Heartbreak. Chaos. Regret. Political instability. Would you expect anything less from The 100?
As with the previous three seasons, The 100 Season 4 starts a new chapter in the post-apocalyptic story of the Arkers and the Grounders with a greater threat than the discord between the clans. The world is facing another nuclear annihilation. Will humanity find a way to survive again?
The new season begins in Polis shortly after the destruction of the City of Light and the deaths of Skaikru Chancellor Pike and Commander Ontari. The resulting atmosphere in Polis is in sharp contrast to the calm and happiness experienced in the City of Light. The show immediately returns to its dark, gritty and politically challenging ways – and the Season 4 story begins with chaos and looming nuclear annihilation.
While that threat looms, there are more immediate concerns. What happens now that the Coalition of the 13 Clans is dead and there’s no Commander? (The political and emotional turmoil during the premiere, “Echoes,” will have your heart racing). Everyone is also struggling with coming out of the City of Light, what they did while in the City of Light, and the deaths of their loved ones. The reactions range from anger and regret to a desire for retribution. Without a leader to calm the masses, it’s chaos until a pivotal person declares control of Polis.
The real treat of The 100 this season is acknowledging the path that has come before. We know these characters, we understand where they’ve been and who they are, yet they can still surprise us with their decisions. This is especially true of the original delinquents, who are still figuring out who they are as people and continue to grow through their triumphs and mistakes.
In that way, the past is not forgotten. Clarke (Eliza Taylor) lives with the choices she’s made and the people she’s lost. They drive her as she handles the coming nuclear threat, as well as, the political turmoil between the clans. She’s an impressive leader who adapts to the situation and continues to make the impossible decision when necessary.
Unlike early last season, Clarke isn’t a lone wolf. She has Bellamy (Bob Morley) by her side to help her lead and they work better together than alone. Just like her, he has regrets and continues to struggle with his actions over the past seasons. He’s learned from his past and uses it to drive him to be better. It’s not an easy ride for either of them; they have the weight of humanity on their shoulders.
The biggest change this season is for Octavia (Marie Avgeropoulos). After Lincoln’s (Ricky Whittle) death and killing Pike (Michael Beach), she’s found a new place in this world for herself. She’s now known as “Skairipa,” death from above. She’s fierce, smart and ends up being a key player in trying to bring about political stability in Polis.
In another example, throughout the years Murphy (Richard Harmon) has gone from one of the most hated characters to one of the most beloved. He’s proven to be resilient and willing to do whatever is necessary to survive. That doesn’t change after his time in Polis — he’s a survivor.
But the greatest addition this season is Roan (Zach McGowan). His history with Clarke throws an intriguing turn to the political dealings between the two leaders, while his previous exile from Ice Nation creates a challenge to his relationship with his people. Will he be friend or foe?
One of my favorite aspects of this show is the continual theme of “how far will they go to save their people?” That doesn’t go away and is heightened as the season begins and in new ways. It becomes more complicated than pulling a lever and killing hundreds of people. It’s personal. And, choices of the past become choices of the present. The greater nuclear threat changes the emotional journey of watching the show. While there’s anxiety about whether characters will live or die, that’s not the major emotional pull over these first few episodes. Instead, it’s about the difficult decisions the characters have to make, which sometimes to run counter to their moral code.
For longtime fans of The 100, the new season finds viewers rewarded with a deeper look at the characters, including what drives them and what it takes to have them make unexpected and sometimes questionable decisions. Their pasts determine their future for good or bad. Yet even with all the unrest happening, there are several lighthearted and personal moments that showcase human connections. Despite the troubles, deaths, and discord, humanity is at its best during personal moments of love and friendship. From romance to heart-to-heart talks to friendly support, The 100 includes these seamlessly into the overall story and will bring joy into your heart and tears to your eyes.
Rating: ★★★★ Very good — Damn fine television
The 100 Season 4 premieres Wednesday, February 1st on The CW.