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The 100 - Acceptable Losses - Review: "A Massive Turning Point"


The CW's The 100 officially passed the halfway mark of its fifth season last night, and with that milestone also came a massive and much needed change in direction. "Acceptable Losses" shot to the top of my list of favorite post-premiere episodes, with a stunning script courtesy of debut writer Jeff Vlaming, with Mairzee Almas directing.

So many elements were at play in this hour, and they all played out in excellent fashion, with plenty of intensity thrown in too. In Polis, Octavia has transitioned from being the hunter to the hunted, and in Polis, some risky maneuvers courtesy of Echo may turn the tables on Eligius.

We'll delve into detail with Polis first off. Firstly, I thoroughly enjoyed these segments way more than any other time this season. They had a real edge to them that's not been seen before. While waiting for Echo's backdoor to come online, Clarke and Bellamy struggled to find alternatives to all-out war, but a chance break saw Clarke and Monty discover that Cooper - under Octavia's authorization - had been breeding the parasitic worms discovered earlier in the season, with the hope of infecting those in Shadow Valley via another batch of defectors. The special and visual effects were on point in these gory scenes, but the tension between Bellamy and Octavia when the secret was no longer was superbly crafted.



The wisdom of Bellamy hasn't been successfully overcome by his younger sister previously, but this episode brought about the strongest challenge to that yet. Not so subtle jabs at Clarke and Bellamy's own track records of killing large numbers of people as a necessary sacrifice were a feature here, with only a dozen or so Wonkru members at risk of death under Octavia's plan. To her credit also, this wasn't a traditional battle plan, which shows Octavia may not be quite as obsessed with the status quo as we've seen previously. In my mind - and I'm sure others as well - this was a sound strategy, and one that stood a solid chance of being successful if executed properly. The breeding process was inhumane to say the least, with live hosts yielding better results than corpses according to Cooper, but again, the sacrifice in terms of body count remained on the smaller side.

Perhaps the highlight of this episode for me also came about in Polis: Jasper's suicide note. Clarke finally gifted it to Monty having found it in Arkadia shortly after Praimfaya. That's a long time to hold onto a letter and refrain from opening it, and it's another example of Clarke's sheer determination and belief that she would see those who went to space again while she lived on the ground with Madi.

There's no light at the end of the tunnel. There's only the tunnel.
Monty's perspective on life was changed dramatically since reading that letter, and its contents displayed an enormous amount of foresight and wisdom from Jasper - perhaps to levels he wasn't actually capable of. Jasper talked deeply about the seemingly endless war and conflict, and how optimism for a better life still hasn't paid off. What I'm hoping is that this letter also signals a change in direction from the showrunners because the characters are now more aware that wars aren't the answer, and we as a fanbase will therefore see less blood and more collaboration, or other such things. That's not necessarily likely in the immediate future because of the massively one-sided situation at present, but I can't say I'm not somewhat energized by this possibility.
If a war is the only way to have the last survivable land on Earth, then maybe we don't deserve it.
I was very impressed with Lola Flanery's performance in this episode as Madi. Her character hasn't been widely featured this season relatively speaking, but things are looking more promising through the back half. As we know, Madi approached Octavia in the last episode, and Octavia wasted no time taking her under her wing and sending her to training. Gaia was in charge of these sessions, and Clarke had rightly instructed Madi to tone down her abilities to avoid what happened in the hour's dying minutes: her impressing Octavia enough to be pulled straight into the army.

Running alongside this was Gaia trying to sell Madi on the idea of becoming Commander by inheriting the Flame. My position hasn't changed since my last review which was critical of any Flame-related storylines being reestablished, but with the revelation that Clarke, Bellamy, Harper and Monty will work towards dethroning Octavia, this story arc looks like it will continue for some time yet. My money is on Madi taking the flame at some point, but whether she replaces or merely works alongside Octavia remains to be seen.



Of equal caliber to the Polis storylines were those in Shadow Valley. Tasya Teles was a real standout, with Echo making good on her promise to Octavia to open a backdoor inside the Eligius firewall to enable the eye in the sky to be shut down. This took some real gamesmanship on her part, however, with Raven not being helpful initially because she didn't want to ruin the rapport she had built with the Eligius pilot, Shaw.

Shaw again revealed some more of the Eligius backstory, which was another welcome element in this episode that the series needs to continue building. While Raven saw Diyoza's file as a terrorist when she was on board the Eligius mothership in space, Shaw saw her in real life as a leader who understood that people were not as expendable as they were being treated, especially by Eligius who sent the mineral being mined on the asteroids back to Earth, but left the miners there to fend for themselves.

Again, Diyoza is a top quality antagonist, unrivaled in the history of The 100. Echo managed to gain Diyoza's trust by positioning herself as a spy, and when she heard Shaw had run interference in the early days of the confrontation with Wonkru, she sold that to Diyoza and backed Raven into a corner by saying she had proof. This allowed her to activate the backdoor while Raven was showing Diyoza the system logs. Shaw's cover was blown, and he was badly beaten and thrown in with the defectors for his troubles. Echo may have known that he wouldn't be killed because of his intellectual value as a pilot, and Diyoza's aversion to death as a punishment, but this was a big play.
Me, or the pills.
I was impressed with the content between Kane, Abby and Diyoza also. Kane finally called Abby out on her addiction and what it meant to him that he nearly died for her without that seemingly having an impact on her decision to continue taking drugs. Keeping the fair arguments going was Abby claiming that the drugs made her a better doctor, and that the time taken to withdraw couldn't be afforded with her need to find a cure for the condition that's threatening 75% of the Eligius prisoners. We've seen Kane try his hand in negotiations and leadership over the years, and he's not too bad at it, but Diyoza completely outclassed him when he tried to reason with her regarding Abby. Good stuff there too.



As if the hour wasn't good enough already, its cliffhanger was rock solid also. As mentioned earlier, Octavia takes Madi for the upcoming war, effectively separating a mother and daughter. Madi's expression is a cross between "awesome" and "oh shit". In Shadow Valley, Diyoza finally sees Abby for a medical checkup and reveals she's pregnant. That's a big surprise for sure. And finally, Clarke drops the bombshell which could seal Octavia's fate. She radios Diyoza asking what would it would take to e able to share the valley. Diyoza says she will not accept anything less than unconditional surrender. Knowing Octavia would never surrender, even Bellamy seems to have made up his mind in that split second that taking out Octavia is the only option left.

Next week's promo hints at a more diplomatic solution - a trading post - but that could easily be a disguise for ulterior motives from both sides. The fact remains, however, that Octavia is now on borrowed time unless she changes tack. Like I said at the beginning of this review, this along with other occurrences in this episode signal a massive turning point in where the series will head as the season finale approaches.

Overall, minus mention of the Flame, this episode earns a big tick of approval from me. This is the season's best episode aside from the season premiere in my book, and after having two out of the past 4 weeks with no episodes, an episode of this quality goes some way to making up for that downtime.

Thanks as always for reading! As usual I'd love to hear your thoughts and theories on this episode of The 100, and on my review, so please feel free to leave them in the comments below. See you all right back here next week.

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