The 100 not only helps you escape, it firmly places you in the shoes of the characters and the decisions they have to make.
The 100 is created by Jason Rothenberg based off the novel series by Kass Morgan.
I stumbled over this series on Netfilx Australia simply because the premise intrigued me. For 97 years the earth has been uninhabitable because of a world-wide nuclear war.
What’s supposedly left of humanity are in 12 space stations joined together above earth (the “Ark”).
And now the people in charge are sending down juvenile prisoners (all 100 plus one stowaway) to see if the earth is once again liveable.
The man in charge is called the ‘Chancellor’ and if a law is broken, the punishment is fatal – you are “floated” out into space.
Those who are under the age of 18 are exempt, but due to a flaw in the system, breathable air is fast running out.
The decision is made to kill two birds with one stone by sending down expendable people to allow more air for law abiding citizens.
With nothing more than coordinates to a mountain bunker which supposedly holds supplies, the 100 are sent hurtling down to Earth.
From there on, with story arcs spanning over four seasons, the Sky People or ‘Skaikru’ have to battle ‘Grounders’, ‘Mountain People’, a rogue AI, each other and the Earth itself, all the while trying to use new and old “tech” to ensure the survival of their people.
The following are the reasons I’m counting down till Season Five is released in 2018.
1. The characters are well written.
Having a good plot (and subplots) is one thing but having well-written characters to execute the actions of the plot is usually what drives the storyline.
How the characters are introduced is quite chaotic but a clear picture emerges of the main players as soon as the delinquent 100 land on Earth. The best way to look at the characters would be those on the ground and those in the Ark.
- Clarke Griffin (Australian Liz Taylor) who landed in jail because her dad was going to blow the whistle on the air running out of the Ark.
- Bellamy Blake (Australian Bob Morley) who’s only with the 100 because his sister is part of the group. He also assassinated someone in order to get on the ship.
- Octovia Blake (Marie Avgeropoulos) who was jailed because her birth violated the one child per family rule – which resulted in her Mother getting “floated” into space.
- Lincoln (Ricky Whittle) a ‘Grounder’ who falls in love with Octavia and is initially considered a traitor by his own tribe the ‘Trikru’ after repeatedly saving members of the Skaikru.
There are supporting characters whose subplots lay the groundwork for the first season and beyond.
- John Murphy (Richard Harmon) whose single minded survivor mentality keeps him alive throughout his days on Earth.
- Monty Green (Christopher Larkin) and Jasper Jordan (Devon Bostick) who play crucial roles in the later seasons.
- Finn Collins (Thomas McDonnell) aka “Space Walker” who becomes Clarke’s love interest and whose actions causes a blood feud between Trikru and Skaikru.
- Lexa (Alycia Debnam-Carey), the Commander of the 12 Clans that made up the Grounders. Her subsequent relationship with Clarke, betrayal and backstory became crucial story arcs in later seasons.
- Indra (Adina Porter), a Trikru warrior who becomes a mentor for a disillusioned Octavia.
- Thelonious Jaha (veteran actor Isaiah Washington), the Chancellor in charge when the 100 were sent to Earth.
- Marcus Kane (Henry Ian Cusick), an Ark council member who was part of the decision to send the 100 to Earth and kill 320 Ark citizens to conserve oxygen.
- Raven Reyes (Lindsey Morgan), Finn’s girlfriend, mechanic and expert in explosives.
- Dr. Abigail Clarke (Paige Turco), Clarke’s mother and the Ark’s head of surgery. Council member who approved the decision to send the 100 (including her daughter) to Earth.
Initially there are storylines concerning the Ark and those on the ground. But when the Ark finally ends up on Earth, the REAL fun begins.
The characters aren’t one dimensional. In the beginning I thought Kane was the prototypical bad guy but his character developed into someone who wanted to do good and hated doing the bad things to keep his people alive.
(Human) Antagonists are well written and well reasoned. In fact some of them couldn’t be labeled as antagonists simply because their agenda was the same as those of Skaikru – to help their people survive.
