by the Collected Mutineer
At the tail-end of last week’s episode, we caught a brief glimpse of what happened to Wonkru after spending six long years trapped underground with no hope of escaping. The internet was awash with theories of what the title “red queen” meant, and how we might see Octavia become the commander who was promised at the end of season 4. In true The 100 fashion, the episode was filled to the brim with ethical questions about how to be a leader at the end of the world, with plenty of blood to accompany said questions. But is the story of the Red Queen one we’ve already seen?
A few months after Praimfaya, Kane hears movement outside the tightly sealed bunker. Realizing that someone must still be alive, he asks Abby to come up to the surface with him for just a moment to investigate. They don’t appear to be on the best of terms, which isn’t surprising given what happened at the end of the last season. Abby believes that the person outside is Clarke, even though Kane assures her that her daughter went back up into space with the others. As their coms are down, the only way to find out is by opening the door—which they quickly realize is impossible.
Kane calls a meeting with Octavia, Indra, Jaha, and Kara (the woman in charge of the hydroponic farm) to discuss their problem and the very possible reality of impending doom. If they can’t get out of the bunker at the end of the five years it will take for the ground to become livable, they will certainly perish. They don’t have the resources to keep the farm running for any longer, and there are already too many people inside as it is.
What’s more, they are also faced with the issue of what to do with those who break the “law,” such as it is with so many clans of differing customs forced to live next to each other. Octavia, determined to run things differently, believes that compromises can be made and that wrongs can be righted. But many of the clan representatives believe in a different, harsher reality. Something must be done to punish wrongdoers, perhaps even the penalty of death.
The two issues collide abruptly when Kara and a small following make the decision to close off the section of the bunker containing the farm. Their end goal—to kill off the grounders by starvation, keeping the resources for themselves as they had once been promised when the bunker was discovered by Jaha. Their logic? If they can keep the resources and food to themselves, they will last longer underground, buying them time to figure out how to escape from a place that was designed to be 100% impenetrable from inside and out. Despite Kara’s insistence that she is doing this to keep Skaikru alive, many of their members were outside the section when it was locked, including Jaha, Octavia, Miller, and others. Octavia is forced to team up with Jaha, an unlikely ally given her hatred for his floating of her mother, in order to open the door from the outside using his engineering expertise. A frank conversation between the two of them—brought on by the realization that he was mortally wounded by a grounder—helps her to understand that even if they succeed in opening the door, she does not have the respect of the grounder clans. Despite winning the conclave and inviting all the clans to share the bunker, she has yet to prove herself a worthy commander. As Indra’s daughter points out on multiple occasions, grounders believe that a commander must be a nightblood, which Octavia blatantly is not.
She solves this problem brutally by killing any who would oppose her. “You are Wonkru, or you are the enemy of Wonkru. You choose,” she says to the grounders who seek to kill the stranded sky people in retaliation of Kara’s actions. When they refuse to bend the knee, she slaughters them. Eventually, they realize her power and agree to be led by her. She is covered with the blood her enemies, and it becomes her new armor. With this new identity forming in the wake of Jaha’s death, she takes charge of Wonkru in a way that would shock Bellamy, Lincoln, and anyone who once knew her on a deeply personal level. She decides to run things the way they did in ancient Rome. Yes, that’s right. People who break the law, such as Kara and her group of followers, must fight to the death to earn their freedom a la Gladiator.
In one fell swoop, Octavia believes she has fixed both Wonkru’s predominant problems. Population control and leadership go hand in hand under her new dominion. But does this make her any better than the chancellors she despised as a child? Do her decisions set her above or on par with the commanders she hated? Six years later, she is a changed woman, seemingly inflated with her power over life and death.
A Look Forward
What will Octavia’s power mean when our four main groups eventually are faced with sharing Eden? We probably won’t find out until after our Spacekru is back on the ground, which appears to be the focus of next week’s episode.
May we meet again.
P.S. Let me know your thoughts on Twitter @ImpalaMutineers.