The 100 -- "Anaconda" -- Image Number: HU713d_0057r.jpg -- Pictured (L-R): Craig Arnold as Tristan, Adain Bradley as Reese and Iola Evans as Callie -- Photo: Diyah Pera/The CW -- 2020 The CW Network, LLC. All rights reserved.
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‘The 100’ 101: 7×08 — A blast from the past

24 mins read

Prime fire swallowing the earth, leaving nuclear destruction in its wake. The Second Dawn bunker saving Earth’s remaining human race. Trigedasleng being spoken. Groups dividing into factions thanks to a fascist leader who wants glory for himself. Siblings on separate sides fighting in a pit. Attention being drawn to Becca and the Flame.

These are all things we’ve seen in “The 100” before, but this time there’s a twist.

Audiences were transported back to Earth’s first apocalypse as we finally got to see the Grounders’ origin story in the show’s backdoor pilot of a possible prequel series “Anaconda” (That’s the title of the episode and not the possible spin-off to help with any confusion).

We got to see the literal end of the world with Cadogan’s family, the Second Dawn cult and Becca Franko at the forefront telling the story when season seven, episode eight, aired July 8 on The CW.

This episode was by far my favorite of the season and one of my favorites of the entire series. It delivered on everything that makes “The 100” brilliant: complex characters, a (pretty) realistic plot, a deep dive into how humans handle the end of the world and a change in governmental systems and how familial dynamics play a role in that. It lived up to its potential.

The story was deep, answered our questions, gave us new ones and seamlessly connected all the seasons.

I was wary the first time I learned about this backdoor pilot. These types of episodes have felt off to me with previous shows. I always had to force myself to get invested in new characters and it almost always felt like filler that disrupted the plot of the original show. I couldn’t have been more wrong with “Anaconda.”

The new cast was captivating. Their vibrancy and complexity immediately reeled me in. I was hooked within the first 10 minutes. Chef’s kiss all around for an outstanding performance by everyone for all their hard work. It showed and it paid off. It was perfect.

It set the scene beautifully for “The 100” prequel. I don’t just want it, I need it. Does Reese reunite with Callie or his mom? Where did Earth’s Anomaly stone go? How did Callie and August come up with the grounder system we know? I need to see Callie take the flame and become the second commander. I’m freaking out!

It’s because of this thrill and amazing performance that I have to give this the star rating I do.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Bam! My first five-star rating this season goes to this episode. I originally thought about giving it 4.5 stars just in case there’s a better episode later on but after I thought about it, I knew I couldn’t do that. When an episode shines and stands out like this one, it deserves the highest rating. Sheer perfection.

SPOILER ALERT WARNING:

The 100 — “Anaconda” — Image Number: HU713b_0449r.jpg — Pictured (L-R): Adain Bradley as Reese, Iola Evans as Callie and Crystal Balint as Gemma — Photo: Jack Rowand/The CW — 2020 The CW Network, LLC. All rights reserved.

What we learned

Phew, we learned a lot in this latest episode. 

I thought I gathered almost all this information the first-time around, but after a rewatch, I picked up on even more things. So to help give everyone a refresher full of context I’m going to go through some of the major things and possibly some small tidbits you might’ve missed.

