Welcome to The 100, a series about…finding a place to live. Yep. That’s it. That’s the whole series in a nutshell. The details of that nutshell tend to vary a little from season to season, but overall the main mission never changes.
Why so desperate for a home? Well, turns out mankind had to hightail it to space round abouts 97 years ago because of a huge planet wide nuclear fallout. They’ve been waiting ever since to see if the Earth has become habitable again, and, unlike the pudgy baby-people in Wall-E, these humans didn’t have the resources of a billion-dollar conglomerate or the kindness of robots. The “Ark”, as it is aptly named, is a much darker version of our “let’s escape to outer space and wait out all our problems” fantasy. See, after nearly 100 years away food, air, and other supplies are running dangerously low causing the implementation of some pretty rough methods to keep the peace.
This actually leads to our premise, and the name of series. On the Ark criminals are “floated” – sent out into space to die – except for children. Children get volunteered for a special experiment. Go down to Earth and see how it is. If it’s bad, the kids die and that’s 100 less mouths to feed, if it’s good, then the rest of the Ark-folk can come on down and try to make a life of it.
Season one introduces us to most, if not all, of our main players. There’s Clarke Griffin (played by Eliza Taylor), daughter of the Ark’s doctor Abby (Paige Turco), Bellamy (Bob Morley) and Octavia (Marie Avgeropoulos) Blake, Jasper Jordan (Devon Bostick), Monty Green (Christopher Larkin), Raven Reyes (Lindsey Morgan), John Murphy (Richard Harmon), Marcus Kane (Henry Ian Cusick), and Thelonious Jaha (Isaiah Washington). For a show about an apocalypse they really don’t kill off main characters often or easily, and the ones they do kill off tend to have a HUGE impact (which is very satisfying).
Let’s cover the most important moments in the first season:
The 100 are sent down to see if Earth is habitable. It is! But…they are not alone. Aside from the new plants and animals that came out of the last 97 years, there are also people who survived the nuclear blasts from the past. These are the Grounders – clans who fight amongst themselves, and against the Reapers – a cannibalistic enemy of the grounders. There’s also the Mountain Men but we’ll get to them in season two! The Grounders are not a fan of the 100 and they have many confrontations throughout the season.
The 100’s mission is simple – land, make sure Earth doesn’t suck, and go to Mount Weather to gather supplies. They have bracelets on that let the Ark know if and when they die. Bellamy tries to convince the many that leaving the Ark behind completely is for the best. This makes sense since the Ark hasn’t exactly been kind to the Blakes (Octavia was an illegally born baby who spent her childhood terrified of being discovered, when she eventually was, their mother was floated, ouch!). I’d say leaving a bunch of teenagers on their own to accomplish a ridiculously important task is maybe the stupidest plan ever, unless you stop to consider all of these kids are technically criminals, which makes it officially the stupidest plan ever.
Finally, there’s the people on the Ark. They can’t stay up there. By the end of the season Kane, Abby, and Raven all make it down to Earth, with Jaha and the rest of the Ark crash landing soon after.
Season one does a good job of establishing some of the reoccurring themes in the series. There’s class warfare, between the 100 on Earth, the Grounders, the Reapers, and those up in the Ark. There’s choosing between the good of the many and the good of the few. There’s being part of a group vs being just for yourself. Then there’s one of the biggest themes throughout the series: redemption. How far can you go and still come back? How evil can you turn, and still have a chance of being good? It’s got a lot of basic themes that wind up being highly relatable despite its sci-fi trappings.
Season two digs deeper into these themes, especially with the introduction of the Mountain Men. These are the humans that went underground to survive – they get their name from their base of operations: Mount Weather. We find out they have been poisoning Grounders and turning them into Reapers. They’ve also been capturing Grounders and experimenting on them in an effort to become immune to radiation. They get extra excited when it turns out Clarke and her friends’ bone marrow might be the key to going outside at long last.
Important events of Season two:
Clarke starts her habit of making the best of a bad situation. When Finn (Clarke’s main love interest for the first and second seasons) kills 18 Grounders and is sentenced to death as repayment by Grounder Commander Lexa (Alycia Debnam-Carey), Clarke stabs him to death to spare him torture. Later, when Bellamy and Raven have established radio communications from within Mount Weather, Clarke allows an entire peace committee to be killed in order to keep the communications a secret (Lexa talks to her into it, but still). And of course, a season-ending moment, Clarke kills ALL of the people in Mount Weather through radiation in order to save her people (47 of the original 100). She does this with Bellamy but is so racked with guilt she refuses to return to camp with him.
