Thursday, June 20, 2024

The Four Horsemen Would Be Better Without Jaha

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The 100 Season 4 Episode 3 Review, “The Four Horsemen”

The apocalypse is coming, guys, and it’s sooner than we thought last week (but not sooner than I thought based on what we saw in Episode 1). Last night, “The Four Horsemen” focused the harbingers of the apocalypse, like in the book of Revelation: pestilence, war, famine, and death. The good news? Octavia is officially the Polis fixer, and I’m not even mad about it. It’s pretty awesome, tbh.

What Happened

We open with horse number three: famine. Bellamy, Raven, and Clarke talk the long hours working to fix up Arkadia and the need for rationing, but at least Niylah (um, where is she?) is helping them preserve what they bring back from hunting. Bellamy doesn’t want to be one of the 100 survivors; Clarke changes the subject. Nyko shows up with Flukru and horse number one, pestilence. Abby, who made it back to Arkadia off screen, diagnoses Flukru with acute radiation sickness. Nyko and Luna deliver the bad news that the fish are dying in the ocean. Clarke looks sad that “it’s already here”(I could have told you that in Ep. 1 when the pyramid blew, sweetie).

In Polis, Octavia sharpens her sword (she’s an assassin now, she must show this off by always having a sword out in the open) when Roan comes up to ask her to take care of something the way she took care of Ambassador Rafael (why does he know this??). It seems someone stole the flame from his quarters (how?), and Roan wants her to find it so that Trikru and the rest of the clans don’t rebel (horse number two: war). Also, apparently flamekeepers are religious fanatics, and he thinks Clarke did it. Indra says she’s proud of Octavia for being an assassin, but she doesn’t look like it.

Meanwhile, Murphy and Emori have found a cave to hole up in but are also worried about horse number three (famine). Emori gets mad that he had nonconsensual sex with Ontari (oh wow, they actually brought this up; I’m kind of impressed). Murphy said he had no choice; she doesn’t reply. He plans to go back to Arkadia and steal food.

Good news at Arkadia (though actually not), Flukru is dying from poisoning brought on by eating irradiated fish and not from the atmosphere. In another room, Raven tells Bellamy and Clarke they actually have 2 months or less left. She wants to talk about making a plan, including writing down a list of 100 to save (she has a good point), but Clarke doesn’t want to deal with it now.

The sound of Jaha stealing the rover interrupts them. See, he knows they can only house a hundred people (he’s an engineer you know, as he reminds us again). He claims he found information on a doomsday cult that had a bunker to house more people. Raven focuses on making repairs and doesn’t want Jaha to take the rover out on a wild goose chase that will delay an already crunched repair cycle. Clarke tells her she’ll make the list if the bunker isn’t real, so Raven lets her and Bellamy go with Jaha to find it.

We get to watch a video of the cult leader preaching for a while (I guess it keeps the characters from talking to each other?), and he sounds a lot like Jaha. Bellamy and Clarke call him a fanatic. Jaha retorts that “maybe he’s just a leader trying to do whatever it takes to save his people” (screw you, Jaha). Murphy shows up at Arkadia. While stealing food, he overhears Abby and Raven arguing about using radiation meds on the dying Flukru. Raven thinks they should save them for living in the bunker; Abby wants to use them now. Murphy steals the meds to give to Abby to save a Grounder girl named Adria. Jackson explains how to swallow pills to her.

In Polis, a masked girl fiddles with the flame as Octavia tracks her down. Octavia runs into a Trishanakru dude, who tries to take her out, but Ilian stops him, saying that she’s only after the tech (why/how does he know this??). The masked girl decides to run up the stairs to the flame sanctuary in Polis tower (though I actually think the writers forgot this was not on the ground floor). The girl removes her hood. She wears a necklace that looks like the flame; it’s important you notice this. She beats Octavia in a fight because she recognizes Octavia’s moves. Surprise! She’s Indra’s daughter Gaia, a true believer in whatever vague religion surrounds the flame. She apparently left Trikru to find natblida and thinks her mother betrayed the faith (why?). Suddenly, people are pounding on the doors but instead of running, Octavia has a plan.

Pictured: The 100 writers believing we’re going to be fooled by their ‘sneakiness’.

