Welcome to a new season of Post-Apocalyptic Murder
Teens Twenty-Somethings! It’s been six years and seven days since last season ended, and we’re picking up right back where we left off: death and vague posturing about morality.
Okay, not quite, because we have some housekeeping to do. I don’t know if the CW had some sort of corporate mandate to add time skips to every show in the last couple seasons or what, but I’ll be honest: The 100 really needed one, and I’d say they pulled it off, even as just a tease at the end of last season. For one thing, no one on the show was a convincing teen in season one (did you know Monty was supposed to be fifteen? I sure didn’t), and for another, the first four seasons took place over less than a year, so even if you could buy Clarke as 17 (going on 18) in the first episode, it was a stretch that she was still 18 by the end of season four. But the CW has yet to find a fountain of youth to keep everyone sexy fake teens forever, so time skip it is.
Season four’s plot also necessitated some major changes, and while I didn’t love the plot itself–“we already had one apocalypse but we should do it AGAIN and HARDER” is not my favorite–they ended up with a strong setup for season five: three groups, one in space, one under ground, and one on the surface, protected from the radiation by their magical black blood.
(The 100: taking the science out of science fiction since 2014!)
We start, as we should, with Clarke. Clarke was the only one left on the ground at the end of last season, and we know from a flash-forward that she’s alive, still telling Bellamy to check his damn radio every day, and has gained a child. “Eden” doesn’t pick up there, but instead starts two months after the death wave (actual canon name) ravaged the Earth, when Clarke pulls herself out of the rubble of the lab where she weathered the storm and starts looking for her people.
To get serious for a paragraph or two, this opening sequence is both remarkable and remarkably confident. The first quarter of the show is focused entirely on Clarke, and the next on Clarke and Madi, the child she finds, and the amount of time that we take seeing what it was like for her to be struggling alone is cinematic and beautiful. I almost thought the whole episode would be just Clarke, and I wouldn’t have minded, but this is a time when credits spoil; we know from the list of guest stars that we’ll check in with both space and the bunker, but the episode takes its time getting there. Clarke attempts to dig out the bunker and fails. She has no water for two days and delights in rain. She eats bugs off her windshield and at least has some tunes going on Maya’s old iPod. She calls her friends, and they can’t hear her. She thinks about giving up, and nearly does.
It’s a sequence I don’t think The 100 could have done before this. The show has been good before, even very good, but if the first few seasons were building up their confidence, the third shifted to wild over-confidence, and after the (completely deserved) backlash that came after that season, the fourth was much more cautious.
This episode–and everything the cast and crew have said in interviews about this season–feels like the writers know what they’re doing and believe in their story, and I’m hoping they do.
Anyway, Clarke nearly gives up but then she sees a bird, follows it to a miraculously green valley, kills it, and eats it. Never change, Clarke.
In the valley, she finds food, water, a bunch of dead bodies, and a brand new murder child. Madi gets a solid introduction lurking like a creeper, catching Clarke in a bear trap, and then trying to kill her. Like a boss.
We only see the start of Clarke and Madi’s new alliance, but the single point of connection–Clarke drawing Madi and leaving the picture for her to find–does good work, and we hustle along to six years later, when the two of them are a family unit, dyeing their hair with berries and reliving the murders of days past. Madi seems to really like Octavia, which makes sense, given not only her feelings on murder, but also that, as a Nightblood, she was hiding from people trying to take her to the murder child convention/conclave.
Which brings us to space, where there’s also a new family, starting with newly upgraded Hot Space Dad Bellamy. You can tell he’s a Hot Space Dad because he has a beard now, and he seems to spend a lot of his time gazing out the window, staring at the green spot and wondering if his sister is there, or even alive. Radio communications are down, establishing early on that no one up here ever heard Clarke’s messages, they don’t know she’s alive, and even if they did, they don’t have fuel to get down. Bellamy’s antsy, Raven feels guilty, everyone else tells Bellamy to put a dollar in the asshole jar for being a dick.
Monty’s the algae farmer and cook and he got a really good haircut, which will be a recurring theme.
