10:05 pm EDT, April 24, 2018

The 100 5×01 review: Welcome to Eden, don’t feed the snakes

The 100 season 5 kicks off with the formidable “Eden,” in which Clarke Griffin proves, in a dozen different ways, why she is the best lead character on TV.

After nearly a full year, The 100 has finally returned! Can you believe it? Are you all okay? Of course, for the characters, it’s been six years, so all things considered I suppose we got the better deal. Good thing the show isn’t that meta.

The 100 season 5 had been highly anticipated for many reasons, chief of which was the time jump, which promised something akin to a soft reboot for this epic sci-fi saga. As much as we love the show for what it is, there was no denying that after season 4, we desperately needed a boost of fresh energy, and as evidenced by the season 5 premiere, the six-year breather provided just that.

Related: The 100 series recap: Watch these 12 episodes to prepare for season 5

Not only does the time jump allow for a refresher in terms of the narrative itself — new locations, new conflicts, new power dynamics — but it has given these poor, traumatized characters a much-needed break.

For four seasons, these people had been spiraling faster and faster down that second circle of hell in William Blake’s Lovers Inferno (and that’s another theory for another time), and now, they get to climb back up the ladder… only to promptly spiral back down again, of course. Don’t forget what show we’re watching!

Previously on ‘The 100’

When reviewing season 4, I was consistently impressed by The 100’s commitment to the grimdark hopelessness of it all, because after everything these people had been through, anything less would have been disingenuous.

Clarke Griffin, in particular, was so clearly done with it all: she was exhausted, overwhelmed, and emotionally checked out. By the end of the season, she was practically incapable of standing upright with all that grief and responsibility weighing her down.

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I was impressed not because I like seeing Clarke suffer, but because it spoke to The 100’s commitment to emotional realism. Of course Clarke was near-breaking point. Of course a good night’s sleep and some light banter with her friends was not going to mend her broken heart. On a lesser show, maybe, but this is not a lesser show.

Having seen “Eden,” knowing now what season 4 was building towards — the time jump, the fresh start, the healing, the genuine joy and relief that the audience feels right alongside the characters — I can appreciate that grimness even more. Clarke could not go on, and rather than downplaying her emotional trauma, the narrative found a legitimate way to heal at least some of it.

In The 100 season 5, episode 1, Clarke gets that elusive nap she was denied for the entirety of season 4… after, of course, a little bit more suffering. This is The 100, after all.

Let’s talk about the absolutely riveting, devastating, terrifying, hilarious and overwhelming episode that is The 100 season 5 premiere episode “Eden”!

Clarke Griffin: A year in the life

In my season 5 preview article, I gushed about The 100’s decision to focus so much of its premiere — 20 minutes, to be exact — on Clarke’s solo journey.

This is a CW ensemble series after all, so it felt like a brave choice to open a season with just this one lead actress, completely alone, conducting a masterclass of emotion. This is The Martian, Castaway or Tracks on a small screen: simple, bare-bones survival, enrapturing from start to finish.

I don’t want to brush over the fact that choosing to open the season this way is a huge gamble, and reveals a tremendous amount of confidence not just in the story, but in the audience. That five-minute solo Murphy sequence at the beginning of season 3 was already impressive; 20 minutes of solo Clarke was inspired.

By virtue of its medium, television is not a place for extended solo performances or long sequences of silence. The 100 is not an art film. It’s not a concept piece. It’s a story about a group of desperate humans trying to survive and learning to rely on each other as they do so.

To strip back everything that has come to define the show except its lead heroine, and let her command the screen for half the episode, reveals the strength of this story’s bones. On TV, people need people, because without that tension between those people, you don’t have a story. On The 100, all we need is Clarke. And more importantly, all Clarke needs is Clarke.

When it comes to survival — which is what The 100 is all about — there is nothing Clarke can’t do on her own. Watching her be so fully capable is thrilling, empowering, evocative, and powerful. And it ultimately makes her longing for her friends all that more meaningful. She doesn’t miss them because she needs them for any practical reason. She just misses them.

