The 100 Review: “From The Ashes”

The 100 -- "From The Ashes" -- Image Number: HU701A_0138r.jpg -- Pictured: Eliza Taylor as Clarke -- Photo: Colin Bentley/The CW -- © 2020 The CW Network, LLC. All rights reserved.

Well, ladies and gentleman, we’re officially back for our seventh and final season of The 100. This is the last premiere we’re ever going to have, the last time we as a fandom can come together and freak out over the things that we love and rip to shreds the things that we didn’t. It’s very bittersweet.

‘From The Ashes’ is the kick-off to a final season that should be dedicated to wrapping up loose ends, repairing relationships, and act as a love letter for the fans who have stood by the show and it’s rag-tag team of characters through thick and thin for the last six years. If the premiere episode is any indication this is going to be the opposite of that. While there were some stand-out moments the majority of the episode felt a lot more like throwing a lot of ideas to the wall to open up more questions instead of answering the ones we still have in play-something that a show in its final trajectory who has a bad habit of stalling mid-way through the season can’t really afford to do. Especially not if you take in to consideration that while The 100 has been granted three more episodes this season (allowing them to complete the series at 100 episodes, thank you Mark Pedowitz), one of those is already lost to the backdoor pilot of The 100 spin-off instead of focusing on the characters which we already know and are attached to.

If you’re unfamiliar with my reviews, here’s how it goes: I usually break things down in to four categories: things I loved, things I was meh about, things I didn’t like, and honorable mentions. I care about this show a lot and because I care, I can be critical. I know the potential that The 100 has and all I want is for that potential to not only be realized, but to be executed. Can a final season please everyone? No. But that doesn’t mean that it can’t be great. And this kick-off I’m sad to say was a bit lackluster compared to other season premieres from this show. So, let’s dive in, shall we?

[This review contains spoilers for the ‘From The Ashes’ episode of The 100.] 

The 100 Review: ‘From The Ashes’
Season 7, Episode 1 | Airdate: May 20, 2020
Directed by: Ed Frainman | Written by: Jason Rothenberg

Things I Loved

Clarke Griffin: Despite a little hiccup of somehow forgetting Madi did actually have a birth mother (it’s okay, babe, we forget sometimes too), Clarke Griffin was in fine form this episode. She is doing her best to live by the motto ‘do better’ after losing her mother at the end of season six. So much so that she’s pushing her grief down, ignoring it, and despite Madi’s best efforts, not talking about it. Clarke pulled the lever that sent her mothers body out in to outer space even if her mother was not currently occupying it. Clarke tells herself (and others) that it’s okay because the woman that she floated was not her mother. Valid, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that Clarke isn’t feeling some guilt from her decision.

While she’s taking a conceal don’t feel approach to life she does manage to have some time to relax. In the beginning of the episode we see that she and a handful of other familiar faces have taken up residence in a lovely little yellow farmhouse (and Picasso comes with it!) that Russell had built for Simone to remind her of her family home on Earth, before the bombs. They even manage to take a little time out to have a picnic where they toast to friends, old and new, and their dearly departed. After a little hiccup of Jackson snarling at Murphy that he’s the reason that Abby is dead, Clarke tries to ease Murphy’s feelings of guilt.

Just because Clarke and gang have a cool looking new pad doesn’t mean that the problems of Sanctum have just disappeared. Thanks to a little ‘in case you missed it’ exposition via Indra (and here is where I inject in that Adina Porter is amazing and she has brought a new level of sass and quip to Indra this season) we are reminded that Sanctum is home to both believers and non-believers in the Primes as well as the Children of Gabriel, and now also the rest of the forever sleeping convicts of Eligius that Clarke has awakened to help build a new compound for ‘Wonkru.’ A compound that should be built in two years if everything goes perfectly, so three years. The first thing Indra notes when they see the different factions of people milling about Sanctum is that there are too many people to which Raven responds, “Good thing A.L.I.E’s not around.” Foreshadowing, anyone?

