While the previous seasons of THE 100 were all about our heroes banding together to fight other villains on the ground, season 5 of the show is a big departure for the series. In the season 4 finale we saw our main group of characters forced to separate in an attempt to survive “Praimfaya” (a.k.a. the Death Wave caused by the world-wide meltdown of nuclear plants). Octavia was in an underground bunker with Kane, Abby, Indra and a lot of other Grounders, while Bellamy, Raven, Murphy, Monty and some of their new Grounder allies raced back to the ring in space. But Clarke, who had become separated from her group in an attempt to get them to the ring, has survived the last six years on Earth.
Her nightblood physiology prevented the radiation from killing her outright, but she’s going to find herself very much alone when season 5 begins. Last season’s finale may have jumped ahead six years to show us a new threat approaching Earth, but the upcoming season premiere actually fills in a lot of blanks for Clarke in particular. When we first see her emerge from the relative safety of the lab more than a month after Praimfaya, she’s completely alone. The world has essentially been destroyed and there are times when she feels like she simply can’t continue. One day, however, she comes across two miracles: the first is a valley that is relatively untouched by the death wave’s destruction, the second is a young fellow nightblood named Madi. While it takes a while for Madi to trust Clarke, the pair soon fall into a mother-daughter relationship. Six years later it’s Madi that Clarke is trying to protect when a prisoner ship touches down in the valley and brings a new set of problems along with it. Meanwhile, while the premiere does focus primarily on Clarke, we’ll also get a glimpse of the people in the ring as they watch this prisoner ship descend on the valley. And while what happened to that group of people in the last six years isn’t extensively detailed in the premiere, we do get a glimpse about life on the ring.
During a visit to the set of THE 100 in the fall, we spoke to the cast about Clarke’s life over the last six years, her relationship with Madi, and what it’s been like for the people on the ring.
Clarke’s State of Mind and Position as a “Mother”. Clarke’s initial experience after Praimfaya is heartbreaking to watch and it’s clear that she desperately misses her friend and her mother after not seeing them for six years (or even knowing whether they’re still alive). But, as Eliza Taylor tells us, Madi’s presence has been a tremendous help for Clarke over the years. “She’s gone through tremendous loss in her life as we all know or her short time on the ground before the [death wave]. We thought that she was going to be alone at the end of … Well, towards the end of season four, but now having this little sidekick who she loves with all her heart, a surrogate daughter type, she’s found some sort of peace and happiness, until of course the prison ship comes down….I love their relationship. [Clarke is] a good mom. She’s stern with her though because Madi is cheeky, so she does really have to keep her in line and she’s a very fierce little thing.” It’s this struggle to be a mother that actually makes Clarke more understanding towards some of the things her own mother had done that Clarke may have disapproved of in the past. “I think that’s something that we’re going to explore. The things that you do to protect your daughter. I think it does help her understand where her mom was coming from on a lot of things that used to grind on her.”
A Role Reversal. When THE 100 began we saw Skikru come down from the sky and try to establish themselves on the ground, coming up against a force like the Grounders who were very different from them. This time, it’s the former Skikru who will be like the Grounders they used to face, now having to face their own group of people descending from the sky. The time jump also allows the show to bring our characters into new situations and make everything feel fresh. As Richard Harmon (Murphy) said, “[THE 100 is] like an anthology series except we have the same characters. Last year was this natural disaster. Now, this year, we have these new obstacles to overcome every season. It changes the way the characters get to interact with each other. Especially now that it’s six years in the future, they’ve grown up. As actors, it was a lot of fun to implement things that you can just throw into the mix. Usually, you take a while, like a full season, and you’re working little dynamics of your character in until the audience can accept it. You can’t just throw it in. But, with this season, you are able to throw things in after six years and the audience is just going to have to buy it, which I really thought was fun as an actor. I’m sure everyone else had the same kind of sentiments as I do.”
Spacekru as a Family Unit. “That six years in space changed a lot,” for the group on the ring, Bob Morley (Bellamy) said. “The group up there, we’re calling them Spacekru or something like that. They are like this new family unit up there and [Bellamy’s] had to use Clarke’s advice of using his head and his heart to become more of a well-rounded leader up there. Raven is like his second-in-charge. Everyone runs things together. They always make decisions together. It’s a nice community up there and it’s definitely calmed him down from like fighting and killing people every other week. After the six years off, maybe he’s gotten a bit soft. I’m sure he’ll get back to it.” Some dynamics will also have shifted as a result of being on the ring. Lindsey Morgan (Raven) said that “Emori and Raven have actually became really close during the six years and Emori’s kind of become Raven’s second in a sense.”
Harmon does warn, however, that “Without giving away too much of their relationships that we all have up in space, six years with just that same group of six or seven people, you kind of become a family after that amount of time. But, families aren’t perfect. You fight. You have issues with each other. That’s the interesting thing to see, what our relationships are like. Everybody fights, but we’re all obviously a lot closer and a lot of the issues that we’ve had on the ship are probably in the past after six years. I’ve said this before. A lot of therapy can happen in six years, but that doesn’t mean that new qualms with each other won’t arise. We are going to have issues.”
The Tedium of Space. Murphy has always been one of the show’s most complex characters, acting as both villain and hero. Harmon explains that six years in space has taken a toll on his character. “I think in six years in space, it’s hard to maintain a purpose. On the ground, it’s survival. In space, we figure out after awhile how to survive. You have the algae farm giving us the food. It’s not great food, but enough to live. You have to ask yourself what there is to do up there. If anyone has a hard time with a sense of direction, when there is no outside stimulus getting at him, it would be Murphy. He’s lost his way a little bit over the six years and that’s where we find him. He’s probably itching to get back down to the ground. We have to figure out why after six years, an extra year clear of when we were allowed to get back down to the ground, yet we are still not there. I think a big part of it we come and see us now is why have we not gotten to the ground yet and where we are and what we’re doing?”
Getting Back to the Ground. Returning to Earth was always the plan for Spacekru, but five years passed and they still hadn’t returned. As Morgan tells us, “Raven got her friends up into space in the nick of time and they’ve been living on the Ring. But Raven has been trying, it’s been her mission for these last six years, to get everyone back to earth. The Ring wasn’t supposed to be the permanent option of where they were supposed to live. The Ring was just the option while Praimfaya was taking over the earth and once the earth became habitable, it was always to go back to earth. Raven has not found a solution for that yet and, as in Raven fashion, she is very upset that she’s not smart enough to figure this out and she kind of carries the burden of this failure and disappointment of her friends on her and it weighs on her heavily.”
My People, Your People. One of the biggest themes throughout THE 100 has been that of “clans” or “krus”. That’s going to continue this season, but the separation for our main heroes may mean that a former clan has been broken up. According to Morley, “[Clarke is really] focused on her unit, her family unit, which is Madi. And, I have my Spacekru and they really deviate in that sense. There’s no longer this community of THE 100 it feels like. Everyone’s got their people now. There’s a lot of the “my people,” “your people” stuff as per usual, but in this particular season, it’s very definitive as to who people are loyal to, so that dictates where [Clarke and Bellamy’s relationship in particular] is and where it goes. ”
Season 5 of THE 100 premieres tonight (April 24) at 9:00 p.m. ET/PT on The CW.