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The 100 - Season 7 Premiere Review: "Thrust Back Into The Chaos"

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With all the goings on in the world right now, I think it's fair to say that The 100's seventh and final season has snuck up on us pretty quickly. It's been a fairly decent ride over the past six years, so how will The 100 end things in a few months time, and what sort of messages will it leave its audience before departing for good? Ed Fraiman directed "From the Ashes" which was written by showrunner Jason Rothenberg.

There was a lot that happened in this premiere. The pace was perhaps a bit quicker than it should have been, and flow was almost non-existent. As is usual in the premieres along with finales, the full cast was on deck to set the stage, although Octavia and Bellamy barely featured at all for obvious reasons, and with the big name deaths that occurred last season, a slightly reduced overall cast should have allowed for a better premiere than we ended up getting.

I'll get to the anomaly storyline shortly, but let's start with what really did seem like a new beginning, with Clarke, Madi, Gaia, Indra, Raven and others enjoying some downtime outside their new lodge, which they had acquired from the destruction of the Primes dynasty last season.

This seemed really promising - for a few seconds. One of the things this episode needed was a bit of a rest and reset spell. Even though the storylines featured didn't allow that in the end, the picnic outside the lodge really was a golden opportunity to allow the characters to chill and reflect - remember they're all still pretty young. Sadly, Miller in particular let his bitterness show when he had a crack at Murphy early in the piece, and slightly before that, Gaia and Clarke confirmed that Madi didn't know she was no longer the Commander. In reality, I felt I was thrust right back into the thick of an even more politically charged and chaotic situation than what I was left with in season 6, with no real time to reacquaint and get my bearings, and that's not really how a season premiere is supposed to be. I watched the two part season 6 finale the night before this premiere, and this premiere felt markedly different on many levels.

Sanctum is broken, and it’s our job to put it back together.
"Powder keg" were the words Jason Rothenberg used to describe the situation in Sanctum in his inside-the-episode clip, and he wasn't wrong. There was anger and resentment on all sides of the divide, with a sector of the Sanctum population loyal to the Primes outraged at Russell being incarcerated, another sector who were now non-believers, and also the Children of Gabriel baying for Russell's blood too. Added to that were three dozen convicts that were awaken from cryosleep on board Eligius IV, supposedly to help build a new Wonkru compound. Raven forecasted that as being two or three years away from completion, but I think anyone who's seen this series before knows the season may be lucky to cover two months in real time. A newly built compound is a pipe dream at this point. It's worth mentioning that Indra's dialog introducing the exact circumstances of the situation in Sanctum was perhaps the most important piece of dialog in the episode.

Clarke was immediately thrust into the peacekeeper role in this hour, but what was interesting to me is that I wasn't convinced by her authority at all. Clarke's character felt quite different to the one we know, despite her being taken over by Josephine for much of last season. Maybe the showrunners intended for that to happen, but at least part of it could be down to the fact that we don't really know what Clarke wants yet. Later on we learned she wants to keep the peace and avoid additional bloodshed, which fits with her immense character development from last season.
There are no kings, or queens, or Primes here. We have no use for a palace. We are the last of the human race, and we've all made mistakes. Tomorrow, Russell Prime dies for his.
There's no denying that Clarke's showdown with Russell was a significant and unexpected turning point, but tying that change in behavior back to the recent loss of her mother felt somewhat forced. When Clarke strode out onto the balcony of the then burning palace, and declared Russell would be executed the next day, that immediately shifts her standing in the eyes of the entire population of Sanctum, and her image as a peacekeeper and negotiator is now shattered. This is an important change in direction for her character, and a big play to make this early in this extended final season.

As was signaled in the season 6 finale, Sheidheda will live on - something I'm most disappointed about because that storyline ruined Madi's season last year, among other things, and just isn't something I care about in the slightest. I am pleased that his whereabouts is known this early on, however, as we saw him take over Russell's body after Clarke knocked him unconscious. Quite how he ended up there is a mystery, as are his next moves. I really hope he only has a minimal impact on this final season, but I'd suspect it's highly likely he won't simply die along with Russell next week. In fact, I wouldn't bet on Russell dying either, quite frankly.

