The latest episode of The 100, “False Gods,” which aired June 3 on The CW, threw us head-first into the question of how can we do better when all our attempts at something good ends in death?
We’ve seen the storylines from this newest installment multiple times over the course of the show’s seven-season run, but something about it still felt fresh to me.
In season seven, episode three, we ran into dilemmas we’re all used to (both the audience and characters):
- Being introduced to a random, young couple we didn’t know existed as they sneak off to a dangerous area to get frisky only for them to get caught in trouble and die. (Anyone else get MAJOR season one dropship vibes when this happened, especially the episode where that one couple died from the acid fog??)
- A radiation meltdown that could cause a deathly explosion
- Placing more value on the lives of your group over the lives of another
- Characters believing they were once the “good guys” now falling into gray territory
- Being put in a life or death situation where people’s true colors come out
- Realizing the one thing you believed in and put your life on the line for is either now gone or false and having to come to terms with that
I’m not going to lie. The first part of the episode bothered me. All of a sudden there was a new problem to deal with — one we hadn’t been introduced to before — where the reactor was melting down and if not stopped, it would cause a nuclear explosion, killing everyone from radiation.
This is the final season and we only have so much time to get answers to all our questions. I’m scared that if we spend all our time on new plots, there won’t be enough room to conclude the stories we’ve become attached to.
Parallels can be great when used sparingly and at opportune times, but when they become used too much — to the point where they become the driving plot of episodes — it makes the story lack originality. When all you have are parallels telling the episode you lose out on the chance for authentic storytelling, and it starts feeling like a cop-out. Where’s the line?
As the episode went on, however, I saw the direction it was going and why it could be important in the long-run. This wasn’t necessarily a plot-driven episode where the new threat would be quickly swept under the rug (I’m looking at you skin-crawling worms from season five) like I originally thought. No, this was a character-driven episode for the one and only Raven Reyes, and I loved that.
The Raven aspect was refreshing to me. Looking back on this episode there were many stand-out character moments, and four of them immediately come to mind: Raven, Russell/Sheidheda (Oh I know what to call him! Russheda OR Sheidhussell!), Emori and Murphy.
My star rating for the episode is right below.
SPOILER ALERT WARNING
False gods, true hope
On the shallow surface, “False Gods” was about false gods (no surprise there). It was about people realizing the ones they looked up to — the ones they put their faith and beliefs in — aren’t what they thought.
When this realization dawns on us, we have three options: (1) let this reality sink in, try to do better and fight against our own ignorance; (2) fight against what you’re told to be the truth and get self defensive; or (3) shut down completely or just ignore the problem.
Throughout 7×03, we got a good glimpse at how different characters and different groups respond when faced with this.
The bigger groups in The 100 tend to lean towards option two. Clarke started this third episode with option three, in my opinion, but quickly changed her mind after Jordan called her out. She was tired of dealing with the different groups fighting over their false god, Russell Lightborne, and just wanted to kill him to get it over with.
“At what point are we going to set an example?” Jordan asked her. “What happened to doing better? What would my dad say?”
After the kiddo played the Monty card, Clarke took a step back and realized she needed to do better. This also happened around the time Wonkru was facing their false god: Believing Madi to be the commander and then realizing the flame had been destroyed.
Gaia went against Indra’s wishes to keep the group in the dark by telling them the truth. She took option one, and while the situation turned on its head with Wonkru becoming self defensive (option two), she spent the rest of the episode in peace knowing she did what was right.
“I had my faith. Now I don’t know what I have,” Gaia said to Clarke later in the episode.
Clarke and Gaia have become my dream-team this season. Their deep chats about wanting to grow as a person while still discussing their mutual trauma has been refreshing. Their energy bounces off each other easily as they’re becoming the voices of reason. I would normally include Jordan in that too, but his naivety has caused him to be manipulated by the believers of Sanctum on multiple accounts.
The most interesting false god for me to watch though is definitely JR Bourne’s Sheidheda pretending to be Russell Lightborne. The way he’s manipulating the believers of Sanctum, and ultimately Jordan, to find a way to keep him alive and do his bidding is brilliant! Also, let’s all give a big round of applause to Bourne’s acting. It’s subtle to the characters and hilariously fun to watch as the audience. When he ate the cookie at the end of the episode and you could tell Sheidheda never had one before, I cackled.
Most characters are uncomfortable with their “false god” status (Madi’s been avoiding Wonkru and Russell asked to die), but Sheidheda is thriving from it. He’s eating it up, quite literally, and he’s doing a good job making people believe he’s still Russell. It’ll be interesting to see what the direction his character takes this season.
