The CW‘s The 100 We are Grounders, Pt. 1 TV Show Review. The 100: Season 1, Episode 12: ‘We are Grounders, Part 1’ served as the set up for the inaugural season finale, and I’m still not sure where this show is going. On one hand, The 100 telegraphs almost every plot twist/ development; on the other, it sheds its individual arcs (and characters) to the point of a seeming disinterest in establishing any kind of real series mythology. So why should I care about what comes next?
Considering how much of the show’s potential future has been dropped for the sake of its present, I suppose I should be wary of present developments. To its credit, however, developments with long term implications just keep coming. Not since the circumstances around the introduction of Seven-of-Nine, for Star Trek: Voyager, had so much time been devoted to setting up a boogeyman, that is then de-fanged, as with the Grounders of The 100. Of course, it would have been dramatically irresponsible to humanize the show’s demons without first finding a replacement threat. If the Grounders constituted the kind of threat that could force the Exiles to overcome their petty differences, then it was only natural that a greater threat be introduced, in order to set up some common ground for Exiles & Grounders alike.
With that new threat came a series of hopeful heroics, for Lincoln (Ricky Whittle), an opportunity for Finn (Thomas McDonell) to appreciate the need for reflexive violence, and a new mystery for Clarke (Eliza Taylor) to solve, that could be key to future Exile-Grounder relations.
While the very name given to this new threat might have been meant to draw comparisons to a particular menace, courtesy of Firefly, I found myself thinking of only one criteria, by which to gauge their threat level. Whether or not they speak English. The writing was on the wall, so far as the future of Exile-Grounder relations was concerned, with Lincoln’s first words. Monsters are only monsters if we can’t/ don’t care to understand them. However… rocky negotiations have been, the two camps have been talking at each other from different perspectives. Throw in a third party that cannot be communicated with (ruling out diplomacy), and the two camps are likely to start talking to each other about a singular concern.
That is, of course, assuming this isn’t just another disposable development; introduced just to get the core characters to rearrange their deck chairs, then discarded.
While Bellamy (Bob Morley), Octavia (Marie Avgeropoulos), and Kane (Henry Ian Cusick) have all been forced to make rearrangements to the point that they are barely recognizable, from their character starting points, the cementing of a core cast has meant limits to the formula of changing dynamics. Case in point: Murphy (Richard Harmon). Never mind his role as “the guy that loses it, and ruins things for everyone,” if Murphy’s (again, disposable) “comeback” sub-plot was any indication, then the message seemed pretty clear. Unless it involves a core cast member, viewers shouldn’t take any other character developments too seriously.
As if to hammer home that point, once & for all, the series’ single biggest sub-plot – The Ark – no longer seems to have a future. All the intrigues and forced evolutions of the orbiting characters have amounted to one thing: getting ground-side. This was the outcome of the all-too-brief insurrection arc, and seems to be the final outcome set for its aftermath. While this certainly pre-empts any chance of the ground-orbit dynamic going stale, it does beg the question of “the 100’s” relevance. Unless things go sideways, in the worst way, a coming together of the Exiles & the Ark authorities would undermine the show’s whole premise.
If The 100 is to remain true to it’s premise (if not its title), then I fear another purging may be in order.
I can only hope that, once all the sacrificing has been done, the core cast members are left smarter, better people for it. Prospects as grave as all out war, and terminal velocity homecomings, deserve better than retreads of Romeo & Juliet by way of Twilight/ The Hunger Games. If The 100 wants to go out on such high stakes, it better deliver a worthwhile payoff. Heck, I’d settle for a worthwhile ongoing premise.
Why should I care about what comes next? For every promising development that has been abandoned, there was a real drag that could have gone on a lot longer. I’m prepared to grant that the showrunners see rapid plot shifts as a way of keeping things interesting, rather than just being rudderless. Change for the sake of change is hardly the way to secure viewer loyalty (mine, anyway); but it does arouse a degree of curiosity. Even if we are given no reason to invest in anything/anyone beyond a handful of characters, there may be some entertainment value in seeing what/ who gets thrown under the bus to maintain that narrow focus.
Whether it finds a voice or not, the lack of a clear course could make for a more interesting ride. Provided, of course, that you’re more interested in the ride than the destination.
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