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The 100 Returns with Retcons, Er “Echoes”

The 100 Season 4 Episode 1 Review, “Echoes”

Content warning: This review discusses attempted suicide as depicted on the show.

When last we left the krus, Clarke had (once again) saved the world by (once again) pulling a lever, but it didn’t really fix things because (once again) crisis looms on the horizon. Only this time it’s something new another nuclear apocalypse! Wait, wasn’t that the origin story for this entire series? Oh well. At least this time, Clarke Griffin is around to take all the blame save the day! Something different! Wait, never mind. That happens every season. Hmmmm, let’s pretend this season is a commentary on climate change. That was totes planned, right? Sure, whatever. Even though none of this makes any sense because there is no way that nuclear reactors would have survived the first nuclear apocalypse, much less 100 years with no humans to control them (except there’s a magical explanation for that! Just wait.).

Suspend your disbelief, Gretchen!

Fine, there. It’s suspended. Let’s get started.

What Happened

One recap later (including the information that they have 6 months to live), cut to Octavia climbing down the outside of Polis Tower to find Indra being taken down from her cross. Indra looks pretty bad. Seriously, is she dying? Either way, she seems glad Octavia killed Pike. Meanwhile, Clarke and Bellamy waltz out the front door of Polis Tower to gaze upon the moaning, lost looking people wandering around the city. They’re trying to decide whether to tell everyone the world is ending (while surrounded by people who could overhear them…).

Bellamy thinks ALIE might be lying, but that they shouldn’t tell people regardless. He’s pretty sure they can survive either way. Clarke thanks him for helping keep her alive, but just when she’s feeling safe, all the Grounders in Polis seem to know that she shut down the City of Light (hereafter CoL). They blame her for all the people who were there being either unconscious or dead (it’s not clear who ends up in which situation, but all the Skaikru peeps are fine).

In Arkadia, Jasper apologizes to Harper, who is totes okay with him smashing her into the wall and pistol whipping her. Raven is still doing her hacker thing and making sure the people from the CoL are okay. Raven is also fine with her pain now because it reminds her she’s alive. And Jasper is really jealous that ALIE ‘upgraded’ her brain but not his even though Raven was the one who literally hosted ALIE’s ‘consciousness’ for a while. Whatever.

Everyone else magically got down from Polis Tower and the adults (Abby and Kane) are worried about the Grounders turning on them. Raven contacts Bellamy to ask how everyone is doing (Good job remembering people Raven). Surprise! Roan is alive somehow. Echo attacks Clarke and seems to be the one in charge. She doesn’t want Abby to save Roan. She lets Clarke go (for some reason) and then blames Skaikru for everything bad that’s happened because she speaks for Azgeda now (for some reason). Oh and she’s apparently one of the queensguard, and claims Polis for Azgeda. Some of the Grounders try to stand up to her but get killed.

Jaha tries to help a Grounder and gets spit on. He seems hurt by it, but like, what did you expect dude? You were the literal villain last season. Murphy tells him to float himself (again, understandable). He resigns himself to clearing up dead bodies.

Pictured: Jaha at work.

Emori has to leave Polis because she’s Trikru, and we finally learn why she took the chip: Jaha promised to take her to Murphy. Murphy wants to take her to Arkadia. (Apparently this is the Grounder/Skaikru romance we’re supposed to care about this season; I actually don’t mind, they’re cute. Fingers crossed Emori doesn’t die.) She agrees to go with him. There’s definitely a way in/out of Polis Tower because Skaikru has now holed themselves up inside the temple. Kane and Abby (Kabby) gets a nice romantic beat. Clarke looks constipated? Confused? Resigned? I’m not sure.

Indra and Octavia show up to join Kabby and Clarke (why?). They all consider handing over the flame to Azgeda, but Clarke says it won’t help. Abby picks up on Clarke not telling them something and Clarke admits that the world is ending. Bellamy is still skeptical about ALIE; Clarke believes her. Clarke advises surrendering to the Grounders.

Cut to Jaha carrying a linen wrapped body he claims is Ontari to Echo, who has him beaten in thanks. In case we’d forgotten that all Grounders are inherently violent. Echo learns that Skaikru is surrendering and goes to meet with them, but will only talk to Bellamy. Jaha tells Kane that “it worked, she’s in” , and we see Octavia cutting open the linen cloth. She was the ‘dead body’! Ngl, that was actually a good con. She kills a bunch of Azgeda to let Clarke and Abby in to save Roan. It is roughly late afternoon outside, which you need to know because…

After the commercial break it’s suddenly pitch dark. Murphy/Emori are trying to sneak out of Polis. Finding out about Pike being killed must have revived her because Indra is looking none the worse for the wear and is helping Kane advise Bellamy how to talk to Echo. Kane says offer her anything to keep her occupied, Indra is more cautious. I will say it was super polite of Echo to wait literally hours to talk to Bellamy. Echo apologizes to Bellamy for betraying him by saying she was following orders, which he says won’t cut it.

