The 100, on The CW
Amazon; A.V. Club; CW; Hulu; IMDb; TV.com; TV Tango; TV Tropes; TWoP; Warner Bros.; Wikia; Wikipedia
Caution: so many spoilers!
The show's title is pronounced "the hundred," though it took me awhile to stop thinking of it as "the one hundred." It's based on a series of books I've never read. I wasn't particularly expecting to like the show, but the premise was interesting enough for me to check out the pilot. And I liked it considerably more than I expected to. (Alas, on a board I frequent, no one else liked it, even though we normally like the same things.) But I just grew to like it even more as the first season (of 13 episodes) progressed. The series seems surprisingly complex, to me. I really like all the drama (both personal and large-scale) and ethical quandaries, and whatnot. And there's some kick-ass action. And I quickly came to like a few of the characters, who seemed better defined to me than I would have expected, right from the first episode. (Those characters and others continued to grow on me, throughout the season.) Especially Clarke, who's obviously smart, and artistic, and a natural leader.
It's set 97 years after a nuclear war that had rendered Earth uninhabitable. But there were a number of space stations from different countries, which banded together to form a single station called the Ark. Resources are limited on the Ark, and some time before the series starts, an engineer named Jake Griffin had discovered a flaw in the station that was going to deplete the Ark's air supply, so that within a few more months, everyone would die. The engineer (and his daughter, Clarke) wanted to expose this flaw to the public, but the Ark's leader, Chancellor Thelonius Jaha, wanted to keep it a secret. Clarke and her father were going to defy that order, but before they could, they were arrested (apparently turned in by Jaha's son, Wells, who was also Clarke's best friend.) Since all crimes committed by people over age 18 are considered capital crimes, Jake was executed, while Clarke was imprisoned. I was confused at first at how Wells apparently didn't think Clarke's dad would be executed, but I assumed he must have expected his own father to be merciful. However, the truth about what actually happened will eventually be revealed to us, though I see no reason to spoil it. Anyway, all prisoners are supposed to have their legal status reevaluated when they turn 18, which for Clarke is a month away, at the start of the series. But instead of being reevaluated, all 100 current prisoners (who are mostly around 17, but some are younger) are loaded onto a drop ship and sent to Earth. The planet isn't expected to be habitable again for another hundred years, but getting the 100 off the station will provide perhaps another month of air for those left behind to survive and try to fix the problem with the station (which is still a secret). It's also hoped that the Earth's radiation levels may have dropped to tolerable levels sooner than expected, so the prisoners are basically guinea pigs... and expendable. If the world is habitable, then everyone else on the Ark could hopefully go there, as well.
Aside from Clarke, Wells is also among the group sent to Earth; he'd gotten himself arrested specifically so he could be on the drop ship. He wants to fix his friendship with Clarke, but of course she still hates him for turning in her father. Also there's a young man named Bellamy Blake, a janitor who had gotten onto the ship by posing as a guard. The reason for that is that his younger sister, Octavia, was one of the prisoners. Her crime was simply having been born, because no one on the Ark is allowed more than one child. (This reminds me of a plot point from Terra Nova.) And I guess their mother had been executed for having a second child (I don't recall what had happened to their father, but he hadn't been around for some time prior to the authorities learning of Octavia's existence, a year before the series started). It also seems that, before leaving the Ark on the drop ship, Bellamy had shot and nearly killed Chancellor Jaha, which he'd been put up to by a member of a conspiracy.
Well, the kids all get to Earth, which is survivable, after all. And I must say, the first words spoken upon humanity's return to Earth (spoken by Octavia) made me proud to be human (though I could well imagine more mature people than I having the opposite reaction). Anyway, now that he's on Earth, Bellamy convinces most of the hundred to follow him into anarchy, which involves removing the bracelets they all wear that allow people on the Ark to monitor their vital signs. Bellamy wants them to think the hundred are dead, so that they won't follow them down to the planet. Meanwhile, Clarke leads a small party to search for a facility called Mount Weather, where there are supposed to be supplies necessary to their survival. Accompanying her are Octavia, and some guys named Finn Collins, Jasper Jordan, and Monty Green. (Finn is a maverick, whose crime was using an excess of resources to have a space walk, just for fun. And Octavia is reveling in the chance, for the first time in her life, to be free and wild, and she's attracted to those qualities in Finn. Jasper and Monty are best friends, who I think looked up to Finn because he's cool. Though Jasper quickly develops a crush on Octavia.)
