What’s the difference between enjoyable and good? I’ve been thinking a lot about this gap in how we consume media. There are show that we enjoy because they’re enjoyable and then there are show that we enjoy because they’re good. That’s where I seem to be stuck during Season 4 of The 100, specifically in terms of this episode. Die All, Die Merrily was a good episode. It was well written, nothing felt like filler, every moment has a purpose and it even had a shocking twist at the end that tied in beautifully with the opening moments of the episode. However, season four, in general, hasn’t been good. The story seems to have been, “we’re all gonna die” and then quickly followed up with, “and nothing we do is going to change that.” That’s it. That’s the entirety of the season. And while the knowledge that the show has been renewed for a 5th season assures me that in fact, they’re all not going to die, that one or more (my money’s on more) of these plans that they’ve stumbled into will work out and that we’ll pick up next season five years (or close to it) into the future, I shouldn’t have to rely on that knowledge to get through this season.
Anyway, the season isn’t over yet, obviously, so let’s discuss this episode. I’m just going to open with the obvious. Octavia Blake is awesome. Not to belabor the point from earlier, but clearly her entire character arc, if you want to call it that, this season was simply a holding pattern. I half resent it, because I wasted a lot of time in my own head trying to figure out what she was supposed to be doing, but it’s also half brilliant because the answer to that question was objectively nothing and I was the idiot who tried to figure it out for far too long. Regardless, this episode was fully Octavia’s and it’s been a long time coming. Octavia’s character arc over the course of the show has been a thing of beauty and in this episode we finally got to see her unite the two Octavias that have been waring inside of her for three, almost four full seasons. The Girl Under the Floor and SkaiRipa are now one person and that person is quite literally, the toughest, most badass person on Earth. No, seriously, there was a tournament and everything. And she won.
About that tournament. The 100 Writers’ Room twitter account said that they called this episode the Hunger Games episode during production, which…duh? I’m still confused about how this is supposed to be better than an all out war to decide who gets to live in the bunker. Thousands of people die in the war or thousands of people die from the radiation? This also circles back to the imperialist narrative that they tried to shoot down in the last episode. If the Grounders aren’t savages and their beliefs are to be taken seriously, why does the conclusion of what they suggest (rather than Clarke becoming Commander) make just as little sense as the original plan of a clan war? I give the show credit for allowing Roan to call it out, but instead, we get this, a Battle Royale for the bunker, that’s won, by the imperialist clan that tried to take over in the last episode? Do you see where I’m going with this? This is why Season Four is tough for me. It’s this nest of contradictions and oddly executed “big ideas” that never seem to add up to anything other than, “well, they’re all going to die, so what does it matter?”
Speaking of dying. I’m not okay, guys. I really, really need tv shows to stop killing off characters played by Zach McGowan. At least when he dies on Black Sails it is the impetus that drives forward the rest of the series through its conclusion. Now, while Roan is not nearly as important a character on The 100 as Charles Vane was on Black Sails, it still cuts deep. He was a good, strong leader who I wanted to see survive and come through the five years of radiation and be a part of the rebuilding of humanity (not to mention I sort of shipped him with literally anyone standing in a three foot radius, so there’s that too). Instead, Luna kills him, drowning him in the middle of a Black Rainstorm and we are deprived of further Zach McGowan on The 100.
Which brings me to Luna. I’ve been whining about all the things season four of The 100 has done wrong, but now let’s talk about something they’ve done right. Luna’s arc this season has been incredible. Taking her from a peace-loving isolationist to someone who sees no hope for humanity and its future has been incredibly well done. Every note that needed to be hit throughout the season to get her from Point A to Point Gives No Shits was struck perfectly. From losing her clan to the need for her blood to seeing Abby experiment with treatments, I fully believed every ounce of Luna’s, forgive me, lunacy by the end when she’s outwitted by Octavia in those last moments. Well done, show, well done.
Oddly, while his arc wasn’t nearly as well executed, if you’ll pardon the pun, I actually shed a tear at Ilian’s death. Maybe it was because we’d only scratched the surface of the character, and yet somehow he’d done enough good to earn my mourning. I don’t want to devote much time to it, because clearly he was simply a blip on the radar of Octavia’s storyline this season, highlighting just how much of a holding pattern she was in until this episode, but maybe it was more upsetting because we’ll never see who Ilian would become rather than what we already knew of him? Either way, I’ll give you this one show, you got me to shed a tear even when I wasn’t fully invested.
There. I think that’s all the praise I can muster because that ending…THAT ENDING. It was a hell of a twist, I’ll give you that and in some ways, Clarke and Jaha (and perhaps Abby) just having ENOUGH of everyone’s crap and locking Skai Kru in the bunker and everyone else out makes a lot of sense. However, and this is a very big however, you will NEVER convince me that Clarke devised a plan that would have left Bellamy Blake and Marcus Kane on the other side of that door. I can rationalize in my head that she’d already counted Octavia out as likely to die, but while it’s for her people and really for all people and the survival of humanity, I will not now nor ever be convinced that she came up with a plan that ended that way. Spare me the, but they managed to get Bellamy down into the bunker stuff. She didn’t know that would be possible. She wouldn’t do it to her mother and she wouldn’t do it to herself, not again. So, show, this is where you might have lost me for good. I’ve been very, very patient through season four, trying to make sense of it all. I’ve enjoyed some episodes because they’ve been objectively good, but if this is where you were leading me all along, a Clarke who would leave Bellamy and Kane and Octavia on the other side of that door, well then, show, I don’t even want to know you.