This was quite the character-driven episode while still giving us some forward propulsion (including seeing where some missing heroes ended up), so let’s jump in!
Just a reminder, spoilers galore!! Like ALL the spoilers- proceed with caution!
The Queen’s (Psychological) Gambit
There are a few stories happening in Sanctum at once, but they all involve taking some risks, so the title is certainly applicable. Emori is planning a reunification event for the Children of Gabriel to reconnect with their families in Sanctum. Murphy is tasked with tending to Sheidheda, who has plans of his own. And Jackson is trying to counsel Madi, and frankly I’m grateful she has someone like him. We’ll start with them since this is the shortest story.
Paging Dr. Jackson
I am so glad to see a focus on mental health in a really supportive, positive way here. They’d touched on it before with Jasper, but his mental health took a backseat to the end of the world. Here, Jackson is able to actually discuss things with Madi, help her to move past her trauma, and wow I am here for it. He reminds her that all the adults in her life have made terrible choices that have led to this, that it isn’t her fault, and she no longer needs to bear the weight of their wars.
He sees her. Someone finally sees her. That she’s a kid, she wants to make friends and learn and explore the world. He sees that she’s neither helpless nor a savior, and that is everything. When she runs off to play, it’s like the weight of the world has been lifted. Because it has. And Jackson having this wonderful new purpose is equally compelling and important. He needed to figure out who he was to be outside of Abby’s shadow, and here he has found the absolute ideal role for himself. Everything about this was just *chef’s kiss*.
Moves and Countermoves
Murphy thinks he’s popping in to deliver Sheidy’s food, but Sheids has other plans. A chess game, which at this point should surprise no one. Murphy can’t seem to decide if he is annoyed or if he’s game, but I don’t think Sheidy loves giving people choices, so Murphy plays some chess.
Sheidy claims to have answers that Murphy needs, and I suppose that is true. I just don’t trust him to actually hold up his end of the bargain regardless. Also, Sheidheda has been playing this game for at least a solid century, and I know Murphy is smart but… seems like they’re not the best odds. It doesn’t matter, as Murphy doesn’t have much of a choice, and as it turns out, Sheidy was just stalling so that Nikki & Co. could get the guns to the COG party without Daniel Prime’s interference.
Heh. There’s one way to win.
Then the guns go off, and he lets Murphy go I have a feeling there will be more to this relationship than just lopsided chess matches and psychoanalysis, but either way these two are such incredible actors, and work so well together that I’ll accept them on my screen even if it is just for board games.
Reunification Counseling with Kaylee Prime
I mean everyone is trying their hand at psychology today, right? Before he leaves to bring Sheidy breakfast, Murphy tries to talk Emori out of her latest “Kaylee” project of trying to reunite the Children of Gabriel with their Sanctum families. It’s adorable, how are they allowed to be so adorable?
But Murphy’s right, she does relish this new role. And it makes sense! Emori has always been incredible at finding a place to fit and help in virtually any situation. If I got to make an apocalypse team, Emori would be on it. And now she figures that she can help unite the factions of Sanctum through peace and love and family instead of weapons and power struggles. It’s not even a bad plan, it’s just that there are too many folks in the mix who would choose the power, given the choice. And Nikki is banking on the COGs being let down by their families, let’s be real.
Emori is still placing her bets on the side of good, which I would have done too so who can blame her? She thinks she’s convinced Nelson to show up, and so she grabs his DNA on the sly, as one does. And he doesn’t even seem mad when she finally tells him, so I guess she was sort of right that Nelson was into it. And fun surprise, his parents are here!
So at first, it’s the sweetest thing ever. Mrs. Nelson is just full of love. Full. It’s pretty clear that she regrets giving up her “Sachin” (and we’ll talk about the nod to Sachin later), and she’s so happy to be reunited. Mr. Nelson is… less so. Zahir is high key annoyed that his wife is so excited to see their son. He’d already voiced concerns, saying he hoped that Daniel would give his blessing (whoopsie) but I never expected him to be so hateful to his own son.
You can see the actual light leaving Nelson’s eyes. Well done, Lee, because I can see the actual tears streaming from mine.
This is gutting. Not only does Zahir rebuke Nelson, but he goes ahead and tries to choke the life out of him too. Father of the year, right? So Nelson does what he must, and stabs Zahir. I blame him zero percent. But I do blame him for suddenly hating Emori and siding with Nikki, to the point of holding a gun to Emori’s head. He knows that Emori’s heart was in the right place, that she knew firsthand the experience of being thrown away by the people who are supposed to love you most. I get his anger, but I don’t get directing it at Emori, except I guess there really wasn’t anyone else to direct it toward. Things are ugly in the land of Sanctum, friends. Indra will have a hell of a mess to clean up.
Bardo Recruitment Fair
Bardo is all about this war. All. About. It. No one knows what it even is, but these people are locked and loaded and ready for Clarke I guess and Bill Cadogan I don’t know. Their first target to bring into the foray is none other than the Smartest Smartypants this side of Sanctum, Dr. Gabriel Santiago. Anders decides to give Gabe a minute to say adios to “Orlando” before they yeet him over to Nakara. Gabriel also learns about more fun facts that Orlando neglected to mention. He still seems a wee bit sad but that’s just cause he’s not a monster and Orlando was his kind-of friend.
I tried to find the translation for like a solid 20 minutes before I gave up. Sorry.
