Sunday, May 26, 2024

Skaikru/Grounder Ships to Watch in Season 4

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Spoiler alert for The 100 through 4×07, “Gimme Shelter”

From Linctavia to Clanya to Clexa, The 100 has given us an array of intriguing relationships between Grounders and Skaikru ever since season 1. While they all carried kernels if not boulders of suspicion, they all ultimately had to be grounded (sorry not sorry) in trust. The three ships mentioned above, of course, are all RIP thanks to the death of the Grounder involved. However, similar dynamics are still in play in a variety of other cross-cultural pairings. Here are some of my favorites at the halfway point of this season. These relationships run the gamut from romantic to antagonistic and involve varying degrees of familiarity and intimacy. However, they all caught my attention by evolving and filling the needs of some of our most embattled characters.

John Murphy/Emori (OTP)

I can’t say enough about these two, honestly. They are pretty much made for each other. Both have been cast out by their clans and lack a sense of belonging, which they have found in each other. Both have adapted a survivor’s mindset and resorted to a life of crime to stay alive. They both have suffered abuses under a variety of powerful people and have very cynical outlooks on human beings and the future. And in each other, they have found a person to trust and hope for the future. A home. But enough of my fangirling, let’s get down to it.

Memori’s first interaction this season is wonderful on multiple levels. We learn that Emori took the chip so Jaha would take her to John (can we talk about how she calls him John? It warms my cold dead heart). In this interaction, we get a glimpse of both of their insecurities again. Emori proved John wrong last season when he said, “In this world, when people leave, they don’t come back,” but they were torn apart again immediately after that, when he was captured and taken to Polis.

Now, he sees her stocking up to leave and assumes she’s bailing on him. But Emori wants to leave Polis, not John, because she fears being a frikdreina will get her killed in the city. Satisfied that she still wants to be with him, John takes her by the hand – the mutant hand – and offers her a home and community in Arkardia. Emori is skeptical because of John’s spotty history with his own people, but these are things she lacks and seems to want deep down.

Due to the Azgeda/Skaikru conflict scaring them off, they don’t end up working with Skaikru until 4×04. Emori brings Luna and the medical team to Becca’s island on her boat. Once again we see their insecurities come to the surface, first when Raven tells John that he’s not fooling anyone and is still a dick, then when Emori comes to the line frikdreina cannot cross. This time, John only offers a hand and silently coaxes her across the line – into A.L.I.E.’s gunfire, but that’s not the point. Taken metaphorically, this is a moment when Emori embraces the possibility that she could be accepted despite her deformity, even by people other than John. The group being riddled with bullets probably didn’t help that sense of insecurity, as it’s possible she thought it was her appearance that brought on the attack (in reality any warm body would have set it off).

We see this outsider’s mentality pop up again in the most recent episode. Emori fears that her deformity and being the most expendable Grounder will make the Griffins choose her to undergo the radiation testing – a fair assumption, as her job of getting them to the island was done. Learning more of Emori’s backstory in this episode was painful, especially the scene where she tells Clarke she was “thrown away like someone’s garbage”. Did anyone else just want to give her a hug?

She is a super underrated and underused character, and I hope that changes, both so her character can develop more and so we get more Memori. It was lovely to see her in a few scenes without John this episode, being used as more than just a love interest. But still, these two are so cute together. How touchy they were in the kitchen made me giddy, and John’s “tell me everything”… well, I may have swooned.

“Wanna taste something even better than your cooking?”

Bellamy Blake/Echo kom Azgeda (OTP)

This is the controversial one that will get me hate mail (come at me, bro). But whether you ship it romantically or not, it’s been one of the most interesting Skaikru/Grounder relationships to watch this season. Bellamy, who has always been wary of Grounders, came to trust Echo after they saved each other’s lives in Mount Weather. This was illustrated by how he immediately came to her aid and believed her story when she showed up at the Mountain in season 3.

But that trust and character development was dashed when it was revealed that her supposed intel had been a trick to lure him away before the bombing. This event was in fact the impetus for Bellamy to join forces with Pike and escalate the Skaikru/Grounder conflict. Echo’s betrayal (as he saw it) had a huge impact on him last season, so despite how little time they’ve actually spent together, he has a lot of feelings about her down there.

In the season premiere, we hear Echo’s take on her own duplicity last season: whatever else happened, she saved Bellamy’s life. We also discover that she still trusts him to some extent when she agrees to negotiate only with him, but that goes down the drain when she realizes that the negotiation was a ruse to allow Clarke and Abby access to Roan. Though Echo’s lie saved Bellamy, and Bellamy’s lie ends up saving Echo’s king, they are naturally wary of each other after this.