Clarke’s journey through the post-Praimfaya world not only serves to show her struggle, but serves as a farewell tour of the world as it used to be. After digging herself out of Becca’s lab, she walks on what used to be water (the episode is called “Eden,” what do you expect?), and finds the ruins of Lincoln’s stones that once marked the place where Grounders tired of war could signal the boat to salvation. This time the boat is the rover, and Clarke heads for Polis, where she still believes salvation lies.

Clarke looking up at the broken tower is an immensely powerful visual, representing the loss of not just Lexa and all that she meant, but the entire society and power structure of the Grounders. And the fact that Clarke then takes a bit of the Commander’s throne with her when she leaves is a direct representation of her picking up the pieces of her broken past and using them for strength, not weakness.

The montage of her working to clear the rubble, hammering on the bunker door and calling for her mother was one of the bits of the opening sequence most talked about at WonderCon a few months back, and for good reason. It is one of the most heartbreaking scenes in the premiere, communicating fully how lonely Clarke feels, how much she needs to cling to the hope that the bunker is still an option for her.

But all Clarke’s efforts achieve are to bring more rubble down on the hatch door (not that it’s her fault — any of those rad storms could have caused the tower to crumble further), and as she tells us on this instalment of her post-apocalyptic podcast, it would take years to dig them out. You gotta wonder what happens when the people inside the bunker realize this, too.

Ghost Town

Next stop on the Clarke Griffin Misery Tour is Arkadia. Confession: at first, I totally thought all those grids lying around were skeletons. Yikes! But the lost city is thankfully corpse-free — not, however, free of memories.

The most beautiful line in the premiere comes when Clarke is sitting in the rover, having discovered Jasper’s iPod, goggles and letter for Monty. As she sits there, taking it all in, her voiceover commentary informs us that, “I came to Arkadia looking for food or water, but all I found were ghosts.”

And then she breaks down. For Jasper, for Monty, for Arkadia, for herself. I’m not really a crier and can count on one hand the number of times this show has actually wrung tears out of me, but at least three of those times have involved Eliza Taylor crying. She is excellent at crying. But even more than that, this scene taps into the loss that I bet we are all feeling, for a version of this show and all of these characters and relationships that have been sacrificed in order for The 100 2.0 to rise from the ashes.

To be clear: I am very, very glad the time jump happened. It was necessary, and I like change. I like evolution. I think this new version of The 100 is amazing so far. But I wouldn’t be here if I didn’t think the old version was amazing, too, and I think this scene provided important catharsis not just for Clarke but for the audience. It was important to see Clarke mourn this really immense loss, and through her, we felt permitted to mourn it too.

Of course the specific loss we are mourning here is Jasper, as it should be. Not only was it important for Clarke to have a proper reaction to his death, but it was important for the show to acknowledge the impact that Jasper had and will continue to have on these characters.

Maybe this scene was always planned. Maybe it came as a result of the writers listening to the audience and realizing the significance of it being Jasper’s life and legacy that Clarke sat there and remembered. Either way, I’m glad this scene exists. I wonder if we’ll eventually see Clarke give this box of memories to Monty.

The last thing I’ll say about Clarke’s road trip is just how much I appreciate the time devoted to it. In our pre-season interview, Jason Rothenberg told me how important it was to capture the complexity of Clarke’s emotions, to really keep it interesting and challenge Taylor as a performer, and I think they accomplished that.

Throughout the episode, she had little victories, little bursts of hopefulness — a feast of bugs and rainwater — mixed in with the long stretches of anxiety, aimlessness and/or complete catastrophe. (A tiny representation of this show’s overall narrative structure, really.) It was a beautiful story, and one that I’m happy The 100 found worth telling.

Death, Resurrection, Rebirth

It is a freak radiation storm that sends Clarke walking across the desert to the ‘solar fields’ (are these the solar fields that Jaha and Murphy found… so close to Becca’s island last time? Where Clarke just was? Should I be questioning this? Being a The 100 reviewer should come with a complimentary map!), and Eliza Taylor does her absolute best work in this scene.

