proving once again how much better Clarke understands the world than Abby, she rushes forward in an attempt to warn Roan about the betrayal. The words barely leave her lips before they find themselves surrounded by Agzeda warriors courtesy of Echo.  Echo explains that she found the placement of Indra's soldiers odd and so she decided to investigate. 

Roan orders everyone locked up with the exception of Clarke, much to the exasperation of Echo.  Clarke is quick to explain that she didn't know about the plan to betray Roan or the Agzeda and Roan actually believes her.  Clarke very much believes that diplomacy is the best path forward and manages to get Roan to agree to meet with Trikru, as well as the leaders of the Trikru alliance. The meeting does not got well because as far as Indra is concerned, Agzeda has killed off too many Trikru and must pay.  A desperate Clarke tries to argue that this is not what Lexa would have wanted.  It serves as a stark reminder that they don't have a commander right now and that because of that, no one can bring about the necessary peace in order to allow everyone to be able to share the bunker. 

This puts an idea in Clarke's head. Thanks to her time volunteering as a guinea pic, Clarke now has nightblood.  Clarke heads to see Gaia who still posses the flame chip and argues that she is the next commander. To prove it, Clarke slices her hand open.  The colour of Clarke's blood is enough proof for Gaia and she rings the ascension bell bringing everyone into the great hall.  When it's announced that Clarke is to be the next commander and everyone is shown her nighblood, Roan is quick to put a stop to her ascension.  Roan sees what Clarke is doing as a mockery of their beliefs because she wasn't born a nightblood and instead became a nightblood via science.  Roan tells everyone that they can no longer trust the chip.

Clarke may not have managed to become the new commander but she did manage to get everyone back into the same room again.  Roan proposes that they have one final conclave to decide who will get the chance to survive in the bunker and who will be left outside to die.  Instead of armies clashing against each other, each group will pick one champion and the champions will fight to the death. That's all well and good for the Grounders but it places Skaikru in a precarious position because they currently don't have anyone trained in hand to hand combat. Skaikru only really has an advantage when it comes to technology but without the ability to use their guns, they are no match for any Grounder warrior. Fortunately for Skaikru, this is when Octavia arrives on horseback. 

Even though I still find Jasper incredibly irritating, I really liked the theme of this episode. Whenever possible, each person should be able to decide for themselves how their lives end.  Clearly, Jasper has been descending into nihilism for quite some time and so his decision is absolutely not a surprise. I do think that the writers didn't do well selling Harper's decision to stay behind.  It's too swift of a change.  I think that this is why Monty will be able to talk her out of staying to die and to head to Polis.  Raven's decision worked precisely because it made sense in a way that Harper's didn't.  Raven is choosing to go out doing what she loves and because her fight is over. 

I certainly wasn't surprised when Octavia's little stint as a farmer didn't last long. Even if she hadn't become a highly capable warrior, becoming a farmer was never in the cards for someone like Octavia.  I very much think that this was a case of abrupt storytelling.  Yes, Octavia clearly had some shit to work out but it seems that the writers just rushed it through in order to have Octavia show up in Polis in time to be Skaikru's champion. 

As for Clarke, from the minute it was revealed that a chip was what created a commander, I knew that it was only a matter of time until she tried to ascend to that position.  Clarke absolutely has a good sense of the world but this week, it failed her because she refused to consider her colonialist attitude towards the Grounders. Yes, the Grounders worship tech because they didn't have the same access to tech as Skaikru and of course science seems magical to them. When Roan pointed out the disrespect it took on Clarke's part to so casually dismiss their beliefs, I thought it was absolutely some of the best examination of the conflict between science and religion as well as the paternalism of Skaikru that we've seen to date. Clarke's intentions may have been good, and it certainly doesn't make sense to go to war on the eve of such destruction but that does not justify stomping over someone's religious beliefs because you think you're more capable than them.  

I suppose next week we will see a Hunger Games style battle through Polis for control of the bunker.  If it comes down to Indra and Octavia, it's going to get very emotional.