Trapped within the stark, unforgiving confines of the white-halled horror that is Mount Weather, it was a very distressed and disoriented Clarke Griffin to whom we said goodbye at the end of last season’s gripping finale of The CW’s The 100. Indeed, it’s been a long wait to find out the answers to more than one plaguing question. Who are these faceless, high-tech soldiers called the Mountain Men, and what do they have to hide behind their HAZMAT suits? What has become of Bellamy and Finn in the shocking, fiery fallout of the Grounder attack on the drop ship camp? Were they killed in the blast? What of Raven? Of captured Grounder, Anya? Of Lincoln and Octavia as they spirited away from the heat of battle to the safety of the sea? Of Jaha, last seen floating off into space to die after sacrificing himself for his people? People of course that have now crash landed to earth in the wake of the children they shunted down as an experiment not so long ago; what of them, as led by Abby and Kane? What of the rest of the hundred? Of the army of Grounders? Indeed, so many of the characters we have come to love were scattered utterly across the face of this wild, mutated planet, and given the formidable ride which carried them there, it’s anybody’s guess as to where the writers will carry them – and us as the audience – next. So without further ado, let’s strap in take the fall into the fallout ourselves, shall we?
OUT OF TIME, OUT OF PLACE
In the very first episode of The 100, as the survivors made their first steps into the immense, leafy unknown of earth, there was this one shot they took of Mount Weather: a vast stone peak skirted by deep forest that sat like a beacon in the distance. Indeed from the very beginning, we were made to realise – and quickly – that one day it would come to change everything. We just had no idea if it would be for better or worse. So when the Mountain Men descended upon the ashen fall out of the Grounder attack on the drop ship – filling that clearing with the blood red gas that left Clarke waking up in her white prison – you had this overwhelming sense that you knew what was coming. For my part, my mind went straight to some Terminator-like work world, full of pristine scientists and black vested men and women decked out in weapons, operating in some clandestine underground military state. Maybe we thought we knew what was coming.
Truth is, we didn’t know a damn thing.
The revelation of a seemingly peaceful band of humans – notably weakened by their less robust immune systems than their Grounder counterparts – beneath Mount Weather was so far from left field as a concept that in all honesty it’s probably the only thing that could have shocked us more than that first image of Clarke’s arctic prison cell, and good grief but it was beautifully done. I loved the fact that they were different again to the Survivors, and the Grounders, and basically to everyone else we’ve encountered so far. It is a world of priceless cultural treasures on a makeshift cafeteria wall. Beaded, pretty dresses. Table cloths. Clean cutlery and bowls of piping hot delectable. Heels. Comfortingly decadent and beautiful food. And that warm gold glow that seems to bathe everything. It’s like a time warp: a world of exquisitely preserved tradition and custom, woven with the human threads of generations even before ours as modern day viewers.
But the black military guns – which seem very contemporary given the somewhat old world nature of life beneath Mount Weather – make a jarring contrast in those instants when they appear, and in this I can’t help but feel that for all the safety, warmth and homeliness of the world beneath the mountain, Clarke’s instincts remain as true as they ever did. There is just something too good to be true, especially in the form of Dante: the aging, elected president of their cluster of survivors. From the outset of this episode, you really get the feeling that the dynamic between these two – as survivors, as victims of family loss, as leaders – is going to play a significant part in shaping the events to come. In Dante’s case, the hints he drops – even in something so basic as his knowing her name – tell us that for all the old world charm of the world he governs, he knows too much about her. About the Ark. About their life and conditions there. So what then is he hiding? What does he have that enables him to know this?
There was also that thing that he mentioned about the effects the world outside and the Grounders have on his people; that contact with them appeared to have fatal effects fairly quickly. Which then begs the question: what have they done with captured grounder Anya? Because I would be fascinated to know how she would be handling all this.
It also led me to wonder a lot about Maya: the fragile, mousey cleaning girl that Clarke threatened so menacingly with that glass shard in the beginning when she tried to escape. I mean, why does she seem so much sicker than the others? And is it just me, or is there some kind of thing being hinted at for her and Jasper? Speaking of which, WELCOME BACK DEVON BOSTICK I MISSED YOU. Seriously. His character Jasper is such a clever addition to this cast. Part comic relief, part moral compass, there is something so unexpectedly pivotal and emotional about him as a person and I love that. His scene in particular with Clarke as he convinces her not to try and escape was actually pretty special, if only because it showcased the fact that for all his flaws, his greatest strength lies in the kindness and optimism of his heart. I’m so excited to see what may lay ahead for him this season.
