This review contains spoilers.
3.1 Wanheda – Part One
The 100 is finally back to shred our emotions for the next dozen-or-so weeks and, after a second season which may have marked the biggest upswing in quality since Buffy season two, the question is whether the writers can keep up the momentum for much longer.
The only problem with last year’s run was that it was always going to be hard to top it on violence, creativity and general scale, so season three looked to either derail the whole thing, or scale things back significantly.
Judging by this premiere episode, they’ve gone with the first option. Now, I have no problem at all with a show as inventive and fun as The 100 just going for it with everything until it burns out completely, and right now the novelty of being able to spend time with these characters again is making the concern of where the rest of the season might go a smaller one than it might become.
There’s a care and a love that goes into making The 100 that other shows could stand to learn from, and that inspires a sense of trust from the audience. Also, the more insane this show gets, the better it often is.
The first clue that the writers aren’t taking anything for granted? We begin the episode with an extended sequence on Murphy, stuck in the bunker we left him in and driven slowly crazy by months of isolation. We learn from him how much time has passed since the season two finale, never witnessing the lives of Clarke, Bellamy or the rest of Camp Jaha until we jump back in months later.
The ominous AI and its mysteries are the most Lost-esque thing the show has ever attempted, and will likely form a huge part of season three. For now, it jars incredibly with everything else on screen, and it’s because of that I think we’ll revisit it in the same way we did Mount Weather last year. As with later seasons of the aforementioned Lost, it introduces interesting new themes and ideas to a show that’s previously been focused on survival.
Jaha clearly believes in the philosophy that we’re told contributed to the end of the world, and he tells Murphy that he’s succeeded in finding the prophesied City of Light. But Jaha is clearly not in his right mind, and it’ll take Murphy bringing the rest of the gang back to uncover what’s really going on there.
Once the credits have rolled and we head back to base camp, we see that Clarke has kept her promise of deserting the rest of her people. This leaves Bellamy in charge of things underneath new chancellors Abi and Kane, with Lincoln on the inside and Octavia refusing to live with them. Jasper’s a basket case after what happened at Mount Weather, and Raven is lying about how bad her leg is.
There’s a kill order out on Lincoln, which makes things difficult, but we get the impression that things have been relatively peaceful and quiet over the break. The group have built a society to an extent that they weren’t able to before, even feeling safe enough to have children on this new earth.
The episode does an expert job of filling us in on changes without expositing, but that’s mainly down to the characters and the world being so well built that everyone’s more or less where we expect them to be.
That includes Jasper, who’s gone from goofy comic relief to one of the darkest figures on the show. Whether it’s getting drunk in the morning, smiling with a knife to his throat or freaking out over supplies from Mount Weather being divided up, he’s not in a good place.
He’s beaten in that regard only by Clarke, who has been alone for those three months and surviving only by killing animals for local traders. She looks different, and she’s acting different, but we haven’t seen enough of her to really determine her psychological state. She does get busy with the aforementioned local trader, though, which puts the controversial kiss between her and Lexa last season into perspective. Get it girl.
The reason The 100 is so effective is that it never loses sight of its characters and their struggles even when it’s blowing stuff up or introducing yet more tribes of bloodthirsty warriors. Moments like the brief instance of happiness when driving to more doom and violence, just singing in the car like normal people, proves that, and gives me hope that the writers’ tactic for season three is not just to escalate everything right out of the gate.
Wanheda – Part One, as the title suggests, was about checking in on characters rather than looking ahead, and we’ll have a much better idea of what’s to come after next week’s conclusion. For now, let’s be glad The 100‘s back, and relish its ability to tear at our souls in new and inventive ways.
Read Caroline’s review of the season two finale, Blood Must Have Blood, here.