Echo: Do you think we’ll ever be able to trust each other again?

Bellamy: I doubt it.

This exchange at the end of the episode illustrates their tenuous relationship at this point and seems to set up a potential reconciliation later this season. There has not been too much movement on that front yet, between Echo holding Bellamy hostage and nearly (accidentally) killing Octavia, but 4×05 gave them a chance to talk things out a bit and realize they may have more in common than they think. It has been teased by Tasya Teles that Echo’s relationship with Bellamy continues to challenge her throughout the season, so I believe she is in for a redemption arc and we will see her side with Bellamy over Azgeda at some point.

What I find very intriguing about Echo is that while she keeps behaving in ways that are antagonistic toward Bellamy, she also tries to protect him. This is not a new development, but it’s more evident in season four. She spares his life once by giving his people a chance to disarm and save him in the premiere, this after so easily slitting the ambassador’s throat. She does so again by only killing his hunting partner for show after capturing them both. Finally, she reneges on a promise to kill him too if he doesn’t get out of her way and allow her to shoot Riley.

She is also loathe to cause him emotional pain, as evidenced by her reaction to Octavia’s supposed death and her hesitance to tell him about it. Echo looks an uncomfortable mix of crushed and awkward as she watches him mourn, knowing it was her fault. Her “It was a good death” is a terrible attempt to comfort him, but she does try.

It is unclear why, but it appears that Bellamy means a lot to Echo. She makes a point of letting him know that she is glad Octavia survived, ostensibly in hopes of mending their relationship. Bellamy does not seem as attached at this point, though he appears to understand that Echo has a soft spot for him. But Echo being in his life could potentially benefit him down the road in more ways than keeping him off her kill list. Nothing can change what happened in the harvest chamber, and Echo seems to believe Bellamy is a good person, unlike many people, including Bellamy himself. And if she can see the goodness in him, maybe he can learn to as well. His feelings of failure rise to the surface in 4×07, with him lamenting how many people he could not save. But he did save Echo, and I don’t think she’ll let him forget that.

Raven Reyes/Luna kom Floukru (OTP)

As a longtime Doctor Mechanic (Abby/Raven), Braven (Bellamy/Raven), and Princess Mechanic (Clarke/Raven) shipper, this one caught me by surprise. The Sea Mechanic (Luna/Raven) showdown on the beach in 4×04 and their subsequent teamwork to disable the drones made me ship it, but all the Doctor Mechanic hand holding and face touching in 4×05 pulled me back. Then came 4×06. Where the hell did that come from? That first Sea Mechanic scene was suuuuuper gay, like even if all the comforting whispers and sweet caresses were not, the intimate way it was shot framed it as such. And Luna holding Raven as she seized on the floor in the final scene killed me. Has Raven not suffered enough?

“Aw, crap. I think I’m kinda gay.”

This is honestly what makes the ship so appealing. Raven has had a harder time than just about anyone on this show, and she has never been the type to try to make peace with her circumstances. Which I honestly get, as someone else living with an acquired disability of sorts. Why should she try to come to terms with pain and loss she did not deserve, or accept that she is now capable of less? The moment when she is thrashing in Luna’s arms is a metaphor for her state throughout much of the show, refusing to stop fighting. But Luna was able to calm her down in that moment.

Really, Luna is the perfect person to help Raven find peace within herself. Luna made a haven for those who were done fighting, for those looking for peace, because she needed one after the things she’d done. And Raven may not be the type to give up fighting entirely, but she is weary and needs a place where she feels safe, where she doesn’t need to fight. Luna, with her calming presence, comforting touches, and deep understanding of pain, can provide that for her.

I am totally behind this ship now because they will probably never give us Doctor Mechanic anyway – Kabby has always looked like endgame. Abby/Raven was probably supposed to be an alternative mother/daughter dynamic, but they have such great chemistry and such great eye sex that it’s hard not to ship. Sea Mechanic on the other hand is an F/F ship involving Raven that actually looks promising. However, I am still wary after 3×07, and my cynical side says this could just be more queerbaiting. Only time will tell.

Clarke Griffin/Niylah kom Trikru (ForNowTP)

I’m adoring the Niylarke dynamic right now. Niylah is the perfect person for Clarke to be involved with at this point. She understands and respects that Clarke is still grieving Lexa, and she is such a chill, caring person. I really enjoyed the two main scenes they’ve had together, thus far. Clarke trying to come up with some reason to delay Niylah’s departure in the first one was effing adorable. “Um, the… the radio! Yes. Did you charge the radio?” Besides it being a cute moment, it suggested Clarke was in need of some comfort that she knew Niylah specifically could give her.

