The 100 season 7 premiere review: “New world, same problems” is right

The 100’s seventh season premiere shows the gang failing the peace test yet again — all while a potentially greater enemy surfaces without them knowing.

When it comes to The 100, no attempt at peace has ever lasted very long — and that’s a cycle fans get to watch unfurl once again during the seventh season premiere. “From the Ashes” opens with a jarring change of pace: Clarke and the rest of her people living in relative peace on their compound, eating normal meals in normal houses and sending Madi to school.

It’s strange to see Clarke and the others without them struggling to survive. But even if there’s food on the table, there’s no doubt that their attempts at the ordinary are hiding deeper issues. For one, Indra and Gaia both seem concerned about the unity of Wonkru. As Clarke insists that Madi get a chance to be a kid, both of them fret over what will become of the grounders now that they have no commander. (Of course, they don’t know that just yet.)

There are also much higher tensions outside of their compound, with Sanctum being split into two vicously opposing groups: the Children of Gabriel and the followers of the Primes. This week’s episode shows near-constant arguments between the two, most of which border on violence. The Children of Gabriel, understandably, want Russell Prime dead. His followers, naturally, think he’s being mistreated by being imprisoned.

And Clarke, true to fashion, is attempting to “build a better world” by keeping him alive — though that decision seems to have made things worse for everyone. We’ve seen Clarke do this dance before, but viewers have to suspect that she’s doing it with reluctance this time around, especially after what Russell did to her mother.

This back and forth plays out for the majority of the premiere, getting a bit stale as it does. But the episode’s ending more than makes up for it, when Clarke goes to visit Russell and things blow up in everyone’s face. Russell provokes Clarke by returning her mother’s clothing to her, awakening the emotions she’s been trying to keep at bay the whole time. And watching her break down and attack the man who killed Abby is equal parts satisfying and heartbreaking, but it’s her final declaration that Russell will be executed after all that will really have fans cheering. (That’s right, Wanheda is back, y’all.)

Eliza Taylor’s acting is a highlight of “From the Ashes,” with her putting anger and emotion into Clarke’s speech to the people of Sanctum. And that speech may come back to haunt her, but it’s a testament to how layered her character is. She can quickly become the villain when the people she cares about are involved. (Though is executing Russell really that villainous?)

The Return of Sheidheda

While Clarke is having it out with Russell, a bizarre switch appears to take place, putting Sheidheda into Russell’s body and mind. Raven warns earlier in the episode that she’s not sure what happened to the Dark Commander’s code, so it’s safe to say that his return was a given — but how he’s managed to infiltrate one of the Primes is a question that could spark some new concerns as the season continues.

Because of Sheidheda’s sudden appearance, it seems unlikely that Russell will actually die next episode as Clarke suggests. Still … if he’s able to enter Russell’s mind, perhaps he can enter the other characters’ as well. Having one of the main cast members be possessed by the Dark Commander would certainly make for an interesting twist, but even just having him in control of the people of Sanctum could prove problematic.

The Anomaly

While Clarke and the others are dealing with the rising tensions at Sanctum, Bellamy, Echo, Gabriel, and Hope are up against a whole different beast: the Anomaly. Fans are treated to a brief but powerful display of emotions from Bellamy after the thing takes his sister, right before it takes him away as well. But Bellamy doesn’t disappear into thin air — he’s dragged off by a seemingly invisible force, begging the question of what the Anomaly is and what can come in and out of it.

That same force begins fighting against Echo, Gabriel, and Hope as they give chase, and it even goes as far as to shoot at them. When Echo realizes she’s able to shoot back at them, it becomes clear that people have come out of the Anomaly somehow — or, at the very least, breached the boundaries of whatever it is.

These new enemies could potentially prove more dangerous than anyone residing in Sanctum right now, and the Anomaly itself may be a force to be reckoned with. Given that Hope lost her memories almost immediately after stabbing Octavia, we still don’t know much about the thing. But we’re sure to learn more next week, now that Echo, Gabriel, and Hope have entered it.

One also has to wonder why Clarke and the others haven’t questioned where Bellamy and Echo are, but that’ a whole different rant. Perhaps their missing friends will be the catalyst to send them into the Anomaly as well. It’s definitely the fresher storyline this season so far, so it’d be nice to see more of the characters involved in it.

Whatever’s going on, “From the Ashes” set the final season of The 100 up to answer quite a few questions before it comes to a close. Let’s hope it delivers on that promise.

What did you think of the season premiere of The 100? Share your thoughts in the comments below!