By Dalene Rovenstine
July 08, 2020 at 09:00 PM EDT
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Listen, I am a sucker for backdoor pilots. I think about “Assignment: Earth” from Star Trek: The Original Series on a near-weekly basis. I frequently reminisce about Valley Girls and am instantly saddened it was never made into a series. The Finder, The Flash, Facts of Life, The Originals — so many shows I’ve loved were first conceived as backdoor pilots. But a backdoor pilot in a final season? That’s a hard pill to swallow.

Because of time travel and all the different worlds/plots this season of The 100 is covering, we’re already getting less time with some of our favorite characters. And this gives us even less. But the writers did a great job wrapping the prequel up into the mythology of the overall story, so it felt like part of this show’s story. Could I have used more Clarke? Absolutely. Am I already obsessed with these new characters? Also, yes. (Of course, I’m not going to let myself get too invested just yet — because backdoor pilots have a history of burning me.)

“Anaconda” starts without a cold open — which is the first time this series has done that I believe? We’re back at the Anomaly Stone on Bardo, where Clarke and the gang are still reeling from learning that Bellamy's dead. (Still don’t believe it.) Miller falters as he tells Niylah and Jordan to keep an eye on the Disciples. Raven starts to cry, but Clarke is resolved: “We do this for him. We do this for our family.”

The doors open and Anders is there with The Shepherd. “I’m coming in alone, unarmed,” he tells Clarke. She lets his people leave, so he’s in the room alone with her tiny army plus Gabriel. And that’s when she recognizes that this is Bill Cadogan, the founder of the Second Dawn.

“How the hell are you here?”

“That’s a long story.”

Niylah asks Clarke in Trigedasleng who he is, and Clarke explains that he’s the one who built the bunker she lived in, that he was formerly the leader of a cult. “We weren’t a cult,” Bill interjects, saying they were a collective of great minds dedicated to the survival of the species… which sounds like a cult to me? He knows what they’re saying because Trigedasleng is the language his daughter, Calliope, created as a child.

Bill quickly surmises that if Trigedasleng survived, his daughter must have too. “Is my daughter in the key?” he asks Clarke. He knows there’s an AI in Clarke’s head, which is why he’s been referring to her as “the key.” (To be completely accurate, THE key is no longer in Clarke, but the memories are there thanks to neural mesh, and the actual AI in her head is a different chip.)

When Bill says Becca had explained the chip would merge with a mind, Clarke points out he burned her at the stake. He says if Clarke knows that, then his daughter Callie must have survived to tell the story…

Cut to pre-apocalypse Earth. Here, we meet Callie Cadogan and her best friend, Lucy. Callie is tending to a head wound Lucy received while they were out protesting as part of a group called Trikru (yeah, you heard that right). Callie’s mom, Gemma Cadogan, enters the room and we learn that she and Bill have been separated for a couple years.

Callie is dropping out of MIT now that she’s 18, and Bill wants to speak with her about it. She heads downstairs to talk with him on the holographic phone. This tech and the house, in general, gave me very strong Caprica vibes, which could be part of the reason I got on board with this storyline so quickly.

Reese, Callie’s brother, is the first one on the call. He’s on Team Dad (cult leader), and Callie’s on Team Mom (doctor). But Bill jumps on to argue with his daughter about how they fundamentally disagree on life when someone interrupts him. Bill immediately calls for Gemma to join the call and tells her, “Anaconda.” This is apparently code for “the missiles are coming.” A code word every normal family has, right?

Although Gemma doesn’t agree with her ex-husband and his not-a-cult cult, she takes Bill's warning very seriously and tells Callie they must go and leave Lucy behind. Before Callie can comprehend this, Lucy comes downstairs and Gemma hits her with a tranquilizer. Nice knowing ya, Lucy!

The first missile hits as Gemma and Callie are escaping on a chopper, but, just in time, they get to their destination: the Second Dawn bunker. Reese is already there leading people down. There’s a young man named August screaming about his girlfriend who can’t get in; he’s a level 12 and she’s not. They tranq him and close the hatch. Nice knowing ya, Rest of Earth!

The Cadogan family finds Bill in his office working on the Anomaly Stone. Gabriel was right, there was one on Earth! Apparently, Bill found it beneath Machu Picchu and took it — which I guess is a thing you can just do when you’re a billionaire. He says there were seven symbols on the wall and, as everyone knows, “it takes seven points to chart a course through space.” He touches the symbols in order, hoping this will be a path to a safe, new planet for them all. But nothing happens.

The Second Dawn disciples are going to be in the bunker for a bit, but only 92 percent of level 12s made it in time. Callie hears this and decides that means there is space for more. She goes to the exit where she finds August, who has already knocked out a guard named Tristan. He wants to go above ground and find his girlfriend, and Callie is ready to help — especially when she sees Austin’s Trikru tattoo. Problem is Tristan doesn't stay knocked out, and he plays by the rules: Bill said no one can go outside, even with suits on, for a year. And that’s when Reese comes to help…. err, not. Despite the fact that they can hear a woman banging on the hatch door, he refuses to let anyone open it. He’s not the brother; he’s the bad guy.