Back on the Ark, the health of the hundred is being monitored by Dr. Abigail Griffin (Clarke's mother; played by Paige Turco, of whom I'm a fan from American Gothic). However, she has to operate on Jaha to save his life, and the necessary measures require her to use more resources than the law allows... so the temporary chancellor, Councilman Marcus Kane (Henry Ian Cusick, from Lost), orders her death. He clearly has plans he wants to put in motion to save the human race, even if it means killing a large portion of the population. And he needs to be chancellor in order to do that. But Jaha survives, resumes his command, and pardons Griffin. For the early part of the season, I assumed Kane was probably the one who'd gotten Bellamy to try to kill Jaha, but we eventually learn he wasn't involved, and Kane actually turns out to be a surprisingly decent guy. I don't want to reveal who was actually behind the conspiracy, or what their ultimate fate was. There's also a guy on the Ark named Sinclair (Alessandro Juliani, from Battlestar Galactica, among other things), who is like the head scientist or technician or whatever. And there's a young mechanic named Raven Reyes, who was Finn's girlfriend. Abby conspires with her to fix up a pod to use to go to Earth together, but in the end, only Raven manages to get off the Ark.
Back on the ground, Bellamy and Clarke frequently clash over how to lead the 100. And while Clarke generally seems like the more sensible one, over the course of the season Bellamy becomes more reasonable than he was at first, and even Clarke sometimes depends on his leadership skills (and he on hers). Meanwhile, Finn becomes Clarke's closest ally, and eventually they become more than friends. Then, of course, Raven shows up, and things get complicated. Even so, Raven becomes a valuable ally to both of them. Also, there's a guy named John Murphy, a thug who was one of Bellamy's main allies, until... something happens that I don't want to spoil. But it ultimately results in Murphy's banishment from the hundred's camp, and he will later become a major problem. But not nearly the biggest problem the hundred face. See, back in the pilot episode, Clarke's little expedition never reached Mount Weather, because they were attacked (and Jasper was nearly killed) by tribal warriors, whom the hundred soon start calling Grounders. Somehow, humans have survived on Earth for the past 97 years, in spite of the radiation. These Grounders become the major antagonists of season one. At one point, the hundred capture and torture a Grounder, who is befriended by Octavia. At first they think the Grounders don't speak English, but they eventually learn that they do (at least some of them), and this Grounder is named Lincoln. Octavia eventually helps him escape from her people, and he'll later be an important ally to the hundred, both because he cares for Octavia and because he thinks what his people are doing is wrong. And eventually we learn that the local tribe of Grounders is led by a woman named Anya (Dichen Lachman, from Dollhouse, among other things). I guess they're actually part of a larger group, as there are more powerful leaders elsewhere, and eventually a warrior named Tristan is sent to help them fight the hundred. But there are also other tribes, such as the Reapers, who are savage even by Grounder standards (they kind of put me in mind of Reavers, from Firefly). And there are some people who live near the ocean, where Lincoln advises Octavia and her people to go, to avoid an impending attack by his people. And there are "Mountain Men" mentioned a few times during the season.
Anyway, Raven manages to fix up a radio to get in contact with the Ark, and let them know the hundred are still alive. And um... lots of other stuff happens, both on the Ark and on the ground, most of which I'm leaving out (for now). In the season finale, a desperate plan is enacted to bring those still on the Ark to Earth, though not all will survive. Meanwhile, the hundred face the Grounder attack, and race to implement a desperate plan of their own, when they realize it's too late for them to take Lincoln's advice to leave. In the end, there is a major twist that I didn't see coming, but which obviously (in hindsight) had been hinted at all along.
So... to explain what's going on this season, I need to spoil a bunch of things that happened last season, and I'll start with the biggest, most interesting twist: after the battle between the hundred and the Grounders (in which most of the attacking Grounders were killed), forty-eight of the hundred are captured by Mountain Men, and taken to Mount Weather. (Yeah, I totally should have foreseen that connection: of course the Mountain Men are from Mount Weather. But then again, it's an inherently evocative and therefore misleading term.) And rather than being just another tribe, the Mountain Men are actually quite civilized, with a very comfortable, high-tech lifestyle. Even more comfortable than people were on the Ark, and a hell of a lot more comfortable than anyone on the ground. Most of the 48, including Jasper and Monty, are happy to accept the hospitality offered them by the Mountain Men. And Jasper becomes quite friendly with one of them, a girl named Maya. But Clarke is immediately distrustful, and has some clashes with the President of the Mountain Men, Dante Wallace, in spite of his attempts to assure her there's nothing to worry about. She eventually discovers that there's good reason to distrust them: since the Mountain Men have spent generations avoiding exposure to radiation, they are particularly susceptible to radiation poisoning, and whenever they leave their base, they must wear hazmat suits. But the Grounders survive because they developed a tolerance to radiation, as did the people on the Ark, who were exposed to the natural radiation of space. Or whatever. And now the Mountain Men are capturing and caging Grounders, and using their blood to cure any of the Mountain Men who may be exposed to radiation. And it turns out that the bone marrow of the people from the Ark can be used to permanently cure the people of Mount Weather, so that they could leave their facility without suits or fear of radiation. However, to harvest enough marrow to cure everyone, the 48 would all have to be killed. However, that plan was being secretly tested by Dr. Lorelei Tsing (played by Rekha Sharma, whom I've seen in lots of other things), without Dante's knowledge. Dr. Tsing was acting on the authority of Cage Wallace, Dante's son. Anyway, Clarke escapes from Mount Weather, and tries to find the remainder of the hundred. (Though that number no longer means anything, since throughout the series, some of them have died or been killed.) When she escapes, she takes Anya with her, having discovered her among the Grounder prisoners. Some time after their escape, Dante will learn what his son and Dr. Tsing are doing, and try to stop it. However, it turns out Cage now has the loyalty of the guards, and imprisons his father.
