The series premiere of the CW’s new drama, The 100, offers a whole new post-apocalyptic setting for viewers, despite most of the action taking place right here on Earth.
The episode begins with a quick recap of why thousands of humans are living in a spaceship instead of down on the Earth they’re orbiting. The main character, Clarke Griffin, is in a holding cell at a juvenile detention facility and reiterating the events to the audience while she draws on the floor. Hey, I imagine I’d be a little bored too.
As she explains it, it’s been 97 years since a nuclear apocalypse wiped out life on Earth, but the survivors of 12 nations on spaceships in orbit at the time came together to form the Ark. Mankind has been living there ever since, but having such a limited space and resources means drastic measures have been taken to cut down on the population over time.
It’s believed that the Earth needed 100 years to recover before humans could return, but in this episode, leaders on the Ark decide to take a chance and jump-start things a bit.
Clarke is approached by guards in her cell, where she’s kept because she committed a crime and those under 18 are held in the facility for their offenses. They’re the lucky ones. Those who have reached the age of majority? Are killed for any crime they commit.
She’s dragged out by the guards, and at first she believes she’s being executed. When she tries to escape, she literally runs into her mother, Dr. Abigail Griffin, who tells her the truth: she, along with 99 others in the facility, are being sent to Earth. Her mother stuns her somehow to knock her out, and Clarke wakes up on a ship headed for the planet.
So Clarke, along with several other characters including Wells, (who got himself arrested when he found out about the plan to send the kids to Earth in order to go with Clarke),and a troublemaker of a guy named Finn along with many others, are blasted off to Earth. Their journey begins.
While on the smaller ship, the Chancellor on the Ark, Wells’ father, announces through a video that they’re being sent to Earth because they’re “expendable,” and basically, someone had to go to check out whether the planet was safe for re-colonization. They’re supposed to be dropped on a mountain with supplies for them, but during the landing, the small vessel ends up off-course and they don’t reach the target destination.
A few individuals who are goofing off out of their seats during the landing end up dead, but most of the 100 make it to Earth in one piece. When things look a bit dicey during the descent, Wells apologizes to Clarke for getting her father arrested, and we learn that whatever he did, Mr. Griffin was executed for it. So Clarke’s got a bit of a grudge against the guy.
When they crash, the communication methods between the 100 and those still on the Ark go down, so there’s no audio or video for those left behind to monitor the explorers. But the wristbands can still monitor their vitals, which is a small comfort to those like Clarke’s mom who are watching the screens anxiously.
When they reach Earth and step out onto the planet for the first time, the 100 rejoice at the sunshine, fresh air, and forest all around them, all for the first time in their lives. I can’t even imagine what that would be like, but I imagine I would cheer just as much as these kids do.
The 100 establishes side characters very quickly in this first episode. During the landing and the first exploration of Earth in 97 years, we meet a brother and sister pair, Bellamy and Octavia, and get a few more scenes with the flirtatious Finn.
Bellamy actually snuck onto the ship to go with his sister, borrowing a guard uniform in order to do so, and Octavia is revealed to have been a secret sibling to the boy for many years, because apparently there’s a one-child policy on the Ark and her mother hid her from their people most of her life.
While everyone else is celebrating, Clarke is all business, and she immediately sets out to find her way to Mount Weather, where the supplies should be. There’s an early confrontation between Wells and a few of the others because the Chancellor is his father, and many resent the man for locking them up or executing their parents in the past, but it’s cleared up quickly.
Just before Clarke’s trip to Mount Weather, we learn that Bellamy did something terrible in order to get on the ship, so he’s keeping a close eye on the sister he followed to protect. However, she ends up going with the expedition to the mountain, and Bellamy stays behind.
So Clarke, Finn, Octavia, and two boys named Jasper and Monty head for the mountain while the rest of the 100 stay behind. Surely nothing bad can happen when you leave a bunch of teenagers out in the wilderness with no rules and no supervision, right?
Dr. Griffin’s Duties
Back on the Ark, Dr. Griffin gets an urgent call: the Chancellor’s been shot, and they desperately need blood to save him. When she’s told she’ll be breaking the law if she gives him more blood and medication, she doesn’t heed the warning, and sets out to save the man anyway.
Later, Abigail monitors the progress of the 100 and is informed that it appears two more of the group are dead, but she doesn’t think their sudden “deaths” are a result of radiation poisoning, as they happened too suddenly. If that was the case, they’d all be dead, including her daughter, who appears to be fine according to her vitals.
A New Leader
So why does it look like, slowly but surely, some of the teenagers are dying when they’re not? Bellamy is convincing them to get rid of the wristbands that monitor their status and report back to the Ark.
Wells has an altercation with a few other boys again, but Bellamy soon shows up and asks why they’re “helping” the people who locked them up by feeding them information through their wristbands. If they take them off, he explains, the others won’t think it’s safe to follow, and the 100 will be truly free from their control.
Bellamy starts to convince many of the members of the 100 who are not headed to the mountain to take off their bracelets, and they cut them off and throw them into a fire. When Wells questions their actions, Bellamy says they are liberating themselves. He doesn’t care if the people on the Ark think they’re dying – they killed his mother, he reveals, and he blames Wells’ father partially for that.
