I didn’t know whether I was going to like The 100. A band of beautiful, teenage archetypes thrust into a post-apocalyptic reenactment of Lord of the Flies? This could get stale. But by the end of season 2, I realized I’d been completely wrong. These characters are fascinating, complex, and growing up fast—and if the opening of season 3 is any indicator, they’ve still got a lot of surprises in store.
Take Clarke, the show’s protagonist, who until now has always been in the center of the action, taking charge and leading others. We don’t get our first glimpse of her halfway through the season premiere—she’s living alone and practically feral.
It’s been three months since Clarke and Lexa led a battle against Mount Weather, where a group of radiation-sensitive but technologically powerful humans were holding Grounders and Arkers captive like animals, stealing their blood and bone marrow to survive. Victory came at a terrible price, and Clarke, after making the decision to irradiate hundreds of innocent people to save her own, has exiled herself from the Arker camp. Nobody has seen or heard from her since, and even Abby accepts that her daughter isn’t coming back until she’s ready to; perhaps never.
And after killing one of her best friends, getting betrayed by a newfound ally, being forced to make terrible choices and assuming total responsibility, we might expect Clarke to be a complete mess. In fact, she’s stronger than ever, hunting and teaching herself new languages to stay alive, and exploring her newfound bisexuality. It’s no wonder Clarke’s been elevated to a mythological status among the Grounders, who call her “Wanheda”—the commander of death—and want to kill her to steal her power. We knew Clarke was tough as nails, but this season, we’re starting to see an entirely new side of her strength.
Then there’s Bellamy. He’s come a long way from the hot-headed bully with attachment issues who landed on Earth. Last season, Bellamy assumed a huge amount of responsibility when he infiltrated Mount Weather to bust his people out. We knew he’d be stepping into an even bigger role this season after letting Clarke leave—something which took an impressive level of emotional maturity—and sure enough, he’s now a respected, level-headed military leader.
Thanks in large part to Bellamy stepping up, the schism between Clarke and Bellamy’s group of teenagers who were exiled from the Ark (now numbering just 44) and the adults who arrived on Earth later has dissolved. The 44 may be young, but nobody treats them like kids anymore, and as we get our first glimpses of the roles they’ve taken on post-war, the loss of innocence is palpable.
Octavia had to make a hard choice at the end of last season about who she wanted to be; an Arker or a Grounder. But rather than picking a side, she became disillusioned with both. We’re not sure where or with who Octavia will end up, but it’s clear that whatever path she chooses won’t be for Bellamy, Indra, or Lincoln—it’ll be for herself. Fortunately, her time with the Grounders transformed Octavia into an expert swordsman and horseback rider, so we’ve no doubt she can fight her way out of any trouble she encounters.
Other characters are dealing with new wounds and uncertain futures. Raven continues to stoically cope with her injuries, which have worsened since she was caught in an explosion during the battle at Mount Weather. Jasper, after watching the girl he loved die in his arms, is a volatile, broken survivor who takes the edge off his PTSD with booze. The soft-spoken optimist seems to be gone forever, and this new Jasper is going to be something of a wild card.
Against all expectations, The 100 has turned into one of the most creative and challenging shows on TV. And last night’s episode, while not as action-packed as those leading up to it, heralds another season of tough choices, vicious battles, and devastating revelations about how this harsh world came to be. If you’re not watching The 100, I suggest you fix that immediately. Our favorite characters are just hitting their stride.
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