I think The 100 has proven that it’s a show worth watching. I wrote a post on it a while back, and sadly, some of the issues that I had hoped the show would address, it never did. However, in other regards, The 100 more than surprised me, and I think that overall, this first season was a great start.
Spoilers after the jump.
To recap, The 100 is about a group of a hundred juvenile delinquents born on a space station called the Ark. The Ark, unfortunately, is running out of oxygen and the people who live there worry that the Earth is uninhabitable due to a nuclear war that supposedly left the planet radioactive about a century ago. Without any other options, the Ark decides to send our one hundred delinquents to the ground to test whether or not humanity can survive returning to the Earth.
Once on the planet, the One Hundred experience for the first time what it’s like to breathe real air, swim in water, and generally enjoy freedom, something that has been denied to them previously. Due to the laws of the Ark, all crimes are punishable by death, except if the perpetrators are under the age of eighteen, in which case they go to prison until they become of age and can be executed. As such, being on the ground is both a terrifying and a liberating experience.
Though the planet is habitable, it has changed a lot during the past century. Animals like deer and horses have two faces; there are large man-eating river snakes, poisonous fogs, and most concerning of all, other human beings. The other human beings are called Grounders by the citizens of the Ark, and they view the One Hundred as invaders. As such, it doesn’t take long for our hundred children to learn very quickly that they are both at war and ill-prepared. Additionally, there are numerous Grounder factions, and not one of them thus far is friendly. There are the Grounders that the One Hundred are at war with, as well as the Reapers, who are cave-dwelling cannibals, and then there are the Mountain Men, of whom all the other factions are afraid and to whom we are only finally introduced in the last episode.
While all this is going on, the Ark is not faring too well. And after an uprising, it has been left irrevocably damaged. Previously, the Ark had a couple months of oxygen left, but after a brief civil war breaks out, the damage done to the Ark is too much and as the season draws to a close, the Ark only has two days left and no exodus ships to take its remaining inhabitants down to the Earth. The only course of action left is to crash the Ark back into the planet and hope for the best. Most of the Ark is destroyed upon reentry into Earth’s atmosphere, but our first season ends with Ark survivors on the ground and the remaining One Hundred who survived the war—I think there’s only about sixty or seventy of them left—being captured by the Mountain Men.
All in all, this is a very engaging show, and it certainly doesn’t shy away from the bloodshed and horror our characters have to face. Throughout the war with the Grounders and the tragedies on the Ark, and even the laws the Ark is governed by, The 100 talks a lot about morality and self-sacrifice. Is it okay to simply execute people who break laws without trials by jury, regardless of the crime in question? How does that affect the loved ones of the person executed? Whom in the war should we side with, the Grounders or the One Hundred? The Grounders are killing these children, but at the same time, these children have invaded their land and fueled the war at every turn, regardless of whether or not they meant to. In one episode they even launch missiles in order to send a signal to the Ark, and unbeknownst to them, those missiles come down on a Grounder village and burn it to the ground.
In another episode, due to the oxygen crisis, the Ark has to execute three hundred of its citizens to buy more time for everyone else. The leaders on the Ark choose to make it look like an accident, and their Chancellor decides that he will be among the victims, because he can’t ask others to make a sacrifice that he can’t make himself. While a noble gesture, he would be leaving the remaining citizens in a state of anarchy after such a horrible tragedy. Additionally, the leaders decided to not tell the citizens of the crisis, since they thought that would create chaos, since at this point, no matter what they did, people were going to have to die. In a surprising turn of events, the truth gets out to the citizens, and instead of the chaos the leaders expected, they ended up with a couple hundred volunteers who wanted to buy their families more time to live.
This show deals explicitly with horrible situations where no matter what people choose, someone will always be hurt or killed. And it takes the time to show that there are not always easy answers. By refusing to give anyone an easy way out, we see that our characters mess up a lot and need to learn from their mistakes. One of the things that makes this show so powerful is that it doesn’t look as though anyone but the main character is truly safe.
One of my biggest grievances with the show, however, remains that our main character Clarke is both white and heterosexual. I’m happy that we have a female protagonist, and indeed, I do really like her character. I think Clarke is very interesting and well rounded. That said, The 100 has introduced numerous PoC who all play big roles in the narrative—Bellamy, Anya, Lincoln, Wells, etc—and though Clarke does seem to have an interest in Bellamy, her co-leader among the One Hundred, her main love interest is Finn, another white character. Additionally, in order to pursue Clarke, Finn had to dump his other love interest, Raven, who is a PoC as well.
Though I do think the show handles the love triangle between Raven, Clarke, and Finn moderately well, Clarke’s and Finn’s relationship is both undeveloped and one of the show’s weakest points. Despite that, The 100 still tries to convince us that it is a developed relationship, when it’s not. On top of that, I’m a little miffed that in our love triangle—love square once we include Bellamy, and love pentagon once we include Wells—also tries to shove the PoC characters off to the side for the two white people. I’m also a little peeved that Wells ended up being a dead-bro-walking trope. As the season comes to a close, Raven’s dying, Bellamy’s status is unknown, and even Wells’s father doesn’t make it. The show leaves off with Finn’s status unknown as well, and out of all the characters, he’s the one I’ll miss the least.
All in all, though, this was still a good first season, and every character we meet ends up being interesting in their own right. Season 2 is scheduled to start in October, and it’s definitely something I’m looking forward to. If you haven’t watched this show yet, you should totally check it out.