There's plenty of pressure that comes with introducing that one last story still left to be told.
The pressure is on to not only deliver on the season but also to bring together the entire trajectory of the series.
So in some ways sticking to some of the familiar makes sense, and in other ways, it doesn't.
During The 100 Season 7 Episode 1, Clarke and the others in Sanctum had to figure out how to live in a world post-battle. There was still a divide between believers and the Children of Gabriel, which Clarke tried to mediate while avoiding the loss of her mother.
Meanwhile, Russell just wanted to die, and he got his wish when a fight with Clarke triggered a meeting with Sheidheda.
As for the group in the forest, after Bellamy was taken by some unseen forces in the woods, Gabriel and Echo had to work together with Hope to find their way into the Anomaly.
"From The Ashes," written by Jason Rothenberg, was a lesson in adjusting your expectations. It laid the groundwork for a different story than many might have hoped for the show's final season.
Beyond the nostalgia, the hope for a season that valued its characters over its plot, or a wish for the final story to be truly surprising -- it's about representing what The 100 has become and how it has gotten to this point.
Even if the plan wasn't for the audience care more about the characters and their relationships with one another more than they do about the plot, you can't predict how others will take to your work.
You can take into account how your story connected with your audience and allow the last adventure to reflect that, especially when it comes to one crucial puzzle piece that kept much of the show in place.
We could wait to have this conversation, but there isn't any point in pretending this wasn't the biggest glaring issue in the premiere.
Plain and simple, where is the male lead of the show?
It's one thing to have Bellamy disappear, only for the audience to follow him on that journey. He is missing from the other characters, but at least the audience can know where he is and what is going on.
Instead, The 100 opted for the option where it shelved its male lead, having what could probably just be a combination of different shots from the end of The 100 Season 6 Episode 13 and a stunt double to fill up those 10 seconds of screentime in the premiere.
It's insulting to a show that has come to depend on Bellamy Blake, with him representing the soul of the show after all this time.
It is even more insulting to Bob Morley, the male lead that has put all of himself into every scene he graced during the past six seasons.
The representation that he offers and the way he carried so much of the show throughout its seven-season run, only to get erased from existence, is quite a statement.
Not to use him, truly use him, to the best of his abilities when he offers so much to The 100 season after season is a choice that will never make much sense, especially in the premiere, which sets up the journey for the entire season.
To have Bellamy kidnapped and not to follow him beyond that speaks volumes.
It all goes back to the way that Bellamy Blake continues to serve the story while the story doesn't serve him.
He has always been positioned in a continuous loop of serving the characters around him, usually the white women in his life. And as a Filipino male lead, somehow Bellamy didn't get the same treatment.
With Bellamy finally making that huge step to put himself first during The 100 Season 6 Episode 11, suddenly, it felt like there was hope.
Hope for Bellamy to have his own story and hope that the show would finally remember the value that he has had all this time. Instead, Bellamy got to take one step away from always worrying about Octavia, trying to branch out and find a life for himself as well.
But that was such done quickly when Octavia was taken into the Anomaly, seemingly only to set the course for Bellamy's last story. The story that is, yet again, not about him.
Positioning Bellamy where he could have more only to take it away is unfortunate and yet nothing new. But it felt like Bellamy getting taken meant we would follow his journey. Instead, the premiere to forget his existence.
Perhaps this was a one-time thing, with Bellamy's journey getting explored in the following episodes fascinatingly.
But then the question becomes, what about the other ways in which Bob Morley has gotten wiped out?
From the trailer for the season to the official poster to the behind-the-scenes photos that glaringly leave out the one person everyone wanted to see, it has become a very worrisome trend, especially when you consider that this is it.
There is no next season to give Bellamy one last chance to have a story worthy of his value. There are only this final season and this final chance to do right by the heart of The 100.
Going into this final season, not knowing what to expect for Bellamy, the important thing is to adjust accordingly. Knowing the value that Bellamy has to the story, even when the show itself doesn't, might be the very best way to support his upcoming role.
Because sometimes there are no words for the disservice it does to to fans when your male lead appears in the premiere just to be dragged around in the dirt. Does he really not deserve better than that considering his history on the show?
There is no telling where Bellamy's story will go based on the premiere, but it is safe to say that he will always deserve better. For now, though, support and the love for the character will keep hope for him alive.
And that Bellamy Blake will continue to steal the show, even with less than a minute of screentime, is something we know in our hearts.
The New Not-So-Normal
It's a brand new day, the sun was shining, and Eliza Taylor delivered an off-the-charts performance as Clarke Griffin. It is just a normal day in Sanctum; except that it isn't, not when there is still so much left to do.
