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TV Review: The 100 (Season 5)

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Season 5 has to be The 100’s ballsiest season to date. And that, fans of the show will know, is quite a statement.

Rolling right off last year’s cliff-hanger season finale, which jumped six years into the future, the show finds itself once again in an entirely new world. It’s a science-fiction show that has never shied away from drastic reinvention and has always been the better for it: it’s thirteen episodes of impellent action, rich character development and changing dynamics, and as always, a fascinating exploration of the grey – sometimes very close to black – areas people must live in to survive.

As season 4 left her, we re-join Clarke as the sole land survivor of a planet ravaged by Praimfaya – or so we were led to believe; She soon discovers a young nightblood survived the Earth’s second apocalypse, Madi (an excellent Lola Flanery) and takes the young girl under her wing.

From cannibalism, genocide, drug addiction, and human fighting pits, there’s little to slow this bullet of a season. However, that’s not to say this is a purely action or drama-driven vehicle. The complex, difficult, fascinatingly rich characters we’ve seen grow and struggle and whom we’ve fallen in love with, are still the ones fuelling the story rather than being controlled by it.

With the newly reinstated location diversity, the people on the Arc, on the ground, and in the bunker all develop their new rivalries and alliances, remaking their families and by extension their goals and priorities. And so the foundations are laid for new tensions to emerge between our heroes.

Of course, it isn’t just with one another that the characters become at odds. As viewers will recall, season 4 also introduces a new catalyst, in the form of intergalactic mining prisoners who had been frozen in cryosleep for many hundreds of years. Unlike the Arc’s descendants, these are people who were citizens of the old world, and thus feel like they are entitled to the small valley of inhabitable land that remains of a destroyed world.

The principal point of conflict of season 5 therefore becomes this: The descendants of the Arc and the newly arrived mining prisoners must fight for ownership of the valley, and for survival. It’s a dramatic reversal from the first season, as viewers find themselves on the side of those defending their land from intruders. And here is where it becomes evident that the series has come full circle in the most fascinating way possible.

The parallels between this season and the first ensures that every line, every decision, every argument is ripe with commemoration of The 100’s origins. It’s a masterful move that both thrusts the show forward yet does not let it forget its roots. And as a show that lives in a grey and ugly world of moral compromise, credit must be given to the actors who still manage to inspire love and empathy for perpetrators of murder, torture, betrayal and manipulation.

New additions to the ensemble cast not only include Flanery’s Madi, but also one hell of a new antagonist in the leader of the prisoners. Charmaine Diyoza played by the brilliant Ivana Milicevic, is commanding, smart, determined and calculating, and stands as a perfectly adversary for our characters.  

Despite these strong new additions however, season 5 is Octavia Blake’s season. Now the leader of Wonkru, a unification of the different clans trapped in the bunker, Avgeropoulos is a powerful and awe-inspiring force in the role. The six-year jump has been hardest on her, so that her character is barely recognisable to viewers or to those she was separated from, and some of the season’s most interesting scenes are ones where the gaps are gradually filled in explaining how the Octavia the Sky Ripper became Blodreina, leader of Wonkru.

And as the parallels between the first and most recent seasons throw into sharper relief, all our favourite characters have been affected and transformed by their journeys, for better or for worse. That remains the show’s strength, tying the decisions the characters are forced to make for survival into how this affects them at the most fundamental level.

Finally, without giving too much away, the season finale is as pessimistic and gloomy as one would expect, without losing what keeps us watching: the hope that there’s something better coming.


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