On Earth, there are no laws, which is very different from the strict lifestyle the 100 left behind on the Ark. I can see why not wanting that back would seem appealing to many of the 100, and Bellamy seems to realize that too, manipulating the kids and their feelings to control the group.
It all gets a little ridiculous when they start chanting “Whatever the Hell we want!”, following Bellamy’s lead, but it’s also a good reminder that they’re all just teenagers, after all.
Back on the Ark, the reports onscreen indicate that the 100 have found water (it started raining during that little mob mentality scene), and Griffin is relieved. But that doesn’t last long; soon after, she’s arrested for exceeding the amount of medication allowed for one patient while trying to save the Chancellor’s life. He might be their leader, but no one gets special treatment.
The back-up Chancellor, Kane, finds her guilty, but Abigail doesn’t regret her actions. She was willing to do whatever she needed to to keep him from becoming Chancellor, she explains, and we find out that when her husband figured out that – surprise! – the Ark was dying, he was executed to keep the revelation a secret, and her daughter was included in the charges against him.
The difference between Kane and Dr. Griffin is simple: his job is to make sure the human race stays alive, no matter what, but Griffin wants to make sure they actually deserve to survive. She has more of a moral code, one that seems to be lacking in Kane if he’s willing to sentence a girl to death for her father’s crimes.
Abigail is sentenced to death for her crime, and she’s set to be executed the next morning, while her daughter back on Earth has no idea.
Speaking of Earth, what are Clarke and her little merry band of followers up to most of the episode after deciding to head towards Mount Weather?
Well, for one, Clarke realizes pretty quickly that they haven’t seen any animals while there, which is a bit suspect. So of course, five seconds later they see a deer! Only to figure out that it has a mutated face, which maybe doesn’t bode well for the hundred living creatures who just arrived on Earth.
When Finn questions why they were sent to Earth that day, Clarke explains that the Ark is dying and those on it need a fast solution. Re-colonizing with a bunch of juvenile delinquents acting as guinea pigs must have seemed like the best option.
Clarke was locked up to keep the secret her father discovered, when he decided that their people needed to be made aware of the issue and the Council disagreed. Apparently, she and her father had decided to go public with the information when Wells let someone, probably his father, know about their plan. Hence, her massive grudge against the guy.
To Mount Weather
While heading to the mountain, Octavia decides to have a little fun while she can, and takes a swim in a river they come across. Even though the kids can’t swim, the water is shallow. Possibly because, as Clarke states, it’s not on the map, so it’s probably new or temporary.
When Octavia is in the water, something approaches and tries to drag her under. The others throw a rock to distract the creature, and Jasper goes in after her and saves her. Clarke bandages a wound on her leg, the only mark the lucky girl has as a result of her foolhardy act.
Later, the small group sleeps in the forest, and Clarke wakes to find several of the plants glowing around her. She finds it beautiful and wanders off into the woods, but I personally feel like that’s another example of something that isn’t a good sign for the humans to survive there.
Finn follows her and manages to make the girl laugh, and they talk about some footprints he found nearby that he thinks are from monkeys. Clarke says she’s never read that monkeys lived near that area of Earth, and Finn reminds her they’re making all sorts of discoveries while there. Again, I don’t think this really bodes well for them, but I guess we’ll see.
Moment of Truth
Back on the Ark, Clarke’s mom cries while looking at Earth through a skylight and at the drawings in the cell she’s kept in, the same one where her daughter was once held.
Meanwhile, her best friend, who is either the wife of Kane or otherwise involved with him, I believe, begs for Abigail’s life, to no avail. He tells her he can’t avoid mercy, and it looks like Dr. Griffin is about to pay the ultimate price for saving the Chancellor.
When she’s led to a chamber that will…I don’t know, blast her off so she floats in space until she dies, or eliminate her some other way, I guess, she reveals to a man watching that the wristbands the kids are wearing can be used for reverse communication.
Just before it looks like the end of the good doctor… the Chancellor runs in and orders her pardon! Lucky girl! When she steps out of the chamber, she orders him back to bed. The guy needs to heal up if they don’t want to end up with Kane as their new leader.
Bellamy’s Final Offer
Speaking of leaders, a few people back on the Ark figure out that Bellamy was probably the one who tried to assassinate the Chancellor, as he’s the only person unaccounted for.
On Earth, Bellamy forces Wells to follow him one night, and tells him he needs to make the others think that Wells is dead. He pulls out a gun, which he is probably not supposed to have. He then asks Wells why he’s not on the same side as Bellamy; he reminds Wells that his own father banished him, so why wouldn’t he rebel?
When Wells still refuses to take off his wristband, Bellamy calls some of his cronies out, and they forcibly cut it off of the boy. That probably won’t look good to his father and the others back on the Ark.
A New Danger
Finally, it appears Clarke’s group is getting closer to the mountain. They somehow find a swinging branch that will take them across a river between it and them, and Jasper, looking to impress Octavia, wants to go first.
He successfully swings across, and on the other side, uncovers a sign that reads “Mount Weather.” Technically, they’ve made it! Then right before Clarke is about to swing herself across, someone – or something – throws a spear across, and with perfect accuracy, it hits poor Jasper. It’s then that Clarke and her group realize – they’re not alone.
What’s going to become of the 100? We’ll have to keep watching to find out!
The 100 airs every Wednesday at 9pm on the CW.
(Image courtesy of the CW)