According to Echo, the CoL was the only thing keeping them from fighting each other (and not, you know, their choices) because not that it’s gone, Skaikru and Azgeda simply must be at odds. Bellamy then gives her the terms: Skaikru surrenders and accepts Azgeda rule so long as Azgeda accepts Skaikru as 13th clan. They’ll even give Azgeda guns! Echo refuses them (why??? these are really reasonable terms???), but also claims “no one wants war” (??).

Back in Roan’s sickroom, Abby and Clarke finally dig out the bullet from Roan’s shoulder (it must have really been in there for it to take hours). In the name of not wanting war, Echo threatens to kill Bellamy if Skaikru doesn’t lay down their guns. Skaikru lays down their guns just as Grounders bust in to Roan’s sickroom. Echo starts to kill Clarke but Roan wakes up just in time to halt it! Whew! That was close. Good thing Clarke has all that Plot Armor to save her from dying at Echo’s hands twice in one day. Roan is supes worried about Ontari, but not so much that he lets Clarke fully explain that Jaha killed her under ALIE’s orders. He also magically forgets that Kane was under ALIE’s control when he shot him. His memory lapse allows him to be really mad at Clarke.

Meanwhile, in Arkadia: Harper/Monty sex! Raven walks in on them and tells them to meet her in engineering because they’re all gonna die (way to ruin the mood Raven). Cut to Jasper listening to sad music, looking at a painting of “The Starry Night”, and sticking a gun to his chin. Murphy knocks on the door, interrupting him, to summon him to engineering. Raven explains that all the nuclear plants in the world were specially built to withstand both a nuclear attack and last exactly 100 years (convenient). Raven also explains that Skaikru could survive yellow radiation levels (current) but they’d all die when it hits red, which is in 6 months. Also, there’s no way to stop it. Jasper laughs because now he doesn’t have to kill himself, the world is going to do it for him (like, this is really aggressive nihilism for an 18 year old).

Back in Polis, Echo offers to ride down all of Skaikru that’s not locked up and warns Roan about appearing weak for not doing so. He proves he’s not weak by pressing a red hot poker to his chest (he’s so hardcore, guys). Echo calls Roan a ‘bargaining chip’ when talking about his exile, which apparently hurt his mom to do. Good thing they established all that antagonist between Nia and Roan last season to make all the sense of this (I don’t know what’s happening). Echo then offers to help Roan rule and tells him how to do it: take out Trikru and Skaikru.

Speaking of Skaikru, they’re all in prison and Clarke is fiddling with the flame and crying. Abby asks her what’s wrong and Clarke tells her she loved Lexa. Abby says she knew (sure, why not). Echo and some Grounders take Clarke captive while Bellamy yells ineffectually. Clarke is taken to the throne room, and Roan is antagonistic for no reason. Clarke warns him another nuclear apocalypse is coming, and that Azgeda needs her help. People are shouting “jus drein, jus daun” outside. Roan says he won’t survive if he lets her live (he’s probably not wrong). She offers him the flame in exchange for her help and Skaikru’s safety. Roan takes it, and announces to everyone that he accepts Clarke’s terms and will keep the flame safe until another nightblood is old enough to become commander.

Echo delivers a cool looking amulet to Bellamy so that he can pass in Azgeda lands safely. She asks if they’ll be able to trust each other and when he says no, she looks sad? (WHY?) Kane tells Bellamy to ‘turn the page’ and move on. Clarke and Bellamy leave to go to Arkadia and help Raven save the world. In the final shot, a couple of Grounders with radiation poisoning wander through a desert in Egypt and are horrifyingly disintegrated by a wave of fire presumably from a nuclear facility melting down.

So……

 

Can we not have a suicide attempt right off the bat followed by a nihilism so aggressive that a teenager is actively happy he’s going to die a horrible death? This is a show aimed at teens ffs.

With that off my chest, on to things that make me less angry. Holy offscreen developments batman! Echo was queensgaurd all along! Roan was reinstated as heir! We know why Emori was chipped! Abby knew Clarke loved Lexa all along! There were Grounders in other countries all along!

It actually is.

