In this week’s episode of the 100, “Anaconda,” we finally find out how the end of Earth all began. Are you ready for the truth?
Tonight’s episode takes us back to the beginning of the end…er…well, the end of the end?
We don’t get a split story this time, just a story within a story.
We’re back in Bardo where Clarke and the others are less than thrilled about the news of Bellamy’s death (fake news! I won’t believe it till I see a body). Big cult leader Bill shows up and surprise! He speaks Grounder!? Kind of…turns out the language was created by his daughter when she was a little girl and learning Latin (because Latin is everyone’s favorite language that will never die).
Bill believes that Calliope, said daughter, is alive in Clarke’s mind. He thinks it’s why she recognizes him, knows what she knows, and can speak Grounder. Is it true? Let’s find out!
Now, considering the confirmation of a prequel series, it’s not too surprising this is a Backdoor pilot. The biggest departure is that the name of the episode isn’t a reference to the name of the series – which is usually the case (see Wayward Sisters or Bloodlines from Supernatural). Jason Rothenberg, the creator of The 100, came out and said the series will most likely be named The 100: Second Dawn which makes sense. OK, back to the review.
We cut to two girls in a bedroom hanging out. One, Lucy (Nicole Muñoz), has been injured in a recent protest by the police (sound familiar?). The girl fixing her up is Calliope (Iola Evans), “Callie” for short, her best friend and the star of our prequel. Callie’s something of a rebel, dropping out of MIT and rejecting her father’s doomsday cult to try and fight for the planet’s survival. Unfortunately, daddy dearest was right and soon Callie and her mother (Gemma played by Crystal Balint) are running for the bunker (care of our episode title “Anaconda” being the code word for the missiles are coming). Lucy? She got tranq’ed by Callie’s mom and left for dead because she isn’t a level 12.
In the bunker, we meet Callie’s brother Reese (Adain Bradley), we saw him briefly in a holographic phone call Callie and her dad were having before the snake hit the fan. Reese and Callie have a standard TV sibling rivalry – Dad loves Callie despite her rejection of him, while Reese works like a dog for any scraps of love he can get; never feeling he’s enough. Because of this, Reese is adamant about his support of their father’s cause, even when Callie points out that other people could be saved (like her bestie). Too bad, so sad…moving on!
Bill shows his family what he’s been up to: the Anomaly Stone. He found it under Machu Picchu – finder’s keepers, right? He thinks he’s figured it out, but not so much. Oh well, least everyone is underground and safe sure nothing will disturb that.
Cut to two years later, when Dr. Becca Franco arrives – conveniently at the same time there’s a ground crew topside looking for supplies. Reese wants to ignore it, but Callie insists they go say Hi. Turns out Becca is a hero to Callie (she dressed up as her for Halloween), and she can also convert all the people in the bunker into Nightbloods (a side effect of the radiation immunity serum she invented), but Bill isn’t having it. He’s convinced that the stone is the key to humanity’s salvation – which is furthered when Becca shows him she can figure out the stone.
Callie allies herself with Becca, and they work in secret to convert the bunk folk into Nightbloods. In the meantime, Becca and Callie bond, with Callie eventually helping Becca to make a breakthrough with the Stone. It turns into a glowing ball of light that absorbs Becca when she touches it. Bill and Reese come a running, and, when Bill touches the light, there’s a blackout and Becca suddenly reappears. She’s warning Bill against the stone, telling him it’s dangerous, and she needs to shut it down. Bill has her imprisoned instead.
Callie tries to help Becca break out – Reese discovered her secret notebook and Bill knows about the stone and the Flame (a reference to Prometheus) – but, the scientist has other pans. She makes Callie the first Flame keeper, charged with finding the “right” mind to control the power. Callie then watches as her mentor is dragged outside to be burned at the stake. This is the last straw for her.
Our heroine gathers the bunker folks she’s given the serum to and stages a revolt – they want the Flame and they want out. Gemma tries to intervene with absolutely no effectiveness, and her children settle on a one-on-one battle to decide (oooo the Conclave origin?). Callie pulls an Indiana and shoots her brother in the arm, taking the Flame, but giving him the radiation cure. With Mom’s help, Callie and her fellow Nightbloods escape the Second Dawn bunker and head out top side.
Bill sends his son and Tristan (Craig Arnold) – who was one of the first people given the radiation cure when Becca arrived – out to retrieve the AI. He also exiles his wife, who is forced to wear a radiation suit since she refused Callie’s injection. Meanwhile, cult leader Bill goes through the portal assumedly to Bardo.
The last surprise of the episode is more for Clarke than us. She and her crew finally get to learn the fate of their friends (aside from Bellamy). Clarke takes Bill hostage so that Anders won’t attack when the door opens, but Bill isn’t worried because as we know Echo, Hope, and Diyoza have joined the Disciples.
This is a great episode! Not only is it a backdoor pilot but it ties in nicely with the current storyline, which isn’t always how backdoor pilot episodes go. Generally, they are painfully obvious in execution and deviate glaringly from the main plot the show has currently been following. But, this one is pretty good.
Learning about the history of some of our favorite The 100 terms felt fantastic. The language was especially satisfying since it touched so often on existing words I wondered if it wasn’t created by a child. I feel validated. Even the origin of the clan names is fun – Trikru was the name of an environmentalist protest group (curious if it wasn’t spelled Tree Crew and just evolved). Was there a protest group fighting for the melting polar icecaps called Ice Nation??? I wouldn’t be surprised. And of course, one of the most important terms: The Flame. Very cool shit.
Next episode appears to show us Echo, Hope, and Diyoza’s training while giving us a peek at Sanctum’s growing dumpster-fire of a situation. Staying tuned!