This review will touch on three seasons so there will be spoilers. Please don’t read if spoilers will bother you.
If you’re debating whether or not to watch this series (and invest your valuable time on it), and the idea of spoilers doesn’t bother you too much… keep reading.
Season 1 of the 100 was captivating. The premise was compelling. Earth has been ravaged by a nuclear explosion. The only survivors of the species were humans who lived on space stations. 100 years has passed since the nuclear bombs went off and the space stations are running out of resources so they’re forced to return to Earth. One catch, they don’t know if Earth is survivable anymore so they send a group of what is essentially death-row teenage prisoners (the 100) down to see if they survive.
The 100 immediately find themselves fighting the elements, the ‘Grounders’ (humans who survived the apocalypse and remained on Earth) and each other (some of the 100 want the rest of the space station to come down, the rest don’t).
I won’t say much else about this first season. I loved it from episode 1 to the end. The Grounders were terrifying, the intrigue was high and I found myself invested in many of the main characters.
Season 2 had a good start. But something changes near the middle of the season. Clarke finds herself falling for the Grounder Commander, and while this may not be the point where the Grounders start losing their teeth (I think that starts with Lincoln, a Grounder who falls for one of the 100 and quickly becomes an ally of the 100), it is the point where the last bit of Grounder intrigue is destroyed.
The Grounders, as a mysterious ‘other’ entity, were terrifying. The more the show writers showed us into their politics, their lives, their worlds… the less terrifying they became. They were completely stripped of all their teeth and what remained was this bizarre pantomime of an enemy. It’s like everything else in modern television these days. No bad guy can simply be evil, they have to have sympathetic stories and leanings that make us feel ‘bad’ for them. Ugh. That sort of ‘bad guy’ isn’t scary to me.
But, despite the Grounders losing their strength, I managed to finish the season. There were a few true heart breaking moments but overall, the latter half of Season 2 suffered from; “Let’s make our bad guys sympathetic and let’s try to make an even better and scarier enemy”.
Season 3 is where everything goes wrong. Two new enemies are introduced. Pike, a man from the space stations who is hell bent on not befriending the Grounders (good for him) and this AI creature that at first has unknown motivations.
By Season 3 the Grounders are completely removed of all semblance of power. They’re love-sick little puppies who pantomime evil but really is anyone intimidated by them anymore? I know by this point they were just a joke to me.
Pike had potential to TRULY be a terror but he’s quickly dispatched in favor of the ‘AI’, who is supposed to be more intimidating and terrifying but really the AI storyline was just silly and annoying.
By the end of Season 3 Pike and the AI are neutralized, the Grounders are just big babies and everything is stupid and disappointing. A new threat comes in the form of nuclear reactors that are about to leak so much radiation everyone will die of radiation poisoning but honestly at this point I think that would just fix everything.
My final thoughts on the 100 is that it started out good but the writers fell for a mistake that many TV and movie writers seem to fall for these days… they tried too hard to make their bad guys ‘complex’ and as a result they completely defanged them. These are Twilight vampires, not The Passage (Justin Cronin) level vampires. Nobody is afraid of Edward Cullen and by the end of Season 3 there were no enemies left in the 100 for me to be bothered by. The mystery, intrigue and tension is completely gone, replaced by teenage moping, faux romance and empty threats.
My suggestion is to just skip the show. Like many, many other shows of it’s ilk, they just weren’t able to maintain momentum after that first ground-breaking season. And it’s disappointing because the series started with so much promise.