'The 100' premiere recap: 'Echoes'

Welcome back! Things are falling apart in the real world, so let’s escape together to The 100, where things are even worse!

If you thought you might have a second to digest that apocalyptic news along with our favorite heroes and villains, well, you were wrong. In fact Clarke and Bellamy — the only people who know the true reason behind the City of Light — don’t even have time to think about it before they’re swept up in another crisis. But isn’t that why we love this show? It’s always packed with compelling story, and the season 4 premiere is no different. It picks up immediately where last year’s finale left us…

As everyone climbs down from the capitol tower, they descend on a broken and beaten Polis. Octavia sees Indra being taken down from a cross and runs to tell her she took care of Pike. (Sidenote: I generally liked season 3, but there are some things I’m happy we’re leaving behind, including Pike and everything that came along with him, i.e. Bad Bellamy.) Clarke is trying to help the wounded, but it doesn’t take long before the crowd turns on her. They blame Wanheda for all the death and destruction surrounding them. She tells Kane, Jaha, and Abby that they need to get out of the city — but then she hears that the king is alive.

Roan, who was shot by Kane in the first part of the season 3 finale, survived. Abby and Clarke rush to him and see that there’s no exit wound. They need to take out the bullet to save him, but Echo has other plans. Yeah, everyone’s favorite flip-flopper is back. She tells everyone that they’ll have their own healer take care of the king, that Skaikru “did this to us,” and that Azgeda is now in control of Polis.

An ambassador steps up and says, “Like hell it is.” (I love this lady!) She explains that until a new commander can ascend, the capitol will be ruled by ambassadors. She says if Azgeda wants it, they’ll have to take it by force. “Consider it taken,” Echo says after slicing open the woman’s neck. (Man, everyone I like dies on this show…)

Echo orders that no Skaikru leave the city, but luckily she doesn’t know about the passageway through the flamekeeper’s temple. Clarke is able to get most of her people to safety. All who are left are Abby, Kane, Jaha, Octavia, and Bellamy. Indra’s there, too, since she’s essentially one of them — she bro-hugs Kane in possibly the best moment of the premiere. She informs them that there are 1,000 Azgeda warriors in Polis and they need to be removed by force. She and O want to start a war; Kane wonders how they can get other clans to join; and Clarke is holding onto a huge secret.

“What don’t we know?” Abby asks her daughter. After Clarke explains why ALIE created the City of Light, they’re all skeptical about the world ending in six months … rightfully. Bellamy was able to contact Raven at Arkadia, so she’s currently researching ALIE’s claims, but Clarke says she knows it to be true. And she has a plan: surrender.

Jaha takes a shrouded body up to Echo in the commander’s chambers (I guess the elevator is working again?). He says that Ontari should be with her people; they thank him by beating him up. While he’s there, an Azgeda soldier tells her that Skaikru is surrendering. Echo takes Jaha with her down to meet Kane and Indra — she sends him across the line to tell them she’ll only talk to Bellamy. He whispers, “It worked,” to Kane. It was all a ruse!

Inside the commander’s chambers, Octavia cuts herself out of the shroud and kills the guards inside. She lets Abby and Clarke in the room so they can save Roan. Only in this world would you have to go through such an elaborate stunt to save someone’s life. But anyway, while Bellamy talks a surrender deal with Echo, Clarke and Abby take the bullet out of Roan’s chest. Abby thinks he’ll wake up as soon as it’s out, but he doesn’t, and that’s when Echo realizes something is up.

Azgeda warriors fill the room before Clarke, Abby, and O can get out. Even though Clarke tells them they were trying to save him, Echo doesn’t care. In her best Ice Queen impression, Echo calls for her warriors to kill Wanheda. Luckily, that’s right when Roan wakes up.

Roan has quite a bit to catch up on — Ontari is dead, but so is the City of Light. Clarke calls on him to honor their agreement, but Echo is insisting that he kill her, take power, and rule over everything “as your mother would do.” He puts all of Skaikru in holding while he thinks about what to do, and Echo is still pestering him about the 13th clan. He’s been gone from his people for a long time and they aren’t necessarily loyal to him. Echo says that Wanheda’s head will get them on his side. So he calls for her.


The 100 Season Premiere Recap: The End Of The World (Again)

Season four of The 100 picks up exactly where season three ends, just moments after Octavia has slain Pike for killing Lincoln, just moments after Clarke has destroyed the City Of Light and returned pain and reality to its chipped prisoners, just moments after Clarke has learned the world will end in a cloud of radiation in six month’s time. Ah, yes. The 100 is back, and the world is already ending.

