This review contains spoilers.
5.11 Damocles — Part One
When The 100 first began, it was a show that was constantly subverting expectations of what a ‘teen’ show could be. Part of that was CW stigma, but part of that was simply good television storytelling. Most shows aren’t willing to go as dark and brutal as The 100 has gone again and again, most shows aren’t quite so comfortable letting their protagonists and antagonists look so similar.
In recent seasons, however, The 100 has suffered from a constant leaning into these new, darker expectations. Now that everyone expects the show to go dark, it’s not so surprising when it does—and in age in which it’s far more unique and subversive to tell a story about community, unexpected kindness, or the power of empathy, dark just isn’t doing it anymore.
This is the context the story of Damocles — Part One is told in. As a war story, it’s a solid one. As a season-ending arc of The 100, it’s all too familiar. It’s a complicated tale of loyalty and what we are all willing to do for the people we love. Basically, we’ve seen The 100 tell this story. I’m ready for a new one. What does it look like when these characters build something rather than tear it down?
That being said, we all still care about these characters. And seeing who they are loyal to and what they are willing to do to protect the objects of that loyalty still holds value. For Clarke, who apparently learned from her mother, she is willing to do absolutely anything to keep Madi safe by her definition of the word. She goes so far as to zap her, which is not a good look on anyone, and is a bastardisation of maternal love. That isn’t love; that’s control.
While it is not explicitly articulated in the show, I can understand why being a mother is so appealing to Clarke. So often, she has been split in many different directions, unable to save everyone she loves. By filling the role of mother in its most extreme defintion, she seems to think that any degree of betrayal or sin is okay as long as Madi is safe. Following a reminder of Lexa’s love, however, Clarke thankfully has a change of heart and helps a stubbornly ferocious Madi and the others escape McCreary’s clutches to go save Bloodraina and the rest of the missing Kru.
Speaking of Bloodraina, Octavia has finally accepted that it Wonkru is broken. It only took a dying Gaia to whisper the words from her mother’s arms. After leading her army into the slaughter of McCreary’s merciless assault, Octavia sees Gaia’s words as a call to sacrificial arms. She causes a bullet-y diversion while Bellamy, Gaia, and Indra hobble to safety. It truly seems like Octavia will go out in a blaze of glory until Madi and co. show up for the last-minute rescue. (And I’m going to guess Echo loved the irony of this moment.)
For now, our original crew is given a reprieve from the knife’s edge, though Gaia is on death’s door and she’s not the only one. Poor, sweet Kane, who starts the episode having to listen over the radio to the slaughter he helped orchestrate, ends the episode bleeding out after having been stabbed and gnawed on by Abby’s former dealer. Abby shows up in time to electrocute the jerk, but she might not be timely enough to save Kane. It’s unclear whether he took his last breath or not, but if he did, he has some killer final words for Abby: “She killed those people, not you. It was Octavia.” Damn that fool loves Abby. Don’t die, Kane.