I’ve said it once and I’ll say it again…The 100 has trumped the narrative success of Game of Thrones in only two seasons, and is easily the best and most underrated drama series on television right now.
When the sci-fi/action series The 100 premiered on CW in early 2014, it quickly began to cement itself as not only one of the top drama series on television, but also as a morally ambitious tale that filled a void missing on current television. With each episode we delved deeper into the world of The 100 and several mysteries that the series masterfully presented. I left the first season completely addicted, and with season two – my adoration for The 100 grew to an all new high. From the jumping on point of the season, the show throws a new curveball by introducing a new and adept group of characters – the residents of Mt. Weather. With Clarke in captivity (as well as most of the sky people) the series effectively continued to showcase the primary setting of the series while seamlessly intertwining a new mysterious facility as a step-up from season one. The Mt. Weather plot was crucial to season two, giving the characters and viewers opportunities to discover their unknown strengths and many dark corners of their psyche. On one hand we witnessed the downfall of naivety, with trusting individuals becoming victim to the Mt. Weather population’s need for survival.
Where the grounders were sometimes viewed as more savage, or dehumanized to some whom opposed them, this provided focus on what would appear to be a civilized community – until they are revealed to be a larger threat than anticipated. Mt. Weather also gave us characters who became key players in the series, which made the divide between factions more gut wrenching than anticipated. There was Dante Wallace, the reigning president of the survivors who was revealed as a fascinating character with evolving ideas on the notion of humanity. There was also Maya, a young woman who initially began the series as a “mountain man” and ended up turning her back on them and saving the lives of many. We learned that Mt. Weather was responsible for the creation of reapers as well, and although they were behind so many devastating actions, things came to a head in one of the most shocking moral dilemmas of the series.
Clarke was a focal point of controversy in the second season of the series for her questionable actions. To begin, Clarke made a choice to allow the death of hundreds of grounders to keep attack plans unknown, a choice that sparked concern for her judgments by her mother. Instead of using Abby as a support for Clarke, I enjoyed that she wasn’t afraid to be the person to call her daughter’s decisions into question. Clarke’s complex spiral continued when she chooses to condemn the entire Mt. Weather residency to death at her own hands (and Bellamy as her aid). Interestingly enough, I had always been a Clarke supporter in the first season, but her choices over the course of the second season left me on an opposing side. What I enjoyed was that the writers gave Clarke chances to make choices that would go good or bad – and in many cases, her actions ended in mass death. It was a smart development to include Clarke as someone who can’t always be a moral compass, while reminding viewers that these are in actuality her (italicized) decisions. Clarke made a much darker transition in season two that could leave fans understanding her actions, or in disagreement – which is another example of the series intricate intelect. Clarke may have went down on my list of favorites, but her journey during the second season was a necessity for her… and her current path is something that will lead to more devastation.
As always, Octavia enters and exits the second season as the most prominent character of the series. From her debut in the first season, Octavia has optimized a creative transition into a grown woman with a fiery passion and a heart of steel. We began to see her evolve from the sheltered young sister of Bellamy Blake, to an all out warrior with an unbreakable spirit. The season showed Octavia flipping the tables by protecting Lincoln, defeating enemies, and a never ending determination that showcases the importance of Octavia to the series. Season two Octavia finds herself alone in many instances, capable of triumphing by her own hands – and unafraid to share her opinions which can be the moral opposition to Clarke in the most balanced manner. While some argue that Clarke is the series lead, Octavia encompasses the qualities of grounders, sky people, and overall humanity that is needed to maintain any real chance of civility in the post-apocalyptic world. By the end of the season, Octavia radiates leadership and has become a well molded character that has potential to change lives. Using Octavia to soak up the culture around her has been the best use of adapting to the environment, without completely losing herself in the process – which Clarke does struggle with during the second season.
The 16 episode season throws a lot at us in terms of plot, but there are developmental qualities for a majority of the characters that appear in season two. In a majority of the first season, Bellamy was a character who generally made unreasonable decisions, but his softer side finally managed to emerge. He is shown making selfless choices for his people, and is even put at risk by Clarke (yet another upsetting choice she made) but agrees for the thought of his friends and family. Bellamy received some of the best action moments of the series, but also seemed to mainly support Clarke’s choices which make his newfound position of leadership worrisome and intriguing for the third season. Murphy returned to season two as a character who managed to pull a complete 180 on us after almost losing his life to the grounders. Realizing his isolated position, he rebuilds relationships with characters to his best abilities – while others aren’t easily swayed, he continues to build his credibility in a genuine capacity. Murphy’s role with Jaha was one of the most shockingly strong aspects of the season, concocting a grueling journey that guided them to an unknown land, spearheaded by an artificial intelligence with malevolent plans for the remaining population of the world. (The finale scene that introduced this story with Murphy was one of my favorite scenes of the season.)
