The 100: Season 5 backstories helped Clarke And Octavia but hurt Spacekru
When The 100 aired its season 4 finale, “Praimfaya,” the final moments confirmed that several main characters would be separated from each other for many years until Earth was survivable once more. Clarke Griffin would remain on the surface. Octavia Blake would be underground in the Second Dawn Bunker. Bellamy, Raven, Monty, Murphy, Harper, Emori, and Echo would all be on The Ring in space.
Six years later, over a year has passed since Earth was survivable, and Clarke is alone with one other Nightblood, Madi, who survived the Death Wave. At the same time, Octavia and Wonkru remain underground while Bellamy and his friends are still stuck in space.
However, the season 5 premiere doesn’t begin post-time jump. Instead, it travels back in time to the immediate aftermath of the Death Wave. As a result, “Eden” is mostly a Clarke-centric episode. It follows her turmoil and struggle to survive alone in a destroyed world. So much so that something as simple as rain feels like a massive triumph for her.
“Eden” makes sure to emphasize that Clarke is dealing with inner struggles and grief as well as facing the literal question of how she will survive. The hour captures the highs and lows of her being alone, even showing what was likely Clarke’s lowest point as she sits alone in the desert, a gun to her head, prepared to end it all when a bird re-energizes her sense of hope long enough for her to finally find the valley.
However, things are not simple for her, and Clarke’s first meeting with Madi is less than pleasant. Still, the way “Eden” frames Clarke’s experience, including her daily radio calls to Bellamy, only reinforces the audience’s understanding of the horrors she went through and survived.
The next episode, “Red Queen,” follows a similar concept, focusing on Octavia’s attempt to control the warring groups in the bunker. She has never been a leader before, and while she has Indra, Kane, and Abby to help her, Octavia knows she will have to step up after speaking with Jaha.
Octavia makes a dangerous stand, forcing everyone to come together as Wonkru under her rule to ensure their survival. “The Dark Year” is another episode highlighting the lowest point of Octavia’s time in the bunker. It emphasizes the horrors of her Blodreina years while also justifying how season 5 portrays Octavia’s motivations and relationships.
When watching season 5 in its present time, those episodes allow Octavia’s justifications to make sense through her perspective, even if the audience or other characters don’t agree with her choices.
But, these Clarke and Octavia-centric episodes are also the biggest problems with season 5, because of the decision to do nothing for Spacekru. The seven members had spent six years in space together, and while they get a few scenes at the end of “Eden,” they are all set in the present.
Season 5 wants everyone to understand that Spacekru is a family and that some dynamics have drastically changed between them after six years. So it makes sense logically that they would bond with only each other for company. What does not work is that this is the only thing The 100 relies on to sell these new and different relationships.
While some were already close or had a lot of history together before going up to space, others, such as Emori and Echo, did not have the same connections with the majority of the others, which begs questions as to when and how they all managed to become close.
Raven and Emori’s friendship is intriguing to see. As a Grounder, Emori is enticed by technology and engineering as Raven had taken on a mentor and friendship role toward her. But, when did Emori actually find interest in technology? How?
One of the biggest transformations in season 5 is the romantic relationship between Bellamy and Echo. Of course, The 100 has had the two in scenes together before. But, they have always been unlikely allies or enemies, never close friends. Yet, six years after going into space, Bellamy and Echo are together and supposedly have been for some time. Except there is no true build-up to a romance between them in any previous season, so the relationship comes out of nowhere.
Had The 100 taken the time throughout season 5 to devote an episode to Spacekru, or even sprinkled in flashbacks of their time in space, perhaps it could have worked better. Were things truly peaceful without any problems for six years?
Unfortunately, the only legitimate flashback that shows the beginning of Bellamy and Echo’s romance comes two seasons too late. It only occurs when Echo believes Bellamy to be dead, and a flashback no longer felt like a high possibility. Besides, when Bellamy returns, his mindset has changed so drastically that any emotional attachment Bellamy may have had to Echo appears long gone.
The 100 acts as if Bellamy is the hero of season 5 because of his desire for peace. Having lived in peace for six years, he has no desire to fight and wishes to do things better this time. But the narrative made a decision not to focus on his development in those six years. Even Bellamy’s worst choices of the season, including giving Madi the Flame, are played off as heroic acts to stop a war or protect his friends.
But, by choosing to show Clarke and Octavia’s experiences, even if they do not always make the best decisions, their stories have more depth. Season 5 showed how and why Clarke and Octavia became the way they were when they reunite with Bellamy.
Without showing the same emotional struggles or conflicts in space, Spacekru’s story does not come across as urgent, and their relationships, while important, do not have the backstory they deserved for how The 100 wrote them.