The 100 Review Season 4 Episode 11: “The Other Side”
Content Warning: This review discusses individual and mass suicide, as depicted on the show.
Surprise! I’m salty about Jaha! Shocking, I know. That’s kind of been a running theme for me this season. I just don’t get why anyone gives him the time of day after everything he’s done. But at least Octavia got to become heda, right? Who cares that it came at the expense of Clarke’s character arc when we have Niylarke snuggles and Blake sibling hugs!
We open in the bunker, with Bellamy yelling at Jaha and Clarke for sealing the bunker. Clarke honestly believes that if Luna had won no one would have survived. Abby interrupts and decides to contact Marcus on the outside. Octavia answers the radio, giving them the news that she won. She also tells them that she found a solution to selecting which members of the clans would survive (offscreen ofc), but they’ll be pissed if they find out Skaikru sealed the bunker. Jaha decides for plot reasons that it’s too dangerous to re-open the bunker and let the Grounders in even though they’re all being sensible about the whole thing. Clarke looks conflicted.
Cut to Becca’s lab, where Raven is talking to Imaginary Becca as she problem solves building a fancy spacesuit to survive longer on her suicidal jaunt to space? Her nose starts bleeding (for the third time that day) and she sees Sinclair before passing out. In Arkadia, Monty is being the mom friend for all the Delinquents who decided to die instead of go to the bunker. Riley ODs on psychedelic tea. Monty plans on leaving for the bunker; Jasper decides to brew kool-aid tea to kill them all before the death wave hits.
In the bunker, Clarke and Abby feel bad about sealing the bunker; Jaha doesn’t give a crap about how they feel. He encourages Clarke to be strong like he is, and she’s totes cool with having a war criminal as a mentor. Murphy agrees to guard Bellamy. In Becca’s lab, Raven’s new alter ego Sinclair won’t let her kill herself, and she agrees to keep fighting. In Arkadia, Monty has his own pep talk with Harper. Unlike Raven, though, she tells Monty that he’s not enough to make her want to live. In Polis, Octavia blackmails Echo into not telling everyone Skaikru sealed the bunker by telling her she knows Echo dishonored the conclave.
In the lab, Imaginary Sinclair helps Raven figure out that if she could restart her brain and purge the ALIE code, she might survive. Imaginary Becca wants her to kill herself as a genius rather than live as ‘normal’ and with pain. Raven decides to choose life (yay! That’s my lil’ birb!). In the bunker, Abby goes to treat Bellamy’s wounds and he convinces her to help him escape. Abby knocks Murphy out with a drug, then they agree to open the door together or die trying.
In the bunker, Niylah shames Clarke about not letting everyone into the bunker, but it’s not enough to keep her from wanting Clarke in her bed. Clarke still believes she’s saving the human race and not just her people (oh, honey). In Polis, Octavia agrees to let the rest of the Grounders enter the temple and learn that Skaikru betrayed them all. Back in the bunker, Abby confronts Jaha and knocks him out when he refuses to open the door. Clarke finds Murphy knocked out and chases after Bellamy. She threatens him with a gun but can’t actually pull the trigger.
Bellamy emerges from the bunker to find Octavia. They hug. Just in time for the other Grounders to arrive, none the wiser that Skaikru had locked them out. Octavia blocks Echo from entering, but Echo faces her impending death like a bamf.
Back at the lab, Raven’s working on getting rid of the ALIE code by submerging in a cold tank and shocking her heart/brain into restarting. She gets a nice ego boost from Imaginary Sinclair. In Arkadia, Jasper commits suicide by tea. They really try to make this a moving scene, but since Jasper has been an utterly selfish dick for two seasons, it doesn’t work. Monty realizes that everyone else took the kool-aid tea and goes in search of Harper, who decided not to die after all.
Raven survives her reset in the lab and radios the rest to let them know she’s alive. In the bunker, Jaha is pissed that Skaikru has to narrow down their survivors down to 100 just like all the Grounder clans did. Gee, if only
Clarke someone had made a list of the most critical personnel necessary for survival in just such a scenario as this. WOULDN’T THAT BE NICE.
Tonight’s Pseudo-Profound Assertion: “How we feel about ourselves is irrelevant, Abby. We all have done things to save our people, unconscionable things. We put our people first, that is how we live with ourselves.” —Jaha
Octavia was able to find a peaceful solution for which Grounders will survive offscreen, but we needed a whole episode devoted to the conclave? After Clarke wanted to find a peaceful solution but Roan arbitrarily said no?
I realized watching this episode that Octavia has become the new Clarke, or at least, who Clarke ought to have been. Octavia became the heda of the coalition via the conclave and chose to save every clan, rather than Clarke taking the flame and doing the same. Octavia became the one to help the Grounders select 100 survivors to enter the bunker, after Clarke was guilted for doing the same thing for Skaikru. Octavia united Grounders and Skaikru into ‘wonkru’, rather than Clarke, whose arc this season seemed to be her continuing Lexa’s legacy in just that way.
As much as I love this trajectory for Octavia, getting it at the expense of Clarke’s character arc hinders my enjoyment of it. Clarke has struggled in all three seasons to see beyond putting Skaikru first and thinking of life in terms of survival. Most of this season set up her arc as learning to aside clan loyalty to perceive Grounders and Skaikru alike as ‘one people’, the way Lexa would have wanted. Roan reminded her of Lexa’s legacy; Niylah reminded her of it. And then the show threw it all away.