Okay. I said way too much about season one, so I want to say less about subsequent seasons. It's just really hard, because there's so damn much going on. Well, now I've explained the Mount Weather situation, and I took my time with that because they're the new main antagonists for season two. Now I'll try to mention a few of the major plot points of this season, but I'll leave a ton out. And I'm not sure I'll be saying everything in perfect chronological order. So... at the end of season one, a bunch of the adults from the Ark made it to Earth, including Abby, Kane, Sinclair, et al. Jaha had stayed behind on the Ark, in order to ensure the others could all get to Earth. However, this season he finds a way to get to Earth, himself. But it will be awhile before he meets up with any of his people. In his travels, he meets some people who tell him of a fabled "City of Light," a mysterious promised land of some sort, which they hope to find. Meanwhile, Kane is now Chancellor, and his people have set up a camp named after Jaha. They manage to find a few of the kids that had been sent to Earth previously, but they assume most of them have been captured by Grounders. It will be awhile before they learn of the existence of the Mountain Men, when Clarke finally makes it Camp Jaha. Unfortunately, as she and Anya approached the camp, Anya was shot and killed by the guards. I also need to mention that Octavia had spent some time on the run with Lincoln, before eventually making it to Camp Jaha. And at some point this season, we learn that the Reapers actually work for the Mountain Men. They're actually Grounders who've been caught and conditioned to become savage warriors, addicted to a drug provided by Mount Weather (which put me in mind of the Dominion's Jem'Hadar on Deep Space Nine). And at one point Lincoln was turned into a Reaper himself, but Abby found a way to cure him (and other Reapers). That, in part, led to an alliance between the Ark people (or "Sky People") and the Grounders, who are now led by a girl named Lexa. But mostly the alliance came about because of the respect that developed between Clarke and Lexa. (All of this was nearly made impossible because of actions by Finn, at one point, but that led to some really heavy drama that I don't want to spoil.)
Oh, and... for other reasons I don't want to get into, Abby became Chancellor, for awhile. But eventually Jaha found them, and there would be some question as to who was really in charge: Abby, Kane, or Jaha. It was sort of a moot point, however, because the real power turned out to rest with Clarke, because Lexa had ordered her own army to obey Clarke. Anyway... the Grounders and the Sky People spend some time planning an assault on Mount Weather, to rescue all the prisoners (the 47 as well as Grounders). And Clarke sent Bellamy to infiltrate Mount Weather, mainly to shut down a weapon that would make it impossible for the army to approach the facility. But there were other things he'd have to do, as well. He got some help from Jasper and Monty and Maya. And it turned out that some of the Mountain Men, including Maya's father, Vincent (played by Ian Tracey), were opposed to what Cage was doing, so they helped the 47, as well. Also I need to say that Octavia received some training from a Grounder named Indra. And Raven gets some assistance from an engineer named Kyle Wick, though their relationship is kind of complicated. Anyway, um... the attack on Mount Weather doesn't go the way Clarke planned, but I don't want to say too much about that. It was all very dramatic and heartbreaking. Most of the prisoners are eventually freed (aside from however many had already been killed for their marrow), but some of the choices made by both Clarke and Lexa take a major toll on Clarke, who decides not to return to Camp Jaha after it's all over.
But prior to the assault on Mount Weather, Jaha had left camp with a number of his people (including Murphy), in search of the City of Light. By the end of the season, Jaha and Murphy (but none of the others) find an island, which may or may not be the location of the City. The two of them have a disagreement and split up, each finding a different residence, each of which provides some surprising information that sets up the storyline for season three. And I guess that's all I need to reveal about season two. I know it seems like a lot, but I really have left out a lot more... and there are some things about this season which I expect I'll have to spoil later, when season three starts....
I have been unable to watch this season. But I definitely hope to see it someday.