In The 100’s sixth episode, “Nakara,” the show stretches itself too thin, focusing on three distinct groups, while not progressing far. What could have happened in twenty minutes, takes forty. There are only a few standout moments and, when all is said and done, “Nakara” is a filler episode that doesn’t spend most of its time in the titular location.
The entirety of season seven feels like build-up. It’s been typical for past seasons to gain momentum within the first several episodes. With a mystery and society as big as the episodes have so far implied, The 100 continues to waste time on erratic time jumps and a search for characters that should have had more screen time in the first place. This valuable time should further the emotional arcs of the main protagonists and more quickly reunite character groups.
At this point, the most reasonable viewer reaction would be to prepare for a rushed conclusion. The 100 continues to fester with bottle episodes that would serve the story better if they were compressed. Rather, the narrative tends to stray away from the emotional repercussions of time jumps and isolation. That’s not to mention the time the backdoor pilot will take away from the protagonists to introduce new ones, ones that viewers may not even follow if the spin-off series is picked up to series.
Perhaps The 100’s final season doesn’t aim to conclude the stories of these beloved characters, but to introduce concepts that will address the story’s beginnings, a world that The 100 has primarily left behind save for the remaining grounders left in a teetering Sanctum.
LONG LIVE CHARMAINE DIYOZA
Just when almost all the timelines seem to meet, the opening sequence fills in Diyoza’s missing 45 days. Diyoza is one of the most powerful characters on the show. Her past training and experiences on Earth (pre-apocalypse) give her a context and understanding of humanity that varies from the other protagonists. I typically wouldn’t refer to a female character as “badass” due to the stigma around this trope. However, Charmaine Diyoza is, indeed, a badass. As we catch up with her time, she endures multiple types of torture, restraint, and abuse that she weathers through.
“We can’t read her like this. She’s using pain to block her memories.” – M-Cap Disciple
Diyoza is strong and uses her pain to persevere. When she finally escapes, she’s ruthless as she bites into the guard’s neck and removes his eyeball to gain access to further her search and escape. Now undercover, she roams the halls of Bardo, looking for Octavia and presumably a way back to her daughter.
Diyoza’s past is filled with good intentions, but carried out with brutal actions. She was a freedom fighter and a Navy SEAL, fighting in the final wars that plagued the Earth. One could argue that her less-than-pure intentions involving her escape and the events on Earth were rooted in fighting against the injustice placed upon the convicts and her desire to create a home for her family. This is the case here as well.
WHO STOLE THE GUNS?
The answer to that question is fairly obvious, to both the audience and Indra, but it’s not easy to navigate Sanctum with all of these warring factions. Several things happen at once: Nelson tries to talk to Indra, but she brushes him off, the warriors explicitly told not to speak to Russheda speak to Russheda, and she has to figure out this stolen gun situation.
Indra locks down security, only allowing Trikru members to guard Russheda, but one of her guards does mention that Russheda was inquiring about Earth. At least The 100 has begun seeding the future involvement of Sheidheda and the anomaly plot. Could the Dark Commander not want just power, but his old stomping grounds as well?
Indra speaks to Russheda and their antagonistic chemistry continues to shine as he drags Indra into his real-life chess game, complete with taunts and threats. Indra struggles to hold onto her power with the clans disunited and Russheda has already obtained knowledge of the going-ons in Sanctum.
An interesting comment, Russheda mentions that Indra needs a Heda, and there are only three options: Himself, Madi, and Clarke. His perspective on this is interesting, especially considering the aforementioned have all bored the Flame at some point. Really, the Commandership needs to die. It is noteworthy, however, that Russheda believes that the grounders would follow Madi, even with the Flame’s removal. The clans broke up because the young girl no longer held the Flame and Gaia could no longer bear the knowledge alone that Madi’s place as Heda was a sham. This conversation makes Indra rightly insecure in her position of power, even though she doesn’t quite view herself as a leader. But, what do the grounders really value? Someone actively with the Flame, someone who has once had access to the knowledge of the Commanders, or someone who just takes power? Either way, Russheda set out what he meant to do, by shaking Indra and further destabilizing the power dynamics within Sanctum.
