“Die All, Die Merrily”, the tenth episode of season four of The 100, has been deemed by writers and fans alike as “The Hunger Games episode”. It’s easy to see why: like The Hunger Games — and Battle Royale before it — this episode is a killing game with one goal.
Unlike Battle Royale and The Hunger Games, 4×10 of The 100 isn’t solely a battle between children. However, the youngest champion of the clans, Octavia Blake of Skaicru, ultimately wins the fight.
This episode is bloody. Its title comes from William Shakespeare’s Henry IV, Part 1: “Doomsday is near; die all, die merrily” (4.1.134).
For the characters on The 100, this line translates quite literally. The death wave is coming, and whoever wins this conclave gets to claim the bunker that will save them all, along with their people.
Obviously, the audience is meant to root for Octavia. Fighting for Skaicru means she is fighting for the group of people we’ve been following since the pilot. Octavia winning the conclave means she survives, along with all of the other major players on this show.
But wait. That’s not quite right. Since their introduction as “villains” in season one, many of the grounders have become recurring and regular characters. They’ve earned just as much screen time as Skaicru, and many of them have made more humane decisions in the attempt to save their people than anyone in Skaicru has.
Watching this episode, therefore, hurts like hell. Because even if we don’t know the warrior that’s been killed, we likely know someone in their clan. When the Trikru warrior died, I immediately thought of Indra and the rest of her people, who were nearly decimated by Pike in his season three crusade.
And when Roan, and then Luna died, I was devastated to see them go.
In a setting like this one, there’s very little time for mourning. But like that final scene on the boat in Battle Royale and like the scene with Rue in The Hunger Games, the show still took moments to pause. To pull at heart strings.
To remind us that even in the middle of a killing game, all of these people are still human.
That’s easy to forget, when you’re on the edge of the seat hoping your favorite characters will live to see another day. The spectacle of it wraps you up, then spits you out once the violence is over and reminds you that you just watched a bunch of people murder each other.
Placing characters into situations where they have to kill in order to survive is a specialty of The 100, but it’s never been quite so blatant. The audience has been told about conclaves — once used to determine who would become the next commander, before the Nightbloods died out — but we’ve never seen one.
There’s quite literally no way out other than to kill or be killed, and in this conclave, the stakes were even higher. Luna, the last true Nightblood, who ran from her conclave out of fear of herself and the darkness inside her, comes back to fight again. But she has no clan; she has no stake in the fight for the bunker.
She comes back because she knows she can win. If she does, then no one survives. The bunker remains empty. Humanity — and all of its darkness — dies out. For good this time.
“Skaicru taught me that people are cruel and violent and selfish to the core.”
— Luna, 4×10: “Die All, Die Merrily”
It’s a pretty dark twist to her character, but it also makes sense. Furthermore, it shines light on one of humanity’s uglier traits: enjoying violence as spectacle.
Battle Royale and The Hunger Games quite literally feature kids killing kids. And yet we still root for the “heroes” of each story, cheering when their “enemies” are defeated. It’s true that we tend to root for the kids — like Shuya and Katniss — who are significantly less ruthless. We tend to root for the characters who just want to survive, who are reluctant to kill the others even though they know the rules of the game.
But ultimately, we still root for some people to live over others, even in a situation where no one is really a “bad guy”. All of the people in the conclave in 4×10 (save for Luna) are eager for their people to survive and willing to do whatever it takes to make that happen, but we as an audience get so wrapped up in the violent spectacle that I think we forget about that.
We just want to see people fight.
Because of that, The 100 episode 4×10 has been heralded as one of the best episodes of the show thus far, if not the best.
Honestly, it’s easy to see why. The writing and direction are beautifully done, revealing things about characters that only such a desperate situation can bring to light. The episode is also really intense, and honestly, it’s clear that it had more effort put into it than much of the rest of season four so far.
But it’s still a killing game, agreed upon by people who are so desperate to survive that they won’t even consider trying to share the bunker with everyone else. It’s not until after the conclave, when everyone’s chances have died (literally) and Octavia says they should all survive, that any of them even consider this option.
Then it’s revealed that while the conclave was happening, Skaicru — minus Octavia, Bellamy and Kane — had taken the bunker in a secret coup. Holy shit.
With the exception of those three people (and Indra), everyone’s worst impulses are revealed in this episode. Luna wasn’t wrong; humanity is selfish to its core, which is proven by Echo’s cheating as well as Clarke’s bunker snatching.
But now that Skaicru (or, most of it) has the bunker — now that the rest of the clans know they ignored the rules of the conclave and took the bunker dishonorably — what happens? Bellamy certainly won’t let his sister die on the surface.
Luna wasn’t wrong, but I’m not sure she was right. What happens in the last three episodes of season four, as the death wave gets increasingly closer, will reveal a lot about how these characters think.
Hopefully, they’re better than their worst impulses. Luna didn’t think so. Given how quickly I got caught up in the horror and the spectacle of this episode, despite hating stories like it, I’m not sure I do either.