Years Active: 2014-current
Years Reviewed: 2014-2015
- Eliza Taylor
- Bob Morley
- Paige Turco
- Marie Avgeropoulos
- Devon Bostick
- Christopher Larkin
- Isaiah Washington
- Henry Ian Cusick
- Lindsey Morgan
- Ricky Whittle
- Thomas McDonell
- Richard Harmon
That’s some seriously f*cked up sh*t! No, seriously…really messed up.
Caution: Some spoilers for Season Two…Season One is totally blown.
Didn’t think CW’s post-apocalyptic TV series ‘The 100′ could go any darker after its bleak and ferocious première season. Kids killing kids, mass-suicide/sacrifices on a dying space station, cannibalistic near-humans hunting on an irradiated, post WWIII Earth, and don’t forget the rampant teenage sex–OMG, the horror! Well, I was entirely mistaken. Season Two dials the volume up to 11!
Once upon a time…
There was a
dystopian magical kingdom in space. A space station (“The Ark”) floating around a now danger filled Earth. This station was dying. So 100 juvenile delinquents heroes are discarded sent to the surface. Perhaps these “100” will find a world they all can conquer live upon?
On the planet these kids have a
abhorrent experience wonderful adventure. They betray and kill frolic and play among themselves, meet new cannibals people (“Reapers”), and make new mortally enemies friends (“Grounders”).
While those aboard the station
oppose and sacrifice each other work together until they can crash and burn safety land on Earth.
savage war few setbacks, the hero kids slay hundreds of enemies save the day allowing those landing from the Ark to find a world full of barbarism and malice dreams and rainbows. And they all live captured, broken, or dead happily ever after. Well, almost…
These 100, led by Clarke (Eliza Taylor) and Bellamy (Bob Morley) “win” this Grounder war and many of the Ark remnants survive the “landing”. However, about half of the original 100, including Clarke, find themselves imprisoned by an unknown enemy in an old world military bunker called “Mount Weather”. While, Ark Chancellor Jaha (Isiah Washington) is left aboard the now almost out of air station. This is how we begin Season Two.
Season One was all about Survival. Season Two is all about Sacrifice.
Clarke and company are the “guests” of a chosen few who’ve hidden within Mount Weather since the nuclear holocaust a century ago. This society has fostered culture and a “civilized” way of life. As these people never evolved to survive the heavily irradiated surface they only can exist within the shielded bunker walls.
“Mount Weather” is led by a somewhat creeper President Dante Wallace (Raymond J. Barry) who insists his motives are pure–simply wishing to offer a safe haven for these new “members”. We quickly realize (as does Clarke) that he’s full of sh*t. These high-society shut-ins are looking for a way to return to the surface and many see these kids as “guinea pigs” that might help them do just that.
As Clarke attempts to figure out Dante’s plans and wrangle an escape, the fallen Ark survivors on the outside must now learn to cope with a very different life on Earth. Most of the early episodes deal with internal power struggles between the ever pragmatic Marcus Kane (Henry Ian Cusick) and Clarke’s determined mother Dr. Abby Griffin (Paige Turco). All Abby wants is to find/rescue her missing daughter, while Kane is playing it safe and focuses on strengthening their defenses in this alien, hostile planet.
Those of the original 100 not captured by “The Mountain Men” include the oft-reckless, but always driven Bellamy, spirited mechanic Raven (Lindsey Morgan), a lovelorn Finn (Thomas McDonell) whose desperate to reconnect with girlfriend Clarke, and resident “Judas”, the self-serving John Murphy (Richard Harmon). All butting heads with the adults now invading their world and stalling rescue plans. These so-called kids have earned their place through blood and sacrifice and aren’t about to bow down to those who discarded them to this deadly world.
Meanwhile, Jaha works out an emotional, do-or-die escape from the Ark. And Bellamy’s resourceful sister Octavia (Marie Avgeropoulos), looking for the Reapers she believes stole her Grounder BF Lincoln (Ricky Whittle), seeks help from her Grounder enemies.
BTW, Lincoln’s actually been captured by…(I’m not telling) and turned into a Reaper. Just another layer of crazy to the mix.
It all flows together very well. Aside from a few overly convenient plot contrivances added to expedite matters this season is much more organic and “believable”. The adolescent-infused melodramatics from the first season have been (mostly) replaced by a looming sense of weight and dread about what comes next.
The Mountain Men prove to be formidable and very human adversaries. Can the evil acts of leaders, done for the benefit of all, condemn an entire society full of families and children?
