In The 100’s last premiere ever, the mystery of the anomaly (and what’s on the other side) deepens, while Clarke and company struggle to keep the peace between warring Sanctum factions. Titled “From the Ashes” certainly appears to be a call-back from the Second Dawn Cult and, just like before, life as they know it goes up in flames. Let’s dig in.
We pick up where we left off, Bellamy crying in agony over the sister he lost. She just returned to him and his anguish runs deep as he loses the one person he’s been fighting all of his life to protect. Bellamy losing his sister seems to be redundant at this point, but after a turn for the worse, Bellamy is dragged away by some invisible force. This scene is a bit tacky, as whatever weapons these kidnappers are using sends Echo and Gabriel flying while yanking Bellamy through mid-air. It reminded me of lag errors when playing an old video-game. Seriously, silly.
Throughout this, we learn a little bit more about Hope and her wiped memory. Previously, Octavia had gone inside the anomaly and later returned, her time in the anomaly completely missing. We can assume this has affected Hope’s entire life — she doesn’t know who Octavia is anymore when she had before the anomaly had receded. That doesn’t leave us without clues. Hope finds a nasty wound on her arm and pulls out a note reading: Trust Bellamy. It’s a little gross, but she must be monitored heavily if she has to hide a message in her flesh. She’s clever, I’ll give her that.
Already going into the episode expecting little content from the older Blake, Hope uncovering this message is one of my favorite moments of the episode. Bellamy inspires hope. He always has. He was the guy who went undercover at Mount Weather. He was the man who saved a woman dangling off a cliff. He was the person who Gerry-rigged a suit with duct tape to save his people. Finally, he was the man who saved Clarke Griffin when all hope was lost.
This man is a hero.
Knowing that this character the audience has only just met knows that we can trust him is emblematic of everything Bellamy Blake represents. If I have to miss seeing Bellamy Blake on my screen, it gives me the slightest solace that these characters depend on him and will look for him, possibly crossing space and time, in a way, to do so. After a life of chasing her sister, among others, it’s satisfying to see the roles finally reversed. That said, it would be much more euphoric to see his journey alongside the others, similar to what we saw from Clarke last season.
At the end of the day, it is a shame to have to enjoy Bellamy through other characters, but if there’s anything I’ve learned in watching this show, it is to take deep breaths and appreciate your scraps. But it’s the last season, and I’m famished, and Bellamy’s absence takes a toll on the show.
Echo and Gabriel catch up to Hope and after a little bit of a scuffle, they’re all on the same page. They push themselves to get to the anomaly as fast as they can to get to Bellamy. Every second that passes could be minutes or hours for Bellamy, so they have to haul ass. The invisible kidnappers start firing on them ( with ray guns?) and Gabriel and Echo devise a way to lure them in and take them out. They’re too close to the anomaly, however, and Echo and Hope start seeing their fears. For Hope, that’s Octavia coming to her and asking her to hide a trauma from her childhood. Hope’s hallucination is the only glimpse with Octavia in this episode. (As an aside: can I just reiterate how weird it is to watch an episode so Blake-light?)
I like Hope as much as I can with only seeing her briefly. Her characterization seems very similar to the type we see in Echo, but she’s a little bit more intriguing and a lot more charismatic. Her development could be interesting moving forward. Is Hope’s personality actually her?How much was lost due to memory loss? She can fight, though, and I won’t lie about the joy seeing Hope threaten to kick Echo’s ass.
Speaking of Echo, her ghosts appeared in the forms of the OG Echo and Roan. (I’m glad the flashback scene of Echo’s origins was actually good for something.) While Hope’s fear is a memory, Echo’s is much deeper than that, one which I’m hoping plays out in a larger arc throughout the season.
Echo is a follower. She follows everyone from Queen Nia to King Roan to Bellamy Blake. This behavior is consistent. Maybe she can take the tactical lead in a situation of conflict, but when it comes down to it, she’s generally complacent. There’s debate about whether Echo changed over time in relative peace in space, but her fears echo in her head. With Bellamy gone, who is she? What is she without someone to guide her? Due to the fact that this fear was more prevalent than the glimpse we got of Hope’s, I think we can expect to see her revert to her more devious, traitorous behavior to regain her “master,” as her subconscious so eloquently put it, again. If this season makes sense at all, hopefully, Echo’s arc will focus on a journey to become her own person, even if that means seeking after the person she’s attached herself to across the anomaly.