WELCOME TO NAKARA
Picking up where “Hesperides” left off, Clarke and company are stranded on an icy planet, completely underestimating the outfit requirements of planet-hopping. It’s cold and the jump team quickly gathers this is not the planet they need to be on (without really researching it). Jordan, Niylah, and Miller take the situation a bit more lightly than Clarke and Raven. Niylah makes an awful joke and Jordan is disappointed upon finding a human corpse that it’s not an alien.
What’s more, Nakara is a mass grave. Recognizing the symbol on the corpse, the team notes that the logo is also a planet’s icon on Raven’s anomaly control system and is where they need to go to rescue Bellamy, Octavia, and Echo (and poor Gabriel, whom nobody seems to remember). Locating the anomaly stone in a cave not far, they make their way inside, and it is still disappointing how Raven has better mobility when the situation calls for it. At other times the show seems to remember that she has a permanent disability. She climbs into the cave somewhat easily and she doesn’t even appear to have a brace stabilizing her leg anymore.
But Nakara isn’t uninhabited. The jump teams hear a creature who then attacks Raven, damaging her suit. With a neat weapon imbedded in the suit, the bug-creature retreats. Even with the fear and uncertainty of Nakara, they have no choice but to continue forward. Miller feels like the sane man trope, questioning the extreme lengths they have to go to to find their friends as well as adding a sarcastic or dry comment every few minutes. Jordan still displays a curiosity consistent for him, while Niylah purely exists.
“Still think the aliens are awesome?” – Miller
Sometimes, it’s hard not to question some of the one-liners in this show. Indra requires Murphy’s help to confront Nikki, who is consumed in her rage following her husband’s death. She wants Raven dead. Good thing she’s on another planet. With Nikki’s primary use as a means for conflict, she doesn’t bring anything new to the table. It is ironic how angry Nikki is about what happened when she knew the dangers (although not the extent) and opted out of participating anyway. Sanctum stalls throughout the episode. The most, and perhaps only, interesting part remains with Indra and Sheidheda.
“Tell Raven I said ‘Bang Bang.’” – Nikki
In fact, the final season’s first few episodes reiterate the strengths of The 100’s more seasoned actors. Adina Porter, JR Bourne, and Ivana Miličević genuinely shine this season. With their strengths also comes the question of their utilization in past seasons. While schedules could amount to much of this (Adina Porter has mentioned her preference to remain a recurring star), The 100 has these fantastic characters played by respected, seasoned actors. Their strengths stand out. However, their immense talent also brings attention to the weak writing and shoehorned conflicts. Hopefully, separate plotlines will converge to a single location or story, and these actors can shine in an arc that is more interesting to the audience.
While still searching Bardo, Diyoza is noticed by a Disciple who takes the group out. When she comes upon another group and their helmets are removed, her daughter is revealed as part of the group. It takes a moment for her to realize, but when she does it’s emotional. One could assume she was never told about time dilation. Octavia watches sadly, grieving the apparent loss of her own family. Luckily, she still has Hope and Diyoza, who are family as well. Diyoza comforts Octavia, knowing how desperate she is to reunite with him and apologize for her past actions.
Octavia acts muted throughout the episode. Maybe she’s still worn out from the torture in M-Cap or perhaps something more suspicious is at play. Everything in Bardo feels suspicious and it isn’t easy to accept what is being shown onscreen at face-value. Did something else happen to Octavia through her time in M-Cap? Or does she feel muted because Echo’s unraveling and cold demeanor. Her grief is understandable, but Echo shows no consideration for Hope or her feelings. She didn’t in episode five, when she murdered a Disciple who could have been valuable for Diyoza’s rescue and she doesn’t here in her demeanor and lack of empathy towards her so-called friend.
Nelson seems lost. Not only is he thrust in a position of leadership following Gabriel’s absence, but his point of existence, removing the Primes, is completed as they all have expired, save for Russel, whom Nelson isn’t aware. Nelson has a good heart and wants to help people, but he’s understandably not sure how to do that. Indra pushing him aside didn’t help. Nelson confronts Russheda and attempts to kill him in vengeance for his people, but Russheda easily puts him down.
Russheda reveals his true identity, to Nelson’s surprise.
“Who are you?” – Nelson
“Someone who knows how to give you what you want.” – Russheda
“And what is that?” – Nelson
“What everyone wants. Power.” – Russheda
Russheda now can take advantage of a Nelson who wants justice, but can’t seem to achieve it. He plants the seed in Nelson’s head, but it’s really only for Russheda’s benefit. With the idea of making allies with the Eligius conflicts, Nelson has a lot to think about, and with how he’s backed into Russheda’s corner, there’s no doubt he will succumb to the temptation.
