Surrounded by warring clans and impossible choices, Octavia must find a way to survive the end of the world
If ‘Eden’ raised our expectations for the caliber of The 100’s fifth season, episode two ‘The Red Queen’ completely shattered them.
The Second Dawn was supposed to mean safety. It was the answer to the looming threat of Praimfaya and when Octavia (Marie Avgeropoulos) won the Conclave in 4×10 ‘Die All, Die Merrily,’ she made sure that Skaikru weren’t the only ones who were saved. All 13 clans would be given equal space within the bunker, an equal chance at survival, but that was easier said than done.
Almost immediately we see the issues that arise when you force warring clans into extremely tight quarters. Fighting breaks out and Octavia, still unsure of her role as leader, has to lean on other, more experienced leaders. Most surprising of these is Jaha (Isaiah Washington), the former chancellor responsible for floating Octavia’s mother and sending the 100 to Earth in the first place.
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Newcomer Kara (Kyra Zagorsky), angry and grieving her father and husband, stages a coup and seizes control of the farms in an effort to starve out the rest of the 12 clans, leaving Skaikru as the sole survivors and rightful owners of the bunker. In doing so, it forces Octavia and Jaha to work together to save hundreds of lives.
Jaha, mortally wounded, gives Octavia the first piece of advice that actually seems to resonate with her: ‘make death your enemy’. He refuses to open the door until she accepts the mantle of leader and punishes the guilty.
In a truly spectacular display, Octavia does exactly that, slicing her way through anyone who dares to stand in her way, repeating the instantly iconic: “You are Wonkru or you are the enemy of Wonkru. Choose.” That’s something we’re afraid is going to underline the rest of the season.
Fully embracing her new role as leader, Octavia decrees that any guilty person will be forced to fight for their lives in a gladiator fight to the death, a twisted sport to satisfy both bloodlust and the need to reduce the population in the bunker. That’s a tradition that carries through the next six years, when Kane (Henry Ian Cusick) finds himself in the arena.
Our fantastic Panelkru is here again this week to dive into another incredible episode.
Jaclyn & Marcella (@cityofthefeels) – YouTubers on the channel Drowninginfandomfeels, English majors, and hardcore fangirls
Selina (@taylormorley) – Student, vidder and fangirl
Erin (@eeandg81) – Homeschool mom who turned fangirling into a career
Lola (@skyegrounders) – A fan of The 100
Milena & Lola (@LMreactions) – Full time mathematics students, part time reactors
1. Firstly, what do you think Kane did to end up in the gladiator deathmatch?
Jaclyn and Marcela (@cityofthefeels): We’ve been thinking a lot about this and we feel like whatever he did, it must have been so extreme for Octavia to put him in this situation. This really emphasizes how brutal the bunker is and how regimented Octavia is with her ruthless punishments. Clearly, no one is an exception down in the bunker. It also makes us wonder where Abby stands in all of this. Are her and Kane even together 6 years later?
Selina (@taylormorley): Hmm tricky question.. I honestly have no idea. He probably violated a rule or something. Definitely can’t wait to find out what he did!
Erin (@eeandg81): This one is so hard. The 100 loves parallels so I’m guessing it will parallel something we’ve seen. Does he want to tell everyone that’s still alive in the bunker they are never going to be able to get out and they might run out of resources like Jake Griffin did? Or do they all already know at this point? Maybe he got caught stealing pot (or whatever herb it was) like Monty and Jasper…..I mean it would kind of explain that hairstyle he’s rocking. Setting something on fire like Murphy? Taking the fall for someone else like Finn? I don’t know, I’m terrible at guessing but I’m really ready to find out why he’s there.
Lola (@skyegrounders): He stole a blanket? No but seriously, maybe he didn’t do anything because thinking of what Octavia said about too many people living in the bunker and also gladiators not always being guilty, maybe there is a kind of lottery to get the chance to live by fighting in little conclaves.
Lola and Milena (@LMreactions): From what we know from the interviews with the cast and Jason, Kane thinks Octavia went too far. So it wouldn’t be surprising if he tried to rebel against her regime in some way, considering that he always stood up for what he believed in, even if that meant going against the leaders.
