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The 100 Discussion: 'The Queen's Gambit' moves us slowly to the finish line
Moves and countermoves, that's all The 100 is right now, folks.
The show's latest episode, "The Queen's Gambit," faced crises on multiple fronts. In Sanctum, Emori's plan to unite the clans backfires and Murphy finds himself outmatched in a game of chess with Russell. In Bardo, Hope and Diyoza make up for lost time while Echo and Octavia grieve over their shared loss. And we're still not sure why Clarke is so important to the leaders of Bardo, but it can't be good.
**SPOILER WARNING: This discussion contains spoilers for Season 7, Episode 7 of The 100**
Alyssa: Well, this episode started off with some disappointment: no Indra. They set her up as the new leader and then sideline her for an entire episode? Insert Hercules “disappointed!” gif here. Murphy and Emori wake up in their palatial bedroom, and while Murphy isn’t exactly bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, Emori is a woman on a mission. She’s been collecting DNA from the Children of Gabriel and is doing her best to reunite parents with their missing children. Considering these parents were willing to give up their “Null” children in service of the cult… this feels like playing with fire. But Emori is certain that this will go swimmingly, and she likes having a project. The fact that she gets to keep living like a worshiped Prime? Even better.
Jessica: Normally, I’d agree that a shindig with free booze is the best way to boost everyone’s spirits, but this is Sanctum we’re talking about. These people have been divided by religious cults and leaders willing to sacrifice them for their own chance at immortality for hundreds of years. We’re going to need more than flowery centerpieces and appetizers to fix this, Emori. Unfortunately, she’s the only one ready to party, as Murphy’s busy babysitting Sheidheda and Jackson's giving Madi some much-needed therapy. The whole thing with Indra really threw her for a loop and she just wants to play soccer, dammit! I’m sure it’d help too if Clarke was there, but everyone seems to be pretty chill about their friends mysteriously going missing, even though they know there are people out there who can travel through the stone and have the kind of technology capable of turning themselves invisible. The amount of compartmentalizing required to live on The 100 is just further proof I would not do well on this show.
Alyssa: Right? I am glad that Jackson is there preaching the benefits of therapy because poor Madi has enough baggage to fill up the trunk of a mid-sized sedan. I’m a little taken aback at how chill everyone is to just… not hear from each other? For possibly months? They are so determined to carve out new lives together, but they aren’t concerned at all that no one has heard from Clarke in a while? Or Gaia? Make it add up! Murphy is busy sulking (as he does, bless him) and he brings Russell/Sheidheda his breakfast cookie, which unbeknownst to him has a secret message from the faithful. Not great! Tighten up, Murphy. Sheidheda makes it clear that he knows that Murphy knows who he is and challenges him in a game of chess in exchange for secrets. This is going to go greeaaaat.
Jessica: As interesting as it was to watch these two face-off, I’m constantly questioning why we’re spending so much time in Sanctum. Are we setting up a battle between Sheidheda and the people who follow him versus Bardo? Will Clarke and company have to choose the lesser of two evils? I just don’t get it. Still, we're treated to more snarky Murphy, which is always entertaining. Less entertaining is Nelson teaming up with Nikki after his chat with Sheidheda. She’s got guns, he’s got a group of disenfranchised people ready to reap their revenge. Just doesn’t make for a good time. And no matter how many sob stories Emori tells him, I don’t think he’ll ever be cool with his parents just offering him up and condemning him to life as a Null.
Alyssa: The pacing of this season continues to be absolutely wild to me. I feel like some of these storylines would be interesting if it was last season, but they are just trying to cram too much in at the end. But Emori is definitely high on playing a benevolent god, so she swipes Nelson’s glass to get his DNA just in case he comes around to the idea of meeting his parents. Murphy is having less of a good time stuck playing chess against evil Bobby Fisher. He gets Sheidheda monologuing about how Emori will always be a freakdraina (I am happy that the Grounder language has had a bit of a resurgence this season because it never ceases to amuse me) and how he will rise again with the help of his followers, which prompts Murphy to whip out some serious knowledge about Grounder history and even mentions Lexa. The shippers, they wept.
