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‘The 100’ Review: “Echoes”

Meaghan McDonough ‘17  / Emertainment Monthly Staff Writer

Annie Lindenberg ‘19 / Emertainment Monthly Staff Writer

Spoilers for the Season 4 premier of ‘The 100’ are below

The 100 is back. After nearly nine months of hiatus, the premiere of Season 4, “Echoes,” picks up right where Season 3 ended: the Grounders without a Commander have been left divided and Clarke, after destroying the City of Light, is left with a shocking realization that the world is doomed to end in a radioactive meltdown. With the Sky People scattered between Arkadia and Polis, “Echoes” works to show what both groups are doing and how they plan to deal with the ensuing conflict with the Grounders, as well as the potential end of the world.

This week, Annie and Meaghan analyze the premieretaking a look at where The 100 Season 4 may be going, what made the episode worth watching, and how it stands up to the other seasons so far.

 

What’s new in Season 4?

AL: Season 4 has introduced the dynamic of power hungry Echo (Tasya Teles) of Azgeda as she tries to manipulate Roan (Zach McGowan) into gaining power and control for their clan. This stems potential conflict for Grounders and Sky People (wow, that’s different) moving forward. Octavia’s (Marie Avgeropoulos) shift from Sky Person to Grounder may have been happening for a while, but this season a whole new “her” seems to be presented. Mourning assassin, Octavia, is a stark difference from the Octavia we once knew. Moving forward I anticipate this will only get stronger.

MM: To add to that, we’re also seeing Bellamy (Bob Morley) and Murphy (Richard Harmon) returning in some ways to their roles in Season 1. Bellamy and Clarke (Eliza Taylor) are co-leaders once again, working together to make decisions on how they should move forward with the newfound information on the end of the world. Except this time, it seems that other characters, including Clarke, are more willing to recognize and appreciate Bellamy’s authority. Murphy, meanwhile, seems to show some surprising faith in the Sky People briefly before turning his back on them, with Bellamy’s gun in tow, no less. This kind of self-serving, survivalist mentality is something that got lost a bit while Murphy was serving Jaha (Isaiah Washington) and then Ontari (Rhiannon Fish), and I, for one, am happy to see it come back.

Credit: Diyah Pera/The CW -
Credit: Diyah Pera/The CW 

What were the most interesting part(s) of the episode?

MM: I thought there were some really exciting character developments

Murphy, as I’ve already mentioned, shows a deep care for Emori when he tells her that he thinks they should join the Sky People for protection. But, when he changes his mind, there’s an interesting development in two parts. First, he expresses a sense of regret when he takes the gunMurphy whispers “Sorry, Bellamy,” to himself before retreating. Then there’s the curiosity of why exactly he decided to go with Emori’s plan and just run away. Is it that he believes the Sky People can never be safe because they have a tendency toward conflict or is it that he doesn’t think they can get over their conflict with the Grounders enough to accept Emori?

And Jasper (Devon Bostick) has been a total wreck ever since the culling of Maya (Eve Harlow) and everyone else in Mount Weather. His trip to The City of Light briefly helped him forget that tragedy, but The City of Light’s destruction means that all the pain of that memory is returned. The Jasper we see now has two sides: mischievous and fun-loving friend to all and the sad young man who seems to be unable to live with what he has experienced. When he picks up the gun before leaving Raven (Lindsey Morgan) to work on the radio, I didn’t know whether he was planning on using it on others or himself, which is part of what made his presence in this episode so engaging. Usually, I’m not really interested in Jasper, but I think writing him this way is going to make him a character to watch this season.

AL: I think without a doubt the best moments of the show come when the 100 are together and, even more specifically, when Clarke and Bellamy are leading side by side. The dynamic between all these characters is really where the show hits its stride. Seeing Bellamy and Clarke back together on the same side, supporting each other as they know the hard decisions will soon come, is what the show sorely lacked frequently last season.  It’s the connection between all these characters that truly propels the show, something that seemed to have been pushed to the side for a while.

Octavia’s development is incredibly interesting to watch, though not necessarily always in a good way. The anticipation of how far she will continue to go is compelling and certainly nerve-wracking. The flippancy she has with death is startling, and, intriguingly, Lincoln would despise her new attitudes. How her mourning for her lost love moving forward displays itself is something I can’t wait to see.

 

What were the least interesting part(s) of the episode?

AL: Jaha has way overstayed his welcome on this show, and, so far, nothing about Season 4 has shown he will be reinvented in any that will change this. Most likely, he’ll get a stale redemption arc that just proves to waste pivotal plot time; his and Murphy’s relationship, also, should probably just be halted.

Echo has never proven that interesting, certainly not enough so to bring her into such a big role in the season premiere. If her story arc continues to be so large, I’m willing to bet it will get tired quickly. Luckily, though, showrunner Jason Rothenberg has at least remembered the show is about the 100 and found a better balance between Grounder and Sky People plot than last season; hopefully, this continues moving forward.