Octavia and Lincoln’s relationship grows and deepens. Lincoln (Ricky Whittle) is a Grounder the 100 captured back in Season one that Octavia took care of, and then naturally fell for. Octavia herself becomes a stronger more capable individual. Though she’s been reckless in the past, now she seems determined to show her big brother Bellamy that he no longer has to take care of her.
Meanwhile, back at “Camp Jaha” (later renamed “Arkadia”) the Ark survivors are trying to establish some kind of understanding with the Grounders so they can live in peace. Commander Lexa is open to negotiations. Welcome to the coalition, Sky people (aka Skaikru)!
Finally, another season-ending moment, Jaha and Murphy – who went off on some rando journey of their own earlier in the season – come upon a mansion. Surprise! Turns out an A.I. named A.L.I.E. (Erica Cerra, a great character actress who has appeared on other CW shows) destroyed the world, and because Jaha used a nuclear missile to get back to Earth, she’s planning on doing it again.
Season three is tricky. On the one hand, the mythology that goes along with the Commander is fascinating and deserves high praise. On the other hand, the side plot about Jaha spreading Alie’s good word is fairly annoying if not downright boring at times.
Important moments in Season three:
Pike (Michael Beach) takes over as the leader of Arkadia. This isn’t great since Pike hate the Grounders and wants to destroy them. He kills Lincoln which leads to Octavia vowing blood for blood. Kane tries his best to undermine Pike and side with the Grounders. In the end Octavia gets her revenge, which is even sweeter because Pike really believes she’s forgiven him since she was fighting alongside him. This storyline really made me respect Octavia as a character, because if I were her, I would have killed that asshole too.
In Grounder news, there’s a contender for the throne. The Ice nation wants to overthrow Lexa, and while they kind of succeed (Lexa gets killed), their queen is murdered, and her son Prince Roan (Zach McGowan) actually becomes leader. Now, the most interesting part of this plotline is that it ties in with the whole Commander/Flame mythology.
The Commander is chosen by the Flame. The Flame is a bio-interface device that was developed by a scientist named Becca (she’s played by the same actress who plays A.L.I.E.) who, it turns out, was the first Commander. Becca also created the A.I. Alie, you know, the one who destroyed the human race way back when. She escaped, came to Earth, and tried to better mankind (we know how that goes). Somehow all this science got twisted into religion and we ended up with the Flame and the Flamekeeper. Basically, this device gets implanted into individuals who have the right conditions (black blood) and they are the undisputed leaders of the Ground clans. Sure, it’s a coalition at heart, but when push comes to shove, it’s the Commander who gets the last word.
The Commander plotline is also awesome because of how they choose a candidate. Obviously, you get tested for black blood, but once you have it, you’re trained to fight. Why? Because the only way to become Commander is a trial by combat that ends in death (the conclave). Mind you, most of the Commanders we have heard of or met, and the candidates, are female. Lady warriors abound in this series, and this is why. Don’t get me wrong, there have been references to male Commanders, so clearly some dudes get to carry the Flame, but most of them are ladies.
The last little bit I’ll say about this is the group of Grounders who dwell on a boat. They do this in order to get away from the conclave. They allow any nightbloods (a cool name, right?) that don’t want to fight to seek sanctuary. When Clarke and her crew come a knocking in hopes of finding a Commander, the leader, Luna (Nadia Hilker), says no thanks and sends them packing. It might fuck the other clans, but it saves her people, right? Mind you, the entire scene with Luna is amazing. She doesn’t reject the Flame because she can’t win, she rejects it because she knows she would win. She doesn’t want to kill others to gain power, it’s a pretty good message.
Lastly, we have the Alie storyline. Alie uses pills to lure people to her “City of Light”, a virtual reality that will upload their consciousness and store it digitally while the rest of the world sinks into nuclear oblivion (yes, again). With Jaha as her physical emissary, passing out pills to the unhappy masses, her success seems assured. Clarke, with the help of a blood transfusion, becomes a nightblood long enough to take the Flame and beat Alie in her own world. It’s great until Clarke learns that nuclear Armageddon is definitely on the way, and Alie was really just trying to help.
Season four starts with a ticking clock. Alie is destroyed, but nuclear winter is coming.
Important moments in season four:
There are three main attack ideas when it comes to the nukes. One: find a bunker and hunker down for the however many years it will take for the Earth to be safe again. Two: leave Earth and hunker down in outer space for the however many years it will take for Earth to be safe again. Three: make yourself a nightblood so you’re immune to radiation.
Clarke, and most of the other main teen characters opt for option three, with only Clarke succeeding and the others forced to take option two. Octavia, the Grounder clans, and the Arkadians are forced to take option one, once a bunker is discovered.
