PODCAST! – Around the Water Cooler: “The 100” – Reflections on Season One and Recapping Seasons Two and Three (MAJOR SPOILERS)

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Moderator: Chief Couch Potato Kylie

THE SPECS:

Who:  “The 100,” currently airs on network TV, specifically on the CW, Wednesdays at 9:00 PM.

What: “The 100,” a science fiction drama set nearly 100 years into the future.  According to the preliminary season one voice-over, in the fictional near future, Earth is ravaged by nuclear warfare, irradiating the planet’s surface. Survivors flee to space stations orbiting the Earth; 100 years into the future, the lives of the mere thousands of the survivors’ descendants aboard the “Ark” are threatened again, as the oxygen and life support reserves dwindle, and the machinery aboard the conglomeration of space stations degrades.  The only hope for the human race centers on the heartiness of 100 adolescent prisoners, chosen for their penchant for breaking the rules, who are sent to the planet’s surface to sniff out whether humanity can return to its original home and persevere.  The 100 are a mixture of society’s elite and its most oppressed; the resulting stew becomes something very similar to Lord of the Flies – except, as the 100 accept and embrace their new-found freedom, they realize they are not alone.

SYNOPSIS

Humanity survives a nuclear holocaust in the fictional near future that irradiates the planet’s surface, sending what remains of the human race into space to fend for their lives aboard several international space stations, which are eventually joined together to become the “Ark.” One hundred years into the future, humanity is in danger once again, as the century-old machinery fails, and oxygen supplies dwindle.  The society aboard the Ark is run under strict rules and laws, including population control and discouragement of defiance of the ruling council and its decrees in any way.  The Council is comprised of, among others, Chancellor Thelonius Jaha (Isaiah Washington) and his Vice Chancellor Marcus Kane (Henry Ian Cusick).  They and the chief medical officer, Dr. Abigail Griffin (Paige Turco), decide to send 100 involuntary participants deemed criminals – adolescents incarcerated for various crimes, including illegal space walks and being an unauthorized second child – in order to test the viability of the planet’s surface to sustain human life. Unfortunately, some of the 100 include the chief medical officer’s daughter and the chancellor’s son, among others.  In addition, once the 100 reach the Earth’s surface, despite the fact that they wear bracelets monitoring their health and vital signs, most of them see their situation as a new lease on life and freedom and remove their bracelets in the hopes that the Ark will leave them for dead.  Only Abby’s daughter, Clarke (Eliza Taylor), fights to communicate with the Ark, while others are content to run wild in a new, anarchic society. These two schools of thought are at odds, even as the 100 confront unexpected inhabitants of the new old world.

When: Season One aired from March 19, 2014, to June 11, 2014; Season Two aired from October 22, 2014, to March 11, 2015; and Season Three aired from January 21, 2016, to May 19, 2016.

Where: The action is set in two locations at the outset of the series: in space, aboard the fictitious space station amalgamation known as the “Ark,” and on Earth, in an unknown location at an unidentified crash site.  The adults eventually travel to Earth, foregoing the dying Ark, and set up a settlement, first called “Camp Jaha” and then “Arkadia.”

Why: The Chief CP is always on the hunt for good science fiction; this show offers less science and more fiction, except where the space station is concerned.  Also, it features Henry Ian Cusick, better known as Desmond from Lost, and I have a great affinity for the Lost alumni.  The podcast panelists that I invited to talk about this show with me all found this program in diverse ways.  Listen to the episode for details.

