‘Die All, Die Merrily’
In a series like The 100, you can expect an episode called ‘Die All, Die Merrily’ to deliver on its promise. This episode was a bloodbath, plain and simple – a truly bloody, violent, excruciating, emotional hour of television – and every bit of it was brilliant. From its tense opening as Octavia prepared to engage in a fight to the death to Skaikru’s betrayal following Octavia the champion’s vow to unite the clans as Wonkru, one people, in its brutal climax, ‘Die All, Die Merrily’ was every inch the compelling watch, and undeniably one of the best episodes of the whole four seasons so far.Rightly, this episode focused almost entirely on the Conclave itself in all of its bloody, visceral detail, pulling all of its efforts into delivering a truly horrific final battle with some quick action scenes and spectacular fight choreography. We were told there would only be one survivor, and despite Roan and Octavia’s truce (short though it was) giving a smidgeon of hope otherwise, that’s exactly what we were given, with Ilian, Roan and Luna all being taken out one by one in heartbreaking and violent ways.
Ilian has never really been a solid enough character to warrant any major emotional attachment other than through Octavia, and while his death proved a big moment for her as he forces her to deliver on the promise she made to kill him next time she sees him (echoing Clarke’s mercy kill of Atom way back in season one, and seeing Octavia take the steps towards becoming a leader in her own right), in itself his death won’t have a huge impact on the show. Luna too is a character who’s been fairly one-note in her calls for peace and her growing mistrust of the Sky People. Having her return to the Conclave and fight to save no one did seem sudden, but it served its purpose in delivering another chilling threat: Luna is the only Nightbleeder, the only one who’s trained for a Conclave, and having her give into her warrior nature in the end was a suitably tragic twist that was sadly fitting with a humanity at war at the end of the world.But Roan had been a much more tangible presence in the series for longer, and for all his dismissing of Clarke trying to form an alliance before the battle kicked off, he still decided to reach a peace with Octavia in order to save humanity from Luna’s damnation. Their pact led to an epic fight sequence as the pair both attack Luna at once, but the arrival of the black rain, as well as serving a reminder that praimfaya is coming, turned the advantage in Nightbleeder Luna’s favour, and Roan gets his “good death”, having died while fighting for his people, and humanity. It does feel as though The 100 could have done a lot more with Roan beyond largely treating him as a grounder mouthpiece in a political war – albeit, one with great fighting skills – but that didn’t stop his death scene being any less heartbreaking. Roan kom Azgeda, yu gonplei ste odon.And, of course, this episode could not have been so powerful if it wasn’t for the brilliant talents of Marie Avgeropoulos as Octavia. At the beginning, Octavia feels very much like she’s fighting to die, or at the very least fighting because she doesn’t know what else to do. And, yes, even though if anyone was going to survive it was very likely to be Octavia, how she managed to do so was still something to behold, which was helped by the writers keeping it within the realms of believability. Bellamy tells Octavia to be the girl under the floor again, to hide, take cover and let the rest of the warriors kill each other and all Octavia has to do is kill the last one standing, which makes more sense then Octavia being able to defeat all 12 warriors with just a few months of training and is ultimately what Octavia needed to do to win, taking down a couple of other casualties in the process.
‘Die All, Die Merrily’ also gave us the chance to see that Blake sibling relationship out in full force again after a tense season of estrangement and fighting. Bellamy’s worry for Octavia is palpable and always has been, but this episode more than any other he realised he needs to let Octavia make her own decisions, and his pride at her survival during the Conclave is evident when Roan catches him and Echo on the battlefield. Despite worrying that he never told Octavia he loves her before she set out into battle, Bellamy’s love for Octavia isn’t something that needs to be explicitly stated, and luckily Octavia was there to hear it when he reminds Roan that he shouldn’t count her out just yet. “After she guts you and before you die,” he says, “you tell her I was the lucky one.”“Doomsday is near; Die all, die merrily,” goes the full quote from Shakespeare’s Henry IV Part 1, and that’s exactly what we were given here. As Octavia says, this is their Unity Day, the day where everyone is coming together in the means of survival, which makes Skaikru’s betrayal something of the 13th station in this scenario – and if we’re going for earlier season parallels, it no doubt means they have to die for this decision too, or at least face some violent consequences. It’s another case of Clarke doing what she feels she has to in order to save the world having seen Luna as the most likely winner of the Conclave, and if Octavia didn’t win, there’s no doubt Clarke would have been the hero of her people once again.
But, as it is, Clarke has been rendered the villain of the show, just as The 100 has you backing Octavia’s leadership and her calls of togetherness – something Clarke has been calling for from the beginning. Octavia has promised the 13 clans they can all survive, but Clarke has doomed 12 of them – including people she cares about, like Octavia and Kane, and those still in Arkadia – to death, and if that isn’t a spectacular way of leading into the final three episodes of the season then I don’t know what is. This week’s episode didn’t let up, delivering action-packed drama alongside poignant character moments with ease, and it all came together to build towards a gut-punch of a conclusion that nicely sets up the final stand-off of the season.