It probably seems like I’m nitpicking right off the bat, but these are some really convenient plot points that we had no idea about at the end of last season. Echo being queensguard makes zero sense. Was she Nia’s queensguard? She has to be, because that’s the only Azgeda queen on the show. Ontari wasn’t the queen, she was the commander. But if Echo was Nia’s guard, how did she end up captured by Mt. Weather in S2? Were they poaching on Ice Nation land as well as on Trikru? If not, why wasn’t she guarding Nia? Why are we only hearing about this now? Oh, right, because it gives her the authority to speak for Azgeda and ‘advise’ Roan (i.e., tell him what to do).

Roan’s backstory confused me watching this, especially when Echo called him a “bargaining chip”. I had to go online to look it up and apparently in an interview last year, Rothenberg explained that Lexa made Roan’s banishment a condition of Nia and Azgeda joining the Coalition. Good thing they took the time to explain that on the show instead of just randomly referring to information given outside of show canon.

What makes even less sense is Echo’s utter resistance to making peace with Skaikru. I get it, they’re ‘bitter enemies’ or whatever, but she has the gall to say “No one wants war.” Honey, no. No one is making you fight bb. You could make this war go away if you decided not to fight with Skaikru. It’s that simple. Echo could just not kill Skaikru. Azgeda could let it go. If Echo didn’t want war, she could have literally accepted Skaikru’s super reasonable peace terms. Skaikru was surrendering, offered to acknowledge Azgeda’s rule and give them guns, and the only stipulation was basically “let us join you and don’t kill us”. What else did Echo want? She makes it sound like antagonism between Azgeda and Skaikru is this inevitable force that only the City of Light could stop. But it isn’t? Azgeda could just…I don’t know…not fight Skaikru?

That’s not even the first instance of someone making an inexplicable choice for Plot Reasons. Bellamy’s decision not to tell everyone the world was ending may have staved off panic, but it got them all thrown in jail and almost killed. Because keeping things to himself works out so well for him and his friends. Echo decides not to kill Clarke the first time because…she didn’t want to get her jacket bloody? But then she slits that other lady’s throat so…idk.

I also can’t get over the huge time jump from late afternoon to literally pitch dark. Like, it was at least four hours in between when Echo went to parlay with Skaikru and Kane/Indra sent Bellamy back to talk to her. I guess it took them that long to decide what to say? But it also means it took that long for Abby/Clarke to dig a single bullet out of Roan’s shoulder. They must be rusty with their field surgery? Or maybe Clarke is too busy having triggering flashbacks to the day her lover died. Seriously, who decided to send Clarke in there? And it isn’t as if she was actively helping Abby for all that time. She’s just standing behind her telling her to hurry up.

At least we got to enjoy the “there’s no way down from Polis Tower, it’s all completely blocked” retcon. For real. I couldn’t stop laughing. The first shot of the episode Octavia climbing down the outside of the tower, only for Clarke and Bellamy to waltz out the front door 2 seconds later. What? Why? Why did Octavia have to climb down? Did she just think it was more badass? And speaking of Octavia, I have no idea where this ‘dark assassin turn’ is going to come from. Because right now, she looks pretty cozy with the rest of Skaikru. She seems…not all that mad at Bellamy anymore either. Maybe they had a pep talk/reconciliation off screen.

Speaking of pep talks, it looks like the show really is going full scale “Bellamy is redeemed” with Kane’s “turn the page” moment. I mean, it’s nice that Kane and Bellamy are back to having a mentor/mentee relationships (I always liked that dynamic), but I still can’t get over the aggressive erasure and minimizing of Bellamy’s actions. In an interview just last week, Rothenberg had the gall to call Bellamy’s participation in genocide a “bad decision …he’s maybe made”. What utter tripe. Let Bellamy feel the weight of what he did, let the show acknowledge it. That’s the only acceptable thing to do after an act that heinous. It’s why Bellamy’s self righteous response to Echo’s comment that she was “just following orders” when she betrayed him fell flat. Because Bellamy did far worse and he has yet to acknowledge and truly apologize for it. Much less seek true reconciliation.

Finally, I have to say that the explanation for the nuclear reactors exploding is the most absurd case of plot contrivance I have ever seen. There just happen to be specially made reactors that just happen to have been made to withstand a nuclear apocalypse and just happen to only last 100 years? You’re telling me all the nuclear reactors in the world just happen to have been replaced with these special new reactors three years before the last nuclear apocalypse? Because that’s the only way all of them just happen to be melting down at the exact same time 97 years later. Screw you if you think I’m going to swallow that. It’s stupid.