So, yes. Clarke now has to deal with these warring people with different beliefs as well as the fact that the remaining actual members of ‘Wonkru’ believe that Madi is still the Commander and still has the Flame in her head (when she doesn’t), what ejecting the Flame from Madi while she’s still alive (something that hasn’t ever been done before) will mean and what effects it will have on her are, and the little matter of what to do with Russell. While Clarke originally takes the stance of not wanting an eye for an eye in regards to the former Prime, in the end, he goads her out of her fragile Zen state and she becomes the literal definition of ‘maybe she snapped.’ While giving Russell a (rather deserved) beating Clarke accidentally sets the palace on fire. And now that her chill is officially gone, she stops people from trying to put the fire out and declares that enough is enough and Russell will burn for his mistakes. Is living for hundreds of years via technology, killing people, taking over their bodies, and convincing people you’re a god really a mistake? Regardless, Clarke would have been number one on this loved list for her slo-mo walk down the stairs while the palace burns behind her alone. And also her sarcasm to Murphy (“At least until they kill you!”) was a delight as well. We love a sassy tv leading lady. Step on my neck, ma’am.

Bellamy Blake*: Who’s doing it like Bob Morley? Literally nobody. Who else can take a measly forty-seconds of screen-time and make it so memorable? ‘From The Ashes’ picks up exactly where the season six finale left off with Bellamy screaming for Octavia who has been taken by the anomaly. As Bellamy is staring at his bloody hands and crying (*sob*) some mysterious invisible force ghost comes and knocks him on his ass. A couple of times, actually. And because that’s not enough, these same force ghosts go ahead and drag him face down through the woods while he’s unconscious. And that’s the last we see of Bellamy but you know what? Nobody cries like Bob so he deserves number two.

Roan: Hiiiiiiiiii, King! What a pleasant surprise! Maybe it’s because I’m the worst and don’t pay attention when names flash on the screen for guest stars but I did indeed gasp out loud when Zach McGowan took to the screen once more as King Roan of Azgeda. Of course, he was a product of Echo being so close to the anomaly which as we know generates your deepest fears and desires. And man, does Roan drag the absolute mess out of her. The first little hint that we have that something is amiss is a very softly spoken “Once a coward, always a coward.”

And that was just the beginning of Echo’s self-loathing monologue via Roan/real!Echo.

“Without Bellamy, who will you follow?”

“Without someone to follow who are you?”

“Answer the question, Ash. A girl who killed her only friend and stole her name?”

“An honorless spy who would do anything for her queen? Even betray the man she now claims to love?”

Like….OOF. That’s some serious self-doubt about who you are as a person and also about the integrity of your relationship there, Echo. And if you think back to Emori’s words in season six while under the effects of the red sun toxin, it would seem she’s not the only one who thinks so. Fans would also be wise to keep these words in mind in up-coming episodes.

The 100 — “From The Ashes” — Image Number: HU701A_0094r.jpg — Pictured (L-R): Jarod Joseph as Miller, Shannon Kook as Jordan Green, Adina Porter as Indra and Eliza Taylor as Clarke — Photo: Colin Bentley/The CW — © 2020 The CW Network, LLC. All rights reserved.

Jordan: Just the fact that in one episode Jordan already has more screen-time than he did in season six is a huge A+. Shannon Kook is an excellent actor and utilizing him more is a wise decision. Jordan has become close with the believers in Sanctum. And after a talk with Russell we learn that our fears of him drinking the kool-aid were unfounded. He knows that Russell is just a man, one who lost his way. That being said, Jordan did see something during that weirdo ritual last season. Something that Russell has also seen, something that haunted him, something that he built Sanctum’s image in, and something he claims is now Jordan’s cross to bear. We, of course, can’t really get a good look at just what the something is. The angle of the shadow on the floor is just a bit too far off and then when it looks like we might actually be getting a clear look, they blur the image and insert some anomalies. It could be the anomaly because we know that he and Gabriel spent years trying to research them before Russell gave up while Gabriel remained obsessed. But how is the anomaly “a bigger truth than ourselves?” At the very least, it’s the tease of what could potentially be interesting.

Regardless, Jordan took two leaps of faith this episode which turned out to have been fruitless. First, when he gave Russell Priya’s mind-drive and Russell smashed it and second when he convinced the other believers to let Clarke in to see Russell after they had created a diversion to be the ones to guard his door and she ended up burning down the palace. Oops?