One of the most underrated things about The 100 is how unafraid it is of dirtying up its very beautiful cast. You won’t hear a bad word about The CW from me, but tuning in to almost any other show on the network will give you pretty, made-up people whose makeup is impeccable no matter how many explosions happen around them.

This is not the case on The 100. The entire season 4 finale saw the heroes wrecked with radiation poisoning, hair matted, wearing unflattering rubber suits. This episode sees Clarke with cracked skin, clumped hair, scars, her face twisted as she cries to the heavens and comes as close to giving up as she ever has.

“I’ve lost everything,” she shouts, possibly to some deity the show has yet to commit to, possibly to Praimfaya itself, possibly to the bird circling above her. “I lost my friends, my father, my mother. I’ve got nothing left.” And in that exact moment, she’s right.

Even though it’s harrowing to see Clarke put a gun to her temple, this episode put in the work to earn this moment completely. She has been fighting to survive. She has persevered. And it does indeed look like her fight is over: she’s in the middle of the desert; she’s got no water, no energy, no place to go. No hope of any other future than lying down and waiting for death. At this very moment, ending it on her own terms seems the most Clarke-like thing to do. And it is ultimately this choice that rewards her with Eden.

I don’t like to cry Hero’s Journey, but this is where we are: the Supreme Ordeal, Clarke’s biggest challenge yet; a ‘death’ that leads to rebirth and resurrection, through which she gains newfound power, wisdom, and strength.

The last time we were here, in the desert, on the edge of hopelessness, hope came in the form of a drone. This time, it’s a bird. Ironic, really, seeing how reminiscent this entire storyline is of Raven’s in “The Other Side.”

In that episode, right before going into the ice tub to attempt a brain reset and self-resuscitation, Raven says to ghost!Sinclair: “You have to be willing to die to really live.” Philosophically, we can debate this to, well, death, but in the context of The 100 and these two characters’ journeys in particular, it seems like a factual statement.

It is the act of plunging headfirst into certain death that directly rewards both characters with a ‘life reset,’ as it were. In both cases, they ‘died’ before being granted a second chance. And in both cases, the reprieve was almost divine: Raven was saved by the sketchy science of self-resurrection, and Clarke was saved by a literal bird of Paradise.

I would say there is no such thing as divine intervention in The 100, and as a general rule I don’t think there is (other than plot armor), and yet: this isn’t the first time a character has experienced a miracle that can’t quite be explained. Wells Jaha, after all, appeared on the Ark to lead his father to the ground.

A New Hope

In my review of “Praimfaya,” I described all the characters’ stories ending in symbolic death: the bunker was buried, SpaceKru all ‘died’ of oxygen deprivation before being revived, and Clarke perished in Praimfaya. This is the moment when Clarke comes back to life, reborn into paradise, complete with a baptism by water, fire and spirit.

First she washes away her sins in the lake, and then the flames of the funeral pyre symbolically consume her, burning away her pain and suffering. From there, the new Clarke can then — say it with me — rise from the ashes.

The cinematography and set design in “Eden” is incredible. Particularly commendable is the use of color, truly emphasizing the contrast between Clarke’s life before and after she finds Eden.

Shallow Valley, with the death wave having ‘jumped’ over it (the bird probably waved its magic wings to keep Praimfaya at bay. Damn it Clarke!), is bright and colorful and full of life. Those poor delinquents probably would have fared better if they’d landed in Shenandoah territory rather than Trikru! #RipRoma

Of course this is The 100, and one of the many colors of the village is red. Clarke finds an irradiated child, then an entire roomful of dead Grounders — and note the unexpected and harrowing visual parallel to “Blood Must Have Blood, Part 2,” when Clarke walked into a room just like this one:

Of course these dead are not on Clarke’s conscience, even though she makes a note in her running podcast commentary of having lost track of how many bodies she’s burned.

