Television Review: The second season of The 100 recognises that you can’t save everyone

No one is innocent – Maya

Maybe there are no good guys – Abigail Griffin

The 100 is one of those delightful television shows that you hear is really good, so you watch it. By the end of the third episode in the first season, I was hooked, and the show only got better from there. This is a show about people who are trying to survive. The one thing that unites the Sky People, the Grounders and the Mountain Men is that they’re all trying to survive, and they all need each other. But what’s left of the 100 don’t need the adults. They established a working society, and then The Ark made it to the ground, and Cain was arresting Bellamy for beating up Murphy. To Cain it doesn’t matter that Murphy killed others, it matters that Bellamy is resorting to ‘savage’ actions. The status quo has changed, and even though the 100 were at war with the Grounders, the Ark’s government has immediately established them as Other. That categorisation didn’t really help when Finn lost it and started shooting innocents at the Grounder village. One of the many reasons that The 100 is a good show, in addition to interesting and believable sotries and characters, is that it doesn’t make excuses. Sometimes the only way out is something you used to think was inexcusable. It separates the leaders from everyone else, particularly in times of war.

In ordering a sixteen episode second season, the CW did The 100 a favour; there were two eight episode arcs to the season, and the stakes were always real. The introduction of the Mountain Men was a bit slow at times, until Clarke discovered that they were harvesting Grounder blood and escaped, vowing to get the rest of her people out of Mount Weather. What appeared to be a haven became the most dangerous place on Earth for the Sky People. While the 48 were trapped in Mount Weather, Finn, Bellamy and Murphy were searching everywhere for them, and Finn snapped. First he killed a grounder hostage in order to find the whereabouts of the village where they kept Murphy, and then Murphy took them there anyway. It was also the location of Lincoln’s people, and Octavia helped the Grounders stave off a Reaver attack. There are arcs for all of our favourite characters.

When Finn kills innocent villagers, he signed his own death warrant. The heartbreaking thing about it is that Clarke stumbles upon the village because when she makes it to Camp Jaha, she learns that Finn is looking for her, and when she finds him, he’s gunning down innocents before saying “I found you”. The look on Eliza Taylor’s face is great acting here. What happened to Finn to make him act this way? Not to mention that his actions would have started a war if it weren’t for the fact that Clarke and Abigail worked out how to cure the Reaver sickness, which was another unfortunate experiment of the Mountain Men. Instead Lexa (the new leader of the Grounders, played by Alycia Debnam Carey, another Australian, which is awesome) proposes that Camp Jaha hand Finn over to them as a peace offering, and he will be punished for his crimes. Where this show excels is the realisation that there’s no other way out. Bellamy and Clarke take Finn to the old drop ship while they try to come up with another solution; Finn tells Clarke that she has to forgive him, but she doesn’t, and I like that. Too many women on television are forgiving men for doing questionable (at best) things and forgetting that it ever happened. Not on this show. Actions have consequences on the ground. And just because Clarke didn’t forgive Finn, it doesn’t mean she didn’t love him, which is why she makes the choice to kill him, and even then the alliance wasn’t particularly strong.

I don’t want to make this a recap of the entire season, so I’ll try not to do it. It wasn’t easy for the Grounders and the Sky people to forge an alliance, and it wasn’t easy to keep it. Ever since the 100 landed on the ground, they have been struggling to survive, and it’s only since Clarke saw what was happening in Mount Weather that she realised they needed to work together. The act of killing Finn takes its toll on Clarke, and the Grounders aren’t happy that Lexa allowed it and go as far as poisoning their own leader to sever the alliance.