Jessica: And Sheidheda lost his s***. Well done, Murphy. Well done. It’s clear to Murphy, and the rest of us, that the Dark Commander has plans to rule Sanctum and he’s positioning pawns to make that happen. Why we haven’t just killed this dude, especially since every faction in Sanctum is at war with each other anyway, is just beyond me. But luckily, we don’t have to dwell on that too long because we’ve got some unhappy prisoners in Bardo ready to have some long overdue confrontations.
Bonding In Bardo
Jessica: Even though he basically handed his friends in on a silver platter, Gabriel is welcomed by Anders and the other ciphers. He’s been studying the stone for 150 years. They want to know if he’s discovered things they haven’t. Which, OK? But you’ve figured out how to time travel in the thousands of years you’ve been working with it. What more do you want, Bardoians? As he plays nice with the bad guys, Hope and Diyoza have a long-overdue heart-to-heart… and Echo and Octavia do the same. Really, this whole episode was just one, long, incredibly tense therapy session.
Alyssa: I really loved the Hope and Diyoza stuff, because that’s such an interesting quandary: How do you interact as a parent with a child that grew up without you, especially when it’s only been a few months to you? To Diyoza, Hope was just a little girl, but in reality, she’s 25 and can make her own choices and that choice was to try and save her mother. Diyoza is clearly crushed that Hope has turned out a warrior like her, but I am not sure how she expected things to go any other way. Even on their idyllic little farm, there was always an undercurrent of danger. There were always potential threats from Bardo. Hope really had no choice. Losing her mother and Octavia was just a catalyst that sped up the process. The Octavia and Echo interaction was also really interesting to me because seeing Octavia able to move on from her past mistakes was a balm to my soul. YES, GIRL. FORGIVE YOURSELF AND DO BETTER. She tries to Good Will Hunting Echo, but ultimately, I think Echo is beyond saving at this point.
Jessica: I bawled like a baby when Hope began to finally breakdown over losing her mother so young. It’s such an unfair thing to have happened to both of them and there’s no way they can move past it in their current predicament. If there’s one wish for this final season that outweighs all the rest it’s my hope that these two can find peace together somewhere. I loved Octavia’s interaction with Echo too, though I have to admit that, at first, I was a bit shocked at how chill she was over the idea that her brother had died. (He definitely isn’t dead, right?!) Like Diyoza with Hope, it’s easy to forget that Octavia has spent a decade away from these people she once called family, so while the wound is fresh for Echo, Octavia said goodbye to her brother on Sky Ring a long time ago. I think she always hoped she'd see him again, but it makes sense that she’s the calming voice among the two as they grieve their loss. Echo, who’s never been good at handling her emotions, proves she hasn’t changed all that much from her Azgeda days. She carves up her face and jumps into warrior mode fairly quickly as a way to avoid confronting her pain. As much as I loved seeing Bob Morley on our screens — even if it was just a flashback — I could’ve done without that particular romantic interlude. We know Echo loves Bellamy. We don’t need to see them sucking face. Not in 2020. Not in this climate!
Alyssa: A Becho love scene? In this economy? That’s a hard no from me. Echo does figure out why exactly they’re holding them captive in pairs in Bardo, though. They aren’t prisoners, they’re recruits. A quick word from Gabriel reveals that they’ve been there for months, and apparently the leadership in Bardo just assumed that they would eventually want in on whatever Kool-Aid they’re drinking about the Shepherd. And, I guess they were right because Echo just wants to fight things out any way she can, and the other three get onboard. Welcome to the war effort, I guess?
Jessica: I’m assuming Echo has eventual plans to commit mutiny or whatever, and the best way to topple any corrupt system is from the inside, so I’m cool with this group earning their Disciples card, for now. Gabriel seems like a potential convert though so I’m keeping my eye on him. Speaking of suspicious dudes, Murphy’s stopped enjoying his game of chess with Sheidheda a long time ago, and I’ve stopped enjoying seeing JR Bourne on my screen. A real shame.
