97 years into the future, humanity has been driven off Earth by a series of wars which have rendered the planet inhospitable. The only known survivors inhabit a group of twelve space stations called The Ark, home to 2400 people. Due to a limited amount of resources all crimes are punished by death unless the criminal is under eighteen years old. So far, it’s a system that has kept humanity alive. However, when the Ark starts to fall apart, a drastic measure is needed, so in order to test out whether Earth is survivable, the adults agree to send one hundred eighteen year olds down to the planet’s surface.
Right from the fact that it’s on the CW, you know it’s going to be a show that you’ll either love or hate. It just depends on how high your tolerance level is, because there are plenty of flaws and logic gaps to be found here. But if you can put that aside, The 100 is a show that becomes far more watchable when it goes on, drawing to a compelling conclusion that establishes the series as one of the best on the network, alongside the likes of Arrow, Supernatural and The Originals. Granted, it isn’t saying much when you consider the wealth of better shows to be found elsewhere, but for what it is, you could do far worse than The 100.
You can expect the standard CW tropes to come from this show. All the teenage actors, and thus the characters themselves are young and model-esque, which they really shouldn’t be given what their characters have been through. Thankfully though, they don’t remain that way throughout the season, as the show drags our characters through hell and emerges as one of the darker series to come from this network.
The show has a large cast of characters, split between the kids on the ground and the adults on The Ark. As a general rule, the adults are better actors, which is no surprise really, and whilst there is no real breakout performance the cast, for the most part, are tolerable, even if they may seem annoying at first. Eliza Taylor’s Clarke, the main protagonist of the series, particularly falls into the trope of a young, naive hero – but over the cause of the series adapts and grows, rapidly changing into an entirely different character from the start. In fact, there’s a lot of character growth over the course of this series, something which may surprise you, but rarely does the show have a character who’s the same at the start of the series as they are on the end.
Although it is in another league entirely, the most obvious comparison to this series is with the epic Battlestar Galactica reboot. Both share similar themes, a dark tone and even similar actors, with Alessandro Juliani (Lieutenant Geata on BSG, Sinclair here) and Kate Vernon (Ellen Tigh on BSG, Councilwoman Diana Sydney here). It’s great to see these actors again and hopefully we’ll be seeing more awesome Battlestar actors showing up in the future. Other adult members include Isaiah Washington (Chancellor Thelonius Jaha), and Paige Turker (Clarke’s mother), who put in strong performances.
Much like Battlestar, The 100 has a thirteen episode first season with the last two ending in a thrilling two-part “We Are Grounders”, which is easily the highlight of the season. Its tight constraint and plotting allow for few filler episodes and as a result you’re better off watching the whole thing if you want to try and catch up. There aren’t any real unwatchable episodes, even if the pilot suffers from perhaps too much exposition at times, but eventually the series manages to find its feet and become really entertaining.
As one would expect from CW shows, you get your standard pop music soundtrack thrown in over the course of the series. Imagine Dragons’ Radioactive is one of the most recognisable songs that the series has to offer, but the best use of music comes in the finale with Radiohead’s Exit Music (For a Film) playing over the ending montage that really sets a strong direction for season two.
The pace moves along frantically and there are plenty of twist endings, fast paced sequences and great reveals. It’s consistently unpredictable and the series is not afraid to kill off a major character or two, and there are plenty of deaths that happen over the course of the series so it’s probably best not to get attached to anyone.
The 100 itself perhaps shows one of CW’s riskiest options yet. They’ve never really gone full science fiction in the past and whilst there are several tropes commonly found on the network, it does work despite this. The effects are largely good and the drama is for the most part, pretty entertaining. Of course, there are flaws aplenty here, with perhaps the biggest one being the love triangle between Clarke and two other characters, Raven (Lindsay Morgan) & Finn (Thomas McDonnell), but on the whole The 100 gets off to a largely promising start and it’ll be interesting to see where the series goes from here.