When The 100’s fourth season came to a close we were left with plenty of questions. Praimfaya had come and made the Earth unlivable once again, Clarke had been left alone on the ground, Octavia had let 100 members of each Grounder clan into the Second Dawn bunker, and Bellamy and crew had launched themselves into space.
The show’s fifth season recently arrived on Netflix and much like I do every time one of my favorite shows makes its way onto the streaming platform, I binged it in a single sitting.
Strap in everyone, this season got very dark.
During the last five minutes of season four’s finale we fast forward six years and learn that Clarke survived the death wave and has a new friend; a pre-teen named Madi. We also learn that the giant tower built above the bunker collapsed during Praimfaya and trapped Octavia and all of her people underground. In the closing seconds, Clarke sees an unknown ship making its way to the ground.
Season five’s opener explains how we got to that point and what it all means. After escaping Becca’s Island, Clarke confirms that her body is immune to the radiation left by Praimfaya because of her nightblood. Luckily for her sanity, and ours, Wanheda isn’t the only nightblood roaming around the post-post-apocalyptic Earth.
The first time Madi is introduced she tries to murder Clarke with a rock dagger and a bear trap, so you can already assume she’s a solid character addition. Madi is a natural nightblood making her the rightful heir to the flame, which inevitably complicates things. Clarke takes Madi under her wing and they form something similar to a mother and daughter relationship.
That mysterious ship that Clarke saw was actually a transport ship called the Eligius III and we learn that it is filled with very dangerous criminals. If you watch the series you’ll know that if Wanheda sees, Wanheda must kill.
Clarke sees the ship as a threat (rightfully so) and immediately begins picking the newcomers off. Unfortunately, she also underestimates their level of firepower and gets her self caught. The criminal group’s leader is a cunning, levelheaded woman named Colonel Charmaine Diyoza.
Diyoza’s crew had been in ‘cryo-sleep’ for hundreds of years and was pretty surprised to come back to an inhabitable Earth, which is where Clarke comes in. In return for information about what happened to the world, Diyoza agrees to have her crew remove the rubble blocking the bunker’s entrance and spare Madi’s life.
If she had known who and what was going to escape that bunker, she probably wouldn’t have agreed to that deal. Luckily for us fans, The 100 is at its best when there is a conflict that is seemingly impossible to resolve. This season achieves that and then some.
When Octavia won the tournament at the end of last season she became the Commander, or Heda, of every clan. When she decided to allow 100 members from each clan to live in the bunker with Skaikru, she abolished the idea of 13 individual clans and created ‘Wonkru’. Of course, she didn’t account for Praimfaya burying the exit of the bunker under thousands of tons of rubble.
When word gets out that they’re probably trapped in the bunker forever, panic sets in across every clan’s people. Thankfully, Octavia is a badass of a leader and is able to get everyone in line by murdering anyone who makes themselves an enemy of Wonkru.
In order to reduce the population to a more survivable number after its understood that no one’s leaving, Octavia creates a fight-pit based justice system. Those who break the law are thrown into the pit with other ‘enemy’s of Wonkru’ and the crowd decides whether or not the last combatant standing deserves a second chance.
Remember when I said things got pretty dark? After the fight pits are established we also learn that the crops that are supposed to keep them alive in the bunker are rotting and they’ll soon have no source of protein.
Let’s think, what’s another source of protein that they could possibly use to survive. You guessed it, cannibalism. Not only does Octavia begin to feed her people the meat from the losers of the fight pit, she also kills every person who refuses to eat.
In one particularly disturbing scene, Octavia goes person by person and commands them to take bites of the pink, gelatinous cubes of human flesh. Every person who refused to eat was shot in the head. We eventually learn that this is why the sixth year in the bunker was referred to as the ‘Dark Year’ all season.
“All of me for all of you.”
While many people think that Octavia becomes so dark that she is unlikable, I thought that the development of her character was one of the more intriguing aspects of the season. Plus, the show’s writers do an incredible job of taking us by the hand and describing each step of her descent into darkness. All hail Blodreina.
After Octavia and her cannibals escape the bunker, thanks to Diyoza, war breaks out between the two groups pretty quickly.
Much like every season of The 100, it’s hard to say who the real antagonist is. Diyoza and her murderer’s row are occupying Shadow Valley, the only livable area of Earth, and are partial to the idea of sharing. Octavia and her loyal army of cannibals absolutely refuse to share and are actively seeking an excuse to fight. I believe Kane says it best when he’s pondering the options of siding with “a monster or the devil.”
However, the main villain of the season is a man named Paxton McCreary, the murderous leader of the men on Eligius III prior to Diyoza’s take over. McCreary eventually re-establishes leadership after violently overthrowing Diyoza, despite the fact that she is carrying his child.