It wouldn’t be good TV without a few Big Bads. Leading the charge is Dante’s dangerous, spoiled son Cage (Johnny Whitworth) whose conspires with resident mad-scientist Dr. Tsing (BSG alumnus Rekha Sharma) in using these space station kids to their “full” potential. Can’t imagine anything more evil than medical experimentation on children, But, this is ‘The 100′ so it’s just “another day”.
Clarke needing to escape Mt. Weather teams up with the also captured Grounder warrior Anya (a returning Dichen Lachman). I love the intensity of these need them/hate them partnerships between the “Sky People” and the Grounders.
Soon Clarke reunites with her mother Abby, Bellamy, and the rest of Ark/100 survivors on the outside. Needing help to rescue those she left behind, Clarke seeks an allegiance with the Grounders for the sake of both their people. However…
Finn has other plans. He mercilessly pursues the Grounders he thinks captured (or worse) Clarke. In a way out-there moment, a now battle-wearied Finn turns into a comic book villain unleashing a fury upon these “innocent” Grounders. Holy crap, did he really just do that!?
Eventually, Jaha reconnects with “his people” (after a weird Mad Max type desert adventure), but he’s no longer running the show and is quickly marginalized. As the rest of the characters spend the back half of the season building alliances and preparing for war, Jaha with his new acolyte, the also marginalized “survivor” Murphy, leave the group behind in search of a fresh start.
Last year focused on how “the 100″ survive the Grounders and how those on the Ark escape to Earth. This season, puts the spotlight on how those outside of Mount Weather, including Clarke, Bellamy, Octavia, Abby, and Kane will join forces with the enemy of my enemy Grounders to rescue those held inside. While those prisoners struggle to stay alive long enough to get rescued.
Mid-season the pieces on this tentative allegiance finally merge. Clarke and Grounder Commander Lexa (Alycia Debham-Carey) bond over mutual responsibilities towards their respective people and how they must live with sacrifice. Clarke/Lexa have to make some ridiculously brutal decisions to win their goals.
Bellamy is secretly/boldly inserted inside Mount Weather. Running around through air ducts, killing errant guards, rescuing anyone he can and generally being an all super-cool “John McClane”.
Octavia joins up with the Grounder warriors under the tutelage of clan leader Indra (Adina Porter), earning her own hot chick who kills moments.
‘The 100′ nerd duology of Jasper (Devon Bostick) and Monty (Christopher Larkin) are among those trapped in the mountain. Both tackle covert “missions” in support of Clarke on the outside and Bellamy on the inside. Jasper in particular gets a huge arch as he becomes more-than-friends with Mount Weather resident Maya (Eve Harlow), who gives essential “insider” support for all the captured teens.
Highlight moments aplenty:
- Clarke’s hesitant reunion with her mother Abby. Interesting role-reversal–Who’s in charge now?
- Jasper’s rise/revolt against the nasty Dr. Tsing, “You are very special to us!”
- Vicious deaths in every episode–Ain’t it cool?
- A burned-out Raven’s “knick of time” problem solving skills.
- The mid-season finale that ends with one of the biggest thinning of the cast tragedies yet.
- The seriously effing betrayals–I’m talking screwed up.
- Monty’s rise as a bad-ass techie.
- Clarke frenemy relationships with both Anya and then Lexa. Lots of girl on girl action–No. Not that kind…well;)
- Bellamy’s under extreme pressure action-hero stuff.
- The pushed to the edge, full of confessions episode “Resurrection”.
- That “Mission Impossible” two-part season finale–OMG….All dead, All dead.
And a few lowlights:
- The silly killer-gorilla episode–cheesy/awful CGI.
- I present “Mr. Psycho”, Finn–an inconsistent and seemingly grown out of nowhere personality flip.
- Much of the Mount Weather mid-season stuff after Clarke escapes is weighed down in pathos and very little action.
- A particularly bad moment where a dead character is “resurrected” with a stun baton–a shameful plot contrivance unworthy of this show.
- Jaha/Murphy’s “vision quest” may offer up some nice desert/ocean vistas and a few decent “crazy moments” but feels like a spin-off unconnected with everything else.
However, Jaha’s discoveries offer horrendous (aka Awesome!) potential for next season–another f*cking cliffhanger:( ‘The 100′ is coming back for Season Three–Yay!
The performances have universally improved over last season. Eliza Taylor comes off more resilient, more determined, and more “broken” as “Clarke’s” decision-making leads to almost unspeakable, compounded soul-sacrificing tragedies. No longer a kid just pretending to be an adult.
Thomas McDonell never really sells “Finn’s” journey to the “dark side”. However, this change in direction adds a weight to his performance sorely missed last year.