In this sequence, she also tells us something really important about her new state of mind:

“I tell myself that every life I took was for a reason. But the truth is the other side had reasons too. The Grounders, the Mountain Men, even ALIE. Their reasons for wanting us death were the same as ours. It was us or them. Kill or be killed, simple as that.”

This is the mindset that New!Clarke has embraced. This is the mindset the show has embraced. Over the seasons, The 100 has become increasingly committed to the mantra ‘there are no good guys’ (which Clarke says with full conviction in this very episode), and season 5 appears to be doubling down on it.

If The 100 has a message, it is that the concept of heroes and villains are myths we naively tell ourselves when we are young, and that we must all eventually realize that there is no such thing as good and bad people — and that ‘good’ and ‘bad’ are in fact relative values depending on your point of view.

I feel like the true importance of ‘there are no good guys’ as a series mission statement is too easily dismissed or overlooked, so it’ll be interesting to see The 100 explore it through this budding Clarke-SpaceKru-Wonkru-Eligius conflict. Especially through the eyes of Madi, who significantly still believes in heroes and good guys. And speaking of Madi…

With all the hiatus talk about how sweet and innocent Madi is, it certainly comes as something of a surprise when she is in fact this little feral wolf-girl, a post-apocalyptic Ronia Robber’s Daughter, who — significantly — had been surviving just fine on her own before Clarke came along.

In her violent first encounter with Clarke, she stabs to kill, nothing but hate in her eyes for what she believes is a Flamekeeper Scout coming to take her away. (Because yes, Madi is a secret Nightblood child kept hidden from the conclave, and yes, I’m sure her eventually meeting with Gaia will go juuuuust fine.)

Madi may have been introduced into the story ‘for Clarke’ — as a reward, and a symbolic ‘new life’ that shifts her priorities — but she is also very much her own person. And I really appreciate the fact that we can imagine that even without Clarke, Madi might still have survived. Although the cast and crew had been describing Madi as a ‘baby’ whom Clarke essentially adopts, she’s really very capable of fending for herself. She even teaches Clarke how to fish!

Yes, she would have grown up to be wild and feral, but I fully believe she would have grown up. In terms of Clarke and Madi’s relationship, it makes them more equal, which in turn makes it easier for us to love their dynamic.

Of course before we get there, Madi hunts Clarke, and her vicious bear trap attack (is this what they mean by ‘mama bear’?) leads to one of the episode’s best scenes: Clarke performing surgery on herself like the MOFO she is, and then waking up to a full-on horror montage of this terrifying murder ghost child watching her through the window. I was legitimately scared of Madi here! I love one (1) terrifying murder ghost child.

In my interview with Rothenberg, he explained that “the idea that it began with her attacking Clarke and leading her into a trap just felt right, you know? Everybody in this show starts adversarial before they fall in love.”

And I think it was an absolutely perfect introduction for this character, unexpected and endearing and instantly making Madi an interesting person you want to get to know better. We have to give credit here to young actress Lina Renna for an incredibly raw, vicious performance in these first Madi scenes.

Clarke does ultimately lure her in, by drawing her likeness, and the rest… is history. We really don’t need more setup than this, even if I admit that I was so fully mesmerized that I was a little bit disappointed when it cut to six years later. Not gonna lie, I would have watched a whole season of this.

Grown-up Madi, played brilliantly by Lola Flanery, is smart and excitable and sassy (some might even call her ‘spunky’). Grown-up Clarke is happy, content, and at peace. Of course she still misses her friends, particularly the ones on the Ark. But she’s got her person now, her bond with Madi described by Rothenberg as “her most important relationship ever,” and she clearly wouldn’t trade that for anything.

While the cast and crew have been describing this relationship as mother-daughter, indicating that there will likely be some new Clarke/Abby parallels to be explored, we can’t ignore the fact that there are a whole lot of Bellamy/Octavia similarities to dig into as well (which is fitting, since their dynamic was similarly parent/child-like).