Eliza Taylor takes on that conflict for Clarke Griffin so seamlessly; it is even uncomfortable getting to see our favorite lead shutting down in front of our eyes. At first, it was confusing, especially when Clarke couldn't remember that Madi had a mother before her.
It was like watching a ticking time bomb the way Eliza effortlessly explored Clarke's stages of grief.
The denial was out in full force, with Clarke refusing to acknowledge or react to the way others were trying to grieve. Clarke might not always have the time to feel, but watching her refuse to allow herself that was chilling.
So much of Clarke shut down as she tried to compartmentalize the emotions bubbling to the surface. Eliza carried Clarke's attempt to skip grieving, up until the moment she couldn't anymore. And that is when it got even more exceptional.
It is heartbreaking to see Clarke feel in front of the very man who caused her this pain, but in so many ways, it was perfect. Clarke needed that chance to not only get angry but to vocalize it, as well.
Pretending she didn't have to grieve because it wasn't her mom that she lost only got her so far and only made it hurt that much more.
Madi: Why are they still doing that if they know the truth?
Gaia: I suppose sometimes belief is stronger than the truth.
Getting to see Eliza take that on, transforming Clarke from hiding her feelings to unleashing them in a chaotic rage -- that was a once-in-a-lifetime experience. It proved why so much of what Clarke might not say still influences the audience because of the power it holds.
The underlying emotion is always present, and it always makes you hurt for Clarke.
Meanwhile, other portions of Sanctum have their own battles to deal with, starting with the divided factions on the planet itself. Yet so much of what the Sanctum storyline represented can go unnoticed.
Witnessing our heroes keeping the peace between the believers and the Children of Gabriel highlighted the lesson of the premiere.
All this time, it felt like something was off, such as the picnic that didn't fit into an episode that is all about battles and conflicts. None of it felt quite right.
It was odd to see a group of people who don't spend much time together when they aren't trying to destroy the villain of the season, pretending that this family picnic fits into their dynamic.
They don't have much to talk about, and that rang true at that moment. It didn't feel authentic until that incredible scene with Eliza Taylor, Tati Gabrielle, and Adina Porter (with some lovely Lola Flanery appearances).
The way the women of the show connected and the way they asked each other how they felt that can't be recreated or forced. It is all in the chemistry between the actors and in the relationships that their characters share.
Much of Clarke and Madi's journey has circled back to a belief that Gaia and Indra are struggling to follow, especially when so much was taken from them. But their common ground is their connection to one another and the way they choose one another when it comes to it.
A piece of plastic didn't mean more than Gaia's love for Madi or Indra's love for Gaia, all of which resonates much more on screen.
The banter between Gaia and Indra felt natural, with Clarke and Madi fitting in instead of standing out. If there is room for a found family to exist, it is with Clarke and Gaia looking after Madi together. Indra watching over them is the best blessing in this premiere.
But it wasn't until they were in Sanctum, with Clarke, Raven, and Jordan trying to stop the fighting in the square, that it finally clicked. Adjusting.
If you went into the premiere expecting to experience aspects that might come with a final season, you had to think again.
It was in that exact moment that it finally made sense -- you have to adjust your expectations.
The new normal is a battle that no one that we care about is involved in, yet that is their weight to carry in the premiere. Trying to find it in yourself to care about two (or three counting Eligius) groups of people and their inability to get along makes no sense.
We didn't spend six seasons with these characters in Sanctum; there is no reason why their fighting should take up the amount of time that it did. But that is the story the introduction to the season wanted to tell, and it rings true the fact that adjusting expectations is the lesson of The 100 so far.
Perhaps this is a way to prepare these people, who again, we love but who haven't spent much time together lately, for an adventure that they will need to count on each other on.
For now, though, lines are being drawn in the sand, and it's not easy to invest in all of them.
One of us needs to represent the Commander, and I'm hungry.Indra
The Newcomer, The Past, And The Anomaly
Can someone give Gabriel a bunch of Anomaly codes to figure out? This man just has the most fun with this, and in a way, it is the real highlight of the premiere.
Chuku Modu adds a layer to Gabriel, a character we are all ready to risk it all for, and makes him even that much more engaging. Chuku shared with us some of where Gabriel's headspace might be, but beyond that, it is just fascinating to watch him exist in the universe of The 100.
It makes the most sense, while Hope and Echo are trying to figure out everything else. It is difficult to wrap your mind around invisible people dragging Bellamy around, all under the instructions to take them to Bardo.
They seem to have an issue with Hope, though, with instructions to kill her on sight compared to everyone else.
It is obvious from the start that Hope not only brings questions but she also brings danger, and answers to things we might not understand yet. For now, it is worth noting that she does have a note that puts her trust in Bellamy, although it isn't clear who wrote it.
The note has handwriting that mirrors Bellamy's, but doesn't it feel like another Blake would be the one sharing that with Hope?