The anomaly storyline took place all on its own in this hour, and though I've long been a critic of it, this premiere did manage to add some intrigue and try to make me more interested in it. After Octavia vanished from Bellamy's arms in the season 6 finale, he ran out of Gabriel's tent, only to be pummeled and dragged by an invisible force or being. Echo rushed outside in pursuit, but also met the same fate, with Bellamy eventually vanishing completely.

This left Gabriel and Echo to team up and pick up the pieces, with a new character, Hope Diyoza, introduced more formally after she appeared in the season 6 finale. Shelby Flannery plays the character, and she did reasonably well, though the character hasn't had the initial impact that the likes of Madi or Hope's mother, Charmaine Diyoza, did. Somehow in the commotion at the top of the hour, her bloodied arm ended up with a tube containing a piece of paper in it reading "Trust Bellamy", along with another copy of the tattoo seen on Octavia's back. How that happened exactly is one of many unanswered questions about Hope's existence, so (can I say hopefully?) we'll be getting some answers to those fairly shortly.

From this point on, the storyline became a little blurry and incoherent. Gabriel, Echo and Hope went in pursuit of the anomaly, and Echo managed to score a few kills on the invisible creatures that were chasing them. A point of view shot from inside their heads reveals they seem to have at least some artificial intelligence controlling them, and the being within their suits appears human. Following that, the trio found the anomaly, and entered it together, in the hope of locating Bellamy and Octavia.

It's since been revealed that Bob Morley took some time off filming that impacts the next couple of episodes, so I wouldn't be surprised if the rotation policy the series employs with its cast members and storylines is used to put the anomaly storyline on the backburner for a period of time.

A few other things to cap off. I found Jordan's stance in this episode rather strange. He couldn't really decide which side to take in the debate over Russell's circumstances, and I didn't really know what to make of his stint, particularly given how underutilized and underdeveloped his character was last season. I do wonder if there was an attempt here to channel his parents, Monty and Harper, in an attempt to be some sort of mediator. Murphy and Emori seem to have escaped relatively unscathed from last season's team-switching antics, but it's likely their past will come in handy going forward, much like how it did last night when Emori parted the red sea for Russell's transfer to the palace.
Finally, Madi not knowing she's no longer in possession of the Flame and therefore the Commander is not something I'm comfortable with. That secret eventually coming out is inevitable, and my bet is it will be used to divide her and Clarke because they were far closer and more affectionate in this premiere than we've seen in a long time.

All up, this has been a surprisingly difficult season premiere of The 100 to review, because it didn't really attempt to - nor succeed in - shaping how this season may play out, and how the series may eventually end. Just as I described being thrust back into the chaos of Sanctum with no chance to relax and reconnect with the characters, it seems to have flowed through to this review, where I'm not really sure how to approach it and what to discuss. That's a really weird place to be in considering how important The 100's premieres are in terms of setting the scene for the season. This was the final season premiere as well, but if you watched it and didn't know that ahead of time, I think you'd be rather disappointed. The intense political situation inside Sanctum was more of a deterrent than a source of engagement or intrigue. Sheidheda is a needless hanger-on. The anomaly is now moderately more interesting with Hope in the picture, but Bellamy and Octavia's disappearance hasn't really sunk in yet because they really only just happened.

The lack of flow certainly doesn't help things either, but perhaps of most concern to me is that that absence of time and space to reconnect with the characters will mean it takes at least a couple more weeks to get back in sync with this series again. The showrunners certainly won't allow me time in future episodes to catch my breath, but hopefully going forward there's better flow and coherence, which will make that process much easier.

To you, the reader, whether new or returning, thanks for reading! I'd love to hear what you thought of the premiere, so be sure to leave a comment with your thoughts and theories. See you right back here next week.

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