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The 100 - We Will Rise - Review: "Back On Track"

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After two more or less average episodes and then a week off, CW's The 100 got back on track thanks to a fantastic character-driven hour last night. Star director Dean White directed "We Will Rise", which was written by Charmaine DeGrate.

The episode's three main locations had the screentime balanced perfectly between them, and each featured a compelling storyline which brought out the best and worst in the characters. In Arkadia, the shell-shocked survivors of the massive explosion that tore through Alpha Station were nursing wounds and picking up the pieces. Symbolically, it was raining, and the episode's opening lines came courtesy of two polar opposite characters, Jaha and Jasper. While the former looked on with emotions that seemed to convey disbelief mixed with hope, Jasper's carefree attitude returned, and though his first appearance in the episode would also be his last, he left a cracking line for Jaha to mull over:

Cheer up, Jaha. Once you accept there's nothing to be done, there's nothing to worry about!

That came before a clever Dr. Seuss reference, which was one of the few lighter moments of an otherwise dark episode overall. The darkness was led by the first of two rage-fuelled riots by Skaikru survivors on the captured Arkadia bomber, Ilian. Protected by Kane in both instances, the first saw the marauding party gatecrash the cell Ilian was being held in. While Ilian put up a fight momentarily, he was rapidly overcome and badly beaten, and it took a bullet courtesy of Kane's gun to quash the crowd, which would later resurface in a more organized fashion. More on that later.

Clarke, Bellamy and Roan had their hands full with a dangerous mission to shift some priceless barrels of hydrazine to Abby, Raven, Luna and Murphy in order to get a rocket to Becca's space station, where a Nightblood-based cure could be developed. Of the three locations in this episode, while it was filled with great character moments, it was predictable and over-dramatized at times, but the action sequences in particular were quite well done.

After hearing that around half of the fighters Roan had brought to confront Skaikru with in the previous episode had defected, it was inevitable that the trio would run into them on the drive there. Sure enough, it happened at a river when, for some reason, the group split in two so a crossing point could be found. I have to admit I rolled my eyes there. The subsequent off-road pursuit was more than watchable, however, and partially made up for the poor decision-making. My next wish was also granted - that being that not all the hydrazine would successfully reach its destination.

The best thing to come out of the storyline here was the character interaction. There were several instances where Clarke, Bellamy and Roan all talked one-on-one. Fewer places are better for deep conversations than a car on a roadtrip because one can't exactly walk away. It was really good hearing the boys' perspectives on Clarke, and Roan talk about what comes next if a Nightblood cure is developed. It's a worthy point to make, and this was the ideal time to bring it up.

The lab in which Murphy, Raven and Luna were holed up was another breeding ground for solid character-driven moments. In my review of the previous episode I commented on how the place felt quite empty considering only three of the six characters that made it there were featured - Abby, Raven and Jackson. In this hour, Raven was the only common denominator, with Murphy and Luna returning while Jackson, Abby, and again, Emori, were sidelined. That empty feeling was there again, and the sleeping excuse which was sold to us in the last episode was reused in this one.

Darkness can kick my worthless ass.

The three characters were well utilized, though. Raven led the way once more, and spent much of her time running landing simulations. Murphy provided the sort of moral support only he could manage, but Luna's character changed markedly. Nadia Hilker brought a new feel to the role as Luna called on her spirits to help calm an inflamed Raven, and also helped Murphy drop the carefree facade, and enabled Raven to appreciate him some more. There was even a bit of a spark between Raven and Murphy, which was completely unexpected, but I'd be open to seeing it be developed some more. Lindsey Morgan gave another powerful performance, and Raven's stroke/seizure in the episode's dying seconds doesn't bode well for the space mission. It's looking more likely that Murphy will join Abby on the make-or-break trip - something I'm sure I would find fascinating to watch.

Let's rewind back to the happenings at Arkadia. Without a doubt, the episode's most powerful scene took place after the mob managed to haul Ilian out of his cell and into the grounds outside Alpha Station. It was here where Octavia made the decision that she was going to kill Ilian as a way to exact her revenge for the loss of Lincoln last season. Marie Avgeropoulos was brilliant in this moment, and the chosen flashbacks were utilized beautifully. What made this scene even more dynamic was Kane and Jaha agreeing non-verbally that what was about to happen was wrong, and then working together to create a diversion by way of a black rain alarm to clear the area and get through to Octavia.

Pike was right there.

It worked, but what happened next surprised everyone. Octavia ran for the gates and disappeared out of site. There was a bit of a continuity error here because earlier in the hour Octavia was still in bed recovering from her cliff fall, and received some physio from Niylah, but was running pretty freely when she left. Then, unbelievably, Kane and Jaha released Ilian, who also ran out the gate, meaning he effectively escaped without punishment for the destruction of Alpha Station and the vast amount of resources that went with it. This represents a huge shift in their thinking - on board the Ark they handed out death penalties with little empathy, but on Earth their attitudes have firmly shifted to life preservation much more so than we've seen previously. This is great character development, and Jaha continues to build his status and respect levels. Bearing in mind Kane is the Chancellor, gaining his trust is a huge win in Jaha's long game.

How about Niylah though. She appeared in the last episode, and in this one, Clarke and her are sleeping together (I was correct in thinking something might happen). It was a nicely shot morning-after scene, and the dialog was great too, but I couldn't help thinking the conversation's emphasis on Niylah staying at Arkadia so she could get the Nightblood cure early is setting Clarke up to be accused of favoritism if the cure arrives in a limited capacity or other such scenario. I guess Bellarke fans might be disappointed, but in the closing minutes of the hour where Bellamy, Clarke and Roan reach the coast with the hydrazine, it is clear the pair remain very close, and my gut feeling is Bellamy knows Clarke is seeing Niylah as well. I'm glad the creative team are taking the longer, tougher route with this relationship, and not taking the easy way out and getting them together. For now, continuing with this is the right thing to do.

A few other loose ends worth mentioning include Bellamy and Octavia's conversation. This was another powerful character-driven moment, and it was used well in the scene between Clarke and Bellamy I mentioned a moment ago. Bellamy's bond with his sister is stronger than any other bond between any other characters in this series, and although Bellamy is fully aware he isn't getting an ideal reception, it will undoubtedly pay off, and I hope we see him go after Octavia in an upcoming episode.

Another moment deserving of a mention was Monty delivering a serious verbal punch to Jaha by bringing his dead son, Wells, into a heated conversation the pair had when Monty was trying to convince him to do something about the mob who were out for Ilian's blood. Referencing past events is a great way for a series to display some mature and intelligent writing, and this along with other references were very well received by myself.

That about all I have to write about this episode of The 100. Though the hydrazine road trip was a grade below the Arkadia and lab storylines, the universally character-driven approaches and references to past events shone through, making the hour a lot better than the two that came before it. I'm excited to see what happens next in the lab, especially now that Clarke is there. According to the promo, the black rain arrives for real this time, and Abby must expose someone to radiation in order to test a possible cure. We're back on track, and I'm pumped for next week.

Thanks as always for reading! Don't forget to head down to the comments and share your thoughts and theories on this episode and my review. A final note: congratulations to The 100's cast and crew for getting the green light for Season 5. See you all back here next week!

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