Shew. That’s right. Now that is the season premiere my protagonist deserves. And I really really hope this bodes well for the rest of the season. It’s been a rough couple seasons for our dear Clarke: She spent most of the first half of season 3 refusing to go back to Arkadia, and instead just kinda shuffling around Polis trying to make deals and grease the wheels behind the scenes for her Skaikru and her boo Lexa. It was only from like the very end of ep 3.10 onwards that she was able to get back out there into the action again and be her best self. Then for most of season 4, she had to trudge through an endless slog of the most mundane, frustrating and thankless aspects of leadership, trying to save humanity from Praimfaya and from itself. She almost lost her own marbles along the way too; going nearly rotten and causing me to angrily write a post titled “Clarke is an Asshole Now” after ep 4.10.
It wasn’t until literally the last two eps of season 4 that Clarke was once again allowed to get out there and be awesome again, leading the Delinquent Adventure Squad to (try to) save Raven and to eventually get the Delinquents back to space, albeit with a couple minor hiccups along the way, including Clarke herself getting left behind. But hot damn if she wasn’t able to be a full-blown hero in the process, Jyn Erso style; something she’s never entirely been able to do before, at least not in the sense of just straight-up sacrificing herself for everyone else.
And she got to have her cake and eat it too: she got to simultaneously: a) sacrifice her life for her people, thereby becoming a legendary hero, and b) not actually die. So that’s nice. Right? Well, as the season 5 premiere revealed in its first half, maybe not so much. It ain’t easy being the only person left on a nuclear-scorched earth with no water or vegetation left.
I’m coming to this review late btw – I was on a business trip for 11 days and was able to watch the S5 premiere when it aired, but didn’t get home from my trip until the wee hours of the morning on Saturday the 28th. By the time I started to feel slightly recovered and caught up from my trip, ep 5.02 was already airing. So I’m going to see if I can review both the eps this weekend. We’ll see how it goes. Maybe I’ll keep them on the shorter side. Lmao. Yeah right.
Update: It didn’t go well because I finished this review on Saturday night, and then goddamn Amazon refused to play the ep in 1080p so I could get the screenshots to use as pics in this blog post. As of this writing, May 9th, Amazon still will not play these eps in 1080p despite the fact that I paid for the goddamn season in HD. DAFUQ!? Update again: I got it to work in Chrome. Firefox is still a big nope. It took me until Friday May 11th to finally get these goddamn screencaps.
Anywho. Back to the ep. Here we have poor Clarke with no one to keep her company but the ghost of Jasper + Maya’s iPod, and nothing to eat/drink but bugs and sand. And what I love about Clarke is that while we had to spend the entire season 4 finale coaching our very special boy Bellamy into being able to survive without Clarke for 6 years, no one ever gave even one iota of a flying fuck about figuring out how Clarke would survive by herself on a dead planet that entire time. Because why would we? She’s Clarke. She gets shit done. She doesn’t fall apart and she doesn’t waste time with melodrama, she just does what has to be done to make it through. But even with Clarke’s wherewithal, we find out in ep 5.01 that during the first stretch of those 6 years, she did have a moment of almost giving in, with no hope left of finding any livable land or means to eat/drink and live.
I wouldn’t call that giving up though so much as just coming to a realization that the rotten useless irradiated hunk of junk the Earth had become was not going to physically allow her to live anymore. But wait! It’s a good thing she didn’t have the balls to shoot herself in the head too quickly, because it turns out that Eden was just around the corner.
Callbacks to Ghosts of Seasons Past
TV shows like The 100 that constantly move at such a quick pace rarely have the chance to give us (and the characters) those quiet moments of reflection that I like to see now and then. You don’t want to overdo it of course, but I think it’s important to show these moments every now and then, so you can see how everything that’s gone down has affected the characters. And on The Hundy, usually most of what’s gone down has been death and destruction.
