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The 100 Discussion: War comes to the valley in 'Shifting Sands'

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May 23, 2018

It wouldn't be an episode of The 100 if it wasn't packed full of power struggles, shifting alliances, and religious fanatics, and "Shifting Sands" more than delivered on all fronts. As WonKru makes their way out of the bunker and into the slightly radioactive sunlight, the struggle with the Eligius crew is thrown into even sharper relief.

As everyone struggles to find their place in a hostile world, we're here to help you sort through all of your feels. We're Alyssa Fikse and Jessica Toomer, so let's dig into all of the drama on the latest episode of The 100.

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Familial Bonds

Alyssa: Gladiator cults are NO JOKE. We’d gotten a taste of what the new world order was in that bunker, but for some reason seeing them all fall into line so fanatically above the surface was even more jarring to me.

Jessica: Yeah, it’s giving me all kinds of Wild Wild Country vibes right now. On the one hand, I understand the bonds of loyalty forged down in the bunker. That place was literal hell on Earth and they weren’t going to make it out alive without becoming a united force. On the other hand, this symbiotic being Wonkru has become is all kinds of problematic. It’s the worst kind of herd mentality and as much as Diyoza envies that blind loyalty, I can’t believe it’s going to last now that everyone’s topside.

Alyssa: I guess I should have expected that Clarke wouldn’t immediately be seen as the leader anymore — she has been on the outs for six years — but I was struck by how little Octavia listened to her counsel. I mean, she has been surviving in this brutal environment largely on her own for years, so you would think that they would be more interested in what experience she had to share. But Octavia is going to Red Queen it up all over the place. I get that she had to maintain order somehow in the bunker, but this kind of unwillingness to hear anyone else is going to be a problem.

Jessica: Look, no judgment for what happened in the bunker, but that was survival. Yes, you’re still trying to keep your people alive by taking this valley back, but maybe it’s time to start thinking long-term? How do you want to restart the world? Because let’s be real, with the number of people willing to follow her, it’s Octavia that’s creating this new world order. Her eagerness for war, which is how it read in this episode, is reminiscent of the old Octavia which tells me, as much as her situation has changed — with an entire army willing to die for her — her approach to conflict hasn’t. Also, I hate seeing my mom Clarke and Captain Space Daddy sidelined. It’s like they’re the unpopular kids at school eating lunch by themselves in the cafeteria or something.

Alyssa: I am really glad that the writers immediately established that even though there has been literal space and time between them, Clarke and Bellamy are still hella in sync. These two are such a team (I’m not crying, you’re crying). I think they realize how volatile this situation is, and they’re still pretty unsure of how they’re going to fix it, but no matter what they’re going to fix it together. I think they both assumed that time kind of stood still in that bunker and that they would be able to assume their old leadership roles without any pushback, but things have moved on without them. It’s going to be a real struggle for anyone who has lived outside of the bunker to find their place in this new society. I mean, Miller is completely on board, and Miller and Bellamy were pretty close.

Jessica: Miller ignoring Clarke and then Bellamy literally broke my heart. Dude is fully indoctrinated by this point. But at least we had some Bellarke action to soften the blow. That fireside chat was yet another call-back to season one and the all-important "Unity Day" episode. I really appreciated that Clarke was the one to point out Octavia’s ability to lead and to slap Bellamy over the head a bit. Sis is a damn queen now, she doesn’t need you lecturing her, no matter how warped her gladiator groupies have become. On the other hand, I’m a bit disappointed we didn’t get to see them talk more about their time apart. It’s so like Clarke to shrug off her suffering for the betterment of the group but girl needs to let some of that angst out before she snaps.

Alyssa: The fireside chat, while brief, was easily my favorite part of the episode. There is such a deep foundation of caring there, and we were truly blessed. Plus, it was such a small gesture, but Clarke giving Bellamy her rations hurt my heart in a good way. Like, he’s been living on space algae. The man deserves a meal.

But on a less heartwarming note, every single interaction between the Blakes makes me more and more uneasy. Bellamy’s newfound pacifism is not going to fit in well with the gladiators. I want to talk about Indra, though. She is so close to Octavia, and I feel like even though she understands why Octavia has done what she’s done, she still can see that things are going to have to change a bit. I hope she will have a moderating influence on the Red Queen in the days to come because she seems to be the only who remembers what life was before Praimfiya.

