Time doesn’t always heal all: the issue with the 6 and a half year time jump in The 100.
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As we approach the seventh and final season of the CW’s The 100, I am finding myself reflecting more and more on the last few seasons. While we have no real season 7 content, we have had casting news and brief teasers of what to expect from the new season. As usual, the cast and producer promise season 7 to be unexpected, full of twists and turns, and the ‘best season yet.’ And while, if this were any other season, I’d be excited. But it’s not. It is the last season. And while this topic could (and most likely should) have a blog post solely dedicated on it, The 100 has too many characters, too many plot lines, and not enough time (I have mentioned this in several The 100 related posts on my blog). Therefore, the news of new characters, and this being the final season, is making me reflect on, in particular, seasons 5 and 6.
I do not disregard the first four seasons, however, as I believe they will play a vital part in the ending of the show, considering the mythology based on Eligius, the flame, and the radiation still mostly remains a mystery. But season 5, as by it’s end credits, closed off ‘book 1’ to transition to more of a sci-fi season 6 (and 7). However, season 5 did reset the show in it’s own way – starting off with a 6 and a half year time jump.
And this is where my issue comes in. Because while it is lovely and grand to think along the lines of:
Yay! We had a season  dedicated to resolving the character issues and relationships from the first 4 seasons, so we can cleanly transition to season 6, and start fresh on a new world . . .
. . . it did nothing of the sort.
Instead, I felt like the writers completely missed the emotional mark on many of the character reunions (except for Bellarke, Bob’s performance when Bellamy finds out that ‘Clarke’s alive?’ will never not make me cry). For example, the reunion between Abby and Clarke felt rushed and lacklustre. It was jammed in, so they could move on to the next thing. The writers did not take time to explore the fact that these characters went over 6 years, nearly 7, without seeing each other.
What’s most irritating is that The 100 does have the ability to explore these darker, emotional thematic elements. Take Octavia Blake’s Blodreina/Red Queen season 5 storyline, for instance. The reason it worked so well is because the writers bothered to dedicate time to telling her story, showing the audiences how she went on this dark descent.
Red Queen is the second episode of season 5, and picks up shortly after they are closed in the bunker. We see Octavia training, unwilling to take her position as sole leader (the position granted to her by being Osleya, the champion of the conclave). We then see her wear the outfit of the commanders (and comically, and probably the most sanest moment of the entire show, state that instead of murdering the thieves as punishment…they just return the stolen blankets). She later decides it is not her. However, the adults around her are advising her to take control, and to calm the dissolution. While Octavia claimed them all as Wonkru, many of them still believed in their own clan systems. Eventually, Octavia does step up – and comes up with the mantra of ‘You are wonkru, or the enemy of wonkru’ and their begins the birth of the Red Queen and the infamous gladiator inspired fighting pits.
The episode then jumps ahead in time, to Octavia on her throne, covered in red war markings. She has changed from season 4, taken on a new persona – it is clear in her facial expressions, the camera work, the music. And we saw part of what made her this way.
While the season then does explore Octavia’s psyche and the trauma of living in the bunker for 6 and a half years, it isn’t until episode eleven, The Dark Year, that the audience finds out what made Octavia shut out her humanity and morph in to this Blodreina persona. I do find the timing of this episode curious, as it is towards the end of season 5. On one hand, it makes sense because of Octavia’s actions in the finale (ready to sacrifice herself, her persona as Blodreina, for her brother and her remaining people). On the other, I wonder if it would have been beneficial to have been earlier on in the season for the audiences. So much of season 5 felt dragged out, like a filler episode, that I think having this episode earlier on in the season would have helped it kept it’s momentum. While this was over a year ago now that it aired, I remember feeling frustrated that the show seemed to dwindle idly, and that The Dark Year was such a frequently referenced thing within the season, that it would have been beneficial to reveal it earlier and then see all the characters react and deal with it.
That was not the case, and it wasn’t dealt with much in season 6 either. So while I really enjoyed Octavia’s storyline (and I still did in season 6, although it wasn’t as nuanced), it is still a victim of The 100 not being able to handle a time jump well.