I wouldn’t hold my breath, though. The 100 doesn’t always make sense, especially when it comes to Echo’s development. Clearly written initially as an antagonist, it’s always been a stretch beyond the suspension of disbelief to believe what the show’s narrative wants you to about her. Too many times, Echo’s paralleled against characters such as Bellamy and Clarke, who learn to strive to avoid destruction, albeit not being that successful at it. Echo has always been awkward as a protagonist, shoehorned in for a reason unfathomable to me at this point. Her skills are more important than her character and she’s easy enough to use in order to hear some exposition or drive the action forward. She lacks depth, however, and with the emotional material that the loss of Bellamy can bring, I am not sure Tasya Teles’s portrayal is strong enough to carry this material.
Gabriel, however, is able to breathe in some gas, so he doesn’t see any hallucinations. It may not have been too plot pertinent, but I would have loved to see Josephine again. She killed it last season.
But as Roan puts it best, Echo “claims” to love Bellamy, so she chases after him. We see all three characters eventually enter the anomaly together, before the green space zaps up into the sky, seemingly taking them to a new location. We do get a glimpse of one of the kidnapper’s helmet, showing a display system. Interestingly, they only want to capture Echo and Gabriel, but kill Hope on sight. Wherever they’re going, they’ll meet trouble.
As much as I love science fiction plot, these scenes are still lacking. There’s no balance. The character responses all seem too similar and there’s not an exciting dynamic between the three characters. Stone-faced and pragmatic, there’s no variance in how they handle the life-threatening situation. I understand why Echo is the main driving force for this plot, but this seems like a disservice to Gabriel, who’s extensive background is centered on his obsession with the anomaly. I would have liked to see him push this story forward because it’s what his life’s been about for the past hundred years.
There’s no balance in the familiarity of the characters either. While Gabriel is my favorite of the bunch, we just met him last year. We know next to nothing about Hope and Echo’s likeability is questionable. With this set-up, there’s no motivation to actually care about the characters experiencing this. Maybe throw in Raven (even though this would add more complexity due to her disability) or Clarke in there and I would invest more emotionally. It was an odd choice to begin with to have the Blakes, Echo, and Gabriel leave so quickly and to leave Clarke out of the mix. She was the character originally with this group Bellamy, Octavia, and Gabriel, and their dynamic gets a lot more interesting when adding her into the mix. I understand she needs to get Sanctum in control. But to witness Clarke chase after Bellamy would offer a more fulfilling emotional experience, especially after we saw Bellamy’s utter devotion to Clarke previously. A dedication he has not yet shown for Echo, and at this point, may never get to (although, that’s not a complaint.)
LITTLE HOUSE ON THE MOON
Things are starkly different in Sanctum than they are in the woods. A small amount of time has passed, and they’re in an earth-like dwelling, a cottage, away from the chaos of Sanctum. Things are peaceful mostly, and the bunch focuses on repairing what they broke. Despite the earlier proclamation of the truth, there are those who still believe in the primes, there are the Children of Gabriel, there are the Eligius prisoners, and there is Jordan.
Sidebar: why did they think it would be a good idea to wake up hardened criminals in the middle of a religious war in their society? Couldn’t they elicit the help from the Children of Gabriel? I’m sure they can handle the physical exertion after living in the woods.
Anyway, Clarke is in business mode, doing her best to keep things moving so they can finally be at peace. Isn’t it so cute that she thinks it’s possible? But this isn’t easy, Madi has to pose as the commander, but Clarke doesn’t want her doing anything Heda-y. Clarke and Madi’s relationship at this moment is complicated. Madi still has some knowledge leftover from having the code of the commanders in her head to the point where she can draw their memories, and maybe a little bit of intuition remains, as well.
If Madi has residual aftereffects from having the Flame, could Clarke had any remaining Josephine traits? After all, both implants are developed by the same person. It’s something to watch for in her mannerisms moving forward.
Madi knows that Clarke isn’t okay, even if she seems mostly in control to the others, acting pragmatically and efficiently. She’s even able to help deescalate an argument between Jackson and Murphy, where the former accuses Murphy of being responsible for Abby’s death, with Murphy not disagreeing with him.
But when Madi tries to empathize with Clarke, she still tries to deflect, letting her adoptive daughter know that she isn’t losing her. Clarke’s taken aback by Madi’s correction: her biological mother died in her arms. From what we know from season five, we can assume that she succumbed to radiation, which couldn’t have been easy for a young girl who has now seen so much. Not your finest moment, Clarke.