Once again, Bob Morley stands-out as the protector “Bellamy”. An unstoppable resolve and lots of action-hero moments. Bellamy becomes someone everyone can believe in–he’ll only let them down if he’s dead.
Maria Avgeropoulos and Ricky Whittle spend almost no time together as estranged girlfriend/boyfriend “Octavia” and “Lincoln”. Both push their characters far, really far. Whittle is especially strong as someone made into a monster and then “re-made” into a man now unable to forgive what he’s become/done. There is no seemingly happy endings on ‘The 100′ and these two make that strikingly clear.
Loved Richard Harmon’s grey-area portrayal of betrayer “John Murphy”. Murph’s alienation from everyone makes his unusual union with former Chancellor Jaha all the more compelling.
The adults take a back-burner this year. Henry Ian Cusick is somewhat more approachable as hard-ass “Marcus Kane”. Cusick is at his best when playing apologetically honest and vulnerable. Kane’s finally coming to terms with the life/death consequences of the ruthless but necessary(?) calls he’s made.
Paige Turco’s “Abby” is lost amongst the chaos for much of the season. With her over-powering drive to get the Ark to the ground now fulfilled Abby seemingly has no purpose other than keeping the growing more desperate Clarke “safe” in a tragic, often losing battle.
Isiah Washington as fallen “Chancellor Jaha” is still preaching his sermons, just no one’s listening. His desperate, hallucinated last-ditch effort to save himself on the dying Ark is outstanding. Jaha is now dangling on the edge of madness. And his crazy prophet off to find the promised land adventure is a character revealing bonus.
A strong list of guests starting with Raymond J. Barry as “President Wallace”. I was never able to get a read on Wallace’s end game, he acts like he wants to save his people and resists the idea of using people as guinea pigs–in other words, a perfect politician.
Alycia Debnam-Carey as “Lexa” is OK. She has her moments as the chosen leader for her people, but still seems a little too wishy-washy, too “teenagey”. Much prefer Dichen Lachman (“Anya”) and Adina Porter (“Indra”) in their firmly committed and more suitably bad ass lady warrior roles.
Rekha Sharma (“Dr. Tsing”) and Johnny Whitworth (“Cage”) are so OTT evil, you just can’t wait for their inevitable (and hopefully very painful) demises.
The stories are bolder, the stakes are higher, the death toll larger, the drama bigger, and the betrayals even more epic. The effects remain high-caliber for TV: the costuming, props, weapons, etc. are appropriately grungy, bloody, and bruised.
The characters all live in the grey area of rock v. hard place and interpersonal relationships keep getting messier. Outside of our core group, we can’t seemingly root for anyone as we never know whose going to betray/murder/totally screw over someone we care about. We sit back and watch…and occasionally scream at our TVs. You know a show’s working when you end up getting this frustrated…Feeling this strongly for fictitious people living fictitious lives in a totally-f*cked up, fictitious world.
If ‘The Walking Dead’ is too happy-go-lucky for you than ‘The 100′ should keep your sadistic needs satisfied nicely. This may be a zombie-less world, but the death toll is just as high. The go-for-broke finale is so wrought with doom I was half expecting the dead to rise up just out of spite.
Death by explosions, death by gun shots, death by dismemberment, death by immolation, death by stabbing, death by stabbing your best friend, death by execution, death by medical experimentation, death by irradiation, death by gorilla attack, death by missile attack, death by cannibalism, death by torture, death by giant sea-worms, death by falling from great heights, death by…. An unrelenting sea of annihilation and despair. All for the sake of survival (and our enjoyment).
Yet, no matter how bad things get, this show somehow manages to offer a little hope. An attainable idea of peace and happiness for these now homeless vagabonds. Kudos, at least, for that.
OK, there’s still a little too much teenage drama. And there’s still teenage sex, but this time it’s the angry, self-pitying kind. Remember, “No Happy Endings!”
High praise to show-runner/developer Jason Rothenberg who has taken this adapted series (from Kass Morgan’s novel series) and enhanced everything great about Season One and diminished most everything bad. Another show that
is willing has the balls to go someplace dark and pitch a tent.
Don’t think that because it’s a CW show about a group of ridiculously pretty teenagers, and that it’s sci-fi, you should avoid watching ‘The 100′. These are survivors you come to really care about. The cast and crew of this post-apocalyptic series have stepped up their game for ‘Season Two’. It’s not perfect, but it pushes all boundaries. Highly Recommended. Whoosies need not bother, this isn’t the show you’re looking for.
Raymond J. Barry
Alycia Debnam Carey
Dean White, director