Jessica: God, the bond between Bellamy and Octavia is so confusing, fam. Like, this kid took care of his sister up in space for YEARS. He risked his own life to make sure she was safe. Sure, it sucked living under the floor, but that decision wasn’t on him. Then he attempts murder to make sure he can come down to Earth to be with her. Again, his protective instincts have caused him to make some terrible decisions when it comes to Octavia, but stones and glass houses, sis. Our Hot Topic Queen isn’t innocent either.

At the end of the day, that’s your family. How she can push him aside and even threaten his life like that is beyond me. But you’re right, Indra seems to be the level-headed one in this cult — who would’ve ever thought I’d be typing those words — and I think she sees the return of Bellamy as a possible wake-up call for Octavia. Unfortunately, Octavia does what Octavia wants so I’m not sure how much sway her older brother is going to have, even with his new beard and newfound maturity.

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Death Comes To The Valley

Alyssa: So, while the Blakes continue to make things super awkward for everyone around them, the Eligius crew have made the valley their own. I will admit, I cackled when they were playing death metal in their camp. I love you, The 100, but subtle you are not.

Jessica: A little originality from this crew of mass-murderers-turned-deep-space-mining-prisoners would be nice, no? You’ve been on Earth all of two days and you’re already throwing a rager and rocking out like metalheads? Again, where is the long-term thinking? Maybe it’s my crippling anxiety but I’d want to be getting things set up so that we could rebuild, repopulate, live comfortably...

Alyssa: I think you’re right in that neither of these groups is really thinking long-term right now. I’m sure that’s a byproduct of not having to breathe either the stale air of the bunker or the prison ship, but dudes, you are going to die out unless you get your sh*t together.

Things are not looking great for Kane and Abby right now, either. Abby’s got the withdrawal shakes, Kane is flirting a little too close to treason for my comfort (but I guess being thrown in a gladiator pit despite his innocence will do that to a guy), and being forced to examine a giant man who I assume has cannibal tendencies is a huge bummer.

Jessica: Kane can do no wrong in my book and I think this is what happens to a man used to control, who’s been at the mercy of a blood-lusting horde for the past six years. He tried his best to influence Octavia, but we all saw where that landed him. With Abby strung out on pills and the two of them separated from the group, really Kane’s only option is to do what he does best: a bit of diplomacy mixed with a questionable amount of treason. I think his interactions with Diyoza were some of the more interesting of the episode and their potential relationship is both frightening to my Kabby-loving soul and kind of exciting. These are two people who have experience and know how to lead. Watching them go head-to-head for the sake of their people is going to be fun. Also, can someone please teach Marcus how to knock back a shot of tequila? That was embarrassing, my dude.

Alyssa: Listen, you know I am ride or die for Space Bae the Elder, but that was bush league. Tequila is one of the best things on earth (don’t @ me), so he needs to put on his big boy pants and learn how to take a shot. I did think it was interesting that he made it clear that he and Abby, despite being together for the better part of a decade, were not husband and wife. I get that those kinds of heteronormative bonds mean very little in space, but part of me flinched at his insistence. Hopefully, some fresh air and Vitamin D will help these two get back on track. But enough about them: what’s Zeke’s long-game? He’s proven himself to be an ally to SpaceKru, but I cannot imagine he will be able to play both teams for long.

Jessica: And some sobriety on Abby’s part. But yes, let’s talk about my pure little cinnamon roll. As far as meet-cutes go, torturing your future wife isn’t the most romantic, but I love Shaw and I really do think he had a good heart. There are no good guys on The 100, but he might be the closest we’ve got right now, at least on the Eligius side. I’m not asking for much, just for him and Raven to ride off into the sunset together, have beautiful hacker-mechanic babies, and never face the threat of torture again.

Alyssa: I still believe that Monty is the purest of all cinnamon rolls on this show (I’m so glad he’s back so they can give him more to do), but Shaw has the potential to move up the softness ranks. I am not quite ready to be all in on Hacker Mechanic (is that their ship name?), but Raven deserves something good, g*ddamn it.

Jessica: Hacker-mechanic, Pilot-mechanic, Zaven. Who cares? It’s going to happen. Raven deserves love and happiness and the whole f*cking universe in my opinion. I love the writers of this show, but I’m so tired of seeing this “torture Raven Reyes” plot device being implemented. Let’s switch it up and torture some people who deserve it, like creepy cannibal guy. Anyway, I have absolutely zero hope that Shaw will make it out alive this season, but I do think Raven will find a partner in him. They seem evenly matched.