But with a great crossfade, we know Russheda wants to take out the enemies’ queen: Clarke Griffin.
Back inside the cave, the jump team continues to the anomaly stone, except the walls begin shifting. This leads to two things: Raven and Clarke becoming separated from the others, and Raven coming to a conclusion that this isn’t a cave, it’s a digestive tract. The cave is a creature and if they don’t move quickly, they could become its next meal.
This moment causes Raven to blame herself; she views this as a type of karma. Even though Raven has made hard decisions before, these recent actions weigh on her more heavily, and she seems to be humbled by the reactor meltdown incident. Clarke, having been through similar internal conflicts, of course, comforts her.
“The people we’ve killed,
we’ve killed to save the people we love.” – Clarke
“They loved people, too.” – Raven
The two embrace as the others in a different section beat on the walls to try to escape. It eventually works, reuniting the whole jump team once more. The hug is awkward as they hold onto each other for stability, but it’s not unbelievable given Raven and Clarke’s long and complicated history.
Do I like seeing Clarke make up with friends who once had difficulties in forgiving her? Yes. But Clarke is still reactionary. So far this season, she has barely had her own agency. She might have only had it in “From The Ashes,” but one could write that off as the plot needing a way for Sheidheda to kill Russell, and her lash-out counted as that.
Clarke’s relationships with her friends have begun to mend, but it’s purely because everyone needs something from her. Raven needs forgiveness, Gaia needs reassurance, and Murphy just doesn’t want to go to Hell. I can only hope moving forward that the plot will readjust to Clarke’s story. After all, she is the key to the final war man will wage, and her person is assumed dead. She can’t only react to others. In this final story, she needs an emotional arc that will explore her and her feelings towards the people around her, and what she needs to have a satisfying conclusion. Not the other way around.
However, this interaction is more meaningful and genuine than other conversations this season (with Gaia, for example). It goes to show that focusing on long-standing relationships is where the season should center its focus, rather than focusing on new characters and only recently developed stories.
Once the team is reunited, they have a brief moment of joy, and the anomaly stone comes into sight. The creature begins to rumble, and Raven encounters issues activating the stone with a cracked helmet, but successfully opens the bridge to Bardo just in the knick of time. Easy, right?
Attempting to escape, Octavia and the others proceed to the stone room, but something is off. Octavia spots Levitt, who signals to them that it’s a trap. She talks to him and he advises they escape to the surface. It’s not survivable for long, but it’s a temporary solution.
There’s obvious chemistry between the two, but I’m hoping the two remain friends. Levitt is a janitor now after taking a risk to save Octavia. Sound familiar? Regardless, he’s sweet to her, and while I prefer more developed relationships, this is Octavia’s niche: finding connections when taken behind enemy lines. Either way, Levitt is a likable convenience. Without him, Octavia and the others would be in a much worse situation. Levitt also has a punching kink, which is amusing. He asks for her beating this time. It’s not necessary, but he seems to like it.
Gabriel’s hesitation also becomes more evident at this moment and he doubts the actions of the people around him. He never chose these people and his dynamics are more strained in these scenes. Gabriel fits in much more naturally with the characters he interacted with last season: Clarke, Bellamy, and Octavia, and I hope that this season has the opportunity to mix up the people he is surrounded with. Gabriel is an interesting character and it would be a joy to see him in an environment more conducive to him, rather than have him serve as a foil in other people’s stories.
A NEW LEADER
Indra comes up to Madi, interrupting her attempt at interacting with her new peers at Sanctum. Beforehand, Madi was drawing a picture of the anomaly stone but didn’t know what it is. Either it’s calling her or, more likely, Becca or another Commander has witnessed it in the past. It’s interesting to note regardless.
Indra comes to ask Madi to act as Commander once more, using the opportunity of Gaia’s and Clarke’s absence to utilize Madi in the way Indra wants or needs. Madi, of course, agrees. She wants to help, perhaps a trait learned from her adoptive mother. However, when it comes down to it, Madi panics. The thing is, Indra convinces Madi that this responsibility is hers. They’re her people, right? Arguably, Clarke is Madi’s people and that’s about it. Madi’s parents concealed her from the flamekeepers. And while Clarke may jump to help her own people, the last thing Clarke would want is for Madi to also be shackled to that burden.
