The 100 5x06 "Exit Wounds" Review
If you're reading this, then I'm sure you're aware that a new episode of The 100 was released. Unfortunately, after a week-long hiatus (and directly before another one), this episode felt like too much filler and not enough substance to capture audience attention after a short break and then retain it through the short hiatus coming next Tuesday.
The 100, with its short 13 episode seasons, isn't a show that really needs fillers, and the decision to include them almost always reflects badly near the end of the season when there's a sudden rush to shove as much information and exposition into each episode as possible. That's not to say there weren't things that I enjoyed about this episode (there were!), but how about we start with the things I didn't care for first?
In a break from my usual review style, I'll be breaking this review into chunks entitled: The Ugly, The Bad and The Decent.
1. Niylah kom Trikru's Abruptly Dropped Story.
We haven't seen Niylah in six (show) years and apparently a lot has changed with her. It seems she's completely Wonkru-ing it up now and might even have turned spy for Octavia (or at least she is spying — perhaps in an attempt to get closer to Octavia?). She's quick to ferret out the truth of Madi's Nightblood and is most certainly going to tell Octavia, until Clarke cuts a deal — she'll tell Octavia about Madi's Nightblood herself by morning. Niylah agrees with this plan and because Madi tells Octavia the secret herself later on in this very episode, this means that Niylah's plot had only one real purpose this episode (which I'll discuss later in another section).
As usual, it feels like Niylah exists only to fill the slot of "Grounder #1" and that's frustrating for someone who is a huge fan on Jess Harmon's work on iZombie (another CW show); she's criminally underutilized here and it shows.
2. Harper McIntyre is Missing.
Speaking of criminally underutilized characters. In a plot that focused on the closeness that Space Squad Seven (SS7) have found with one another (and has sizeable amounts of screen time for every other member of the group), it seems laughable that Harper — who has been with the show for 5 seasons and has pulled her weight for every one of them — had no speaking lines this episode and appeared only briefly in the corner of a shot — a glimpse so quick that I actually didn't realize she was in the episode until I was informed on Twitter — especially during a scene that is meant to emphasize Echo's closeness with SS7.
Thus far it seems that she's been regulated to the role of "supportive girlfriend," which is not something I'm pleased with. Harper has a lot of potential and it's being wasted. It doesn't help that I'm concerned about her chances of survival (Chelsey Reist announced recently that she will be headlining a major feature film — big congratulations there! — and her iMDB also lists a new show that's currently in pre-production).
3. Echo kom Azgeda — Show Not Tell.
One of the first things people are taught when they decided to work in television and film is that the audience must be shown something to believe it, not simply told. For whatever reason, The 100 is not following through with that core tenant when it comes to Echo.
We are told that SS7 have come to love her over 6 years. We are told that Echo has proven herself to SS7 on the Ring (which begs the question — how? We know she trained them, but with no real threats how has Echo proved to everyone in space that they have truly earned her loyalty?). We are told that Bellamy and Echo love each other romantically — and it almost seems a bit one-sided (Bellamy dramatically stating that he would defect with Echo, Bellamy saying "We all have things to answer for...") but we have only been shown this in much the same way this show tells us that other couples love each other romantically — through a sex scene.
If a couple has to have sex to prove they're in love, then you've failed that couple. Echo is another character who had a lot of potential, especially after her Season 3 arc, but it feels like the ball was dropped with her character and I don't know that they can pick it back up.
1. Bellamy Blake, Wherefore Art Thou?
Bellamy Blake is my favorite character. This isn't a secret. I've been a fan since the Pilot episode, long before "His Sister's Keeper" aired, and pulled people into his corner. I spent the first five episodes of this season loving "mature" Bellamy. It's nice to see who Bellamy is in peace time, and to get a hint at the man he could have always been if life on the Ark, and later the ground, hadn't been so hard. He's capable, commanding, logical without being cruel and underneath it all, that heart of gold still shines.
This is why this episode was so confusing to me. Nothing about Bellamy's actions were logical this episode and I think that's in large part due to the show's focus on telling and not showing. Instead of being shown a logical Bellamy this episode, we were simply told he's logical, and that statement does not line up with his actions. A truly logical Bellamy would have understood that Octavia's reasons for not wanting Echo in the bunker are real and valid. No matter how much growth Echo showed on the Ring, Octavia (like the audience) has not been given a chance to see it.
It's asinine of Bellamy to assume that just because he tells Octavia Echo has changed she'd believe it, especially after seeing what six years in the bunker has done to her. Octavia isn't wrong to not want the woman who tried to murder her, twice, in her bunker. She's not wrong to be confused by her brother's (who until now has always put her first) apparent inability to understand her feelings. She's not wrong to list Echo's victims and paint her as a villain, because Echo has been one of the villains in Octavia's (and Bellamy's) story. And to have all of that washed away simply because Echo is "family" now is even more laughable when one considers the fact that the Blake siblings are the only people on this show to have siblings.
If anyone understands "family" and its bonds, it's the man who gave up sixteen years of his life to protect the sister he wasn't supposed to have. The relationship between Bellamy and Echo has also had the added effect of mirroring Season 3 Bellamy (who, unfortunately, was not an audience favorite). The male lead of the show is once again given a romantic relationship developed off screen during a time jump and his relationship with this woman is so important to Bellamy that, even though the audience is not shown its importance, it fundamentally alters his character.
