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The 100 - The Stranger - Review: "Much Better With Bellamy"


After last week's one-off hour depicting Bellamy's journey, it now feels like the final season can truly begin to build to its series finale in what is now just five weeks away. Last night's episode was rather slow, but it was measured, and sets up some intrigue for next week. First-time The 100 writer Blythe Ann Johnson wrote "The Stranger", which was directed by another first-timer, Amanda Row.

We wasted no time being reintroduced to the proceedings inside Sanctum, for better or worse. With Sheidheda running the show, he didn't muck around asserting his authority and demanding complete loyalty. His second mass murder came moments later when he shot the entirety of the members of the Children of Gabriel, in what I thought was quite a powerful action of defiance from them. He killed everyone bar one teenage boy, who would factor in a bit later.

Murphy and Emori got a much greater amount of screen time than usual, which was good to see because I enjoy their scenes together. It did however signal that their separation was very likely imminent, and that would go on to happen after Eligius IV prisoner, Nikki, followed Indra to the machine shop. Nikki was successfully captured before doing any damage, but because she was also followed, it wasn't long before Sheidheda was banging the door down, with Murphy having little choice but to surrender himself and play dumb - two things he does very well.



The only Children of Gabriel survivor, Luca, was a bit of a dud as far as a character is concerned, and the actor mustered a below average effort when it came to expressing what I'm assuming was shellshock. His only real purpose was to allow Madi's character to develop somewhat, when she took the opportunity to outline the horrors she went through as a sole survivor for 58 days after Praimfaya and before Clarke found her. This was a nice moment for the writers to include, but I can't help but feel that it should have come much earlier - maybe even last season. Madi has never displayed any real signs of trauma from that experience, so it felt a bit out of place, even if it was more sympathetic than anything else. What I did think worked much better was Murphy telling Nikki what happened when her friend Hatch when he died a hero from radiation exposure in the season's third episode. That was far more relatable from a viewer's perspective.

Sheidheda's final move of the hour was to order the anomaly stone to be fetched from Gabriel's cabin and brought to the palace. That would prove to be handy in facilitating one of the more interesting reintroductions the series has seen.

What the hell happened here?
Jee, where to begin.
With Bellamy back in the picture, the Bardo storyline really did take on a whole new dimension. Things began with Cadogan elisting Bellamy's help with recovering the Flame, and striking a deal that guaranteed the safety of his friends. An unexpectedly coy Cadogan threw him off a bit, but Bellamy pressed on anyway, with discussions with Raven and Echo first, then Clarke and Octavia.
You’ve lost yourself, Bellamy. This isn't you.
I don't really think I've ever been convinced by the showrunners' attempts to portray Echo and Bellamy as a genuine couple because we hardly ever get to see coupley things happening between them, but Echo took some big strides in convincing me of her love for him in this episode. She detailed the things she'd been through just to get to where she was right there and then in her quest to find him, but she got next to nothing back from Bellamy in return. He had been convinced by his epiphany last week that what he was doing was right and necessary, and ultimately more important than his relationship with Echo.



Clarke and Octavia were similarly unforgiving when Bellamy went to talk to them. Clarke had concluded that it made no sense at all for him to do what he was doing, but that was before he told them of his epiphany. Hearing Bellamy explain his experience makes me wonder if Cadogan is running some sort of mind-altering funny business somehow, because how else could he keep a large number of Disciples loyal to his cause for multiple decades, while he spends much of that time in cryosleep while his Disciples do all the work researching the anomaly stones and searching for the Flame?

That theory aside, I thought it was admirable how Clarke stood up to Bellamy's nonsense, even though it resulted in her being sent to MCAP, where she also put up another great fight. The MCAP was stopped, and Clarke did a deal to ensure the safety of her friends before taking Cadogan to the Flame. Predictably, Cadogan had another trick up his sleeve when he sent everyone except Raven and Clarke to another as yet unknown location via the anomaly, while he, Gabriel and Bellamy joined Clarke and Raven in their return to a Sanctum that's markedly different to how they left it.



The final scene worth a mention is that between Hope and Jordan, where Hope gets a chance to grieve following her mother's passing. Jordan's points for discussion aligned similarly with Madi describing her post-Praimfaya existence, and Hope recounted her upbringing too. It all tied in quite nicely, though Jordan is badly in need of some character development and he benefited least out of the trio.

Sheidheda's decision to move the anomaly stone to the palace is potentially a more important decision than he may have realized. He now has control over the stone, which also means he can now control who passes back through it, and if there's anything it for him at all, he won't allow free passage through it. The final piece of Cadogan's puzzle is still missing though because Gaia is still somewhere on Bardo, and from a TV storytelling perspective you're going to want her to help repair the Flame, which she can't do if she's not able to be where it is, and from my recollection she won't know how to open the anomaly either.

Overall, I think The 100 is clearly better with Bellamy in it, and not absent, and that was clearly proven in this hour. Though I was pretty harsh in my remarks of last week's episode, this hour was much more engaging, and though he has found a new cause to believe in, it's presenting a decent challenge to his friends with regard to how they deal with his beliefs. No doubt the other residents on Sanctum may have a few choice words of their own. I'm hoping Murphy is one of those, as that will be an interesting full-circle role reversal from the first season, where Murphy was an outcast, and Bellamy may likely receive similar treatment.



The Sanctum storyline was surprisingly bearable thanks in large part to Murphy and Emori more or less leading the storytelling - cockblocking aside - and Sheidheda taking a back seat after the opening minutes. The Children of Gabriel execution was a cheap and nasty way to trim down the big players as the season draws to a close, but may also force Gabriel and Cadogan in particular in an unexpected direction given a bunch of loyal followers - and a bunch of potential loyalists in Cadogan's case - have been exterminated.

Sadly, however, there's yet another break in this season, with the thirteenth episode due to air in three weeks. This point in the season is a ridiculous time to put a break of that duration in between episodes, but no amount of complaining will do anything to change that. In the meantime, thanks as always for reading, and do be sure to share your thoughts and theories on this episode in the comments below, and I'll see you right back here on September 9.

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