Sunday, April 21, 2024

DNR Is Definitely Not Racist (Except It Is)

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The 100 Review Season 4 Episode 9 “DNR”

We’re back from the CW’s spring hiatus with another episode of The 100: 4.9, “DNR”. For those who may not know, DNR means ‘do not resuscitate’ (which is honestly what I would have liked for this show after this season ends). It’s not as insufferably ridiculous as last episode, but it has it’s issues. Foremost being that the showrunners decided an episode focused on suicidal ideation/behavior would be great for teens after all the flak they got for Raven and Jasper last season. Needless to say,

Content Warning: This review discusses themes of suicide and depression, as well as suicidal behavior, as depicted on the show.

Oh, and they’ve doubled down on the racist stereotypes for Grounders, which always seem to get in the way of meaningful solutions to political problems. Most especially if the solution is one that’s reasonable and involves science and not-violence.

What Happened

Raven, Emori, & Murphy scavenge tech from Becca’s Lab; they discuss living in the Temple bunker of the Doomsday Cult for 5 years, then Raven has a vision of the rocket going online. She sees Becca inside and starts seizing (yay more graphic physical suffering for Raven). On Ilian’s farm, Octavia helps him till a field (poorly) when one of his people come to demand warriors to help Trikru kick Azgeda out of Polis. He doesn’t want to go; Octavia’s annoyed that he never mentioned he used to be a warrior. In Arkadia, Monty flirts with Harper while Jaha rallies the troops to leave for the bunker. Riley says what we’re all thinking when he mentions that living in the bunker with Jaha in charge is just like being back on the Ark.

Miller and Jackson flirt(?) as the Griffins and Co. head back to the bunker. Abby warns Clarke that they made an off-screen deal with Trikru that somehow nullifies their deal with Azgeda; Clarke warns Roan just as Azgeda warriors arrive to save him and take Skaikru captive. Echo makes a dramatically back-lit entrance. Back in Polis, Roan is pretty pissy about being betrayed but thank goodness Clarke is there to point out he controls who goes in and out of the temple to get to the bunker. He totes believes in her diplomatic skills to bring everyone together, though. At Ilian’s farm, Octavia gripes about not being in the war, but Ilian puts that out of her mind with more sex.

In Arkadia, a depressed Harper wants to give up fighting now for some reason. Monty calls her a coward for wanting to die (what an awesome way to talk to a depressed person, Monty) and retcons what happened with Louis dying. Jaha pontificates about the future of the human race to all the Delinquents who want to die. Jasper encourages them to resist his authority and choose their own destiny: death. Back at Becca’s Lab, Raven tries to ignore Becca, who has turned into Jasper and tells Raven to commit suicide in space because she’s dying anyway. Becca wants Raven to have her chance at spacewalking. Murphy and Emori realize the team isn’t coming back and decide to hole up in the lighthouse bunker.

In Polis, Clarke meets Gaia, who’s not happy that Clarke gave Roan the Flame. Roan and Clarke enter the bunker to meet with the war chiefs of the Trikru alliance. Clarke tells them there’s room for 1,200 people so they don’t have to fight. Indra foreshadows the rise of Heda Clarke by telling Clarke there is no commander to lead them and make them get along. Clarke confronts Gaia about giving her the Flame because surprise, surprise, she’s the only natblida left you guys.

Back in Arkadia, Jaha and Co are upset that Jasper and Co don’t want to go with them to the bunker. Jasper mockingly reveals DNR written on his hand. You know, because he wants to commit suicide by nuclear apocalypse. Why does he know what DNR means? Because he read the script and knew it was the episode title. And every The 100 episode absolutely must mention the episode title in the dialogue. Anyway, Bellamy talks Jaha into letting the Delinquents make their own choice to die. On Ilian’s farm, Ilian is nowhere to be found so the other members of his tribe decide that attacking Octavia, whom they acknowledge as Skairipa, is a good idea. She kills them all, of course. Ilian finds the carnage and realizes that he can’t screw the trauma away after all.

