Welcome back, The 100. I've missed you, your kick-arse feminist characters, your depressing amount of bloodshed and your politics. Last time I saw you, everything had gone wrong - Clarke and Monty were imprisoned in white cells, Bellamy and Finn were probably (not) dead, and Octavia and Raven were both badly wounded. So what's new?
Clarke's still in that sterile white room we saw her in at the end of the first series, but Monty is no longer in his. Instead, some girl in a hazmat suit is cleaning the place. So Clarke busts out of her cell (really, it was that easy?) and takes the girl, who we later discover is called Maya, hostage and forces her to take her to the other members of The 100. The most interesting part of this whole sequence is not when Clarke and Maya finally stumble into a 1920s style dining area, complete with debonair men dressed in suits and women in flapper dresses, or when a woman stands up upon seeing Clarke and screams about being contaminated, or when everyone in the room then makes a run for it. No, the most interesting part is when Clarke spots her reflection in the lift - an image of her holding a piece of glass to the neck of the terrified Maya - and then purposefully moves out of range of the mirror. Even after all she's done and all she's been through, Clarke still isn't comfortable with doing bad things and hurting people, even if she thinks they have hurt her friends. I love that The 100's characters are nuanced and have qualms about doing bad, even against what may be perceived to be the bad guys. The narrative around violence and torture in The 100 is far from black and white.
After her attempt to run away, Clarke is introduced to Dante, or Mr President as he is called by his people. A painter, Dante (I wonder if the name is on purpose. Time will tell) comes across as a benevolent president, although he's got a hint of President Snow about him. For now, he's nice to Clarke, and brings her in a wardrobe of clothes - beautiful beaded dresses, sparkling diamond jewellery, high heels. It's the first time we've seen any one from The 100 near such gendered outerwear, and while Clarke is inevitably awed, she opts to break off the heel of a shoe to use as a weapon and puts on a plain blue shirt and a pair of simple trousers. After she's ready, Dante explains that the Mountain Men can't survive the radiation outside, and that the Grounders and those from the Ark have a higher tolerance which allows them to survive outside. And then he takes her heel weapon from her.
After being reunited with Monty and Jasper, Clarke discovers that Finn and Bellamy were not among the 48 members of The 100 the Mountain Men, for want of a better name, managed to rescue. Neither is Raven, who was on the drop ship. While Monty and Jasper seem perfectly happy in Mount Weather, Clarke is more suspicious, especially when she's given a map which shows no exits.
So, stealing Maya's key card, Clarke attempts to escape a second time, getting as far as the exit door at the top of the inside of the mountain. There, she is threatened by Maya, but it's Jasper, already in love with the life Mount Weather provides him, who talks her down. "Why would they lie?" he asks her when she tells him she doesn't trust the Mountain Men. I don't know the answer to Jasper's question, but that doesn't mean there isn't a reason to distrust them. I'm on Clarke's side. Still, she once again meets with Dante for a friendly chat, since he seems to like to counter misbehaviour with kindness (so unlike The 100). The two are both leaders, and it'll be fascinating to see how two figures who engender such loyalty in their followers will co-exist.
Providing Clarke, Monty, Jasper and the other 45 members of The 100 that have survived with clothing, amazing food and a protective environment seats Dante firmly in the camp of being a saviour. He combines art and science, is very human but also presented as a god-like presence - he leads prayers at dinner, but I didn't catch who those prayers are to. Could they be to Dante himself?
Despite appearances, and the mountain of good food, Clarke is still not convinced the Mountain Men are on her side. After receiving a gift of drawing material from Dante, Clarke begins to doctor the doctored map of Mount Weather she has been presented with. Looks like she's determined to get out and find the others (if they're still alive).
The Mountain Men failed to notice Raven in the drop ship, or counted her as among the dead, so she's on her own when a Grounder comes in to attack her. But despite being practically on her death bed she manages to kill the Grounder, because she is absolutely amazing and kick arse.
As if Raven didn't have enough going wrong for her, Murphy then walks in. Like a cockroach, he has somehow survived and is now here to...have heart to heart discussions with Raven. He tells her he came back because he didn't want to die alone, and then he tells her his sob story - his dad was floated after stealing medicine to treat Murphy, and his mum became a drunk and blamed him for his father's death before she died. I feel a bit weird at this point, and I think it's because I feel a bit sorry for Murphy, which is not something I've experienced before.
In the woods
Bellamy lives! Yay. And so does Finn! Double yay. Although, they aren't as happy as I am. Bellamy is covered in blood and running through the forest when he discovers Finn, covered in a little less blood, tied up to a horse and being led through the forest by a Grounder who is really, really angry. As Bellamy, plus two clean members of The 100, watch from behind some trees, the Grounder kills the other guy with Finn and makes it clear that he is on a path to avenge the deaths of his fellow Grounders.
Meanwhile, somewhere else in the forest Lincoln is trying to teach Octavia to speak like a Grounder so that she can blend in when they get to the community that lives by the sea. When they stop for a rest, Lincoln discovers the arrow embedded in Octavia's leg is poisoned, and he heads off to find the antidote. Later, after Octavia becomes delirious, he pretends to take her to the beach, but really heads back to his clan to try and sneak in and take the antidote Octavia needs. Only, if his clan catch him, Lincoln is a dead man...
Back to Bellamy, who despite only being accompanied by two teenagers, decides that numbers are on his side, and makes a plan to attack the Grounder who has Finn. It completely fails when the teens don't jump out from behind the trees alongside Bellamy, and he is captured and beaten by the Grounder. Bellamy is still acting like he has a mass of devoted followers, and is spouting pre-battle speeches like he's addressing The 100, instead of adjusting his plans to the situation. He still thinks violence is going to work.
And in a way, I guess it kind of does, because just as the two teenagers decide to man up and try and save Bellamy and Finn, a gunshot rings out, and the Grounder hits the floor...
Because here's the cavalry - Kane, a massive gun and various members of the Ark who landed safely. They come in like saviours (notice a trend here?) and rescue the members of The 100 before heading with them to the drop ship to see if anyone has survived. Namely Clarke, because that's who Abby wants to see. And let's face it, Bellamy and Finn are probably thinking about her too. At least, in my head canon they are.
Once there, Kane discovers Raven and Murphy. As his men lead Murphy out, Bellamy leaps for him, attacking him for putting The 100 in danger and betraying them to the Grounders. But now that Kane and co are on the ground, The 100 can no longer police themselves. Kane promptly has Bellamy arrested, and tells him he's not a savage. And this is where it gets really interesting - can Ark rules work on earth? The 100 have had to adapt to their surroundings and the people they've encountered and create their own rule of law and system of justice. But Kane seems to believe that the traditional rule of law and justice and punishment system that worked on the Ark - where there was no enemy in the way there are Grounders on earth - will work on earth. I'm not sure that it will, and it wonder how long it will take Kane and the others to realise that. The friction it will create in the meantime will be great to watch though, as will the friction with Bellamy. Like Clarke and Dante, at Camp Jaha we're presented with two leaders who must now exist together and in harmony (I doubt that will happen).
Up on The Ark Jaha is still alone, leaving a message for Kane and company, when he hears what to me sounded like a baby crying. And he thought he was alone...
A triumphant return for The 100, which was as dark and spooky as its first series. This season, the show seems to be setting up a conflict between ideologies - the society of the Mountain Men versus the society of Kane and those at Camp Jaha, both of whom are arrogant in their own way. Are there too many leaders on earth? I think so, and Kane, Dante, Bellamy and Clarke will have to find a way to live together, or there will be chaos. I expect the chaos will come before the peace, and I can't wait to see it play out.