Why would human beings ever design a nuclear reactor like this? If it can withstand a nuclear apocalypse, why design it with only a hundred year lifespan? Why not make it last indefinitely? It just feels like one of the writers realized there was a plot hole and decided to fill it with the most specific set of details possible. Rather than, say, the most reasonable. Like maybe that these are nuclear reactors that can last indefinitely, but one of them has malfunctioned and the chain reaction is going to cause all the rest of them to explode because they all just happen to be within blast radius distance. It’s still not perfect, but it makes more sense than this.

And if there are other nuclear reactors already exploding in other parts of the world (as we saw in the end), how do they still have 6 months left? That one would be leaking enough radiation to cause problems. Especially if there are other ones in Europe and Asia exploding as well, which we saw in ALIE’s simulation. There were at least four exploding already. 6 months seems remarkably lenient for this many reactors already melting down.

I don’t know what else to say but that it’s this giant game of idiot ball, retconning, and let’s pretend this never happened and the audience has forgotten the context. Very little of this makes sense unless you’re squinting really hard or don’t care about it making sense. Then again, this is from the producer who wants to be the next D&D, so what else can we expect?

I think he feels more about Clarke’s confession of love for Lexa than he does about the 300 Grounders he murdered.

Fine, I’ll say something nice. Clarke didn’t get yelled at! The only people who blamed her were Grounders! I did appreciate Clarke getting to confess to Abby that she loved Lexa…even if Abby ‘knowing’ makes no sense. It was a touching moment. I adore my Griffin ladies. They deserve better. And Bellamy’s face was priceless. Oh! And Kabby. I like Kabby. That was sweet. Also, I’m glad to see Raven is in decent psychological health. Protect Raven Reyes 2k5ever. Roan seems pretty cool; I liked him last season and hope he stays interesting. See? I have nice things to say.

Bits & Bobs

  • Saying ‘Lexa’ count: 6
  • Saying ‘the flame’ count: 4
  • “I want what’s best for my people, same as you” (or somesuch): 2
  • Where was Miller??
  • The whole “kill Wanheda to gain her power” thing is back. Yay for being back in the S3 premiere.
  • The sound was really weird, and it wasn’t just my TV. Certain dialogue was crisp but sometimes it was like they were mumbling. I had to turn closed captioning on.
  • Parts of the episode between commercial breaks were really short
  • “Grandfather’s crown” not “mother’s crown”? Way to erase a named female character on screen with some rando we’ve never met. Roan’s grandfather’s name is Theo, apparently, and he’s a big deal because Roan mentioned him in his motivational speech to Polis.
  • Raven’s knee hurts again now. I’m sad she has pain, but at least it’s more consistent.
  • Lexa had a name for the nuclear apocalypse? since when?
  • The name “Echoes” seems to be a reference to some visual echoes from last season: Abby re-bandaging Kane/Clarke re-bandaging Bellamy, Jaha carrying shrouded Octavia/Bellamy carrying shrouded Lincoln (does this mean Octavia is going to die?), Roan cauterizing his own wound in front of Echo/in front of Clarke, Clarke with a bag over her head led to the throne room to the leader of Polis: Lexa/Roan, the Wanheda reference. There may be more, too.

Working Theories

Could be Cool: Not sure yet where the dark Octavia is going to come from, but I have mixed feelings about it. On the one hand, I’m tired of the female revenge is empowerment trope. On the other, I want her to go full Greek tragedy, ending with her killing/wounding Bellamy which leads to her seeing the error of her ways, but not before she’s doomed herself. I’m not sure Rothenberg has the chops for this, though.

Pretty Sure: If you haven’t seen yet, there are supposed ‘leaks’ out the other day that say SPOILERS

Click here to show/hide contents
Clarke dies while sending the rest of the team up to space in a rocket. Neither of these would surprise me, honestly. I’m actually willing to bet on it.

Total Crack: Octavia is secretly pregnant with Lincoln’s baby, who ends up being the next nightblood to inherit the flame.

So how about it, do you have any theories or predictions you want to share? If so, head on over to “The 100 S4 Theories” topic on the community page and start talking! All theories are welcome, whether serious or salty. Just make sure you tell us which it is 😉

See you all next week for “Heavy Lies the Crown”!


Images Courtesy of the CW

Gretchen
Written By

Bi, she/her. Gretchen is a Managing Editor for the Fandomentals. An unabashed nerdy fangirl and aspiring sci/fi and fantasy author, she has opinions about things like media, representation, and ethics in storytelling.

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