The 100 5x07 "Acceptable Losses" Review
“Acceptable Losses,” written by Jeff Vlaming and directed by Marizee Almas, was one of my favorite episodes of Season 5 so far. It felt like early Season 2 in some ways, when Clarke was first discovering the horrors that were taking place at Mount Weather, and had some great character moments, including a tribute to one of the fallen delinquents, Jasper.
One of the big plot points in this episode was Abby’s addiction, which continues to worsen. She isn’t able to save Karina, the woman who was wounded when Kara opened fire on the defectors at the end of the last episode, and Kane is concerned that the drugs are impeding Abby’s ability to do her job. Abby protests that there was too much internal damage for her to fix (side note: I’m sure Echo jamming a flash drive into her bullet wound didn’t help), but as Kane points out, she didn’t even close Karina up — or even close her eyes, for that matter.
When Kane was being taken to fight in the arena for the second time, likely to his death, he asked Abby to promise him she’d stop taking the drugs, but as anyone who knows anything about addiction can tell you, you can’t quit for someone else. You have to find the motivation in yourself — as Diyoza says later, if Abby is forced to quit, she’ll become a clean junkie, always thinking about her next fix.
It’s realistic for Kane to feel like Abby doesn’t love him enough to quit, and what he says to Abby isn’t wrong (she’s definitely becoming more and more dependent on the drugs and less and less of a good doctor), but Abby’s continued drug usage doesn’t reflect on her love for him. Kane can’t deal with being with Abby and seeing herself unravel into addiction, so he gives her a choice: him or the pills. She doesn’t choose, and Kane takes that as choosing the pills, and leaves.
I’m still not entirely sold on this storyline — it seems weird and out of place in this story. Not that addiction won’t still be a thing in the future, but it doesn’t quite fit like Jasper’s alcoholism did. But with that being said, Paige is absolutely acting the hell out of it, as is Ian. And how fitting was Abby’s cry of “I did everything I could!” and Kane’s response of “It wasn’t enough,” for this show?
Charmaine Diyoza continues to be the best “villain” the show has ever seen — and really, is she so terrible? She takes in refugees from the group she’s warring with, she sends the whole group food drops, she personally meets with every new person to find a place for them, and at the end of the episode even says that she’ll share the valley if Wonkru surrenders completely. What other antagonist hasn’t just tried to slaughter their enemies regardless? By The 100 standards, she’s practically a saint. She’s a lot more like Clarke, and is such a fascinating character. I know the bad guys usually die at the end of the season, but man, I hope they keep Diyoza around (and “Zeke” Shaw too, obviously).
She’s also hiding a surprising secret: she’s pregnant! When Ivana Milicevic revealed her pregnancy after Season 5 wrapped, there was plenty of speculation as to whether Diyoza would be pregnant as well. Since she found out she was pregnant the day before shooting, most assumed they’d just hide it, but clearly the writers did some on-the-fly revising to add it in! I’m definitely intrigued to see how a baby fits into the story, and have a few questions — is McCreary the father? How does cryosleep affect a fetus? Will Jason Rothenberg cross the line and KILL A BABY??
Another thing I’m not sold on is the fact that Raven and Echo are supposedly friends — I mean, to some extent, it’s a given, with only seven people in space for six years, but I’ve never seen anything that really says “friends” to me. To be fair, they’ve barely interacted, due to Raven staying on the Eligius ship when Echo went to Earth, but still. Echo’s casual “spacewalker” and calling Raven “my girl” just felt weird. Telling us in the description of an episode that two characters are friends without showing it doesn’t cut it for me.
And I don’t know about you, but if someone I lived in close quarters with for six years were to tell me that they just needed a little more time to achieve something (especially if that someone was Raven freakin’ Reyes), I’d trust her, not go behind her back and betray an ally. Space was like stasis for the space gang — there was really no outside conflict, nothing to incite much change. The true test of someone’s character is how they behave under outside stress, the likes of which they were dumped into as soon as they landed on Earth. And that’s all I’ll say on that.
Zaven, on the other hand (you can pry the name Zeke from my cold dead hands), I am sold on. They keep giving us little snippets of backstory, and I want to know more! Zeke mentions the “Battle of San Francisco,” which is pretty intriguing, and reveals that he’s the one who turned off the prisoners’ shock collars, allowing them to kill the guards and take control of the ship, because the guards had been ordered to leave the prisoners (sick from the hithylodium they had been mining) on an asteroid and bring the hithylodium back to Earth.
Raven can tell that Zeke is a good person, even if he isn’t inclined to trust her since he’s already on thin ice with Diyoza. After Echo turns him in to get a chance to plug the flash drive into the ship’s mainframe, resulting in a pretty severe beating (though not his death, since he’s the only one who can fly the ship), he’s certain to be even less likely to trust Raven, but hey, there’s still half a season left. And these two are pretty clearly made for each other.
Down in the bunker, Octavia’s ruthlessness continues to shock Bellamy. She actually finally remembers her manners at the beginning of the episode and thanks Bellamy for getting them out of the bunker, but Bellamy isn’t having it, pointing out that just as she thinks things will be better once they get to Shallow Valley, the space gang had thought things would be better when they got to the ground, only to find Octavia and her cult. I’m always glad to see Bellamy stand up to Octavia, and maybe one day we’ll see him stand up for himself, not just the people he cares about.