What evolved out of this alliance was the beautiful and tragic bond between Clarke and Lexa. At points I just assumed the show was writing fanfiction bait, after Lexa told Clarke her mate was a woman, but Clarke had a lot to learn from Lexa about being a leader in a time of war. What do you do when you know your enemy plans to fire a missile into a village? Do you warn everyone or just try to get out yourself? Lexa tells Clarke that they can’t evacuate, then the Mountain Men would know that they’ve latched onto the frequency. It’s exactly the same as cracking Enigma in World War II. You need to be able to reduce casualties, but keep the number at a minimum so as not to look suspicious. In the aftermath of the missile, Clarke’s only ally was Lexa. Abigail and Octavia figured out what happened, and they can’t understand it. Cain tells Abigail that Clarke grew up in a society where every crime was punishable by death, and Indra tells Octavia that this is war, and you do what you have to do. Lexa tells Clarke that she has to try her hardest not to care, because when you’re a leader you have to do everything you can to save your people. You need to rule with your head and not your heart. When Lexa and Clarke kiss, it comes from a place of loneliness and understanding. Here is someone that understands the decisions that Clarke has had to make, and that’s why the betrayal hurts.

Clarke and Lexa devise a four part plan to attack Mount Weather, and at the eleventh hour, the Presidents Wallace offer a deal to Lexa: stop the attack, and your people walk free. All that means is that they’re going to keep drilling for bone marrow from the 46. Clarke and Octavia are encouraged to walk away; Octavia loses her position as Indra’s second for staying with her people, but that’s who her obligation is to. Clarke and Lexa have a bond, but they were allies for a specific mission. Similarly, Octavia may be accepted as a Grounder warrior, but her brother’s trapped inside Mount Weather. In “Blood Must Have Blood”, it’s not just about the blood spilled, but blood ties, and those bonds are greater than any temporary alliance that is necessary for survival.

As Clarke, Finn and Monty watch their people be drilled for bone marrow from Mount Weather’s command station, Clarke understands why Lexa made the decision she did. Clarke wanted to save her people with minimal casualties, but as Cage Wallace drills into her mother’s bone marrrow, she realises that the only way to stop the Mountain Men is to kill them all, and the only way to do that is to irradiate them. Unlike Lexa, Clarke doesn’t have to shoulder the burden alone, because Bellamy is there to pull the lever with her. I haven’t said much about the Mount Weather stuff because it wasn’t as interesting as the Camp Jaha/Grounder storyline, but Bob Morley is great in this show, and was also great as a spy. When Clarke irradiates level five, Jasper runs out of the dorm to see Maya. He says that she was innocent, but no one is innocent in this. The people trapped inside Mount Weather knowingly took blood from Grounders and bone marrow from the Sky people so they could get to the ground. Lexa betrayed Clarke to save her people, and Clarke realises that the only way to save her people is to kill all of the Mountain Men, which is why her mother tells her that maybe there is no good guy. At a certain point, you have to realise that you can’t save everyone: just as Finn couldn’t be saved, neither could the innocents at Mount Weather, and that’s a much more compelling story than one in which everyone made it out alive.

Other thoughts:

  • There is so much in this show for me to be able to get to them all in the main review, so I’m going to say some things about the other storylines now.
  • Jasper and Clarke’s friendship is pretty much over now that Maya is dead. Clarke had a similar conflict with Raven after she killed Finn, but then Raven realised that what Finn would have suffered without Clarke’s interference would have been worse. I guess the Monty/Jasper bromance is also over, which is quite sad.
  • Raven! She was awesome this season, as usual, and I like Wick as well. More Raven all the time, please
  • Jaha makes it to Earth in a missile and may have screwed everything up. First he lost the baby in space (this was probably the most horrifying moment in the entire season for me), and then he led Murphy to the “City of Light”, where Murphy finds an awesome bunker that belonged to a man who shot himself because a woman found the launch codes that led to the Earth’s destruction. At the City of Light, Jaha meets a holographic woman who is quite pleased that he brought a missile down to Earth. This won’t end well.
  • “Spacewalker” was a fantastic episode of television, particularly in the Finn and Raven flashbacks. What Finn did “for Clarke” is just a more extreme version of him taking responsibility for Raven’s crime, which was his fault in the first place.
  • The 100 was renewed for a third season back in January, but at the CW’s Upfronts presentation this week, they announced that it’s going to be held until midseason, which means we’re not getting any more of this show until January at the earliest.
  • For quite a few weeks at least one episode of The 100 was in the Top 10 iTunes Australia downloads for television, which is just great. I’m glad this show is reaching a wider audience.
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