2. May we meet again Thelonious Jaha. How did you feel about the former chancellor’s last moments? Was he redeemed in your opinion or do you still hate him?
Jaclyn and Marcela: Jaha has always been a complex and layered character, like most of the characters on the show. It was an unexpected twist that he had a sense of redemption with Octavia. That conversation was a highlight of the episode for us and it made his death all the more meaningful and powerful. His final moments with Kane and Abby were utterly heartbreaking. As for whether or not we believe he was redeemed: we feel as though he was understood. On the ark, death was the enemy and it paralleled Octavia’s situation, as the leader of WonKru.
Selina: I thought he would die but in the middle of the season. It was surprising that he died so soon. And yes I still hate him.
Erin: I thought Jaha’s last moments were heartbreakingly beautiful. I’ve never really hated him I just didn’t care about him that much but last night I did care about him and I was sad to see him go. As far as redemption goes I’m not really sure he needed to be redeemed. Jaha has made some questionable choices but just like Clarke and Bellamy it was always what he thought was best for his people. Even on the Ark when they were floating people it was what he felt was the best choice to keep everyone alive.
Lola: I’m confused about it, liked or not, Jaha has survived way worse wounds and situations so even some of those who are happy about him dying probably shed a tear. Maybe not really about him actually leaving but about the memories, his son dearly loved and the shock. This episode is not a reason to forget but it’s a great ode to him.
Lola and Milena: We never hated him, Jaha was such an interesting character and everything he did, he did for his people, so his death was perfectly done because it explained the tough choices he had to make, not just to Octavia but to the audience. At the end he was surrounded by Kane and Abby, the people he started his journey with, remembering his wife and son, I couldn’t think of a better end for such a polarizing character.
3. How far do you think Octavia’s loyalty to WonKru will go? Do you think she’ll let it overtake her relationship with Bellamy for instance?
Jaclyn and Marcela: Our favorite thing about this episode was seeing Octavia’s development and progression towards accepting this leadership role that she initially hesitated to embrace. The moment when she confidently asserted her leadership on those who rebelled against her was such a turning point and really stressed the loyalty that she had to leading WonKru from that point on. Without a doubt, this loyalty will be tested when they reunite with SpaceKru and Clarke, however we feel WonKru are strong and united by the end of the episode and will be faithful to their Blodreina. There’s a good chance that Octavia’s loyalty to Wonkru will clash with Bellamy’s loyalty to SpaceKru and that will strain their relationship and stir up some turmoil.
Selina: She’s a leader now and WonKru are her people so I think at the beginning it will be difficult between her and Bellamy. We’ll see..but I can’t wait for their reunion!
Erin: I definitely think that her loyalty to Wonkru will be stronger than her loyalty to Bellamy. They are her family now, I think someone even said they were like her children in a way. We’ve seen her choose others over Bellamy before and I don’t think this season will be any different.
Lola: I think Octavia will stop at nothing to continue what she started with Wonkru and ensure their survival. Even though she and Bellamy are blood and generally find common ground, it could create some issues, which has always created some conflicts between them in the past, something that will probably happen again this season.
Lola and Milena: I think it will definitely create the conflict in their relationship. Octavia was forced to become a leader and after six years we’ll see that she’s truly accepted that role, so her loyalty will be with Wonkru. So even though she will still be a sister, I think she will be leader first and foremost.
4. In a show like this we kind of have to cling to the lighter moments to get us through the dark. What was your favourite softer moment?
Jaclyn and Marcela: Our favorite softer moment was the heartfelt scene between Kane and Abby when he tells her that he couldn’t bear to lose her. Although their relationship has been strained, it is clear that their love is still there. It was such an emotional and sweet declaration in a world that is so filled with violence. Another cute moment that gave us all the happy feels was the Jackson and Miller kiss. It was nice to see that they had each other down there and we hope their relationship isn’t too different 6 years later, being that we got a shot of Miller standing loyally next to Octavia at the end of the episode.
Selina: I loved the moments between Jackson and Miller! These two are so cute and I’m so happy that they’re canon! I also liked the scene between Octavia and Niylah in the beginning when she gave Octavia the book Bellamy had read to her when she was little.