And it all feels a bit familiar. At the insistence of Bellamy, Clarke agrees not to reveal to the rest of the clans that Earth will be uninhabitable in a matter of months. Remember how Clarke ended up on the ground in the first place? Her father found out The Ark — the space station holding those thought to be the last survivors of Earth — was dying. He thought the public had a right to know, and Clarke did, too. But Abby and Kane disagreed, worried it would cause panic. Clarke’s father was executed and Clarke was imprisoned, altering the course of her life in cataclysmic ways. Now Clarke’s on the other side of the moral dilemma, opting to keep silent in order to keep the peace. “Echoes” doesn’t make any explicit connections to the past, but throughout, there’s an eerie sense that history is repeating itself in more ways than one.

The 100 also isn’t holding back from parallels to real-life threats. “Science is our only hope,” Clarke explains later in the episode. Meanwhile, in our world, climate change deniers have a stalwart ally in the White House, and Donald Trump’s administration has launched an all-out attack on science. Toxic smog isn’t a threat that exists merely in The 100’s universe; it’s real. While dealing with the urgent, life-or-death stakes of the present, “Echoes” also sets up the long-term conflict for the season, which basically amounts to environmental devastation. The 100 is often heavy-handed in its parallels to real life, but it’s smart and poignant, too. Watching the characters use science to save the world poses lots of opportunities for social commentary, which hasn’t shied away from in the past.

Before they can worry about surviving nuclear destruction, Clarke, Bellamy, Octavia, Indra, Kane, and Abby just have to make it to tomorrow. After Lexa died, the coalition was left fractured. And with Ontari dead, there is no commander. “Echoes” confronts the direct aftermath of the City Of Light’s destruction, and The 100 doesn’t hold back in its portrayal of a people and land ravaged by war. Everyone Lexa and Clarked killed in the City Of Light is dead in reality, too. And this bloody reality has people stacking lifeless bodies, physical and emotional pain returned to their minds now that they’re no longer under the influence of the numbing chips. Clarke and the others have to once again face the deadly results of their choices.

With Polis in limbo, Azgeda seizes the opportunity to take control. Clarke and Abby learn that Roan somehow survived a bullet to the chest, and they rush to save him, but they’re stopped. Echo — the Azgedan spy who Bellamy first met as a prisoner at Mount Weather — rises as the temporary Azgedan leader in Roan’s stead, and she has no loyalty to Clarke in the way that Roan has shown in the past. She is Azgedan through and through. In other words: She is fiercely loyal to her people and unafraid to slice the throats of anyone who so much as challenges her. An ambassador of the coalition suggests that the only way Azgeda will take Polis is by force, and sure enough, Echo’s sword meets her throat seconds later. You don’t challenge a soldier of Ice Nation.

Meanwhile, Clarke hatches a plan to save Roan and keep Polis out of the icy clutch of Azgeda: She’ll send in Jaha — who wears his guilt visibly throughout the episode, his shoulders sagging and his feet dragging as he tries to comprehend all the destruction he perpetuated — to return Ontari’s body to her people. Bellamy attempts to create a distraction, meeting with Echo to negotiate the terms of Skaikru’s surrender. Enter Octavia Blake.

Octavia gets her fair share of spectacular moments in the premiere, and maybe season four will finally give the character the spotlight she deserves. Once she got her reckless teen impulses out at the very beginning of the series, Octavia quickly emerged as one of the show’s unexpected gems. She has consistently been one of the grounders’ only true allies in Skaikru. Sure, Clarke pushed for the coalition between the clans, but Octavia doesn’t draw stark lines between “us” and “them” in the way that Clarke, Bellamy, and the others tend to do. As she fell in love with Lincoln, she fell in love with Grounder culture, too. She learned their language, learned their traditions. To this day, she doesn’t use guns, opting for Grounder weaponry instead — and she puts those weapons to use in “Echoes” in a thrilling action sequence. Jaha pulls off the ol’ Trojan Horse maneuver, sneaking Octavia into Echo’s chambers under the guise of bringing Ontari back. And with Echo busy beating up Bellamy, Octavia slips out of her hiding place and promptly takes out all of the guards with her warrior moves. Again: Please let this season be the season of Octavia. Marie Avgeropoulos is so fun to watch, especially when paired with Adina Porter, one of the show’s most underrated players. I would follow Octavia and Indra to the end of the world.

