The 100: Earth Skills Review

The CW's new show, The 100 carries things on into its second episode this week. Here's David's review...

Things get gritty in this week’s episode of the CW’s new dystopian series The 100. As the prisoners acquaint themselves to survival, anarchy seems to be the order of the day.

Last week’s episode ended with Jasper getting struck down by a spear. Clarke and company don’t stick around long enough to find out who threw the spear in the first place. As they flee back through the forest they stumble across a skeleton with a mutated skull. Before they can fully process this discovery, they hear Jasper’s pained cries in the distance. Which basically means they left the poor kid for dead (is there a Hallmark card for this sort of major faux pas?). By the time they race back to the river, Jasper’s already been dragged into the forest—by someone or something.

Back on the Ark, the Chancellor is brought up to speed on the 100’s mission. He doesn’t like what he sees: 24 of the life support monitors have gone dark so far, including his son’s. “You sent them down to die,” he says to Abby. “No,” she insists, “we sent them down to live.”

The Chancellor’s fears about his son are unfounded, though. Not only is Wells alive, he’s digging graves for the two dead prisoners. He’s also procured their clothes, which someone immediately tries to take from him. “We share based on need,” says Wells, but Bellamy insists that the Chancellor’s rules no longer apply. Indeed, it seems the only rules Bellamy is interested in enforcing are his own. Ever the instigator, he believes that removing their wristbands is a form of rebellion and a symbol of liberation—from captivity, and from the Ark’s strict rules.

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Clark is still intent on everyone’s survival, not just her own. And that includes rescuing Jasper. Bellamy won’t have any of it, but Clarke is not so easily dissuaded. Wells is quick to join her, and she even convinces Bellamy and Murphy into joining the rescue party. Finn, though, thinks it’s a suicide mission, and opts to stay behind, cowardly though it may be.

Meanwhile, back on the Ark, we learn that the outpost’s CO2 scrubbers are failing—causing widespread oxygen deprivation. The Chancellor tells Abby they need to reduce the population to save everyone else. Abby accuses him of losing hope, and it would seem she’s right. The Chancellor then confronts Kane, calling him out on his failed assassination attempt. That Kane insists it was, in fact, Bellamy is beside the point. Kane wasn’t surprised by the attempt; the Chancellor is weak, in his opinion, and incapable of making the truly tough decisions.

The fact remains that extending life support aboard the Ark comes at a steep price. Killing ten people a day stretches life support for another 24 hours. Sending the 100 down to the planet did buy some extra time, but it’s not enough. Hence, the secret council meeting. It’s decided that “removing” 209 people from the Ark’s supply grid will extend life support for another 6 months. Then you think, hey, why not just send more people down to the planet—or at least allow people to volunteer, right? You’d have to think that chances of survival would be better almost anywhere except on board the Ark. But more on this in a bit.

We’re introduced to a new character this week, a feisty, zero-gravity mechanic named Raven (played by Lindsey Morgan). She’s curious about the mystery launch of the Exodus drop ship. Her curiosity is piqued when she’s told she can’t visit her boyfriend in lockdown due to a sudden quarantine. Raven’s too smart not to smell a cover-up.

Back on the planet, Octavia’s injury prevents her from joining Clarke’s rescue party. Octavia doesn’t like being left behind and she definitely doesn’t like that her brother has assigned Atom to keep tabs on her. Her plan to rattle her keeper backfires after Atom locks her in the drop ship. But she’s not alone. Monty (Christopher Larkin) is there, too. He’s trying to establish contact with the Ark. He’s also nursing his guilt over not being part of Jasper’s rescue party. He’s not the only one with a guilty conscience, though. Finn may be a coward, but he ultimately does the right thing, and joins the rescue party. Better late than never, eh? Plus, with Finn finally on board, we’re able to squeeze in some possible romance.

In fact, Clarke and Jasper take a quick break from looking for Jasper to frolic beneath an idyllic waterfall. But the real mood killer isn’t Finn’s pop psychology diagnosis that Clarke is trying to save others because she couldn’t save her father. Nope, it’s blood on some nearby rocks! And Jasper’s goggles!

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As for our intrepid mechanic, Abby catches Raven sneaking through the Ark’s air ducts. Raven sees the 100’s life support monitors, and is certain that the kids aren’t dying—they’re removing their bracelets. Abby is impressed—and she agrees with Raven. But if you ask me, this seems like a pretty big leap in logic. I guess when you’re desperate, you’re willing to believe in anything if it affords even a shred of hope.

Back on the planet, Octavia discovers a glowing blue butterfly that seems to have flitted in from Avatar’s Pandora. Curious, Octavia follows the butterfly, and finds hundreds more in the forest. Atom in turn finds her. And then, seemingly, romance finds them. You have to imagine they’re both crossing a line, but that ultimately it’s Atom who will suffer for this tryst.

The rescue party finds a bloodied Jasper tied to a tree, a makeshift poultice covering his chest wound. But it’s a trap—Clarke nearly falls into a pit! And then they’re attacked by some sort of weird jaguar. It’s brought down in a hail of gunfire as Wells proves to the group—and especially Bellamy—that he’s a force to be reckoned with.

As for that secret council meeting, the voting on removal of the 209 is deadlocked, and it’s up to the Chancellor to cast the deciding vote. Instead he abstains—but not out of weakness. By the council’s own rules, they must meet again in ten days to vote again. In essence, the Chancellor does hold out hope for their survival, and he’s managed to buy them some extra time. Enter Raven, who is recruited by Abby to repair a 130-year-old escape pod so it can be used as another drop ship. The catch? The pod has to be repaired in less than nine days. Raven agrees to do it, but on one condition—she gets to join Abby in her trip down to the surface.

Some closing thoughts:

-The ‘grounders’ are watching!

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-What does barbecued mutant jaguar taste like?

-Was that the Elephant Man’s bones they found in the forest?

-Nothing screams anarchy like a drum circle!

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3.5 out of 5