Who would have thought, 12 episodes ago, that The 100 would produce a riveting thriller of a series finale?
Not us, that much is certain. 12 episodes ago, The 100 was looking like a generic TV series suffering from many of the worst symptoms of American – and specifically CW – network programming. Seemingly more passionate about furiously ticking demographic and marketing check boxes than crafting characters to give a pair of dingo’s kidneys about, it looked like a transplanted American high-schooler soap, just with more trees and less-easily explainable supply of make-up.
A big portion of the cast struggled to get a firm grip on their characters throughout much of the season, and the more experienced contingent was left orbiting Earth on the Ark, with subpar dialogue and sporadic plot progression.
However, in the last four to five episodes, matters have brightened considerably – or refreshingly darkened – as the makers finally came around and brought us the gritty, violent post-apocalyptic survival drama we wanted all along.
And riding the wave of this surge of vitality comes a finale worthy of a second season, almost all on its own, including the season’s single-best on-screen death. As the Grounders bear down on the besieged landing party of increasingly distressed teenage delinquents, we get perhaps Eliza Taylor’s best performance of the season. Her Clarke is finally put at the very centre of proceedings, both in the episode’s events and going forward into the upcoming second season. Bob Morley’s Bellamy, Thomas McDonell’s Finn and Lindsey Morgan’s Raven ultimately depend on and feed of Clarke’s character, and all three actors are better suited in that role. With the internal hierarchy in place (after some extended shaking about), the interplay is loose and the dialogue crisply delivered, even in the tensest moments, of which there are plenty.
“We Are Grounders Part 2” is, for the most part, a frantic, breathless action thriller. Without spoiling too much, there is a fairly high number of twists and turns, including possible deaths of major characters. The Ark people also get their place in the sun, although they still feel a bit like passengers in their own story. Add in an excellent season-ending cliffhanger, and you will almost forgive the predictability of the season so far (as well as a fair few events in the finale). Almost.
As long as the makers don’t cheat the viewers and revert to the po-faced teen melodrama of The 100’s first half, or fail to give the Arksters the chance to develop as they could, things bode very well indeed for the second season.
The 100 is airing now on E4 in the UK. For the latest US TV news, subscribe to SciFiNow and save 30% off the cover price.