MM: I couldn’t agree more about Jaha: he can’t fight and he doesn’t have any wisdom about the current situation that proves useful. Even his delivery of the “commander’s body” felt forced; why couldn’t Kane (Henry Ian Cusick) do it? Wouldn’t they trust him just as much as, if not more than, Jaha? It already seems like they’re having trouble coming up with plotlines for the adults, and having Jaha isn’t going to make that any easier. Just kill him off already!

As for Echo, I’ve never really minded her, but I was kind of expecting her to be more of a power player in this episode and she just didn’t come through. Once Roan woke up, she just let it all go. In fact, I found most of the conflict between Grounders and Sky People this episode really dryI expected Echo to propose some sort of crazy ultimatum for an alliance between them, or for Roan to betray Clarke. That’s the kind of intense twisting and turning that, usually, makes the show so watchable and rewatchable. But down to the very last moment with Echo and Bellamy, the Grounder issue seemed too easily solved, and it made the episode kind of unsatisfying.

Credit: Diyah Pera/The CW
Credit: Diyah Pera/The CW

Did any acting particularly stick out – good or bad?

MM: Bob Morley as Bellamy Blake is always a favorite and it looks like he’s going to continue to be. No matter how little they give him, how repetitive his lines or actions are, it never matters because Morley really seems to believe in his character. He somehow manages to make the same, “Leave her alone!” lines sound really heartfelt every time. He delivers comedy and drama with equal deft, and this episode he got to let both sides shine.

As for everyone else, I think Devon Bostick as Jasper and Richard Harmon as Murphy really showed their stuff. Bostick seems to have toned himself down a bit from last season, which really paid off with what he’s exhibiting this season: a well-hidden depression, a sick delight in the end of days. Harmon has been kind of up and coming for a while now, but this episode highlighted his range: from hilarity to hope, snark to sorrow. I’m really excited to see what both of them are going to get up to this season.

AL: It’s hard for an episode to go by where I don’t praise Bob Morley’s acting, he’s simply magnetic. I also agree on Richard Harmon’s performance this episode, he has a knack for displaying subtlety in his acting choices that play wonderfully.

Along with those two, I think a shout out should also be given to Eliza Taylor’s background acting this episode. A beautiful example of this comes when Kane and Abby are having a moment and she watches on, noticing their relationship for the first time; the subtlety and emotion she conveys as she watches was excellent. Taylor has an incredible ability to connect with every actor on screen, something which really energizes the show.

 

Defining moment of the episode?

AL: The defining moment of the episode is, by far, the ending. Kane tells Bellamy, while Abby and Clarke listen on, to turn the page and keep moving forward until they’ve earned to survive again. As Bellamy and Clarke walk away, Kane remarks “the youth have inherited the Earth.” This highlights one of the shows most important themes: that of surviving and deserving to survive, as well as showcasing the leadership position Bellamy and Clarke are firmly back in. The show always feels its best when these two are side by side.

MM: I loved that moment, but I think the defining moment came a bit before that when the Sky People in Polis are imprisoned and Clarke is looking at the flame. The camera work in this scene in tricky: first, you have Clarke looking at the flame, then Abby looking at Clarke, then Octavia looking at Abby and Clarke. Clarke says, “I loved her, Mom,” referring to Lexa, and Abby consoles Clarke as she begins to cry. Not only is this a great moment of a parent supporting a queer child, and a great moment to recall a character who was so vital to many viewers, but the tricky camera work pushes the complexity of the relationships even further. Kane and Bellamy are both shown witnessing the moment and there’s so much conveyed in both their faces. All these characters witness how important the flame is to Clarke and how important Clarke is to each of themand then Clarke does what she does with the flame at the end anyway. This kind of thought provoking camera work helped define the characters in the moment, and made the outcome of the conversation that much more heart wrenching.

Credit: Diyah Pera/The CW
Credit: Diyah Pera/The CW

Cringeworthy moment of the week?

MM: Post-coital Monty (Christopher Larkin) and Harper (Chelsey Reist) was easily the worst bit. Usually, with this show, I find myself cringing most at weird editing thingspoorly rendered CGI, over-the-top music inserts, etc.but Monty and Harper’s relationship is really hard to watch. Not only did it seemingly come out of nowhere last season and still makes no sense this season, but Larkin and Reist have no chemistry. Their relationship feels forced and the conversation they had in bed was so stiff I was relieved when Raven interrupted them. I’m pretty sure I was supposed to laugh.

AL: Monty and Harper together are incredibly cringeworthy; though I love them on their own, there was no proper build up for their relationship and the two just don’t work together. My favorite cringeworthy moment this week, though, comes when Echo tells Roan they can’t afford for people to think he’s weak. Roan stares her down (shirtless) and brings a hot knife up to his bare, sweaty chest to cauterize his bullet wound while purposefully not flinching. A moment that was meant to be serious came out incredibly humorous.

 

Meaghan’s Grade: Though I think the episode had some really great moments and some of the best production design to date, the pacing dragged a bit and there was too much of a focus on characters and plots that didn’t amount to anything. This show can and should be way better than this. I’d give this episode a B-.

Annie’s Grade: I felt a little less harshly about the episode than Meaghan. The acting and characters really came together this week. My biggest struggles come with plot, mostly that of the grounders– this conflict feels a bit repetitive. I give this episode a B.

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