Also, how many times are we going to find out that characters who developed strong bonds over the time-jump between season four and season five didn’t share relevant information with each other? I know Madi is young, but this seems to be a pattern by now. First, Echo, and now, Madi. Maybe time-jumps are a bad idea.
Eliza Taylor kills it in these seemingly peaceful scenes. She adds an eeriness to the serene environment, making it seem almost creepy and haunting. With her portrayal, impending doom laces the tone because, well, this is The 100. Clarke holds it together so well until she doesn’t, but it’s easy to tell she’s teetering on the edge. Her mind moves so rapidly to prevent it from catching up. Even when she appears fine, it’s impossible not to feel for her.
The dynamics also take a considerable shift in this scene. Clarke, who was at odds with almost everybody in that cottage last season, is now a leader among them once more. Don’t get me wrong; it’s relieving to see Clarke finally embraced and accepted, though I am disappointed that it’s only in the absence of her most avid supporter and best friend. It’s strange how it just magically falls into place due to the death of Abby. Raven and Clarke have been uncomfortable for several seasons now and there’s been a healthy amount of bad blood between her and Murphy as well. After so much antagonism and conflict, it’s natural to want to see more profound resolutions between these characters.
LEADERS, MOTHERS, AND CULTURE
The most intriguing dynamic between the leaders of this revamping project is between Clarke, Gaia, and Indra. It’s interesting to see Clarke, a mother, interact with another mother/daughter duo, who endured stressful situations, not all too different. There’s palpable tension all around, but concurrently, they all respect each other and need each other to forge a peaceful society.
Indra, specifically, is especially intriguing in this episode. They all sink into their own roles almost effortlessly, Miller is in charge of armed forces, Clarke is the face of their sect, and Indra is the tactical specialist. I loved seeing her growth, especially as a character with a pretty strict worldview who gets her world turned upside down. It was only a few months ago in their conscious timeline that she needlessly killed Azgeda soldiers when Kane secured passage into their territory. Now, we see her using her experience through these conflicts to forge a peaceful society, one that Lexa and the grounders attempted to secure, but were unable to maintain. There were a lot of extenuating circumstances, but it was a failure nonetheless.
One of the most resonating lines of hers was her statement of needing to live separately from the factions of Sanctum, so as to not appear as conquerors. There is a fine line between this and a liberator and it’s dubious at this point to which one Clarke is or if she should be either at all. Her intentions are ones that come from love and protection, but she finds it easier to cross lines than other characters such as Raven. However, Indra’s comments and advice show a great display of her history and glimpse into her past that I did not expect.
Upon deeper reflection, the grounders are not all too different from the people of Sanctum. Both worship a religion that has technologically at the center of it. Faith is incredibly important to both peoples, but so far, it’s only come crashing down for one. It’s interesting to see Sanctum fall apart due to a declaration of truth, all while Indra still goes to lengths to keep that from happening to her people. If given a choice in a time of stability, would Indra allow Clarke or someone else to go through with crumbling their realities? And could this potentially be a conflict between her and Clarke as Madi is at risk? Indra’s strict beliefs pushed her own daughter away. Would she encourage that for Clarke as well? Gaia and Indra seem to have very different opinions of her motherhood.
A POWDER KEG
Sanctum is bananas. The Eligius prisoners have taken over the palace, the Children of Gabriel are rioting for the death of Russell Lightbourne, the believers just want to protect him and he wants to die himself. But Clarke is insistent on doing everything she can to forge a better society for her child. But it looks like they’re going to need constant guidance to get things done.
As chaos ensues, Raven suggests that Murphy and Emori play as they’re primes to help keep control over the believer faction, and Jordan is a friend to them, too. It takes a bit for Murphy to get on board, as he’s wracked with guilt over Abby. It’s refreshing to seem him so rooted in this guilt and to see him profoundly troubled over her death, a theme that perhaps is an extension of his own fear of death after being revived at the beginning of last season. But, he’s one of the younger characters that spent more time with her, so it makes sense.
Emori takes the lead in their efforts to play a role, using her research to inform the way Kaylee would behave. Emori is radiant as always, and I love how she uses her resourcefulness as a previous scavenger to help out the team. Murphy follows her and it seems like they’re going to have to play a significant role in keeping the peace in Sanctum, although begrudgingly on Murphy’s part. It’s good to see him as a team player, though. Hopefully, he will continue to prioritize the entire group over purely his relationship. Murphy and Emori bring much of the light-hearted moments to this episode and, I say keep the brother-sister jokes coming.
