In the first episode of the first season of The 100, I am so glad I knew nothing about this show. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to watch The 100.
Oh my god, I WASN’T READY.
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Now, I was incredibly lucky to not only have no one spoil this for me, but in recommending it, the lovely folks of this community just told me that it was a diverse cast with real-life non-straight characters. (In person, someone once told me I should watch it – and I quote – “because: lesbians.”) That’s it. NO ONE TOLD ME ANYTHING AT ALL. So I didn’t even know what genre it was, who starred in it, and I got to experience “Pilot” completely ignorant of literally everything.
I’m so happy this was the case. For the sake of this review, I’m going to split things up by the two locations/factions just so that I can try to cover as much as I can. Lord, I’M NOT READY.
God, this show wastes NO FUCKING TIME. I don’t think I’ve seen a pilot since LOST or Pushing Daisies that gallops so relentlessly into absurdity like this, and I love it. If that’s not clear enough, I’ll spell it out: I’m in. Count me the fuck in, y’all, because I immediately want to know more. I want to see more. I want to experience these characters because some of them are already revealing interesting things about themselves, and it’s only been ONE EPISODE.
Which still blows my mind because there are already so many plot twists and character revelations in the first forty minutes of this goddamn show. Amidst this, there’s worldbuilding. A LOT OF IT. I have questions about this universe, but the refreshing thing is that I’m not confused about what’s revealed here. It makes sense to me, and the show does a whole lot in very little time. I wanted to open this, then, with an exploration of The Ark, whose Biblical reference is eerily apt when you think about the ramifications of the place. 97 years after the nuclear apocalypse, twelve nations survive in a space station that sits above Earth, and everything is an organized mess. What little we do learn about the culture aboard The Ark is gleaned from dialogue. It’s how we find out about how all crime committed by those over 18 is punishable by death. (Called “floating,” in this world.) Or how we discover that it’s illegal to have more than one child. Or how we learn that there’s a vicious battle between Chancellor Jaha and Councilman Kane, the latter of which is a ruthless pragmatist willing to do anything to preserve the human race.
But at what cost? Kane is absolutely terrifying, and I kind of love the willingness of this show to just go straight for a one-note antagonist here. Kane has absolutely no redeeming features whatsoever; he’s willing to execute the chief medical officer, Dr. Griffin, just for using too much anesthetic when trying to save Jaha’s life. While Kane tries to make it out like he’s not paying special favors, it’s clear that he just wants Jaha out of the way. He cares not for mercy or compassion, and thus, it’s easy for him to express disinterest towards the 100 and everyone who might stand in his way.
He’s also the man who killed Dr. Griffin’s husband. Why? BECAUSE THE ARK IS RUNNING OUT OF OXYGEN. Oh my god, how is this show so intense already? But I love this element to the story, not only for the tension and the explanation for why The 100 were sent down to earth, but because it’s very clear that the show is willing to tread through oppression dynamics in telling us this story. It’s about resources: Who has access to them? Who is allowed to break the rules to get them? Who is considered privileged in this world? (Bellamy makes reference to this when gesturing towards Wells and Clarke, so I imagine that there’s a ruling class aboard the Ark who is considered “privileged.”) If we accept that, then I imagine this is how the rulers of The Ark decide who lives and who dies. Kane sure seems to have a way to get rid of people “by the book,” so I wonder what that means. A more strenuous enforcement of the law? Send more people to Earth aside from the 100?
I DON’T KNOW YET. Anything can happen, and that makes this SO EXCITING.
It’s just minutes from Clarke’s introduction before we see her strapped to her seat aboard the ship that shoots her and 99 other juvenile delinquents to Earth, and I’m still reeling from how intense this is. I think that the writers know how unnerving and disturbing this whole story is, and so I’m thankful for the fact that they don’t shy away from portraying these characters as… well, teenagers. Not only that, but I had to keep reminding myself that these people were all locked up for various crimes that included the serious – Finn wasting oxygen that the Ark needed just so he could illegally space walk – to the absolutely absurd. Clarke was imprisoned because her father tried to share the truth about the Ark’s oxygen levels. And what of the others? Octavia was put in prison simply for existing. As an illegal sibling, she was wrong from birth and that’s it. So what are these people going to do once they’re not only free from prison, but literally thousands of miles from the nearest authority figure?
They’re going to do whatever the hell they want.
I thought that while some of the 100’s reactions to be a bit heavy-handed and reminiscent of a lot of YA dystopian genre tropes, I didn’t think it was unrealistic. I actually thought it was kind of refreshing that this show was like, “Fuck it, let’s have them descend into elated chaos in the first hour they’re on Earth.” Right?
As it stands, most of the characters feel like facsimiles of tropes we’ve all seen in dystopian fiction, but I’m very interested to see how The 100 changes that. Will Wells continue to be the bullied nice kid? Does he deserve the wrath of these kids or is there something more at work here? (I mean, I can answer that: what his father did is not his fault.) What about the Johns? Will they still be assholes? Is Bellamy here as the trickser and the wild card? He’s the only person that was sent down not as a prisoner, but he shot Chancellor Jaha, so HE’S CLEARLY WILLING TO DO WHATEVER. But how does he plan to survive? How do any of the 100 think they’ll make it beyond this single day? Granted, that’s the point: they’re all distracted by their freedom, and therefore, survival doesn’t matter. At least not now! They’re celebrating the fact that they survived the plunge to Earth, and now there’s absolutely no one to tell them to do otherwise. It makes sense that they’d turn against Wells so quickly, right?
And then we’ve got The Five, which I’m inventing as a way to refer to the five people who actually try to survive: Octavia, Jasper, Monty, Finn, and Clarke. As a whole, I’d say they’re an immensely likable bunch, though they’re different enough that I see how interpersonal conflict can still arise between them. What was more interesting to me was their exploration of a world that no one had seen in 97 years. It’s done SO FUCKING WELL, from the lush, bioluminescent forests, to the mutated wildlife, to the threat of lingering radiation… it’s probably my favorite single aspect of this pilot. There’s just so much potential here, both in terms of worldbuilding and in crafting a high-stakes thriller. Indeed, this episode was terrifying, mostly because the writers know they can dangle a carrot in front of us all the time. We have no idea what’s left of Earth, and we have no idea what life forms the 100 will face as they try to make it to the base at Mount Weather.
AND APPARENTLY THE ENTIRE POPULATION OF EARTH WASN’T WIPED OUT, BECAUSE WHO THE FUCK ARE THOSE PEOPLE, WHAT ARE THEY DOING, WHY DID YOU HAVE TO KILL JASPER, I LIKED JASPER. 🙁
The video for “Pilot” can be downloaded here for $0.99.
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