So we got a nice moment of Clarke finding a box of Jasper’s things at Arkadia, including his goggles, a letter to Monty (I think from a previous ep?), and Maya’s iPod. Clarke’s relationship with Jasper was always kind of like the big sister or the babysitter that rains on everyone’s parade and makes them pick up their toys and go to bed at 9pm. But she’s the one who would logically find his stuff, and it was good to not only get a little moment of silence for Jasper (R.I.P.), but to let Clarke sort of take in everything she’s lost. Jasper’s stuff represents all of the delinquents, and really everyone Clarke’s lost along the way. There’s also another moment when she’s trying to dig out the bunker that she runs across … I think Lexa’s throne? She pulls out one of the wooden sticks to use as a walking stick.
You know who never gets reflected on? Finn. Or Wells!! OMG Wells. I have stuff to say about him in my 5.02 review. Actually maybe I take that back about Finn, I think there was a moment for him in season 3. Clarke was not involved though. Finn was important to her, as much of a knucklehead (and then psycho killer) as he was. Bless. Wells gets the occasional shout-out too, but always from Jaha. Never Clarke. I find that very annoying.
Eden, Bear Traps, and Madi, Oh My!
O.k. let’s get back to the part where Clarke is about to give up and off herself, but is luckily interrupted by the bird flying by towards Eden. First off, it’s of course extremely convenient that the only section of the entire planet that didn’t get microwaved into oblivion is in the same general vicinity that everyone on this show has lived in for the entire series. Was there ever anyone still left surviving in, say, Asia or Europe while all the previous seasons were going on? Who knows, but if so they’re definitely dead now. I digress. It turns out that in fact this miraculously spared Eden area was already populated by one of the 12 Grounder clans – Louwoda Kliron Kru. And wouldn’t ya know it, they had a perfect adorable little village all set up for Clarke to move into. The only downside is all the dead bodies. Good thing Clarke is used to that. The scene in the church, clearly meant to parallel Mount Weather in the S2 finale, reminds us of two things: a) Clarke’s ability to murder the fuck out of people (and animals in this ep) to survive, and b) dead bodies are a problem Clarke knows how to deal with.
“Last two people on Earth and one of them just happens to be the child from hell.”
This Madi thing really could go either way, but it’s rare to see a kid character be introduced late in a series and not fuck up the entire dynamic of the show. As a matter of fact, I can’t think of an example where this went well for any other TV show I’ve watched. Will Madi be the exception? A ton remains to be seen, and we really won’t be able to judge until we see how she affects Clarke’s dynamic with all the other characters, but I certainly thought she was perfectly fine in this episode. Enjoyable, even. She did jab Clarke in the arm with a knife and mangle her leg in a bear trap during their first meeting, but things were all mostly uphill from there.
I think if played right, Madi could actually be quite a fun addition to the show, and can probably help give some perspective for everyone else about Clarke’s 6 years surviving on the surface. If not for Madi, then Clarke would be the only one out of everyone (SpaceKru, BunkerKru, her) who had been alone that entire time with no one to sort of vouch for her experience or who she is as a person after 6 years away from everyone else. Maybe Madi can help here? Now let’s hope I don’t eat my words once we get a few more eps into this. I surely just jinxed it.
It looks like SpaceKru won’t get much in the way of flashbacks this season, but I don’t know that they need them. These guys are the ones who had the most, well, mundane existence for these 6 years … peaceful! But mundane, as they’ve been cooped up in this confined space eating from Monty’s algae farm and trying not to drive each other (and themselves) crazy. And certainly bonding with each other as well. For that reason, I think it’s going to make more sense to simply show what’s happened in these 6 years by allowing the audience to see where they are now, and making references here and there to what has gone down. For these guys, the really interesting stuff is what’s coming up next once they try to see what’s up with this Eligius ship and then try to get back down to the ground.
In this episode, we check in with them for just a couple scenes, but it’s enough to give us some very interesting glimpses of what’s changed in the past 6 years, and what is seemingly the same:
- Raven is still the brains of the operation, but she has clearly taken the time in space to get physical training as well. The scene starts with Echo training her on fighting skills. Go Raven.
- Monty’s doing well with his algae farm and he’s got a new hairdo, but other than that, not much has changed with him and Harper. That’s a good thing in this case, as they seem to still be blissfully in love and reasonably well adjusted, though Monty is clearly still holding guilt about his mom and Jasper, and a lot of trepidation about going back down to Earth.
