Spoilers abound in this review, so please proceed with caution if you’re not caught up yet on both season 1 and the season 2 premiere. You have been warned…
For those of you in need a quick refresher, the CW’s dystopian series The 100 turned out to be a surprisingly deep, complex show that explored themes of morality and sacrifice by focusing on the survivors of a post-apocalyptic society. Very early on, the series demonstrated it wasn’t afraid of getting its hands dirty—the first season included not one attempted lynching, but two. It also included torture, cannibalism, and an awful lot of death and destruction. But it is to the show’s credit that these various atrocities supported a bigger narrative of mankind’s unlikely survival by any means necessary.
Now, on to tonight’s episode, which basically picks up where the season one finale, “We Are Grounders,” left off—with Clarke being whisked away from the camp and waking up in Mount Weather, a sterile, harshly lit government facility. Returning to the planet’s surface was one thing, but this is a homecoming of a different sort for Clarke. Let it be said that Clarke is no pushover, nor is she a damsel in distress; if anyone needs rescuing, it’s anyone suspicious who crosses her path. Not even seeing Jasper and Monty assuage her fears that they’ve found a safe haven (and lots of delicious cake) in Mount Weather. Indeed, Clarke quietly insists that the stability they’ve found is simply too good to be true. But her friends aren’t having any of it—for the first time in a long time, Jasper says, no one is trying to kill them.
President Dante Wallace seems welcoming enough, plying his new guests with gastronomical delights, clean clothes, and art supplies. The other Mount Weather residents we encounter—like Maya, who works in the decontamination ward, and Keenan, a fresh-faced liaison, seem harmless enough. But Clarke, who was once a prisoner, still feels trapped. Jasper tries to explain away her strange behavior by describing her as intense. But, really, Clarke seems paranoid, even psychotic. And to these ‘bunker people’—many of whom have never been outside—Clarke appears as crazed and violent and barbaric as a Grounder. In other words, both parties have made bad first impressions. Yes, at the end if the day, they’re all humans, all survivors, but their disparate existence—be it in space, on the planet’s surface or just below it, they all have less in common than they initially thought. Safety is a relative term. Mount Weather may be a sanctuary for many, but for Clarke, who has been forced to commit unspeakable, acts in the name of survival, the bunker is a prison.
Meanwhile, aboveground, we learn that both Finn and Bellamy survived the conflagration that killed most of the Grounder army and leveled the prisoners’ camp. Now, they’re both prisoners of war; if anyone needs rescuing, it’s them. And rescued they are, by none other than Kane and his fellow survivors from the Ark. This is a notable reunion—the first time people from the Ark have been reunited with members of the original 100. Joined by fellow councilmember Abby, Kane not only represents a return to law and order for the young prisoners, he represents a regime change. In no uncertain terms, Bellamy is informed he is no longer in charge. He also finds himself in cuffs after assaulting Murphy. That Murphy may be a murderer (let’s not forget he tried to hang Bellamy AND he shot Raven) is immaterial to Kane—as far as the new chancellor is concerned, the inmates are no longer running the asylum.
By the end of the premiere, we also learn that Lincoln and Octavia are still trying to make it to sea where they will find sanctuary. We also learn Lincoln is willing to suffer a traitor’s death of 1,000 cuts if it means saving Octavia from the poisoned wound that is slowly killing her. Unlike Clarke’s storyline, this subplot felt a bit underdeveloped. The idea of star-crossed lovers is romantic, yes, but something bigger needs to happen in their journey to the sea.
All in all, The 100’s second season gets off to a strong start. I’m curious to see if people will fall into old patterns, now that Kane is calling the shots again. Will Bellamy, Finn, and the rest of the prisoners be pardoned?
-A mutant Grounder (who bears a passing resemblance to The Goonies’ Sloth) is watching Octavia from the woods. We saw a hint of his kind in the first episode, when Jasper and company stumble across a deformed skeleton in the forest.
-And on the subject of Grounders, did anyone else find it out that the president would know Lincoln and his kind as Grounders? (On The Walking Dead, there is no universal term for zombies—the undead are known as walkers, biters or lurkers, just to name a few.) When Dante refers to outsiders, he really means survivors; those not brought into the bunker likely became Grounders.