This review contains spoilers.
1.12 We Are Grounders Part 1
When season finales are stretched out over multiple weeks, it can go one of two ways. Either the show is reluctant to pump in more filler prior to those episodes and the show comes out looking tighter and with added momentum, or the episodes don’t have enough story to sustain themselves and end up ruining both parts when one would have sufficed. The 100’s first season has been a big surprise to most, coupling typical CW melodrama with Lost-style mystery and thrills and, judging by part one of We Are Grounders, it falls firmly into the prior category.
Aside from the much-discussed (by me, anyway) love triangle, seemingly shoehorned in to please a demographic the network thinks of as their money-makers, there has been a pleasing lack of water-treading in this first season. We can attribute that somewhat to the split narrative, with two equally compelling stories happening at the same time, constantly threatening to combine, as well as the abundance of likeable characters both on the ground and above it. We might spend ten minutes with Monty and Jasper having an argument, for example, and it says a lot that the show doesn’t particularly suffer for it.
It means that an episode like this, when the primary mission is to set things up for next week’s climax, is still endlessly entertaining. The Ark storyline might have ended with an exciting tease for what’s to come, but our affection for Jaha, Abby and (especially) Kane has reached a point where I didn’t mind just spending time with them and their resignation to impending doom for the other twenty-minutes or so of screen time. It may also have something to do with the fact that the action on the ground was so intense, and that a little breather up in space was quite welcome.
We’ve been waiting for Murphy to do something devastating since he came back, what with the hundred’s guard being down ever since they diffused the initial, infectious threat. Another act of vengeance for what the group did to him before his banishment is enough to bring his true intentions to light, however, as being in the wrong place at the right time gets Jasper kidnapped and adds yet another problem to Bellamy’s ever-growing list. While I’m still unsure of Clarke even at this late point, it has to be said that the show has done a wonderful job of moulding Bellamy into a legitimate leader and possible hero on the show.
That journey from power-grabbing jackass to noble leader comes to fruition here as he trades places with Jasper, and watching him finally square off with Murphy, facing up to the inarguably terrible decision he made at the beginning of the season, was perfectly placed at this point in the narrative. Next week will almost certainly be overloaded with the Ark’s suicide mission to the ground, dealing with the Grounders and their cannibal cousins (a truly disturbing moment that felt brilliantly out of place on the show) and reuniting the two sides of the show, and this two-handed battle of wills just wouldn’t have fit anywhere else.
The episode quite rightly left us with an abundance of cliffhangers that should ensure everyone comes back for the actual finale (as if they wouldn’t), with Raven mortally wounded, Monty still missing, the appearance of the Reapers and Lincoln having saved Finn and Clarke from their death sentences. It’s quite possible none of this will be resolved by the end of this first season, with a second run of episodes confirmed and the genre having previous on leaving things hanging over the summer break but, as a precursor to the finale of an excellent first season, part one of We Are Grounders works beautifully.
Read Caroline’s review of the previous episode, The Calm, here.
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