Indra gathers the clans and has prepared Madi for the speech she will give to unify them back into Wonkru. Before the speech can commence, Jackson, Emori, and Murphy enter to stop it. Jackson has spent time with Madi and Murphy is passionate about the matter as well, both for reasons unknown. Jackson perhaps feels a connection with her due to his Griffin family alliance and Murphy is still on his kick about caring about kids. Madi still wants to step up once more as Commander, but not because she wants to. Indra continues attempting to convince Madi, offering the Bindi, but encounters pause when Murphy, who has been her right-hand of sorts, doesn’t back down. After the argument that commences between Indra and the three, Madi’s panic takes over. She flees, leaving Indra between a rock and a hard place. Then the tides turn.
Indra explains the situation upon Emori’s offering of help, but instead of Emori and Murphy stepping in, Murphy successfully convinces Indra that she should lead. After all, she did have a hand with running the bunker for Wonkru. But Indra is a warrior. Emori tells her the fact that she doesn’t want it means she should do it, but I’m unsure about that. Octavia clearly didn’t want leadership, but look how that turned out.
“I don’t think it takes a genius to figure out
who was really running things down there
while Octavia was painting her face with blood.” – Murphy
Indra agrees, but not before getting rid of the Bindi and thank god. It was about time The 100 gets rid of that problematic costuming choice once and for all. Indra will lead, but not as a Commander. The time of Commanders is over again.
Indra gives the speech, unnecessarily in trigadesleng and, after defeating one dissenter, she seemingly has taken control and reunited Wonkru. But something tells me this isn’t going to be the last of this unification plot, one that we’ve seen time and time again. With Russheda lurking and making strategic moves behind her back, will Indra be able to keep the peace? She isn’t a Heda. Before, Madi as Commander garnered more stable respect as a leader than a non-chipped leader. Unless Indra slaughters her enemies in a cool hallway fight scene, I’m not sure how long that will last. But that doesn’t negate the power Adina Porter commands in her role as she speaks to her people, truly a highlight of this Sanctum plot in Nakara, even if this arc is the weakest of the three.
Poor Gabriel. He is just having such a hard time right now. After heading to the oxygen farm to escape to the surface, they run into a Disciple, asking how to get to the surface. He informs them it’s not survivable, and when a confused Octavia mentions Levitt’s name, Echo, annoyed, once again jabs a knife into his neck, not wanting their inside man’s cover to get out. Echo will probably kill Levitt eventually anyway though. It’s kind of her thing. Diyoza understands, she’s a warrior too, which balances Echo’s unraveling, making it less subtle, but still obvious.
“What the hell is the matter with you?” – Gabriel
Gabriel trusts the now deceased Disciple and attempts to convince the others not to go forward. Echo says he wants his answers and maybe he does. More than anything, however, he’s rational and less likely to shrug someone’s advice off. Blocking the entrance, Gabriel won’t back down and decides to knock out the others for what Gabriel believes is their safety. He then is taken out as he surrenders.
This was no surprise, as Gabriel has always felt like the odd one out. Even though he’s gone to extreme measures before to liberate his people, his moral compass aligns differently than the rest of the group. Gabriel believes he’s doing the right thing, not just for himself, but for the others. They’re people he cares about, even if they haven’t given his wishes and motivations the same consideration.
In an episode packed with many fights scenes (which were exceptionally well-done for Diyoza), many locations, and many conflicts, the episode is boring. The characters end up in new places, but the journeys there were stale and unexciting. For an episode titled “Nakara,” not much time was spent on the icy planet, which is disappointing considering how much Clarke has been sidelined so far in this season. Not to mention how much more compelling the Nakara section of the episode would have been if not broken up by less frightening plotlines.
As the season transitions into its second half, it will hopefully shift the focus to established and well-received characters. This could create more investment and interest. It’s admittedly difficult to care about characters who haven’t been explored for years, characters who have just been introduced, and characters whose journeys have not been well-executed. But there’s still some hope. Season three had similar problems with a rocky first half, but it transformed the back half of the season. Let’s hope we see a similar trend this year and that the narrative will conclude in a satisfactory way.