11:26 am EDT, July 13, 2017

5 characters who deserve more screen time in ‘The 100’ season 5

The 100 season 4 shone the spotlight on a handful of the series’ many amazing characters. Here are five who will hopefully get their time to shine in season 5.

Spoiler alert: My favorite The 100 characters are Clarke, Raven, Octavia, Bellamy, Abby, Kane, Indra, Miller, Murphy, Emori, Harper, Monty, Jasper, Lexa, Wells, Echo, Roan, Lincoln, Luna, Sinclair, Anya, Niylah, Jackson, Jaha…. you get the idea. There are many reasons to applaud this little show that could, but the thing I love the very most about it is how brilliantly the writers, directors and actors have constructed a truly solid ensemble cast with — in my opinion — zero weak links. (Okay, one weak link. Sorry Riley.)

Even characters that don’t get as much screen time as they clearly deserve are complex and engaging, and most of the time they’re around enough — and hopefully for long enough — that we get attached to them anyway, and want to see more of them in future episodes.

Related: 101 questions The 100 season 5 needs to answer

But exactly because The 100 has a surplus of amazing characters, focusing on any number of them requires that potential screen time is taken away from equally deserving parties. Indeed, that was what happened in season 4, which provided amazing arcs for some players while side-lining others.

In only 13 episodes, The 100 season 4 managed to give compelling and nuanced arcs to an impressive number of characters including Clarke, Bellamy, Raven, Murphy, Emori, Echo, Jaha, and Octavia. What other network drama can claim such a feat?! Now, I only hope that the characters who had to take a back seat as a result will be compensated in season 5.

Without further ado, here are five (ish) of the characters that I’m hoping to see much more of The 100 season 5, both in terms of screen time and agency within the story.

Honorable mention: Emori

The only reason Emori doesn’t get an ‘official’ spot on this list is because she actually did have a large role to play in The 100 season 4, being one of the most fleshed-out secondary characters whose emotional arc really came to a head on the island and paid off brilliantly when she later joined the SpaceKru, finally finding a home with Murphy and his friends.

The island-part of “Gimme Shelter” was practically Emori-centric, fleshing out her backstory and establishing her as someone who has learned from bitter experience to expect the worst from humanity, and had her worst fears about Murphy’s friends confirmed when Clarke deemed her the most expendable by (almost) deciding to test the Nightblood on her.

But, at the last minute, Clarke chose to inject herself rather than Emori, a decision that ultimately helped spark something like camaraderie between them. By the end of the season, Emori had proven herself to be anything but selfish, willing to risk her life for anyone she cares about (or whom she believes would do the same for her). She was excited about going to space. She shared her oxygen with Raven. Her relationship with these people has irrevocably changed for the better, and it’s going to be damn exciting to see where that has led them over the six years that have passed since they left for the Ark.

Hands down, this character has had one of the best, most cohesive slow-burn arcs since her introduction in season 2, and while I can hardly dare hope for more screen time for Emori going forward, I can hope for an equal amount as we got in season 4 — both because she’s an awesome character and she’s proven herself to be a wildly intriguing wild card in terms of the time jump and potential questions of allegiance that’ll be raised in season 5.

5. Niylah

The 100 season 4 Niylah

Niylah’s bump-up to a recurring character in The 100 season 4, whether by design or because you always want more Harmons in your cast, was a welcome surprise. Niylah is a one-of-a-kind character in this world: she’s kind, she’s friendly and she’s willing to listen before jumping to judgement. Whether it’s providing comfort for Clarke or standing with Monty against the mob of Arkadians, Niylah’s humanity remains untainted, which is more than can be said for most of our main heroes. With most of the neutral/lawful good characters gone (including Lincoln, Gina, Maya, Nyko and Jasper), Niylah has the potential to become a moral compass and/or a voice for the audience, if the writers choose to utilize her in this capacity.

One character who might particularly need a morally sound person by their side is Octavia, who has a weighty task ahead of her as she plans to lead the bunker people through five+ tough years of isolation. The penultimate episode of season 4 gave us some idea that Niylah and Octavia might grow closer, which would be a welcome new relationship in whatever form it takes (my shipper heart is tentatively hopeful, but seeing them form a close friendship would be equally gratifying).

