The 100: Sic Semper Tyrannis Review
The CW‘s The 100, Season 5, Episode 9, ‘Sic Semper Tyrannis,’ demonstrated just how season five’s virtual rebooting of the series may have been a double edged sword, after all. The previous season granted the show a rare opportunity – a chance to time lapse remake itself – but I fear the Showrunners instead saw an opportunity to force wedge-issue conflict into established relationship dynamics.
In english: ‘It’s been a while – what have you done for me lately’ drama.
From the get-go, The 100 has had a bad habit of short memory, in order to bring together & separate characters as plots saw fit. Since various role reversals – going all the way back to the Ark – had no long term effect on Kane (Henry Ian Cusick) & Abby (Paige Turco), drug addiction became the new ultimatum; since Bellamy & Clarke (Eliza Taylor, Bob Morley) can never stay mad at each other, Madi (Lola Flanery) served as the new deal-breaker; since Octavia (Marie Avgeropoulos) kept forgetting about Bellamy’s Pike phase, his relationship with Echo (Tasya Teles), and her Bloodreina tenure became the new bond-busters – and so on. There was also a reason to wedge Emori & Murphy (Luisa d’Oliveira, Richard Harmon), and the specter of Jasper threatens to leave Monty estranged; but these were more organic examples.
All this tidal dynamic plotting left our new arrivals as the real fresh element to the show; but that only counts so long as they last longer than, say, the Weathermen.
The combination of some decent backstory, with no show history, has meant that the New Skaikru internal dynamics could be fast-tracked, in ways that could result in speedy resolution. Whether this means integration (Wonkru), or extermination (Mt. Weather) remains to be seen; but the viability of either keeps the addition interesting.
Charmaine Diyoza (Ivana Milicevic) has already proven herself complicated enough to warrant character longevity; so I wasn’t entirely sure why we needed a knee-jerk reason for her well-being. Personally, I’m just glad to see how far Ivana has come, since her bit role days (anybody remember her from Seinfeld, or Enemy of the State?)
Even Pike had gotten started down the redemption road (before Octavia just put him down); so with a long list of redeemed villains to harken back to, the obvious question was which of the New Skaikru was going to be the New Old Jaha, New Old Bellamy, etc. Well, the clear direction seems to be setting up Diyoza as a swing character – between McCreary (William Miller) & Shaw (Jordan Bolger) – but, again, Mt. Weather had more to offer than just introducing Bellamy & Echo.
Maybe Diyoza could use a little plot-insurance, after all.
Since the season has been fast-tracking internal conflict threads, on all sides, Murphy’s Law seemed inevitable – particularly when clear parallels were drawn, between Murphy & McCreary (from ep 1, I’ve wondered if McCreary was the New Old Murphy). Still, I’ll admit some satisfaction to watching Murphy go viral, among peers (so easy, compared to Echo’s careful machinations). Too easy, as it turned out – with the best-laid-plans trope spread between the Diyoza Murphy-wrench, Bellamy’s Wonkru coup, and a Madi contingency.
So, about that whole Madi keep-your-enemies-closer thread: that one has been about as heavy-handed as the rest, this season. So heavy, that I suspect no one’s considered the potentially incestuous ramifications of having her go full Commander (think about what Commanders are made of, and a relevant name that got dropped more than once). Given the rampant plot-memory lapses it may never come to that – and the show might have something other than Commander-Mother in store, for Clarke – but I just thought I’d put that out there.
No matter how many times I’ve made drinking-game cracks, about characteristic plot telegraphing, no one on this show has yet to catch on that nothing dooms a plan like carefully walking through it – so no surprises, when Bellamy’s dominoes didn’t fall in-line.
At the same time, this season’s forced evolution theme made it clear that Niylah (Jessica Harmon), Jackson (Sachin Sahel), and especially Miller (Jarod Joseph) were going to be party to the problem, rather than any solution. Once that point came clear, however, Bellamy walked us through a contingency plan. I think a history of mulligans has made Bellamy immune to the once-bitten rule.
I don’t know if Bellamy is being groomed to be the new New Kane – a one note alternative-to-conflict-at-any-price advocate – but his current moral fluidity would suit the show’s short-term memory problem.
Frankly, the only consistent principal character has been Indra (Adina Porter) – despite having her own relationship with Octavia broken over Bloodreina’s knee. Watching her thread the gauntlet, between Wonkru hardliners & the Bellarke doves, has been the real nail-biter of this run-up-to-war arc; and given the stakes, this likely means either an expansion to her role, or a send-off. If follow-through does justice to the current set-up, I might actually be fine with either outcome.
It was also nice to see Diyoza finally demonstrate both her potential, as a redeemable character, and her Alpha She-Wolf standing. The tension breaking, with McCready, was also too long in coming; so good-on, for Boss Fighting.
Abundant character turns & plot-twists landed more like flip-flops, and an almost desperate effort to generate viewer reaction shots, on youtube. Worse, all the attempts at overly-complicating matters seemed to add up to an over-simplified case of us-and-them tribalism. Not necessarily a bad result; just a frustratingly convoluted path to it.
So for all its high-stakes tension & fury, ‘Sic Semper Tyrannis’ amounted to a noisily brief distraction. Save for an inversion of captives (at Wonkru & Shadow Valley), and one character upgrade, everything prior to its events seems back on the table (even the Alien angle). It’s one thing to trust a show to be true to even its own flaws; but when those flaws are played-up, for what looks to be one big never-mind, even that level of trust can go out the window.
Time to start hoping that I’ve been duped by low expectations, again – The 100 has pulled out of spirals before. I just wish it would stop giving me a reason to, is all.
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