Sunday, June 24, 2018

The 100, Season Five, Episode Seven: Acceptable Losses

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I think it's fair to say that The 100, seems to really only have one model of storytelling.  They put the characters into a situation of few resources and then they fight over them until Clarke, leading Skaikru, makes the hard decision and wins the day.  This season, with the prison ship landing on earth after Primefiyah, we once again have the cast of characters fighting over scarce resources, with Charmaine's crew actually serving as the invading force.  This hook may have been okay for the first four season but at this point, it's wearing rather thin. 

The most interesting character this season in not in fact Clarke the suddenly maternal, Octavia the ruthless dictator or even Charmaine, the leader of murderers and rapists but Abby, the drug addicted doctor who seems way over her head.  In the bunker, an addiction like Abby's was clearly a liability because every resource is precious.  Just as on the ARC, doctor's were allowed to only use a specified amount of medicine to treat a patient, and that approach most certainly applied to the bunker. We know that Abby became an addict to deal with the after effects of the tech in her brain.  We also know that fighting an addiction is not easy and that many fail. Abby is now in an impossible position.  Kane sees Abby's continued drug use as a betrayal of their second chance. Kane was after all willing to die in the ring to protect Abby and now she is continuing the same behaviour that put them in jeopardy. 

From Abby's perspective, she's in over her head trying to cure whatever is killing off Charmaine's crew. Charmaine really doesn't care how many pills Abby takes, as long as Abby doesn't overdose and die before she comes up with a solution.  All Charmaine wants is for Abby to be functional. Abby knows that detoxing would set back her work and may be something she wouldn't necessarily survive. Abby is also aware that she and Kane are in a precarious position and her safety, as well as Kane's, is absolutely dependent upon her ability to deliver results. At the end of the day, for Abby, it comes down to being functional, or keeping Kane happy and right now, functional is what counts. I think that it's an fascinating take on addiction and the first interesting thing that The 100 has done for quite some time. 

Kane has gone from a brutal leader aboard the Arc, to someone who is far more thoughtful and some cases sanctimonious. Yes, he is absolutely right that Octavia needs to be over thrown given what we have seen of her leadership, he seems to be right.  It's worth noting however that Kane probably only understands how bad Octavia is because of what he himself is guilty of. I loved that Charmaine called him out on his hypocrisy and reminded Kane that he was part of the leadership that decided to send so-called teenage delinquents to earth even before they knew whether or not earth was survivable. Kane really has no business lecturing anyone about morality or leadership.  I really have started to enjoy Kane and Charmaine sparring because she keeps it 100 all of the time. 

Speaking of Charmaine, people have started to speculate about whether or not she's actually sick because unlike everyone else, she hasn't paid a visit to Abby for a checkup.  Given that at least 75% of Charmaine's people are infected, it's not exactly a leap to make.  It turns out that the reason that Charmaine hasn't been examined is because she is with child.  In normal circumstances, this might complicate events but given that Octavia is absolutely ruthless, pregnant or not, we know that she won't hesitate to kill Charmaine if given a chance. This little patch of land holds the hope for the rebirth of humanity, just as Charmaine's pregnancy stands for the continuation of the human race that is if humanity doesn't mess it up. 

Last season, I was pretty sick of Jasper and his manpain. He quickly became my least favourite character, especially because Monty in particular was so invested in saving him.  It seems that time and distance has made Jasper far more appealing. Right after primefiyah, Clarke found Jasper's suicide note and now that she finally has the time, she's given it to Monty.  Jasper was right when he talked about the cycle of violence and war. In many ways, his commentary reflects my boredom with The 100 this season.  Instead of building a future or finding a way for humanity to thrive, it's just been a series of wars and horrible deeds. Jasper wrote that  humanity didn't deserve to exist and maybe, given what has become of the characters on The 100, he has a point. 

Echo is very much part of the problem that Jasper was talking about. When we first met her, she was in a cage in Mt. Weather being drained. The one thing that is for certain is that Echo is a survivor and she will do whatever she has to. This actually seems to be the model for women on The 100. I'm not certain that it was a smart move on Echo's part to betray Shaw, the one man who has shown them any kind of loyalty, even if I do think that Shaw was in some ways playing both sides. Shaw telling Raven about Charmaine's past actions and explaining how his decision to simply follow orders led to a lot of deaths is a point I wish more characters on The 100 would hear. No action and certainly no person should be reduced to a binary good or bad thing. People and situations are complex but the reduction of situations as The 100 is oft to do, is exactly why the writers have written themselves into this bind. This show needs a ton more grey and I hope that there are more exciting scenes with Shaw to come. 

I have been trying to decide if Octavia really changed, or if she is simply who she has always been since landing on earth but now has immense power. This week, we learned that Octavia has plans to weaponise the worms.  It's absolutely biological warfare and would kill everyone in that patch of land, including people that Monty, Bellamy, and Clarke care about.  To Octavia, it really comes down to an ends justify the means type of thing.  Monty's believes that introducing an invasive species into the only habitable land is stupid and dangerous but Octavia assures him that the worms will die out quickly. I tend to agree with Monty that this is a big risk to take.  Octavia's plans also put her at odds with Indra, particularly after Indra discovers that she wasn't informed about what Octavia was up to. It's ominous when Indra tells Octavia to fear the darkness. 

At the end of the day, I really think that it comes down to Octavia actually having a lot more in common with Clarke than we originally thought.  As Blodreina, Octavia is absolutely ruthless but is she anymore ruthless than Wanheda? Clarke is literally called the commander of death and yet, we've been encouraged to root for her from day one, regardless of the decisions that she makes. How is Clarke irradiating Mt. Weather any different than what Octavia is trying to do to Charmaine's people? At the end of the day it comes down to the stories that these women tell themselves. If they tell themselves that they are the good guys, then they can excuse themselves any horror.  Now that these two are set up to go against each other, it will be interesting to see how far they both will go and how far people will be willing to follow them down the path of destruction. 

Finally we have Maddie, whom Clarke views as an adopted daughter. It's clear that Maddie is beginning to chafe under Clarke's orders, particularly when she is told to be less of who she is in order to fly under the radar. Maddie idolizes Octavia far too much to ever follow that order. For now, Octavia is playing older sister to her and because Maddie is so young, she doesn't really understand the danger that she is facing. Then we have Gaia, who is playing her own game as the Fleimkepa. For Gaia, Maddie is the living representative of her religion and while she won't oppose Octavia now, she is more than willing to play the long game to install Maddie as a leader. It's clear that Maddie is going to be a focal point that will further push the divide between Octavia and Clarke. It could lead to interesting places as both women have reasons to identify with the young girl.