How – as in How’s It Going? (THOUGHTS…at present)

It’s been a while since CPU! covered The 100, as this is yet another show that CPU! Chief Kylie briefly covered in blog format during season one, here, though below are some key passages reprinted, as I am particularly proud of this review, which provides some relevance and foundation for the beginning of the podcast episode:

“Comparing The 100 to Lord of the Flies is not unfair: this show is essentially William Golding’s classic novel, set in the future and partially in space.  Aboard the Ark, there are two factions of ruling adults: those who mercilessly follow the rules, and those who bend them or break them in favor of following the tenets of compassion and humanity.  On the planet’s surface, there are those juveniles who see following the instructions given to them as the only ticket to salvation, while another school of thought and its members are willing to embrace their more primal instincts, including violence and allowing their rampant hormones to run free.  No one’s wearing animal blood yet, and their survival is threatened by more than the elements and mutated creatures evolved from the fictional nuclear holocaust, but The 100 borrows liberally and unmistakably from an obvious source.

“On the one hand, the tweaked premise shows promise: after all, with shows like Survivor on the air, there is a certain freshness to this story and a real sense that though this is set in the fictional future, it’s a not-too-far-distant future where something like the situation being depicted – the planet, ravaged by humanity’s neglect and misuse of technology resulting in potential survivors to flee to space – might be possible.  Presumably, the target audience is the CW’s usual viewership, the 18-34 set, and there is plenty of teenage angst to pepper the story of individual and global survival.  On the other hand, the characters are rather cookie cutter and caricature-like, particularly Cusick’s Kane, who plays an unfeeling bureaucrat in idiosyncratic surroundings with an over the top flourish (and a passable American accent).  In fact, most of the Ark residents are American – a troubling and narrow vantage point for the show to start from, even if it’s an American-made show.  It seems a bit too convenient that the producers did not invest in a pretend future world with a bit more geographical diversity, even if 100 years somehow unified speaking patterns to be more American aboard the Ark.

“Then, there are the actual adolescents, a veritable mixed bag of acting ability.  Taylor is decently convincing, approaching her role with conviction, as is Thomas McDonell as apparent love interest Finn, but the actor portraying the Chancellor’s son and most of the random supporting cast in the younger bracket seems to be angling for after school special or perhaps B-horror film rather than a thrilling kill-or-be-killed survival tale.  The result is that most of the 100 young adults are simply uninteresting, if not unsympathetic, while the adults, in the two episodes that this viewer has watched, though competent in their performances, offer no complexity, playing their two-dimensional roles well within their two dimensions.  Perhaps time and comfort will permit them to stretch…”

As always, blame it on starting the podcast side of CPU! for the long wait for re-visitation of The 100 and then happily promote the show to podcast panel-ship, along with interested CPU! panelists on board to catch us up.  And we’re getting caught up, finally, which you might notice if you follow our “What We’re Currently Watching” page!

In lieu of that crashed and burnt introduction, then, get a load of our new CPU! podcast episode, as CPU! regulars Allie and Kelsey and brand new panelist Selene gather Around the Water Cooler to chat about this newest entry into the annals of teen dystopian fiction. We play catch up with those that crashed aboard the drop ship on a newer, less apocalyptic Earth of the future and with those who tried to survive in space aboard the Ark before choosing to follow the juveniles they sent ahead of themselves, spanning the time since CPU! last checked in on the first season.  We cover major plot points from seasons one through three: from the 100 teen criminals banding together to fend off Grounder attacks, to the introduction of the Grounder clans (and their leader, Lexa), to the exploration of Mount Weather and those humans sheltered from the apocalypse (and the war for the ground), to proliferation of ALIE and the effect that this particularly aggressive artificial intelligence has on Skaikru and Grounder and Mountain Man alike.  Our panel’s devotion to The 100 admittedly waversas the panelists feel that the quality of this show has, itself, wildly wavered, possibly thrusting its best foot forward in the second season, as the writers toy with a revolving door of violent character deaths in a bleakly harsh world.  Give this latest CPU! episode a listen, with an ear to the ground and an eye toward the sky, and see if you agree or disagree with our thoughts.

This podcast was recorded in December 2016, and there are, without question, MAJOR SPOILERS, as the panelists cover key plot points of the first three seasons. Listen at your own risk, and let us know what you think by commenting below!