Fast-forward two years, where Callie, her brother, and others are scavenging above ground. They’re about to head back in when they see a small jump ship fall from the sky. It’s Becca. THE Becca. “I’m here to help,” she yells out. They bring her into the bunker, out of sight of everyone. Before they are able to get to Bill’s office, Tristan falls to the ground and starts convulsing. He was exposed to radiation. Reese runs for medical help, and Becca gets to work: She injects him with her anti-radiation serum. Callie is in awe, but she tells Becca not to mention her miracle goo to anyone.

As they draw closer to Bill’s office, Becca starts hearing a sound and getting a nose bleed. The noise is coming from the Anomaly Stone (or the “space ball” as the Cadogans have been calling it). She realizes it’s a harmonic sound and by touching the right symbols, she’s able to quiet the noise and open the bridge. Becca says they need to do the science before they journey through and, in the meantime, she can alter everyone’s blood so they don’t have to live in the bunker. Bill says no. Callie points out living in a bunker isn't working. Twenty people died by suicide in the past month and double that tried. Bill still says no. And Gemma agrees.

Callie doesn’t have her family on her side. But she has Becca — and she believes in her. Later, when Callie is alone with Becca in Bill’s office, she wants to talk about the scar on Becca’s neck. Callie assumes it must be from a neural implant that contains an AI that heightens Becca’s senses, which helped her identify the Anomaly Stone sounds. Ding ding ding! Becca says it’s called ALIE 2.0, but she’s nicknamed it “the Flame,” an homage to Prometheus, who stole fire from the gods. (This all sounding familiar?) Becca explains to Callie that she was cataloging the sounds of the symbols on the stone when she walked in, and it just occurred to her that seven of them have no sound at all. She thought that meant they were damaged, but it must be intentional.

Becca gets up and touches the seven silent symbols and the stone spins and spins before the room goes black. And then everything lights up as the stone turns into a bright ball. Becca touches it and gets sucked in. Bill walks in just as Becca is spit back. She’s shivering and says, “We’re not ready.” What she saw in the stone is “Judgment Day” and she won’t tell Bill anything about it.

Not particularly fond of not getting his way, Bill throws Becca into “the box.” He grills Callie about what Becca did to open the stone in that way, and she lies and says she wasn’t in the room when it happened. But Callie tells her father the truth next: She thinks Becca was sent to help them rebuild the Earth, not to jump to another. “I will save us, not her,” he growls. So, Callie sneaks out with Becca’s case.

After five days in the box, Becca gets a visit from Tristan… who gets a visit from Callie, knocking him out. Callie has given “Night Blood,” as she has dubbed it, to all the kids in the Bunker and half of their parents. The bad news is Reese has read Becca’s notebook and knows about the Flame. Becca knows Bill will use the Flame to find the stone code, and, “Once he does,” she says, “the human race will be wiped out.” Sadly, there’s no time to find a key for the handcuffs to get Becca out. Instead, Becca explains to Callie how to use the backdoor phrase for the flame: “Goodbye for now” in Latin, which Callie knows because of course, she does. She says (as we know from years of Commander use) the Flame can only be merged in people with blood alterations. “In the right mind, it can save the world,” she says. But in the wrong mind (a.k.a. Sheidheda), it can be disastrous.

Before they can say more, Reese comes in with his men to ask Becca one more time to give up the code. She says she won’t, so they burn her at the stake.

Reese and his army walk back into the bunker with the Flame in his hand — and Callie and her Night Blooders are there to meet him. Their mom is stuck in the middle. A fight breaks out between the two factions, but Callie says she and her brother should settle it like they did “in the basement.” I assume this means wrestling, but before we can find out, Callie shoots Reese in the shoulder. She tells the other guards if they don’t move aside, they’re next.

Callie grabs the Flame from her brother’s hand and then injects him with Night Blood. She tells her mom that they’re going west when they both come to their senses and leave ol’ Bill behind. She’s about to inject her mother, but Gemma doesn’t want it: “I’ve been to Earth. I’d rather see what’s behind Door #2.”

August is trying to get all of the Night Blooders to fit inside the inner door because it must close before the hatch will open and they can flee. Bill’s guards are infiltrating the room as Callie makes a break for the door. She makes it just in time — with Gemma helping them seal the door from the outside.

When Reese awakes, Callie is gone with everyone else and he’s furious — and so is Bill. Gemma tells him they just have to let Callie go. He hugs his wife and then tosses her into the inner room, knowing full well she doesn’t have the blood alteration yet. Then he tells Reese to find the Flame by all means possible. (I’m sensing a brother-sister feud will be a main theme if the prequel gets picked up.)

As for Bill, he and the rest of his people decide to head through the Anomaly. Where he goes is unknown for now, but we know at some point he ends up on Bardo. Back in the present, Bill asks Clarke if Callie is in the key. “Yes, Calliope is in here — but that’s not how it works,” she says. She won’t do anything until she sees her friends. In walks Octavia, Diyoza, and Echo, who are now fully suited in Golden Mask gear.

How long have they been soldiers? With timelines the way they’ve been, it could have been a long time, right? Could they possibly be loyal to the Shepherd and his war? What IS his war? What is Judgment Day? Where did the Anomaly Stone from the bunker go? Why exactly did Callie decide to make everyone on Earth start speaking a language she made up instead of English? And IS BELLAMY REALLY DEAD? Lots of questions coming out of tonight’s episode and only eight more episodes to answer them in. Fingers crossed this isn’t a Lost finale situation because I’m gonna need some answers.

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The 100

After a nuclear apocalypse, a group of people who have been living in space return to Earth—and quickly learn they’re not alone.
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