- Echo seems to have integrated into the Kru pretty well; so well that she is now boning down with Bellamy, much to the chagrin of … well, a lot of people (in the audience) lol.
- Emori seems to still be relishing her time in space, working as an assistant to Raven and even doing some spacewalking. On the downside, she and Murphy have clearly had a bad break-up. We don’t know why.
- Murphy is not doing so hot. Something has gone awry with him to the point where he apparently needs his own area of the Ark to live in away from everyone else. What’dya do, Murph??
- Bellamy has seemingly bulked up physically and grown a beard, lookin’ like a snack and a half while apparently having matured a lot mentally as well. He handles Murphy’s playful punch in the face like a champ while fight coaching and life coaching Murphy to find his self worth. Wow, what an honest-to-god prince our special boy has become.
We see in the ep that our SpaceKru want to try to get back down to the ground, but haven’t found a way to do it yet. Until … suddenly they see another ship on the horizon, sending a drop ship down to Earth. Can these guys help or will the SpaceKru just screw everything up by trying to reach out to them? This remains to be seen.
I mean yeah, it’s not looking great. These guys are dicks. Zeke seems cute and maybe nice. The rest of them not so much. We’ll get a better idea in 5.03.
Like I said in my last few reviews of season 4, I have absolutely no clue at this point what in God’s name the writers are doing with by far the most glaringly obvious couple on this series since early-to-mid season 1. I’ve never in my life seen a TV series purposely thwart one of its most central themes for so preposterously long. I’m not a person who watches TV shows for the ships, I’m someone who watches a TV show for ALL its elements, with ships holding equal weight to everything else. I do tend to value character development higher than anything else, because IMO what’s the point of any storyline or plot development if not to see how our characters handle it, and how it affects them in the long run. But still, ships are just one piece of this puzzle that are just as important as everything else.
All of that is simply to say that I think my POV and what I look for when watching The 100 represents by and large the majority of people watching, including the casual viewers, as I think most people watch any show to take it in at a reasonably broad level, enjoying several-to-many aspects of it, rather than to obsess on just one very particular element. And from that perspective I think nearly everyone watching The 100 at this point is wondering, what the everliving fuck are these guys doing with Bellarke?? Case in point:
Update: The above was a tweet with a video compilation of several male YouTubers having devastated reactions to the lack of Bellarke in the S5 trailer. It was adorable/hysterical and I’m really bummed that the tweet (or maybe the entire account) has apparently since been deleted.
Anyway. The answer I have for you at the moment is, I have no earthly (or spacely) idea. We got a couple very good Bellarke moments in this ep … I think … but we also got a couple confounding decisions to purposely take stuff out that was there in the trailers and in the season 4 finale. Let’s start with the good Bellarke stuff:
- Clarke: “I’m proud of you.” (Who, Bellamy?)
- Clarke: “This would be so much easier if I knew you were alive. If I knew I was gonna see you again.” (Who, Bellamy?)
- Clarke looking up to the sky wondering what happened to her friends, camera panning up to Bellamy looking back down on her (albeit without realizing it).
- The foreshadowing in Bellamy assuring Echo that “nothing will change once we’re down on the ground.” Granted, this is 100% certainly pointing at Octavia’s reaction to Bellamy dating O’s would-be murderer, but I also can’t imagine that it doesn’t include the fact that Bellamy will surely shit his pants several times when finding out Clarke is still alive. Right? He has to. He damn well fucking better.
Now for the weird stuff:
- It was made very clear in the S4 finale and the S5 trailer that Clarke is directing her radio comments to Bellamy, yet the S5 premiere itself makes a point to not specify who Clarke is addressing. So when she says “I’m proud of you” and “It would be so much easier if I knew I was gonna see you again” we are left to wonder who she’s even talking to. Was this just the writers’ attempting to be subtle or did they suddenly decide to downplay the Bellamy love for some reason? We all know that Clarke ultimately is including everyone when addressing Bellamy, but the fact that she uses Bellamy as her conduit (in 4.13 and the trailer) is still significant.
- The S5 trailer panned over the Bellamy drawing in Clarke’s art book in the campfire scene with Madi, and the episode itself edited it out. Dafuq?? Why? Did they just happen to use a different take where the page turned quicker, or was that on purpose? I don’t get it.
