The 100 debuted on the CW during the era just before I started paying attention to the CW again for shows like The Flash, Riverdale, and my beloved Supergirl. As such, it is a show that despite its massive following (including several members of our FANGRRLS team) completely fell through the cracks for me. Then when it became the poster-child for the Bury Your Gays trope, it fell off my radar completely.
But the more I watched other shows on the CW, the more ads for The 100 I started to see, and the more I started to wonder if I might actually dig this future sci-fi but also sort of primitive, post-apocalyptic-with-spaceships little show. When I initially expressed interest in doing a Late to the Party for it, Tricia Ennis leaped at the opportunity to pick five episodes for me to watch. She cheated a little bit, sneaking a two-parter in there and raising my watch count to six, but I’ll forgive her because she did choose six episodes that gave me a solid cross-section of the series.
The one disclaimer I’ll add in is that yes, as briefly mentioned above, I am aware that this show does have the example of Bury Your Gays that is so famous an entire convention was named after it. Tricia actually did suggest one bonus episode for me to watch because it relates to the controversy. I chose not to do so, because I felt like my awareness of that particular plot being the literal only thing I knew about the show going in made me feel like anything I wrote would be more about what I knew about it outside the show, rather than simply my experience watching a show that I was supposed to be viewing cold. Please do not read into my decision not to include it as a declaration that it doesn’t matter, but rather the opposite. I didn’t think I could do it justice while also staying true to the spirit of Late to the Party.
Season 1, Episode 2: “Earth Skills”
Summary: A group of kids seems to have been sprung out of space juvie in order to test the Earth for possible rehabilitation after an apocalyptic event, and after one of them was attacked with a spear they realize they’re not alone, and Clarke, the apparent Piper of this group of criminals, leads a group to find their friend who was taken by the locals. Also, some of the space juvie kids take to removing their tracking wristbands, leading the folks in their space station home who secretly sent them to question if they’re dying or not. Desmond from Lost wants to vote to kill off some of the folks on the station due to issues with the life support system. Apparently one of the space juvie kids tried to kill the Chancellor, who survived and has a gravitas-off with Desmond from Lost, ultimately delaying the culling vote.
Okay, while I’ll probably eventually go back and watch the pilot if I do end up diving into this series, this episode was still extremely solid for a newbie. The monologue from Clarke at the beginning explained the premise, and the relationships between the characters are so clearly spelled out both on the station and on the Earth. I do find myself getting confused about which dirty, brown-haired angsty boy is which, but I’m glad they made Clarke the seemingly only human to retain the recessive blonde hair gene so at least I know who she is every time she’s on screen.
Season 1, Episode 6: “His Sister’s Keeper”
Summary: I learn that one of the angsty glaring boys from the other episode is named Bellamy, and he has a sister named Octavia who has been taken by a man who is even more of an angry glarer, who chains her up in his house for reasons. We flashback and learn that Octavia’s birth was against the station’s One-Child Rule and so she was raised in secret in the space station version of a cupboard under the stairs until Bellamy decided to take her to a masquerade party, which ended in her getting caught, their mom getting killed, and the two of them being so angry at each other. Meanwhile Raven has arrived from the station just in time for a love triangle with Clarke and Finn, another glaring boy that I totally thought was also Bellamy multiple times. Also, the Grounders are total jerks and kill so many of the 100. Oh also the culling mentioned in the other episode apparently happens and bodies are jettisoned from the station creating a light show effect.
This is a pretty decent worldbuilding episode. It establishes the brutality of life on the station, as well as continuing to depict the Grounders as being fairly dangerous and mysterious. Despite not having a firm grasp of all the character relationships yet, I’m getting a firm understanding of their lives. Bellamy is a good example of a character who I’d written off as just a thuggish jerk in the last episode but is now being fleshed out with some real depth and motivation for his actions. I could do without the love triangle stuff with Raven, Clarke, and Finn, but I thought both Raven and Clarke were coming from realistic positions.
Season 1, Episodes 12 and 13: “We are Grounders”
Summary: Oh wow, a lot seems to have happened in the gap. A guy named Murphy is real mad at Bellamy and crew because they tried to hang him and he survived, but the whole thing made him a bit killy. He holds Jasper hostage first and then Bellamy. He shoots Raven but the Space Juvies eventually overpower him and tie him to a tree, which isn’t great for him cause the Grounders are coming are real murderous for some reason. Meanwhile. Clarke and Finn are reunited by Lincoln, which is apparently what the angry glaring quiet man from the other episode is called. He takes then to meat the Reapers, a bunch of horribly mutated and (I assume) cannibalistic humanoid underground dwellers. Clarke and Finn escape back to the dropship and because it’s too late to flee the approaching Grounders, they instead form a plan to hide inside the ship and fire its rockets, burning the attacking Grounders alive. But since this is a two-parter episode, they stretch out the clock by making Raven the only person who can make the rockets work, and she’s dying of a gunshot. Clarke and Finn go get her medicine, where they run into Lincoln who’s all “I told you to go” and they’re like “we knowwww, our bad!” and then they get the Reapers to chase them back to the camp to help fight the grounders. The rockets get fired and the Grounders, and apparently Finn who was stuck outside, are caught in the blast.
