The 100 5x01 "Eden"
The 100 is back and I was more than satisfied. After ending Season 4 with a shocking time jump, we rocket back into the past to see what Clarke has been up to for the past 6 years (and 7 days) and the detail that they choose to do this with is astonishing! Never before have I watched a show that devoted the first 30 minutes of its time almost solely to its female lead and The 100 did so in a big way. I can’t praise Eliza Taylor enough for the acting chops she displayed during those first minutes alone. Acting isn’t easy and acting with no one to play off is even harder, but Eliza delivered. Every moment of Clarke’s journey through the wasteland once known as Earth is riveting and, even more importantly, emotional. I felt Clarke’s optimism when she manages to crawl out of Becca’s lab and starts out toward Polis, cheered when she dug out the rover, felt her isolation when she realized she was alone, cried when she found Jasper’s things and gasped when she pulled out that gun.
Clarke’s first 2 months alone were so hard on her, but I am amazingly proud of her for using those survival skills (thanks Pike!) and holding on, because the reward has turned out to be well worth it. Not only did Clarke find a small patch of habitable land (Eden), she also managed to find another human. Everything about Madi’s introduction was amazing. Lena Renna (young Madi) delivers on every front. She’s a feral child if there ever was one, but she’s also fierce and a survivor, just like Clarke. If we thought those 2 months were hard for Clarke, I can only imagine how much harder they were for a 5 or 6-year-old. How alarming it must be to be the only person in your entire clan who survives the death wave and to have to make it alone. I’m just grateful that Madi’s parents (whoever they were) thought enough to teach their child survival skills, although I bet they were more interested in keeping her safe from the Flamekeepers than a death wave.
As we move forward 6 years (and thus into the present day), we get our first glimpse at teen Madi (Lola Flannery) already driving and looking very cool. I’m still not convinced that the pair are more mother/daughter than they are sisters, but I love their bond. Madi wheedling Clarke until she gave in and dyed her hair with the berries was definitely one of the highlights of the episode and I really enjoyed the image of them sitting around the fire, flipping through Clarke’s book and having a soft moment before The 100 jumps into full throttle. We get a glimpse early on into a bit of hero worship for Octavia from Madi, and Clarke seems a bit concerned by it, but something we learn later on helps that make a lot of sense. It also becomes clear in this scene that, even with Madi, Clarke still hasn’t given up hope with regards to her friends on the ring. Having Madi is definitely nice, but Clarke could probably do with some friends closer to her own age.
When we are finally given a glimpse into space, we’re treated to a strangely similar scene. Clarke and Madi have had six years of peace and so has Space Squad 7 (SS7 for short) and it’s fun to see what they’ve been doing up there. I was thrilled to find out that Raven was going to be getting some actual training this season and it looks like she’s already putting it to good use, managing to beat Echo (“Finally!” she cries) just before Monty rings the dinner bell. Sitting around the table, they look so much more relaxed than they have in previous seasons, and it’s a delight. In fact, the only one who doesn’t seem to be handling this well is Murphy. Bellamy volunteers for “Murphy duty”, and we find Murphy off in his own section of the ring and attacking anyone who dares to venture in. Richard Harmon warned us during the promo season that some people don’t do well in peace times, and it’s clear that Murphy is one of them. He’s self-isolated, self-hating, and angry. I can’t help but wonder how much of that anger and isolation began to manifest upon his breakup with Emori six months ago.
Speaking of people who’ve changed in space: it’s time to discuss Bellamy Blake. Already we can see that he’s a calmer, more mature version of himself and I’m a big fan (who am I kidding, I love all iterations of Bellamy). He’s clearly the leader in space and it feels like we’ve waited seasons to get to this moment. His scene with Murphy, brief as it was, really gave us insight into the “fully realized head-and-heart leader” he was purported to be during hiatus season and it works well. Taking Murphy duty was a logical decision; it was unlikely anyone else wanted to do it and possible that Murphy might want to work off some physical aggression. Holding Murphy in a headlock and forcing him to accept that he has value? That’s the heart of Bellamy, and it’s nice to see that some of the worries fans had about Bellamy being too logical (and thus shut off) don’t seem to be true (at least not yet). He’s well balanced and it’s good to see him on our screens.
He’s also learned to put some things in the past, most noticeably Echo trying to kill his sister twice, as we see the two of them share a romantic moment in what’s probably their shared room. I’m not sure I’m buying into the Becho dynamic just yet; for all that I love matured Bellamy, it’s hard for me to find the reason or logic in Bellamy “Forgiveness is Hard For Us” Blake being in a romantic relationship with a woman who tried to kill his sister twice, was a party in Gina’s death and is in some way a part of several of the larger traumas in his life on the ground. Perhaps that part of the “new” Bellamy will make more sense as the season goes on, but I wouldn’t expect Becho to last too long anyway. Bellamy’s reassuring “Nothing is going to change” might have soothed Echo, but the TV fan in me knows that those words always mean change is on the way and it’s not going to be good.
Another good moment aboard the ring was the discussion between Monty and Harper. Monty seemed the most at peace at the dinner table. Not only does he have Harper at his side, but he’s growing algae and recycling it into proper food material that provides nutrients even if it’s not appetizing. It’s basically exactly what he might have been doing had he not been forced onto the dropship and down to Earth in Season 1, so the thought of having to return to the ground, the site of so much pain for Monty, is horrific. I think that this season is going to explore a bit more of the darkness that’s always been hiding inside of him as he’s once again forced down to the ground and into chaos and war.
And then, finally, we’re shooting back down to Earth and picking up exactly where we left off in the Season 4 finale. Clarke and Madi take off upon realizing that the ship that’s landed isn’t SS7 and we finally understand why Madi might be taken with the legend of Octavia. Madi, as a Nightblood, would have been forced to Polis, and possibly her death, if she’d been discovered, and her parents hid her (until their deaths) in a hole in the floor. Just like Octavia, Madi is forced to hide because of no fault of her own, so it makes sense that she’d be a fan of the Girl Under the Floor who became the leader of all of the grounders. After Clarke ensures Madi is properly hidden, she goes back to scout out our new arrivals, and they’re already making a splash on Earth.
It’s clear that Jordan Bolger’s Zeke Shaw is going to be a fan favorite already, if Twitter and Tumblr reactions are anything to judge by. He managed to steal a scene in less than a minute, and he definitely seems like he might be a match for a certain brunette we know who’s also trying to get her people out of space. We know that the Eligius crew are from our time and that they are all criminals; tonight we discovered that they’re almost all violent offenders, with only three (including Zeke) considered non-violent, and at least one of them is a serial killer. The Eligius crew’s arrival on Earth is very similar to the delinquents in Season 1: their discovery of a barren Earth, their exploration of the village; even Charmaine’s use of the line “Means we’re not alone” is a call back to the pilot episode and how far we’ve come. But where the delinquents were forced down and only wanted to find a safe place to live, it seems the Eligius crew are already prepared to take whatever is available by force.
The episode ends with a brief — very brief — cut to a gladiatorial style fight in the bunker, with Octavia presiding, and the red lighting and the shadows combine to make Bellamy’s “Octavia is the least of our worries” seem like one more bit of bleak foreshadowing.
The 100 Season 5 came out of the gate full force and I am more excited than ever to continue following this story over the course of the next Season.
The 100 airs Tuesdays at 9/8c on the CW.