The obvious Madi/Octavia similarities aside, Clarke is practically Ark Station Bellamy here, indulgent (for Bellamy it was piggyback rides, for Clarke it’s berry hair dye), affectionate and on high alert for any potential threat to her charge or their sanctuary. Her line “I will not let anything happen to you” is almost verbatim what Bellamy tells baby Octavia in “His Sister’s Keeper.”

After this episode, I wonder if Clarke’s hyper-awareness of everything Bellamy did to protect his sister perhaps always spoke to her recognition that, if put in the same position, she would do exactly the same thing.

As Clarke and Madi sit by the fire, we have what is perhaps the episode’s most significant conversation. Madi asks Clarke to recap “Die All, Die Merrily” for what sounds like the hundredth time, calling Clarke out for not trusting that Octavia would win, revealing what is clearly a deep hero worship of this Skairipa ‘beast’ that exists only in Clarke’s stories.

(In other words: Madi is a representation of the innocent, general audience that sees only Octavia’s ‘badass’-ness, and not all of the messed-up backstory and trauma that has made her the complex, morally ambiguous pseudo-antihero that she really is.)

Note the flicker of worry on Clarke’s face as Madi is describing Octavia, professing her certainty that Superhero Skairipa will use her magic powers to get her people out of the bunker. Note that Clarke turns the subject to the people above, while Madi is fixated on the people below.

The way Madi talks about Octavia sounds eerily how people used to talk about larger-than-life leadership figures like Lexa, Luna, Becca Pramheda, and even Clarke. One of the many recurring threads of The 100 is exploring what happens when ordinary (talented, charismatic, but ultimately only human) characters are framed as mythical, flawless heroes, and I predict season 5 will similarly explore the tension of legend vs reality when it comes to both Octavia and Clarke, from various characters’ perspectives.

It doesn’t require much of a leap to imagine the juicy conflict that might arise when Clarke, SpaceKru and Wonkru are all back together, and might have very different priorities and allegiances in the fight against Eligius. I wonder how that Octavia and Madi meeting we saw in the season 5 trailer is gonna go.

And I really like the idea that in this web of allegiances, Madi and Clarke’s wants and moral alignments might not be exactly the same (as indeed Bellamy and Octavia’s weren’t) — and that Clarke’s bedtime stories bolstering up Skairipa’s heroics will spectacularly backfire once Madi meets the real Octavia.

Green Is Good!

As Clarke is looking up, missing her friends, Bellamy stands by the window on the Ark looking down at Eden, not realizing that Clarke is even there. He is of course thinking of Octavia, at least according to Bob Morley, but it is nonetheless another significant connection drawn between Clarke and Bellamy. Even when not in the same storyline, the bond between them is emphasized.

One of the episode’s many parallels to the time jump in “Wanheda, Part 1” comes in the form of a vicious sparring session: in season 3, it was Bellamy and Lincoln, and in season 5, it is Echo and Raven. Talk about a Glow-up, eh?

This fight scene is great. I adore The 100’s commitment to making the fights between women brutal, messy and genuinely violent. And clearly the training sessions paid off, because Raven actually wins this fight — totally because Echo wanted dinner, #SureJan — and this little flock of squabbling siblings sits down to enjoy their daily dose of algae goop, courtesy of Chef Monty. I love Chef Monty! And clearly, so does Harper.

Not only is this an adorable scene, but it pretty much sums up what has changed in the SpaceKru group dynamic. There aren’t actually that many surprises: Monty and Harper are still together, Murphy and Emori are not (but clearly the split was recent), Emori and Raven are best friends now — which is amazing and makes so much sense — and Echo is an integrated part of the group, as we expected she would be.

While a part of me was secretly hoping for something truly unexpected, these developments all make sense. I love that Monty and Harper are still together; honestly, the two of them became so fully committed to each other in season 4 that I doubt anything could split them up now. I bet they’ll die together, too, if/when that ever happens.