While the main conflict between the two groups plays itself out there are almost too many internal struggles to keep up with. Clarke has always been the leader who would do absolutely anything to ensure the survival and happiness of her people. During the six years alone on Earth’s surface, Madi became Clarke’s people.
Throughout season five we see a new side of Clarke. She no longer sees herself as the protector of Skaikru and betrays them on multiple occasions. When Clarke learns that Madi is the rightful Commander and a threat to Octavia, she sees no reason to stick around and keep her ‘daughter’ in danger. Clarke still loves the original members of the 100 that she landed on Earth with (Bellamy, Monty, Harper) and we can see her struggle with that for most of the season.
Speaking of Clarke’s family, her mother is one of the weakest points of the season. Due to the side effects of Alie being removed from her conscious, Abigail becomes addicted to pain medication. Her drug addiction causes a rift between herself and Kane and creates a new blossoming friendship with a psychopathic serial killer. Truthfully, I’ve never liked Abby’s character and this season wasn’t any better. Eventually she gets off of the drugs, but not before her murderous new friend, unfortunately, gets his hands on Kane, which also sucked.
Every character that escaped into space during Praimfaya had an excellent season. Every one of them matured significantly during their time working together in space and they all contributed to the story. Bellamy is no longer the hothead who rebels against authority. He’s a calm, thoughtful leader who fights for what he believes is right, even if that means going against his dear sister.
Bellamy and Octavia butt heads constantly. He realizes early on that his sister is gone and the person that remains needs to be dealt with. This tragic power struggle between siblings is amazing to watch.
Echo brings another unique aspect to the show. She’s essentially a Grounder who spent more than half of a decade inside of a spaceship with people who grew up in space. Echo becomes completely assimilated and has the technological training of someone from Skaikru but the ruthlessness and combat skill of a Grounder. When Echo gets back to the ground Octavia commands that she remains exiled, despite the relationship she has with Bellamy.
Monty and Harper play an enormous role in the new season and are actually the ones who take us into season six. While he’s one of the quieter characters from The 100, Monty’s agricultural skills are what keep our favorite characters alive. He’s one of the only people to stand up to Octavia and the only one to find a peaceful solution between Wonkru and Diyoza’s conflict. We won’t be seeing Monty and Harper in the next season, but they’ll be remembered in a big way.
Octavia’s bloodlust eventually leads Wonkru into an unwinnable battle and the criminals, under McCreary’s new rule, slaughter most of them. It takes Madi’s acceptance of the flame and inheritance of the role of Commander to rally the troops and defeat the enemy. However, before Wonkru can celebrate, McCreary drops a nuclear bomb from space and forces everyone back into orbit.
Much like Octavia allowing Grounders into the bunker, the surviving criminals are allowed to join Wonkru in their spaceship and they escape before the nuke can exterminate what’s left of the human race. It was supposed to take years for Earth to recover, but luckily the ship’s cryo-sleep technology was still operational.
Monty and Harper choose to live out their lives while the others hibernate and wait out Earth’s revitalization. Unfortunately after 10 years of waiting Monty sees that McCreary did more damage than they had previously thought and that Earth isn’t coming back. He begins to hack into Eligius III’s internal files and finds that the ships real mission was to find another planet suitable for human life.
Season 5 ends with a completely mind-blowing sequence. Bellamy and Clarke are the first to wake up from their slumber. They are immediately greeted by an unknown face, which introduces himself as Monty and Harper’s son. The newcomer explains that it took 50 years for Monty to crack into Eligius’ secret mission files and another 75 years to reach the intended destination. Yup, they were asleep for 125 years and they’re about to land on a completely new planet.
The 100’s writers did an astonishing job of completely clearing the slate and giving themselves the freedom to go in absolutely any direction they want. With the radioactive, barren, wasteland called Earth out of the picture, our characters are going to encounter an entirely new set of challenges. This will keep the show fresh and avoid repetitive, forced conflicts.
It’s going to be fun seeing what direction the show takes. Madi is going to be the leader of Wonkru, but how will they interact with the original crewmembers of Eligius III. What’s going to be waiting for them on the ground of this new planet? If it’s habitable for a human who is to say that there isn’t an advanced civilization already established on its surface? If there aren’t any advanced forms of life, what kind of dangerous wildlife is going to be lurking in the shadows? How will they cultivate edible food without Monty’s help?
There are so many questions that need to be answered, but that’s what makes this show so enjoyable. I can’t wait for season six to begin, but I’ll still probably wait for it to be on Netflix before I start my binge.
Photo Credit: CW