Russell: This has less to do about Russell and more to do with the fact that JR Bourne is still a snack and still so talented and I love that his little gold face-paint stuff was still on his face. Other than that it’s a matter of “Am I supposed to feel sorry for this bitch because I don’t!” type of situation. Maybe it’s because he’s constantly goading Clarke by saying he would kill her given the opportunity and how he should have killed Madi when he had the chance. Maybe it’s because he’s not eating or sleeping in an effort to die because “HE NEEDS DEATH!” (which we now know means he wants to die and not that he wants revenge). Also, seriously. How does time work on this show? If Octavia getting sucked in to the anomaly and Bellamy being kidnapped is at the same time as everything Clarke is doing and it’s the literal same day as the season six finale then how does Jordan being concerned that Russell isn’t eating or sleeping make any sense at all? Anyway. After Russell was knocked out by Clarke he woke up in the mind-drive and there’s the dark commander. Which again. Can someone explain that to me? How did he get in to Russell’s drive? We know he was uploaded to the computer and disappeared somewhere but how did he end up there of all places? Either way, doesn’t matter because regardless Sheidheda is now parading around as Russell. I guess we’ll see how that goes.

The Meh Things

Hope/Gabriel/Echo: Listen. I wasn’t not interested, so let’s clear that up. It’s just that every single time they came on to the screen I kept thinking that eventually it would cut away to Bellamy so we could see where he was and what was happening with him. And because I was constantly thinking I was about to see Bellamy and never did these three just didn’t get as much of my attention as they should have. In fact, it’s a good thing I watched a second time because there was a lot I missed in my “Where’s Bellamy?” anticipation.

First, welcome to newcomer Shelby Flannery. She already is proving that she can hang pretty well with the rest of the cast, talent wise. Hope wakes up when the anomaly has receded and (thanks to Gabriel) we realize that this is what’s causing her memory loss. She doesn’t know who Octavia or Diyoza are but she does remember some of her fighting moves as she kicks Gabriel’s ass and runs away.

Meanwhile, Echo sees Bellamy being dragged away by nothing and then proceeds to get her ass kicked by the same nothing when she tries to chase after them. Gabriel rushes to tell Echo and Bellamy (who he is quickly informed has been taken towards the anomaly) that Hope has already escaped and then what happens next? Well, he gets his ass kicked too. It’s just an ass kicking kinda day, apparently.

When we catch up with Hope she takes a moment to inspect her injured arm and notices that something is inserted in to her arm: a small vial with a tiny note inside. The note itself is covered in anomaly symbols and on the other side it says “Trust Bellamy.” Good advice for us all, to be honest. If only she would have had the opportunity to follow it.

Echo and Gabriel catch up with Hope (is her attacking them from behind a tree considered catching up?) and the three decide to work together to try and rescue Bellamy and begin running towards the anomaly. As the mysterious invisible people shoot at them with their ray guns we discover that they aren’t actually attempting to shoot them but instead just keep them back. Night falls, Echo has her previously mentioned anomaly vision, and when she shoots at the moving particles (that Roan and Real Echo were covering) the invisible people are revealed! And they’re very sci-fi looking with their sleek suites and mildly frightening helmets. We see via the helmets screen that there are orders for Gabriel and Echo to “Capture, Don’t Kill, Rendtion to Bardo.” while the left side of the screen lets us know that Bellamy Blake’s status is: Captured. Poor Hope though is being ordered to kill on sight. Rude. But, Echo is able to take out the last surviving (of this bunch) formerly invisible person and the three make their way, hand in hand, in to the anomaly.

That being said, my question would be, why didn’t they take Echo and Gabriel at the beginning of the episode when they were also taking Bellamy? We’re assuming that his orders were to be captured as well. And they were right there getting knocked on their asses too. Furthermore, why shoot at them to keep them back from the anomaly/going after Bellamy if you were supposed rendition them anyway? Were they small fry and Bellamy the main goal? Were they supposed to be captured at a later date? Is there a capturing schedule? Are certain people supposed be captured by a specific person and they were just off that day? So many questions.

The Thing I Didn’t Like

Madi’s Dress: Yes, it’s shallow and inconsequential but I said what I said. It’s completely shapeless and in such a blinding white that you’re literally hitting the audience over the head with the fact that we’re supposed to ignore the fact that Lola Flanery is growing up and in to a little lady instead of still being a little girl. Message received. But also, please give her better clothes? That was just horrible.

Murphy’s Treatment of the Waitress: Murphy is going through it, guys. He is feeling the full effects of his guilt about his role in Abby’s death and is doing what he does best: drinking. He is also pretending to be Daniel Prime while Emori is pretending to be his sister Kayleigh. Nothing like a little faux incest to spice up a relationship.