Echo and Roan talk strategy for taking the temple in Polis when the ‘ascension horn’ blows. Cue slo mo of everyone filing into the throne room. Gaia presides, introducing the room to natblida Clarke. Roan interrupts the ceremony, telling everyone she’s an interloper. Because none of them remember that she wasn’t a natblida before and think the black blood somehow magically appeared in her veins. He then brings in Abby to attest that she was made a natblida through the Evils of Science. Because they’re Savages™, they cannot allow a fake!natblida like Clarke to ascend. Instead of having a new commander, Roan proposes a final conclave. To the victor goes the bunker. Because they wouldn’t be Grounders on this show if they didn’t solve things with violence.

In Arkadia, Bellamy tries to convince Jasper and Harper to come with them (they don’t). Harper finds Monty in the makeshift club; he’s decided to stay in Arkadia in case they change their minds (idk what he can do if they do, but…¯\_(ツ)_/¯). Miller and Jackson return to Becca’s Lab for Murphy and Emori, but Raven refuses to go with them. She tells Murphy she’s dying and wants one last moment of happiness on a space walk. Murphy apologizes for hurting her leg; she asks him to tell everyone that she floated herself. She then goes back to working with Becca on the rocket.

In Polis, Clarke explains the conclave to Bellamy. Just as they despair of having a warrior trained enough to fight in the conclave, who should show up but Octavia on her horse? Boy did I not see that coming a mile away! Oh wait, I did. Because this writing team has all the subtlety of a neon sign.

Tonight’s Pseudo-Profound Assertion: “This is who I am.”—Octavia, to Ilian about killing people


As you can tell from my pseudo-profound assertion, I’m a bit snarky about Octavia realizing she’s actually a killer again. Too bad all that sex didn’t resolve her murderous impulses, amirite? But seriously. I know it sounds like I’m impossible to please with Octavia’s arc this season. I was upset they had her screw her pain away, now I’m upset her pain is back. That’s a fair criticism. I’ll actually own that I’m not easily satisfied when it comes to handling Octavia, mostly because she’s one of my favorite characters.

But it’s hard to deny she’s not being written at all consistently this season. She has zero trauma from Lincoln’s death until it’s plot convenient for her to do so, and so they can show gratuitous shots of Lincoln’s already exploitative death overlaying Kane berating her for being as bad as a colonialist mass murderer. Then, interchangeable-man-of-color-Grounder-lover Ilian comes along and screws her pain away. At least until she can make a dramatic entrance as the Totally Unexpected Horserider-Ex-Machina to be Skaikru’s champion in the conclave.

Because really, what did her detour in happy farmland with Ilian do other than provide a dramatic entrance? It changed nothing for her character or the story. She says so herself, a warrior/assassin is just ‘who she is’ and no amount of literal or metaphorical plowing can change that. At the end of the day, the show utilized an already worn out trope for it’s female characters (screw the pain away) only to renege on any emotional health or development, however unearned. Her entire character this season stems from plot necessity and little else. She’s traumatized, calm, angry, resentful, and a cold-hearted killer, but when and only when she needs to be. She’s not as bad as the Sansa Construct, but that’s not saying much.

Speaking of unmotivated choices and inconsistent handling of trauma: Harper. Her choice to stay behind is not entirely unmotivated in that it has a narrative explanation, but it isn’t earned. We know she’s been upset after Louis’ death (a character for whom we only now have a name, by the way), but it’s a long road from guilt to suicidal depression. And none of it was shown on screen. Last episode she and Monty were happily having sex. We’re just supposed to accept that now she’s traumatized enough from the event that she wants to die and leave Monty behind all alone.

Yet, despite the apparent lack of effort put into motivating Harper’s choices, the episode featured several moments of narrative lampshading. Riley compares living in the bunker under Jaha to the Ark, a comparison I’ve talked about with some of my fellow The 100 watchers. Roan actually calls out how Clarke receiving the flame and stepping in to rule the Grounders would be problematic in a colonialist sense. It’s a rare moment of lucidity for a show that has treated Skaikru as perfectly acceptable in it’s colonialist approach toward the native populations.