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Remember, new episodes and blog posts are published weekly! Our next podcast episode will take another break from our mid-season progress reports as we pause to appreciate an oldie but a goody.  We hang out, down the street, the same old thing, we did last week as we sit in the Circle, in our CPU! sponsored basement, and pontificate nostalgically about (i.e. look back at) That ’70s Show. Stay tuned!

Questions, Impressions, and Future Considerations

1) Is Lexa’s essence, as preserved in ALIE’s construct known as the “City of Light,” truly gone?  Or, did she escape the oncoming onslaught of hostile and devoted chipped humans within the construct? If so, where did she go?

2) Is the entire fourth season going to be centered on a hunt for decaying nuclear power plants?  How can Clarke and company possibly solve the conundrum described by ALIE’s creator, who posed that the nuclear power plants would implode within six months?

3) Are there human survivors in other parts of the former USA?  Other parts of the world? Will we meet any of them in this season?  Are there other Grounder clans (aside from Ice Nation, Treekru, etc.)?  Will we meet them?

4) Why should we care that the Earth is dying, given all of the violence and poor judgment of so many characters on this show?  The writers and producers have to convince several members of our panel to keep watching by giving us a reason to care.

5) Will other characters die?  Will they all die?  Will they survive?  Will they have to go back to space to escape the failing nuclear power plants?

6) Does this show possibly have a fifth season in it?  Our panel votes not so much.

PARTING SHOTS

The 100 seems to have burned bright and fast only to fizzle into wisps of smoke and ash, confronted as it is by a myriad of puzzling writing decisions that may have painted the show into a corner without chance for entertaining recovery.  The panelists in this podcast episode universally agree that this show starts off with a rocky foundation, relying on minimal and lacking character development as the writers and executive producer, Jason Rothenberg, drive quickly toward the main plot arcs without taking time to lay essential character groundwork.  The panelists also universally agree that the second season may have been the program’s best, with a tightly focused, intense, and brutal depiction of a war for the planet that humanity left behind, except and involving the humanity that remained, survived, and now fights for its home.  The panelists agree that the second season presents clear objectives for the many factions and staggering number of main characters that populate this cast.  Yet, the show falters again in the third season as several plot threads and character decisions remiss of logic established by the first two seasons create an impossible situation facing our characters as the season ends, and as the show tentatively embarks upon its fourth season.  In addition, the pacing of the third season is vastly uneven to the point of disengagement for every panelist, and the violence could be characterized as egregious, as most of the panelists feel that the show is striving to be network television’s Game of Thrones equivalent but for the less interesting story motivating the violence.  In fact, overall, the panelists find The 100 derivative of many sources and inspirations (apart from Lord of the Flies) and hampered by the seeming aim of the writers to try to “one up” themselves with each passing episode, to a point that the fourth season must now rely upon Clarke and the rest of her cohorts to prevent a second nuclear annihilation, despite all of the harrowing life and death drama that the characters have faced up until this point. This far-reaching story goal leaves the panel lukewarm and not looking forward to the fourth season; in fact, two of the panelists have nearly entirely jumped the shark, while the other two panelists are electing to persevere for completion’s sake and nothing else.  Will the writers absolve the show’s weaker aspects as The 100 cruises toward season’s end, thereby preventing cancellation?  Or, will the “all over the place” nature of the storytelling continue, despite a lack of consistent success, paving the road toward a series rather than a season end?  How’s the season going so far, since this episode is being published on the night that the third episode of the fourth season airs?  Tell us in the comments!

LOOKING AHEAD

The 100 was renewed for a fourth season, which premiered on February 1, 2017.  Does this yet again delayed premiere, and the show’s inconsistent schedule, signal a death knell for this series? Time will tell, since this program was not one of the CW network’s early renewals. Because of the delayed season premiere, CPU! will not revisit The 100 again until after the fourth season finale, most likely in summer 2017.  As always, CPU! will keep you informed of news and additional 100 coverage.  Until then!

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One comment

  1. kyliekeelee · February 16

    Reblogged this on Reel Musings.

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