In an episode spent entirely off-world, The 100’s second episode of its final season, we explore the world of Sky Ring in two distinct timelines, hundreds of years apart. While the episode began a little bit slow, the latter half invoked plenty of emotion as history repeats itself, kind of like it’s been doing over and over again for the past six seasons. But let’s focus on “The Garden” for now.
HOPE IS BORN
“The Garden” starts with the moment Octavia disappeared into the anomaly last season, showing us her emergence on the other side, or as we later learn, the next stop. The anomaly here is at the bottom of a deep lake and upon gasping for air, Octavia notices her healed hand. The anomaly has several effects other than transportation: stealing the memories of people who enter it while also healing their injuries. Too bad, it’s only physical ones.
Upon making land, Octavia hears the screams of Diyoza, and she races to her, finding that labor has started and this baby is coming. Time works differently here – a mere few seconds pass on Sanctum while three months pass on this new planet. Octavia helps Diyoza through the labor, holding onto Hope carefully as Diyoza passes out. Sound familiar? Between this scene and the one where Diyoza and Octavia guess at the mechanics of this planet, we witness a scenario that almost seems like a slightly-altered carbon-copy of Octavia’s birth.
I’m all for well-done redemption arcs, but I found Octavia more compelling as more of an antagonist as ‘blodreina’ and thereafter as she copes with what the bunker (and Abby) have led her to become. Even now, I find Octavia a much more enjoyable character as her circumstances force her separation from violence and war, even if her body may ache for it as she attempts to return to Bellamy and the others.
This scene puts her directly in Bellamy’s shoes. But, we’ve already seen her apologize for the things she has done to him. Except, when she apologized in that cave, she had no idea why she was apologizing.
While these scenes were well-shot, and the environment establishes this new world from Sanctum or Earth with the lake filled with jellyfish and the green woods that surround the cabin in a very breathtaking way, the scene still feels old. Or perhaps, too late.
Octavia knows the burden of taking care of people. She understands the feeling of protecting others, her people, even if it means straying from the desired path or the loss of her own humanity.
They ate people.
Why was this not a turning point for Octavia? Was the right moment for her to come full circle with her actions and others’ sacrifices in the gorge? Could she have taken steps to understand Bellamy of her own free-will, having gone through complexities that perhaps she could relate to his struggle?
Instead, forcing her into Bellamy Blake’s rather large shoes seasons after her abusive and belligerent behavior is the only way for her to understand everything he sacrificed. It’s not subtle, nor is it woven into the narrative naturally.
It screamed as loud as Clarke did, stuck in a post-praimfaya desert, anguishing on the pain she’s forced to endure.
I hope moving forward in the future, Octavia doesn’t need to end up in identical scenarios in an attempt to understand a perspective that is outside her own. She could always just ask.
WELCOME TO SKY RING
A few hundred years later on Sky Ring, but only a few days later on Sanctum, Echo, Hope, and Gabriel emerge from the same spot Octavia did. Instantly, we see a very different Hope, one on the warpath to get back to her family. The younger Diyoza is very different than we’ve previously seen, mostly due to her regaining her memories upon arriving on her birth planet. Hope is impatient, snappy, and really doesn’t have time for bullshit.
While Hope serves a lot of exposition in these scenes, we also get a sense of the things she’s learned from Octavia and Diyoza as a child. She has blunt delivery and it’s interesting to find that maybe Octavia hasn’t forgiven Echo as the narrative implies the past one and a half seasons. Hope has resignation for the woman, as pointed out in several of Hope’s comments and distaste directed at Echo. It’s quite entertaining, as some of the things she points out are thoughts that a large part of the audience has had for some time now.
Even at one point, Hope asks, “What is it about Bellamy that has otherwise sensible women willing to die for him?” While I’m a little bit surprised Octavia didn’t fill in little Hope, I can safely say Bellamy’s loyalty and how he’s always the one willing to save people is what makes people go hard for Bellamy Blake. He didn’t have to save Echo from praimfaya. And he extended so many chances to Octavia. Though, out of the women in Bellamy’s life — Echo, Octavia, and Clarke — the one woman she hasn’t met yet is the one who fits this statement most accurately. Clarke was willing to sacrifice the human race for him. She sacrificed half of the spots in Arkadia for Azgeda in order to save his life. It’s completely sensible if you ask me.
(As an aside, this line almost felt like a pre-emptive dig at The 100’s fandom and the way people consistently go to bat for his character.)