Anywho, Gabriel joins the Bardo Brainiacs™, and they get to work trying to crack Stone codes. Honestly I don’t blame him! The more he learns about the Stone, the better chance he’ll have when they finally can escape. He’s clearly upset about the fates of his friends too, and continues to worry about them at every turn.
Speaking of, the women are locked into two separate rooms, because clearly the psychological manipulation isn’t just taking place on Sanctum! Nope, over here on Bardo, Anders is hoping he can get some of them to crack enough to join his cause, I guess. We catch up first with Octavia and Echo, who are doing about as well as you’d expect. Which is not at all. Echo is flashing back to the time she spent with Bellamy on the ring, and that hits hard.
It’s a scene of their first kiss which… okay. I mean, I am still not a fan of the relationship, but I do like that it helps us to understand where Echo is coming from a bit. I also don’t think that Bellamy telling her that her loyalty is her weakness is a throwaway line- I think it will absolutely have meaning going forward, and already does by the end of the episode.
I feel like Octavia has made slightly more peace with Bellamy’s “death”, if only because she had already said her goodbye on Skyring and assumed she’d not see him again. Echo had lived and breathed for his return, so for her, it’s positively unthinkable.
So while I was a little irked that O had to comfort Echo, I kind of get it. I just hope that O has a chance to fall apart a little too at some point. This is my favorite version of Octavia, tbh.
Next door, the Diyozas are having a bit of a mom-daughter kerfuffle. Hope wants to burn the place down, which I understand, while Diyoza tries to explain why that is a terrible plan. Hope is in full teen angst mode I guess because she doesn’t want Diyoza to miss out on those years?
Diyoza is kind of gutted. Because she never wanted Hope to know that side of her, and in her mind, Hope is still the ten year old she left alone on Skyring. But she soon understands that Hope can handle it, and she spills all the tea, including her ill-advised McCreary seduction. I am glad she told Hope, really. Then she kind of has to beat the crap out of her so Hope can understand why they can’t just rush a bunch of armed guards, but hey, Mom’s gotta mom.
But there’s a surprise next door! Echo is all covered in her freshly-black blood, because in Azgeda, slashing your face means you are ready for war. Makes total sense to injure yourself before battle, but okay.
I always dig hearing Azgeda lore!
She explains to O that she knows they are using them as soldiers, and she’s down. All the doors unlock, and just like that, the women have become Disciples. Only, it’s not that easy, because on their way, Clarke and the gang pop on to Bardo!
They chill a bit when they see Gabriel, who tells them that Echo and Octavia are okay… but Bellamy is not. This Bellamy being “dead” thing is going to be a real mess, isn’t it?
But Anders could not possibly care less about Bellamy Blake, because he has Clarke, and he can go wake up the other part of whatever his plan is. As he heads to Level 13 and passes all these Polis clues, I knew it was Cadogan time!
I have no idea what is happening, but I am excited!
- Phew the Sanctum folks finally realized half their team was missing. Clearly Adina needed the week off after all that slaying she’s been doing, so it all worked out quite well. Should be interesting to see what happens when she can’t find them.
- How do all these people know how to play chess? Murphy spent his life on the Ark where I assume outside of Jaha, chess supplies were limited, and on the ground where I know they were. Nelson somehow seemed like he knew what was up despite being raised by Gabriel’s buds in the actual forest. I live in a completely chess-accessible world and haven’t played a single move. 🤷♀️
- The writers’ nod to Sachin was beyond lovely. I teared up, I won’t lie. It was such a sweet moment.
- “Orlando’s body”, sure Jan 🙄 That body is not Orlando any more than I am Orlando. Orlando is fine. Orlando will return for payback. If he isn’t I am going to feel so silly.
- Every time Anders says “transcending”, I hear ALIE and Jaha. This has to be some kind of escapism, a la the City of Light, right? I mean “last war” only works if there’s nothing worth fighting for any longer. I still think that is why they were so interested in O’s Season 3 memories, why Clarke is the key. We’ll see though!
- If I say “Bellamy is on Earth” enough times, can I will it into existence? Asking for a friend.
- Lindsey Morgan absolutely owned directing. Honestly, I was so impressed- you can tell that it was directed by someone with a deep love and understanding of the story. She nailed it at every turn, and I could not be happier for her!
Episode 7×08: Anaconda
Finally time for the backdoor pilot we’ve been hearing so much about! I for one am giddy excited. I love Grounder lore, I love apocalypses, I love Becca, let’s go!
- Cadogan has a family?! Look, Jaha did not find this info on the Second Dawn Wiki. It’s almost jarring to see because they appear to be… normal. Not as you’d expect to see from a cult leader!
- How does Clarke remember Cadogan from that one iPad look? I don’t remember what like, half my family members look like after quarantine, but sure, a few hundred years later, Clarke totally recognizes a guy she saw on a Kindle for three seconds while worried about the end of the world. Seems legit.
- Becca time! I find Becca’s story so fascinating! (Probably why I played her- and won as her- in Bookish Games!) I mean, she thinks she’s making life better on the reg with all her new technology, and yet… her new technology kills all the people. Her reaction to it was so similar to O’s, to the Faithful’s- they keep going, because to stop believing in the thing would be to realize what they’ve done, how wrong they’ve been. Interesting parallels for sure.
- I really just want to see Earth now, yeah? It’s been a second, let’s check in!