Meanwhile, on the Ark station, the support systems are failing and it’s announced that everyone is going to die. They all spend time assuming they’re gonna die and then eventually the Chancellor is like “What if we didn’t though?” and then Desmond from Lost is like “Oh good point.” Instead, they decide to try and land the Ark on the Earth, which works but there are some casualties, including the Chancellor who is still alive but had to stay behind to manually start the launch. After all this the Space Juvies exit the dropship only to be sleep gassed by mysterious “mountain men,” and wake up in quarantine in some sort of advanced medical facility where only white paint and fabric, and I guess bleach, survived the apocalypse.
I’ll say this about the show, they know how to add pressure and raise the stakes. It’s not enough to have an army attacking, there’s a traitor in camp seeking angry vengeance, an important person on the brink of death, intrigue as to why Lincoln is betraying his own people to help the Space Juvies. And I still have no idea why the Grounders are so viciously attacking, to begin with. It’s appropriate that Desmond is on this show because the conflict feels very much like that of the Planers and the Others on Lost.
I don’t know yet how I’m supposed to feel about the Ark residents now arriving on Earth, but my initial reaction towards the mysterious medical facility is not super great. I’m interested in seeing where this goes in the second season but it feels like a case of a show abandoning its own premise a season in if everyone is already on Earth now and there is also still high technology and some traces of civilization. I could be wrong though but that’s my initial gut reaction. Overall these were fine but I think it feels like there’s just a little too much going on and it’s tough to keep track of all of the factions.
Season 2, Episode 5: “Human Trials”
Summary: Clarke is dragged into a camp full of Ark survivors who mistake her for a Grounder. She’s recognized by her mother who is apparently in charge but won’t support Clarke’s plan to go rescue other Space Juvies from the Mountain Men. Clarke is also reunited with Raven, Octavia, and Bellamy, who honestly seems like a super chill dude this season. With Raven’s help, the other three take guns and go off to find Finn, who is apparently still alive, as is a much more mellow Murphy. Finn, on the other hand, has gone all Travis Bickle trying to find Clarke and ends up holding several Grounders hostage before gunning them all down right before she and the others arrive. Awkward.
Meanwhile, Jasper is still in the Mount Weather medical facility and a doctor lady convinces him to serve as a human dialysis machine and let a radiation poisoned girl named Maya use his special extra tough space blood to help cure her sickness. At the same facility, a creepy dude is running torturous tests on Lincoln with some strange red drug that may possibly be what causes the Reapers. Also, Desmond from Lost tries to negotiate a peace with the Grounders but instead negotiates a few punches and kicks before he’s finally knocked out and wakes up in their camp, where he finds that the Chancellor from the Ark is apparently still alive and also a prisoner. So, you know, good news/bad news.
Wow, I… this is just totally a different show than I thought it was all these years. It’s starting to feel like one of the Fallout games with the number of factions that are vying for dominance and a place in the world. I didn’t realize that there would be just so many human survivors on the ground, but good on them I suppose? I do wish they’d come up with a little more creative of a find and replace when they completely lifted the “Reavers” plot from Firefly and made them the “Reapers.” I am otherwise continually impressed by the worldbuilding happening here, even though the actual 100 that the show is named after seems to really have dwindled down to the like, 7 or so that we’re still following. Still, there’s enough interesting twists and turns that I could see how someone could get easily hooked on this show.
Season 2, Episode 8: “Spacewalker”
Summary: Clarke arrives at Camp Jaha, the Ark settlers base, escorted by two Grounders on horseback carrying torches. She tells them that there can be no peace while Finn lives, and then most of the Grounders are like “we’re cool with that,” but there ends up being a lot of attempts to find a better solution, including holding a trial for him as a war criminal in Camp Jaha, or just running off with him, which is what Clarke, Bellamy, Raven, and Murphy try to do. We also get a series of flashbacks that show us that the unauthorized spacewalk that landed Finn in Space Juvie, and thus as a member of the 100 to begin with, was actually Raven but he covered for her. Finn, who has mellowed a lot since he went all Anakin vs. the Tuskens in the Grounders camp, eventually decides to surrender himself to the Grounders to prevent any more deaths on his hands. Clarke asks the Grounders' leader Lexa, a woman who I’m sure will never be the source of any controversy whatsoever, if she can say goodbye to Finn. Then in full on Buffy season two fashion, she totes stabs him in the gut, killing him swiftly to spare him the brutal death the Grounders have in store for him.
I really liked this episode. It was interesting to see this show do a more narrowly focused story, rather than pulling a million different threads at once. We get deliberations from the three different Chancellors, Abby, Jaha, and Desmond from Lost, who I’ve finally learned is named Kane in this that highlight the shifting power dynamics from the three. We also learn about Lincoln apparently recovering from his Reapering that started in the other episode. But all of this occurs in scenes that drive the Finn plot forward. It makes use of few locations in a way that I’ve yet to see this show do, not quite a bottle episode but definitely one that may have had a smaller budget. I found the titular Spacewalker flashback to be the only real weak link for me. It felt a little too much like an attempt to soften the character back up again before killing him since it is sort hard otherwise to feel too bad for a guy who murdered 18 innocent people in cold blood. But I do assume that’ll set up some future conflict between Clarke and Raven so it could still be interesting.
This show isn’t what I thought it was going to be at all, but what it is feels sort of like a mash-up of a lot of things I like, in a way that might occasionally feel derivative, but has enough charm that I mostly forgive it. I don’t know if I saw enough here to decide to become a full viewer, but I’ve seen enough to be willing to go back and fill in some of the gaps of the first season before making a final decision.