Clarke (Eliza Taylor) survived Praimfaya, leaving her to Omega Man her way around the remains of the second apocalypse until she meets Madi (Lola Flanery), the mysterious young night blood she’s taken under her wing. The game has changed. With just the two of them in all the world (at least from what we know), living in the only green valley on Earth, Madi is her family now and Clarke’s old family seems lost, though she hasn’t given up hope. With a year passed since it was safe for life on earth, Octavia and Co. remain in the bunker and Bellamy and Co. remain on the arc, leaving Clarke to wonder why.
The first two episodes of Season 5 catch us up on the why, the when and and the how, filling us in on all the need-to-know details about what happened in the bunker and on the Arc, and aquatinting us with new, unexpected rivalries and alliances in the aftermath. Six years is a long time, after all. Be it in the sky or underground, the Blake siblings have assumed their roles as leaders, and as always, their methods are at odds. Bellamy has become level-headed on the Arc, where the small group of survivors more or less work in harmony to stay alive, trading duties and instituting small rules to keep morale up. Meanwhile, Octavia remains ever the true warrior, forging Wonkru in blood and leading her people to survival blade-firstThrough its highs and lows, The 100 has always excelled at expanding and evolving the world it plays in, shifting the landscape in drastic yet natural ways. It did so first in its very concept, taking us from space to post-apocalyptic Earth, and then with the introduction of the grounders and Mount Weather, crashing the the Arkers to Earth, the City of Light, and so on. The 100 embraces the freedom of genre storytelling fearlessly to constantly uncover wondrous and despairing realms to explore (ok, mostly despairing). In keeping with series tradition, the end of Season 4 saw a significant culling, both of characters and dragging storylines, and as painful as it was to see them go, it was a necessary and a due evolution. This season’s time jump seals the deal, and once again The 100 drops us in a new reality where the ground has shifted under our feet.
The catalyst for change is the arrival of the intergalactic prisoners glimpsed in the Season 4 finale. Mercenary and ruthless, but not without reason (at least some of them aren’t), the Eligius mining prisoners bring a fantastic new slant to the world of The 100 — they are not descendants from the old world, they are citizens of it who returned to their planet after decades in cryosleep only to find it destroyed. And they’re headed up by one hell of a new antagonist, Charmaine Diyoza, a former military strategist who landed herself a place in prison when she turned to extremism. But she’s no raving lunatic, and as played with charm and a commanding presence by Ivana Milicevic, she’s a perfectly matched opponent for Clarke. Clever, calculating and hell-bent on saving her people, she’s got big guns and bigger psychopaths on her side, and she’s the kind of character who would be a perfect ally if her goals weren’t so directly at odds with our heroes.
The return of location diversity (bunkers and space travel and nuclear destruction, oh my!) is also a welcome dynamic, opening up room for complex plots, impossible odds, and high drama reveals. With the drama so concentrated the last two seasons, the world was starting to feel awfully small on the ground, even with the growing grounder mythology. Now, possibilities feel big again, endless, and surprises seem to wait around every corner. And while we’re on the subject of highlights, the costume, makeup and hair departments continue to deliver signature, distinct lewks for the characters that always feel consistent without being redundant. Clarke’s red-tinged post-apocalypse hair is already a fan favorite, but Octavia’s full-on bunker battle gear is one for the ages
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