Erin: There were actually quite a few light moments I really loved in this episode but without a doubt Miller telling Jackson he loved him was my favorite soft moment. I’ve been excited for their relationship all hiatus and I hope we get to see more.
Lola: I got two softer moments; Niylah giving Octavia the book Bellamy used to read her, despite the dark connotations of what those ideals might lead to and as well as Jaha reading Wells’ favorite story to Ethan.
Lola and Milena: In the beginning of the episode there was a short scene between Octavia and Miller that we really enjoyed. It was lighthearted and it was a nice change of pace to see Octavia smiling. What also made it stand out the most was that they are a part of the delinquents, and the relationships between the 100 have always been one of the most important aspects of the show, so seeing that that connection is still there between them was very important to us.
5. How do you feel about Blodreina? Are you excited? Terrified? Nauseated?
Jaclyn and Marcela: All three! We are mostly anxious though to see more of how she has changed over the years. We were proud of her for taking such a strong stand and rising up to lead in the best way she knew how. Octavia has had tremendous development and it’s always exciting and unexpected to see what she will do next.
Selina: From Skairipa to Blodreina. Damn.. I’m terrified! Octavia is really terrifying. I’m so excited to see more of her this season. I think Octavia is gonna be one of the most interesting character in season 5.
Erin: She looks terrifying but I’m still excited. I think this might end up being my favorite version of Octavia to watch. It’s going to be tense and scary but interesting.
Lola: Honestly I’m surprised in a good way. Contrary to things she did before that disappointed and upset me, she is trying to keep people alive without having to kill each of them and even gave some the choice. The 6 year after remains dark and blurry though, who’s fighting and why ? Hopefully we’ll learn more.
Lola and Milena: Mostly excited, slightly terrified. It’s gonna be fascinating to see Octavia in that position, considering she never understood what it takes to lead. But now that she has been put in that position she will rise up to it in the best way she knows how. I think the episode did the great job at explaining why she got to where she is now. We still don’t fully know who she is after those six years and it’s gonna be interesting to see how she leads the Wonkru with the threat of the Eligius people.
6. In 1×08 ‘Day Trip’ Bellamy tells Clarke that his mother would be ashamed of who he’s become, do you think Aurora’s perceived shame affects Octavia’s thinking at all?
Jaclyn and Marcela: This is such an interesting question, as the idea of survival and who these characters need to be to survive has evolved through each season. We don’t believe that Octavia really puts much thought into what others perceive her to be. Part of what makes Octavia such an admirable character is her overall strength to do what she feels is necessary, despite what others think. We feel that she suppresses any shame she feels regarding her mother, which is seen when Jaha mentions her in the episode and Octavia doesn’t want to talk about her with him. However, she’s always felt like an outsider to Skaikru, being that the Ark caused her so much pain in her life, which includes losing her mother. She carries those moments from the past with her, which is why in the end she decided to share the bunker. She has always felt detached from her own people and does not want anybody else to feel that way. She created her own people because of what she had went through. It’s clear that she finally feels as though she belongs. We think her mother would understand to some level where her daughter is coming from being that she also felt disconnected from Skaikru, having had to hide her daughter for her whole life in space. Octavia’s history on the show is why she is one of the most extraordinary female warriors on television.
Selina: Hard question.. yes maybe but Octavia is probably more worried about what Bellamy thinks of her and I think Bellamy will definitely be surprised when he sees his little sister leads like this.
Erin: I really don’t think it does. Bellamy and Octavia are so completely different. Bellamy feels guilty for everything and has always carried the weight of every mistake he’s ever made on his shoulders. I’m not sure if we’ve ever seen Octavia take responsibility for any of her own actions so if she doesn’t ever feel responsible what does she have to be ashamed of?
Lola: The simple fact that Jaha said that Aurora was responsible for her own death made Octavia really angry. She always tried to live by the moto her mom taught her: “don’t be afraid” disregarding the bad and good she did, she probably felt the same as Bellamy about their mother’s opinions of them and she would have been maybe ashamed about some of their choices of course but she would probably have been also proud of them at other points.
