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The 100 - Gimme Shelter - Review: "Deadly Decisions"

Last night's episode of The 100 delivered darkness in droves as the series passes the midpoint of its fourth season. The hour was beautifully constructed for maximum emotional impact, and several characters faced important crossroads. "Gimme Shelter" was expertly directed by Tim Scanlan, with an outstanding script courtesy of Terri Hughes Burton & Ron Milbauer.

Just as the episode's promo promised, the dreaded black rain arrived with vengeance, and a hurried evacuation to the remnants of Alpha Station produced two strong subplots. Harper was tasked with tending to a man who she had opted not to go back for when he tripped and fell on the way into the station, and Bellamy responded to a plea for help from two more of his people who found themselves stranded outside the perimeter.

It felt a bit unusual seeing Harper with no Monty in sight, as he was sidelined for this episode. Nevertheless, Harper was dished a powerful dose of reality as her decision to fend for herself instead of helping a fallen comrade ended in tragedy as he succumbed to his injuries. Guided by Kane - who I thought was brilliant in this episode - Harper had to make him comfortable, and when he eventually died she was devastated. She's now been inducted into the realm of regrettable decision-makers - the other members of that club need no introduction.

Bellamy's past decisions were what drove him to attempt to rescue two other men who were stranded by the rain. His sheer determination and willpower was as strong as it's ever been, and spurred on by the knowledge that his sister Octavia was also out in the wilderness alone, it's no surprise he was unmoved by Kane's repeated pleas for him to stand down. Faced with tough driving conditions and running short on time, Bellamy lost control and got the rover bogged in a ditch. Knowing that any attempt to winch the rover out while it was raining would only result in the total body count being higher, Bellamy had no choice but to sit and wait, and listen to the two guys fade away over the radio.

I can't find my sister, but I do know where they are.

These two subplots epitomized the episode's overall theme: some decisions can lead to dead ends where there are no other options. The man Harper opted not to rescue was doomed, and no matter how hard Bellamy tried, the risks Bellamy took were always going to be greater than the reward.

This theme continued on the island, where last week's failed fuel haul had resulted in Abby having no other option but to test her Nightblood cure on a living human. Before that happened, lots of interesting stuff went down.

Raven's stroke at the end of last week's hour was an easy pass for her to sit this hour out. Abby's computers showed the damage Raven's brain had incurred, and the creative team didn't forget to bring up the fact that Abby could be facing a similar fate. With the trip to Becca's orbiting lab no longer an option, she told Clarke the only hope for testing a potential cure she had developed was a live test on another human.

Overhearing this was Emori, who probably developed the most out of all the characters in this episode. She wasted no time in coming to terms with the fact that she would be considered the most expendable of the lab's inhabitants, and attempted to flee the area with Murphy before a golden opportunity came through the window.

From what I could understand, his name is Bayliss, and he is a Scavenger - another clan, it seems - and he broke into the house in search of food and supplies. Emori was first to be attacked, and played the situation as if she knew this guy, and that he had done bad things to her previously. She had Murphy and Clarke on her side with little fuss, and when Murphy and Emori later beat a defenseless Bayliss, Clarke allowed the action to continue, which - in going with the episode's theme again - she had no choice but to do, despite her internal moral compass strongly objecting.

If I take a life to find a cure, does that make me a murderer?

It was a comparatively easy call to make for Clarke and the group to opt to use Bayliss as Abby's human guinea pig for her Nightblood cure, but what went unnoticed between the characters is how much of what they are doing parallels with what the inhabitants of the infamous Mount Weather did in Season 2. Just like Clarke, Abby, Murphy and Emori, the Mount Weather inhabitants determined that the Grounders they were harvesting blood from were effectively subhuman, and, when boiled down to a survival situation, were a resource that they could utilize to ensure their survival.

I'm sure this is no coincidence from the creative team. It's no doubt flown under the radar of many viewers, and many philosophical questions can be raised as a result. The one thing Skaikru have going for them that sets them apart from Mount Weather is that their intentions are to save everyone, but intentions often start out pure only to be clouded and corrupted further down the track as circumstances change. It's already been alluded to by Clarke and others that Skaikru would be first to receive the cure - the same was the case with the intention to use Alpha Station as a shelter for when the nuclear fallout arrives. All of this is important to bear in mind, and there's plenty more discussion to be had on the issue.

You spared my life. I owe you.

The hour's final major subplot came courtesy of Octavia and Ilian, who were last seen running from Arkadia on foot - Octavia after being talked out of executing Ilian, and Ilian after being freed from capture for destroying parts of Alpha Station a couple of episodes back.

In the woods, we catch up with Octavia, who is on horseback, just as she notices Ilian tracking her, albeit rather poorly. Their strangely bittersweet reunion took a rapid turn when the black rain caught them out. Together they fled to a cave where they waited out the storm.

While everything else about their later interactions was superb all round, this intro fell flat from my perspective. I would have preferred one of them to have been at the cave already, and the other to have arrived shortly after the black rain began falling. Their initial meeting would have been much more forced and abrupt, with no escape for either party thanks to the rain, and the cliché-riddled tracking through the woods trick could have been done away with entirely.

I told you my sad story. Tell me yours.

Hanging around in their underwear waiting for the rain to pass was just about the most predictable lead-up to sex I've ever seen on a television show, but despite that, the chemistry between the characters was there in a uniquely muted way, given they also despise each other somewhat. Asked where he would go when the storm passed, Ilian recounted his former farm, his family and their deaths at his hands, and he then cut right into Octavia's core with his open admission of the pain he felt for what he had done. Octavia was no match for that given how volatile she's been since Lincoln's death.

I think the person you were before this happened is still in there.

Ilian wasn't wrong. After pushing her over the edge emotionally, Octavia tried to kill herself using the black rain, but Ilian refused to let her do that. Octavia finally dropped the facade and admitted she wanted to feel something else other than hurt and grief, and it seems she got that from Ilian that night. The pair are now effectively even, with Ilian having saved Octavia's life shortly after she spared his. The pair departed the cave together, and their future together is something I'm surprised and excited to see being explored. What I hope the creative team are aware of is that Octavia has fallen for a maverick in the form of Lincoln before, and they need to come up with something better in order to sell Ilian's role in Octavia's life long term.

For now though, they are each a glimmer of hope for each other, having both met their darkest hours at nearly the same time. Ilian blew up Arkadia, while Octavia nearly killed herself. Clarke allowed a defenseless man to get beaten, while Emori used him to spare herself from being tested by Abby - who agreed to the testing and asked whether taking a life to find a cure made her a murderer. Bellamy and Harper both failed to save people from the black rain. But despite the turmoil, Kane impressed me with his fact-based, pragmatic approach. He kept his emotions and decision-making separate, and was able to support Harper, Bellamy and Abby with the choices - or lack thereof - that they faced. It was great use of the character by the creative team.

In all, this episode is keeping this season of The 100 well on track to be its best yet. The all-round solid acting, strong directing and cinematography, and intelligent writing made for some very dark moments for many of the characters. The parallel references to past events was on point and added another layer of complexity to the story, along with the tough questions and decisions that go with it. It's a great feeling when I can say that this show is becoming more multi-dimensional and intellectual than what could have otherwise been a soppy post-apocalyptic teen romance trainwreck by now. It's fantastic to see, and long may it continue.

As always, thanks a lot for reading! I'd love to hear your thoughts on the episode and my review so be sure to head down to the comments below to share them - they're always great to read. See you all back here next week!

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