Review: The 100

A couple weeks back I started looking for a “backup” show to watch, something to stream on Netflix when I ran out of DVR recordings. So I browsed my list of bookmarked things on Netflix and decided to watch The 100, a CW show that premiered for the first time last year and has since moved into a strong, full-length second season.

For some general background, this show takes place in a not too distant post-apocalyptic future. The Earth is uninhabitable due to the radiation damage from a nuclear war and the only surviving humans live in space. Their home is called the Arc – an amalgamation of all previous international space stations – and because of limited resources they live under strict, martial-enforced rules. Only one child per family, rations on food and medicine, etc, but the Arc is dying regardless. Its running out of air and there’s no way to fix it, something that the Counsel is doing its best to keep secret from the general populace. So it is quietly decided that The 100, each a juvenile criminal in the eyes of Arc law, will be sent to Earth in a drop ship. They have no supplies and no idea what they’ll find on the ground, but their survival will decide the fate of the human race.

As a fan of “end of the world” type stories, this show definitely appeals to me. I like to think that there’s a million and one different ways that our future could turn out and it’s not unrealistic to suppose that this might be one of them. The show is generally well written, the setting pretty decently thought out, and the ragtag characters are varied in their personalities and crimes from actually threatening to mistakenly locked up. Not to mention the Lord of the Flies style societies which build up around them are particularly on point. Drop a bunch of teens in the woods without rules or supervision and you can bet that all hell will break loose, right? Right.

So I binged watched the season and a half that’s out, mostly in the last week, and I don’t regret it at all. This show was engaging and action packed and it really kept me on the edge of my seat. I’m glad that I decided to watch it and a little bit sorry that I’m all caught up, now.

 

*SPOILERS TO FOLLOW*

 

And now for the spoiler-y parts of this discussion.

First of all, I’m dying to know how the Grounders survived. Obviously the people in Mount Weather survived by quarantining themselves from radiation, but for the Grounders to have developed radiation immunity they couldn’t have done that. Did they expose themselves over time? Did they just have stronger genes to begin with? All we know right now is that they’re immune (though not as immune as the Sky People) and that they’ve been around and roaming the surface for more than one generation. So I’m very curious as to know how that’s possible.

Now let’s talk about the characters.

Obviously Clarke will continue to play a big role in the show since she was the first to try and take charge after the drop ship landed. And the fact that she’s still in charge now that the Arc has crash-landed on Earth just goes to show how strong a force of personality she really has. Clarke has a way of gaining trust by doing the right thing, by making the hard choices only when she has to, and following through on her commitments. That’s earned her respect and a leadership role that the Counsel won’t easily win back from her. Especially now that she has the Commander’s trust (and affection?) as well as the experience of having been one of the first to reach out diplomatically to the Grounders. They trust her in a way that they don’t trust Abby and the rest of the Counsel and I’m honestly not sure if I blame them.

Bellamy I always liked as a character. He was meant to be a villainous sort (my favorite), but with his backstory there was no way that he could stay that way for long. Everything he did, he did to protect his illegally-born sister Octavia and as dishonorable as that may have seemed, it was also the right decision. I don’t know that The 100 could have survived down on Earth without him and they certainly couldn’t have without Octavia. Bellamy knows how to inspire the fighting spirit of The100 and that has kept them alive on more than one occasion even if he’s also a bit selfish sometimes.

Octavia herself turned out to be quite the important character, too and I think that that’s because people connect with her passion for life. She spent 16 years hiding under the floorboards of her family’s apartment before being discovered and immediately sent to lock up for the simple crime of being born. If that’s not reason enough to enjoy life on Earth, then I don’t know what is. She’s earned the love and respect of the Grounders and I think she’s destined to become a leader amongst their people. In fact, depending on how the battle goes at Mount Weather, it may be sooner rather than later. She’s already Indra’s second.

There are some other notable characters rotating in and out of the show’s spotlight including Abby (Clarke’s mother) Chancellor Jaha, Finn (Clarke’s sometimes boyfriend), Raven (mechanic-extraordinaire), Monty (your resident telecommunications guy), Jasper (you’re underdog leader), and Lincoln (Octavia’s Grounder informant/boyfriend), but my favorite “secondary” character is definitely Anya. I loved her because she was strong and determined to fight for her people, but also because she was willing to accept help from Clarke when circumstances demanded it. She was just a total bad-ass, let’s be honest. I mean, she trained the Commander. That’s got to count for something! Plus, she was played by the same woman who starred in Joss Whedon’s Dollhouse so you just know she’s a good actress.

However there are also a few things on this show that gave me pause. Firstly, it always seems to be of paramount importance to send out search parties and rescue teams when one of the main characters is captured or goes missing, but not so mournful when two people die to rescue that one person. Does that not strike you as counterproductive? Secondly, the Mountain Men’s “Reapers” are eerily similar to the “Reavers” from Joss Whedon’s Firefly. Sure, the Reapers require drugs to control them, but the idea of man-made disfigured men terrorizing the natives is pretty much exactly what you’d find on Firefly. So it’s understandable that I’ve mixed up the names of these characters more than once while watching the show, right? Right. I also don’t really like how the religious cult surrounding the “City of Light” is depicted in the setting of a desert. Its alluding, however lightly, to Middle Eastern culture and I’m not sure that I like that. But for now we’ll just see where it goes.

Overall I have to say that I’m really impressed with this show. The CW has definitely been investing in their programming recently, something that I’ve mentioned before when talking about Arrow, and it’s gotten me to watch more than half of their line-up. I’m excited to see where this show will go once the conflict with the Mountain Men is over (because that arc will wrap up in the next few episodes) and curious about this whole “City of Light” concept. What will Murphy and Jaha find across the water? There’s a lot of potential for this show, many different leads the writers can follow, and you can bet that I’ll be right there along with them when the story unfolds.

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