Thursday, February 2, 2017

REVIEW: 'The 100' - The Ice Nation Fights to Take Control of Polis and Eliminate Skaikru in 'Echoes'

The CW's The 100 - Episode 4.01 "Echoes"

Clarke and her friends struggle with how to proceed after the fate of the world is revealed.

Season 3 of The 100 had a number of missteps. Choices were made that were really alienating to the audience while also failing to properly recognize the consequences of the characters' actions. The show continued to expand its focus. That started off as a good thing. World building has always been one of its better qualities. Plus, it pushed the sci-fi elements further than ever before with the introduction of Alie and the virtual world she created. But the show was simply trying to do too much and suffered because of it. It was juggling so much that it forgot to look at how everything was playing out on a personal level to the characters and making sure their journeys were grounded along the way. Despite those shortcomings, the season ended with an intriguing setup for the next. When Clarke had her big confrontation with Alie, she had to make a major decision: allow everyone to be chipped and live in the fantasy world created by Alie or be wiped out in six months because nuclear reactions were melting down worldwide. Clarke ultimately chose to destroy the City of Light claiming that her people always find a way to survive. And now, the show has to live up to the premise it started in that finale. It smartly decides to pick up right where the story left off. But things quickly become quite complicated before news of global destruction becomes public.

Of course, the threat of mass extinction worldwide by nuclear meltdown could be seen as the show expanding its focus once more despite the problems that caused last season. This season needed to take a more intimate look at the characters and their lives. "Echoes" does a nice job of keeping the main conflict grounded while always being aware of the impending global crisis. It's a nice re-entry into this world. It's a simple and gentle premiere. Of course, it's still The 100. So there's still tons of death, destruction and betrayal. But it's a conflict that comes from the Skaikru needing to regroup and find a solution to this major problem. As of right now, they are the only clan that knows the truth. The grounders have returned to this world from the City of Light but they don't know that they'll be dead soon anyway. It's great that Clarke doesn't keep this a secret for very long. Of course, she only tells people as a bargaining tool. She needs to find a way to survive despite everyone's bad feelings towards Skaikru. She still needs to protect her people first and foremost.

And yet, the show still finds the time to actually have its characters react to all that has just happened as well. During this struggle to survive, Clarke is holding onto the Flame because it's her last connection to Lexa. She was able to defeat Alie because of her. It's such a moving moment when Clarke tells her mom that she loved Lexa. It felt like the first time she was actually mourning her death. Elsewhere, Jaha walks amongst the destruction and feels personally responsible for bringing all of this to Polis. On the one hand, that is very true. He's the one responsible for getting Alie out of that mansion. It's a little silly that Kane is willing to share the blame with him. Jaha just becomes a regular member of Skaikru throughout the conflict of the episode. That's a little weird. It's mostly just the show prioritizing the overarching problem instead of getting caught up on past mistakes. The same can also be said for Bellamy. He made a lot of reckless and horrible decisions last season. He never really made up for them either even though he helped Clarke in the end. And now, Kane is just telling him to do better in the future and not linger on the past. That's a simplistic approach to things. But it mostly just feels like the show waving off everything that was done so it can focus on what will happen next.

It is also confirmed for the audience that the nuclear radiation is coming as well. When the fellow leaders of Skaikru hear the news from Clarke, they question whether or not Alie was telling the truth. Clarke believes that she was. But they'll need proof before they are able to tell the rest of the clans. That's where Raven comes in. She is quickly able to assess that the situation is really happening with the nuclear reactors. She delivers a little bit of exposition on how they were built to survive nuclear destruction but would only last for a hundred years. Time is running out and the six month timeline is correct. Of course, that's enough to put a new spring in Jasper's step. That will hopefully be a good development. It wasn't great to see him so mopey all the time last season. It was such a drag. Plus, it threatens to kill him here too as he almost commits suicide before Monty unknowingly stops him. If all of this wasn't enough, the premiere also ends with a glimpse of nuclear radiation already causing massive destructive halfway across the world. That's a terrifying final image that promises this season will be just as deadly as all the previous ones.

However, the core conflict of the premiere is what will happen in Polis following Alie's destruction. Ice Nation believes they can now come in and take everything by force. King Roan was seriously injured but he still has Echo as a powerful war chief. She plans on taking over Polis and killing all of Trikru and Skaikru. Clarke's friendship with Roan is the only thing to stop her from doing so. It's just tense trying to help him because everyone else has to act as a distraction. Bellamy and Echo have a past relationship from being trapped in Mount Weather together. But now, they no longer trust each other after one too many betrayals. But the distraction works and Abby is able to save Roan's life. Sure, it's laughable that she pulled a bullet out that was right next to his heart and the next scene he is up and walking. But that's just something the audience has to accept because there is a lot of ground to cover. The Ice Nation can be brutal but Clarke knows how to appeal to Roan. She knows exactly what he wants. She knows he can be a different ruler than his mother. He just needs to make that choice. It leads to a major sacrifice on her part. She gives him the Flame. He will now be the keeper until a new commander can ascend. That may be awhile since all of the nightbloods have been killed. But until then, Roan will recognize the coalition that Lexa put in place - with Skaikru as the thirteenth clan. All of this leads to a very urgent and serious premiere. But it also refocuses things enough in preparation for what's about to come. Clarke and Bellamy can go back home but they won't be able to relax yet. They still have to find a way to save the entire planet from destruction. Meanwhile, Abby and Kane will have to maintain the peace in Polis amongst the clans so they can all be saved.

Some more thoughts:
  • "Echoes" was written by Jason Rothenberg and directed by Dean White.
  • For a moment, it seems like Indra has died from all of the torture from Alie. The first scene is Octavia rushing to her side. And yet, she later shows up perfectly fine and a key ally to the rest of Skaikru - even though she doesn't approve of offering guns to the Ice Nation as a bargaining tool.
  • Clarke has a throwaway line about Octavia not facing any kind of punishment for killing Pike. She claims that no one will blame her for what she did. Plus, it just would be a distraction for the rest of Skaikru. They have much bigger things to worry about.
  • Murphy seems hopeful about being able to live with the rest of his people in peace once more. All it takes is to interact with them again for him to remember that they're crazy and always getting into trouble. He's much better running off into the unknown with Emori. And now he has a gun too!
  • Monty and Harper are still going strong as a couple too. In fact, they are the ones actually celebrating after successfully defeating Alie. They are blasting the music and having sex. It's nice to see at least someone happy.
  • It also seems like Raven's pain is back again. After the Alie chip was removed from her, she had all this newfound knowledge. That proved to be quite useful in the war. Plus, her pain was still gone. But now, her leg seems to be causing problems again.
  • Even though Kane is seemingly quick to forgive or at least share the blame, the rest of the grounders are full of spite for Jaha and bringing this plague of destruction to them. They spit in his face and beat him up too.