After the furore of last season, where one of the fan favourite characters, was killed off, the question is ‘can this season win back hearts?’, starting with the season premiere – ‘Echoes’.
– Spoiler Alert! –
That death, of Lexa, sparked a lot of debate online, with many viewers feeling betrayed by the decision, which even led to show runner Jason Rothenburg apologising to fans for how it was handled. This left a bitter aftertaste to the second half of the 3rd season, with many fans disillusioned that what has been a terrifically inclusive and thoughtful show, fell at this particular hurdle.
The 100 though, has been a consistently great show over the past 3 years, with a solid cast that has done very well with a setup that could easily have fallen into generic, standard tropes, and hackneyed performances, and has survived despite the unfortunate setback last season.
At the end of last season, Clarke (Eliza Taylor) managed to destroy the ‘City of Light’ and ALIE (Erica Cerra), freeing everyone from the control chips, but in the process learned that various nuclear reactors on Earth are melting down and within six months would make the planet uninhabitable. Also hanging over from last season, is Octavia’s (Marie Avgeropoulos) execution of Pike (Michael Beach) as revenge for his killing of Lincoln (Ricky Whittle).
From a purely narrative point of view, the deaths of Lexa and Lincoln from last season do make sense, but in each case may have been handled a bit better. These storylines definitely were intended to heighten the stakes and make people realise that no one is safe, but caused the furore mentioned before in the case of Lexa, and with Lincoln seemed a bit of a rush job, and a bit out of the blue.
Having said that the second half of the season did have the excellent Erica Cerra as a main foil, so all was not lost.
As this season starts, the various factions are picking up the pieces from just after the ‘City of Light’ is destroyed and the chips cease to control them. As can be expected this does not go well and people are soon blaming ‘skaicru’, and especially Clarke for the whole debacle.
My main problem here is that the action quickly moves on and there is little time for personal reflection, as the pain returns to all the characters. Events unfold very quickly, and are more about the immediate power struggle than what has just happened. There are nods to this though and I think Jasper (Devon Bostick), with his plans for suicide, and Raven (Lindsey Morgan) with her leg pain are used as examples, and sort of a ‘catch all’ indicator of inner struggle. On the plus side though, it was nice to see Monty (Christopher Larkin) and Harper (Chelsey Reist) finally not getting a rough deal for a change.
The plot of the premiere is very tight packed and does run through some tense scenes quickly to establish a new status quo from which to launch the season. On the Grounder side, Bellamy’s (Bob Morley) old friend from Mount Weather, Echo (Tasya Teles) of the Ice Nation, is now the biggest agitator and a new ruler trying to hold it together is found in the shape of Roan (Zach McGowan). Somehow, Clarke keeps finding herself as best friends with people at the top…
It many ways, this episode is really a reminder to all the characters that they are constantly in crisis management mode, and that nothing is yet settled; ‘Echoes’ of their arrival in one sense and of human nature in another. Whereas in the beginning it was Grounders Vs The 100, it has cycled through various conflicts including Mount Weather, to there now being internal Grounder power struggles, with shifting allegiances and authoritarian attitudes; quite apt for these times.
Some of the interesting aspects of the global nuclear meltdown angle, is whether they will be able to a) prevent the catastrophe, b) utilise any new technology, and c) explore how things are on the rest of the planet. So far in the series there has been a lot of getting used to the Grounder way of things, and not a huge amount of seeing what old tech survives; they have also not ventured further afield than their immediate environment, or seemingly inquired about it much, so it was intriguing to see the Pyramids, as someone gets burnt to a crisp at the end of the episode.
All in all, this does seem a good reset for the show, and good platform to start from, and hopefully bridges can be built with the fans, keeping this one of the better sci-fi shows out there.