  • Trikru (the name of the original Grounders we met in season one and the group Lincoln, Anya, Lexa and Indra have belonged to) originated from an environmental protest movement, Tree Crew, that fought fascism prior to the first nuclear bombs. Our main character, Callie Cadogan, is part of them, along with our other main character, August. A group of these original protestors, who experienced riot police during their peaceful protests, rose from the Second Dawn bunker with nightblood thanks to Becca Franko/Pramheda two years after the bombs destroyed Earth.
  • ANACONDA was the name of the episode and was also the code word for “the missiles are in the air” to warn Second Dawn members about nuclear devastation. 
  • The Second Dawn was led by Bill Cadogan (also known as “The Shepherd” at Bardo). Second Dawn members paid a hefty membership fee to Cadogan, which allowed them access to Cadogan’s Second Dawn bunker (the same bunker Octavia’s Wonkru uses to survive Praimfaya at the end of season four and the beginning of season five) located underneath Baltimore in the U.S. People were only allowed safety in the bunker from the bombs if they were Level 12, meaning they paid the large price. Everyone else was left to fend for themselves in this nuclear armageddon and were largely assumed dead. Ah, capitalism. This reminded me of Sheidheda’s line to Nelson in season seven, episode six: “You can’t get justice without power.” In this case, the only way people would have survived was if they paid a fascist leader a large sum and became a loyal follower of his. 1,104 people made it to the bunker.
  • However, there was another bunker Second Dawn members weren’t aware of: Mt. Weather. In “Anaconda,” we learned from a newscast that the U.S. was currently in the Wallace Administration. This played on Callie’s TV in the background of her conversation with her friend Lucy at the beginning of the episode. This was very faint and I couldn’t even hear it. I only knew about this because my subtitles were turned on. When our group from “The 100” encountered Mt. Weather in season two, it was led by Dante Wallace and his son Cage Wallace. After finding out the U.S. was led by the Wallaces’ prior to the first apocalypse, it made sense why Dante and Cage were in charge at Mt. Weather. This is a real place run by FEMA, so it makes sense the president would bring his family, and a group of people, there if nuclear bombs were to drop today. A fun Easter egg in this episode you might’ve missed.
  • Trigedasleng (the language Grounders speak) was created by Calliope “Callie” Cadogan when she was 10 years old. Interestingly enough, before the episode aired, I predicted Trigedasleng was created by a 13-year-old girl. Preteen girls are great at coming up with new languages to share with their friends. There’s this openness and creativity with younger kids that makes them more likely to create their own language, especially for extra, dramatic preteen girls. I love to see it. Callie’s Trigedasleng is also based on Latin, so we already know she’s super smart and cool.
  • Bill Cadogan found and stole Earth’s Anomaly Stone from Machu Picchu and kept it inside the bunker. He spent 12 years trying to figure out the code and didn’t succeed.
  • Becca Franko/Pramheda came down to Earth from her space station ‘Polaris’ two years after the bombs. She had created a blood serum that, once injected into one’s bloodstream, would make a person immune to radiation’s effect. This serum would also make the person AI compatible. Becca was seen by Callie & Co. when she landed, which allowed her access to the bunker. Becca’s objective was to give everyone the blood serum, making them a nightblood (term patented by August) so they could live on Earth’s surface and wouldn’t have to live in a bunker anymore. I think she was trying to make up for the fact that her AI, ALIE-1, caused the nuclear explosion.
    • At this point, Becca had ALIE-2 (also known as the Flame) connected to her consciousness. This technology was created to amplify what’s already in the person’s mind, “and in the right mind, I believe with all my heart, that it can save the world…” Becca said. ALIE-2 also downloads the person’s consciousness and uploads those memories to the next person it’s used on, essentially acting like a flash drive with people’s code filed on it.
      • ALIE-1 was created by Becca “to make life better.” This was the tech. that released the first nuclear bombs because Earth’s problem was “too many people,” according to this AI. ALIE-1 then creates the City of Light to save people’s consciousness from the second apocalypse (a.k.a. Praimfaya), which we see the results of in seasons three and four.
    • When Becca enters Cadogan’s Anomaly Stone room, she hears a high-pitched noise. This noise draws her to the stone, and her heightened ability from the Flame, allows her to enter the correct code, opening Earth’s Anomaly. Later on, Becca realizes seven of the Anomaly Stone symbols don’t have a frequency. She touches them, which creates a ball of white light that she enters. After she comes out, she tells Cadogan and his family she saw “Judgement Day” and she knows what will cause the end of the human race. We learn that the Flame is the “key” the Disciples at Bardo have been talking about, and that the “last war mankind will ever wage” is what Becca saw when she entered that light.
    • Cadogan gets threatened by Becca for a couple reasons. 1) Her nightblood serum will make his “underground dictatorship” worthless, therefore threatening his power. 2) Becca has the “key” to the Anomaly and refuses to give it to him in fear of him using its power for his own gain, because “once he has it, whatever’s left of the human race will be wiped out.”
    • Becca gets locked up and Callie uses the serum to make as many people as possible into nightbloods. Callie then tries to save Becca from being burned at the stake by her father but fails to do so. However, Becca teaches Callie all about the Flame, so she can be prepared to use it after she dies.
  • Callie and her brother, Reese, are on opposite sides of the battle happening in the bunker after Becca’s death (Side 1 = Cadogan’s fascist/capitalist regime based on his own glory; Side 2 = Becca’s science/technology and wanting to rebuild the world they destroyed). They fight in the pit, starting the long tradition of Grounders fighting each other for justice. Callie wins and gets the Flame.
  • Callie, August and Tree Crew (soon-to-be Trikru and the entire Grounder system as we know it) have all become nightbloods and they decide to leave the bunker to find possible survivors and create a new culture. Cadogan is upset with his daughter’s decision, tries to fight her, but he fails to stop her. So, Cadogan takes the small group of his loyal followers through the Anomaly to find a new world to live in (soon-to-be The Shepherd and the Disciples of Bardo).

Boom! Then we hop to present-day with Cadogan and Clarke facing off in Bardo. We learn, thanks to Clarke, that Calliope “Callie” became the second commander and is in the Flame. Clarke’s also really upset with Cadogan for killing her “best friend” Bellamy Blake; they were platonic soulmates after all. In order to save the rest of her family, she asks to see Echo, Octavia and Diyoza. 

The three enter as Disciples who have clearly been brainwashed to be the Shepherd’s soldiers. Bam! Cut to black.

We don’t see Hope though, which makes me continue my theory that we shouldn’t trust her. There are so many holes in her storyline that lead me to believe she’s working with Bardo.