When Clarke and Monty make a horrifying Mount Weather-esque discovery (death worm breeding! human testing! biological warfare!), he’s certain that Octavia couldn’t possibly be in on it. But of course, she is. When Bellamy learns that Octavia ordered the worm testing and is okay with the human testing Kara did behind her back, he looks gutted (but not as gutted as Obika, the worms’ first victim! ...too soon?), and even more so when she calls those in the valley acceptable losses. She then tries to claim that Bellamy and Clarke are being hypocritical for judging her for her plan to wipe out a bunch of “innocent” people, but come on. Bellamy and Clarke try to do the right thing first, only resorting to killing huge numbers of innocent people (like Octavia is planning to do) after exhausting every other possibility.
How many different plans did they have for taking down Mount Weather without killing everyone before they pulled the lever and wiped them out? Octavia has only tried one thing with Eligius: go to war. She looks more than a little crazy when she’s drawing up the map, and when Indra comes to talk to her about the new “weapon,” Octavia angrily throws a HUMAN SKULL across the room. THAT SHE HAD SITTING ON THE TABLE LIKE ROOM DECOR. I think Indra can tell that she’s barrelling past the point of no return, and tells her to “be careful of the dark; too easy to lose your way.” But Octavia is angry that Indra was the one to help Kane escape, and declares that if they lose this war, it’ll be on Indra’s head, and orders her out after threatening to make her fight in the pit.
I absolutely loved the Season 2 vibes from this part of the episode, starting with Monty being a genius and getting past the keypad-locked door in seconds. I was actually breathless while I waited to see what they would discover inside the lab! (I thought it was going to be a big butcher shop, but I’m still convinced they turned to cannibalism during "the dark year.” I’m sure we’ll find out in 5x11, which is said to be titled “The Dark Year.”)
And of course, this show is always at its best when Bellamy and Clarke are working together. I loved the look on Clarke’s face when Monty pointed out that Bellamy might not be the best person to talk to Indra about Octavia, and it was hilarious to have Clarke order the others at Indra’s table to leave, mere seconds after telling Bellamy to be diplomatic.
(A couple thoughts about their plan to send the worms to the valley inside someone ostensibly defecting once the Eye is down — Octavia tells Kara to choose one of the elite guards to deliver the worms, but sacrificing one of your best fighters as worm food seems kind of wasteful. And why do they need to wait until the Eye is down for this to happen?)
Getting to see more of Clarke in mom mode was so fun, and I’m so glad Madi has her own personality and is a fleshed-out character, because before the season started I’d been a bit worried she’d just be a plot device. Clarke wisely has Madi hold back during her training with Gaia, because she doesn’t want Gaia or Octavia to know how skilled a warrior Madi is. But of course, that’s hard for a 12-year-old to swallow.
Gaia sees through her clumsy swordsmanship and can tell she’s holding back, but agrees with Clarke — she wants Madi, the last nightblood, to be safe, which means Octavia can’t know how competent she is. She shows Madi the Flame, and honestly, I wasn’t entirely certain she wasn’t going to try and force it on her, like Clarke tried to do with Luna in Season 3. The whispering voices we hear as Madi looks at the Flame reminded me of the whispers Frodo heard when he held the Ring, and I’m wondering if this will become a similar source of temptation to Madi. Gaia kneels before Madi, still finding the nightblood sacred, and vows not to let anyone harm her, amidst some truly beautiful music.
Later, Octavia watches as the novitiates spar, and Madi can’t hold back any longer, easily beating the novitiate, much to Gaia and Clarke’s horror (and Octavia’s interest). Octavia asks Madi to be her second when they march on the valley, and, ignoring the eye-daggers Clarke is shooting at her, in true preteen fashion, Madi agrees.
The last thing I want to touch on is, of course, Jasper. Clarke gives Monty the note she’d found in the wreckage of Arkadia, telling him that she’d almost read it many times, but knew it was for Monty’s eyes. The brief moment is underscored by what I assume is a last reprisal of Jasper’s theme, before they’re interrupted by Kara being sneaky. The next time we see Monty, he angrily reads the note aloud, now knowing that it was to be a suicide note.
As Jasper points out, they’re in a constant cycle of committing horrible atrocities in the name of survival, and he was done being part of it. Monty’s ready to be done with it, too — especially since he usually has to facilitate those atrocities. He tells Bellamy he won’t hack in and shut down the Eye remotely, pulling out a bottle of algae instead. “Make algae, not war,” Bellamy remembers the phrase on Monty’s apron (that he sadly seems to have left in space).
Monty can make the hydrofarm work to grow algae instead of the dying plants, which Wonkru can live on, but as Bellamy points out, they still need to save their people — and it’s not likely Wonkru is going to be happy to eat green sludge when there’s a whole fertile valley so close by, no matter how tight a rein Octavia has on them.
In the end, with Jasper’s words ringing in her ears, Clarke decides to stop the cycle. She unplugs the radio they were using to access Eligius’ systems remotely, and radios Diyoza instead. Diyoza tells her that she’ll share the valley if Wonkru surrenders unconditionally — something Octavia is definitely not going to do. So, declares Clarke, they’re going to take Octavia out. The last shot of the episode mirrors one with Octavia from the beginning — Bellamy in the foreground, and one of the most important women in his life seen over his shoulder. I’m sure I don’t have to point out the “angel/devil on your shoulder” visual there.
This being The 100, with constant doom and gloom and new bad guys every season, I doubt Clarke’s breaking of the cycle will stick. But it would sure be nice if it did. And it made for a terrific tribute to Jasper and what he believed.
The 100 airs Tuesdays at 9/8c on The CW.