Wednesday, May 2, 2018

The 100, Season Five, Episode One: Eden

Image result for the 100 season 5

When last we left The 100, Clarke made it possible for Monty, Bellamy, Raven, Eko, Murphy and Emori to hide out from primefiya in space, while the rest of the grounders and skaikru hid in a bunker. Thanks to being a nightblood, Clarke was able to not only survive the initial blast but the radiation as well.  Despite all of the drama, did anyone actually believe that Clarke wouldn't make it?

Clarke climbs out of the rumble like the survivor that she is and heads straight to Polis to try and get in touch with the people in the bunker, only to get no response to her efforts to connect.  Clarke tries desperately to dig them out only to have the rubble of what is left nearly collapse on her.  Clarke's next stop is at Skaikru, where she finds remnants of the friends she once had.  Clarke finds a letter from Jasper to Monty, as well as his googles and Maya's ipod.  It's all almost too much for Clarke to handle. Clarke has always lived her life in survival mode but she's always had people to protect, peoplewho needed her and for the first time, she is truly alone. With nothing left to wait around for, Clarke hops into a rover in search of food and water. 

A sandstorm takes the rover out of commission but a defiant Clarke snarks at her barren world for trying to kill her.  Clarke walks into the desert and when she reaches the end of her endurance collapses, only to wake up to find that she has been mistaken for carrion by a buzzard. Clarke is quick to shoo the bird away but then realises that if there is healthy bird close by that there must be water and vegetation.  Clarke quickly rises to her feet and attempts to follow the bird, only to reach the top of a hill and see only more wasteland before tumbling down to the bottom of the hill.  This is enough for Clarke to decide that her fight is over and she puts a gun to her head. Given that Clarke has plot armour, this scene didn't play very well, particularly because another bird conveniently flies by and renews Clarke's hope. When Clarke follows this bird, it leads her to an area which seems relatively unscathed by the primefiyah. Clarke promptly kills the bird and has a meal.  At long last, Clarke has found peace on the land that once belonged to the Shadow Valley Clan.

Finding the valley is fortunate for Clarke because she has everything she needs to survive but it still means that she is alone because while many animals survived, the radiation was enough to kill off the clan. It's Clarke who must burn the bodies of the dead to make her new home habitable. This causes Clarke to be reflective about the life she has led up to this point and what it means now that she has no one left to fight for. Sure, there are people in the bunker and people in space but they are as disconnected as could possibly be from her. Clarke is alone.

Clarke might have spent her days in quiet self reflection if Madi hadn't found her. At first, Madi keeps her distance, not trusting Clarke in the least until she discovers that Clarke is not only a nightblood but also the flame keeper.  Clarke keeps her distance, after getting her foot caught in a bear trap and allows Madi to come to her.  Six years pass and when we see Madi and Clarke again, it's clear that they have developed a mother/daughter relationship.  Madi has filled the void of Clarke's loneliness and in return, Clarke draws pictures of her people and tells Madi all about them.

It's been six years since Bellamy and the crew left earth and they are no closer to being able to return. Six years is long enough for Bellamy to forgive Eko for trying to kill Octavia and develop a romance with her and for Murphy and Emori to end their attachment.   Murphy being Murphy, has isolated himself on one half of the ship and complains about the rules he now has to live under. I guess now that there's no reason for Murphy to play hero, he's back to being the Murphy we have come to know. Everyone is frustrated to still be stuck in space, particularly because they can see a patch of green land on the ground and have had no contact with people in the bunker. Suddenly, a prison ship appears in earth's orbit and they argue about reaching out to the ship, with some seeing it as a potential path back to the ground. When a jump ship launches, headed straight towards Eden, Raven frantically tries to make contact but gets no response. Though it means that they might not make it back to their base, Bellamy and crew decide to head over to the other ship.  Monty is concerned because though life has been hard, at least the violence has stopped. Monty is terrified that by reaching out to the other ship they are starting the battle all over again, thus forcing him to commit acts that he finds morally reprehensible.

When the ship lands, Clarke is immediately concerned because it's evident that this ship does not hold her friends. Clarke orders Madi to hide with a gun but warns her not to shoot unless she has to because everyone will be able to hear it. We quickly learn that the ship is a prison ship and those on it were in stasis as punishment for various murders.  Clarke watches them from a distance as the prisoners spread out in an attempt to get the lay of the land.  Unsurprisingly, Madi's hiding place is discovered and she fires her weapon, alerting Clarke to the danger. Clarke goes racing back to save Madi and manages with Madi's aid to take down her attacker.  One of the prisoners is left alive and Madi suggests that he might not be so bad because he tried to protect her from her attacker but Clarke who has been hardened by her experiences, does not believe in taking chances and shoots the man squarely in the head.  It's not long before the prisoners discover that two of their own are dead and that they are not alone.

Before the episode wraps up we get a quick look of the bunker, which seems to have gone all Thunderdome.  It's Octavia presiding over it all.

Eden basically rested on the strength of Eliza Taylor's acting because the majority of the episode was about Clarke.  For the most part, I bought the acting, even if I didn't believe for one moment, never say die Clarke would actually think about committing suicide.  It was interesting to see how Clarke shifted once the weight of leadership was gone.  We got to see a version of what Clarke might have been had she not had to constantly struggled for survival.  Watching Clarke quickly kill to aid Madi made it clear that the time of peace and quiet was over. The warrior Clarke had only been dimmed but quickly rose to the challenge.  It will be interesting to see how the dynamic between Clarke and Madi shifts as Madi discovers just what kind of woman she has been living with all of this time.

One of my complaints about The 100 is that it seems determined to avoid the business of living and instead keeps putting its characters into life and death situations with war just on the horizon.  Sure, it makes for exciting television but so can building a world.  In many ways, Eden presents us with a sort of reboot with the prisoners landing on earth serving as a call back to season one with the original 100 landing on the planet.  Even Clarke swimming carefree in the water, marveling at the beauty that is nature, is a call back to Clarke discover flowing natural water in season one.

It's clear that The 100 is going to play coloniser/colonised once again with Skaikru potentially landing on the side of colonised for a change.  This doesn't make this theme any less problematic because we have Clarke telling Madi not to speak her own native language, without any recognition of how historically problematic this is. If that were not enough, the valley that Clarke and Madi occupy is clearly inspired by Indigenous people, what with the dream catchers everywhere. White people have been used as stand ins for Indigenous People throughout The 100, even as actual Indigenous people have been erased from the show altogether.  In fact, it was the death of the inhabitants of the valley that gave Clarke, the white coloniser, a place to live in peace with plenty of resources.  Pause and think about that for one moment.