Ilian busts into the sanctuary with a bunch of people to steal the flame. He takes Gaia’s pack and shatters the chip while Gaia cries. After Ilian leaves, Octavia sweeps up the remains of the flame, but wait! It was actually Gaia’s necklace (was anyone fooled??) and hands Gaia the real flame. Gaia leaves with the flame; Indra leaves with Octavia (her ‘true’ daughter according to Gaia). Octavia is a clever girl and decides to blame the theft on Trishanakru to save Gaia. Back in Arkadia, Adria is dying despite the stolen meds. Raven finds out Murphy stole food, and Abby gets snippy about ‘only wasting one dose’. Raven watches Luna give Adria last rites (horse number 4, death) and cries.

The rover arrives at the doomsday cult estate, and he notices there are no insects, a bad sign according to Raven. Jaha tells Bellamy Clarke is lucky to have him to center her. Bellamy says it’s the other way around. Jaha tells him he shouldn’t feel bad for the ‘mistakes’ he made (like killing hundreds of people) because he did it to protect his people (NO THAT IS NOT WHAT HAPPENED, SCREW YOU JAHA). He also tells Bellamy to stop beating himself up and forgive himself because as long as his intentions are ‘pure’ (i.e., trying to help/save his people) he doesn’t need redemption (SERIOUSLY. SCREW. YOU. JAHA). Bellamy says he’ll see him in hell if he’s wrong.

Off in the trees somewhere else, Clarke finds the bunker, but it’s sealed from the inside. Bellamy uses his head and tells them they should use the rover to help open the door. It works, but they only find dead people (horse number 4) inside because the bunker wasn’t properly sealed. I guess Raven was right, you dipwads.

Octavia brings the broken piece of Gaia’s necklace to Roan, claiming that one of the looters stole it, whose head she brought. Roan hopes he doesn’t have to use the sword (horse #2, war) to keep people in line. Murphy returns to Emori, and they decide to make themselves useful so that they’ll end up on the right side of the door.

Clarke makes the list (because Raven was right) and it’s a really emotional process for her. She struggles with putting down the last name. Bellamy is 99, but she doesn’t want to put her own name. He does it for her. Bellamy says they should put it away and hope they don’t have to use it. Clarke is surprised he’s still so hopeful. Clarke hides the list and goes for a walk. She finds Luna, who is starting to heal on her own. Abby wants to run tests but soon figures out that its Luna’s nightblood that’s helping her heal.

Next week: Jasper finds the list and suddenly cares that Clarke is deciding who lives and who dies…even though he wants to die. I guess he hates Clarke that much still?


This wasn’t entirely awful. I actually enjoyed some parts of this episode; there are some interesting characters whose backstories are woefully terse and I want more. Like, I want to see Niylah, not just hear that she’s helping out (though I also want to know what Clarke did to get her to help…).

I also want to know more about the religion surrounding the flame. We got a few tantalizing hints last season, and again tonight, but we still know little about it. It actually sounds like neat world-building. Is this more than a Trikru religion? Why does Gaia think Indra betrayed it by…living like a chief? Not looking for natblida? That part wasn’t explained. We know Indra chose a warrior’s life and wanted that for her daughter (hence why Gaia calls Octavia Indra’s ‘true’ daughter), but not why Gaia would consider that a betrayal of the faith. I like Gaia. Her tension with her mother, and now Octavia, is the kind of thing I live for. I want more of that and less Bellamy being told not to feel bad (I’ll come back to that, don’t worry). I also want to understand why Indra looked so conflicted about Octavia being an assassin.

What makes less sense? Hearing so much about Mr. Doomsday when that plot fizzled out like a wet matchstick. The same thing happened last week. Two weeks in a row we’ve gotten random rover field trips that include characters and situations that will likely never come up again. Bellamy’s trip last week accomplished nothing but giving Arkadia more mouths to feed and no generator. There’s a smaller pool of survivors now, but that could have been accomplished by having no generator and no field trip in the first place. Plus, the show went out of it’s way to establish Riley as a character we should care about because Bellamy and Clarke do…only to have him disappear this episode.

Me trying to find Riley like.

