This review contains spoilers.
Long live the (Red) Queen! In the fast-paced follow-up to the seasons opener “Eden,” The 100 takes a more scattered approach with “Red Queen,” serving up only the most crucial of moments immediately following Praimfaya, which towards the end of the episode brings us back to the six-year time jump we’ve merely caught glimpse of during The CW’s previous promos. By giving us a slice, instead of the whole pie, the show is relying on us to deduce what the heck has been going on in that bunker over the course of six years. Many (bloody) things, I say. So many.
Watching the previews prior to the season premiere, many audience members gasped at the thought of Octavia covered in blood, condoning violence in what only could be perceived as a gladiator style deathmatch for survival… but, hey. It works, and now we know why. The show doesn’t shy away from world-building, but over the years, has undoubtedly lost its footing here and there. “Red Queen” offers a refreshers course on Octavia’s history, as well as the grounders, and shows just how revisiting heritage can reshape the characters we’ve grown to know and love, as well as the ramifications from their decisions. And ramifications there shall be!
In the beginning of the episode we see many things: Kane and Abby are at odds, Jackson and Miller are an item (Squeeee, #TooSweet), there’s a sense of camaraderie (or dare I say more) between Niylah and Octavia, and Jaha has taken a small boy named Ethan under his wing (this isn’t going to end Wells, baha see what I did there? Too soon. Okay). In addition to moderating conflict between the 1,200 people in the bunker, you see a reluctant leader in Octavia, who is forced to wear Lexa’s gear piece, and armor. Something she explicitly expresses to Indra she’s not comfortable with. It’s ironic though, that the girl who was once forced to live under the floorboards, would lead a new kru under the Earth. Poetic, eh? It takes Octavia a while to get there. To want to be a leader to WonKru, but she gets there, and goddamn, is it bloody beautiful.
“Red Queen” offered up a plethora of character development, without feeling rushed, or forced. The episode highlighted a deeper journey for Octavia and the bunker clan, then maybe we ever imagined. Octavia has always seemed a bit lost to me, I absolutely love her character, and think Marie Avgeropoulos is an absolute tour de force, but, much like some of the other characters on the show, the writers sometimes didn’t know what they were doing with her. Or maybe they did, but we just weren’t privy to it yet. Finally, “Red Queen” is a culmination of her dispersed arc throughout four seasons, and we get a much needed (but not necessarily wanted) payoff, and overall direction for Octavia we’ve been craving for. Darkness.
“You think our ways are harsh, but that is how we survive,” Commander Lexa once said. Perhaps now, we can look back on that very statement from our fallen Commander, and realize why each group has done and operated the way that they have in the past. Warriors need war, and civilizations need rules. Despite being crammed in a bunker made for a smaller group, there’s a divide, between the Ark’s ways, and the grounder ways. One has harsh laws, the other harsh violence. Seeing them married together, and all at the hands of Octavia, was the only logical outcome. How can you bring people together if they don’t feel represented? We see that hostility among the rivalring clans, and the sky people painstakingly throughout the episode. There’s no Commander to lead the clans, and Skaikru feels slighted because their bunker has to be shared amongst these savages, who have tried time and time again to slaughter them (which, by the look of things– hasn’t changed much over the last six years).
The food rationing, inevitable shortage, and letting way more people into the bunker than it was originally designed for, was all something we saw coming. But, perhaps the biggest surprise was the death of Thelonious Jaha. A character I have had my qualms with over the course of the series. No matter what your feelings were towards Jaha, he played a pivotal role in the series, and for that he deserved an honorable send off. He was one of the OG’s, the original members of The 100, and having him go out the way he did, helping Octavia realize her potential as a leader, and the harsh realities of having to lead WonKru, was important. All of these characters had a purpose, and I think, he finally fulfilled his, despite the many… many, many, missteps along the way.
“You are WonKru, or you are the enemy of WonKru. Choose.” Octavia repeats in the middle of multiple slaughters. She is giving the clans a chance to choose unity, but, despite O completely ripping people to shreds and reminding us what a total badass she is, these guys just don’t get the hint and continue to charge her. You can’t blame them though, the grounders have been conditioned to deal with situations like this with extreme measures. So, continuing to go after Octavia is very in character for them. Unfortunately, after 9-12 men were murdered at the hands of their Red Blooded Commander, they finally fall in line.
Kara, one of the farm station people who staged the coup in the bunker by taking the food supply for themselves, was probably one of the most irritating characters of this episode– yet, as we flash forward six years, we see Kara by Octavia’s side, and I’m intrigued. What has happened throughout the six years for Octavia to trust her? When given the chance to defend herself against her own people in Octavia’s new world order, she immediately picked up the sword and slaughtered Skaikru members who stood by her during the uprising. I guess the bunker has hardened her as well. I’m looking forward to seeing that dynamic unfold, and some of the many, many, many, blanks being filled in for us.
Overall “Red Queen” was an extraordinary bottleneck episode, full of rich character development, that set the stage, and tone of the remaining episodes this season. I nearly shat myself when we were left with that cliffhanger: Marcus Kane is about to fight for his freedom… with some very big, and very scary looking grounders. Will he live? Will he die? Will Octavia even care? Give all your lunch money to Marie Avgeropoulos, because hot damn, this girl is not messing around. Until next time– may we meet again.
- Gaia, what’s her endgame? She was super against Octavia’s “red blood” rule, and then all of a sudden she embraces the blood of their enemies and grooms Octavia (and poor Ethan) to become the leader of the new Underworld…
- Ethan never stood a chance. With Gaia at the helm, this new WonKru novitiate is undoubtedly going to prove to be problematic.
- How will these new ways hold up when/if they make it back to the ground? Let’s hope Wonkru will unite and help Clarke, and the Space brigade with the new big bad’s from Eligius!
- WARRIORS NEED WAR.
- Mama Griffin feels a bit suicidal to me. It will be interesting to see if they continue her pill-popping journey. Will she run out? Will her symptoms get worse? Are there even any symptoms or is this a case of opioid abuse? Man, I’m not looking forward to Clarke’s reunion with dear old mom. Time’s have changed.
- Dat b**** Kara. But, really. Way to hold a grudge.
- What will be the difference between Mama O and Mama C’s parenting techniques. Will Madi and Ethan meet each other? Who’s better off with whom…
- Darkness… so much darkness in Octavia “Blodreina” Blake. Will Bellamy, and Clarke even recognize Octavia anymore?
- Kane in the death match… lowkey think Kara had something to do with it.
- MACKSON KISS. YASS QUEEN.