On a network of unbearable schlock in which even grown men- superheroes, no less- dedicate more screentime whining about their feelings than, you know, doing superhero stuff, here is this show that was initially about a megaherd of unreasonably good looking teenagers turned loose to run amok on a long abandoned planet Earth completely unsupervised- a premise which seemed scientifically engineered to present the ultimate experience in horny, emotional angst CW clearly loves so dearly. Looking back now, I cannot overstate how glad I am that I forced myself to slog through those first few very shaky episodes.
Here is a show that never hesitates to allow brutality by the brutal, or to show us the complex torture of conscience suffered by the victors, and to deal with relationships on all levels with the respect they are due- no more and no less. Love- and loss thereof- may indeed by powerful motivators, but here in this CW show, at least, they are never falsely elevated to the singularly significant device to bring about triumph or defeat of a person. Life goes on. Life must go on. So many shows and movies cannot seem to wrap their minds around this simple thing about reality: Love does not conquer all.
Last night's episode was a culmination; a sudden and unexpected convergence of souls, from disparate plotlines, who have been stumbling, striving desperately to gain some control over a plot landscape that has tenaciously defied any sense of sanity or stability all season long. This culmination was so sudden, and occurred so naturally that I barely noticed what had happened until the end of the episode- when it hit me like a hammer: We have Clarke- Still recovering from the loss of Alexa and being thrust suddenly into the unprecedented role of Flamekeeper, purposed with finding the one Natblida who can still challenge the Ice Nation lunatic, Ontari, for leadership. Complicating her unexpected return to the Ark, we have Jasper- the one person in all of Skaikru who hasn't even begun to forgive her for what happened at Mount Weather, still emotionally volatile from his loss there, and also coping with his damaged friendship with Monte- who had been conflicted but otherwise fine...until he was forced to kill his own mother...only to realize minutes later he may not have had to- when Clarke "cures" Raven of her electronically-induced zealotry in the cult of Jaha, who, along with her just-relieved-to-be-here, former boss, Sinclair, provide vitally useful skills to this motley crew of unaffiliated exiles of Skaikru. And finally we have the siblings: Bellamy, who only recently realized that he chose the wrong side in Pike's revolution against the Grounders, though he's clearly not sure why- and Octavia (my personal favorite) who just witnessed Lincoln's execution with despair, followed immediately by hardened resolve- like a real damn warrior. What an excellently er...executed scenario that was, by the way. Lincoln, knowing his life was the sacrifice that was necessary to prevent more death; Octavia watching helplessly from a distance...the show was both brilliant and ballsy by rooting her feet wisely to that spot when so many other shows would have had her blazing in there to save him, and thus forcing itself to concoct some deus ex machina to bail them both out of the jaws of death. I despise the "love conquers all" message when it flies in the face of all common sense, because it denies the audience that sense of real danger to the protagonists and propagates the unrealistic notion that folly for the sake of hope is ever actually rewarded. I applaud The 100 for sticking to the cold hard reality here- as it has so often in the past as well. This choice gives these characters more reason to live; more reason to fight...and more importantly, every reason to get the fuck out of there...and it only increases my perfectly reasonable and manly crush on Ocatavia. Badass women, man...
In one fell swoop, all of the "main characters" from the beginning of the show are thrown back together- angry, confused, with enough hate anger for even each other to start a forest fire- and the whole world against them. Not only is Pike's little revolution against the Grounders not at all resolved, but Ontari is only just now warming up her Skaikru annihilation machine. However, that darkhorse of problems, the cult of Jaha, has finally surfaced as the pre-eminent danger to the people of Skaikru- and of the other tribes, as well.
I love that, by the way. The show always has multiple mechanisms in play- not just two forces vying against each other at any one time- but several ideologies working their way forward or being forced backward in an endless game of strategy and dumb luck- a real, beating heart of story. Without even adding more elements, the show could coast successfully for at least three more seasons before going stale if it so chose.
On this network known to me for shallow characters driven by base emotions through one-dimensional self-resolving episodes, The 100 is very sophisticated and engrossing fare. As good as, and occasionally better than, I am surprised to see myself type, Game of Thrones and The Walking Dead. That is a bold claim, I know. But as an unfaltering fan of all three, I stand by it. Week in and week out, The 100 does not fail to provide top-notch storytelling. I can't wait to see what happens next.