Mark Watches ‘The 100’: S01E13 – We Are Grounders, Part II

In the thirteenth and final episode of the first season of The 100, this show is what a thousand other shows wish they could be. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to watch The 100.

Trigger Warning: For body horror/gore, racism.

Goddamn, this show is something else.

I don’t think it’s perfect, and I’ll open this review by stating that the seeming willingness to kill off all the black characters is really grating. REALLY GRATING. Not in a “Oh, there’s one thing wrong with this otherwise flawless creation” kind of way. You can’t purport to have a diverse cast if one specific type of person can’t seem to survive. At this point, if Jaha does survive the impossible, then that promptly puts him in token territory, which is barely better. I can’t claim to know the intentions of anyone casting or writing this show, but in science fiction and horror, it’s a longstanding trope that all the black characters are killed off. Surely someone had to be aware of this, no?

Anyway, I wanted to get that out of the way without saying that this kind of criticism is mutually exclusive to everything that follows. I was entertained by the finale of this show, even if it basically punched me in the soul. I think there’s some utterly fantastic writing and cinematography here (enough to make me wonder how this ended up on the CW), and I truly believe that The 100 accomplishes shit that other shows dream about. Which is why it’s even more glaring that race doesn’t seem to play much of a part in anything, especially a show about hierarchies and power and prejudice and the difficult decisions that people make while choosing between survival and moral certainty.

I think what impresses me most about this show is that in just thirteen episodes, we’ve been taken on a journey. These characters are not who they were during “Pilot.” In fact, thinking about that episode makes me appreciate just how far The 100 has come since then. I could not imagine Kane as the selfless leader who would offer to remain behind in order to save the human race. Hell, I don’t know that I could imagine Jaha in the same role either. I could not have imagined Clarke as the one to help enact a plan to blast the Grounders with a ring of fire. I could not have guessed that Bellamy would finally trust both Clarke and Octavia with the choices that they made instead of putting his own ego first.

I could keep going. It’s satisfying to think of this because there aren’t many shows that can tell stories that are so tight and vicious, and The 100 leaves little room for anything but the story of teenagers desperately trying to avoid the same mistakes as their parents, only to be forced into increasingly terrible situations where the cycle just ends up repeating. Does it end? Can it end? What happens now that the survivors of the Ark are on Earth? Are they a variable that changes the equation? I don’t know, and I’ll save that for my prediction post. (Which will also be a disaster. This show doesn’t care about me at all.) But the fact that I’m already thinking about this is a sign that I’ve been stimulated enough by the story to start doing shit like this.

I want so much more, and for the most part, I’m certain that The 100 will give it to me. There are just so many over-the-top (yet appropriately sensical) story beats in just one episode that it’s clear that the writers will do whatever they think will give us the best possible work of fiction imaginable. I think it was brilliant to send the Ark to Earth in a way that (nearly) eliminates the need for scenes to be set on Earth and in space. (I’m still holding out hope that Jaha somehow survives.) It would have been exhausting to keep that going, and now, there’s endless potential for drama and plot twists now that the group has made it down to Earth. There’s a lot to be done in the wake of the rocket fuel massacre, especially since I don’t think the show is going to ignore the emotional ramifications of that act. Granted, the 100 were defending themselves, but killing that many people in one blow? Good lord, it was clear from the look on Clarke’s face that she was horrified. (Well, what little we saw from her before THE MOUNTAIN MEN.)

Gah, I’m doing it again: thinking of the future. I can’t help it. I haven’t been this excited about a show in ages, which isn’t to suggest that I haven’t loved what I’ve seen this year. (I’ve watched a lot of great television!) But something about this show hits (most) of the right buttons for me. It’s like a mainlined LOST. It’s like a less mystical version of Battlestar Galactica. It’s the moral ambiguity I want out of Deep Space Nine. (And I hope I get!!!) And it surprises me. I was surprised by Finn’s plan to utilize the Reapers against the Grounders. I was genuinely shocked at the scope of the Grounder fight, too! This show continually stages these massive scenes, and they feel so real to me. The same goes for the smaller moments. I understood what it meant for the Octavia/Bellamy relationship when Bellamy finally let Octavia go. It was a sign that he could trust her decisions and trust her with someone else. I absolutely adored that tiny moment where Raven spoke candidly about her life and recent events, especially since it allowed Clarke to express herself to Raven WITHOUT IT BEING ABOUT FINN AT ALL.

I ship it.

Look, there’s a lot that happened here. Anya is still alive, but most of her friends and family are apparently dead, killed by the 100. (Well, we still don’t know how big the Grounders group are.) We have no idea if most of the Reapers were killed off, too. Don’t even get me started on the Mountain Men because WHAT THE HOLY FUCK IS GOING ON. The Ark has returned, the 100 are captured inside Mount Weather, we have no idea where Finn and Bellamy are, Lincoln’s got Octavia somewhere, and Jaha is going to die. (Maybe?) This is one hell of a cliffhanger, but it didn’t happen without closure and satisfaction, and to me, that’s what makes The 100 so fulfilling to me. It’s not drama just for the sake of the shock. This is a finale that gives us friendship and solidarity between people who had every reason to stay in conflict. It’s a story about how people can change and adapt in ways that show us that they’ve rejected their worldview. It’s a snapshot of pure ecstasy when Dr. Griffin and Kane get to look at Earth – in all its mythical beauty – for the first time from the ground.

It’s a goddamn spectacle, and I’m glad I’m watching it.

The video for “We Are Grounders, Part II” can be downloaded here for $0.99.

Mark Links Stuff

– I will be at numerous conventions in 2016! Check the full list of events on my Tour Dates / Appearances page.
– My Master Schedule is updated for the near and distant future for most projects, so please check it often. My next Double Features for Mark Watches will be seasons 1 & 2 of The 100, Death Note, and Neon Genesis Evangelion. On Mark Reads, Diane Duane’s Young Wizards series will replace the Emelan books.
- Mark Does Stuff is on Facebook! I’ve got a community page up that I’m running. Guaranteed shenanigans!

About Mark Oshiro

Perpetually unprepared since '09.
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