The 100 Discussion: 'The Sword Of Damocles Pt. 1' marches toward war

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Aug 1, 2018

As the end of Season 5 is nearly here, The 100 continues to ramp up the tension and build towards a sure-to-be-devastating conclusion. Even Clarke seems unsure about her loyalties at this point, and nearly everyone is questioning their place in a world that may not even be around much longer. Can the valley survive the people who desperately need it? We're Alyssa Fikse and Jessica Toomer, and we are here to break down every twist, turn, and telling hand gesture on this week's The 100.

Alyssa: Our girl Clarke is still killing it in the “post-apocalypse but make it fashion” department (H&M, please make some of the structured jackets that seem to populate the decimated landscape for the fall, please and thank you), but she made just a whole host of terrible decisions in this episode. I get that her role as Madi’s mother has made her blind to pretty much everything else, but I feel like WanHeda has truly lost her way. At least until the last five minutes of the episode.

Jessica: Post-apocalyptic leather motorcycle jackets are in, but I think it’s safe to say shock collars on children are just never going to be a trend. Clarke has been through it this season, and her choices have never been easy ones, but as strange as it is to say considering she’s murdered hundreds of people by now, torturing Madi crossed a clearly-defined line for me. I guess we must now throw WanHeda into the pile of characters I no longer recognize.

Alyssa: It’s true. The time jump and subsequent war have made a lot of characters feel very out of character. I get that there are limitations on what can be conveyed about how people changed, but Clarke going from doing anything to protect her people to being willing to throw them all away for one person is a lot to wrap my head around. At least she figured things out eventually.

Clarke’s Epiphany

Jessica: So things aren’t looking good for WonKru, and of course Echo takes it upon herself to save them by kidnapping Madi, who everyone believes will be able to lead these people because of the Flame inside her head. Honestly, if I walked in and saw a bunch of people trying to take my child and put her at the head of an army headed for slaughter, I might freak out a bit too. But Clarke’s decision-making process when it comes to Madi is all kinds of screwed up.

Alyssa: Fair! Clarke in Mama Bear mode is a force to be reckoned with for sure, but I was pretty crushed to see her turn on Raven so easily. I get not trusting Echo — Clarke made it very clear that what went down at Mt. Weather was still very fresh in her mind — but Raven Reyes, queen of everything, including my heart? Absolutely not. Put that gun away, Clarke. How do you feel about Lexa speaking to Clarke from beyond the grave again? I’m not sure I’m onboard.

Jessica: When it comes to this Lexa nonsense, I’ve officially jumped ship. It has nothing to do with my Bellarke endgame plans. I can recognize that both characters are allowed to find love and companionship in other people. I can also accept that Lexa was a huge influence in Clarke’s life. But what is the point of having Madi, Clarke’s child, be the vessel through which her dead lover speaks? It’s all kinds of weird and gross and honestly, confusing as hell. It feels like we’re just stringing this character that was killed seasons ago along, which is doing a disservice to Lexa and Clarke. It’s been six years. Is Clarke doomed to mourn this person forever? Does that have to become a defining characteristic of hers? Can she not look back on her time with Lexa without becoming an emotional wreck?

Alyssa: Yeah, I’m having a similar struggle. There is no doubt that Clarke and Lexa loved each other deeply, but having Lexa pop in to speak through Madi every time Clarke is in a crisis of conscience feels like a disservice to Clarke. We know that she can make the right decisions for her people based on her own convictions — we have four seasons of ruthless pragmatism to prove it — and I just feel a little unsettled (“icky” is the first word that comes to mind) that they’ve made her such an overly emotional leader now. Having Lexa scold Clarke from the afterlife to push her to make the right choice just doesn’t sit well with me.

Jessica: You know what else doesn’t sit well with me? That Clarke/Echo catfight. I mean, let’s call it what it is, right? Two women fighting over a man. War aside, the motivations for that showdown seemed pretty clear to me and it also felt incredibly icky. I’m not a fan of Echo’s, but she deserves better than that. I cannot, for the life of me, understand Clarke’s motherhood-mentality right now, but she also deserves better than that. Bellamy Blake is a beautiful unicorn, but even knowing that he was the cause of that scuffle couldn’t make me watch it without throwing up in my mouth, just a little.

Alyssa: I’m glad I’m not the only one who was put off by the way that their fight went down! Listen, I don’t think canon Bellarke is happening this season. Perhaps Bellamy will find out that Clarke called him every single day while he was up in space in the final episode, but I think that time has come and gone. While I think that the writers were trying to convey that Echo and Clarke have a history of bad blood that isn’t going away anytime soon, it still felt like Bellamy was at the core of their disagreement. Hopefully, now that Clarke put her faith in Echo to protect Madi, they can bury the hatchet, for real this time. Still, as frustrated as I was with Clarke through this entire episode, I was still moved by her goodbye to Madi. I’m not made of stone. Plus, I will always be down for Clarke referring to herself as the Commander of Death. I don't know what that says about me, but I'm into it.

