The 100 Season 7 Episode 7 Review: The Queen’s Gambit

The women warriors reckon with each other and The 100 reaches all the way back to season 4 for a surprise

The 100 Season 7 Episode 7 review the Queen's Gambit Octavia and Echo on Bardo
Photo: The CW

This THE 100 review contains spoilers

The 100 Season 7 Episode 7

Lindsey Morgan (who plays Raven Rayes) directed a crackling episode of The 100 that treats us to a heaping pile of wonderful character moments and more mysteries than you can shake a stick at. Sheidheda continues to prove why he had a reputation as a master strategist and Emori comes into her own as a leader on Sanctum while Murphy struggles with the opposite impulse. Meanwhile, some of the most formidable women on the show found themselves imprisoned on Bardo, and Jackson helped Madi lay down her burden as Commander and simply be a kid.

Gabriel took a deal from Anders to join the Cypher Team rather quickly – so quickly that I’ve got to think his plan is to gather intel and play double agent. If he had stopped to consider it and searched his soul a bit, turning against his friends would be more believable. Anders’s offer of knowledge alone wouldn’t be too bad, though this isn’t Gabriel’s first war and he’s no dummy, so he would never believe it was just that. But the Clarke intel clearly gave him pause.

Time dilation allows the writers of The 100 to get even funkier with time than ever – remember The 100’s first major time jump at the end of season 4 into season 5? It was such a shock! We were so sweet and innocent back then. Now we time jump all the time! This episode’s use of dilation is judicious, allowing Gabriel three months to learn about the Anomaly Stones and hopefully all things Disciple, while some of The 100’s best warriors (minus Indra) train to become even deadlier.

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Sadly we have to wait to see the new and improved fighting force of Hope, Diyoza, Octavia and Echo (even writing that makes my skin prick up), but this episode gave those four actresses plenty to work with, and they did not disappoint. Hope and Diyoza threw down emotionally and physically, with Diyoza getting Hope to realize that 15 years of training and a heart full of vengeance is nothing compared to her mother – but it’s also no way to live. Diyoza was far more frank than I expected both about her crimes and Hope’s biological father, considering how much she sheltered Hope when she was a kid. But it was also interesting to hear Hope discuss the positive part of her mother’s military record, saving thousands of people at the Battle of San Francisco.

These scenes were both a great action set piece and such a human exchange between mother and daughter, seamlessly bridging the gap between multiple actors portraying Hope over time. The exchange kicked into high gear when Hope referred to deceased Sky Ring prisoner Dev as her father. That’s a move that feels right for the beautiful relationship we watched, but it’s got to be a gut punch for Diyoza to hear that the man her now-25-year-old daughter considers her father is a person she has never met and never will.

Echo and Octavia finally buried the hatchet, or machete, as the case may be. This was clearly driven by Octavia and all the evolving she’s done in the last couple of seasons, both in the regular timeline and across time dilations. O made it clear that while Hope may have misgivings about Echo, she’s bringing her own loyalty to the equation. The warrior formerly known as SkaiRippa and Blodraina  has forgiven any and all transgressions, and sees Echo as family.

While that was a lovely surprise, and Marie Avgeropoulos and Tasya Teles did an excellent job, The 100 writers owed their actors more than cribbing the “it’s not your fault” forced hug from Good Will Hunting, even using those exact words. It was an earned moment and likely one that will make the next time we see them working alongside one another much more fluid, but that felt goofy, cheap, and possibly unintentional, rather than like an homage.

We finally see Bellamy again and it’s in a flashback – and one that feels like it’s a few years too late. Seeing Bellamy forgive Echo, her regret over her worst sins, Bellamy extending a place within the group, Echo’s hope for loyalty, and their first kiss, it’s everything that we sort of assumed happened on the ring during those five years – but never saw. While much of the hate Echo gets is based purely on shipping, this particular issue lies with the writing. When Echo came back a member of SpaceKru and in a relationship with Bellamy, it was the ultimate in telling rather than showing.

While I’m glad to finally see this pivotal scene, it feels like too little, too late. Always clear that there are no good guys, The 100 chooses its real heroes and villains not by any sense of morality but by whose perspective it assumes. Interiority is pivotal, but it’s something Echo almost never gets. We heard Echo was family, but the audience never saw it firsthand, so those five years of supposed relationship development and character evolution were hearsay at best.