You can’t introduce such a momentous idea, or this big thing that impacts all of your characters in some shape or form and not deal with it. If you can’t commit to telling a story and seeing it through to the end, then why do it at all? By failing to truly commit, you’re missing out on it’s full potential and leaving it unfulfilled. (One example is the worms in season 5. That went no where. Or how The Dark Year was built up as such a mystery, caused incredible tension between Bellamy and Octavia, and you don’t see them dealing with it).
You can’t use the time jump as an excuse for not wanting to wrap up plot lines, or explain a character development. It feels like a deux ex machina – you’re using the time jump as a way to ‘heal’ everything that came beforehand. For example, Becho. You can’t just continuously tell audiences that these things happened, so it had this impact, and so on. You can’t do it through your characters, and if you’re having to explain it off-screen, then you really missed your mark. I would like to remind Jason that this is a visual media form of storytelling.
If season 5 was meant to wrap up book one, it left a lot of threads open for season 6, which were never tied off. Moments were briefly referenced (i.e. The Dark Year) but still, many characters still failed to deal with it. They just moved on. Yet, other characters were still dwelling on moments, and the writers (mainly Jason), would kindly (not) remind the audience, that it “only really happened a day ago in their time!!” This just shows that timeframes/structure is only convenient when the writers want it to be (or need it to be, because they don’t have the time or the skill to finish storylines or mend character relationships).
And sure. You can’t show everything that happened in the 6 and a half years. But if you’re introducing new and drastic relationships that you want audiences to be on board and root for, such as Madi and Clarke, or Becho, you’ve got to develop it or make the audiences care. They weren’t there for the 6 and a half years. But we’ve been here for the past four seasons. If these characters have changed, show us, and remain consistent. Madi and Clarke definitely worked better than Becho (hello flashbacks, hello Madi not being an established antagonist), but the writers still relied on the audiences to *fill in the gaps*.
That is my issue with the 6 and a year half time jump in The 100. The characters still had a lot of unresolved issues from the first 4 seasons, that don’t just disappear in the time jump. And the time jump created new ones too. And ultimately, it was a mess. They wanted to rebrand some characters and relationships (i.e. Echo, Becho, Kabby, Memori), which often meant either a) a complete lack of development, b) repetition of a previous storyline or c) some moments to show how it changed, but then ultimately not giving it any more screen time to make it make sense (I still don’t get the whole Memori break up, Raven and Shaw becoming a thing, when ultimately it led nowhere and just wasted screen time).
So, the time jump at the end of season 4/start of season 5 ultimately could have led to characters facing their issues with each other, dealing with the time jump and the trauma it put them through, the events of the first season, and showing the changes in the characters and their new relationships . . .
Instead we got a bunch of new characters, a random flame storyline that should just be over with already, the worms that went no where, underdeveloped relationships, I could go on. . .
But if The 100 committed to seeing a story through, they could have used season 5 as a character driven season to do them justice before closing “book one” and then leading on to a refreshed season 6. Instead, season 6 got all the baggage, and while it promised to have the characters (literally) face their demons, it once against fell victim to time jumps, too many characters, and too many storylines (and it’s such a shame, because season 6 had some wonderful, character focused episodes, that gave me just a taste of what I’ve been yearning for . . . before snatching it away, and doing something stupid – and I still don’t get the point – of making Echo a Nightblood).
If you’ve stuck with me this far, then thanks. I was so excited for season 5, and seeing Bellarke reunite and their new relationship dynamic, and how all the other characters changed . . . but ultimately it felt like the same show, with most of the relationships falling back in to their old – or at least, similar – dynamics, and the rest that didn’t . . . well, that was all the time jump. But we aren’t going to show you, our audience, how any of that makes sense . . .
Leave your thoughts below on time jumps. I think they can be good, but often times they miss fulfilling their true potential.
(This is another post written incredibly late at night, while I’m half asleep. I will be very impressed with myself if I wake up in the morning and find this to be comprehensible. And yes, I know I could always wait to post this – but I am in the moment!!!! Got to get the rant out lol)