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The 100 Discussion: 'Anaconda' takes us back to the beginning
We've reached the halfway point in the final season of The 100, and if we're being honest, we can't make heads or tails of it. While Clarke digests the news that Bellamy is "dead," viewers are taken back to a much earlier point in The 100 lore, where we witness the end of the world and the rise of the Second Dawn cult. Lead by Bill's rebellious daughter Callie, the potential prequel series would explore a faction of the cult that broke off to find survivors of the nuclear blast, eventually becoming Trikru and Azgeda. An interesting concept, so we'll see if it finds its feet.
We're Alyssa Fikse and Jessica Toomer, and we're still holding out for Bellarke crumbs. Let's get into it.
Warning: This discussion contains Season 7, Episode 8 of The 100.
Back To The Beginning
Jessica: The 100 makes the truly bonkers decision to devote an entire episode of its final season to setting up a prequel spinoff this week and honestly, I couldn’t be more disappointed. Not in the perspective show’s premise or cast — it looks interesting enough and I genuinely enjoyed some of the new characters — but in the choice to waste valuable time and neglect the stories of some of our favorite main characters to plan for a new IP that might not even make it to a series order. This is what pilots are for. Or streaming platforms. Not final seasons of established TV shows. But, I digress. We get a glimpse of a still-devastated Clarke who confronts Bill (The Shepherd) after learning that her “best friend” Bellamy Blake is dead. Bill knows trideslang, he’s telling a different story about cult life in the bunker, and he wants to know if his daughter, Callie, is still in Clarke’s mind. If that’s what this whole “Chosen One” plot has been about — some miserable old white man who regrets how he treated his daughter centuries ago — just tell me now so I can press pause on my investment in this series.
Alyssa: Jessica, I nearly howled with rage to have Clarke and Raven’s moment to grieve cut short to introduce a whole new set of characters to care about. THIS ISN’T WHAT I WANT. However, I did enjoy learning that trideslang was made up by a Latin obsessed teen. This makes perfect sense to me. But yes, Callie. Daughter of Bill, who is basically Jeff Bezos with even more of a god complex. They are clearly all planning for the end of the world, and the conversations about political movements and jokes about how fascism isn’t that bad... felt awfully on the nose for now. Callie has plans to drop out of MIT to join the resistance movement (resistance against what exactly isn’t super clear), but her plans are interrupted by the actual end of the modern world. Her dad gets notified that missiles have been launched (by whom? Again, unknown.) so he gives Callie and her mother the password: Anaconda. The helicopter is coming for them to take them to the Second Dawn’s bunker. Her mother drugs Callie’s friend who isn’t in the cult, and they have to leave her behind to die. Rough start.
Jessica: I suppose one of the bright spots of this prequel episode is the reassurance that we were totally right in hating The Shepherd. Sure, he correctly guessed the end of the world, but his solution was to create a cult, house them in a bunker, and seal it off to anyone not worthy. Callie, being a decent human being, has major issues with this, which is why she left with her mom in the first place, but her brother has injected that psychosis-inducing Kool-Aid straight into his veins because… daddy issues. They’re the worst y’all. Callie and her mom manage to make it to the bunker before the end of the world and the guilt hits hard. Meanwhile, her dad’s gotten his hands on the Anamoly Stone and he’s spent the last decade trying to crack its code, so he could really care less that billions of people just got incinerated by nuclear warheads. Again, f*ck this dude.
Alyssa: Nothing like finding an alien (?) artifact and using it to set up a police state! Indeed, f*ck that dude. Callie tries to fight the power alongside a hottie in a leather jacket named August who just wants to save his girlfriend, but they’re overpowered by her brother and the other Second Dawn cronies. It’s not ideal. There is a two-year time jump, and while they can go out onto the surface for brief trips as long as they’re wearing the proper gear, things are not going great in the bunker. On one of their recon missions, a pod drops from the sky. Who should emerge from the pod but Dr. Becca Franco. We should have known that The 100 couldn’t end without bringing her back, right?
Opening A Bridge
Jessica: Because things aren’t enough of a mess, let’s just add in a genocidal A.I. implant that comes with a well-meaning genius intent on making up for mass murdering the entire planet. My stress levels are maxed out from just writing that sentence, Alyssa. Becca floats back down to Earth like some Nightblood-powered Jesus with promises that she can liberate the Second Dawn from their bunker hell. Of course, Callie’s all about that. She’s had a nerd crush on this woman for years, but Bill being the narcissistic dictator he is doesn’t want anyone wandering too far from his tyrannical reach so he puts the kibosh on injecting radiation antibodies into his flock. Becca manages to dose one guard who’s accidentally exposed, proving her formula works, but it’s her connection to the Stone that really interests Bill and his followers.
