A couple of days ago I reviewed the first season of The CWs adaptation of the Kass Morgan novel, The 100. It’s time to take a look at the 2nd one!
Created By: Jason Rothenberg
Network: The CW
Air Date: Season 3 begins this Fall
The 100 season 2 picks immediately after the previous season’s finale. The 100 defeat he grounder forces, but the Mountain Men—those living in Mount Weather—soon capture them. While some left for space, others stayed behind in bunkers protecting them from the radiation. Mount Weather is one such place. They welcome The 100—or The 47 as they call them this season. But Clarke suspects something’s off with these bunker people.
And man is she right!
The first thing I have to say about The 100 Season 2 is how much I loved the visual design of it. The people of the Ark are on Earth and they’ve made their own makeshift camp around their landing zone, the look of it an amped up version of The 100 camp, with makeshift structures but a badass electric fence and gate. Mount Weather has a definite Americana feel to it while still being extremely oppressive, with its secret bunker door and tight hallways. The Ton DC village and other Grounder settlements tell you so much about their civilisation.
Second thing is that this season took the time to both show and explain how the hell Grounder culture works, helping to explain why they’re all so crazy for battle and eager to go Friday the 13th on the Sky People—yet another unoriginal name. Really, this show’s greatest weakness is in naming crap.
The overall plot of the season involves Mount Weather and its questionable practices towards both Grounders and Ark-folk—I refuse to call them Sky People—and Clarke doing her very best to forge an alliance and still remain human in the face of hard choices. In terms of character growth, hers is the best, closely followed by Octavia’s warrior journey. Bellamy has calmed down and become more level-headed since last season but it was now Finn’s turn to lose all his marbles and become the new resident douchenugget. You know you’re a complete bastard when Murphy is telling you you’re crossing a line.
My two favourite characters this season were Maya and Jasper, the latter one of the original 100s, and the first guy to get crucified by Grounders—he got better—and the former one of the Mount Weather people. At first, you think she’s an enemy but you slowly see more sides to her until she’s one of the best in the season.
Aside from those characters I’ve mentioned, the ever badass Licoln and the newcomer female Grounders, Indra and The Commander—who’s an outstanding character—I pretty much hated all characterization in this season of The 100. The Ark people are asinine, completely disregarding the kids’ accomplishments and treat them like children. They spend the entire first season seeing this kids survive impossible situations and even state how proud they are of them, but the first thing Kane says when meeting them is “You are not in control anymore!”. Clarke’s mother is the worst of the bunch. She constantly tries to be the protective parent to a child she essentially sent to her death on the ground and then harshly judges her for making some of the same choices she made as a leader on the Ark. But it does lead to one of the most amazing lines in the entire season, from Clarke to her: “You may be the Chancellor, but I am in charge!”
Speaking of Kane, he goes back to being a complete ass for the first few episodes, even going so far as flogging Clarke’s mum with a taser, but then becomes a really nice guy again and remains that way for the rest of the season. It’s the Ark’s original Chancellor, Thelonius, who gets a permanent spot on the douchenugget fun train, leading to one of the strangest, most convoluted, contrived and harebrained character and plot developments in any TV series to date, with him first riding a missile to Earth and then taking a handful or survivors and Murphy across the desert to find the promised land, all while acting like he’s freaking Moses. Every scene with him will have you asking “What?” as it becomes more and more surreal. It’s the kind of stuff you’d expect from dream sequences or after a character has a psychotic break during the previous season. By the season finale, it broke my Bullshit Tolerance Threshold—or my suspension of disbelief, use whatever term you prefer.
Having said so, the performances are good all around, though the Grounder actors could’ve showed a bigger range of emotions. Resting Bitch Face is their default mode. I wanted to see some of them at least crack a smile that wasn’t cruel or scary. They’re stoic and humourless for the entire season. It’s not their fault because I know Adina Porter—you’ll recognise her from her True Blood days—is a terrific actress, and even though she barely shows any emotion, she manages to convey just how strong her character, Indra, is. It’s the same with Alycia Debnam Carey’s Lexa, the Commander for the Grounder forces, but in her case, the lack of emotion is fully explored through her interactions with Clarke and you can understand it. In fact, I give Alycia full props because she manages to portray the character’s emotions with just her eyes.
If you thought The 100 Season 1 was a dark show, you haven’t seen anything. This one goes so dark I’m tempted to call it evil. People die by the scores, some are tortured and others die slow and painful deaths, though a lot of those really deserve it. The season finale has a fantastic climax and things end in a believable way for Clarke…and completely off the rails BS for Thelonius. They should’ve let that character die in peace.
Aside from the characterization and the Thelonius messiah plotline, this is the season that got a bit over the top with the Sci part of Sci-Fi. What the Mountain Men do to stay alive will have you react like “Holy s***!” before you realise it’s complete nonsense. What they do to the 47 afterwards is beyond that and well into poppycock territory.
Even with all I’ve said above, this is a very strong season. The main storyline, characters and pacing overcome some of the more glaring deficiencies.
4/5 – Exceptional
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