‘The 100’ 5×11 Review: ‘The Dark Year’

Woah boy, The 100 returned this week with its penultimate episode of the season, “The Dark Year,” and it was something. I was pretty hard on Octavia last week, wondering how she had become what she is now and suggesting that  there had to have been a good reason.

It turns out there was.

We got answers to why Octavia has completely lost it, why Abby is addicted to drugs, and why Kane is currently morally conflicted, and of course, got the answer to a question I hadn’t even thought off regarding the people who lost in Octavia’s fighting pit. Let’s recap the episode and talk a little bit about the answers we got this week and the knew questions we now have.

The episode picks up where the last one left off, and we see Clarke and Madi attempting to revive Abby from her drug overdose. We see Octavia and company marching off to war. We see Raven, Echo, Emori, and Murphy go out to scout McCreary’s forces preparing for war. While all this is going on Kane and Diyoza stay in the cave where they have been hiding out with Shaw, and Kane starts to tell Diyoza about why he can’t deal with Octavia, this is happening while Abby was beginning to tell Clarke and Madi what happened down in the bunker during the infamous Dark Year.

The most important of this episode was what happened in the flashbacks (apart from the ending of the episode, which I will mention later).

When we see the first glimpse of the Dark Year we know almost immediately what is coming, the “things that no human being should ever have to do” was cannibalism. Made worse by the fact that the people that were being used were those that had fought and lost in the arena in their fight to the deaths. That was something that I hadn’t even thought of until this point, what happened to all the bodies of the deceased from the arena. I had just assumed they disposed of them but that wouldn’t make sense because you couldn’t bury them, and you couldn’t burn them.

Instead they decided, due to the destruction of their protein source, that they would use them as their protein source instead. This, of course was heavily debated by Octavia, Abby, Kane, and Indra but they ultimately came to the conclusion that it was their only choice to survive until they could fix the problem with the plants and reestablish their protein source. On the first day that they were to eat the new food, Kane refused and a few others followed his lead.

After this we see a private conversation between Octavia and Abby where they are discussing how to convince the people to eat. Abby convinces Octavia to make it a crime not to eat and when they go to dinner that night Octavia enforces her new rule. In what may have been one of Marie Avgeropoulos’ best display of acting all season, we see her killing the people who refuse to eat. The pain on her face is evident, but she follows through with her threat until Kane finally eats and the others follow him again.

I know understand why Octavia is the way that she is now, why her people are so loyal to her, after everything that they have been through together over the years and especially the Dark Year. What she did was enough to lead anyone down the path of insanity. As for Abby, it was her plan that set all of this in motion, her convincing Octavia to kill those who wouldn’t eat was a turning point for the Red Queen, who seemingly just needed that one more push over the edge into madness. Abby clearly realizes that it is at least partially her fault, and that is why she becomes addicted to drugs, she says as much to Clarke when she sobers up; that it was her and her fault that they dark year went the way that it did. And Kane, who has been so eager to help Diyoza, has his motivations made perfectly clear in this episode as well. And it makes me truly question what is happening at the very end of the episode when she and Diyoza show up to talk to McCreary.

There are few shows out there that have had the ability to consistently keep their characters in gray areas as well as The 100 has. Almost every character (except Raven, she is and always will be perfect) on the show is one I have loved and also hated, from one season to the next changing their motivations and ideas.

Clarke has gone from the honorable leader to someone that is screwing everyone over for just Madi. Bellamy has gone from working with Pike in the slaughter of hundreds of grounders to working with Indra to get the flame to Madi and overthrow Octavia.

Kane has gone from the one saying “first we survive, then we find out humanity again” to Abby to being the one that hears it from her. It is a true testament to the way the show is structured and written. I truly expect we will see more moral quandaries and hard choices and side changes as the fifth season begins to come to a close next week, and I am very excited for it.

The 100 airs Tuesdays at 8 on the CW.

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