When I first read about the premise of the CW’s new teen
dystopian thriller The 100
, I was actually intrigued.
The basic premise of the show, for those that don’t know, is
that the Earth was compromised by nuclear winter after a conflict caused
several countries to shoot missiles at each other.
To survive, an “ark” was built. This time, it went to space.
The generation of individuals living on the “ark” was merely
meant to be a transition generation since it would be a hundred years before
Earth was inhabitable again.
Unfortunately for the survivors on the ark, the oxygen
system is starting to fail and the survivors only have a few months to live.
That’s where viewers are introduced to the story and we’re
introduced to Clarke (Eliza Taylor) – a young
girl that has been in the prison
system on the ark for the past year. She – and 99 other teenage prisoners on
the ark – are being dispatched to Earth to see if survival is an option on the
Since scientists believe the Earth is still too toxic for
humans to survive, it’s possible the kids on the shuttle will die the minute
they land. Each teenager has a wristband feeding their vitals back to the ark
so the adults can monitor the morbidity rate of the kids.
To no one’s surprise (it wouldn’t be much of a television
show if the kids all died in the pilot episode) the kids land relatively safely
(two fatalities) and find that they can breathe without a problem.
The first order of business is food and mindless flirting, apparently.
Most of the kids have been in the background so far, but a
handful of them have been pushed to the forefront.
The first is Clarke, the moral compass of the show. Clarke’s
mother is one of the science officers on the ark. She’s got her own political
agenda – as do all the adults we see on the ark – but more on her in a minute.
We’re also introduced to Wells, Clarke’s childhood best
friend – who Clarke isn’t overly happy to see. It seems Clarke believes that not only was she imprisoned because of Wells – but her father was also “floated.”
What’s floated? Anyone that broke a rule on the ark was
essentially shown into a capsule and had an
external door opened and they were
sucked out into space. Clarke’s father was one of these individuals. His crime?
He was the one that found out the environmental controls on the ark weren’t
working and the people on it were in danger. He wanted to do the right thing
and tell everyone, but he was floated instead.
Clarke always thought Wells told his father, Chancellor Jaha
(Isaiah Washington) and that resulted in her father’s death. Clarke realizes
relatively quickly, though, that her assumptions were wrong. Wells didn’t turn
on her and turn in her father. It was her mother, Abby (Paige Turco).
Of course, Wells doesn’t survive long after Clarke and he
reconcile. He’s killed by a frightened 13-year-old child named Charlotte – who is
trying to control her fear (yeah, the Charlotte tale is one of the weaker arcs so far).
That brings me to the true “heart” of The 100
. This is
really just a fancy retelling of Lord of the Flies
. We have kids who have all
done something wrong to get where they are. Many thought they were being sent
on a death mission. So, when they survive, they are easily swayed by a
Enter Bellamy (Bob Morley). Bellamy’s story is interesting –
if incomplete. We know that he’s the older brother to Octavia, a girl who was
locked up because it was illegal for a couple to have more than one child on
the ark. Octavia spent her childhood in hiding and, when she was discovered,
was locked up.
Bellamy went out of his way to make sure he was on the shuttle with the prisoners so he wouldn't be separated from Octavia again.
Bellamy wants to fire up the survivors to discard their
bracelets and let the ark think they’re dead so they
won’t come down. He’s
hiding some big secrets – and I’m curious to see what they are. Back on the ark, as the kids are "dying" -- the adults are starting to gear up to "float" hundreds of innocent citizens to prolong the air supply on the ark.
While I like Bellamy, the problem is, he has largely been painted with a dark
brush. The only thing he’s missing is a mustache to twirl. Charlotte showed a softer side of Bellamy –
but that didn’t last very long.
The truth is, the biggest problem with The 100
story. True, the story is a little heavy-handed right now – but most shows are
when they first launch. I have hope that the writers will relax a little bit
and not force everything.
No, the real problem is the casting.
I understand this is a teenage ensemble, but the bulk of the
cast is obviously learning how to act on the job right now.
While there have been some decent moments, there have also
been some cringe-worthy moments – and I don’t expect that to get any better
when we get immersed in an actual love triangle this week.
I keep reminding myself that this is a show for teenagers –
so they like the melodrama – but sometimes the teenage angst is almost too much
for me to take.
Still, the premise of the show is interesting and the acting
of the adult cast is top notch. I’m willing to hang on and let the writers iron
out the kinks (if they’re willing and able).
Since dystopian fantasy is all the rage right now, I think
has a chance to survive and thrive. I’m just hoping the acting with the
younger set improves – and the writing lightens up a little bit.
What do you think? Do you like The 100