The 100 season 5 episode 2 review: Red Queen


During this week’s episode of The 100, Octavia learns “what it takes to be a leader.” Unfortunately, that lesson forces her to sacrifice some of her humanity. Six years later, she’s all but unrecognizable.

This week’s episode of The 100, entitled “Red Queen,” took fans back to the time period following Praimfaya. The episode details Octavia’s journey to becoming the true commander of her people, a feat made more difficult by her red blood.

When the episode opens, the unrest in the bunker is at an all time high. The remaining members of Skaikru resent that Octavia forced them to kill their own and share the bunker with the grounders. The grounder clans, in typical fashion, distrust the sky people and one another. Any perceived misdeed results in bloodshed. The tensions only worsen when the group realizes they’ll likely be stuck in the bunker longer than five years.

Through all of this, Octavia remains convinced that she is ill-suited to be a leader. Indra attempts to encourage her through tradition, but following in the footsteps of the previous commanders doesn’t make the grounders listen to Octavia. In fact, she’s right in saying that it makes her “a target” instead.

When riotous members of Skaikru lock the grounder population out of the level that holds the farm and water recycling, Octavia must rise to the occasion. And with the help of Thelonious, she is able to open the doors. But she is also forced to reinforce her claim that the survivors will live as Wonkru. And this means doling out punishments to any who oppose that unity.

The most powerful moment in “Red Queen” is when Octavia proves who is in charge beneath the ground. She chants, “You are Wonkru or you are the enemy of Wonkru,” while taking down any grounders who oppose her. When she finally opens the door, it’s with a newfound confidence in her place as the commander.

The episode takes a darker turn from there. We lose Thelonious, signaling that the writers are not afraid to kill off familiar faces this season. Despite the mistakes he’s made, the previous chancellor’s passing proved unexpectedly emotional. Octavia swears to him that she’ll protect their people, but then she makes some questionable choices herself.

Once Octavia has rounded up those responsible for usurping Level C, she decides to let them fight for their freedom like Roman gladiators. It’s a bizarre choice, when she could ideally kill any wrongdoers and easily control the population. But when the show jumps to six years in the future, it seems to be a popular decision among her people.

As they chant and cheer over the gladiator pit, you’ll wonder whether Octavia made the right decision. And you’ll find yourself asking what she and her people sacrificed. After all, the clans seem more like savages than ever during that final scene.

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“Red Queen” ends with another cliffhanger. As Octavia tells them to bring the next round of fighters in, several huge grounders file into the arena. Marcus Kane follows behind them, leaving us to wonder what he has done wrong and whether Octavia will truly sit idly by while he is killed.