What if there are no good guys? That is the big question this season of The 100 will be posing. In the great tradition of this show, the people you think are the heroes are more than a little questionable, the noble leaders are turning into terrifying cultist, and the villains are becoming more and more human. In a packed season opener, The 100 looks set to be another wild ride into this dark and difficult future world.

There are a lot of story arcs being dealt with all at once in this season opener and it’s difficult to fully revel in all of them, so I’m going to take a thematic approach for now. This episode deals heavily with the political and personal fallout of the previous finale, what it has done to the world, and what it is doing to the characters. Most of our protagonists are now suffering physically and mentally from the events of the Mount Weather incident, and their struggles are not glossed over.

Clarke Griffin

Clarke Griffin has gone missing and everyone is hunting her. She, who had once been the ‘heart’ of the show – the person with a moral backbone and a sense of fairness – has become the Commander of Death, Wanheda. She killed Mount Weather, she burned Grounders in a ring of fire, and she brought the Sky People down to earth. At least, that is how the Grounders see her.

But Clarke is still a young person, 17 (possibly 18) years old, still adjusting to this horrifying life she has found herself in. Once a promising medical student, then a fugitive, then lost on a dead planet, before finally becoming the leader of the 100. Now Clarke has a burden, now she has guilt and traumas the likes of which few others have known.

It is refreshing to see this dealt with so frankly. So often we see ‘heroes’ casually butcher their enemies, only to move on to the next thing fairly quickly. Clarke has to live with what she has done, with what seems to be PTSD, and has lashed out in some pretty self-destructive ways. She has isolated herself from her friends, she has gone on killing sprees in the forest, and has tried to leave everything about her identity behind. Sadly, she seems to have failed.

Clarke is not the only one dealing with the mental stress of the fallout of the Mount Weather incident. Jasper, who lost friends and a lover in the radiation attack, is also going through a hard time of adjusting. Filled with anger, paranoia, betrayal and suicidal tendencies, Jasper is more than a worry for his friends who just want to keep him alive. While on a scouting mission he eagerly puts himself in harm’s way, smiling gleefully as a knife is pressed into his throat. His depression, grief, and fury over what his own people have done boils over, causing greater conflicts within the colony. It will be interesting to see how this develops and just how long his friend Monty can keep covering for him – their friendship has been a strong bond over the past two seasons but now it is fraying. Will Monty keep it up? Will he finally snap? It will make for some exciting, if painful, viewing.

Raven Reyes

Raven, a fan favourite, has troubles of her own. She doesn’t seem to have much luck where her legs are concerned, and the explosion that tore through her at Mount Weather has left her still struggling to walk without pain. Chancellor Abby advises her to have surgery to help, but she turns it down, preferring to march on her own strength.

Perhaps it is pride, perhaps it is a sense of duty – to not show any weakness, lest she be thought lesser than her peers. It’s hard to remember a time when Raven wasn’t injured and I am curious to see how they will go forward with this plotline. Will she develop chronic pain, and how will she deal with it? How will the others react to it? What The 100 has done consistently is not shy away from tough issues, especially where there are no clear right and wrong answers.

On the other side of the world, or so it seems, John Murphy has been trapped in a bunker watching a man die over and over again on video. Torturing himself, contemplating suicide, and growing an impressive beard in the process, he lasts several months locked away. When he finally escapes, he finds that former Chancellor Jaha has become some sort of cultist, following the mysterious Ali, an artificial intelligence program responsible for the bombs that wiped out humanity one hundred years ago.

Murphy quickly became one of my favourite characters last season, and he continues the tradition of not taking any crap, and being incredibly skeptical of almost everything. He seems to actually be one of the smartest people on the show, if not for his history of terrible decisions. When offered a chance to join the genocidal AI machine and Jaha on their mysterious quest, he declines, not wanting to be involved in something that sounds not only deadly, but downright inhuman.

It is worth pointing out, before I sign off, that this season seems to be picking up new and more diverse characterisation. After the confirmation that Clarke is bisexual last year, we now have further gay characters, including Miller. This opens the series out for more dynamics, for further twists, and for better representation. At last we see a somewhat more realistic view of the future – not only is it racially diverse, but it is sexually diverse, as is the real world. Shows that ignore this, simply add further levels of unreality to their fiction. The 100 is giving us a sense of the real world in its diversity, and it is refreshing. Long may it continue.

This was an episode that launches us back into the world of The 100. As I said, there are a lot of plot points fighting for our attention and, as is often the case with a season opener, few get the development they deserve. But hey, that’s what the rest of the season is for, right? This is here to whet our appetites and hopefully bring us back next week. I know I will be.