This week, there’s yet another pointless trip to find a completely useless McGuffin bunker. The only thing that happens on these trips is that Bellamy gets to be a decent human being (in a way that makes no sense) and be told he shouldn’t feel bad anymore. So really, the field trips are how they’re trying to ‘redeem’ Bellamy. It’s a laudable goal, but the execution is nonsense because nothing happens other than said pep talks. The writers are so obviously shoving Bellamy’s redemption arc down our throats with these otherwise pointless field trips rather than letting it develop in a plot relevant, organic way.

Side note, why not bring Raven back to see if the doomsday bunker was more in shape than Arkadia? Maybe it would take less work to repair that one. It could save time and manpower that could then be used to find food and/or build a hydrogenerator, or something else like it.

Anyway, back to Bellamy. He could have helped Murphy steal the meds or stood with Abby against Raven. He could have worked alongside the Arkadians patching the ship without complaining, maybe even helped a worker who fainted from low blood sugar due to rationing. We could get a scene of him struggling right along with Clarke to come up with the list, with him encouraging her when she got emotional and reminding her she’s trying hard to help them survive. Or, he could be tending the sick girl in the med bay if we need gratuitous Bellamy being nice to children shots. We did not need a pompous, self-righteous Jaha coming along and telling him to stop feeling guilty.

Speaking of which, screw Jaha. Just. Screw him. I’m so angry with all the self righteous justifications for being an jerk that came out of him tonight. He has zero guilt, zero shame, zero remorse for any of the horrible things that happened because of his need to assuage his guilt about the Cull and his son’s death. Bellamy’s ‘pure’ intentions are his redemption? Screw that.

That wasn’t even what happened. Bellamy wasn’t trying to ‘save’ people. The Trikru ‘army’ was not an army. It was a defensive advance guard sent by Lexa to protect Skaikru from Azgeda. The whole time I was listening to Jaha reinterpret what happened, all I could think of was “this is what alternative facts look like”. Only Jaha isn’t being painted as manipulative. I have a sneaking suspicion we’re supposed to believe him. The writers are trying to rewrite what happened in S3 to justify Bellamy and they’re using a remorseless Jaha to do it.

Let me remind you just what Jaha needs to feel bad about: Raven’s graphic self harm to manipulate Abby; Luna’s waterboarding; the death and torture of dozens of people, both Grounder and Skaikru; Abby torturing her own daughter; Ontari’s head being smashed in. He directly participated or caused all of these events in his fanatical campaign to erect the City of Light. He sanctioned torture as a legitimate means of accomplishing these goals by giving ALIE the logical loophole around free will and her directive to minimize human pain. And he does not feel the slightest tinge of guilt. He believes he does not need redemption because he was doing it for ‘pure’ reasons. Hell, Marcus Kane feels more remorse for what happened last season, and he was one of the last to join ALIE’s forces. I’m just…I really hate Jaha rignt now.

What’s worse is they’re trying to equate Jaha with Clarke (and Gaia peripherally). Jaha drew direct parallels between his own experience with ‘tough choices’ and Clarke’s last episode. Roan comment that “the flamekeepers are religious fanatics” when he refers to Clarke parallels Jaha’s self identification with/justification of the doomsday cult leader, whom Bellamy calls a religious fanatic. The implication, then, is that Jaha and Clarke are no different. But that’s bs. Jaha may have begun the season in a similar situation to where Clarke is now, but after multiple awful, agonized over decisions to sacrifice some people to save others that result in a visceral weight of guilt on Clarke’s shoulders whereas Jaha has only solidified himself in his self-justification, telling me they’re the same is ludicrous. They are not the same. Stop telling me they are. This is “there are no good guys” all over again.

Similarly, the show’s attempts at grey morality end up treating the audience like they’re stupid. I don’t need Abby sniping at Raven to know that Raven making the decision to save the pills for later was hard. I don’t need Jasper yelling at Clarke (next episode) to know that her writing that list was one of the hardest things she’s ever done. She cried her way through making it. Jasper yelling at her only paints the decision as unambiguously morally wrong, not morally grey. Same with Raven’s focus on repairing the bunker over short term alleviations of pain and/or discomfort.