Cue the second scene, post-sexytimes. I flat out loved how Niylah did not tiptoe around the subject of Lexa, going so far as to say Lexa lives on through Clarke. And there seems to be no jealousy whatsoever involved. My absolute favorite line between this ship so far this season comes from this same scene. “Clarke, I’m not asking for anything more than this moment. That’s how I live”. That is such a good description of who Niylah is and why she is the perfect person for Clarke right now. I don’t see this being a long-term thing (although that would be interesting), but it the meantime I am eating it up like Niylah is eating Clarke.

“Sorry, but we’re both blondes. Those ships never last.”

John Murphy/Luna kom Floukru (BroTP)

Oh my god, the scene between these two at the lab broke my heart. John, like Raven, is a character I never thought I’d see interacting with Luna, but if anyone knows a good redemption story, it’s her. And as much character development as we’ve seen John go through since the dropship landed, he is still someone who needs redemption in the eyes of others. But, more importantly, he needs it in his own eyes. Luna senses this and attempts to ease the burden by pointing out the good things she’s seen him do, including stealing medicine for Adria (how the writers utilized his backstory in this storyline was brilliant, by the way).

Luna gets John Murphy, something few people even try to do. While most characters don’t even bother to peel back the first layer, Luna sees right to his core without even trying. Her dialogue suggests that this ability has a lot to do with the similarities in their pasts.

Luna: I know what it’s like to hate yourself, John. […] If I found peace, you can.

He brushes off her words for now despite the way they obviously resonate with him, but like Raven, I can see John finding a safe place of sorts in Luna and a way to move beyond his checkered past.

Also, I just love that Luna calls him by his first name, as I mentioned with Memori. The people who call him John always seem to be addressing him on another level, a more intimate and less judgmental one. There is a lot of judgment associated with the name Murphy. Luna, like Emori, Abby, and Jaha, is tapping into something beyond the sarcastic façade, looking beyond the part of him that has been judged so much (whether deserved or not).

Octavia Blake/Niylah kom Trikru (?)

I don’t know what the hell this is or in what way I ship it, but I love it and want to see more of them touching. This is not a pair I anticipated interacting much at all, but since Niylah showed up in 4×05 she’s spent more time caring for Octavia than she has with any other character. And how cute was it when Clarke ran to Niylah after she was pulled from the fire and Niylah told her to go help Octavia? Hopefully Octavia will soon return to Arkadia so we can see more of these two together. Octavia has a tendency to push people away, feeling like she belongs nowhere. But she is comfortable with Niylah, and that says something.

“Lower, Niylah.”

Clarke Griffin/Roan kom Azgeda (BroTP)

These two always have such amazing scenes together, especially ones involving negotiations. Roan trying to convince Clarke to kill Lexa and Clarke trying to convince Roan to kill his mother proved that back in season 3. More recently, their negotiations in 4×01 and 4×05 were some of the highlights of the episodes. In fact, arguably the best moment in 4×05 is the chess match of sorts in the canyon: Clarke reveals herself and thus her knowledge of the attack -> Roan refuses her offer for a talk and has his archers target her -> Clarke has her snipers target him in return -> Roan reveals the Skaikru hostages.

Roan: Your move, Wanheda.

Thankfully they were able to negotiate once more and dissolve the stalemate, but it was plenty fun to watch in the meantime.

Both Roan and Clarke are smart and persuasive, but they also respect each other and generally trust that the other has good intentions. Roan believes Clarke’s story about the radiation instead of assuming she’s lying to him to keep her people from being slaughtered. When Clarke is warned of Roan coming with his army, she assumes there must have been a misunderstanding and goes to meet him for a peaceful discussion. She goes to the cave with him alone, knowing full well that he could kill her easily if he felt like it. While Clarke has always had a level of trust of Grounders that not many of her fellow Skaikru share, her willingness to trust Roan after the events of last season is especially meaningful now.

So much in the series hinges on this relationship. As time winds down to the apocalypse, they are going to need each other more than ever. I enjoyed watching this pair working as a team in 4×06, and now that all of humanity’s fate is tied together, perhaps they can continue that instead of going back to being tenuous allies with competing interests. Not that that lacked entertainment value.

All these ships hold the potential for growth this season, for both the ships themselves and the characters involved. I’m excited to see where they go, and if any of them survive the apocalypse. Word has it that season 4 has a high death toll, but I can’t help my investment in these characters and their compelling dynamics. I’m crossing my fingers in the meantime, hoping this scrappy bunch of survivors keep on survivin’.

Images Courtesy of the CW

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