The 100 is so close that you could almost feel the nerves that come with each new episode of the popular science fiction show.
With a lot of luck, I was able to watch four episodes of the new season, and I can safely say that my mind has been blown. Everything that I thought I knew I didn't.
Beyond that though, the fifth season of the show starts out as an exhilarating journey to reunite the fans with the characters, only to continue by introducing some new faces into the mix, then finishing it all off with an adventure as old as time.
Now, this preview may contain some light teases about the first four episodes, with a specific focus on the first two because of what they set up down the line. Proceed with caution if you like to be kept in the dark, but really, who actually likes that?
As mentioned at this year's WonderCon, when the show returns there is a focus on Clarke and how she handles the change of plans that end with her all alone on Earth.
Eliza Taylor is a powerhouse in Eden, her acting in this episode alone managed to make me cry and then the actual writing did me in completely.
The strength that Clarke Griffin continues to showcase will never stop reminding me that she is a true hero.
Clarke does manage to find the light at the end of a tunnel that finds itself getting darker and darker as she tries to survive. As we all know, Madi is introduced, and this helps them both as they wait for people to come down from space.
Speaking of space, our little group of well-adjusted sky people (plus Emori and Echo) haven't come down yet. Shocking, I know.
But when the show picks back up, we will find out that there is a reason for that, and it is the prisoner ship that gives them hope about getting back down again.
That may sound simple now that they know they have a chance to return home, yet we also all know that nothing is ever easy on The 100.
That is a great way to transition into the bunker, a mysterious piece of the puzzle that also can't seem to get back up easily.
With all the rubble that came from Polis collapsing, the people in the bunker can't get out, and Clarke can't dig them out. This changes their hopes of surviving because now they don't have a true end date.
Instead what Octavia has on her hands is a new leadership role and a huge problem that needs to be fixed.
Last but not least, the prisoner transport ship that arrives on the ground brings some new people into our lives.
Charmaine, Zeke, and McCreary may be working together, but they couldn't be more different. Each of them is a clear-cut character that has something driving them, and the exciting part is how fascinating they already seem to be.
When approaching the season as a whole though, are a few specific impressions that I got from the four episodes that introduce the season.
Tackling The Time Jump
Six years is a long time in case one of you managed not to hear that phrase yet.
The question of how this big gap of missing time will be fixed this season was something I worried about from the very beginning.
The 100 stands out because of the way that each character is created, but you can't deny that keeping each season contained within a small amount of time works in the show's favor too.
The first four episodes of this show though put me entirely at ease because the truth is you don't feel the time jump in any negative way.
Fans were clearly worried that they would either not be able to recognize their favorite characters or that the characters on the show would be strangers to each other.
Based on the what I have seen so far though, the show has done a great job at getting rid of both of those concerns.
The time jump isn't ignored, there is no way to deny that some people have changed in interesting ways and some are at their core exactly the character we fell in love with.
Regardless of that though, it doesn't feel like six years have passed because it is so easy to be sucked back into the story again. There is an amount of time that we missed, but the characters and their relationships come off quite familiar.
It is easy to follow everyone again, and there aren't moments where it is hard to recognize what the show has spent four seasons sharing with us.
The fact that people were separated into three different areas could and probably will come back later on in the season; it is safe to assume that there will even be friction because of it.
But in terms of coming back to a world that changed while we didn't get to watch, the writers have indeed gone above and beyond to make sure it all still feels like home.
Finding The Right Pacing
Season 4 of The 100 explored a countdown to the end of the world, which forced people to look for a few different ways to save themselves from impending doom.
Yet with that came some issues with pacing since episodes with brand new plans felt like they were slowly making their way to the very obvious failure.
Each new idea though was entertaining, and it pushed the characters involved to new limits. The bad news is that it doesn't always work when there is no doubt that by the end there still won't be a perfect solution.
With this new season, there is once again this sign that concerns were heard and addressed with the structure of each episode.
The beauty of the first season for me was always that if I looked away for a second, I would miss a game-changing surprise that turned the direction of the story in a new direction.
This time around there is once again an action-packed approach to each episode that will leave you utterly unable to focus on anything else.
There is no time to stop and breathe, in fact, you will probably end up holding your breath because the story being told is nothing that we could have imagined.
