October 23, 2014

SHOWBUZZDAILY Season Premiere Review: “The 100″”


THE 100:  Wednesday 9PM on CW

THE 100 started as almost defiantly derivative of every post-apocalyptic, dystopian YA fantasy around (plus more than a little Lost, Battlestar Galactica and Lord of the Flies), but it proved to be a surprisingly sturdy piece of storytelling over the course of its season.  Series creator Jason Rothenberg wasn’t afraid to take big narrative swings, and that was true of the Season 1 finale, which disrupted the show’s major theme of a repopulated Earth that was virtually teenagers-only by having the spaceship “ark” containing their associated adults crash-land nearby to end the season.  That left only Chancellor Jaha (Isaiah Washington) alone–or is he?–in space to slowly die of oxygen deprivation.

The new arrivals weren’t the only adults to show up in the Season 2 premiere, written by Rothenberg and directed by Dean White.  The episode found our heroes scattered, with leader Clarke (Eliza Taylor) among 48 of the teens now being housed within Mount Weather, the base the 100 were supposed to head for when they first landed on Earth.  As it turned out, the base was occupied by a group vulnerable to the still-high levels of radiation outside, but living remarkably normal lives, complete with chocolate cake, fine paintings and a selection of designer clothes.  (Given an assortment of dresses to choose from, Clarke naturally picked a stylish commando outfit.)  They’re led by President Dante (Raymond J. Barry), who in classic fashion is both gentlemanly and menacing to Clarke, refusing to let her or any of the others out… for their own good.  It’s not going to be surprising when he and his group are revealed to have sinister intentions, but at least our surrogate Clarke is smart enough to already know that, so there won’t be the tiresome “Oh my god, you mean they’re not really nice?” scene down the road.

Meanwhile, Clarke’s mother Abby (Paige Turco) and now-Chancellor Kane (Henry Ian Cusick) collected most of the other young protagonists, including heroes Finn (Thomas McDonell) and Bellamy (Bob Morley), as well as Raven (Lindsey Morgan) and Murphy (Richard Harmon), who recently shot each other but have now bonded.  While the arrival of Kane and the others promises more formal civilization than the 100 had alone, it’s also clearly going to lead to conflicts, as Kane promptly put Bellamy under arrest when he attacked Murphy.  (Murphy, previously depicted as a psychopath, was given a sympathetic backstory in the course of the episode, which may or may not be a bid to redeem him going forward.)  The episode’s C story followed Octavia (Marie Avgeropoulos), Bellamy’s sister, and her rebel “grounder” boyfriend Lincoln (Ricky Whittle), as he tried to cure her of the effects of a poisoned arrow.

It all set up plenty of material for the second season to explore, with the interaction between teens who’ve been running things for themselves and authoritarian adults clearly a major theme.  (And the episode’s elliptical ending, featuring the apparently impossible sound of a crying baby on Jaha’s evaculated space station, will no doubt provide more mystery.)  Taylor is a convincingly heroic lead, and several of the supporting players make their mark as well, although McDonell and Morley are more interchangeable than is good for the show.  The absence of last season’s ersatz-BSG sequences aboard the space station won’t be missed.

The 100 wasn’t one of CW’s breakout hits last season, but it performed well with Arrow as a lead-in, and it’s returning in the same timeslot, where it should continue to draw an audience.  Of that network’s YA exercises in genre, it’s the one with the widest scope and the most cinematic feel.


About the Author

Mitch Salem
MITCH SALEM has worked on the business side of the entertainment industry for 20 years, as a senior business affairs executive and attorney for such companies as NBC, ABC, USA, Syfy, Bravo, and BermanBraun Productions, and before that, at the NY law firm of Weil, Gotshal & Manges. During all that, he has more or less constantly been going to the movies and watching TV, and writing about both since the 1980s. His film reviews also currently appear on and In addition, he is co-writer of an episode of the television series "Felicity."