The 100 - Wanheda: Part One - Season 3 Premiere Review + POLL: "Time To Ask The Hard Questions" By Jimmy (January 22, 2016, 12:15 pm)
It's been a long wait, but the night has finally arrived. CW's The 100 has returned to the small screen for its third season, and the first episode of the two part season premiere gave us a pretty good initial glimpse into the evolution the series is undergoing at the hands of showrunner Jason Rothenberg.
Rothenberg, as he's done for all previous premieres and finales to date, wrote the script for "Wanheda: Part One", with his right hand man, Dean White, in the director's chair.
The third season is typically when we see most television series attempt to spread their wings, forge new connections, and deviate away in varying degrees from the formula which has paid dividends thus far. It's a tough time for the creative team and fans alike, and The 100 is one of many shows in the last 5 years or so which arrived on the scene touting a formula or storyline which looked great upfront, but was hard to see lasting beyond the first couple of seasons.
The importance of Season 3's two part premiere, and last season's two part finale cannot be understated. The original storylines The 100 established in its first season have now run their course. The Ark is no more, the Grounders are no longer the threat they once were, and Mount Weather has fallen. So how does the creative team move on with what is essentially a new storyline with the same characters?
Let's take a look at what we saw first in the premiere. The creative team are clearly betting heavily on the 'City of Light', which is where we re-established contact with Murphy initially. It's where we also first learn where we are in time - the events we saw where Murphy found himself trapped in the containment unit, and nearly culminated in his suicide, took place in a window just shy of three months in length. Richard Harmon gave the hour's standout performance in my book, in this scene alone.
While locked inside the containment unit, Murphy saw a video depicting the day Alie the avatar - who was first seen in last season's finale - was introduced to her real life inspiration, Becca. Three words from the avatar are of substantial importance, and provide a great deal of insight into how the characters we see today ended up in the circumstances they find themselves in. See the final sentence of this dialog between Becca and Alie:
My core command is to make life better. And how would you do that? By fixing the root problem. What is the root problem, Alie? Too many people.
Eventually, Murphy was somehow freed, and he followed a drone to the mansion where Jaha had ended up three months prior. After being knocked out cold by Jaha, he woke up, clean, shaven and clothed. He met Alie for the first time, and an exchange between himself, Jaha and Alie added further background to the dialog above:
Ok, you do know she is the one who launched the bombs that ended the world, right? Wrong. She didn't end the world. She saved it.
The third and final scene in this seemingly alternate universe to the rest of the characters saw Jaha and half-monster-half-man, Gideon, prepare to leave on a small boat. Jaha hands Murphy a gem-like object which he claims will let him get to the City of Light. However he also offered even more information on the existence and purpose of Alie:
We converted a nuclear warhead into a power source. With the added power, Alie was able to complete the work she began with her creator 100 years ago.
More on this later, because plenty more happened in this season premiere.
Three months has done a world of good for the former residents of the ill-fated Ark. With Mount Weather no longer a threat, and a truce in place with the Grounders, Camp Jaha - now named Arkadia. has undergone a significant transformation. The population can be seen gardening and building, and a much more relaxed leadership thanks chiefly to Abby and Kane makes life seem much more livable than it once was, especially when the original members of the 100 first made landfall.
Bellamy and Lincoln are first up for a rendezvous. A demonstrative sparring session with between the pair is cut short when Bellamy has to report to the map room. A consistent sight in this episode is the elevated status and respect Bellamy, Monty, Raven and Octavia have with Kane and Abby in particular. Bellamy made a rather interesting speech to the students who watched him and Lincoln fight, and has picked up a new girlfriend, Harper, during the hiatus.
Jasper's luck with the ladies hasn't been as good. Still reeling from Maya's death in Mount Weather, he's spent more time comatose than sober, it seems. Octavia now lives a life quite different to her peers, She sleeps alone outside the Arkadia walls, and instead of riding in the off-roader with Bellamy, Raven, Jasper, Miller and Monty, rides a horse on the group's expedition to Sector 7.
An alarm inside the off-roader tips the group off to the presence of a Farm Station beacon in nearby Sector 8, which is inhabited by Ice Nation, a force that could be described as the next difficulty level up from the Grounders and Mount Weather. Protocol is inevitably broken by the group and they opt to locate the beacon in the hope of finding further Ark survivors.
It's not long until we meet this mysterious new force. Octavia takes the role of lead negotiator, but for the second time in a season premiere, Jasper is on the receiving end of an injury after he snatches the beacon from one of the Ice Nation scouts. A shootout ensues, breaking the agreed truce, but not before the Ice Nation scouts reveal who they are hunting.
While the others fall back to get medical assistance for Jasper, Monty and Bellamy meet up with Indra and Kane. They reveal Clarke is being hunted by everyone. She is Wanheda.