As Hope naturally takes the lead, Echo, seems to struggle with that. She’s hyper-focused on rescuing Bellamy and it’s more evident here than in the season seven premiere that she’s partnered with him. Even as Hope’s exposition clarifies that they have time here to concoct a way back to him (and her family in the process), she’s frustrated, not focusing on the big picture.
Echo isn’t a leader, she’s a strategist, and her self-struggle to rely on others to get back to Bellamy is evident. She tries to strategize and lead in that way, but she does not have the expertise needed. With all of her guiding forces removed from the equation, the layers of her façade pull back, exposing Echo’s true core.
We haven’t seen this in a while, or at least the untamed versions. In season six, glimpses of Echo’s self begin to surface. She immediately moves to kill to avenge Clarke’s “death.” She murders Ryker when strategically unnecessary. Her instinct to resort to violence, however, is tapered by the actions of Bellamy and Clarke. Bellamy decided not to avenge Clarke to protect his people (that is until he discovers she’s alive). Bellamy and Clarke initially attempt to take Sanctum with as little violence as possible, juxtaposed directly with Echo killing the Prime. But we all know how that goes.
With Hope just as desperate to get to their people as Echo is, and Gabriel being along for the ride, she lets her darker side reign free. The moments in which she leans into this are dramatic and honestly a little bit comical as Tasya Teles’ performance is less subtle than the rest of the cast featured in “The Garden,” to a point where some moments cause the overall scenes to feel off-balance.
If these three are trapped on Sky Ring for five years as Hope predicts, will Echo become further unhinged? Will a sentence on a prison-planet allow Echo to confront the views instilled in her from her past? Or is this who Echo is?
Six years in space didn’t answer this question, but without someone to follow, will this stint do the trick?
Meanwhile, Gabriel adds the light-heartedness needed to make this storyline work. With such high stakes for Echo and Hope, Gabriel comes along for his passion and a good time. While his expertise is necessary for their failures to progress, it’s refreshing to see someone interested in the Deus ex Machina that is the anomaly, or The Bridge. Not only do the anomaly stone and secrets buried in Sky Ring pique his interest, but he enjoys the cattiness between Echo and Hope as well. My favorite moment of the episode has to be when he looks for a pen too enthusiastically. An obvious distraction for him to leave behind his technology. At least the moment knows what it is.
Gabriel is the highlight of this trio and, while the dynamic is already one of the weaker groups in season seven, he does provide enough balance to make their diverging interests work. Echo wants Bellamy, Hope wants her own family, and Gabriel just wants to marvel at the wonder.
FAILURE TO LAUNCH
While they maneuver the new circumstances and relationships they find themselves in, with a lot of blatant exposition spouted in the process, the Sky Ring trio is trying to find their way to Bardo, where they assume Bellamy, Octavia, and Diyoza are located.
They run into a lot of hiccups.
At first, they attempt to use the note Hope hid within herself to activate the stone. Gabriel even tries this smart indentation move to read the washed away writing which is the code to activate the anomaly. No dice.
Through this, Echo deduces that there has been someone in Hope’s old home recently. She’s right and, after a scuffle, he flees. With a countdown timer visible on his arm, Hope explains that Sky Ring is a prison meant for Disciples, the people who took their missing friends, who don’t pull their weight or need to atone for their sins. The prisoner’s time has five years left until his people return to bring him home, at which point they can go instead. While this is no big deal for Hope or Gabriel, Echo, who has less experience with isolation or reincarnation, doesn’t cope as well.
Eventually, they track him to a slew of dead bodies, one of which includes one of the Eligius Crew Members. Eligius means a memory drive, which makes Gabriel a delighted man. With this and his tablet, Gabriel can go through his memories, which could give them answers about the anomaly and maybe even how they can get off this planet. He still has the mind drive belonging to his lost love, Josephine, which was a quick, but sad moment, as I miss her almost as much as Gabriel does.
As Gabriel happily goes through just about every memory, we get a glimpse of Becca Franco, whom Gabriel previously had a crush on. Me too, Gabriel. More exposition and Becca explains that the time dilation on what they called Planet Beta, or our Sky Ring, occurs due to a black hole.
If you haven’t seen Interstellar, I would watch it now. It seems that the space-time mechanics are pulled directly from this film and as this show has pulled from other science-fiction source material before, I wouldn’t be surprised if we end the season with other borrowed concepts.