I’m also not surprised that Murphy and Emori didn’t make it. In fact, them making it work for five and a half years is pretty impressive. As Richard Harmon said in our recent interview, not only has Murphy not worked through all his traumas, but he would be feeling deeply ashamed that he isn’t able to be okay when things are good.

Unlike Emori, who clearly thrives as a useful member of a community she trusts, Murphy has sunken into himself — Bellamy describes what he’s feeling as ‘worthlessness’ — and it is this, rather than a lack of love for each other, that ultimately broke Murphy and Emori up.

And, while I love Memori, I can’t help but think that their breakup under these circumstances opens up some new and interesting possibilities. We can’t deny that romance on this show tends to carry with it an implied ‘interaction exclusivity,’ so Murphy and Emori getting to orbit independent axes for a while will lead to interesting stories for both of them.

For Emori, it already has: she is now fully integrated into the group, without having to form relationships with these people through Murphy. She is best friends with Raven, there is a clear camaraderie with Bellamy, and she seems to be on good terms with everyone else. She is hard-working, hilarious, and so very comfortable with her new people.

The idea that love sometimes just isn’t enough isn’t something The 100 has really touched on before. Whether or not they find their way back to each other (which I’d say is not unlikely, if they both make it through the season), I’ll be curious to see how Murphy and Emori’s dynamic develops from here.

And speaking of people who love Murphy…

’I Choose Murphy’

(Writers, I see you.)

Bellamy, for all that he seems calm and cool and rocking a sweet flash forward beard, is probably the person most anxious to actually get down to the ground. After all, he’s the only one whose entire family is not already up on that ring with him.

He can’t help but needle Raven about it — and you can see exactly how much it bothers her that she hasn’t been able to fulfil the promise of getting them home — earning him a time violation.

He chooses Murphy, ahem, and what ensues is the epitome of boys being boys. They tussle, Bellamy vocalizes Murphy’s arc of the season, and then the plot — I mean, the Eligius ship — is dropped into the story.

Eligius seemingly materializes out of nowhere (is the ship that fast, or did it ‘jump’ there, BSG style?), hovering above Eden. Why now? And exactly how much “extra time in orbit” did they spend?

What an astonishing shock this must be for SpaceKru! The Ark orbited the Earth for 97 years with no sign of any other space vessel being out there. (Of course they also believed there were no humans on the ground, so really, they were not very observant.)

This is a massive game changer, not just for the characters, but for the story as a whole: the arrival of Eligius really signifies that, for all we know, space is actually crawling with life.

Once Eligius sends a pod down, they decide to go to Eligius and look for fuel. Everyone is ready to go — everyone except Monty, the person who suffered the most traumatic loss on the ground and the person who has felt happiest in space — and Echo, who rightly worries about how the reunion with Octavia might impact her standing with Bellamy and her new family.

And… yes. Let’s talk about the Bechofant in the room.

First of all, was anyone surprised? I think everyone has seen Bellamy/Echo coming practically since season 2 — and more-or-less violently balked at the idea for one reason or another — and all things considered, them getting together after six years stuck in space together makes a fair amount of sense.

Beyond romance, I find Echo really interesting as a character. She’s always struck me as being very similar to Murphy, the difference obviously being that Murphy’s ruthlessness and survival instinct comes from a very selfish (or self-centered) place, whereas Echo’s single-minded ruthlessness is on behalf of whomever/whatever she has pledged her loyalty to.

There’s a lot of backstory and psychology of this character that has yet to be elaborated on, and I hope they do. But for now, I think it’s as simple as: Echo has been groomed to follow a leader her whole life, and after losing first Nia, then Roan, and finally her Azgeda identity, she naturally latched on to Bellamy as her new leader, and SpaceKru as her new people.

Her desire to protect them probably came first, followed by a genuine no-strings-attached love for them that likely shocked her as much as it shocked them, as I doubt she’s ever been allowed to feel genuine affection that isn’t directly tied to servitude before.

