“The 100” Season 4 Recap: Hits and Misses

Although we’ve yet to receive word on a release date, we do know that season 5 of CW’s hit sci-fi series The 100 will be back in early 2018. Since it’s already been nearly 6 months since the season 4 finale, I finally did my first rewatch of season 4. The first time I watched was when it was on live, and binging the 13 episodes within a few days (and knowing what would happen) allowed me to finally consider the season as a whole. I definitely enjoyed it far more than I remember. Plot progression, character development, and the themes explored were all strong. There were a few issues, but overall season 4 is a very strong contender for best season in a show that already had 3 top notch seasons before it. 

*obvious spoiler alert

Misses 

Riley. Let’s be honest. This guy was the worst. We really gave up the hydro-generator to save him?? Look, I know he went through a lot. I fully recognize the value in showing how people struggle with PTSD after a trauma. The problem is that I am not even slightly invested in Riley. And his “struggles” pretty much always involved totally screwing everybody over. So he sadly just felt like a dead weight. 

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The lowest point of the season for me was the Octavia death fake out. It was obvious from the moment Octavia fell off the cliff that she’d survive, so there was absolutely no tension and it didn’t serve the plot at all. I thought maybe it’d lead to a reconciliation of the Blake siblings, but it ended up feeling like nothing more than a way to fill some scenes of a couple episodes. I’m just relieved it wasn’t dragged out, and Bellamy was reunited with her pretty quickly. 

Hits

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Many viewers were unhappy with the progression of season 4’s plot. For a large part of it, we were essentially going from failed plan to failed plan. The result is that when rewatching the season, you have to sit through about 4 plans that you know are destined not to work. Personally, I think this is brilliant storytelling that puts the audience right alongside the characters. If I felt like I’m losing more and more hope with each failure, imagine how the characters are feeling. As Jaha said, “They thought they were safe. They picked out their bunks, and unpacked. They imagined their futures”. Only to have their hopes for survival blown up, or not work, or be overtaken by Grounders. Season 4 perfectly demonstrated how the world of The 100 mercilessly beats the hope out of its inhabitants, which also allowed the whole DNR plot to feel genuine. Of course some people would give up. After the 3rd time hope was ripped away from me, I can’t say for sure I wouldn’t want to give up, too.

We’ve always known that the natural leaders of the show are Jaha and Kane for the adults, and Bellamy and Clarke for the kids. What this season did remarkably well is explore how they lead. Clarke, for instance, leads by clear logic.  To be fair, she normally is right, but she is terrible at galvanizing people to follow her. Look at how she handled the list for those who could survive on the Ark. 22-100.w710.h473 As Jaha points out, it doesn’t matter how much sense her list makes, comprising of engineers, doctors, and women who could have kids. People will never accept being told they have to die because they’re “not essential”, and Clarke thinking they would is pretty stupid. Clarke needs a publicist, someone to take her brilliant ideas and sell them. This is where her and Bellamy make a great team. Not unlike Kane, Bellamy is a man of the people. He knows how to connect with them, and they love and trust him. For goodness sake he managed to rally a bunch of kids to take on an army of trained killers. His issue, as shown by the hydro-generator and bunker door dilemma, is that his heart is sometimes so big that he can’t make the hard decisions. As “evil” as Clarke seemed for not wanting to open the bunker door, it was a logical choice the guaranteed the survival of her people. Bellamy put on a front that he wanted to open the door because there was room in the bunker for more people, but we all know if Octavia had already been inside he never would have risked her life. Clarke even told Bellamy in the finale that he’s a great leader, but he needs to start using his head. These methods of leadership had certainly been presented in previous seasons, but season 4 took the time to really explore and develop them.

Upon first watch, I couldn’t stand Jasper. Jumping into acid rain, not caring at all about preparing for Praimfaya, happily going into the woods without a chem tent. I figured “there’s no way they’re ever really going to go there”, so all the dumb behavior felt like filler before he inevitably felt better. And then… they went there. In this rewatch, my heart actually broke for Jasper all season, because I realized all the characters were doing exactly what I did: mistaking his clear signs of pain as annoying outbursts for attention, and they were impatient for him just “get over it”, as they assumed he must. And then… he didn’t get over it. You can read more about my thoughts on the Jasper suicide here

Octavia. Octavia as a “skairipa”. Octavia wearing Lincoln’s war paint. Octavia as champion of the final conclave. Octavia as the joiner of clans, and founder of Wonkru. I am here for all of it. 

Murphy crying to Clarke that he loves Emori and would die for her. This is the same character who tried to kill a kid in season 1. That’s all. 

If there is one thing The 100 has always excelled at, it’s making you question every moral you thought to be true by presenting impossible situations. This allows the audience to stay active and engaged in the story, and really think through what they might do:

Should we tell people about Praimfaya and risk panic, or do they have a right to know what is happening? Do we take the hydro-generator home to save us all, or use it now to save 25 children from slavery? How do we choose which 100 Arkadians out of 500 get to survive in the Ark? Is it wrong to forcibly take bone marrow from Luna, the way Mount Weather did to us, if it will lead to a radiation cure? Do we test Nightblood on Emori, and risk her dying a terribly painful death, if it will lead to a radiation cure? Do we open the bunker door and offer to save hundreds of more people, even if it means that most of our people will probably die? 

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The best part of season 4 was the finale. It managed to maintain a steady pace and high intensity, while also finding time for beautiful character moments (Bellamy/Clarke, Monty/Murphy, Octavia/Niylah). The episode wasn’t rushed, but not a single second went to waste. And anytime we get to see Raven in full on badass-save-us-all mode is a good time. But what “Praimfaya” did best is bring everything back full circle. By the time the death wave hits, we are back to the show’s original groups: Grounders, Mountain Men, and Sky People. Except now nearly everyone has been displaced. Grounders have become Mountain Men. One of the Sky People has become a Grounder. And a couple Grounders have become Sky People. Throwing all these characters so far outside their comfort zones, and jumping ahead 6 years, leaves so much room for interesting development and storytelling. So here I am sat by the computer desperately waiting for the season 5 trailer and release date!

What did you think of season 4? And what do you think is coming up in season 5?!

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