- Bellamy makes no reference in this ep to Clarke ever having existed at all, which I would hope at some point we’ll get at least some indication that he gives a shit. I guess this ep was simply supposed to show that he has used Clarke’s advice to really grow as a person in the past 6 years. There’s a Clarke reference he makes in the S5 trailer that didn’t show up here, but maybe it just hasn’t happened yet.
And look, let’s be honest – There’s a reason the writers knew that if they did a 6 year time jump that they would have to separate Clarke and Bellamy. If they had let Clarke go to space with the others, C&B would obviously have come down married AF, probably with kids if we’re being realistic. And the audience would have missed the entire thing. The writers aren’t stupid … they’re just either a) refusing to let Bellarke happen for some bizarre reason or b) setting the stage for Bellarke to finally happen now that plenty of time has passed since Lexa. Which one it is remains to be seen. 5.03 should give us more indication.
Becho (and Echo)
I mean yeah, obviously. I called this last season as soon as I knew they were going to space without Clarke. In all honestly I’m just relieved the writers didn’t give them the 3 kids and the minivan I had predicted. Here’s the thing though – In a weird way I feel like the Becho thing almost makes Bellarke more likely to happen because it kind of gives everyone more of an impetus to be forced to consider/admit their true feelings in life. Maybe it’ll cause some angsty scenes along the way, if goddamn Clarke and Bell finally start to realize/admit how much they love the shit out of each other and then have to deal with those feelings? Maybe the writers felt like if Bell came down from space single, he’d just see Clarke and instantly be like CLARKE I’M HERE LET’S GO and it’ll all be too quick and easy.
That said, I will be curious to see how this 6-years-more-mature-and-well-rounded Echo handles all these challenges once they get down on the ground. Like I said, the foreshadowing in the Becho scene was as obvious as it could possibly be, and the biggest and most dangerous obstacle Echo will face down there is Octavia. I’m quite curious to see Octavia’s reaction to seeing Bellamy with the person who: a) tried to murder O, b) did murder Ilian (that adorable prince, R.I.P.), and c) murdered Bell’s 3-episode girlfriend Gina to boot. Sparks will definitely fly and I’m probably gonna be on O’s side.
Few more thoughts before I end this:
- In the scene where Clarke is driving with Maya’s iPod playing, and then eating bugs (and bird shit?) off the car, two good songs play (I don’t know the songs, they just worked well with the scenes), but the volume of the songs is inexplicably low. I don’t get what they were going for with the sound mixing in these scenes. The songs should’ve been rockin’ louder; it’s not as if there were important sounds happening from the scenes themselves, like Rover engine noises and Clarke chewing on bugs and shit.
- There’s a part where Clarke says into the radio, “I’ve lost track of how many bodies we’ve burned since reaching the ground.” But it’s before she meets Madi. So who’s “we”? And what does she mean by “reaching the ground”? Maybe I’m just hearing that wrong but I’m pretty sure the “we” is a mistake.
- How did Clarke get herself out of that bear trap? I imagine those things are not easy to open back up again, I figure that’s kinda the point.
- It’s interesting to see the legend that Octavia has become to Madi through Clarke’s artwork and stories. Clarke and O have always had an extremely tumultuous relationship to say the least. But we got some clear foreshadowing in this ep from this scene + plus the scene of Madi hiding under the floor that O is about to become something important in her life (the S5 trailer kinda gave that away too). I’m sure Clarke will be thrilled about that. Should be interesting.
- I’ve already seen ep 5.02 as I’m typing this so I’ll wait till that review to tackle the Octavia stuff, which we just got a quick preview of in this ep.
My rating of the season 5 premiere: 92/100
The 100 really changed up its typical formula for the season 5 premiere and I thought it worked great. I think change is a good thing when you get this far into a series, otherwise things start to feel stale. In order to keep things fresh you need to be willing to reinvent yourself a bit and get creative. I might even rate this one higher but we’re right at the beginning of the season so I don’t want to get ahead of myself here. Ep 5.02 tells Octavia and the BunkerKru’s story, and I’m writing this one late so 5.02 has already aired. Onto review that ep now!