The 100 Season 7 Episode 1 Review: From the Ashes

The 100 returns for its final season with yet another paradigm shift, setting up stories that promise to top the impressive sixth season

The 100 Season 7 Episode 1 Review Clarke Griffin

This The 100 review contains spoilers

The 100 Season 7 episode 1

The 100 is back, for the final time, and once again we’re thrown into the deep end, for what’s shaping up to somehow be an even better season than last year’s consistently stellar outing. The start of a new season on this show usually means watching with remote in hand to rewind and catch every little hint and expository detail of whatever new paradigm is in place. This season has a lot to live up to, and saying farewell is notoriously difficult. But if this episode (and the three others critics could view) are any indication, we’re in excellent hands.

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While we’re not technically in a new world for this premiere, it sure feels like it. Over in Sanctum, the convicts and the rest of the Grounders are awake, adding people and tension to the already-delicate balance of a Sanctum with almost no Primes. Meanwhile, Octavia has disappeared into the Anomaly and Bellamy has been taken away by invisible forces, leaving Echo, Hope and Gabriel to work together if they want to save the Blakes and understand the wonders of the Anomaly (the second one is more of a Gabriel thing.)

This is an interesting trio for an adventure, but I’m here for it. It keeps characters who might otherwise have little to do tied up with what’s looking like a fascinating story. Already we have some sort of ghost or glitch of Octavia showing up to see Hope (is this the toxin or time misbehaving? What a show!) Meanwhile, Echo is fighting for her family in Bellamy and reliving the worst things she thinks about herself, thanks to King Roan and the real Echo, her childhood friend.

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A few of the important things we learn: those wannabe Daft Punk guys can control the Anomaly, they want to capture Echo and Gabriel and bring them to Bardo, but they have orders to kill Hope on site. They have incredibly advanced tech to render themselves invisible, and their tattoos match Hope’s and the markings she has on a slip of paper that also says, “trust Bellamy.” Both Hope and Octavia (if you re-watch the tail end of last season’s finale) seem to have their memories go in and out and at some points recognize one another.

While the people of Sanctum may have been told the truth about the Primes, it seems the old ways aren’t so quick to die. A substantial faction of believers holds on, loyal to Russell (in spite of his death wish) and to Kaylee and Daniel – even if they’re really just Emori and Murphy, the latter of whom is at turns denying and grappling with his occasionally enthusiastic role as collaborator last season. In Madi’s school they’re still being taught about the Primes, their propaganda is everywhere, and of course their palace is at the heart of Sanctum – until Clarke burns it down.

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While it makes sense to largely engage with the factions this way for now, in broad strokes with one or two symbolic individuals for each, I’m curious about the people who fall less cleanly along neat lines. What are the people of Sanctum who don’t believe in the Primes getting up to these days? How about the people who aren’t so much interested in the religion but are loyal to their way of life and who want to hold onto their material advantages – which are so far being denied to the convicts and Grounders but not SpaceKru, in a clear hierarchy even if Clarke or Indra would deny it.

While a lot of that conflict still feels like lukewarm setup for future episodes where we know the individual players better, one change in particular stands out. When Clarke Sanctum-splains that the people who live there should decide if Russell dies, Nelson, the leader of the Children of Gabriel says, “this is our home too. We were thrown out like garbage. My parents still live here, and I don’t even know who they are.” It’s an absolute scorcher of a line that gets to the heart of the pain the CoG live with every day, and the way that returning to Sanctum has likely heightened that pain, even if this is what they ultimately wanted. Will they try to find their families? Will they want to? Would they be taken back?

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While this episode is necessarily exposition heavy, sometimes it’s deeply necessary – that battle between the 36 hardened criminals from Earth and WonKru that feels like a few days ago to them was season 5 for viewers. Are any of them wondering where, say, Diyoza, Abby and Kane, three major figures in that conflict, are?

The 100 has always had interesting ideas about family, from their one child policy and the way it created the unbreakable bond of the Blakes to Raven and Finn’s familial love outlasting their romantic relationship. We’ve seen other parental relationships like Kane and Bellamy, Indra and Octavia, but Clarke, Madi and Gaia present a very interesting picture of what a family can look like. They’re basically two platonic women raising this child together because that’s what’s best for her, plus a bunch of other helper-caregivers. They eat meals together, work together to watch her, and make choices about her education and safety collaboratively. Still, it’s hard not to think the lack of flame is going to come up sooner or later.

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An unexpected scene was also one of the best – Jordan visiting Russell Lightbourne. As Jordan said, “I know what that’s like, to lose your family a hundred years ago and yesterday at the same time.” Unfortunately, Russell seems determined to wallow not only in his pain and guilt, but to do so in isolation, lashing out at Jordan and later telling Clarke he wouldn’t hesitate to kill her.

It was surprising to see the mind drive Jordan kept from the end of last season dispatched so quickly – crushed by Russell – after they had such significance for so long, and his keeping it seemed like such a signal. But it still feels like there might be other mind drives on other settled moons, so who knows? The season is just getting started, and instead Russell used it to pivot to the more mysterious aspects of Alpha, which Jordan might also pursue.

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Unfortunately, Sheidheda had other ideas and took Russell out, at least mentally. This will definitely have a major domino effect throughout Sanctum, so check out our full thoughts here. Tomorrow, Russell burns…or does he? I have a feeling Sheidheda will have something to say about that.

Other notes…

  • Gabriel is never coming back to lead the Children of Gabriel, is he?
  • Deeply weird to see SpakeKru in, like, pastels instead of all black
  • Hope apparently putting a note inside her own arm is metal as hell – but why did she have to do it that way? Looking forward to learning more about her and whatever she’s up to.
  • Raven suggesting that Emori and Murphy keep playing as Primes isn’t a bad suggestion, though a bit Clarke-like. But she says their choice is sealed – it literally just happened and Sanctum is in a chaotic state of flux, making that feel like more of a justification, but whatever you have to tell yourself.
  • Clarke assuming that Madi talking about losing her mom was about her is low-key the most Clarke Griffin thing that has ever happened on this show. I love her, but it’s a good thing she’s the lead because she is self-centered as hell and doesn’t know how to function when the world’s not about her.
  • Emori seems to be rising to the challenge of being a faux-Prime, reading Kaylee’s journal and using her status to not only settle the moment, but build a cultural bridge that could lead to a more lasting peace.
  • It will apparently take 2 years to build the compound, if everything goes perfectly. Why does it feel like we won’t be around to see that?

Rating:

4 out of 5