The 100: Wanheda, Part 1 Review

The CW’s dystopian drama The 100 returns with a powerful season premiere.

This The 100 review contains spoilers.

The 100: Season 3, Episode 1 

Everything we’ve come to know and love about The 100 is still intact: strong, flawed characters, great writing, and lots of action. As is typical with this show, tonight’s premiere is quick to bring viewers up to speed on current events even as it covers a lot of ground. And I do mean a lot. Much has happened in the three months since the events of the violent season two finale, “Blood Must Have Blood.” While gaining control of Mount Weather has established an uneasy peace, it has not brought inner peace to many of the survivors, most notably Jasper. While he wasn’t the focus of the episode per se, he was the heart of it. And not just its heart, but a broken one. But more on Jasper in a moment.

Let’s talk about Murphy, who at the end of last season found himself on a remote island, deep inside a mysterious bunker. There, he learned the awful truth behind the nuclear holocaust that drove humanity’s survivors into space. It’s no surprise that bunkers might be a recurring theme on a show that trucks in Armageddon, but what I found notable about this is how easily the people on The 100 can be reduced to prisoners — whether by external means (like the fortified walls of a safe zone, be it the Ark or Mount Weather or an underground bunker) or by their own shortcomings.

Sometimes characters can transcend their moral failings, as Murphy did last season. But that doesn’t mean they can’t find themselves trapped for three long months with limited supplies (and limited sanity). True to form, Richard Harmon brings equal parts anger and pathos to his role of Murphy, leading me to believe the bunker would be party to a second suicide. But it’s not to be, and soon, Murphy is reunited with Jaha.

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The former chancellor has seen the light, or the City of Light, to be exact—a place that requires an inward journey that Murphy is not prepared to take. It was at this point that one could assume that Jaha has either bought into his own delusions, or has been brainwashed by Alie, the resident holographic AI that is, for all intents and purposes, The 100’s version of Skynet. Who can blame Murphy for being dubious in Jaha’s claims that global genocide was the best thing that could have happened to humanity? This sort of thing is nothing new, of course. 2015’s Kingsman is a recent example of how wrongheaded thinking by a select few can potentially lead to the death of billions—all in the name of survival. But it only shows how far Murphy’s character has come if he is suddenly playing a doubtful Neo to Jaha’s self-assured Morpheus.

Their story, though, is far-removed from the rest of the group, now collectively members of Arkadia. Kane and Abby are running things now. One can wonder if they would still be in charge if Clarke, the survivors’ de facto leader so long, hadn’t struck off on her own. The pain of her absence is felt most strongly by Abby, who seems to have made Raven into a surrogate daughter. The former zero-G mechanic is having none of it, though, and provides her with a serious reality check: by trying to do too much, Abby’s accomplishing nothing. 

To her credit, Abby seems to understand this, but it doesn’t stop her from mothering a person who is used to looking after herself. One could argue that Raven is damaged goods in the truest sense, both in mind and in body. She can barely walk, and while she had something good with Wick, it’s easy to imagine that she still hasn’t gotten over losing Finn. This is not a bad thing, at least from the show’s standpoint. Deaths on The 100 have lasting consequences.

Which brings us to Jasper. Gone is his characteristic smirking spunk after losing Maya in the purge that killed off Mount Weather’s survivors. Now, head shorn and in need of a shave, Jasper is a brooding, bitter drunk. And who could blame him, really? Not only did he think Mount Weather was a safe haven, he fell in love. As anyone who watches dystopian, post-apocalyptic dramas know, there is neither lasting safety nor love to be found.

Devon Bostick was great tonight, portraying Jasper with a kind of hollow-eyed intensity that couldn’t have been possible (or believable) in season one. This is a similar path that many of the show’s characters have taken, and it’s a long and perilous journey to the darker side of human nature.

The two people who seem to be adjusting the best to this post-Mount Weather existence are Bellamy and Octavia. Bellamy shoulders the burden of responsibility well. He doesn’t abuse his power, nor does he take it for granted. While this is not necessarily a new development, what is new is the trust that Kane and Abby have placed in him.

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As for Octavia, while she has embraced her inner Grounder, she is not happy with Lincoln, who she sees as selling out his people for the sake of being part of Arkadia. I like this unexpected friction. They’ve traded places, these two, with Octavia now hewing to the Grounder code even as Lincoln dons the uniform of the Ark’s onetime oppressors. I have no idea what will happen between these two, and that’s a good thing.

And last but not least, there’s Clarke, the eponymous Wanheda of the episode’s title. She’s taken on mythic proportions to the various factions of this new Earth. Not only do many of them fear her power, they wish to have it for their own, forcing Clarke to remain in hiding. This isn’t a problem for someone who has always been able to take care of herself. Fending off a jaguar seems a little unlikely, given her smaller stature, but the show makes it work.

What didn’t quite work for me was Clarke’s new relationship with Jessica Harmon’s Niylah, a Sector 7 trader who’s been helping Clarke since she’s been in hiding. I just don’t see Clarke as someone who would let her guard down again after what happened with Lexa. As we’ve seen before, Clarke’s real strength comes from her being a fighter, not a lover. This doesn’t mean she’s not deserving of love — of course she is. But when everyone is out for your blood, you can’t trust anyone.

Some closing thoughts:

As much as I love the Violent Femmes, hearing their song “Add it Up” the first time was a bit jarring. Hearing it reprised on the piano by Canadian singer Shawn Mendes took me right out of the episode.

Did anyone else catch the line about removing contraceptive implants? This is not a throwaway detail. It hints at the sanctions imposed on families aboard the Ark.

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How is Alie able to exist outside the mansion?


4 out of 5