ANOTHER FOUND FAMILY
With a good portion of the flashback scenes with Diyoza, Octavia, and Hope set to establish the dynamic between the three, a reasonable amount of time is spent with their daily life. While Octavia loves Diyoza and Hope, serving as an aunt figure in the girl’s life, she is desperate to get back to Bellamy and the others. Her excuse: she needs to warn them about the primes, but really, her new situation has given her an updated outlook on her life and Bellamy’s.
At first, she spends her time swimming down in the lake, trying to reach the anomaly at the bottom. Diyoza can’t offer much help, even with her Navy SEAL training. The lake is just too deep. Although, even if she could help Octavia, Diyoza doesn’t want to. Octavia has become part of her family, and she worries what Hope’s future would be like if there were nobody there for her after she dies.
Intermixed in these scenes, we see Octavia bond with Hope. She is affectionate to Hope, she’s narrated to her the stories those on Sanctum, passed down mottos passed to her from her brother, and they even garden together. But, she doesn’t train with her, much to Hope’s dismay. No violence and no human flesh? Maybe Octavia is growing.
Vegetables aren’t the only things planted in their garden. Octavia finds a corpse buried in the dirt, which strangely gives Octavia hope, for she can use the suit encasing the body to make her way into the anomaly. The tension is blatant as Octavia’s need to return to Bellamy begins to outweigh the safety of Hope heavily. This harshens Diyoza’s disposition. If the suit were tracked, more devastation could rain upon their lives. And Hope’s. Is it fair to risk Hope’s life in order for Octavia to obtain closure?
She’s determined, however, and she plans to go anyway. This is something she has to do. In a sweet moment with Hope, she promises her she’ll bring back Bellamy, Clarke, and Madi. This mention happens to be the first real piece of bait that Bellamy and Clarke fans have gotten this season, as just the mention of their names in the context of a family unit emphasizes the bonds that Bellamy, Clarke, and Octavia, the protagonists of the series, still have. We don’t always see this, as the show tends to focus on the Bellamy/Clarke and Bellamy/Octavia dynamics most centrally, but when it comes down to it, all three of them are the heart of the show.
It is sad, however, that fans may need to hang onto this for several weeks before getting actual content between these three separated characters. And while Octavia is featured prominently in this episode, Echo, Hope, and Gabriel’s plot seems to be the primary arc of this episode, as Octavia’s narrative helps fill in the gaps and build an emotional connection to Hope.
But when leaving, Octavia runs into Diyoza, who has destroyed the suit’s helmet, making her dive once again physically impossible. In an emotionally-driven altercation, the mother subdues Octavia, who confesses that she just wants to convey her understanding to Bellamy. But Hope and Charmaine are her family now and Octavia has no chance but to resign to most likely never being about to get back to her brother, who she just now finally appreciates.
This scene, combined with the letter she addresses to Bellamy thereafter, are the most gripping scenes of the show. While I believe putting her in Bellamy’s actual shoes is forced, the emotional performances given are full of heart, and maybe I actually did feel bad for Octavia for once. Diyoza is cold with her. But, from her perspective, she can only see how the Blakes have hurt each other, and she is doing what she thinks is best for her family, which does include Octavia.
Without seeing what’s to come of this found family in the current timeline of the show, this is probably the most interesting found family dynamic that has developed over a time jump as of yet. As the time-jump dynamic change is a recurring plot device for The 100, I think this one worked well because of the complexity. There is evident love, but there is pain. The added insight shapes the specific dynamics, and the conflicts explore the functionality of the dynamic without pushing them apart, which is essential as Hope is a relative unknown, with no prior emotional connections to any of the central characters otherwise.
For once, a time-jump shows and doesn’t tell. Before, the exposition has attempted to convey that Bellamy cares about Gina, that Clarke and Madi are adopted mother and daughter, and that Spacekru is a family. And while this may not be untrue, these units are harder to empathize with because after being told they are essential, conflict immediately ends the dynamics altogether, or puts them at immediate odds with one another. For once, it seems like maybe, just maybe, this plot device can further unity.
MESSAGE IN A BOTTLE
The same message that Octavia wrote to Bellamy and threw into the lake reappears in the current timeline when Echo discovers it on watch. She begins to read it, and Hope has a conniption. Snatching the letter from Echo, she begins to read the Blake’s message, and we see the most emotion we’ve seen from her since being introduced to Hope’s character. Hope misses her family and since we’ve learned that Octavia was on Sky Ring for ten years, and Hope was on the planet for twenty, it’s been a long time since she’s been with Octavia. Save for the stabbing, of course, although Hope revealed this as a mechanism allowing the Disciples to track Octavia and pull her back into the anomaly, an exchange for Diyoza’s life. My mother, my responsibility.
