In so much as a show like The 100 can ever be comforting, it was only a few minutes into the season premiere, while surveying the damage wrought by A.L.I.E. and the City of Light, we see Clarke and Bellamy, back-to-back, ready to take on the future again. If there was a missing ingredient to the divisive third season, it was that we were robbed of seeing this power not-a-couple doing what they do best: saving the world, and themselves, on an improvised wing and a prayer. Looking into the maw of thermonuclear suffering and death, I think we can feel good about our chances.
But first, our heroes have to get out of Polis alive. If there’s a primary criticism to “Echoes” it’s that despite the constant propulsive push to drive the narrative forward, the season four opener seemed oddly static. I appreciate the irony about complaining about how the show changed things up too much last year and how it didn’t change things up enough in the first episode this year, but I would never slight the show for its boldness in storytelling. But “Echoes” seemed like classic 100, if there is such a thing. Overwhelmed and outgunned, the skaikru has to throw solutions at the proverbial wall until they finally find something that sticks, and then off to the next problem…
Today’s problem is Roan dying. The king of the Ice Nation got Clarke into the city as promised, but the mission has brought him to death’s door. Clarke and Abbie have the medical skills to save him, but do you think interim Ice Nation leader Echo is going let Wanheda and her mom screw around with the king’s life at stake? Of course not! And by the way, skaikru is more hated than ever and the Grounders are without a commander, let alone one that would uphold Lexa’s peace and the confirmation of skaikru as the 13th tribe.
That’s a lot on your plate first thing after saving the world from an A.I. takeover, especially with another armageddon on the horizon. Yes, it turns out that A.L.I.E. wasn’t lying about a full-scale global meltdown coming soon in six months time. Raven is able to confirm it noting that after the “second” Fukishima meltdown, the world upgraded the safety of its reactors with an automated maintenance system that had a 100 year expiry date. Wasn’t the world ending nuclear armageddon part one almost 98 years ago? As you, and Monty, figured out, the bill is coming due. Background radiation is already on the rise, and it won’t be too long before the effects will be felt.
Although the focus of the hour was on the political maneuverings of life and death in Polis, there were a couple of things going on back at the Ark, primarily that Raven’s time in the City of Light left her with some new abilities. Jasper observes as Raven’s coding, that she doesn’t know how to code, and how it would have been nice if he had gotten an “upgrade” in the City of Light. Poor Jasper, he clearly has some issues still, even though the end of season three seemed to make us think that he’d reached a turning point.
But no, Jasper was still suicidal, at least until he heard the world was doomed. It seems kind of like a step back for the character that he’s returned to a “I just want to watch the world burn” mode, but I think the writers lost the thread when they didn’t literally pull the trigger on Jasper’s suicide at the end of last season. That’s not to say that I wanted Jasper to die, or that I wanted the writers to glorify suicide as a viable solution for someone suffering depression and grief, but when Jasper spared himself in the season three finale, there had to be a reason why aside from being friends with Monty again. And if they didn’t want to go through with the suicide, they should have just cut away rather than showing Devon Bostick with a pensive but hopeful look on his face. Hopefully there’s a direction for Jasper that’s better than the back end of last season where he was pessimistic dark cloud following inline behind the others as they scramble along their mission.
Other character changes are less dire. Yet. Octavia, for instance, seems perfect comfortable in her new role was the hotheaded reactionist fresh off of killing Pike, but how much is she embracing further the Grounder philosophy and how much is she lashing out from pain and grief? The show doesn’t make any judgments this week, but there are some warning signs. A lighter moment was when Jaha and Murphy reunited briefly, but the laugh out loud moment went to Emori, who correctly pointed out that the skaikru have cast out Murphy way too many times for them to consider Arkadia a safe haven.
These are characters that will be interesting to watch this season, I think. What will Jaha do now that his City of Light mania has resulted in so much suffering? In fact, we see just what exactly the Ice Nation thought of “the Bringer of the Key” and it was not good. As for those ‘shipping Murphy and Emori, that seems like something that’s going to be given a lot of air this year, but one wonders how far they’re going to get on grifting, or what trouble they might get into that will force the others to deviate from the more pressing problem of evaporating into crispy bits in a nuclear wind (or whatever that was in the Egyptian set epilogue in the end).
There was also, thankfully, some time in this episode for some personal development from Clarke. Not only does she learn about the growing romance between her mom and Kane (Clarke was way out of the loop on that one), but she got to take a moment to deal with her own lingering romantic feelings. It was a sweet moment when Abby comforted Clarke about still loving Lexa, which, unless I’m mistaken, is really the first time Clarke has stopped to grieve about it. Probably not helping is seeing Lexa again briefly in the City of Light, a stinging barb of a reminder that in a different world they might have been happy together.
That’s why it was so powerful to see Clarke give up the Flame to Roan in order to secure peace amongst the various factions and move on to the bigger mission ahead. Roan, not such a bad guy, accepts because is it really worth his time to stamp out skaikru if it means he gets a head start in installing a new Commander? Probably not. It’s nice that after the Pike episode last year, where he was so clearly in the wrong, The 100 is getting back to the idea that there’s no good and bad, so much as there’s good and bad motives. People are people, in other words.
Still, the political situation in Polis is far from settled. Kane, Abby, and Octavia remain with Indra to be on guard for those that don’t like the cut of Roan’s jib by sparing the lives of skaikru and holding on to the Flame. (Keeps your eyes on that Echo, she’s got a taste for blood now!) But as Bellamy and Clarke lead the others away, and Bellamy asks “Princess” what the plan is, we feel fine that all will be right with the world… At least for another five months, three weeks and six days. Where’s the 24 clock when you need it?