Jessica: If any hatchets are being buried, it’s in someone’s back. This is The 100 after all. Echo has reverted back to her old ways and it was tough to watch. I don’t expect her to kiss the ground that Clarke walks on but damn, none of SpaceKru would even be alive right now if WanHeda hadn’t sacrificed herself, so maybe show a bit more respect, hun. I have to admit, hearing Clarke bring Echo to task for murdering people in Mount Weather felt especially gratifying. I’m tired of characters on this show doing terrible things and then getting off easy just a few episodes later. But you’re right, after the disappointing reunions and a cringe-worthy confrontation, seeing Madi and Clarke, my pure, sweet cinnamon rolls, finally coming to an understanding and saying their goodbyes was enough to turn the waterworks to full blast. The last time I cried that hard was watching the end of Mamma Mia: Here We Go Again.

Alyssa: Wow, thanks for making me get choked up about Meryl Streep and Amanda Seyfried’s duet all over again (sob). But yes, Clarke finally makes the right call and sends everyone to the gorge where WonKru is in deep shit. Things do not look good for them. It’s almost like they ate people for nothing!

Octavia’s Sacrifice

Jessica: I’m pretty sure I heard a WonKru warrior whisper, “We ate people for this?” while marching to their death this episode. Look, the whole plan that WonKru was betting on was just bound to fail. I think some part of Octavia probably knew that and just didn’t give a shit, because when you want war, you want war. I have to say though, for this entire season to be in preparation for some big battle between Eligius and WonKru, watching Blodreina’s army turn tail after a couple minutes of gunfire felt like the biggest boner killer.

Alyssa: Watching this episode, I honestly couldn’t believe that NO ONE had considered that an ambush like this was a serious possibility. It felt so tactically unsound that when the bullets started flying, all I could think was “well, duh.” It was a foolhardy mission, and I guess they didn’t really have any other options thanks to Octavia’s touch of arson that left them without resources. But hey, at least the Blakes are kind of on the same side again? Sort of? I couldn’t help but get a little emotional about Bellamy still working to keep Octavia alive despite how angry he is at her. Old habits die very, very hard.

Jessica: Like laying face-first in cold, wet gravel for hours until nightfall comes so you are not target practice for snipers, hard. Watching the Blakes sort of find their way back to each other amongst bloodshed and chaos was one of the few gratifying moments of this episode. Blodreina has been a worthy villain this season but seeing that facade shatter as Gaia almost bled out in the gorge and watching Octavia reemerge left me with so many feels. I’m not sure if redemption is the right word because this character has done so many awful things this season, and over the past six years, but it was a step in the right direction and, more importantly, a step back to the Octavia we all know and love. And if that “my brother, my responsibility” line didn’t leave you a sobbing mess on the floor, it’s official, you have no heart.

Alyssa: I can assure you, my heart is present and accounted for. As anticlimactic as the initial battle was, they did do a pretty great job building the tension as they tried to do the slowest, stealthiest escape ever. I had some pretty powerful Lord of the Rings flashbacks, like the Blakes were hiding in Mordor from the eye of Sauron (Who is worse: Sauron or McCreary?). That was a truly stressful moment. Also stressful? The fact that we almost lost Gaia. That would have been such an unfair way for her to go, and honestly, I don’t want that kind of heartache for Indra, who I will stan until the end of time.

Jessica: God help The 100 writers if they had decided to kill Gaia or Indra. I suppose either death could still happen at this point, but that’s a mother/daughter duo I’m actually invested in right now (sorry to Abby and Clarke, but when you start scheming ways to control children through electric shock collars, I’m out). Gaia has become an integral part of this show in a way I didn’t expect and I feel she might be crucial when it comes to Madi’s development next season. I’m hoping that, since the writers seem obsessed with this flame subplot, that’s reason enough to keep her around. What did you think of Octavia’s big moment and how it ultimately ended?

Alyssa: I’ve also become very invested in Gaia, and honestly I hope they keep her around into the next season. I’m curious to see her outside of the Flame plot, but I do think she’ll continue to be integral to Madi’s story. Madi’s totally going to rebuild the valley next season as the Commander, right? Octavia’s sacrifice... Whew. I thought that was the end right there. Honestly, maybe it should have been? That would have been a fitting way for Blodreina to go out — protecting Indra, Gaia, and Bellamy — but I guess the writers have a few more tricks up their sleeves. I’m not sure that Octavia has any sort of power anymore thanks to the massacre, but maybe she’ll get another shot to unite her people. Does she deserve that? I’m not so sure.