Echo takes the time to comfort her with a hug. However, her face remains stoic as she vows they would get everyone back together, no matter the cost.
The moment is interrupted by Gabriel’s #pengate as they all rush inside just in time for the prisoner to return, spout some religious rhetoric, and destroy the tablet, sentencing them all to at least five more years there if they can make it work. How inconvenient.
Knowing the show already plays with motifs concerning technology, science, and religion, I can only expect these ideas to be developed further with The Disciples and the way their society works. They are very ominous for the moment, but this could end cyclically with The Disciples connecting back to the Second Dawn. We did see Becca involved and knowledgeable about the anomaly, and when there’s a Becca, there’s an A.I. indoctrinating people using faith.
STUCK BETWEEN A ROCK AND AN ANOMALY
Finally, we end the episode with what seems to be the turning point in Hope’s life. The same suited men who would later pursue Echo, Gabriel, and Hope came to Sky Ring, Octavia’s note in hand (and that’s how it landed in Echo’s hands.) They ask for Diyoza and Octavia. Diyoza is able to stall with a coded message long enough to allow Hope to hide under the floor.
This is a strangely specific situation that has now happened to three characters on The 100: Octavia, Hope, and Madi.
Octavia is successful and this ends up being the moment that Hope stores as her biggest fear, as seen in “From the Ashes”. It’s chilling, and as they take Octavia and Diyoza away, Hope is left alone on the planet. We know she survives and she is kept company by another prisoner, Dev, whose body causes Hope grief when she finds it among the other corpses decaying on the planet. But how long will she have to survive alone? Hopefully, not 2,199 days, because that would just be ridiculous, but I wouldn’t put it past The 100 at this point to pull a similar time frame. The finale shot of this week’s episode is Hope seeking her lost family, people she would be still be searching for a decade later.
It goes to show that there are no breaks for anybody in this world, or worlds now, even when life seemingly seems bliss.
TWO SNAKES, ONE GARDEN
The second episode of The 100’s final season heavily deepened the lore of the anomaly and the people controlling it for still yet unknown reasons. As “The Garden” elaborated on the intense connections between the Diyozas and Octavia, it simultaneously sets up what is sure to be another newfound family dynamic, with slightly less gripping character dynamics. As the flashbacks with Hope’s backstory take a backseat as the B plot in the episode, the A plot is led by Echo, Hope, and Gabriel. This reversal still feels off. It’s the second episode where there aren’t at least a few minutes spent with both Bellamy and Clarke, so the mood of “The Garden” still feels admittedly off.
The lack of lead characters leads to a significant amount of world-building, but characters like Echo and Hope just can’t carry the story when the story wasn’t about them in the first place. If anything, the episode should have extended Octavia’s storyline, while sprinkling in the Echo, Hope, and Gabriel plot as a secondary arc. The 100 isn’t the same show without Clarke, Bellamy, and Octavia driving the plot, and while circumstances have made Bob Morley unavailable to appear in all episodes, it still is a risk to center bottle episodes on characters who weren’t even main billed starts until halfway through the run of the series.
As the final season progresses, this could be a significant disservice to the characters and fans who have invested years in their stories and relationships. The 100 has metamorphized tremendously over the past six years, but other than some recycled plotlines, The 100 isn’t very recognizable in its final form. The throughline of the characters has been cut. There’s still time to fix this, but with the prequel taking up one of the fourteen remaining episode slots and with a large number of loose ends still dangling, there isn’t a lot of time.
That’s not to say the episode was all bad. In fact, it was good television. Diyoza is always entertaining to watch and Octavia is shaping up as an improved character beyond past seasons, even if her redemption arc occurs perhaps too late. It’s hard to complain when a formerly selfish character puts all their effort into the rescue of Bellamy Blake, as long as the reasoning and development are shown and lacks plot holes.
Gabriel’s intrigue and curiosity are also a high point in the new season. Chuku Modu is a breath of fresh air and plays a character unlike the typical archetypes of characters featured in past seasons. Anchored by emotional beats, although this episode didn’t feel like The 100 that initially reeled me into an obsession, “The Garden” is entertaining television to watch and raises interest for the world mechanics that it introduces so obviously.
What did you think of “The Garden”? Did you enjoy #pengate? What do you think of Octavia’s role reversal? Sound off in the comments below!