“To my followers, this will be the death of a god,” Russheida said.
Now, while Sheidheda makes for a good “false god,” my favorite and most unexpected one in this episode was Raven.
“How the mighty have fallen”
Yes, I know Raven was never at the center for anyone’s religion, but think about it. She’s bregged on herself about being the remaining moral person from the season one dropship days. She’s judged other characters (*cough cough* Clarke *cough) for their immoral decisions. She’s saved people from death multiple times and people always put their faith in her when they’re in trouble. To me, that makes her as much of a god as Russell was to Sanctum.
And yet, just like all our other gods in The 100, we got to see her fall from grace this episode.
She always believed, and told other people, she was one of the remaining “good guys.” The one person who didn’t believe in putting her group above another. She chastised Clarke every chance she got in season six, rubbing her morality in her face.
But, Raven got a taste of Clarke’s moral dilemma as she faced her own “only choice” in this episode.
In order to stop yet another radiation explosion from happening (no one’s been able to stop the other three), she used four Eligius prisoners to fix the nuclear reactor. She told them it was fairly routine maintenance and that radiation levels were fine even though she knew they weren’t. Radiation ultimately led to their deaths (RIP Hatch. Gone too soon my man).
Murphy to Raven: “You lied to them?”
Raven: “I told them what they needed to know…. Either they’re sick for a few days or we’re dead forever.”
Even Murphy’s life was expendable to Raven as she locked him in the radiated room with the ex-prisoners, telling him “You wouldn’t risk your life. Go be a cockroach.”
As Murphy was left with just Hatch (the other three already dead at this point), he took his mind off the possible explosion and listened to Hatch tell his story. It was a beautiful moment to see Murphy empathize with someone during a dire situation, which shows the development he’s had.
Since this was only the third episode out of 16, the reactor didn’t explode and our main characters got out alive, but that didn’t mean they got out scot free.
There was a moment Raven thought Hatch would live and that all her efforts to keep people alive wouldn’t be in vain. That was short-lived, however, when we saw the Eligius prisoner die of radiation right in front of us with Murphy standing behind him staring at Raven through the window, disappointment leaking from his eyes.
When the camera cut to Raven, it hit me just how hard the situation was for her. We could see just how quickly it dawned on her that she was now the person she’s been avoiding becoming since her entrance in early season one.
“How the mighty have fallen,” Murphy told her. “Welcome to the world of gray.”
Seeing a character go through this isn’t anything new to the fans. In the first three seasons we’ve seen almost all of our main characters hit with the realization they weren’t one of the “good guys.” Clarke went through it after pulling the lever at Mt. Weather in season two. Bellamy went through it after siding with Pike in season three. Monty went through it after killing his mom to protect Octavia in season three. Octavia went through it a bit later after becoming Blodreina in season five. The list goes on.
Throughout this entire time though, Raven has looked down on all these characters for not being able to resist the “only choice” mentality. She always believed there was a way to make an ethical decision, no matter how hard the circumstance. The problem though? She was never in a big enough leadership role where she had to be faced with deciding who gets to live and who dies.
It was refreshing to finally see Raven go through that transformation and understand she’s just as good as the rest of her friends. She was a god to them. Most importantly though, she was a god to herself, and now she feels she’s lost the one identity she’s always had. It makes us ask, what does doing better even look like anymore?
We’re not the only ones asking that question though. Clarke is right there with us.
“I realized no matter what we do to help, it always ends the same,” Clarke told Gaia. “I used to think fighting is what we do. Now I worry that fighting is what we are.”
“We all have a choice,” Gaia responded.
“I want to believe that’s true but we keep ending up in the same place, and every time, people die,” Clarke replied. “I don’t want to lose anyone else.”
Well, you’re about to have a rude awakening, Clarke, when you find out what’s happened to Bellamy. Just saying.
Anyway, if even Raven fell prey to the “only choice” mentality, how can our group of favorite characters find hope to do better this season? What can they expect?
I guess we’ll just have to watch season seven, episode four, June 10 at 8/7c on The CW.
Moving onto something serious
Characters from The 100 are wondering how they can be better, and they’re not alone. I’ve also been asking myself how I can be better lately.
Protests for Black Lives Matter have been sweeping across the world to fight for social justice and equality.
Here’s a link to ways you and I can help. We need to do better. We need to be better.
The Daily Planet recognizes how important voices are during a time of outrage. If you’re at all interested in sharing your perspective, feel free to contact us here.