The CW show The 100 began its third season in January and after a not terribly promising start, has grown to be one of my favourite shows. The premise is that the Earth was devastated by nuclear war, the survivors heading for an ark in space to escape the deadly radiation. However, resources are running low after 97 years, and any rule infractions result in a death sentence – unless you are under 18. A group of teenage rule breakers are chosen to head down to the surface to test out whether it is safe to return – a pretty dangerous mission, especially as once they get to Earth, the radioactivity is safe, but the survivors on the surface – known as the Grounders – are less than welcoming
The first season of the show was largely the usual power struggles between truculent teenagers and the battles against fierce savage warriors. However, even from the early days, the show featured a young blond girl with few fighting skills, but strong leadership potential. Clarke (one of several Aussie cast members, Eliza Taylor) is a great character from the start, and the wealth of great female characters on The 100 is one of its best features.
However, it is the end of the first season where things really start to step up a gear. The ark crash lands back down to the earth and the Sky people basically incinerate 300 grounders! To top things off, Clarke and most of her people are then taken prisoner by mysterious figures in radiation suits – the Mountain Men.
In season 2, The 100 raced through amazing story after amazing story. Things that most shows would have saved for season finales. (SPOILERS GALORE HERE!)
The mountain men (the Grounder name for them) are a group of survivors holed up in Mount Weather who are gradually revealed to be extremely despicable. They can only survive by kidnapping Grounders and draining their blood to give themselves transfusions to fight off the deadly radiation. They want Clarke and her people as bone marrow from them can potentially make them immune to the background radiation still in the atmosphere.
Clarke escapes and teams up with the Grounders led by their Commander Lexa. However, before they can form an alliance, Finn goes nuts while searching for Clarke and machine guns a whole Grounder village. They demand his life in recompense and to save him from painful torture and death, Clarke kills him. While she and Lexa become closer, Bellamy heads back into Mount Weather to try to lower their defences and free the prisoners, while the Grounders and the Sky people plan their assault. Just as the plan appears to be coming together, Lexa betrays the alliance by reaching a deal for the release of her people and just days after she and Clarke share a kiss, she leaves her and the Sky people outside the gates of Mount Weather alone.
Clarke is forced into a terrible decision when the mountain men start harvesting bone marrow from her mother, opening the blast doors and letting in the radiation filled air that kills all of the people in Mount Weather, including allies, women and children.
In despair for having killed so many innocents, Clarke does not return to her people, instead heading off into the wilderness alone.
Where to begin with how great season 2 of The 100 was? Just so many truly shocking moments when you thought they couldn’t possibly go that far. Clarke’s discovery of the terrible truth at Mount Weather seemed huge – but then so did Finn’s actions a few episodes later. Clarke killing Finn was probably one of the biggest, but then Lexa’s betrayal was so heart breaking too! Through out everything, the fast moving plot just kept you gripped and engrossed. Yes, we all have our favourites – and least favourites. I don’t really care for Jaha (Isaiah Washington) at all and him and Murphy heading off to search for a fabled City Of Light at least kept them out of the way! Jasper and Monty can be annoying and Raven seemed like a kickass character but was pretty whiny. Clarke is just fabulous though, and Eliza Taylor fully convinces as someone forced into a leadership role and not afraid to make the hard choices. We see the toll on her at times, but she is so strong and (usually) wise. Less impulsive than Bellamy or stuck in her ways like the older Kane and her mother Abbie, Clarke is a leader you can really root for.
As season 3 began, the Clexa (Clarke/Lexa) shippers were worried Clarke wouldn’t be forgiving Lexa for her betrayal any time soon, but the breakneck storytelling pace has continued into the 4 episodes aired so far. While the reunion seemed pretty damn hostile, the world of Polis, the Grounder capitol is absolutely fascinating. We have the Ice Nation as a threat – and a scary Ice Queen (Brenda Strong) and they are causing trouble to Lexa’s position as Commander. The other 12 clans are wavering too – partly due to Lexa’s concessions to Clarke and her newly christened Skaikru (sky crew, get it??) who are welcomed into the coalition as the 13th tribe.
The latest episode (3×04) featured a stunning fight between Lexa and the Ice Queen’s son Roan (Black Sails’ Zack McGowan) that was reminiscent of Prince Oberon vs The Mountain on Game of Thrones a few years back. As Alycia Debnam-Carey who plays Lexa is a series regular on new show ‘Fear the Walking Dead’, many of us are worried she could be killed off at any time so this fight looked like it could be deadly for one of the combatants. The brilliantly thrilling fight scene ended with a death alright, but not who you might expect!
The other big news in this episode (apart from the Grounder fashion for sexy night wear that Clarke and Lexa wear for a charged late night chat over bandages and post-battle conversation) was that a new character Pike is leading the rest of the Sky people in a war against the Grounders. Even those who have been friends like kickass warrior Indra (Adina Porter). Bellamy is swayed by Pike as are the rest of the Sky people, electing him over Kane as their new leader. Oh dear! After Lexa and Clarke worked so hard to create a peace, its all going to go pear shaped by the looks of things!
The 100 burns through plot so fast, there is no telling what is going to happen. Happy endings for anyone seem unlikely and apart from Clarke and probably Bellamy, pretty much anyone could die – although the core cast has mostly survived. The themes of what people do to survive is a central one. Clarke has killed hundreds of Grounders and a whole stack of mountain men – but they were draining the blood of Grounders to survive! Is the means justified by the ends? As Abbie or Clarke say at some point, there are no good guys and bad guys anymore.
Another refreshing feature of the show is the almost casual reveal that Clarke is bisexual. We saw her involved with Finn in season 1, but her growing relationship with Lexa and a hookup with a female grounder in the season 3 premiere show she is attracted to men and women. No big deal is made of this by anyone (although her liaison and growing bond with Lexa have all been behind closed doors.) A public relationship with Lexa would seem more dangerous politically that for any bigoted reasons I suspect!
One of the grimiest shows on TV (the continuity people must spend a LOT of time reapplying dirt, bruised and scars) this is undeniably young, pretty people running around, but with shades of BSG and a bit of Game of Thrones, The 100 features compelling characters doing morally ambiguous things to survive. Great stuff!