Alyssa: While I admit that I definitely enjoy JR Bourne cranking it up to 11 in the camp department this season, it’s time for him to go. They need to streamline the story and either focus on the threat in Sanctum or the threat in Bardo. Again, they are trying to cram too much in, and maybe if there was another season it would work, but it’s time to start wrapping things up! Murphy and Sheidheda spar until Sheidheda gets the jump on him and pins him to the table and tells him not to scream or he’ll kill him. Seriously, it’s time to just kill this guy and be done with it. Anyway, it looks like things are going OK at Emori’s reunification party, and Nelson even shows up claiming that he wants to reconnect with the fam. Reader, he does not.
Jessica: Well, let’s give him the benefit of the doubt. He seemed incredibly nervous when he arrived — which, sure, could’ve been because he planned on killing his parents, but it read to me like he was worried about meeting these people who gave him up so many years ago. Nelson, and the rest of the Nulls, may seem angry and bitter and consumed with the need for revenge, but really they just want a place to belong. They want to be told they’re not worthless. I felt like he was coming to this party because of that need, at least initially. Emori tells him she matched his DNA without his permission, he takes it in stride, and then he meets his mom and dad. Mom’s fairly emotional over the whole reunion, but dad shows his ass, emboldened by the fact that Murphy isn’t there to play Daniel Prime — I guess no one respected Kayleigh in her day? The whole thing goes to hell in a handbasket fairly quickly and ends with Nelson stabbing the guy after his dad tries to choke him to death. And you thought your family reunions were rough.
Alyssa: I will never complain about my family ever again! Nikki arrives with the other prisoners and the confiscated guns, and things escalate quickly from there. Sheidheda eventually releases Murphy, but he doesn’t make it in time. The Nulls join the prisoners to take over the palace and everything that goes along with it. Nelson pulls a gun on Emori and seems rather bound and determined to take her out, but Nikki needs her for leverage, so the Prime imposter gets to live another day. Indra leaves for one episode and everything goes to hell! Things in Bardo are just as messy. Gabriel is bored coding, but fear not! Excitement is just on the other side of the portal! Clarke and her team teleport in from Nakara looking for Octavia, Echo, and Bellamy, and we get the closest thing to a Bellarke moment the entire season: Gabriel informs Clarke that Bellamy is dead (he’s notttttt), and our girl looks devastated.
Jessica: Echo carving her face up in Bellamy’s honor didn’t break me, but that wide-eyed anguish in Clarke Griffin’s face nearly did. She’s lost so much already, it’s hard to fathom how she’ll handle believing her partner if all of this is truly gone. But we don’t get much time to sit with that heartbreak because Anders is too excited about finally capturing “The Key” and he needs to wake up his shepherd this instant! We finally get a glimpse of who’s been running this weird cult and, wouldn’t ya know, it’s Bill Cadogan, the leader of The Second Dawn — those guys who waited out the apocalypse on Earth in a bunker that was later used by Bloodreina and WonKru. I have to admit, this reveal was a bit anticlimactic, especially since we had to look up who this dude even was. I’m all for callbacks, but I can’t be expected to remember the face of a psychotic villain from three seasons ago when we’ve had to fight off so many other baddies over the years. Give me a break, The 100!
Alyssa: Truly, I need this season to tighten up in a big way. We’re approaching the halfway point, and there are still so many threads that need to come together. The “call me Bill” reveal was so anticlimactic that I just want to leave Bardo behind at this point. Also, at some point, I think we’re due for a major kill. I don’t believe that Bellamy is really gone, and every time someone has been at risk, they get plucked from the hands of death by plot convenience. How are there so many storylines but the stakes are so low? Make it make sense!
Jessica: I don’t necessarily welcome death, but you’re right, we need something to lift this season out of the muck. It’s been stagnant, flipping from one seemingly unimportant plot point to the next without focusing on the people we care about most or inducing us to care about the new characters they seem intent on shoving down our throats. I think Echo, Emori, and Murphy are all firmly in the crosshairs, though I suppose Diyoza, Hope, and Octavia could be in danger as well. Really, I only know two things for sure: Clarke is “The Key” and I could really care less about what she’s supposed to be opening at this point. Scrap this build up and give us a back half of the season that’s just the O.G. crew growing tomatoes on Sky Ring.