That being said while he’s sitting in the tavern in all of his self-loathing and drinking, his waitress, a clear Believer, attempts to honor him and refill his cup. A cup which he yanks away and purposefully lets her pour the drink all over the counter, something that sends her in to a panic because, as a Believer, she clearly thinks she has now disrespected her God. My man, have your self-loathing, but treat your waitstaff better? It’s a timeless and universal rule. Obey it.

Now, he does attempt to reassure her meaning that he was about to blurt out to the entire tavern that he was, in fact, not Daniel before Raven intervened and stopped him. And a good thing too because just minutes later an all-out brawl erupts between the Believers, the non-Believers, and the Children of Gabriel as Clarke, Indra, and ‘Wonkru’ are attempting to relocate Russell for his own safety. Credit where credit is due, however, because i was very impressed with the walk and shouting at the masses that Murphy did. Even more impressed that all of Emori’s studying on Kayleigh paid off and when she tells the Believers of Sanctum that they can trust ‘Wonkru’ because, “After all, we are one.” they all calm down and disperse.

Bellamy Blake*: 40 seconds of your male lead in the premiere episode of your final season is a choice. An unacceptable one at that. Even if the characters didn’t know what was going on the audience was at least deserving of a little clip showing something. The lack of promotion for Bellamy partnered with the less than a minute of screen-time certainly seems to be the thing on a lot of the audiences mind, to a distracting degree actually. And it would be one thing if the promo was centered around creating a blatantly obvious mystery of #WhereIsBellamyBlake but considering that was a fan created hashtag and not a network created hashtag one has to wonder, just how long is this ~mystery~ of his whereabouts going to last?

Honorable Mentions

“None of this makes any sense but my God it’s incredible”: Tell me this isn’t Jason Rothenberg patting himself on the back with this story-line. Do it, I dare you.

Jordan knowing what it’s like to lose his family 100 years ago and yesterday all at the same time: I don’t necessarily think that this is going to lead to anything else but I did think it was a beautiful reminder of just what Jordan has been through. It’s easy to forget that he went to sleep in cryo with his parents still alive and well and when he woke up what felt like minutes later, a long time had passed and his parents were gone. Also, just typing that hits me in the gut with how much I miss Monty and Harper. Excuse me whilst I weep for a few minutes.

Nelson: While talking to Clarke about Sanctum being the Children of Gabriel’s home as much as it is the others, Nelson said, “This is our home too. We were thrown out like garbage.” Which, if intended, is a nice parallel to the 100 being sent to the ground from the only home they knew, the Ark, because they were expendable. They too were thrown out like garbage because of decisions outside of their control by the powers that be. Also, shout-out to Nelson for not tattling on Murphy and Emori pretending to be Primes.

Infinity Symbols: It’s not like this show is a stranger to the infinity symbol, it pops up everywhere. But something about the black symbols against the red background of the Believer’s clothes as they were praying outside of Russell’s door struck me as significant.

Clarke’s Sobbing Apology: Again, I’m not 100% sure if it was intentional or if it’s just Eliza’s acting choices and voice infliction but as she’s clutching Abby’s clothes to her face and sobbing out that she’s so sorry, I am immediately transported back to season one. If you’ll remember, Clarke is under the assumption that because she told Wells that Jake had found a problem with the oxygen supply for the Ark that she is the reason her father is being floated. As the lever is being pulled and he’s sucked out in to space she sobs that she is so sorry as Abby wraps her arms around her. It makes sense that Clarke pulling the lever that sucker her mother’s body out in to space would elicit the same reaction: two parents, two levers, two feelings of guilt and dismay. The difference is now, Abby’s not around to wrap her in a hug and give her comfort and it’s a gut punch.

“Seems like another world.”: As Gaia shows Clarke drawings that Madi has done that are of memories not her own we are shown one of Clarke dressed as Wanheda. Gaia says that she would have liked to have been there to witness the night that Wanheda bowed to Heda to which Clarke responds that it seems like another world to her now. Granted, it has been a few hundred years so makes sense. That being said, something about it seemed rather foreshadow-ey. Will they somehow end up back on Earth by the end of the season? Time will tell.

That’s all for this week. Stay tuned to TVSource for upcoming reviews for the final season of The 100 which you can watch on The CW, Wednesday’s, at 9/8c. You can also stream next day on The CW site or app.

Heather Mason
Heather Mason joined the TV Source Magazine team in December 2017 with plans to cover The CW's 100.

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