Lola and Milena: Not really. The difference between Octavia and Bellamy is that Bellamy carries a lot of guilt with him, whereas Octavia feels like her actions are justified, so we don’t think Octavia thinks or is influenced by Aurora’s ghost.
7. This episode played a lot with the idea of contrast, the old and the new, tradition and trailblazing but as usual in The 100 it’s not all black and white. How do you feel about the middle ground they found?
Jaclyn and Marcela: One of the best things about this show is the complexity and being able to explore that middle area that is so influential in who the character’s are and who they need to be in these life altering situations. We found the element of the gladiator fights to be rather interesting, as it is history repeating itself in a new and revamped way. The romans would fight in the Coliseum and now the bunker has become its own Coliseum in a way. It’s ironic in a sense that they are killing people, yet this concept was created as a way for them to survive. We loved the contrasting scene at the very end when it transitioned from the first battle in the pit to six years later- bloody floor and all! The English majors in us really appreciated the symbolism of the red blood smeared on the white floor, drawing attention to this contrast and Wonkru’s increased brutality, as well as Octavia’s development from the naive girl under the floor to the ruthless and, equally badass, Blodreina she’s become.
Selina: Well I don’t wanna live in the bunker for sure. I think the decision of Octavia to make all of them listen to her was the only choice and it was great to see how she tried to figure out how to lead them. She really had to learn how she be her own leader and it was really interesting to see how they all have the respect for Octavia now. I liked the scene when she said down here is no more blood must have blood and no Skaikru, we’re Wonkru. I’m really excited to see more of the bunker!
Erin: Honestly I can’t even imagine being stuck down there and trying to keep the grounders who like to kill people for stealing blankets and skaikru, who feel like they deserve the bunker since Jaha is the one who found it and O won the conclave, under control. I’m not sure it would have been what I would have done but I also have no other ideas. I mean letting people fight to the death and then eating the bodies doesn’t sound like my idea of middle ground but who knows what other terrible ideas they came up with before deciding on this one.
Lola: We know for sure with a show like The 100 that middle ground never really lasts, ever since season 1 even if it seems that it will. So I’m sure the future events will disturb and change radically what they founded.
Lola and Milena: It’s one of the things we always loved the most about The 100, the show lives in the morally grey area. It always connects the past with the present, we especially loved the parallel between the bunker and the Ark and their form of punishment.We hope the show continues to find those middle grounds, because it is then when it is at its best.
‘I intend to speak of forms changed into new entities.’ – Ovid’s Metamorphoses
The 100 is a master of female-led storylines, placing the bulk of the narrative for their first two episodes on two vastly different but incredibly powerful women. Clarke, always so sure of herself and her place, is set adrift and alone in a brand new world in ‘Eden.’ Octavia, always unable to find where exactly she belongs, finally finds her place at the head of Wonkru in ‘The Red Queen.’
We’re having a hard time putting ‘The Red Queen’ into words. It was exciting and horrible and, most of all, bloody, rather like the gladiator arena Octavia now presides over. There aren’t very many shows willing to show this level of fear and death and even fewer that heavily hint at the idea of cannibalism as a method of survival.
After watching this episode, we feel unsettled and slightly sick, which is probably exactly what Jason Rothenberg and co. had in mind during the making of this episode. They’re playing us like that smooth acoustic guitar solo (bonus points for sneaking the director of the episode in as that guitar player).
The only thing we can even concede might not have been up to the extreme level of quality we were promised by ‘Eden’ was that the lighting may have been a bit too dark at certain points (it’s a little harder to track the main character if you can’t see them), but even that feels like a conscious decision to contrast with the harsh lighting seen elsewhere in the episode.
Yet another fantastic episode means yet another unbearable wait for next week. Yes, we were given a peek inside the bunker but the list of unanswered questions just keeps growing. How will Wonkru escape the bunker? Which relationships, if any, survive six years locked underground? And perhaps most terrifying, will any of our beloved characters take a page out of Hannibal Lector’s recipe book?
Next week’s episode, ‘Sleeping Giants’, brings with it the promise of more Spacekru and, dare we believe it, some long awaited reunions?