Throughout the beginnings of this conflict, Raven comes along and we expect her to head back to the Eligius ship soon. She delivers a couple of good one-liners – acknowledging that they always have something go awry and appreciating that ALIE isn’t around for their population problem. Raven improves vastly beyond the iterations of her character in the last two seasons. “Ms. Morality” is still upholding those values, but she’s toned down her more judgmental side. Seeing Raven and Clarke become more of a team again helps dull the pain of the new environment and missing delinquents. Still, for me to be entirely on board with their rekindled relationship, I would like to see Raven develop a deeper understanding of Clarke and her trials, and for this relationship’s healing to move beyond the reasoning of shared grief for Abby Griffin.
The biggest issue concerning Raven in this episode is, unfortunately, her disability. She still wears her brace, yes, but it doesn’t show a visible impact on her mobility anymore. Raven is a character living with chronic pain, something that she will only ever be able to manage, and I imagine management has been difficult with their current and recent predicaments. The way she squats and easily moves in instances of conflict isn’t respectful to the representation that people with chronic pain deserve. While treating this mobility and pain issue with care may affect some plot and blocking choices for scenes, it’s a step worth taking. This could potentially add complexity to scenes, like it did in season four when Raven and the others traveled to Becca’s island and were confronted with motion-detecting security drones.
Please don’t treat disability as a temporary plot point to add drama, understand that it’s something that becomes an intrinsic part of a person. A disability like this affects every way disabled people move and so many of their thoughts and outlooks as well. I love the Raven Reyes I am beginning to see again, but I want to witness that part, too.
DEATH TO PRIMES
Things get worse and worser in Sanctum. The Children of Gabriel offer an ultimatum, to keep the peace they want to kill Russell Prime. Once again, Clarke has not been able to sustain peace. But she has one last trick up her sleeve. She goes to Jordan, who has become like a mediator between Clarke and the believers. Earlier, he agreed to check on Russell to ensure his safety, and Russell exploded in his pain of being alone on him. Several things came to light in this explosion: Russell wanted to end his life, he did not feel like he could atone for his actions (and even crushed the remaining mind drive), and that he modeled Sanctum after the anomaly. Could that come into play in a future episode and perhaps merge the two current arcs of Sanctum and the anomaly?
As Clarke meets the detained Russell, she asks him to order his followers away from the compound. It’s not evident where they would go. The only thing I can think of is turning the cottage into a hostel? The red sun effects will come back around eventually. He refuses, however, and seeks death. He cannot live with his crimes when he has lost everything, and he asks Clarke how she handles it. The thing is, Clarke has lost insurmountably, but she still has Madi. She has Bellamy (or so she thinks). And yeah, the rest of her friends now that things between them have seemed to mended with her rebirth. That doesn’t change the fact that she’s in turmoil, and Eliza exudes strength and perseverance in her performance. Clarke uses her grief and channels it into finally achieving what she has sought for the past six seasons. But Russell knows what that pain of loss is like, and so he taunts her, giving her back mother’s things, including her father’s wedding ring, which sets of a storm inside the blonde.
As you can guess, she finally breaks and goes ham on the Prime. Clarke started the series as a pragmatic and intelligent leader. Still, over the series, she’s toughened up considerably, and with each season, her physical prowess strengthens, causing her to be a force to be reckoned with. Clarke is a beast, and it’s an empowering alternative to see a woman with a stature of Clarke’s perform fight scenes, a lot of time either done by men, or by the Hollywood vision of a badass female.
Clarke breaks the mold, and the emotions she lets bubble over with physicality spill into the room powerfully. But in a familiar scene to last season, Russell enters his mind-space when his head hits the floor. Sheidheda transferred his code to Russell’s mind-drive. At least, that’s the implication. Does Sanctum have wifi?
With that, we see the return of Sheidheda as he slits Russell’s throat and takes over his body. This sequence looks eerily similar to Clarke’s mind-space with a different location last season when Bellamy revived her.
Was this necessary? The Flame and the idea of the commanders have passed. At least, that’s what The 100 said three seasons ago. Yet, here we are. This plot is superfluous at this point, something that should have lost its place within the narrative several seasons ago. Sanctum is in a four-way struggle for power with the Blakes lost in a portal that leaves to other worlds, and we’re still talking about the commanders? In the good year 2281? The only positive aspect of this plot is J.R Bourne. He’s a powerhouse, and if I’m going to have to watch another plot about the Flame, at least he will be the one anchoring it.