The space equivalent of putting a dollar in the asshole jar is going to feed Murphy, who, as my friend put it, has gone off to lurk in his own wing of the space station, Phantom of the Opera style. He and Bellamy do some sparring where Bellamy basically puts him in a headlock and tells him to say his daily affirmations, which is the best character dynamic of all time, and I could watch approximately 1,000 hours of it, but we’re through with thoughtful contemplation on the nature of loneliness after Clarke’s solo road trip, so instead of telling Bellamy five things he likes about himself, Murphy spots a spaceship in orbit.
The most important thing in this next scene is that when Raven hails the other ship, she tells them they’re the space station to the west, and my best friend yelled for a long time about how “west” is not a thing in SPACE, because all my best friend does is yell at The 100 when I make him watch it.
Anyway, we already knew this ship came down and got Clarke’s hopes up that her friends were finally here and she wasn’t going to have to handle Madi’s difficult teenage years alone, but it’s actually a bunch of prisoners, so we’re in a reverse season-one scenario, with Clarke as the new Lincoln, watching and drawing pictures, and adult convicts who were in cryo-sleep as the new delinquents, complete with awkward, exposition-heavy dialogue about their crimes.
But whatever. The conflicts are solid! Madi gets to shoot someone! Clarke gets to shoot someone after Madi tells her not to! I get to respond to conversations about Clarke’s “there are no good guys” with “well, it depends on how we define good,” because I was raised by a philosophy professor and this is who I am.
It’s a solid premiere that sets up a new status quo, but of course it also gives us a couple last-minute twists, because that’s what The 100 likes to do. Monty doesn’t want to go back to Earth, because Earth sucks, and, honestly, Monty, that’s legit. But spacekru is still going to the other ship (they sent down a dropship but there’s still a larger ship in orbit) because they need fuel. Murphy is coming out of his exile to join them; Emori’s not thrilled. Bellamy and Echo are together and seem happy, but he says like fifteen things that are the relationship equivalent of “I’ve got one day before retirement” in assuring her that nothing will change when they’re on Earth and also his sister is definitely the kind of person who forgives and forgets.
The most important takeaway from this scene, per my fiancee, is that Echo has a sword, and she is obsessed with figuring out this sword’s origin story. Where did the sword come from? Did Echo bring it with her? Did she make it on the Ark? Does she have a super-power that lets her just spontaneously create swords? I would honestly believe that “making swords from nothing” is just an Azgeda thing. It makes about as much sense as magical blood that protects you from radiation.
Anyway, obviously we have to smash cut from “Octavia’s going to be cool” to Octavia not being cool, so we end with the bunker, where people are beating the shit out of each other while Octavia sits on a throne with cool red makeup on her forehead. It’s good that so much makeup survived the apocalypse! You can’t be a proper murder queen without accessories.
- So, I’m going to try this! I haven’t actually signed up to do these reviews because I’m not sure anyone wants them or that I want to keep them up, but if we enjoyed this, I’ll probably keep going.
- As some of you know from my comments, The 100 is my fandom and I’m a Bellamy/Clarke shipper, which I mention mostly as part of a request that everyone to be cool about shipping, in general! I’m not going to lie, half the reason I’m writing this is that this fandom is a dumpster fire of gross ship wars and I want to talk about this in a place where I don’t have to deal with that.
- Anyway, let’s talk about the important things: how hot everyone got after the time jump. My vote for “greatest total change” is Monty, as I’ve always loved Monty and never been super attracted to him, but that haircut really, really does it for me. Murphy has a similar style to Monty, and while I’m not as into him, he’s sent my fiancee into a Louise-Belcher-esque I JUST WANT TO SLAP HIS STUPID BEAUTIFUL FACE spiral, which is hilarious for me. I love Clarke’s short hair, and Harper looks great. I would say everyone else is kind of a lateral move, in that they were hot before, and they’re still roughly the same amount of hot, just with different styling.
- That being said, I know some people aren’t into Bellamy’s Dad Beard. I’m here for it.
- The new prisoners are also pretty hot, in case you were worried they wouldn’t be. This is still the CW.
- Let me know if you enjoyed this and want me to keep doing it! Not that I mind yelling into the void, but I’ll feel less guilty if someone wants the yelling.