I was also fascinated by all this new information and the connection between the Grounders, Disciples of Bardo and Mt. Weather. The Second Dawn bunker and Mt. Weather started on the same path with the future of living inside, radiation free forever or until Earth was habitable again. However, we see in season two of “The 100” just how different they become and that’s all due to Becca. 

Becca either didn’t know about Mt. Weather’s existence or she didn’t have enough time to administer nightblood to them before she died. The mere fact that Becca came upon Callie’s group outside is what started the revolution amongst Second Dawn members, leading to Callie administering the nightblood serum and rising out of the ashes to live on the surface. Without their nightblood, the Grounders never would’ve existed and the Second Dawn may have had the same fate as Mt. Weather.

The 100 — “Anaconda” — Image Number: HU713e_0060r.jpg — Pictured (L-R): Nicole Munoz as Lucy and Iola Evans as Callie — Photo: Colin Bentley/The CW — 2020 The CW Network, LLC. All rights reserved.

Relevancy to our world today

*Takes a breath* That was a long list. However, everything on it really felt necessary to understand this episode at its core.

It wasn’t just a summary of how two entire cultures were created in the show, it was a reflection of our’s. It didn’t feel like I was watching a fictional, dystopian show. It felt like I was watching our current world.

“The 100” often uses parallels to show characters faced with similar situations season-after-season and how they make different decisions based on where their group falls. There’s always the “only choice” in which they save their own people, ultimately falling into a cycle of absurdity they can’t get out of. Jasper noticed this first, became a nihilist and took his own life to escape the cycle. Monty then tried to fight this cycle by making people aware of it and to do better.

But now it’s not about the characters recognizing their harsh cycle of destruction, it’s about us—the audience—recognizing ours.

The brilliance of this prequel was that we got to see what the world was like before it ended. We got to see the U.S. how we recognize it today, and oddly enough, it was really similar.

Peaceful protest movements fighting fascism being faced by riot police sent by the president, a public health alert in response to a virus outbreak, leaders ignoring scientific advances because they fear it’ll divide their loyal followers and a capitalist world where you need to be rich in order to be granted safety. Is this “The 100” or is it the current state of America? Showrunner Jason Rothenberg really nailed this on the head, huh?

The crazy thing about this episode was that it was filmed late January, early February 2020. This was before the United States announced the emergency stay-at-home order from the COVID-19 pandemic in March and before George Floyd’s death marked the beginning of another Black Lives Matter protest movement in June.

Newscaster: When riot police, on orders from the Wallace Administration, moved in to clear the extremist environmental group known as Tree Crew.

Callie: Extreme? What a joke. We were there peacefully. They’re the extreme ones.

Callie Cadogan doesn’t just represent the Grounders’ second commander; she represents the people of today fighting for what’s right and taking a stand against fascist leaders. She’s a symbol of fighting against blind tradition. I couldn’t think of a better person to tell this new story.

“The 100” is socially aware and uses cultural context to tell the message that we — not the characters — also need to recognize our cycle and be better. We need to recognize when groups in power only care about keeping that power for themselves and leaving the rest of us to literally defend for ourselves.

Lucy: Bastards. Don’t they [the police] know they’re defending a system that hurts people like them?

Callie: People want to believe their leaders are telling the truth, which is why we need to get back there and continue exposing their lies.

Callie openly disagrees and fights back against her father who strategically uses fear appeals to get people on his side.

Callie: Refusing to take part in fascist regimes is my thing.

Cadogan: What’s wrong with fascism?… Calling dropping out of MIT to join a protest movement dedicated to solving an unsolvable problem a bad choice is an insult to bad choices.

Callie: Coming from the vulture capitalist who traded his precious credibility to become a prophet of doom, I’ll take that as a compliment.

Cadogan: It wasn’t. I raised you to think for yourself, not join the latest cultural mood swing.

Callie: You raised me to think like you. I’m sorry you can’t handle that I don’t.

This is a conversation I’m sure many of us have been having lately, and to see it explored on screen validates that fight against tradition.

I love that, with both the 100 delinquents from season one and the prequel’s Tree Crew, it’s the younger people who challenge traditional thinking and their fascist leaders (Cadogan’s leadership style reminds me so much of Jaha’s in the early days of The Ark). They’re always the ones who create a new society in the world destroyed by older generations. They’re the ones looking ahead, thinking outside the box and dealing with the world’s mess they’ve inherited.

Tree Crew rising from the ashes and stepping onto Earth’s surface at the end of “Anaconda” was so similar to the 100 delinquents stepping out of the dropship in the show’s pilot episode. They’ve inherited a destroyed planet, but they’ll do whatever it takes to create a newer, better society.

I enjoyed every minute of this backdoor pilot, and I hope against hope The CW picks it up.

“The 100” airs every Wednesday on The CW at 8/7c.

Brianna Taggart

I'm a journalism, communications, and digital writing/literature & design student who watches way too much TV and gets too emotionally invested in fictional characters. I'm also a hiking and adventure fanatic. Find passion, you lovely people.

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