The episode ends with Clarke dragging Russell out onto the balcony of the castle, now in flames due to her burst of rage, as she promises that Russell Prime will pay for his in death, in order to begin peace within Sanctum. Everyone makes mistakes, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t retribution. And this one may be warranted, as Indra points out to others that he murdered her mother. As Clarke seemingly begins to surface from her rage, she initially planned to let the Prime die in the flames as he wished, but Sheidheda resurfaced in time to manipulate her to keep him alive. I know she’s trying her best, but she’s going to have some repercussions to handle due to her violent breakdown. Not just from Sheidheda, but this can fracture the peace she had been focusing so hard to foster. But chaos and death are what Sheidheda wants, and he has the means and knowledge to push Clarke into furthering his plans.
Again, Eliza Taylor does an artful job here, creating a beautiful escalation from her compartmentalization to her lash out. I will have to say, though, it’s nice to see her mourn someone other than Lexa.
WHERE IN THE WORLD IS BELLAMY BLAKE?
Perhaps most disconcerting part of From the Ashes was the absence of Bellamy Blake. Typically, a plot like this could be intriguing. It could lead to interesting character and relationship development. Typically. While he makes a short appearance in this episode, the rest of the episode is blank. While stated by creator, Jason Rothenberg, that Bob Morley (Bellamy Blake) requested time off, The 100 still feels empty without his presence. The episode was quieter, well, at least until Clarke set the palace on fire. Bellamy Blake is such a presence on the show and such a beloved person to the fans who follow the show on social media. They would understand him needing time off. But the content released for the show before this premiere still leaves fans unsure and dubious.
In the weeks leading up to this premiere, Morley has been noticeably absent from all promotional material. The majority of his screentime in the season trailer played out in tonight’s premiere and creator, Jason Rothenberg’s yearly countdown to the premiere features no photos of Bob Morley, a detour from Morley’s inclusion for the past four years running. He is also absent from season seven’s promotional poster, which includes the lead protagonists featured since the first season of The 100. Inclusion in any of these promotional tools, save for the trailer, does not spoil the story. I’m not the only one who seems to be unhappy. Bob Morley even took to Twitter to subtly say, “Thank you for sitting through all the heartache and triumphs, baiting and bruises.” He further said, “It’s time to face the music, hope you enjoy the second installment of ‘Book 2.’” His word choice isn’t encouraging. And this isn’t the first time he’s publicly responded to Rothenberg’s treatment of Bellamy and his arc.
So, what gives?
If the plot for this season partly centers around the journey to recover Bellamy Blake, why was that not pushed forward in promotional material? This lack of acknowledgment is disconcerting. I, myself, would be a lot more excited for the new season if The 100 implemented a promotional style more similar that to of Teen Wolf’s following Dylan O’Brien’s injury.
But regardless of what happened behind the scenes, Bellamy Blake deserves an arc emotional and impactful in the final season. And while bummed that I was expecting 15 episodes more with this character, the only thing that I am able to hope for at this point is that the time we do get with him is well utilized, and it will have to be. With a cut involvement in the show, that doesn’t leave a lot of time to give the fans and audience a well-rounded satisfying arc that serves the character properly, and this season is more pertinent than ever now that it is our goodbye to these characters.
…WE WILL RISE
All in all, From The Ashes was a solid premiere. There are still issues it solidifies moving forward in the season, however. The 100’s strength has always been in its characters and relationships. Already with the premiere, it seems there are too many separate events and small arcs to give enough attention to close any loose endings and to provide adequate closure for the most popular characters and relationships. Even when introducing these elements such as the Eligius prisoners, the cottage, and the political dynamics, everything occurs so suddenly that it’s clear that these developments only exist in serving the plot, not because these changes on Sanctum are organic. Relationships seem to develop and improve, especially for Clarke, but time has almost run out, and this attempt feels almost too late. Are an extra two episodes enough to tie the bow to create a tight, cohesive series and connect all iterations of this show together?
Season seven seems to additionally have the capacity to recycle a considerable amount of the same threads and concepts from past seasons, while seemingly not proving that they can tie them together to make a cathartic ending. The 100 also took an enormous world-building risk adding such a world-altering Deus ex Machina as the anomaly in the final season, and I’m not sure that risk will pay off in the end. The 100 has always had intriguing ideas, but it has a habit of missing the mark on the follow-through, which is perhaps my biggest fear when looking forward to the upcoming episodes.
How did you enjoy the episode? Are you looking forward to the upcoming season? Let us know your thoughts below, or tweet us @TheYoungFolks what Bellamy Blake has meant to you with the hashtag, #ThankYouBobMorley.