Then there’s the crazy (if it can be labelled as crazy) A.I responsible for the initial nuclear war that lead to the Ark being made. “She” was downright scary!
2. The writing is fluid
I know a series has nailed my attention when I start talking to myself as to why the show is so great.
Sometimes the writing for a TV series becomes repetitive, or the characters act out of character in order to create a conflict narrartive.
With The 100, there are clear objectives and the characters have to work out how to reach them.
Season One is actually a split narrative. The 100 down on Earth and the rest of the Skaikru in the 12 space stations trying to figure out how to keep its citizens alive when air is running out.
What got my attention was how these kids who haven’t even turned 18 years old are going to survive in a post apocalyptic world.
Each season’s storylines are consistenly different from each other and builds from season to season.
The death toll may not be as bloody as Game of Thrones (some of which I’m still not over) but some deaths are shocking and are necessary for the advancement of the plot.
In some instances, some of the deaths have long term repurcussions and become the reasons for season-long story arcs.
Perhaps the main takeway from the writing is the Skaikru and the audience aren’t allowed to be comfortable. The writers won’t allow it. Just when you think FINALLY the Skaikru can take it easy and start consolidating their home base, all hell breaks loose.
There’s the testy relationship they have with the Grounders (who themselves are clans in an alliance), who are led by “Commander” Lexa whose relationship with Clarke is the main reason there *is* an alliance between the Skaikru and the Grounders.
There’s also the Commander’s backstory, which blew my mind with how it is crafted and the story arc that is coupled with it.
Also the subtle but important subplot of who are the main decision makers after members of the Ark and those on the ground are finally reunited.
3. Ethical decision making – what would you have done?
I felt a little manipulated (but in a good way) by how easily the writers make you see how the actions of the characters can be seen from other characters’ perspectives.
Cause and effect are all well reasoned and I found myself saying “I understand why they did it. They’re bastards for doing it, but I understand.”
Actually most of the time I was arguing with myself about the decision making of some of the characters.
There’s the Mountain People needing to harvest bone marrow from the Skaikru to survive outside their bunker, and then the Skaikru doing the exact same thing to a Grounder whose blood could help them survive an oncoming nuclear apocalypse.
Or how the Grounders reacted when Finn went a little crazy and slaughtered unarmed Grounders in the search for Clarke. I could see why Finn would do such a terrible thing and why the Grounders wanted him dead.
There’s the decision by the Ark’s council members to end the lives of 320 of its citizens to save the lives of the rest of the Ark’s population.
Or Dr. Abigail Griffin sabotaging the experiment with ‘nightblood’ because she risked losing her daughter.
Also the wholesale slaughter of a village of Grounders by Skaikru because the Skaikru wanted to claim fertile land that wasn’t theirs.
4. How ‘old’ technology has an influence on a post apocalyptic world.
I thought there was a lot of Stephen King’s Dark Tower (the book series, not the movie), in terms of old technology still working in a post apocalyptic world.
There are nuclear proof bunkers, an Artificial Intelligence responsible for the world-wide nuclear war and has more plans for the total obliteration of Earth. There is also a piece of tech that holds the key to peace between the Grounders, Skaikru and the formula for Nightblood.
Hell, a Grounder’s hatred for technology causes quite a bit of damage to the Skaikru. But then technology also plays a major part in keeping some key Skaikru alive before the Earth blew up again.
In order to harness all this technology there are characters whose main attributes are how smart they are. Raven Reyess is a key character in the latter seasons with story arcs needing her expertise as a mechanic to save her people from the rogue Artificial Intelligence trying to destroy humans…again. There’s also the erratic best friends combo of Monty and Jasper whose flaws and brilliance causes chaos within Skaikru.
The final scene of Season 4 leads to a 180 change of perspective for the Skaikru. Once again there’s a split narrative for the Skaikru (three, to be exact) and what comes next is the stuff of dreams for Fan Fiction writers.