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The 100 - The Queen's Gambit - Review: "An Ideal Set-up"

The midpoint of The 100's final season is almost upon us, with seven of sixteen episodes now having aired. Last night's installment slowed the pace right down, which enabled some fascinating character development to take place. Series star Lindsey Morgan directed "The Queen's Gambit", with Miranda Kwok penning the script.

Last week's hour focused on the three main storylines, and balanced them quite nicely. This episode stripped that back to just Sanctum and Bardo, with Clarke and her colleagues not appearing until the final seconds as they entered Bardo through the anomaly from Nakara.

On Sanctum, Murphy and Emori were again at the forefront, but both had unique storylines which I quite enjoyed. While Emori was focusing on her peacekeeping mission, and organizing a unification ceremony, Murphy spent a lot more time than was planned in an entertaining duel with Sheidheda (Russell). I did wonder whether the chess set - which was prominently displayed in Sheidheda's cell last week, and presents a danger for any prisoner to possess - would be used in a slightly cliche chess match showdown at some point, and what better time to execute that than in this episode.

JR Bourne was a cut above the rest in this episode, despite some better than average performances from several other actors. He did particularly well to subtly define the difference between the Russell and Sheidheda characters, who aren't actually all that different in many aspects. Murphy tried to go toe to toe, but it was a foregone conclusion from a storytelling perspective that he wasn't going to defeat Sheidheda and thus be able to unveil his grand plan, which was at stake. Sheidheda managed to get under Murphy's skin in such a way that Murphy was again forced to question his own loyalties, and also consider how far apart what he wants, and what he's actually doing, are. Simultaneously, Sheidheda managed to distract Murphy enough that he missed the moment the Eligius prisoners - led by Nikki - entered the unification ceremony and presumably took hostages, with Emori being among those.

For me, the Bardo storyline had the edge in terms of enjoyability in this hour, perhaps partly due to one of my favorite characters, Diyoza, being heavily involved once again. Prior to that, however, progression had to be made on what happened once Gabriel switched sides in last week's hour, zapping his colleagues and enabling the Disciples to capture them.

After giving Gabriel a chance to properly farewell Orlando as a peace offering before his body was sent to Nakara, Anders wasted no time asking Gabriel to share his knowledge of the anomaly with him and his followers, with his biggest lure being an answer as to why Clarke is so important to them.

She's the key to everything.
While allowing prisoners to room in pairs would definitely not be best practice from a security standpoint, housing Diyoza with daughter Hope, and Octavia with Echo provided some ripe opportunities for character development. It was actually really good to see Octavia acting rationally and supporting Echo through her struggles with being separated from Bellamy. This on its own was character development on Octavia's part, while Echo's came primarily through a much-needed flashback to the time she and Bellamy strengthened their connection with a kiss. Of course, much of what occurred in the years for them and the others on board the Ark remains up to one's imagination, but Bellamy's summation that her weakness was loyalty no doubt weighed on her mind when she later pushed Octavia, Hope and Diyoza to join forces with the Disciples in their impending war.

Simultaneously, Diyoza and Hope had their own issues to work out, with perhaps the most significant one being that Diyoza was furious her daughter came to save her when it should have been the other way around. I don't think it was emphasized enough that thanks to the time differences between Bardo and Skyring it was years since Hope had seen her mother, but mere days or weeks since Diyoza had seen Hope. Some humor early on from Diyoza helped here, but I still think more emphasis was needed.
You wanna take on an army? Tell you what, put me on my ass and I'll let you.
What was consistent throughout was Hope wanting to do everything possible to escape from their cell, but Diyoza wasn't having it. That eventually escalated into a full-on fight between the two, but Hope never had a chance. Diyoza not wanting her daughter to know about her past was an unexpected but welcome thing to learn, but simultaneously Hope learned of her conception, which was as entertaining as it was awkward. With all their secrets now out in the open, I'm hoping the pair make an even more effective and driven team than they have been before.

Rounding out the episode were two important moments. Firstly, Clarke, Raven, Clarke, Jordan, Niylah and Miller arrived on Bardo through the anomaly, only to be greeted by Gabriel who appears to be all but sided with Anders and the Disciples. Clarke is mortified to hear that Bellamy is dead. Moments prior, Anders is seen waking up the Second Dawn cult leader, Bill Cadogan, from cryosleep. He tells Cadogan that they have the key, in Clarke.

Perhaps more exciting than this ending is the promo for next week's episode. "Discover how the end began" are the five ominous words that give us an insight into what the episode might be about. And with showrunner Jason Rothenberg writing, and Ed Fraiman directing, that's as good of a signal as any that this episode will be more important than most.

Returning back to last night's episode, overall I thought it was fairly decent. The highlight for me was JR Bourne's performance, and though I don't care about Sheidheda at all and want him dead, maybe the moves made on Sanctum in this episode will give him some purpose after all. No doubt there will be a few triggered Lexa fans floating about, too. Hopefully the Eligius takeover amounts to something worthwhile. On Bardo, I'm really pleased with the character development we got, and I'm also happy Clarke and her group also made it to Bardo safely. That trims down things a little bit, and will enable a tighter story moving into next week. It's an ideal set-up for what looks to be coming.

I'm a wee bit short on time again this week so that's all from me. If I've glossed over something, feel free to chime in with your own thoughts and theories in the comments below, and I'll see you back here for what's hopefully going to be the best episode of the season so far next week.


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