As for Echo and Bellamy, season 4 made clear that they each see themselves reflected in the other. While Echo always saw the best version of herself in Bellamy, and idolized him and sought his approval for that reason, Bellamy probably saw the worst version of himself in Echo — hence why it became so important for him to save her soul in season 4, where he himself was struggling to ‘turn the page’ and forgive himself.

To me, Bellamy and Echo being together post-time jump serves two important functions: a) the episode needed a big ‘shocking development’ to signify that six years actually was a long time, and b) it tells the audience exactly how far Bellamy and Echo have come, both individually and as part of the SpaceKru unit.

Forgiving Echo in space, and letting himself trust (and subsequently like) her, serves to signify that this new Bellamy has been able to fully let go of the past and move on. It also tells us that he has fully forgiven himself for the actions that haunted him on the ground.

For Echo, having Bellamy’s trust and approval probably allowed her to let go of some of her Azgeda-taught ideals and beliefs in who she felt like she had to be, to be ‘worthy’ of the sadistic queen she used to serve.

And that any member of SpaceKru — especially Bellamy — could come to trust and care for Echo proves that they truly have become a family. Those six years in space genuinely did bond these people for life, and the fact that Bellamy and Echo have reached a mental and emotional place where they can be together is the ultimate proof of that evolution.

All that said, it’s worth pointing out that, as a general rule, television romances you don’t get to see begin are hard to root for. And most of the time, you’re not necessarily meant to. The on-the-nose parallels to Bellamy/Gina here don’t strike me as accidental.

Maybe the parallel is meant to underscore how much Echo has changed since she helped kill Gina. Maybe the similarity of these two relationships signals that Becho will be just as short-lived. Maybe domestic!Bellamy only has one setting. I don’t know.

For now, I am mostly just interested in how Becho will serve to further complicate Bellamy’s relationship with Octavia. It seems pretty clear from context clues that Octavia will not, in fact, be as forgiving as Bellamy because she — like the audience, incidentally — has not experienced this six-year growth and change and has no concept of why Echo is suddenly someone she should trust or forgive.

My hope is that whatever Bellamy and Echo will be to each other on the ground, Echo’s commitment to the rest of SpaceKru (and their commitment to her) won’t be diluted. I like this version of Echo. As with Emori and Raven, I like that she has finally found a true family that won’t necessarily abandon her the moment something better comes along.

Snakes on a Plane

Finally, we need to talk about Eligius. Specifically this golden trio of dubious heroes that are instantly interesting and dynamic, and marks Eligius as my favorite new faction The 100 has ever introduced.

Charmaine Diyoza (Ivana Milicevic) steps onto the ground first like an older, more measured and hardened version of Octavia, and she speaks the words of Clarke when she says “we’re not alone.” She looks as pale and drained as anyone who’s been asleep for 100 years would look (as I noted in my preview, Eligius practically sucks the colors out of the shot — it’s a pretty remarkable visual), and I don’t think I’ve ever been as intrigued by a new character as this one.

Her second in command, McCreary (William Miller) is not as prevalent in this first episode as he will be later, so I’ll hold back on commenting too much except to note the obvious tension between him and the third member of the trio, Zeke Shaw (Jordan Bolger), who we’ll also need to talk much more about in future episode reviews!

In this episode all he really does is request non-violent offenders (“both of them,” lol) and drop a little New Testament gospel. Diyoza seems to listen to him as much as to McCreary, but ultimately, it is clear that she calls the shots.

It doesn’t seem like a stretch to imagine how these three will compliment each other, with Shaw and McCreary at either end of the moral spectrum and Diyoza somewhere in the diplomatic middle. Maybe it’ll be a tiny bit like we remember the original dynamic of Kane, Jaha and Abby on the Ark? Maybe more like Doctor Tsing, Dante Wallace and Cage Wallace in Mount Weather? Maybe something new? Time will tell.

The Last Good Guy

Clarke is immediately on the defensive once this dropship lands, springing into action and sending Madi into the hole in the floor!! to hide from Eligius, like she used to hide from the Flamekeeper Scouts. Oh boy, if the instinct for Madi to hero-worship Octavia didn’t already make sense, it sure does now.