Meanwhile, back in Arkadia, things are a little less bloody and tense, but Raven, Monty, Harper, and Jasper still suffer underlying wounds from their recent conflict. Under the impression that the world has been saved, Monty and Harper seize the opportunity to continue their little romance. Destroying A.L.I.E. brings no relief to Jasper, who admits to Raven that he wants to go back to the City Of Light. For him, trading his free will for inner peace is worth it. “Nothing like a little pain to remind you you’re alive,” Raven assures him. That may work for her, but it doesn’t work for Jasper.

The 100 deals with loss, grief, and trauma in just about every episode, and it’s smart and nuanced in its portrayal of how humans confront all three. Every character is different. There is no one-size-fits-all approach to coping. Octavia is compelled to kill her lover’s executioner in order to move forward. Raven uses her pain to push herself. In the past, Bellamy has become so impulsive and reckless in the wake of pain that it has made him susceptible to dangerous belief systems like those of Pike. Kane doesn’t let his past inform his present. Abby and Clarke become caretakers of others in their weakest moments. Jasper hurts himself. The only way he knows how to handle his pain and suffering is to inflict it upon himself, to be in control. In “Echoes,” he almost takes his own life, only changing his mind when he learns the planet has an expiration date anyway.

I’ll be honest: The 100 has a lot of work to do. “Echoes” effectively sets up the season’s central conflict, and the fast-pace action of the episode keeps the stakes high without sacrificing character development. But season three lost some of its urgency when the City Of Light became too narratively complex and convoluted. The 100 needs to get back to the basics, refocus on the characters. It needs to earn back the trust of its most vocal fans, too. The conclusion of the third season was shrouded in controversy, with Lexa’s death reigniting an ongoing conversation about the Bury Your Gays trope and how damaging it can be for young queer viewers. I count myself among those disappointed by how The 100 executed Lexa. Killing characters isn’t the problem, though. On The 100, characters die all the time. War is an essential part of the show’s narrative, and war leads to deaths. But by killing Lexa mere seconds after she slept with Clarke, The 100 perpetuated a harmful association between queerness and death.

At the very least, Lexa has not been so easily forgotten. Throughout “Echoes,” Clarke’s sorrow seeps through her every move. Collapsing into Abby’s arms, Clarke thumbs the flame, all that she has left of Lexa, and says, “I loved her, mom.” It’s a huge act of personal sacrifice for Clarke to hand over the flame to Roan as a bartering chip to keep the coalition intact, and Eliza Taylor makes it known just how hard this is for Clarke. The 100 can’t bring Lexa back, but it can keep her memory alive through the other characters, through Clarke’s heartbreak. It should do the same with Lincoln and Octavia’s heartbreak, too. Every death on this show reverberates within the characters who survive. Death for shock value is cheap, and The 100 is best when it strives for something more. These early episodes of season four will test that part of the show’s narrative fabric as the characters start to rebuild all that has been lost.

The 100 Season 4 Premiere Recap: "Echoes"

Hello, The 100 fans, welcome to a dystopian reality where a nuclear holocaust is imminent. Oh, and also our show is back! We pick up right where we left off: everyone is assessing the devastating fallout from the end of the City of Light, atoning for their part in it, and Clarke is reeling from A.L.I.E.’s big reactor reveal. Also Indra’s fine! Thank goodness!

Bellamy immediately advises Clarke to not tell anyone about the impending doom because he’s worried people would respond poorly. Hilarious! What could possibly go wrong with keeping that from people? Not five minutes in, we’re immediately making bad decisions.

The Grounders are not happy with Clarke — what else is new, this is just her terrible, terrible life now — and want her to leave Polis, but suddenly a Grounder discovers that King Roan is still alive and in need of a doctor. Abby goes to help, but Echo (thanks “previously on” for reminding us about her) tells her to stop, they have a healer. Then Echo instantly makes a power grab for Ice Nation and slits the throat of the ambassador that tries to stop her. When that happened, I assume you all, like me, cheered “It’s good to have you back, you violent show!” with a thousand exclamation marks but also a small nervous giggle.

It was also at this point that Bellamy delivered what has kind of become the thesis of this show: “Looks like saving the world will have to wait.” Because even though this group of crazy-attractive teens are facing insurmountable odds in the form of nuclear reactor meltdown, they have to deal with freakin’ Grounder unrest still! I get that Grounders gotta Grounder and Ice Nation has to be futilely making power moves, but I don’t really understand why last season’s A.I. business didn’t fundamentally alter any of these people’s world views. I guess you could maybe believe that not everyone cares how Clarke freed everyone from the City of Light, but shouldn’t the fact that they’ve all seen a functioning city like before the first nuclear disaster mean something? Naw, not yet, they’re still just mad.