Since a lot of problems in this series seem to be solved through violence, this one isn’t much different. The newly discovered bunker can only house 1200 people so the Grounder thing to do would be to fight for it. Luna (pissed off because someone she loved was killed) decides if she wins the conclave no one gets the bunker. Octavia has one of her many kick-ass moments and beats Luna, giving each of the clans a chance to pick 100 of their people for the bunker, but it turns out Skaikru is a dick and took the bunker while everyone was fighting. This gets resolved, and a lottery is used to pick the 1200 people.
Meanwhile, Raven learns that Becca was creating nightblood on the Ark. She suggests they go up and make more so their people can become immune to radiation. This plan kind of succeeds. Mostly, that Raven, Bellamy, Murphy and a bunch of others get a rocket to work and jet out to space before being killed, and Clarke is successfully made a nightblood and survives the wave after missing the rocket.
This season ends with us discovering Clarke made it, has a friend, and a ship is landing.
Season five isn’t one of my favorites. To be fair, if this series had been a one season series I think I would have been OK with that, but I felt by season four they were really stretching things. Either way, the story continues post Clarke’s survival.
Important moments in season five:
Clarke isn’t the only surviving nightblood – she’s got a kid buddy named Madi (Lola Flanery). She’ll die and kill for this kid (it’s Clarke, that’s pretty much the only way she knows how to love someone), and she does kill some folks this season in defense of her “daughter”.
Octavia becomes the leader of the bunker people, renaming them Wonkru and killing anyone who disagrees with her. Her management style is…very bloody to say the least. What I like most about Octavia vs Clarke is that Clarke will do the hard thing for the right reason (or what she perceives as the right reason) but feel horrible about having to do it, while Octavia will do the hard thing for the right reason (or what she tells herself is the right reason) and then lock down any negative emotions about it. It makes her an interesting character and a kind of polar opposite to Clarke.
Here are two extremely strong, complex, women forced to make brutal life and death choices throughout their teenage years. One is a reluctant queen of sorts, taking the hit when she has to but trying her best to get around death if she can. The other is a blood queen – literally, that’s the name she gets from the Grounders – willing to solve any problem in the simplest way if it will solve the problem quickly. Let’s also not forget that Octavia fully embraces the ways of the Grounders, and theirs is a society built on brawn. Her actions throughout the series (once she really joins the Grounders at least) can be largely attributed to her adaptation to their culture. She understands that they only understand violence, so violence becomes her go-to. It’s a pretty nifty character study if you think about it. Aside from her burning the garden and forcing her people into war, I don’t see a lot of Octavia’s moves as leader being too terrible (yes, that includes the trials by combat to deal with infractions and as a means of population control, and the cannibalism that inevitably happens).
Anyway, getting off that tangent, we also have the prison ship that lands. I don’t really give a shit about this plot point because, as I’ve said, this season’s turn of events is hardly my favorite. Essentially, six years after the end of season four, there’s only one spot on Earth that’s doing well. Clarke and her nightblood kid-sister are already living there when the prison ship lands, claiming it for themselves. Once Wonkru is introduced into the mix all hell breaks loose.
The end of this season is not too different from the end of the last season except that everyone chooses the go up into space option this time. A lot of the prisoners are killed, but not all of them, and everyone except Monty and his girlfriend Harper enter hyper-sleep in order to let the Earth recover. When Clarke and Bellamy get woken up by Monty and Harper’s kid Jordan (Shannon Kook) we learn that 125 years have gone by, Earth is fucked, and Monty found another planet for them to live on then set course before he died. Uh…so did Monty live to 100? The timeline is super tricky unless his kid got put into hyper-sleep too (which, according to a recap I watched on YouTube, he did).
Season six, otherwise known as the “Get Out” season, is crazy trippy. It goes in some out-there directions, seeming to abandon the usual “us vs. them” structure of the show in the beginning, only to be extremely “us vs them” by the end.
Important moments in season six:
Ah remember the Flame? Yeah…the whole idea of it is taken into new territory this season. Through a series of flashbacks, we discover that Earthlings colonized this stupid planet already. Hello Sanctum. They had a scientist named Gabriel who created a device called a “mind-drive”. It allows a person to upload their consciousness into the drive, then download themselves into another person’s body so long as the host is of a certain age. Once the uploaded consciousness is downloaded into the host, the original consciousness is effectively destroyed. This process (a LOT like Get Out if you ask me) allowed the first inhabitants of this planet to keep living forever. They would just take new hosts. The catch? Only nightbloods can be hosts. Poor nightbloods man…they can’t catch a break.
