‘A Lie Guarded’

With Roan putting an end to the tenuous coalition maintaining peace between Azgeda, Skaikru and Trikru, Clarke’s list of the 100 survivors she’d chosen being made public and a face off against ALIE’s drones on an island harbouring Becca’s secret lab, it’s safe to say that chaos reigned supreme in this week’s episode of The 100. Tensions that have been brewing largely in the background somewhat inevitably reached a head in ‘A Lie Guarded’ and brought with it all-out war, impossible solutions, and the kind of big questions that The 100 asks so often.

In Arkadia, Clarke’s list of 100 names is already coming back to haunt her, largely due to Jasper’s nihilistic tendencies. The fact it was two members of the original 100 in Monty and Jasper who found the list was a nice touch, just as the fact neither of them made the cut was a bit of a shock, which shows just how seriously Clarke is taking this need to save the human race in her decision to sacrifice her friends. Jasper’s frustration that Clarke is essentially playing God by choosing who gets to live is justified and he’s also right in insisting the decision to live or die is his choice to make when the time comes, but what’s more interesting about this fallout is the complete role reversal Clarke has been placed in here compared to season one.Clarke’s choice to arrest Jasper and lock him up to keep the secret about the Ark’s limited survivability is a huge throwback to how Clarke came to be imprisoned on the Ark in the first place – only this time Clarke is taking the position the council did in believing that letting people learn the truth would only create panic. Monty, then, takes on Clarke’s usual role of voice of reason, and ultimately does what she couldn’t on the Ark by letting people know the truth, while Clarke is left trying to justify her pragmatic reasons for choosing who lives or dies among a group of people who are quickly giving up hope of their own chances for survival.

Over in Polis, Roan has his own responsibilities to enforce, namely ensuring the survival of his people. Octavia and Kane’s mission may have been to keep him on the throne while their people work on figuring out how to survive, but Roan’s patience in waiting for this solution has run out. When Roan hears that Skaikru are turning the Ark into a ship for their own survival – and their other solution, making Nightblood, is dismissed as blasphemous – the alliance is broken and war is declared, leaving Kane and Bellamy as prisoners of the Ice Nation while Azgeda prepares to march on Arkadia.Roan’s sudden inability to wait felt a bit unnecessary, but it did set the scene for something that’s quickly becoming The 100 tradition by giving Octavia and Echo one epic sword fight scene. Their big clash was one of the highlights of the episode, right up to the dramatic conclusion that perfectly illustrates Octavia’s lack of warrior experience compared to that of the Grounders, despite what she herself may believe.

Bellamy’s reaction to hearing of Octavia’s death was also brilliantly played, and Bob Morley did a great job capturing the moment Bellamy’s world fell to pieces – which is why it was a shame to see all of that drama immediately undermined by Octavia’s ultimate survival. Even for a show that can be unrealistic at the best of times, that whole scene particularly pushed the realms of believability, and while Octavia’s being alive does now give Arkadia a tactical advantage against Azgeda, it feels like the criticism of last season’s character deaths may have played into the delivery of this moment and taken away from its otherwise would-be-powerful impact.With the moral and ethical dilemmas and struggles of war facing the characters in Arkadia and Polis, then, the gang fighting off drones on Becca’s island was a wonderfully different and distracting sci-fi storyline compared to the hopelessness of everything else. It’s also one that put a lot of people in positions they wouldn’t usually be in, with people they wouldn’t usually be with. It was brilliant to see more of Miller this week, and see him take control of a group and watch out for Luna, while seeing Raven struggle with her own physical limitations and being forced to accept help from the person who caused them, Murphy, was another small moment with a big payoff for the audience.

For an episode that was quite slow to get going, ‘A Lie Guarded’ certainly managed to pack in a lot, and most of what happened was an exciting means of pushing the season along into the next stage of their desperate plans for survival. While some of the key moments did feel rushed or happened off-screen so as to further the plot quickly – Bellamy being captured by Echo, for example – the action we did get to see was everything that makes The 100 so great, and it was the focus on the little character moments, both new and old, that really made this episode stand out.

★★★

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