And let’s not forget that Niylah has the potential to develop as a strong LGBTQ+ character in her own right, with a story completely unattached to Clarke’s (at least while their groups are separated). In season 4, Clarke needed someone to fill the hole in her heart after Lexa died, and Niylah was able to fill that role on her own terms, and their relationship was actually a pretty healthy one under the circumstances. But luckily, the show has chosen to keep Niylah around rather than letting her serve that purpose and quietly writing her out, so now let’s see her properly integrate into the ensemble!

4. Harper McIntyre

The 100 season 4 Harper

Any fantasy/science fiction story that necessitates ‘larger than life’ personalities needs characters like Harper. She’s not the story’s chosen one, but Harper has chosen to make herself strong, surviving day to day on grit and tenacity alone.

Harper is the Neville Longbottom to Clarke, Raven and Bellamy’s Golden Trio, extraordinary exactly because she’s not. She makes herself special, makes herself matter, despite never being ‘the best’ or ‘the only’ or ‘the chosen.’ She doesn’t have a fundamentally useful skill like Monty, and she’s not relentlessly un-ignorable like Murphy. She’s just Harper, and that’s enough.

When we learned that Chelsey Reist and Jarod Joseph had been promoted to regulars in season 4, I think we were all expecting a lot more of them than what we got, but in Harper’s case it wasn’t that we didn’t get any storyline for her — rather, it would appear that the story around her was cut away while she was able to retain her part in it, which made her decision to zombie-party her way to Praimfaya feel jarring and out of the blue when, at one point, it’d probably been part of a much more cohesive arc.

Harper’s struggle with her own place in this world, this really interesting existential dilemma that could potentially double as a meta commentary on her role in this story as a whole — why is she still here, when so many others have gone? Why does she deserve to survive, when she is not special, not chosen? — sadly got buried in the frantic, fragmented season, with the party arc ultimately becoming Monty’s story more than it was hers (or Jasper’s).

I adore Harper and Monty’s relationship, but Harper is so much more than Monty’s love interest. Hopefully, the fact that she’s one of only seven characters isolated in space for however long means that at least part of that story will belong to her, and that we’ll see her relationships with some of the other characters explored, too.

3. Nathan Miller

The 100 season 4 episode 2 Miller 2

Next to Jasper, Miller was probably the character who was most conspicuously absent in season 4, his screen time/character development sacrificed in favor other plots and characters — some of whom, let’s face it, were only brought in (or back) to die in the conclave. We might be left to wonder why some of all that Roan adventure time, fun as it was, wasn’t spent with Miller instead, seeing as Miller is an actual original delinquent who we’re expected to be invested in on a — hopefully — more permanent basis.

And this was a big year for Miller. He grew a badass beard! His boyfriend vanished into thin air! His dad died! Where was the Miller-centric episode showing him dealing with all of that?! And yes, he got himself a Jackson and yes, I’m obviously super psyched about that, but a ship alone does not a storyline make. What I wouldn’t have given to see Miller have a quiet moment with Bellamy or Clarke, or Abby, or literally anyone else, to process the craziness around them.

Considering Miller’s steady rise from part of the ensemble in season 1, to part of the Mount Weather inner circle in season 2, to bonafide main delinquent in season 3 with a boyfriend and a ghost story and all sorts of juicy drama, I was honestly expecting a lot more from him in season 4. But a 13-episode season necessitates some sacrifices, and I’m just glad Miller is still around to hopefully have a bigger part to play in season 4.

And I’m hopeful that we will indeed get this, because if the bunker serves the same narrative function as Mount Weather did, we’ll likely be spending more time with the few named characters in there we know, Miller and Jackson chief among them. This is the perfect opportunity to give Jarod Joseph and Sachin Sahel more material individually, and to develop this too sweet new relationship that has captured all of our hearts.

2. Indra (and Gaia)

The 100 season 4 episode 3 Indra

Indra is something of an enigma, in that she’s one of the series’ most well-developed, yet simultaneously under-used characters — and perhaps this speaks as much to Adina Porter’s strength as a performer as it does to the material she’s given, because she steals every scene she’s in.

But the writing is definitely there for her, too, as subtle as it sometimes has to be (The 100 has a LOT of characters to service, as we’ve established). Indra’s complicated feelings about the Sky People, Octavia, Lexa, Gaia, Kane and her own place both as a Grounder and a member of Trikru are all motivating factors behind every decision she makes, and even though you never quite know what she’s going to do next, you never feel like her motivations are artificially obscured. She’s never been reduced to a one-dimensional antagonist; her perspective, even when it directly contradicts our heroes’, is always sympathetic.