Jessica: I think Octavia’s only option right now is to throw her support behind Madi, bring her back to WonKru, and let the true commander rally the troops for another march. I also think, as rushed as that coming-to-Jesus moment was for Blodreina, there might be a bit of relief for Octavia in terms of letting go of that tight hold she’s had on her crown. She’s always been a warrior first and foremost and now she gets to do what she’s truly good at. I’ve always had high hopes for Octavia, even this season when her descent into Roman dictator mode felt especially dark, so maybe this is the beginning of something good for the character? We deserve a bit of good right now, don’t we?

Alyssa: From your lips to the writers’ ears. Maybe I’m blinded by the fact that she’s been one of my favorites since season one, but I hope that this isn’t the end of the line for Octavia. Despite the understandable wavering in their faith, I do think that WonKru will still unite around her, or at the very least take her judgment into account. If she can continue down this path to a different Octavia than she’s been for a while, I think that she can be a major part of WonKru finally getting a little peace. Bellamy may never really forgive her, but I think her people might. Speaking of painful paths to forgiveness, Kane and Abby nearly broke my heart to irreparable pieces in this episode.


Marcus Kane Is A Literal Snack

Jessica: The future of Kabby is not looking bright, y’all. It was wonderful to see Abby finally embracing sobriety, but a lot of damage has already been done to this relationship and you can feel that in the tension between these two. As emotional as it was to hear Abby repeat Kane’s words back to him, encouraging him to keep pushing forward despite everything they’ve both done, his choice to pull away from her embrace, that small shift of a hand, spoke volumes. Kabby’s got a long road ahead if they’re going to get back to their honeymoon phase and if Kane survives being Vinson’s full course meal. I’ve often claimed that Daddy Kane looked delicious, but I didn’t mean that literally.

Alyssa: Vinson doesn’t strike me as the sharpest tool in the shed, so let’s keep our descriptions very literal instead of metaphorical in order to avoid such bloody confusion in the future. Yeah, I think that Kabby, at least from a romantic perspective, may be well and truly dead. Hopefully, they can go back to working together as a team — although that has admittedly had MIXED RESULTS AT BEST — but you’re exactly right. That small hand movement spoke volumes. There was a lot of talk in this episode about the importance of maintaining one’s humanity, living instead of just surviving, and I think that Kane and Abby bear some of the deepest scars from the choices that they’ve made. I honestly don’t know if they ever can find peace. That’s what I worry about for nearly everyone on the show. Honestly, God bless John Murphy for quoting Scarface like any normal twentysomething dude would do because it gave me a small smidge of hope that they still have a shot at just living life after all of this.

Jessica: John Murphy is a messy drama queen and I’m here for it. Dude loves to put on a show. That moment in the rover once they had rescued Bellamy and Octavia, I know the stakes are high and not to say that post-apocalyptic war can’t feel real, but that little yelp of relief and euphoria was one of the most genuine moments on this show. And it came from Murphy of all people. In this poop tornado that has been Season 5, John Murphy continues to make things bearable. If it weren’t for him and our Raven/Shaw ship, I would’ve lost it episodes ago.

Alyssa: Oh my god, in the midst of all of this pain and suffering, I almost completely forgot about Raven and Shaw. Those two. They give me life. They’re saving this show from becoming a total downer. Raven has had absolutely terrible luck in the man department since day one (Ugh, I do not miss you, Finn), so for her to find a partner who is her equal and recognizes her value? Please and thank you, The 100. This is what Raven Reyes deserves, not being tortured to within an inch of her life all the time.

Where Do We Go From Here?

Jessica: Body counts are rising and the fate of the valley is not looking good at this point. I’ve always thought this buildup to an all-out war for Eden would end with the very place everyone’s fighting over eventually being destroyed and I’m sticking by that notion for now. With McCreary clearly in control of the bombs (I’m not even going to speculate about what that means for Shaw), even if WonKru does somehow pull off a victory, I doubt Eden will be habitable by the end of this season. I’m also seriously concerned for the life expectancy of Murphy, Emori, Monty, and Harper. If the last shot of a promo is a nuclear bomb going off in the woods you just happen to be hanging out in, that’s not a good omen, right?

Alyssa: Yeah, I’d say that’s a pretty bad sign. I’m beginning to agree with you more and more that they will be headed back to space at the end of the season. If Monty survives, he may have to become an algae wizard once again. Just as long as McCreary dies and Diyoza lives, I honestly don’t care what happens to the valley. These people have bounced back from worse. Maybe they should go full-on space adventure and find a new planet. That could either be awesome or a total jump the shark moment. Either way, I think their time on earth is very, very limited.

Jessica: I swear, if Jason Rothenberg gives me the Shaw/Raven space adventures plot I’ve been dreaming of, I will forgive him anything.

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