When the first season of The 100 aired in America, it was a surprise hit. Audiences didn’t expect much more than the same kind of overblown teen drama that makes up so much of The CW’s typical fare. So when they were faced with a gritty tale of complex morality and a high stakes battle for survival, people took notice. Here in the UK, it became E4’s biggest ever premiere launch, basically proving that we know a good thing when we see it.
The first season introduced us to a post-apocalyptic world peopled by teenaged criminals who fell from the sky and into a war with a savage group of Grounders while their families fought for their own survival on the dying Ark they once called home in space. Over the course of thirteen episodes, we watched as these teenagers became stronger and more determined, leaders in their own right, and made difficult decisions to create their own version of a society in the face of vicious Grounder attacks, deadly Reapers and elusive Mountain Men, not to mention the threats posed by each other.
Picking up where season one left off, ‘The 48’ sees the remaining members of the Hundred separated from one another: Clarke and Monty are trapped in Mount Weather, Octavia and Lincoln are on the run, and the last time we saw Bellamy and Finn they were in the midst of a Grounder battlefield that was about to be reduced to ashes. Questions of who did and did not survive may have been revealed in the television promos, but it definitely didn’t detract from the high intensity, action-packed hour that was the second season premiere.
And what an hour it was! Clarke had a knife to her enemy’s throat within minutes of the episode starting, and throats were cut and a Grounder was shot in the head all before the first ad break. At one point, Bellamy tells his people that they are warriors, and it’s hard to argue with that. This show is about doing what it takes to survive, including snapping off a stiletto heel to use as a weapon, if it comes to that.
What I loved about this episode was the expansion of the world they now live in. It quickly became clear that last season we only saw glimpses of Earth when we needed to but with the fragmentation of our core group, and the arrival of more Sky People, The 100 is wasting no time in exploring the new places now open for storytelling. Between the creepy, too-good-to-be-true Mount Weather, Lincoln’s village and the statue that finally gives the audience their first geographical location marker (hello, Washington DC) and the now battered and deserted drop ship that initially served as a haven from the dangers the Hundred faced, this episode revealed the true potential for growth that this series has, and it’s only getting bigger with each passing moment.
Alongside new places, we also have new characters, a new language and new interactions. I was hesitant about the introduction of the adults to the mix – a part of me is still clinging to the heady days of whatever the hell we want – but the power struggle between Kane and Bellamy is an interesting one, even if arresting Bellamy when his anger was completely justified just proves that the adults are trying to take control of a situation they know absolutely nothing about. The rules went out the window the second they launched that drop ship.
My only criticism, if I’m being picky, is that I feel like introducing so many stories and possibilities in one episode shouldn’t work. It did this time, but I’m not sure it’s the kind of momentum that the show should keep up. Action is all well and good, but sometimes it’s infinitely more powerful to linger on one storyline, and leave the audience in suspense when it comes to some of the other characters.
As Councillor Jaha once said, the surviving members of the Hundred have proven themselves to be more resilient then we could’ve ever imagined, and after The 100 returned to our screens with a bang last night, it seems like that may have been just a bit of an understatement. Here’s hoping they can keep it up!