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The 100 Discussion: 'The Stranger' brings the angst
The 100 may be winding down, but its plot certainly isn't. Season 7 has been stuffed to the gills since Episode 1, to the point where we're not sure it can possibly begin to wrap things up by the finale. The 100 has always been a charmingly messy show, but the lack of focus in the final stretch is doing a real disservice to characters that fans have devoted seasons to.
In "The Stranger," Bellamy is still all-in on that cult life after his deeply unpleasant mountain trek, to the point where he is willing to risk his friends' safety in the name of "all mankind." We're calling bullsh*t. We're Alyssa Fikse and Jessica Toomer, and we're wondering if the real Bellamy Blake will ever stand up.
Warning: This discussion contains spoilers for Season 7, Episode 12 of The 100.
Resistance In Sanctum
Jessica: Well, here we are. Another week, another episode that makes me question the show’s ability to wrap up seven seasons worth of bloodshed, apocalypses, rebellions, and interdimensional travel in just a handful of hour-long installments. I’m not feeling great about it, especially when we begin this episode in Sanctum, with Sheidheda once again forcing people to kneel before him. How is it that a character just introduced last season is getting more screen time than both of the show’s leads in its final run? JR Bourne is great, but he ain’t that great, y’all.
Alyssa: Bourne is hamming it up so much that I half expected him to crow “Grounders, come out to play-ay” at several points in this episode. Murphy and Emori are still on the offensive in Sanctum, telling people to kneel so they can survive another day as they head back to the machine shop to help those who are hidden behind the reactor door. The convicts decide to submit to Sheidheda, but the Children of Gabriel refuse. Nelson stands firm to his convictions and his people stand by him, so of course, Sheidheda is threatened. So, he does the only thing a mass-murdering dictator knows how to do: kills them all in front of Nelson, and then shoots him in the head last. It’s a dark moment, but I couldn’t help but think that it would have had more weight if they used a more established character. Nelson is/was fine, but I feel like the show wanted us to care about him more than I actually did.
Jessica: Oh same. It was sad to be sure, but I’ve been devastated by this show more times than I can count and this massacre didn’t even make a blip on my emotional radar. Still, happy that Nelson got to go out like a boss, even if Indra now has to dispose of his body. What I did like about our sojourn in Sanctum were the scenes of Murphy and Emori leading the resistance. Look how far these two cockroaches have come, Alyssa. It makes my heart glad. They’re risking their lives to save complete strangers (and Madi) by hiding them in the nuclear reactor room while they set up shop in that mechanic shack. They’re trusting that Clarke and the others will come for them. They’re managing to flirt and have sexy times despite living under the authoritarian rule of a bloodthirsty maniac. They’re doing the most this episode, and I’m here for it.
Alyssa: Horny in the face of death and destruction is truly a mood these days, and I respect it. They’re also dedicated to keeping the people behind the reactor door safe from Sheidheda, proving that even cockroaches can change. Murphy kept talking about how much he hated to love giving a sh*t about people, and I was hit with the realization that Murphy might have had the best character arc on the entire show. I mean, talk about GROWTH. Indra shows up to let them know about the latest massacre, bringing with her Madi’s school friend, the lone survivor. I really never considered what a Murphy/Indra team would look like, but I love it. I got a lump in my throat when she tells Murphy that she’s proud of him, and I’m pretty sure he did too. GROWTH!!!
Jessica: Put “WAP” on by Megan Thee Stallion and Cardi B and let these two bang already, Jason Rothenberg! But no, I’m so happy Richard Harmon got his moment this episode because he’s really been putting in work the last few seasons. While all of this is happening, our friends on Bardo are having a real hard time recognizing the Bellamy Blake that descended from the mountaintop. He’s subdued. He’s threatening his family with torture. And he’s wearing white. What is going on?
What Happened To Bellamy Blake?
Alyssa: I mean, REALLY. I cannot fully express how much I hate what they have done to Bellamy. Bill is pissed as hell that Clarke lied about having the Flame, and while Gabriel basically tells him that that sounds like a personal problem, Bellamy is fully on Bill’s side here. Sure, he tries to suss out whether or not Bill has any humanity left by asking about the death of Anders, but ultimately, he is willing to do what it takes “for the good of mankind.” Bellamy tells Bill that maybe they could find and fix the Flame in an attempt to absolve Clarke and crew, so he heads off to talk to his imprisoned friends. It does not go well. First up is a confrontation with Echo and Raven, and when I say that Bellamy could not care less about Echo… reader, he could not care less about Echo.
Jessica: It’s what I’ve wanted for a few seasons now — this obvious breakup — but fam, not like this. I actually ended up feeling bad for Echo. I mean, she carved her face up for this man and was ready to commit genocide to avenger his death and he straight up tells her he’ll watch her die because he survived a bad hiking trip. D*ck move, Bellamy. What’s worse is that before he shatters Echo’s heart — or what’s left of it — he sends Raven to be mindcapped in an attempt to discover what happened to the Flame. He knows Raven wouldn’t reveal that information willingly if she had it. He knows she’ll fight. He knows she’ll be in terrible pain, and he doesn’t even blink an eye. Truly repulsive behavior. Very unbecoming of a man we once called “Space Daddy.”