STILL I RISE
Hear that giant whooshing sound? That, my friends, was the collective massive sigh of relief from fans everywhere to discover that both Finn and Bellamy were alive. Yeah okay so we kind of figured that would be the case, but if this show’s history has taught us anything – this episode case in point – we are not safe to assume anything or anyone is safe. No matter how much we love them. Bellamy experienced massive inner growth last season, both as a man and as a leader and his story is one in particular that I cannot wait to see progress. That whole last scene as he let go of Octavia – his beloved if infuriating baby sister – into Lincoln’s arms was heartbreaking, and for one I’m hoping that now he has come to somewhat of an acceptance of Lincoln’s love for her, maybe there is a new path ahead of them as they begin to reforge their relationship. If of course they meet again. We were also left exquisitely teased last season by the chemistry he shared with Clarke, and considering how desperate she is to get back to him as much as she is to Finn I think really speaks volumes for the fact that an epic story still lies ahead for she and Bellamy. Not to say though that Finn won’t be desperate to find his way back to her either, which then teases the possibility of a love triangle. Now, that plot type can be overdone and badly done it’s true. But here, done right it has the power to add a whole new layer of emotional conflict and beauty to the greater story.
AND, speaking of people we are glad to see alive, I was stoked beyond measure to see that somehow, Raven made it to the other side of this battle and scraped out barely with her life. She was a formidable presence last season and lord only knows what may be waiting for her out there in the world if she makes it through the next night.
A TRAITOR’S TWIST OF FATE
But Murphy? Murphy is back?! There literally are not enough ‘what the actual hell’s I can utter in regards to the fact that he is somehow still alive and kicking, but – for all our despising him – kudos to the writers for returning him with such a twisted brokenness in the reasons he gave for turning out (as Raven so perfectly calls him) a ‘murdering psychopath’. Now it’s not to say that having a floated parent makes him special, harsh as that sounds. He’s far from alone in that department. But the insight into the death of his parents and how that happened as a whole did something to me that I did not think could happen, and left me actually feeling sorry for him. I mean, were you like Raven? Were you outwardly saying boo hoo to him, but still felt your guts twinge with sympathy for what that must have been like? And he is the guy who shot her! He’s the reason she’s dying? Ugh, the conflict there! It’s crazy but at the same time makes for bloody interesting food for thought.
Either way though, the fact that at their point of rescue it’s Bellamy who is arrested for trying to beat the snot out of Murphy when he also discovers the traitor is alive – as opposed to Murphy, who has caused more bloodshed that we ever could have imagined the first time we met him – tells us that this wretched creature could still wreak a crap load of havoc in his new camp with the Ark survivors who’ve just crashed. After all. He’s a right cruel thing when it comes to taking revenge. And there’ll he’ll be now: living right amongst the very ones who killed his dad in the first place. Either way, I am always going to be waiting for his next knife in the dark, no matter how much sympathy I’m made to feel for him.
KANE IS ABLE?
Which brings us of course to the return of Kane. Seriously. At the end of last season, I was ready to put that guy back into my non-villain basket and put away my former feelings about the slick, crafty politician we first met. And I knew it wouldn’t be long before we met up with him again. What I was not expecting, however, was for us to be reintroduced to him as a soldier with a giant gun who proceeds to blow the brains out of the vicious Grounder leader who had lead the attack on the drop ship. (Side note: HOW WAS HE NOT BACON AFTER THAT FIREBOMB?!) The Grounder of course had been dragging Finn and Bellamy behind him as prisoners of war, but seeing the sheer, blunt brutality of that death was beyond shocking, and a huge testament to scope it seems the CW will continue to give to show creator Jason Rothenberg as far as what they’ll agree to have broadcast on their network. Something for which I don’t think I’m the only one who is infinitely thankful: it makes for an utterly compelling watch, which is important given how important the broader moral of this tale is for the current generation of viewers experiencing it all.
But Kane? Good grief. Where did he go? Where did that man from the last episodes go? I was shocked to see such a slick return in many ways to the leader and person he used to be, and in many ways I don’t know how well it will bode for his people if his arrogant streak raises its ugly head. After all, think of how many ‘leader’ types there are on this show. Dante, Clarke, Bellamy, Jaha and all of them existing in a climate of fear: it’s every ingredient necessary to create a volatile melting pot of social politics, and should all that come to a head, it will be very interesting indeed to see who comes up trumps.
But for every one of these leaders of the people, there is a lone fighter, and none more so than Lincoln, who I am BEYOND joyful to have back on my screen. His and Octavia’s relationship was a total surprise packet for me as how convincing their chemistry is, and now they have made it to the sea – to his village, and hopefully to a cure for Octavia who was injured, as it turns out, by a poisoned arrow – I’ll be really interested to find out if and how the dynamic of their relationship might change now that she is separated so entirely from her brother. It will also be interesting to see what she would be willing to risk if that desire to find Bellamy again becomes too: something that will come hugely into play considering the huge risk Lincoln has taken in going home. He is, after all, a traitor there: a man who would be immediately convicted of the most horrific death possible – by knives at the hands of his own people no less – if found out. In any case, it will also be very fascinating to see what additional characters this new part of the world will yield in the coming episodes.