But Eligius clearly are better Hufflepuffs finders than the Flamekeeper Scouts were, because they find her instantly. One of the prisoners — actually with a shred of morals, his words kind of jarring in how much they resemble something someone from our time would say — wants to spare her.

Mama Bear Clarke comes to the rescue, and Madi then comes to Clarke’s rescue, shooting the ‘clearly evil’ one (the first time she’s ever killed anyone, clearly, but she takes it in stride). But Madi wants to spare the other one. Clarke doesn’t even spare that option a thought, but the fact that Madi even had this instinct at all is extremely significant.

Before this episode, I somewhat short-sightedly believed that Madi had been introduced into this story only to shift Clarke’s priorities (and for whatever Nightblood-related reason I’m sure we’ll be theorizing about endlessly).

But “Eden” makes clear that Madi is also here to be a child: to be naïve, to be idealistic, to be trusting, and to be hopeful. Despite her violent beginnings, Madi really is a child of Eden, completely untainted and not yet jaded by the ‘real world.’ The total opposite of Clarke, and pretty much every other character on the show.

This gives Madi a unique perspective on every forthcoming conflict and dilemma. Through her, the narrative will be able to hold up and examine this naïve and hopeful perspective — that maybe there is good — against Clarke’s new ‘kill or be killed’ mindset.

Beyond her relationship with Clarke, I am now extremely interested in seeing how Madi develops over the course of the season, and whether we’ll see her adopt the nihilism of the other characters — or if perhaps her instinct to believe in the innate goodness of humanity can inspire the rest of them.

Ultimately, however, this is not a fairy tale. It will not have a happy ending. The story of who Madi is versus who she has to be to survive begins right here in this episode, when a nest of snakes arrive to corrupt her paradise.

“I think he might be a good guy,” says Madi, who is perhaps the last person on Earth who still believes in such a fabled creature.

But this is The 100. Eden was the dream; this is reality. There are no good guys.

For your consideration

  • SpaceKru wonders why the patch of green land hasn’t grown. Is the rest of Earth really barren forever, or will Eden eventually expand? How long would that theoretically take? (I swear, if it ends up being 100 years…)
  • I can’t believe the sentence “Or maybe it’s manned by aliens who prefer anal probes to radios” was uttered on The 100. Scratch that, I can’t believe that the world has suffered two apocalypses and humanity has been living in space for 100 years and yet somehow the urban legend about alien anal probes has endured.
  • Emori calling spacewalk shotgun, Monty not being fast enough, and Emori promising “no fun of any kind” was the most precious thing I’ve ever seen. I love this episode’s commitment to joy, fleeting as we know it will be.
  • Has Raven really been the only member of SpaceKru to remain single for all six years? Really???
  • Those Eligius guys sure have a really big gun, huh? I like the detail of Clarke trying to identify all their weapons.
  • “The last two people on earth and one of them happens to be the child from hell” is an amazing line, and so incredibly ironic.
  • Although Bellamy and Clarke’s stories ostensibly have nothing to do with each other in this episode, it seems pretty clear that Clarke’s radio messages are mainly for him. Even after finding Eden and settling in to a pretty comfortable life, she tells him, “This would be so much easier if I knew you were alive, if I knew I was gonna see you again.” Even separated, this dynamic continues to be a major narrative cornerstone.
  • Madi’s image of Octavia might be naïve, but she’s not wrong. As that last shot of the bunker shows, Skairipa is, indeed, a beast.
  • Anyway, what the hell is going on in that bunker? I’m glad you asked…

Next week on ‘The 100’: Meet Blodreina

Next Tuesday at 9/8c, tune in for season 5, episode 2, “Red Queen.” As the promo indicates, this is Octavia’s side of the story.

Prepare to learn what life underground has been like for the past six years… and prepare to be surprised.

What did you think about ‘The 100’ season 5 premiere episode ‘Eden’?

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