Regardless, the refreshing aspect of this storyline was the way that they went into the Anomaly right away. Instead of stretching out the obvious, the three of them are jumping right into the story that has the most potential.
It is also interesting the way that these three are not connected because they don't know each other at all, and all of them are close to different people. So it is the most unlikely trio that is committing to the most significant mission, leaving behind plenty of questions that hold so much potential.
It's worth noting as well the way that Hope appears in the seams of the story, with us not knowing much about her, but there's already intrigue that exists if handled well.
Shelby Flannery teased some of that for us, but the way that she creates Hope in those little moments of uncertainty is remarkable.
It leaves room for that storyline, which contains characters that have so far existed as a way to support others, to stand on its own as these people learn more about each other in the middle of some action-packed adventure travel.
It might be off base, but it was worth bringing up the speech that Roan gave to Echo. Much of it lingers in the criticism that many have about Echo not existing as her own person outside of Bellamy.
Is this something she thinks too since this is the second time we heard a similar outburst from her mind. Or is this the show referencing an issue without actually exploring it in full?
Regardless, Gabriel and Echo just teamed up because they are both headed in the same direction anyway, but they then took Hope along for the ride because she was a connection to something.
So there is that space for them to learn more about each other, while also dealing with threats that come from Hope being hunted by these masked people, and by all of their alliances not exactly lining up.
Those three don't know what they are in for, and chances are it is about to get much more complicated than any of them may have expected.
The Bellarke Corner
But really, there is only so much that can be said about the relationship between Bellamy and Clarke when the episode offered so little insight into them.
At the same time, it just takes looking at Clarke's time in Sanctum to see how much is left unsaid about the lack of Bellamy affecting us all.
While the audience hopes to catch even one more glimpse of him, Clarke is trying to adjust to a new normal without him. In an eerie exploration of loss, Clarke spends much of her time experiencing denial.
Clarke denies the loss she had, and she denies the emotion she is allowed to feel. It is interesting in the way it returns to the head and the heart. The head spent the entire episode without the presence of the heart.
So much of the emotion that Clarke finds herself avoiding is precisely what she allowed herself to feel moments or hours or days before with Bellamy. She allowed herself to be at her most vulnerable in front of her partner, so is it that surprising that he isn't around and Clarke can't seem to allow those feelings to come out?
Call it an accident or call it intentional, but Clarke is already feeling the effect of no Bellamy, and frankly, we can relate.
That's why it makes it even worse that she doesn't even know he is in danger, and the audiencen gets left in the dark much like the lead is right now.
Yet with every scene of Clarke leading without her partner and her confidante, the "what if" becomes harder to ignore.
What if Clarke could have had Bellamy to talk through this with her? What if Clarke, Madi, Gaia, and Indra were adjusting to this new normal life with Bellamy? What if that picnic included Bellamy, giving Clarke someone she could relate to during a scene where she never looked more alone?
Clarke doesn't need Bellamy to be able to make decisions or to express her emotions, but he sure seems to make it easier for her. It isn't as if she has no one in her corner or that she can't confide in anyone, but has she, so far?
It is so easy to see the way that Clarke removes herself from the others, not finding herself fitting in the way the others are. In a lot of ways watching Clarke in this premiere was like watching an outsider trying to find where her place is now.
So much of Clarke is used to holding back or not finding the time to really voice how she is feeling, which is why it is gratifying to see her find the time -- with Gaia at the dinner table or even by exploding at Russell.
If only she didn't have to experience this heartbreaking anguish, and yet she does, and she needs to let herself.
But at the same time, Clarke spent just as much time not allowing herself that privilege, forcing herself into any lie that wouldn't allow her to feel what she had during The 100 Season 6 Episode 13.
The lack of Bellamy, combined with the way Clarke is struggling, often removing herself from everyone around her, speaks to the way the show is already starting to show its cracks.
Bellamy's absence isn't just felt immensely by the audience, and by the people who know he is missing, it is also subjectively influencing his soulmate that has a lot she is holding back now.
Sheidheda Making Dreams Come True
There needs to be a sign somewhere for the characters on this show that says, be careful what you wish for.
RIP Russell Lightbourne.
Russell: What did you see? You got a glimpse.
Jordan: A glimpse?
Russell: Of the truth greater than us all.
Russell spent all this time begging for death, only to get it most unexpectedly.
Now, this is a predictable storyline, but one that everyone should get behind. The way that JR Bourne will take on this new role, going from a villain who was doing it for his family to just a villain is amazing.
There is no doubt in my mind that he has the range, and he will deliver above and beyond.
Also, if his scene with Jordan is anything to go by, there might be more that we get to find out about Sanctum, and it might be worth it if it's through these two dynamic characters.