They prove just how rare it is by following up Roan’s insightful comment with a plunge back into the aggressively violent stereotypes we’ve come to expect from the show’s treatment of the Grounders. Rather than diplomacy and tough decision making, Roan suggest a violent battle to the death for control of the bunker. Hard upon the heels of preventing Clarke from taking the flame because “Grounders think science is evil”, I can’t help but roll my eyes. They were doing so well for a split second. But bookended by colonialist and racist stereotypes of native peoples, that small moment of insight seems both insignificant and insulting.

You can’t erase the problematic coding with acknowledgement that Clarke shouldn’t be heda because she’s an outsider, writers. Besides, Clarke’s going to end up with the flame anyway. I’ll eat my favorite pair of shoes if she doesn’t.

More than anything, the conclave seems a convenient plot contrivance to keep just Skaikru alive rather than bother saving any Grounders. They all agreed, “to the victor goes the bunker”, and since we all know Octavia is going to win…Skaikru will get the bunker and all the Grounders will die in the apocalypse. Because who gives a crap about Grounders? Certainly not the writers at this point.

Also, so much for Roan believing in Clarke’s diplomacy and ability to bring everyone together. I guess his belief stops short of giving her actual real power over the Grounders to make lasting change. He’d rather still be able to countermand her diplomatic ventures. What a reasonable, pragmatic guy Roan is. Oh wait, I forgot that aspect of his personality disappears when the plot demands.

Whoever the political plot needs you to be, Roan.

On a more positive note, the scene between Murphy and Raven toward the end was exquisite. One, how much freaking character growth did both of them evince in that moment? Murphy showing real remorse free of sarcasm, free of bitterness, free of biting cynicism. He honestly felt sorry for hurting her and wishes he could change things for her. And Raven? She not only accepts his apology, she shows real affection for him. Both Murphy and Raven as characters use snark as a defense mechanism, so to see them conversing in an honest way, free of that mask, really is moving.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m still pissed as hell that it has to come at the expense of more physical pain for Raven (and yet more suicidal behavior). But I do appreciate how well written and well acted the scene was, and how true to their characters growth over the 4 seasons.

I can’t end without a final screw you to the poor way that they handled Harper’s depression and the yet further use of suicide as a plot device. It may not have been for Shock™ and Drama™, but it sure as hell wasn’t handled in a sensitive or nuanced way. Just because it’s mass suicide doesn’t make it any less exploitative. Especially not when those characters who prefer a death by their own choice are called ‘cowards’ multiple times. Just. No.

Bits & Bobs

  • Lexa Count: 2
  • The Flame Count: 3+ (I forgot I was counting this toward the end, tbh)
  • Death Toll: 4, all Grounders (attribute kills in retrospective)
  • I appreciate Abby waiting for the appropriately dramatic moment to reveal the Trikru deal to Clrake. She’s always thinking of Plot Convenience.
  • Octavia’s tattoo paint was looking a bit too black/fake tonight
  • They’re really reinforcing the Wanheda thing aren’t they?
  • Where is Luna?
  • Am I alone in seeing the Jackson/Miller interaction as flirting?
  • Speaking of Miller, where the heck is Bryan?
  • I’m so glad Bellamy saved Riley so he can randomly assert things. That was totes worth that rover field trip wasn’t it?
  • I would have liked more Emori and Niylah

Working Theories

Could Be Cool: Luna will come back for Raven and go with her into space so that she doesn’t have to die alone. She will help Raven find true peace before the end.

Wouldn’t Surprise Me: Clarke is still going to end up with the flame; she may take it forcefully rather than go through the ceremony.

(What Feels Like) Total Crack: They’re actually going to have Grounders survive Primefaya, not just Skaikru.

Have something other than absurd theories you want to discuss that might take more than a comment? Join us in the forum! And don’t forget to tune in next week for Octavia killing more Grounders, but this time for something other than revenge!

Featured Image Courtesy of The CW

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