The 100 uses the pacing to help turn every expectation we could have for a plot upside down, moving things along with a purpose that only they know.
I really just gave up trying to guess where each episode was taking me because it was never even close to what I imagined in my mind.
So if you are going into this season thinking you'll be at ease, you'll get there, but then the rug will be swept right out from under you because there is only so long that things stay quiet on The 100.
New Friendships, New Bonds
Clarke and Madi, The Space Crew, and the Bunker all present three locations with groups of people that had to adjust to spending all their time with one another.
Over time new bonds had to have formed, whether out of love or out of duty.
Clarke and Madi develop a bond that mirrors a healthy sibling relationship. They have come to depend on one another not just to survive but to stay sane as the literal last people on Earth.
Through all this though, it is clear that Clarke and Madi have a real bond between them. Eden is a season premiere that manages to show exactly how these two people became a family while adjusting to the pure destruction that led them there.
Without giving much away, I want to highlight not only the value of Clarke handling six years on the ground with someone else but also how quickly Madi becomes her own character.
While Madi gets introduced through her connection to the lead of the show, she is a fully formed person right from the beginning. There is still a lot left to learn about her but what we do know makes you want to protect her from all the bad things in the world.
Another bond to look out for is the obvious one up in space, one that can be broken up into a few, actually.
The group in space has had no one but each other up there, and that is clear from the many different connections that they have going on.
I can tease that Bellamy and Murphy have found their personal relationship, and the only way to describe is by mentioning that they have an odd way of comforting one another.
Nevertheless, it is obvious that the two have gotten to spend time just hanging out for once and became closer because of that.
It is also worth bringing up the incredible connection between Bellamy and Raven because it is built on doing right by their people and Clarke.
No one has forgotten Clarke and the sacrifices that she made for them, but Bellamy and Raven specifically use that to create a partnership of their own.
It feels like what we have seen from them on the ground with the added benefit of an additional six years of growth between them.
And the last relationship I would like to mention up there in space is the one between Raven and Emori.
I don't want to say that I didn't see this coming, but I really didn't see this coming. As mentioned by Lindsey Morgan before, Raven has found a friend in Emori, and it shows.
In fact, Emori and Raven bond over her work on making sure that the group manages to come back to Earth.
It is very refreshing to see Emori branch out a little and make more friends for herself, fully embracing the situation that she has ended up in.
To keep things interesting, all I will tease about new bonds in the bunker will be a random thought about unlikely loyalty.
There is someone down there that has displayed support for Octavia and has completely shocked me.
This could be a set up for some character exploration for which even I didn't manage to prepare myself. Suffice to say, keep an eye on the Bunker when we get reacquainted with it once again.
Stray Out Of Context Thoughts From Season 5
Octavia and Niylah manage to sneak in a friendly talk. No, I am still not sure how to process that, but it looks like Bellamy and Octavia have another thing in common now.
Raven's got jokes and maybe even a smile, or two, just don't blink or you'll miss it.
Newcomer Zeke (played by Jordan Bolger) is here to steal your heart. But seriously, this member of the Eligius prison ship transport is no doubt about to be everyone's favorite character.
There comes a time in all of our lives when we meet our worst enemy. I have finally met mine, and he goes by the name of McCreary.
There is a wonderful Clarke moment that ended up feeling like a parallel of two scenes from the pilot of the show. Sometimes Earth just gives you some time off just to relax.
No one on The 100 wanted to meet each other again looking the same way that they did before, so appearances have changed a couple of times over.
Bob Morley's convention hint about the show giving us a random Blake family fact was not only true; it was enlightening.
Don't underestimate Madi unless you like being wrong. This is another new character whose relationship with Clarke is a refreshing change of pace for the lead that usually ends up alone. Madi's existence allows us to see Clarke in a happier place while she waits for her friends to come back who may or may not be a little late.
Speaking of family, the Griffin ladies give the Blakes a run for their money for most emotional family scene. The twist? They aren't together when the feelings start to surface.
- This season's version of Riley is resilient and genuinely dad material.
The 100 returns for its fifth season April 24th on The CW.
Stick around TV Fanatic for more episode previews and reviews of this upcoming season, and watch The 100 online if you need to catch up on the adventure.
Yana Grebenyuk is a staff writer for TV Fanatic. Follow her on Twitter.