Jordan Green was not used as much as he should have been during The 100 Season 5, but his talk with Russell leaves room for him to lead his arc if the show cares to invest in him. Which they should.
It is conflicting to wonder who exactly the big bad is when you now have Sheidheda as Russell, the Eligius group, the people coming from the Anomaly, and potentially more people in the places that the Anomaly goes.
Nowhere feels safe, but it's not always as exciting if there are too many villains to watch out for. The power imbalance becomes about which one the heroes you need to worry about, and even more so, you start to wonder why it matters.
So hopefully, this season won't find itself overpowered by bad humans, causing a conflict for everyone, but instead, will be about the main characters achieving what seems unattainable sometimes -- A happy ending.
The Anomaly was on top of us then. Then she lost her memory when it receded, taking Octavia with it. But why just her? Why the memory loss? None of this makes any sense but my god it's incredible.Gabriel
For any The 100 fans looking for some nostalgia as the series concludes, TV Fanatic has a surprise interview series for you! "Looking Back On The 100" centers on monumental cast members and characters from the show that left their mark.
We spoke with Eli Goree about his time on the show, as well as Michael Beach about the journey he had, and we even took a walk down memory lane with Christopher Larkin and Aaron Ginsburg.
Keep checking TV Fanatic for more upcoming interviews with surprise cast members from seasons past!
Picasso is the one shred of complete happiness still left in Sanctum. It is up to her to find Bellamy as soon as possible because if anyone can help, it is her.
None of us deserve Adina Porter and the power that she brings to each of her scenes. Whether as a warrior getting ready for battle or as an adult watching over the second dawn of potential peace, Adina manages to kill it as Indra. Every Single Time.
Did anyone figure out the timeline here? The storyline in the woods feels like it picks up right where The 100 Season 6 left off, but Sanctum feels like weeks apart.
It is hard to imagine that Clarke was just crying in Bellamy's arms, and Madi was recovering from a traumatic body-snatching experience, only to turn around and change and casually hang out in this house.
At the same time, the show doesn't try to differentiate the timing of the storylines, even though Jordan comments on how Russell hasn't been eating or sleeping. Time is just weird this season.
Zach is back! For all the Roan fans who refused to accept that Roan was gone, it is you who made this happen!
Trust Bellamy. I appreciate the reminder, but there is no other The 100 man I trust like I trust Bellamy Blake. So thank you, but there's no reminder needed.
Why can't Bellamy ever be around for any of the happy moments? There are rare times when the characters get to relax, but yet never once was Bellamy allowed to have that same option.
Call it a pet peeve, but the way a lack of communication creates so many more issues in a story gets old fast for me. Wondering if the conflict would be easier to handle if the characters could share information.
Instead, they end up struggling because they don't get in touch in the final season.
Hopefully, this confusion doesn't last long, and the storylines merge like they need to faster.
It might be an unpopular opinion, but there should have been more between Clarke and Raven. It was hard to get excited that they were on the same page again when they didn't have the conversations that they should be having.
Losing Abby allows them to start working on their relationship, as mentioned to us by Lindsey Morgan, but it isn't enough.
Clarke and Gaia had a more organic development in their friendship, mostly because they spoke about the issues. Raven and Clarke struggled too much not to hash it out; it would feel more real that way.
Madi has been through enough; please let her go off into a safe part of Sanctum with Picasso and relax.
She deserves it so much, without the added weight of pretending to be a Commander. She also deserves not to draw those Sheidheda themed doodles. Who else is concerned about that?
Do you know what I want to put out there into the universe? Nelson and Gabriel should have some scenes. It feels impossible, but it would be interesting to see the actors play off of each other.
Please give me Murphy flirting with Emori while they have to pretend to be siblings in every single episode. Thank you.
Clarke burning down that palace may not have been the best plan, but I have never supported her more. It isn't exactly the right kind of self-care, but so much of the pain she felt came from there and from the person who it belonged to.
Fresh starts sometimes have to come from the ashes of the past.
Let's start to speculate now: Where is Bellamy Blake? Tell me your guesses in the comments section below!
What did you think of the premiere? Was it everything you were looking for, or did you wish for more in certain arcs? What did you think of the lack of Bellamy Blake? Where do you think Octavia is?
Do you think Gabriel, Hope, and Echo are about to visit a nice place or are we worried about their safety? Which arc do you love the most right now?
How much dod your heart hurt for Clarke? And where do you see her going from here? Also, please raise your hand if you saw that Russell twist coming.
Let us know what you think below!
Stick around TV Fanatic for more interviews, features, and reviews of the upcoming season, and watch The 100 online right here on TV Fanatic.
Yana Grebenyuk was a staff writer for TV Fanatic. She retired in April 2021.