‘The Four Horsemen’

Only three episodes in and this season is quickly turning into the season of knock backs. No matter what solution they come up with, no matter what plan they have in place at the beginning of the episode, by the end of it that plan will be completely disproven and the situation will be looking worse than ever. If you hadn’t seen that by now, this week’s episode title, ‘The Four Horsemen’, drives the point home: the world is ending and death is coming for these characters. And now, according to Raven’s new calculations, it’s coming even faster than before too.With the number of survivors the Ark can hold whittled down to just 100, the pressure is on to determine who deserves to be saved and who makes that decision. Raven is feeling the burdens of leadership more than ever before, but she hasn’t really had to face the choice of deciding who lives or dies until now. As she ultimately learns, it’s a horrible position to be put in – but not until after she has coldly reminded Clarke that choosing who lives or dies is Wanheda’s specialty. So when yet another potential solution proves unviable, once again the burden falls to their 18-year-old leader.

One thing The 100 has done well this season is make very sure that Clarke and Bellamy present a united front – no more clashing, no more separation, just two leaders motivated by different things working together to save everyone. Jaha comments on it, saying Bellamy keeps Clarke centred, and it’s always been the case that Bellamy and Clarke are better when they’re together. After Bellamy’s insistence that he doesn’t deserve to survive the upcoming apocalypse, Clarke ends the episode by writing his name on the list of survivors, leading to one of the most emotionally hard-hitting moments we’ve ever seen between the pair. Rightly or wrongly, Clarke thinks Bellamy deserves to be saved, and Bellamy’s own insistence that Clarke’s name goes on the list too also feels like the perfect playing out of their relationship dynamic, and exactly the way that conversation would go.But just as trouble is being stirred in Arkadia, Roan is struggling to control the rising tensions in Polis as the Grounders seek to destroy all the technology they can get their hands on in retaliation to being under ALIE’s control. In amongst the chaos, the Flame has been stolen – and with it his tenuous hold on power is under threat yet again. Luckily for him, Octavia the warrior (and newly-dubbed Skairipa) is on the case, leading her headfirst into a confrontation with Indra’s daughter Gaia, the new flamekeeper who chose her faith over leading the Trikru people.

The whole Polis subplot this week provided Indra with a bit of much-needed backstory, but it also did wonders for Octavia’s character, and for explaining why Indra took so much interest in mentoring her to become a warrior to begin with. Like any Blake, Octavia takes more stock in being loyal to those close to her than any political power play, and in letting Gaia escape with the real Flame while Octavia presents the now-broken replica to Roan, Octavia is willing to risk Roan’s throne and the relative stability of the Grounder coalition with Skaikru to help her friend. And, as Roan warns, things are going to become a lot more difficult for them now as a result of the actions Octavia took.In all, ‘The Four Horsemen’ was a strong episode that powerfully set up a lot of new threads to start exploring as the season plays out. The Second Dawn bunker may have been a bust this time, but the sheer fact we learnt so much about its founder and its ideas likely means we’ve not seen the last of them yet, while Luna’s return and the revelation her Nightblood may just be the key to survival introduces another possible solution to explore in episodes to come.

It would be nice to see at least one solution play out for longer than an episode before it’s shot down completely, but with the time left before the second apocalypse comes shortened to just two months, The 100’s quick-fire nature certainly plays well with the characters’ sheer desperation. ‘The Four Horsemen’ played with moral dilemmas, agonising decisions and the kind of difficult decisions that start rebellions, and it looks like we should expect a lot more of that as their time continues to run out.

★★★★