Alyssa: Yeah, I agree. Lindsey Morgan is one of the strongest actors on the show, so she can handle the intensity, but cut Raven a break. It’s pretty tiresome at this point. What we really need to talk about, however, is how The 100 might be a part of the Alien universe now. Who knew there were chestbursters in the desert???

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Things Take A Turn In The Desert

Jessica: Apparently not Clarke, the woman who has been living alone on Earth for six damn years. I love a bunch of killer worms bursting out of a screaming man’s stomach as much as the next girl, but I’m confused as to how Clarke — who I just assume knows everything at this point — was taken by surprise by these buggers. Still, I’m trash for gruesome sci-fi scenes like that so live on, Alien parasites! Infect who you will, my babies.

Alyssa: 100% agree. Once I got over my initial revulsion, I was on board. This is very much my sh*t. I honestly wish The 100 leaned a little bit more into the sci-fi elements of their show. Yes, there’s space travel and we used to have some radioactive animals, but it’s pretty grounded. Maybe I just want that bear from Annihilation to pay them a visit. But on top of the sci-fi elements, their time in the desert, as ill-advised as it was, really showed that WonKru’s devotion to Octavia will be tested on the surface. Using their bodies as literal shields from the shards of glass in the sandstorm will get rather tedious long-term.

Jessica: I don’t even like when my boss asks me to make copies of meeting notes, so having my Queen tell me that I’ll now be serving as a human shield to protect her psycho ass from a sandstorm of glass and an army of creepy-crawlies would have me turning in my two-weeks real quick. Plus, now that Octavia is having to manage issues on the outside — the return of Bellamy and Clarke, Diyoza taking the valley — these people are being given leadership options once more. It’s like the mid-term elections have come early on The 100.

Alyssa:  We haven’t really mentioned them yet, but SpaceKru (for the most part) is back in the fold now, too. Murphy is still dedicated to making me love him between his hobbit quip and once again sacrificing himself for the team, and it seems like he and Emori might be on the path to reconciliation now that they’re on the run from missiles. Nothing says romance like running for your lives together on The 100. But this brings me to your least favorite subject: the Echo factor. Space Bae the Younger was pretty glad to see her, but Clarke and especially Octavia really were not.

Jessica: You’ve done it now, Alyssa. The ship that Jason Rothenberg is forcing us to name. Look, I get that six years really changes things. I understand how Bellamy might’ve grown to forgive Echo for all she’s done. I can even stretch my disbelief enough to imagine them hooking up because hey, everyone needs a little lovin' now and then. But someone should’ve told The 100 writers what happens in space, stays in space. I don’t need to see Becho making out in front of my sweet Madi and too-good-for-this-world Clarke. I know I’ve been hating on Octavia this episode, but please understand me: if Octavia decides to bury this Becho romance that has less life than a f*cking corpse, I will gladly follow her into the bowels of the underworld.

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Where Do We Go From Here?

Alyssa: I think in the coming weeks, loyalties are going to shift A LOT. Life on the ground is always a moving chess game, but there are a lot of new power players at the table now. Honestly, I don’t see this uneasy “peace” between the Blakes lasting very long. As long as Octavia keeps claiming that WonKru can stand against Mother Nature herself (I must admit, I very much got a Trump tweeting vibe from her claiming they can best THE WIND), things are going to be a little dicey.

Jessica: Delusional fanaticism at its best right there. But you’re right. Octavia isn’t going to change her way of thinking until the worst happens, and the worst that could happen is WonKru being decimated by Diyoza and her forces — either physically with more missiles or figuratively with Diyoza offering sanctuary to anyone who joins her. I also think that now that both SpacKru and Madi are back in the game, our sweet little Bellarke reunion will come to an end and those two will be forced to reexamine what’s best for "their people." Remember, as much as they trust and look to one another, their priorities are very different now. Where do you see things going?

Alyssa: On another show, I would probably hope that most of the people would see that Clarke is the sane option in the power struggle between Octavia and Diyoza, but The 100 is not this show. There is going to be copious amounts of pain and suffering before anyone realizes that. I think the best that we can hope for is Madi shading everyone and meaningful Bellarke glances (and for the love of god some boning PLEASE) in between a lot of bloodshed. And hopefully a spa day for Raven.

Jessica: I’m totally fine with living on a diet of Bellarke scraps and Madi’s sass lessons for the rest of the season, but if someone doesn’t stop this Becho nonsense now and Raven doesn’t get a moment of peace, we riot.