The crippling emotional devastation in the second season hit astronomical highs (that felt like personal lows.) In many examples of film and television series today, random masses of people are killed and (surprisingly) don’t create complete comprehension of what’s going on – but The 100 reminds of just how essential each life or presence means to someone, making even the smallest roles leave a larger impact. One character who made major changes was Finn – probably my least personal favorite of the characters. His character became consumed by the world he lived in, and his actions ended in a heartbreaking massacre of a village with grounders. There were bouts of PTSD and the demons that follow – which all led to his sacrifice to those he wronged as justice. Clarke made her own choice to take Finn’s life, which was meant as a mercy kill, risking a treaty in the process. Clarke used this moment to further herself into a path of questionable choices that allowed the death of grounders, Mt. Weather, and anyone she felt was in her way. The sky people faced their own exclusive form of trauma, as their bone marrow was harvested to sustain the life of Mt. Weather. Not all of the mountain residents agreed, (which is what made their deaths harder to stomach) but regardless the sky people were drilled into and tortured by those in power, creating constant no-win scenarios for all populations.
Relationships were built from the ground up between many characters over the season, and were just as quickly torn down (or bulldozed would be more accurate.) One of many things I love about The 100 is that it doesn’t focus solely on the young adult romances that have become attached youth centric series. Instead, this season decided to explore love in a world where it seems near impossible for it to flourish, with some success stories accompanied by tragedies. Resident happy-couple Octavia and Lincoln faced obstacles when Lincoln became addicted to a drug (supplied by Mt. Weather) that turned people into the savages known as reapers. With Octavia hitting strides of growth, Lincoln’s personality began to get snuffed out by the toll of what began as torture – and turned into an addiction. It was a nice role reversal by having Octavia save Lincoln, ensuring that they are an equal partnership and a couple that embodies a fighting spirit.
Raven finally began to move past the concept of life with Finn (though it was a process) and dealt with her personal struggles after the being shot and paralyzed – trying to cope and provide the duties she fills for her people. Raven was a standout of season one, and sometimes felt like she blended into the background during season two – but I believe that was representative of her emotionally, physically, and mentally after constant bad luck thrown her direction. Things do improve for Raven in one aspect, and that’s her love life after Finn. Raven develops a connection with Wick, a fellow mechanic that she has trouble opening up to initially. By the end of the season, Raven is frightened by the thought of him leaving her while being pursued – and he makes it known he would never abandon her. It ends on a hopeful romantic note with that pair, but Maya’s death in the Mt. Weather annihilation was a screeching halt to her and Jasper’s adorably sweet young love. The entire season gave them a chance to cherish each other, but her selflessness and dedication to Jasper (and the sky people) made Maya one of the heaviest deaths in the season.
One of the most talked about characters this season was the series newest addition – Lexa, commander of the 12 clans. From her first appearance Lexa’s war paint makeup and powerful presence was felt, showing us how much of a role she would play in the world of The 100. She played a major influence on Clarke, as a part in deciding the demise of people in Ton DC, and trying to impart her own morals over Clarke’s – a potentially hazardous decision on Clarke’s part. The relationship adds dimensions when we discover Clarke is bisexual, and chemistry between them complicates the notion of survival that begins to peak at the end of the season. Making the protagonist to a series bisexual was a nice inclusion to incorporate a variety of characters, but her sexuality doesn’t define her as a character, nor does it matter in the intricate world of The 100.
What really makes The 100 a must-see series is its uncanny ability to showcase the darkest decisions humanity can face, and the impact it can have. The series follows the ripples of these courses of action, with characters making decisions, those around them, or even people who are just caught in the crossfire. There aren’t many series on television that can accurately mold the “what-if” scenarios by surpassing surface level entertainment into a quandary of rational vs emotional influences. Whether you are furious with a character’s decision, or overjoyed, the series will always force you to take a stance – and for that alone the series achieves the purest form of brilliance.
The 100 season 2 not only improved from its first season, it proved to best mainstream series like Game of Thrones and The Walking Dead as a gripping and powerful drama series that additionally explores other genres. There wasn’t a single filler episode in the season, and each episode felt as if it were they were an enticing weekly film that demands and deserves your attention. With a slew of detailed characters, an elaborate world, balanced performances, and uncanny writing, The 100 season 2 as a whole earns a rare ‘A’ for a perfect addition to television hall of fame.
Aedan’s Final Thoughts:
-Watching characters drastically change from season one was representative of how much the series throws at the core group and the turmoil attached.
-There never felt like there were filler episodes, with each episode used to establish the growing world and conflicts of The 100.
-I’ve enjoyed that The 100 introduced us to so many talented young stars, all willing to grow over the course of the series.
-Every time I think I can’t like Octavia more than I already do, the writers successfully find ways to add more admirable and lovable layers.
-The 100 has many memorable episodes in season 2, but the drastic conclusion is sure to stay embedded in your memory.