So back at Arkadia, Harper and Monty are getting it on (love is real guys!), Raven is trying to get in touch with the Polis people and then researching A.L.I.E.’s claims (girl cannot get a break either), and Jasper is… about to kill himself. This show is always bleak, but this moment is just so haunting; Jasper on a tarp, gun in hand, Maya’s favorite painting near him. This moment has sort of seemed a long time coming. This show has always been Baby Battlestar (no disrespect! If you all haven’t watched Battlestar Galactica get on my level and go watch it now! You’ll love it!) and this moment reminded me of one of the more affective deaths on that show. But before he can pull the trigger Monty calls him to tell him that the Earth is going to be uninhabitable in six months. There’s an instant switch for Jasper, who suddenly seems more at peace than he has in a while. Again in Battlestar’s footsteps, maybe Jasper will invent some kind of “let it be” religion this season.

Back in Polis Clarke tells her crew that they can’t start a war now, the end is nigh, so the best bet is saving King Roan and fake surrendering (well, we learn it’s fake later) to distract Echo. Most importantly: there’s a great Kane/Indra hug in this scene that my heart will never forget.

So the plan is actually pretty cool here. Jaha carries a body covered in cloth to where the king is definitely not being helped by this second-rate healer (hey, maybe stop killing all the healers, you maniacs). He says it’s Ontari and Echo is like “eh, just place her in the pile with our other dead people, our world is a constant horror show that I don’t blink at.” I’m paraphrasing. But Jaha is actually JK-ing, Octavia, not Ontari, is in the cloth and while Echo goes to the fake surrender, Octavia pops out and expertly takes out everyone in the room. Octavia makes me teary whenever she’s on the screen because I just love how far she’s come. Revenge-mode Octavia is here to stay.

So then Octavia lets Abby and Clarke into the room to try to save the king. At the same time Bellamy, Indra and Kane are trying to reach the fake surrender with Echo. Indra smartly says “hey maybe even in jest don’t agree to give these crazy untrustworthy people guns, our one upperhand” (again, paraphrasing). I hope she gets more to do this season. Can she secretly be a scientist? Murphy is also there for this part. I don’t mean to completely ignore his storyline, there’s a sweet scene with Emori where they make eyes at each other and she agrees to go back to Arkadia with him. But then they bail with one gun instead of helping with the fake surrender, maybe smartly, but again, always self-servingly. Last season they did a good job of integrating Murphy into the main storylines in the end, but I’m still not quite sure how his scrappy brand of “do whatever it takes to survive” is gonna fare against such a huge, daunting threat this season.

Anyway this fake surrender falls apart really fast, but King Roan is revived just in time to prevent Echo from killing Clarke. But he’s not 100% sold on if he should protect her or kill her and take her power just yet. While he decides we get a lot of lingering abs shots. There’s also a perfect moment where Echo tells him they can’t afford Ice Nation thinking he is weak. Then he just straight up cauterizes his wound with a heated sword and doesn’t even blink. LOL. It then seems like Echo might’ve convinced him to seize power for Ice Nation and kill Clarke, but he actually just wants to talk to her.

She tells him about the radiation and says she needs to stay alive to come up with a plan. She also gives him the Flame back, so he can start finding some more nightbloods and the people can get a new commander. But also what does this tech even do any more now that she pulled that lever? Is that going to be the deus ex machina at the end of the season that solves everything? Do people ship Clarke and Roan? How old is he supposed to be? Any way our Skaikru is safe to fight another day, Roan says they’ll honor Lexa’s coalition. Echo gives Skaikru a seal that can protect them from other clans (allegedly).

The best part of this episode was Clarke passionately declaring “Science is our only hope.” It made me emotional, because after all the war on this show, thank goodness that they’re looking to science now. Science is going to save us! And by us I mean people reading this… not our characters, because I’m pretty sure they’re all gonna die. Where are the scientists? It’s not like we’ve seen anyone who really seems to have a knowledge of radiation (I mean, the show started with a scientific experiment where they just sent 100 kids to the ground and were like “Hm, our hypothesis is maybe they won’t die.”) Is Raven’s enhanced brain going to suddenly know science and solve everything?

The episode ends with a woman being dissolved by radiation in the desert (that’s not the scientific way to put it, I’m sure). IDK guys, I think this show might go all in and just kill everyone off at the end of this season. It wouldn’t be the ending to a The 100 recap without a sobering dose of just utter hopelessness! May we meet again!

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