Raven is actually making ethically complex decisions in the name of saving people. It’s very Slytherin, and I totally dig it. She, more than anyone, feels the weight of saving everybody because she is the one in charge of the actual repairs. She both knows how short their time frame is and how much more work has to be done to save anyone. Of course she is going to make prioritizing actually finishing the bunker. It’s the only way that anybody has any chance of survival. Which, why is she the only one acting like they’re all going to die in less than two months?

Anyway, it bothers me that despite all this, the show frames her decisions as not just complicated, but wrong. The context alone is enough to communicate how hard these decisions are and how morally grey. But it’s as if the writers don’t trust us to get that. Rather than letting the situations stand on their own, they feel the need to explicate how ‘bad’ Raven is for prioritizing saving medication for when it will actually do some good. The same will hold for Clarke making the list. Rather than letting that genuinely emotional scene of her shaking and almost crying her way through writing it, we will get Jasper yelling at her next week, claiming she’s ‘playing god’ even though we know that’s not what happens. Presenting a morally complicated decision as wrong/bad undermines and muddies the message rather than reinforcing it

Come on writers, trust your audience to get it. We can see how complex these situations are without you telling us how to feel about it.

The existence of Raven’s and Clarke’s situations alongside the ‘redemption’ forcefeeding arc muddies the waters further. On the one hand, Jaha tells Bellamy, and the audience, that they acted appropriately. On the other, characters like Abby and Jasper tell us Clarke and Raven are wrong. So…participating in the murder and/or torture of hundreds of people is justified if it’s done the ‘pure’ motivation of saving/protecting your people. But making a list (that Clarke hopes not to use) and refusing to give medication to a dying child that might not work (and, in fact, doesn’t work), is evil and wrong. Bellamy needs to stop beating himself up for the ‘mistake’ of murdering 300 people, but Clarke totally deserves Jasper yelling at her for making a list that kind of has to be made unless the situation drastically changes. This is not ‘morally ambiguious’, it’s morally backward.

On to worldbuilding and plot explanations. I don’t know enough about the hard science of small species die out (like fish or insects) in the wake of nuclear disaster to tell if their explanation works, but I’m suspicious. What I was able to find pointed to some small species die out, but only for animals, not insects. Either way, it’s reasonable enough from what I could find. The explanation for the sudden appearance of a new doomsday bunker is likewise thin but workable. If you squint. The adults could have at least told a couple of the kids about it when they landed to check it out, but it’s not a glaringly obnoxious problem. More of a shrug.

The political ‘intrigue’ in Polis continues to baffle me. Not because it’s complicated but because it’s legitimately confusing. This week we got yet more reasons for Grounders to question Roan’s rule. His leadership is very shaky apparently, though this has yet to be followed through on. Note to writers, telling us people will question his leadership is not very tension inducing if you keep saying it over and over but nothing happens. That just makes you the writers who cried “coup”. Like when you have Roan “My people want an Ice Nation King.” but at the same time their loyalty is so tenuous they’ll lose faith in him if he even slightly deviates from the norm, according to Echo (who was mysteriously absent this episode).

And how do people know that Octavia killed the ambassador? If everyone knows (enough to call her “skairipa”) why has she not been put on trial for violating the treaty and killing an ambassador? Everyone hates Skaikru so much that if Trishanakru knew they would ask for her head, even if it’s just ‘worst kept secret’.

Remember when Raven almost died because of the suspicion of having poisoned Lexa? Or how Clarke would have gotten in huge trouble for trying to murder Nia if Lexa hadn’t killed her after the duel with Roan? Octavia should not be out on the streets if everyone ‘knows’ (or even strongly suspects) she killed Rafael. And that doesn’t even get to how they would even suspect her since the whole point is that she made it look like a natural death.

¯\_(ツ)_/¯ Who needs consistency amirite?

I will admit skairipa is a badass nickname, even if don’t quite understand the linguistics behind it. (Why “death from above”? Wouldn’t “reaper, murderer” be better since that’s the actual meaning of ripa a la Season 2? It’s what they called the Mt. Weather Reapers, which is an interesting call back to Lincoln being a reaper. Anyway, I think of it more as meaning “reaper/murderer from Skaikru” but that’s just me. I see you eyeballing me. I’m a linguist, of course I’m going to think about this.) Octavia has officially joined the ranks of Skaikru with cool Grounder nicknames. Can we have a Clarke/Octavia team up now? Wanheda as the leader with Skairipa as her right hand. I need this in my life.

