Bellame really needed a win. That’s what I thought after his redemption arc hit a mud-filled obstacle this week.
Ever since he took up arms with Pike last season, Bellame has been haunted by his morally-questionable decisions, struggling with guilt and failing to earn his sister’s forgiveness. So when he is provided with the opportunity to save two members of Skaikru who’re stranded in a black rain storm, it seems like the perfect way to boost his morale.
Instead, he ends up stuck in a rover, listening over the radio as two more lives slip out of his reach. At this point, I couldn’t help but laugh at the exchange he has with Kane, who tells him “your mother would be proud of the man you’ve become.” Bellame responds with, “You floated my mother.” Harsh. It’s an example of how so many characters have been scarred by their choices and past decisions, and continue to live with the consequences to this day. Nobody can quite escape the past.
“Gimme Shelter” draws a number of parallels to previous seasons. Abby must decide whether to test the Nightblood cure on a person by exposing them to a potentially lethal amount of radiation. If it works, it could save humanity. She asks Kane, would it still be an act of murder? This scenario is reminiscent of season two’s Mount Weather arc. At the time, the people of Mount Weather were portrayed as villains. Of course, their testing took place on a much larger scale, and the stakes were not as high as they are now for Abby and the group. But the similarities remain, and it shows how the moral compass continues to shift over time. Actions previously thought unspeakable are now being considered.
As Abby reveals her dilemma to Clarke, Emori overhears their conversation. She arrives at the logical conclusion that she will end up becoming the test subject. Clarke, of course, reassures Emori she’s fighting for everyone and not just Skaikru. I don’t doubt that Clarke means it, but when faced with a dilemma such as this, anyone will show loyalty to those closest to them.
Luckily for Emori, an timely intruder arrives on the island. In a clever act of self-preservation, Emori pretends to be in conflict with this person, and claims he previously attacked her. This makes him an easier choice to be the test subject. Her scheme earns Emori a grin from Murphy. Those two truly are meant to be together.
The episode opens with Octavia riding through the woods with Ilian on her trail. As the black rain arrives, they are forced to spend time in a cave together. Octavia is still overcome with grief, which leads to a dramatic attempt to run out into the storm. Ilian catches her and wrestles her to the ground. Octavia then says, “Make me feel something else.”
This potential new love interest plays out similarly to Octavia’s early days with Lincoln. They save one another, end up in a cave together, and their relationship takes off from there. Despite the feeling of deja vu, this still manages to be a powerful sequence, thanks in large to Marie Avgeropolous’s dynamic performance. The next morning Octavia rides out to Ilian, offering him a ride home. It’s the liveliest she has looked in a long time, as if a weight has been lifted from her. A shift from the cold and rigid Octavia was long overdue, and I felt a sense of relief just watching the subtle smile rise across her face.
Visually, this episode does a lot to stand out. The storm fits the bleak, grim outlook of the story right now. It also conveys for the first time just how terrifying black rain can be. We see the Arkadians scramble for shelter, trampling one of their own in the process. Once inside, they toss water onto their exposed skin to relieve the pain. It’s all very intense and chaotic.