HOPE IN THE HEART OF DARKNESS
But when it comes to news characters, there was none more sudden, more shocking or more phenomenal than that we heard in the dying moments of the episode. Jaha sits, floating away and about to make his final reconciliation with death. The Ark’s power is fading – literally on its last legs – and with a sigh he shunts the power lever off. The picture of his lost son that had been on the flight deck screen flickers away into darkness. Together, Jaha must be thinking. We will be together soon. And so he prepares to breathe his last. And then it rings: a bright, hot peal of demanding life from deep within the ship. A cry. A baby’s cry.
I’ll be honest. I had no words for that moment. None whatsobloodyever. In my brain I’d been crafting this review together and was nearing its formation when the sound of that child wrenched the whole damn thing out of my head like a hurricane ripping a tree out from its roots. Leaving me – leaving us all – to wonder: how will this discovery change the greater game, and does it mean that even in that darkness, somehow hope remains?
I think one of my absolute favourite things by far about this episode was the fact that it wasted absolutely no time in doing two big things. Firstly, it answered a heap of the obvious questions we had after the end of season one about who lived and died on the ground. Secondly, it didn’t skip a damn beat in tossing a vast majority of any expectations we – or at least I know I – had about season two, clear out on their asses. Utterly. Completely. And best of all, it was cohesively played out as a whole with the same bold and unapologetic grit that we came to relish in Season One, even as it challenged us as the audience to stop for a second and ask ourselves whether we are really so close to the people we call heroes, or – more to the point – so different from the people we call savages and villains.
Jason Rothenberg’s script was an assumption-destroying dazzler that reminded viewers in no uncertain terms that they're very much intent to not just pick up where they left off, but pick up the pace entirely. It was an absolute justification of viewing faith, and seriously. I did not know how much I missed this story until this episode, even when it felt like the viewing equivalent of getting punched in the guts. I loved it. Unabashedly.
Dean White meanwhile brought back his A game from last season with an unmitigated bang that at times took your breath away. One of his real strengths as a director is his clear vision for those broad shots and sequences where the audience and characters are having to take in heaps of information. That was a hugely important element in this episode, because there was just so much information to impart. It meant that the story had to be told as impeccably in a visual sense as is was in the dialogue and for my part I think he absolutely succeeded.
Ultimately, week to week, what The 100 is – at its heart – is not something you find yourself ever left wondering, and as a viewer it’s hard not to be drawn to that. It was like that in season one and this premiere shows they’re not planning to change that going forward. It’s a show that causes you to thrive on the fact that no matter how otherworldly the story might become, we as the audience are never more than a hairsbreadth away from a thumping re-asking of those big, uncomfortable questions. And thankfully, Season 2 looks set to carry on that same formidably bold, raw, unapologetic and exquisitely deep human commentary. Either way, batten down the hatches kids. Methinks a storm is coming.
FINAL THOUGHTS AND QUESTIONS…
I’m with Clarke. That mountain is too good to be true.
And y’all knew there was no escaping the Dante’s Peak reference, right? #notevensorry
Horribly irritating. Constantly makes you to want to scratch all trace of it from existence. Keeps coming back no matter how what you do. Impossible to kill. BASICALLY MURPHY IS THE ATHLETES FOOT OF POST APOCALYPTIC PLANET EARTH.
The Kane of this episode was someone I found genuinely shocking, especially given all that amazing character growth last season. Seriously – he’s not going back to being a massive, arrogant jerk again…is he? Please no?
OH and speaking of Kane, is it just me or did his hair look pretty damn fabulous for a guy who has just crash landed on a foreign planet in a ship being held together by duct tape? Seriously dude, if you got product, share it. You look like you should be Clooney’s stand-in for Nespresso while Abby looks like a family of owls tried to nest in her hair.
Can we all please just stop and acknowledge what an acting badass Eliza Taylor is?
Raven is alive. Just, but she’s alive. I CANNOT WITH ALL THE AWESOME.
So after copious amounts of research, data collection and deeply scientific processes being undertaken, I can now officially confirm that Lincoln’s mama still deserves the Nobel Prize for offspring. COZ DAT MAN IS FANTABULOUS. #werkdatguylinerBB
Less fantabulous however was the creepy, disfigured chap watching him and Octavia through the trees. DON’T WORRY THO PROACTIV CAN HELP SRSLY HAVE YOU SEEN THE ADS THAT STUFF IS AMAZING ASSUMING YOU ARE GOOD AT THREE STEP PROGRAMS.
Oh, and one more thing.
A BABY? A BABY?! DUDE WHAT?!!!!! WHAT?!!