Grounders have been seen as the problem since day one of The 100. They were the aggressors, the boogie man hiding around every corner. Always waiting to pounce. We’ve always looked at Grounders as the enemy, the other, that shouldn’t/doesn’t matter because this is the story of Skaikru, right? It’s a perspective we’ve been fed since the beginning, and one that I’ve finally woken up from after ‘Nevermore’s’ treatment of the Grounder Niylah.
For many of you who don’t remember her, she’s the Grounder that Clarke took as a lover during her three month disappearance. She’s a smart, capable, tradeswoman, who runs her own business in a pretty decent sized home. Niylah is a Grounder of substance who you’d expect to see more of. Unfortunately you don’t.
Niylah, like many of the Grounders, is expendable.
Her story is not deemed worthwhile or helpful in shaping the Skaikru around her. So she’s pushed to the side and delegated the role of suitable lover when Clarke needs her and unwilling hostess when they need a place to hide. She’s a placeholder. Someone that is good enough for the moment, but treated with indifference when she’s not.
Clarke never cared for Niylah. The Grounder was her prey, someone she could stalk and demand to be quiet for her own sexual gratification. Clarke was selfish because she wanted to get lost in another. What she didn’t take into account was how she treated Niylah. The Grounder was a means for Clarke to forget what she had done to the Mountain Men, a bed to sleep in when she didn’t want to sleep outside, and someone she could drop at the drop of a dime.
Don’t get me wrong, Niylah and Clarke both understood the bond between them and that it would go no further than the bedroom. But somehow Niylah has always ended up paying for Clarke’s use of her. She was the one that ended up roughed up, questioned, and out of a home because of a woman who didn’t care for her.
The events of ‘Nevermore’ made the disregard Skaikru has for Grounders, even more glaringly obvious. Clarke & Co. came to Niylah’s home without notice. They could’ve talked, they could’ve explained to her what was happening. But did they do that? No. They couldn’t be bothered to waste time explaining to Niylah that they needed her help because they were low on options and had already decided they would use her home. Bellamy, the man involved in the death of her father, pulled a weapon on her and gave her no choice but to move aside. They forced their way into her home, told her what she could and couldn’t do, lied to her about not being involved in the death of her father, and cordoned off a piece of HER home that she couldn’t access.
For the rest of the episode, Skaikru makes themselves into the victims that HAD to do this to Niylah. After all, everything is more important when it comes to Skaikru events. Clarke’s talk with Niylah means nothing, a pleasantry to alleviate the small bit of guilt she feels for bringing this to Niylah’s doorstep. Bellamy’s apology is all about his guilt and finding a way to get past it. Even when she breaks into the room with Raven, in her own damn house to confront the killer of her father, she is the one who is in the wrong. Clark & Co. shouldn’t be there in the first place. They barged into her home without permission or choice. Skaikru are the invaders.
Octavia is the only one to show remorse.
She leaves a Skaikru lantern as a thank you for the clothes and as a silent apology for what they did to Niylah. The woman who’s having a personal crisis of her own, who just lost her love, and is fighting with her brother, took a minute out of her time to acknowledge the wrong they had done. It wasn’t enough, but it was more than the others did. Octavia understands the dispassion Skaikru holds for anyone that isn’t part of them.
The icing on the cake comes at the end of the episode. Because of their disregard for her home and property, she can’t stay there anymore. A.L.I.E. will come back to Niyla’s home and destroy everything she has to for information about A.L.I.E. 2’s whereabouts. At the end of the day, Skaikru and Clarke are the worst things to happen to Niylah. They took away her father because of their anger and lack of understanding. They took away her home, not to mention her business, because they just couldn’t be bothered to find somewhere else. No one even offered Niylah a place with them after leaving her homeless.
That’s the problem with Skaikru. They don’t look at the bigger picture. Often they claim to have everyone’s best interest at heart, but when push comes to shove, they become selfish. Promises become cheap words and anyone not Skaikru is sacrificed for their survival.
Skaikru are the invaders.
They are the trespassers with no claim over these lands. Yet they act like they do, because to admit weakness is to give your enemy a chance to dominate you. And we wouldn’t that, would we Pike? Things like negotiations don’t exist. Talking isn’t even considered because the invaders have named the Grounders the ‘other.’ They are not like Skaikru so they shouldn’t be treated with the same respect. It’s all about aggression with no hope from the start.
Stories like Niylah’s will fuel discontent and dash any hopes of trust between the Grounders and Skaikru on The 100. After all, no one wants to trade, work with, or fight for people that ignore customs and have no common courtesies. Niylah deserved better and I hope she finds some sort of peace away from the self-centered Skaikru.
The 100 airs Thursdays @ 9/8c on The CW.