But speaking of things no one has any right to know, why does Ilian know that Gaia has the tech, or that Octavia is after it? The whole point of Roan going to Octavia was to keep anyone from finding out the Flame was missing. So how did Ilian find out it was stolen and Octavia was after it? Did he just happen to see Gaia staring at it in the market? (which was a really stupid choice on her part). And why would he choose to go after Octavia instead of confronting Roan and undermining his rule? Ilian only wanted to smash it, which is a weirdly single minded focus something he didn’t care about last week. Does Ilian no longer care about destroying Skaikru? Why not smash the Flame and then blame Skaikru for stealing it? Kill two birds with one stone.

Nothing seems to make sense about the Polis plot, even though it has most of my favorite character moments and interactions this episode (Gaia, Octavia, and Indra). Overall, I just feel like very few of the conflicts are necessary or interesting. I already mentioned the Bellamy redemption field trips (that could be accomplished better in a more plot relevant way), and the overly explained ‘grey’ decision making. They’re neither complex nor compelling. The same applies to the Arkadia medical situation. Adria would have died and Luna survived regardless of Raven’s choice to give or withhold meds, so was the point to make her feel bad for trying to hard to save everyone? Why? And this after Raven called out Clarke for making a tough decision not to tell everyone the whole truth about the bunker last week? Again, why?

When you couple this with Jaha’s patronizing justifications and the failure to trust the audience to read between the lines, the result is a mostly contrived plot with pedantic soapboxing trying to masquerade as something nuanced. But saying you’re complicated doesn’t make it true. Neither does claiming a character ought not to feel bad anymore for murdering hundreds of people. There are a few gems hidden here—Luna’s healing, the Gaia/Octavia/Indra interactions, Clarke’s ability to emote again, Raven’s moral complexity (without the judgment that came with it)—but they’re buried deep and aren’t given the space to breathe and exist on their own.

Last but not least, I do have to mention that I appreciate the show mentioning that what happened with Murphy and Ontari in Polis wasn’t consensual. I’m honestly impressed. I didn’t expect them to ever bring it up again. Granted, I wish it weren’t muddied down with Emori blaming Murphy for what happened to him. The lack of reply when he said he didn’t want it and had no choice is equally troubling, as it leaves open the possibility that her reaction is appropriate and that he might be wrong to say it that way. Still, I choose to believe that is an accident rather than intentional. I do think they were trying to address his rape, even if they didn’t do it as well as I’d like.

Bits & Bobs

  • Lexa Count: 0
  • The Flame Count: I lost count, it was a lot.
  • Niylah! They said her name at least.
  • Octavia is sporting some new, badass looking tats.—Apparently she got them in S3?? Why did we not get more shots of them? I love them.
  • Polis not only has a great inker, but also a great eyebrow salon because Octavia’s brows are consistently on fleek.
  • Gotta kill those children to create pathos, because we must maximize Raven’s guilt (and she would only feel that bad about a child?)
  • Awww, Abby believed in Murphy, though I don’t know why Jackson would use the fact that Murphy’s dad died getting medicine to save him as a mark against Murphy.
  • It’s oddly good to see Clarke so torn, she was basically in shock all of 3B, so it’s nice to see some emotional struggle again.
  • Why did Roan even bother wearing a cloak if he’s just going to take the hood off to talk then put it back on to walk away?
  • The whole flame/necklace really wasn’t sneaky, was anybody fooled by the whole “no that’s not the flame that is a harmless totem…wait, let’s not run away…oh noes they destroyed the flaaaaaaame…wait nevermind.”
  • That’s twice in a row an episode features a Necklace of Significance.

Working Theories

Come on, send me your theories! Even total crack/bs ones will do.

Could be Cool: Gaia gets her own/a bigger arc and ends up joining with Team Skaikru to save the world.

Wouldn’t Surprise Me: Gaia helps find more natblida to do transfusions to help make people more resistant to the radiation.

Total Crack: Octavia dates Gaia Baze/Chirrut style (i.e., true believer mystic/jaded warrior).

Featured Image Courtesy of The CW

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