The CW‘s The 100 We are Grounders, Pt. 2 TV Show Review. The 100: Season 1, Episode 13: ‘We are Grounders, Part 2’ began with one more clash, between Finn (Thomas McDonell) the dove, and Bellamy (Bob Morley) the hawk, with Clarke (Eliza Taylor) trying to have it both ways. The result was a decision to leave the garrison, for a more defensible beach head position, but one Red Shirt fatality in, and panic drove the Exiles back to the garrison. The stage was set for just the kind of Exile last stand that Grounder Warlord, Tristan (Joseph Gatt), and Jr. Warlord, Anya (Dichen Lachman), had in mind for them.
If the initial evacuation attempt seemed reminiscent of Last of the Mohicans, then Clarke’s solution to the imminent storming of their garrison seemed right out of Tim Burton‘s Planet of the Apes.
Back on the Ark, Chancellor Jaha (Isaiah Washington), and the other survivors of the insurrection arc, settled on a plan of action that was to bring a very swift end to their leaking-life-raft-in-space dilemma. With a hearty round of “so say we all,” they braced for skyfall. Okay, they didn’t actually say “so say we all,” but it sort of rang out that way (and no, I haven’t been fixating on BSG alums showing up on the Ark).
Once again, members of the core cast managed to make a single casualty, with a potentially fatal injury, the single most important person in the whole garrison; only this time, the stakes were dead on. With “Murphy’s Law” still in effect, a whole lot of desperate, potentially sacrificial, and otherwise stupid things had to be done for good reason. The Exiles actually pulled together better than usual, to meet the Grounder threat (well, except for that one guy that killed a few of his fellow Exiles, before breaking the camp – and one of the campers – while making a break for it, then turning tortured informant for the Grounders). There was still more panic (including a quoting of Hudson, from Aliens), but they fell back in not entirely bad order, so the Bellamy drills had clearly paid off. What was it that Bellamy did on the Ark, again?
Given Bellamy’s inexplicable proficiency with firearms & tactical situations, I’m not sure why it took Jasper (Devon Bostick), after a lot of wasted shots, to figure out that they were being baited into wasting ammo. In any case, Jasper wound up becoming the default most important person in the garrison; at the very least, he justified the effort that went into saving him, at the start of the season, anyway.
As for the Ark’s Skyfallers, for all their troubles (and trouble there was: not everyone made it past re-entry), the payoff came in the form of lakefront property. From what I could see of it, they would’ve had to build a lake house to match such a perfect end to a harrowing drop. Sticks the landing, indeed. The view for Jaha, however, was left tragically bittersweet. If we never see the chancellor again, then it was as noble a send-off as any.
Given The 100‘s tendency to telegraph its plot twists, the introduction of the Reapers (previous episode) seemed destined to serve the purpose to which they were utilized, this time around. It was left for me to wonder, then, whether the promised action of the garrison assault would amount to a forced joining of forces, when the greater of two evils arrived, or massive free-for-all. The good news is that it was closer to the latter scenario; the bad news is that Reapers amounted to yet another disposable (and all too brief) plot device.
Epic minded finales should be final, leaving viewers feeling filled (with win, even). Epic minded season finales should have a cliff-hanger element, giving viewers a reason to come back for more. To that end, ‘We are Grounders, Pt. 2’ left quite a bit up in the air. I had hoped that, beyond Clarke, no character was entirely safe on The 100, and this episode climaxed with a nod in that direction. Lincoln (Ricky Whittle) & Octavia (Marie Avgeropoulos) got a honeymoon ticket off the battlefield, after the latter was left wounded, while it was do or die time for everyone else, in a scramble to get on the right side of Clarke’s master plan. By the time the smoke cleared – the first time – there was no proof of life, regarding the previous night’s sacrificial act of hawk & dove, and Anya was left well outside her comfort zone. By the time the smoke cleared the second time, Clarke was the only one left standing; but across from another cast member off the missing persons list. More than anything else, though, the finale left open the question of what the what is this show even going to be about, going forward. The 100 concluded its inaugural season by outpacing its own initial premise.
Now, about the resolution to that conclusion. However hamstrung the show has been, thanks to “young adult” conventions & sensibilities, the core premise had promise. That promise, though occasionally betrayed by forced melodrama & heavy-handed deliveries, was maintained by a surprisingly high turnover rate to its individual arcs. The willingness of the showrunners to abandon plot material, that other shows would have likely milked for more than one season, suggested either aimlessness or a rush to get to bigger and better things. Given the somewhat specific nature of The 100‘s premise, I found myself wondering if the premise, itself, was disposable. Apparently, it was.
The telegraphing thing became something of a double-edged sword. On one hand, it made episodes (and much of the season) predictable (to me, anyway); but on the other, it kept getting my hopes up. As cynical as I can sometimes be, I do try to imagine the best way out of a bad turn, for whatever I’m viewing. Frankly, I’ve been having a hard time with just how… relatable the Grounders turned out to be, and fancied that a reasonable explanation would be that they were vestiges of pre-apocalyptic Earth, rather than an entirely post-apocalyptic culture. Throw in multiple references to not attracting the “Mountain Men,” and Anya’s aside about Grounders having already survived technically superior threats, and my hopes went way up.
So now I have admit that, while still heavy-handed & predictable, in retrospect, the season finale to The 100 managed to redeem much of the series by exceeding my expectations – and by exceeding my expectations, I mean by just actually living up to them. Things could get much better, for The 100, or go downhill, from here. What seems certain is that it won’t be the same. Might be worth checking in on, next season.
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