I have no idea what Adina Porter’s availability is going to be for season 5 — she’s a busy lady, as she should be — and so it would be remiss of me to ‘demand’ that Indra steps up to become a regular character, even though I think we all know it’s high time she got that upgrade. That said, I hope the writers find a way to integrate her more into the season, because she elevates the series, and is one of the most unique, interesting parental figures of any sci-fi series I’ve ever watched.

The 100 season 4 episode 3 Gaia

And then there’s Gaia. There’s a lot of potential for this new character, whose name not only means Earth but also recalls Battlestar Galactica‘s Gaius, which (if intentional) could imply that she’ll take on the role of religious leader inside the bunker, perhaps challenging Octavia’s right to leadership and upholding the Grounders’ religion.

After all, even if we assume that progress is usually good, it’s scary and uncertain and doesn’t always lead to good things, so I imagine there will be a lot of pushback among the Grounders once the dust has settled and it comes time to actually make laws for co-existence. Will Gaia lead the charge of resurgence? Will she be a serene Vera Kane-like figure, neither opposing nor supporting Octavia’s rule? Or will she perhaps join up with Octavia, the two supporting each other (with Indra’s help) as they try to find a way to survive ogeda? There are many exciting possibilities for Gaia, so let’s hope Tati Gabrielle has a substantial role in season 5.

1. Abby Griffin

The problem with Abby in season 4 wasn’t that she didn’t have screen time, or even a storyline. But Abby was ultimately one of the victims of the season’s too-many-characters-too-few-episodes problem (TMCTFEP, if you will); she and Raven both had the same brain issue but that story was ultimately Raven’s, and while Abby certainly struggled with the morals of testing Nightblood, that story was ultimately Clarke’s.

Toward the end of the season, Abby was involved with the bunker story, sure, but even though she tried to choose death along with her people, Kane — recalling how he convinced Jaha not to cull himself in season 1 — ultimately reversed her choice. The story of Wonkru was Kane, Jaha and Octavia’s, playing out while Abby was literally knocked out on the floor, all symbolic and physical agency taken away from her. She has become a passenger in this story, not a driver, and I really hope that changes in season 5.

And yes, I’m as excited as anyone to see Kabby together in the bunker, their relationship settled, hopefully with a baby or two in the mix. But her romantic arc is not the sum of her importance (nor is her relationship to Clarke, as much as I love seeing that explored); what I want more than anything is to see Abby step up and take charge — both literally as an authority figure, and simply in terms of taking ownership of her own story.

This is Abby Griffin we’re talking about! She was the frickin’ Chancellor once; on the Ark, she was the Laura Roslin to Jaha/Kane’s Adama. I know we’ve added a lot of new blood since then, but I like to believe the story still has room for the character who literally set the entire plot in motion. The 100 has never been lacking in the girl power department, but don’t forget about the mature woman power, too.

The 100 has a fantastic cast of characters, and while I’d never want to go without of the amazing development we got in season 4 (the care and attention given to Raven and Murphy’s arc, in particular, will always stand out to me as a highlight of the series as a whole), I hope the writers shuffle the deck a little in season 5. There are new characters coming in, too, to replace the ones we lost — but hopefully it won’t come at the expense of our existing characters, most of whom have a lot of exciting potential for growth still to be tapped into.

And let’s also add a little hope that The 100 season 5 features more scenes with the main characters interacting with each other, in whatever constellations that make sense for the story. One of the reasons I’m always going on about not wanting the characters separated is because I enjoy seeing them interact, sharing their thoughts and feelings and allowing for several characters and relationships to develop simultaneously. Ensemble storylines ala what we got in “Demons,” “Heavy Lies the Crown” and “Praimfaya” are not only fun to watch, but it’s a good economic device when trying to tell a lot of big stories within a limited number of episodes.

So in The 100 season 5, let’s see how Niylah and Jackson are getting on, or how Emori and Raven have bonded in space; let’s explore what happens if Abby and Indra join forces, or if Harper and Bellamy butt heads. Will Monty and Clarke’s relationship be different when they reunite? How about Kane and Murphy’s? The six-year time jump doesn’t only open questions about what has happened to all the characters — it allows us to see how they work as a unit, after spending six years together (or in some cases apart). I can’t wait to see what’s changed, and why.

Which characters are you hoping to see more of in ‘The 100’ season 5?

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