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Emori and Murphy’s dynamic become more pronounced this episode, in one of my favorite non-mysterious plots that’s moving right along at exactly the right pace. Emori is actually fantastic at being a fake Prime, using her now-extensive experience in bridging cultures and the studiousness we saw her apply to becoming a pilot to the task of bringing peace to Sanctum. Jackson’s new role as psychologist allowed him to make the subtext on Emori’s background into text, asking her about her motives. From a plot perspective, I understand why things had to go to hell, but seeing Emori try to bond with Nelson (and briefly find tentative success) was promising, so I look forward to watching that relationship develop.

Sheidheda’s evil plan for Nelson to ally with Nikki worked, thanks to old hatred dying hard, the delicate nature of Sanctum’s peace, and Sheidy ably detaining Murphy, who portrays the (apparently?) more credibly Daniel Prime. The chess match between Murphy and Sheidheda was a good little misdirect for what turned out to be his true plan, keeping Daniel from the Reunification Ceremony. It also laid groundwork for whatever confrontations they’ll have later when the Dark Commander inevitably tries to kill Emori and take over Sanctum.

While it might seem obvious that Murphy wouldn’t fold, he did exactly that last season, though it was so out of character for who he had become that fans kept waiting for a secret plan that never came, at least not until after Murphy had betrayed everyone several times over. All that is to say, let’s hope this season continues to be a more character-driven send-off for one of the show’s absolute best characters, rather than an unearned plot-driven regression.  

Finally, Clarke and friends landed on Bardo, only to learn the same devastating news that sent echo into a murderous rage: Gabriel tells them Bellamy is dead. The bond between the core group is so strong, but Clarke and Bellamy have been the leadership duo that lean on each other more than any other pair. With Abby and Kane gone and new kids coming onto the show, they’re now Space Mom and Space Dad. Eliza Taylor (playing Clarke) said it all with one look. While supposedly nothing breaks Clarke, this might be the closest she comes, especially so soon after burying her mother.

The episode leaves us with far more questions than answers. Where is our beloved and definitely-probably-we-hope-not-dead-Bellamy? How the heck did Second Dawn leader Bill Cadogen get here from Earth and survive this long? What do they want with Clarke and how do they know she’s the key? Who is this supposed war against? Where is Gaia? It says a lot about this season that we’re still deep in the exposition on our seventh episode, while simultaneously revisiting a character and group from way back in season 4. Onward!

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Other notes…

  • Soccer exists in space! The game truly is…universal (OK I’ll show myself out!)
  • Shout-out to Lexa and Lincoln! But did literally anyone have Bill Cadogan on their “characters who I want to see before the series ends” bingo card? No?
  • Anders confirmed that Orlando hanged himself in the cabin, saying, “it appears we need to rethink our penal system.” How is this the first time someone took their own life on Penance?
  • Nikki with the very real talk: “Don’t kid yourself honey. There’s no innocent people at the end of the world.”
  • I believe this is the most Diyoza has ever spoken about her major act of terrorism. She apparently was actually trying to do a good thing. Wasn’t she from the same time as Second Dawn? Might that come up during the back-door pilot when we see Earth before it was destroyed (the first time)?
  • Murphy’s explanation of the flame keepers all banding together to kill Sheidheda and Lexa coming after to unite the clans makes it sound like they were one right after the other. But I feel like timeline-wise there should be another commander between them just due to Indra’s age…Am I forgetting my Grounder history here? Help me out folks!
  • What did Nelson’s parents originally name him Sachin as in…Sachin Sahel, the name of the actor who plays Jackson?
  • Apparently Azgeda warrior’s scar themselves before war to signify that the pain is over? I’m fuzzy on what that means and how Echo did this – what did she use? After Hope had a tube in her arm I thought Echo was going to dig a weapon out of her face.
  • Nikki somehow seems to know Russel is dead, plus there’s the notes in the food. It seems like ole Sheidy is working the crowd far more than what we/our friends are seeing.

Rating:

4 out of 5