In my review of the season six premiere, I mentioned that I was worried about the show starting to feel very familiar. Storylines and situations were being recycled, and despite the new home of Planet Alpha, it looked like things were going to continue down that path of redundancy. Last week’s episode was much more entertaining, but that’s because it executed a singular vision without trying to do too much with the season’s larger story. Instead, we got horror movie tropes and plenty of gore. It was fresh and exciting, but it couldn’t last.
Now, we’re back into the thick of things in Sanctum, the citizens having returned to find Clarke and the others inhabiting their town and having survived the Red Sun. Russel is their leader, one of the “Prime” family, the original founders. An order is quickly established. Everyone listens to Russel. He helps save Murphy, with the use of snake venom, and then locks everyone up until he can figure out their story.
The introduction of a new planet, a new group of people, and a new aesthetic—Sanctum falls somewhere between the universe of Willy Wonka and The Lord Of The Rings—is undeniably interesting. Russel is warm and welcoming despite his hesitations, and the inclusion of the people of Sanctum means the narrative doesn’t have to just rely on the simmering tensions between the crew from Earth. But, I worry that it’s all going to amount to nothing, that for now we’re just interested in the shiny new characters and their candy-colored world, but before long we’ll be back to the same old “which side are you on?” storytelling.
That fear doesn’t come out of nowhere. “Children Of Gabriel” refers to a pact of people living in the woods who want nothing more than to kill the leaders of Sanctum. There’s obviously a lot of history there, but the early interactions here, from the attack on the transport ship to Octavia being gassed and taken prisoner, feels too much like the Mountain Men to me. In fact, it feels too much like every other season that saw the group fending off an outside threat whose intentions were only revealed later on.
The worry also stems from the fact that “Children Of Gabriel,” much like the premiere, spends a lot of time running over familiar thematic ground. There are scenes where Clarke’s leadership is questioned, where Murphy has to reckon with whether or not he’s a good person—this time it’s because he died for a moment and think he’s going to hell—and where the whole group has to question what they need to do to survive. At some point the show needs to actually deal with all of these emotions in a definitive way, or at least in a way that allows the story to move forward without it feeling like it’s forever dwelling on the past.
The 100 is caught in a loop, and that means that even when it’s introducing new, intriguing elements, it’s difficult to get that lingering dread out of the back of your head. There’s a constant worry at play now, as the show’s struggled to tell new stories since, if we’re being honest, Lexa died. With that said, one scene this week does stand out, and that’s when Clarke is invited to dinner with Russel and his wife Simone in order to discuss whether her people can stay in Sanctum.
That scene is notable because it puts Clarke on trial, if only for a moment. Russel and Simone know all about Clarke’s past actions because Jordan has been blabbing away to the woman he’s suddenly fallen for in a matter of minutes, and they don’t go easy on her. They remind her of the people she’s killed, of the violence she’s brought everywhere she goes. “Violence is a contagion,” says Russel before denying her people the peace of Sanctum. It’s a scene that challenges Clarke’s perspective, and that’s interesting.
But the question remains, will all of this moral reckoning go anywhere? Clarke and her people are granted a life in Sanctum when Clarke saves Delilah, Jordan’s sudden crush, and something tells me the relief she feels will only last so long. Something is coming. That something could test these characters in a way we haven’t seen before, or it could lead us down a very familiar road, an “us vs. them” story that simply doesn’t suit the show anymore.
- I have no idea what’s up with the romance between Jordan and Delilah. I found it incredibly distracting, because it just happened. No buildup, no real dialogue, just some shared glances and all of the emotions all of a sudden.
- Bellamy leaving Octavia behind was a moving moment, but I’m also tired of this version of Octavia. I’m not sure her arc totally tracks anymore.
- “My sister died a long time ago.”
- Apparently the people of Sanctum have history books with Diyoza’s face “next to Hitler and Bin Laden.” I get the intention, but I laughed at that line, because it’s just so ludicrous.