We'll catch up with Clarke in a moment, but this is the first real taste we get of the substantially increased role politics plays in this new season. Second to the City of Light storyline, the political arena is the next largest playing card Rothenberg and his creative team are backing in season 3. More on that later too.
The first contact we have with Clarke is out in the forest, where she lures a black panther to a tethered rodent. A black cat typically symbolizes darkness, which is reflective of Clarke's state of mind following the events inside Mount Weather. She's lucky to escape the ensuing struggle better off with only a few claw marks gouged into her left shoulder.
Your fight is over.
We then get a glimpse of what Clarke has been up to in her three months spent alone. She drags the dead panther to a trading post operated by Niylah. The unkept, blood red hair, the muddy face and scarred clothing suggests her time outdoors hasn't been easy. The chemistry between Clarke and Niylah is hard to fault, and we see the pair take things a step further after Niylah tends to Clarke's wounds.
The ending we saw in this episode was particularly well done. The dying seconds sees Clarke leave the trading post in the middle of the night, only to be snatched by a member of the Ice Nation who lay in wait for her. You'll be seeing plenty of Roan in the next few weeks. Moments earlier, Indra, Kane and Bellamy were boxed in by unknown assailants. Murphy and Jaha continue to traverse the body of water they are on, and Jasper loses his cool inside Arkadia, with Abby and Raven intervening.
Let's return to Murphy and Jaha, and the City of Light.
We now know two major things. One: Alie was created prior to 'the bombs being dropped' and was inspired by a real person. Her solution to making life better was to solve what she perceived to be the root problem, which was that there were 'too many people'. Murphy accused Alie of dropping these bombs, but this was contradicted by Jaha, who believes Alie saved the world instead.
Two: The mansion where Alie resided, and where Jaha spent his three months, is not the City of Light. In the final seconds of the Season 2 finale, we see Alie showing Jaha an unexploded nuclear warhead. In this episode, Jaha said to Murphy that they had managed to turn that warhead into a nuclear power source so Alie was able to complete work she began a century prior. We are yet to find out what this work actually is, along with what - or where - the City of Light is.
From the Season 2 Finale "Blood Must Have Blood: Part Two"
I'm all for television series developing solid back stories. They add significant depth and intelligence to any storyline, so I'm looking forward to perhaps learning a little bit more about the series of events that resulted in The Ark becoming the last resort it was. But is the City of Light storyline, which comes bundled with this back story be a bit too much? Could the precious time this unravelling storyline takes up become a burden because it becomes something so far fetched that it becomes annoying? It's the one part of the series that doesn't mesh together as well as its other components. I'm willing to run with it for now, but my gut tells me that the success of this storyline hinges on it achieving something which benefits everyone on the ground. Whether that does in fact happen remains to be seen.
Onto the politics. It's a nagging issue that I'm not overly thrilled with at this point. Is it really necessary for the creative team to bring in a new set of potential enemies and allies, hierarchies and structures when we've already seen that to a degree in this series, along with many other series like it? In other series I've followed, the introduction of a more complex political structure alters the shape of the story significantly. Instead of being shaped like a deep lake with a smaller surface area, the limited volume of water is becoming shallower, but much wider. Things are spreading out. There's more characters, more new lands and territories, and the core story that's made this series so good could be in danger of losing its depth and focus That's the absolute last thing I want to happen with this awesome series.
These concerns aren't enough to cause much of a downgrade to the score "Wanheda: Part One" deserves. I loved the renewed, refreshed focus the characters had. A time jump was the right call here. The acting performances were as good as we've seen. Eliza Taylor and Bob Morley look rearing to go this season, though Richard Harmon was a cut above them this time round. Dean White's directing (his first of five episodes in the chair this season) and the cinematography was excellent as always. The costume, hair and makeup team behind this show continues to pull of some amazing stuff, with the Ice Nation characters and Clarke's more rugged appearance breaking new ground for sure.
The 100 is back. It's getting bigger, but it needs to continue getting better. With the series' original storylines now having run their course, their replacements need to stay true to what's gone before while ensuring things don't become too complex and far-fetched. This two part premiere will go a long way in terms of making or breaking this third season, and the hard questions need to be asked because now is not the time to miss the mark. Politics and the City of Light have some serious investment from the showrunners. They're two bets I'd love to see pay off.
Thanks so much for reading! Jump in the comments below to share your thoughts and theories, and vote in our poll below to tell us what you thought of "Wanheda: Part One". There's tons more that I haven't covered in-depth in this review so please do join the discussion! Look out for a preview of next week's episode in the next few days!
About the Author - Jimmy Ryan
Jimmy Ryan lives in New Zealand, and works in the IT industry. He is an avid follower of drama television and has a keen interest for television ratings and statistics. Some of his favorite shows right now are Person of Interest, Scandal, House of Cards, Orphan Black, Mr. Robot, Suits, The 100, How To Get Away With Murder, Elementary and Castle. You can visit his television ratings website, www.seriesmonitor.com or follow him on Twitter, @SeriesMonitor.