The leaders of Sanctum are the Primes – not very subtle here, Prime means first. They figured out a way to brainwash their followers into believing they are gods and when they take someone to body-snatch there’s a whole fun ceremony around it. Which, honestly, is clever. Why scare them? Why make them feel like the sacrificial lambs they are? No, better to soothe them with mythology and the idea of a higher purpose. You get a “naming day” and you get to “become one with the primes”, oooo! Sounds a lot better than, you get to be erased while your body is handed off to someone else. If this isn’t a nod to religion, I don’t know what is.
Though it is interesting to note how these two religions compare (three if you count the Children of Gabriel). The Flame is considered an honor that is hard-won, you have to kill to get it. And you don’t lose yourself. Lexa explained to Clarke waaaaay back that the Flame allows a Commander to talk with past Commanders – to get advice (kind of like that whole reincarnation thing in The Last Airbender where Ang could commune with the Avatars of the past on the spiritual plane), or, in poor Madi’s case, get harassed (thanks a lot, Dark Commander).
Meanwhile, becoming one with the Primes requires nothing more than good genes (or bad, depending on how you look at it). It is still considered an honor, but it isn’t hard-won by any means, and you don’t get to keep yourself. Unless you’re Clarke, because that girl is a walking deus ex machina.
The Children of Gabriel believe that death is natural. They don’t like the Primes for corrupting the natural order, and they are very pro-killing to get their point across. Man…for being the more evil of these three religions, the Prime religion is the least violent!
Second big moment of season six would have to be the storyline involving Octavia and Charmaine Diyoza (Ivana Milicevic) on their respective roads to redemption. Now, Octavia is Blodreina, so you know she’s got a lot to make up for, but, since I didn’t identify any of them by name, Diyoza is one of the prison ship people. She’s pregnant. She ultimately just wants her baby to be allowed to live in Sanctum, even if she can’t (because apparently back in the day she was just horrible). The Primes promise her if she kills Gabriel her baby gets sanctuary. She eventually meets up with Octavia, who got banished.
Why was Octavia banished? Oh right, cause she has zero interest in being redeemed. She’s resigned herself to being a murderer only good for murdering, and her first order of business is to kill whoever gets in her way. While this helps the 100 not get killed by the Children of Gabriel, it does cause Bellamy to kick her out of the group for being a bit much. Initially, she’s pissed and hates him, but, once she meets up with Diyoza, it works out because, again, it’s a killing mission. It turns out to be much more than that for her though. They do find Gabriel (Chuku Modu), but they don’t kill him. Octavia realizes, after almost dying (for the umpteenth time), that she too can find redemption. Yay! Right? Kind of, but we’ll get back to that.
Last thing to really note about season six is the setup for our upcoming season seven. First there’s Madi and the Dark Commander (called Sheidheda, played by Dakota Daulby). Raven and friends are successful in deleting the Dark Commander from Madi’s Flame, but before he can be deleted from the computer, he uploads himself to somewhere else. Where? How? Not important. There’s a good chance we’ll deal with this in season seven. Second: Jordan and possibly others who believed in the Primes thanks to drinking their blood (not sure if it actually is blood, but it is effective at the very least), could still be Prime worshippers. Third: Octavia’s back and the time anomalies.
So, Alpha has temporal anomalies that occur. No one knows why no one knows what they are. Gabriel has been studying them to no avail, but when Octavia and Diyoza ran into the time anomaly, and only Octavia came out, she got some new marks on her back. Once Gabriel sees them he brings her and her friends to a stone he’s been trying to figure out. The markings on the stone match those on her back and boom – set up for season seven – Diyoza’s daughter, Hope (Shelby Flannery), all grown-up, shows up and stabs Octavia, but before Bellamy can help her she disappears into green dust. Did she die!? Will she survive!?
Speaking of the dead, season six marked the deaths of some pretty big regulars. Kane and Abby specifically; Monty also died though he was one of the rare “of natural causes” death on this show. Poor Clarke, her mom did everything she could to save Kane, but in the end, he couldn’t live with the means, and she had to float her own mother (though to be fair, her mother was already dead, having been body-snatched by one of the Primes).
Where will it go from here?
Do you see why I’m glad this show is ending? Don’t get me wrong, I love this show, but it’s getting long in the tooth. I’ve always said the perfect number of seasons for any show is five, seven tops, and since the upcoming last one is number seven, I’m relieved.
Predictions for the next season? I personally don’t have any. If we’re throwing time travel into the mix then anything is possible. Characters who died way back in season one could find a reason to show up.
I’m looking forward to seeing how this all ends, and who makes it. Murphy has been one of the biggest surprises of the show (you want a redemption arch character that isn’t Octavia, look no further). I really thought he would have been long dead by now, but damn…that kid is tenacious! Will he survive the last season? Especially now that he’s immortal (thanks mind-drive!)?
The 100 Returns for its Seventh and Final Season on Wednesday, May 20, 2020 on The CW.