Alyssa: Let’s just say that Bill would be down to slow down testing in order to have fewer recorded cases, if you know what I mean. As soon as she gets within spitting distance of the Anomaly Stone (aka the space ball), she starts to hear some harmonic sounds and uses her mathematical brain to immediately find the 7 unique symbols out of 700 and opens the portal. While they are unsure whether or not the portal is safe for their usage or where it heads, but Bill and Becca are both deeply intrigued by the possibilities that were just dropped in their laps. Bill’s response? Tighten his grip on his followers. Can’t have them tasting from the forbidden fruit of knowledge.
Jessica: Seriously, everything’s a bit too pointed this episode, which makes me worry for the future of this prequel story. Still, I’m having a good time watching a smart, confident woman hand an entitled white man with a fragile ego his ass in front of his friends and family. Becca agrees to help Bill figure out the mystery of the Stone so that the members of the Second Dawn can travel to a new world. Callie thinks the solution is Becca’s Nightblood serum, which would allow them to rebuild the world they were already given. Sounds like a lot of work, but it might be the better choice in the long run, because after the two talk about Becca’s A.I. implant and how it allows her to hear the Stone, she has an epiphany, punches some strange symbols, and gets sucked into a glowing ball of doom only to emerge shaken and convinced this bridge needs to be destroyed. And Bill? Yeah, he’s not having that.
Alyssa: Bill is of course overconfident in his abilities to successfully lead his people into a new life, and Callie challenges him. This gets Becca thrown in prison, and when Callie goes to try and break her out later (failed mission since Reese has the key), Becca confides in her. Reese and Bill have her notebook, so they know about the Flame, but what they don’t know is that the Flame has a backdoor that allows for its successful removal. Callie, August, and some other young people are ready to flee the bunker with the help of Becca’s nightblood injections, and Becca wants her to take the Flame with her. Not only that, but she wants her to pick the next Flame keeper. Geez, nothing like meeting your heroes and then getting an epic quest thrust upon you! We all know what happens next: Becca gets burned at the stake.
A New Dawn
Jessica: Honestly, Callie seems more than capable of handling it. She refuses to worship her father like her brother and the rest of his flock do, and she believes Becca’s telling the truth about the real judgment day. So, her only option is to pick a fight with Reese, use his own toxic masculinity and fragile ego against him to trick him into a duel, shoot him instead, and grab the Flame for herself while her people escape. She begs her mom to come with her but she decides to stay behind and buy them all some time by helping to seal the bunker doors. Bill doesn’t like that, and when he discovers Callie’s made off with the Flame, he shuts his wife in the airlock, basically leaving her to die or venture out on her own without the protection of Nightblood, while he leads his people to some new promise land. And of course, his son follows. Why are men like this?
Alyssa: It’s messy, to be sure. However, did I laugh when I saw that August had brought his guitar with him into the radiation soaked wilderness? Of course I did. You gotta be able to play “Wonderwall” even if the world’s on fire after all. I see him being an obvious choice to pair with Callie, but I’m pretty sure she can do better. After alienating his daughter and killing his wife, Bill decides to test out the portal, which will surely be the launching point for the series should it get picked up. Any thoughts on potential names? Bill in the distant future asks Clarke if Callie is in the Flame, which she is, but Clarke explains that it doesn’t work quite like that. She demands to see the rest of their friends, and Anders obliges, because who wouldn’t be afraid of Clarke Griffin with a gun in her hand? In strides Octavia flanked by Diyoza and Echo, suited up and seemingly indoctrinated. Not exactly what Clarke was expecting.
Jessica: My money’s on The New Dawn or something similar, though that’s probably because I lack imagination when it comes to titling things. I’m also struggling to understand how Clarke knows about Callie and what happened all those years ago. I know she had the Flame for a hot minute and she was able to shut Allie down, but does that mean she retained all the memories of former Commanders? And she can just access them whenever she wants? How does this work, exactly? And why is it so important for Bill to know that Callie’s in there? Is she who he’s after? Does he want to bring her back somehow? Or does she know something that now Clarke might have access to? I’m just so confused at this point. Worse, I’m legit worried that Octavia, Echo, and Diyoza really have bought in on Bill’s ideology — maybe out of sheer exhaustion because surviving tragedy after tragedy can really take its toll. I can’t take more division in this group. Not now.
Alyssa: I can imagine how they would be susceptible to Bill’s message — how much trauma can one person take — but I am really hoping for an inside job of some kind that will end up with them back on Clarke’s side. However, who even knows with this season. We’ve reached the halfway point, and we’ve seen so little of our main characters that I am utterly baffled. The 100 has always been a messy show that I loved in spite of its many flaws, but they are really whiffing the landing.
Jessica: It’s true. I’ve resigned myself to this season, and I’ll continue watching because I do love this cast, but I’m less and less optimistic about how this thing ends. Still, this prequel episode provided a bit of hope and a nice distraction and I hope some fans truly enjoyed it.