Alyssa: After showing that Bellamy would do literally anything to keep his friends safe over the course of seven seasons, I am just not buying this change in behavior. It doesn’t work. It isn’t earned. One development that does make sense to me though is that Hope and Jordan would bond. They’re locked up together, and he helps her cope with the loss of her mother. She was raised alone on an alien planet with only Diyoza and Octavia, and he was raised alone on a spaceship with only his parents, so of course, he would understand how alone and unmoored she is. I know we only have a handful of episodes left, but I do hope they explore this dynamic more. Bellamy continues to make the rounds, stopping by Clarke and Octavia’s cell next. I also loved the moment when Clarke and Octavia finally saw eye to eye, bonded over their love for their adopted daughters. It was a nice moment after seasons of conflict. Plus, it was good to have them fully on the same side when it was time to read Bellamy to filth.
Jessica: Break out your finest china because the tea is being spilt and the leaves are being read. While Octavia mostly stays silent, Clarke unleashes a bit of hell on her former best friend, trying to understand why he’d sell her and the rest of their friends out for a washed-up cult leader with an oversized ego and delusions of grandeur. Bellamy harks back to that vision he had of his mother, the warmth of those glowing beings, and promises an end to all the fighting they’ve suffered through. But these are strong, smart women so they’re not buying any of it. He sends Clarke to be mindcapped. Of course, she resists, but she ends up striking another deal with Cadagan. She’ll lead him to the Flame but only if he releases her people on Bardo. There are two things I know to be true on The 100: Clarke has a pesky self-sacrificing streak, and she usually has a plan. But, does she really know where the Flame is? I’m guessing she believes Gaia has it and is still on Sanctum, but guys, we haven’t seen Gaia since like Episode 3. Where is this storyline going?
Alyssa: All I know is that Clarke telling Bellamy to go float himself and meaning it hurt me in my soul. Can we talk a second about how differently his interaction with Clarke was from the break up with Echo? I know I am a clown for still believing in Bellarke, but we are being BAITED. ANYWAY, back in Sanctum, Nikki followed Indra to the machine shop, pulling a gun on Murphy and demanding to see what’s hidden behind the reactor door. Luckily, Emori and Murphy are still the dream team, so she gets the drop on Nikki and they lock her up. Murphy tells Nikki about Hatch (remember him?) and his dedication to saving her and finishing the reactor fix knowing that he would die anyway. Murphy definitely tries appealing to her humanity here, asking her to do the right thing, but he’s not stupid. He also tells her that he’ll throw her in the core before he ever lets her go back to Sheidheda. Glad to know he still has some of that mercenary spirit when needed.
Jessica: Murphy’s grown, but he hasn’t completely forgotten himself, like another male lead on this show. Unfortunately for him, Sheidheda had Nikki followed and now knows she’s missing, leading him to suspect that Emori and Murphy are hiding something. They are — a whole room full of innocent people terrified for their lives. And when Sheidheda finds out, he loses it, threatening Murphy before Emori, still locked in the nuclear reactor room, promises to blow this whole joint to hell, Chernobyl-style, if he lays a hand on her precious cockroach. So instead, Sheidheda takes Murphy as a hostage and tortures him with more games of chess. This dude is sick.
Alyssa: I mean, if all he wants is a throne made of skulls and a chess buddy, I feel like there were other ways to handle this. Speaking of wasted opportunity, Bellamy accompanies Clarke into M-Cap, where of course she won’t engage. Does Bellamy get to see Clarke’s memories? Maybe get clued into the fact that Clarke called him every day for 2,199 days? No, of course not. That would be too logical. Instead, Clarke just fights against the intrusion and they aren’t able to get the information about the Flame. Clarke once again strikes a bargain, saying that she’ll lead them to the Flame as long as all of her friends are safe and go free. You would think that Cadagan would be against another deal like this since Clarke tricked him once, but here we are.
Jessica: Plot. We know we need one, but we don’t know how to craft one that makes sense. Still, this finally brings our people back to Sanctum. While Echo, Hope, Jordan, and the rest head to some unknown planet through the Stone, Cadagan keeps Raven behind, because she can actually read the symbols, and brings her, Clarke, and Gabriel to Sanctum. This works out well because after gifting him that knock-off Game of Thrones piece of furniture, Sheidheda’s people carry in the Stone that was previously housed in the woods of Sanctum. I’m not sure how they transported it all that way because apparently, that thing is hella heavy but it’s now in the throne room, which is where Cadagan and the group land after going through the Stone. I think Clarke sums everything up best with her “What the hell happened?” What the hell happened in Sanctum, and what the hell happened with this show in its final season?
Alyssa: I’m really hoping that Octavia and the rest find Gaia wherever they ended up, because I miss her. We’ve got four episodes left, and I just do not see how they will wrap everything up in so little time. They really seem to be banking on the prequel series as a way to get more storytelling time, and that feels like a real disservice to fans. We’ve been with these characters for seven seasons now, and I want their stories told well. I feel like this isn’t too much to ask.
Jessica: Yeah, the desire to focus on the stories of two, older white men when you have a diverse cast full of interesting characters you’ve built up for years now just has me smh. You can create villains, even three-dimensional villains, without dedicating entire seasons to building their backstories. They should’ve washed their hands of the whole Sanctum thing at the beginning of this season, tightened some storylines, and focused solely on Bardo to make these twists — like Bellamy turning into a disciple — believable and compelling. But alas, we have a few episodes left and all I can really hope for is a Clarke/Madi reunion and the continued safety of Raven Reyes.