2. John Murphy: Meninist?
John Murphy is an excellent character, even if he's not someone I'd necessarily want to be friends with. He's sarcastic and biting and capable of committing atrocities without flinching if it saves his hide, but one of his redeeming features has always been his love and care for Emori.
This is why it's been so frustrating to me to watch episode after episode of him continuously putting Emori down all because she wasn't solely reliant on him anymore. I understand it's supposed to show us that Murphy wasn't sure of his place with SS7 or with Emori and was concerned that she'd replaced him with the fun bits and bobs of technology, I truly do. But there is nothing attractive about a man who is so insecure that his girlfriend's success drives him to be whatever Murphy was when we ran into him in "Eden."
3. Where Is Raven Reyes?
Just to add on to our list of missing characters, fan favorites Raven Reyes and Zeke (Miles, I guess) Shaw were nowhere to be found this episode. We weren't even given a scene of Raven in holding or Zeke eating with the rest of the Eligius crew. In this filler of an episode, wasting the opportunity to even give us a glimmer of Raven's big brain as she tries to figure out a way out of her current situation, or giving us a hint as to whether or not Zeke's betrayal in 5x05 was real (my vote is for staged!), seems ridiculous. Their banter has been one of the best parts of the season, and it also would have helped to lighten up an episode that verged on dipping into another of Season 3's problems: too much grimdark.
1. Gaia Kom Trikru: Secret Agent (Wo)man.
Remember when I told you we’d discuss Niylah’s purpose later? Well, the time is nigh. Without Niylah threatening to expose Madi, we never would have had an opportunity to see Gaia’s (hopefully) true colors.
Apparently, Gaia has been putting on a front for 6 long years and I could not have been more pleased. I was devastated when it appeared that Gaia supported Octavia as "Blodreina" in 5x02 because it seemed completely antithetical to her actions in Season 4. I couldn't believe that someone as strong in their faith as she was would so quickly turn her back on it. I've been nurturing a small kernel of faith in her and I, like Gaia, was rewarded.
It must have been amazing for someone so strong in their faith to have an almost exact replay of Becca Praimheda's arrival over 100 years earlier and I was pleased at the reminder that even though she's a Flame Keeper, she was raised by Indra and as such, has a warrior's instincts and abilities. I hope that we get to see more of her this season (just as much as I hope that this won't be a double-double cross and wind up with Gaia trying to force the Flame into Madi).
2. Memori: A Match Made in Murder.
Even though Murphy was one of my "bad" things about the episode, I thoroughly enjoyed watching Memori have the time to actually talk through their issues. It's amazing what being put in a life or death situation will do for you. Although they'd had time on the Ring to have this exact same discussion, it took Murphy realizing he might actually die to get him to open up and be vulnerable. I loved that, even as she showed understanding of the why behind the actions, Emori was unwilling to accept the actions themselves.
Emori has always been one of the best parts of the show: she's strong, funny, courageous and smart, and it's so good to see her know her worth and her value and refuse to back down. As always, I love that Memori's shared kink is murdering and maiming people. It was fun to see them turn the exhilaration of survival into a quick, but aborted, roll in the hay and good to see Emori lay down the law about their relationship status. Also: they've now kidnapped a person together. If that's not the path to more Memori healing I don't know what is, and I can't wait to see Murphy get a chance to really chat with McCreary and see what he could have become. Maybe this will be the wakeup call Murphy really needs.
3. Bellarke: The Little Ship That Could.
Even if you don't ship them, it's hard to deny that Clarke Griffin's relationship with Bellamy Blake is at the core of the show (especially as Jason Rothenberg has said so himself). It could be argued that they've been completely platonic for the past five seasons and you wouldn't be wrong, but you'd be lying to yourself if you said you weren't seeing the seeds of romantic Bellarke, planted across seasons, finally begin to blossom.
"But April," you say skeptically, "Bellamy is in a relationship." And you are correct, dear reader. But what I'm actually directing your attention to with this entry is Clarke's reaction to Bellamy's relationship. For the second episode in a row we've been show Clarke seeing Bellamy and Echo in a romantic embrace and both times she has had to take a moment to gather herself before she could continue with what she was doing. Both times the director has been sure to show us what Clarke is looking at and then pan to Clarke's face so we can see the emotion on it.
It's worth noting that Clarke is also withdrawing emotionally from Bellamy. Her behavior with him this episode was a marked difference from episodes 5x04 and 5x05. She doesn't want to discuss things with him, she's walking away from him when he attempts to, and she's not depending on him in the same manner she (briefly) did in 5x04.
We’re also shown glimpses of Bellamy's concern for Clarke this episode as well, the emotion in his voice when she says she can't stay is real and he does truly want to reconnect with her — trying to get her to open up about her experiences is a dead giveaway there. I'm not saying they're going to be jumping each other's bones when the next episode airs on June 19th, but Bob Morley's (Bellamy Blake) hints to Bellarke fans ("This season will be rough for you, but the end....") seem to be extremely relevant right about now.
So there you have it folks: one fan's not particularly enthusiastic review of The 100 Season 5, Episode 6 "Exit Wounds". When compared with the mastery of the previous episodes this season, I was left unimpressed and uninspired. Do I have hope that the rest of the season will live up to the hype raised during the first five episodes of this season? Are we still breathing?
The 100 airs Tuesdays at 9/8c on The CW.