It’s not even so much that Clarke didn’t take the flame and become heda. Sidestepping the colonialist implications of that narrative direction was a good choice. It was the careless way in which the show handled the “future of the human race” idea. Last episode, she transitioned from wanting any human clan to survive to claiming that ‘humanity’ = Skaikru. This is, frankly, out of character with the trajectory she’d been on.
Framing her choice as a fear that Luna would survive and let them all die doesn’t actually solve the problem. It may sound reasonable but it relies on the ridiculous assumption that if Luna had won, all the Grounders would have abided by her decision to let no one access the bunker. Because Grounders just really care about following the rules? It’s about as dumb as Echo being shamed into not telling everyone about the bunker because she dishonored the conclave. Why would the Grounders care that she ‘dishonored the conclave’ at this point? They’re all about to die. Who cares if she shot someone with arrows instead of Roan slicing them with a sword?
Having Clarke say “Luna would have let everyone die, I just wanted humanity to survive” over and over doesn’t make it true. And the idea that she would so blindly believe and follow Jaha in this is patently absurd, but I’ll get to that later.
The show has really not handled suicide well, whether individual or mass. Was Harper that guilt ridden? To the point that she’d lie in the cruelest way possible to Monty, only to change her mind? Why not talk about her guilt instead of “I don’t love you enough to live for you”, which…talk about buying into gross stereotypes about people who die by suicide. However unintentional it may be, Harper’s narrative buys into the incorrect assumption that people who die by suicide do it out of selfishness or lack of love for people who care about them.
I can’t even give the writers props for trying to wring whatever meaning they could out of Jasper finally following through on his suicidal impulses. Jasper has been too much of a selfish jerk for two seasons for his death to have any kind of resonance. He survived the end of last season to yell at Clarke, prop up Bellamy, and take bunch of other delinquents with him in his hedonistic nihilism. How Meaningful™. I feel bad for Monty but little else. Monty had to suffer because Jasper and Harper decide to be dicks and the writers don’t know how to handle the topic of suicide with anything approaching sensitivity.
In plot news, we’re back to the list of 100 people. As if the doomsday bunker wasn’t enough redundancy for one season. Precisely what message is this repetition meant to convey? That no matter what they do Skaikru will have the exact same choices to make? Only now Clarke isn’t the one making the list so people will be okay with it? This just brings me back to the observation that Octavia is the new Clarke, only now with people listening to her.
Then again, they may not actually repeat the making of a list. Knowing this show, they probably will hold a lottery in the end even though that’s a terrible idea. Relying on a random drawing of the only people who know how to operate any of the machinery in the bunker when the other 1100 people who are living in it are technophobic is, quite frankly, idiotic.
If the future of the human race relies on them all surviving, making a list of systems that need to be operated and the necessary personnel to man them isn’t cutthroat. It’s just common sense. With a lottery system you could, for example, end up with 20 soldiers and no medic (given that there are only two known medics in Skaikru). The absolute last thing you would want to do is leave this up to random chance. A lottery might sound fair, but it’s the quickest way for every single human being to die short of them all not living in the bunker in the first place.
More than anything, I wonder why anyone still listens to Jaha at all. He’s a known war criminal, torture advocate, and all around unfeeling, unrepentant jerk. He should not have been in charge of helping Skaikru get Arkadia ready at the beginning of the season much less the de facto chancellor in the bunker. Last time I checked, Marcus Kane had been elected chancellor of Skaikru so…
Why does no one seem to remember that Jaha led the ALIE movement and advocated brutal torture, self-harm, and violence? Given what ALIE made Raven do to convert her, Abby ought to be the first in line to wave two giant middle fingers in Jaha’s face whenever he opens his mouth. Then there’s the whole ALIE forced her to torture her own child thing. And all because Jaha found the torture loophole and convinced ALIE to use it.
Precisely zero people should be giving Jaha the time of day in making any kind of decisions about the future of Skaikru. He makes zero apologies for any of the decisions he’s made. In fact, he spends a good portion of the time soliloquizing about how everything he or anyone else does is fine so long as they do it ‘for their people’. Is he meant to be sympathetic? The ethics of this show have been so muddied for so long that it’s hard to parse out exactly how individual actions are meant to land.
Bits & Bobs
- Lexa Count: 0
- The Flame: 0
- Lincoln count: 0
- Niylarke cuddles were nice, but felt rather perfunctory.
- Death Toll: 20ish(?) Skaikru: Riley, Jasper, the rest of the Arkadia Delinquents who committed suicide; unspecified number Grounders who were not chosen to enter the bunker, at least several hundred, I’m guessing.
- The tranq Abby uses looks a lot like an epi pen.
- Despite my nitpicking, Henry Ian Cusick did do a great job directing this episode given what he had.
- How the hell is Raven going to get to land, much less the bunker, in time?
- Who was Murphy this episode? He of all people would understand Bellamy’s desire to get Octavia because of what so recently happened with Emori.
- Sloppy pacing this episode, the resolution was rushed and anticlimactic.
- Yay Raven! (side note: she has gorgeous eyelashes)
Could Be Cool: The writers find a way to carve something meaningful out of all this repetition.
Wouldn’t Surprise Me: Monty and Harper will rescue Raven, but the show will only address the time constraints minimally, if at all.
Total Crack: Jaha realizes he’s a jerk and voluntarily leaves himself off the list.
Tune in next week for Marcus arguing they should hold a lottery as if that was a good idea and we hadn’t already tread this ground at the beginning of the season!
VACATION ALERT: I will be gone for the next two weeks on vacation, but don’t despair! We will have someone doing basic recaps of The 100 while I’m gone, and as soon as I’m back, I’ll be whipping out a retrospective of the season. There will be plenty of salt to go around, I promise! See you on the other side!