The 100 "Contents Under Pressure" Review: Don't Bottle It Up

By Kaitlin Thomas

May 01, 2014

The 100 S01E07: "Contents Under Pressure"

A lot of TV fans hate bottle episodes because they confine actors to one set. And on a show like The 100, where the forest surrounding the Hundred's camp is just as much a character as Clarke or Bellamy, they can be especially trying. "Contents Under Pressure" could've easily faltered by keeping the Hundred locked inside the drop ship. But between the radio connection to the Ark, Clarke saving Finn's life, Bellamy's torture of the Grounder, and a well-timed hurricane going on outside, the episode was not only entertaining, it managed to pull off some impressive character development, too. 

Let's start with Clarke, because as we've come to realize, the world of The 100 revolves around Clarke. In need of her mother's medical expertise, Raven was finally able to establish a radio connection to the Ark; this was both good and bad. It was good in the sense that Abby was able to walk Clarke through the necessary steps to save Finn's life, but it was bad in that it meant Clarke had to address the giant elephant in the room: that she knows her mother was responsible for her father's death. But choosing to confront the issue sooner rather than later was a wise decision, because Clarke needs to work through her complicated emotions. After all, it's not like she's had much time to sit around and come to terms with this relatively new development. Immediately after she discovered the truth, Wells was murdered, and when the murderer was identified, she chose to commit suicide. Clarke tried to bang her way to peace of mind with Finn, but then Raven arrived, Octavia was more or less kidnapped, and Finn was stabbed. This show hasn't slowed down even for a minute, and while that's wonderful from a storytelling perspective, it's gotta be crazy exhausting for the characters.

Earlier this week, at a screening of this episode that The CW held for reporters, The 100 creator Jason Rothenberg said he believes the entire first season only covers approximately 22 days, which made me feel really happy to lead a boring life. Not only do I get to sleep a lot, I'm almost never stabbed by strangers. Poor Finn made it out of makeshift surgery alive, but the knife the Grounder used was poisoned, which led to a pivotal moment for Clarke. After Bellamy kidnapped the Grounder who rescued Octavia, Clarke—the same Clarke who's usually a voice of reason in this crowd full of crazy—actually supported Bellamy's use of violence as a way to get the Grounder to reveal the antidote. No one was surprised when Bellamy jumped right into this particular method of "interrogation," although it was clear that the moment changed him and I have a feeling we'll soon be seeing a different Bellamy because of it. Same with Clarke—when she endorsed Bellamy's use of torture, her character was forever changed. She can longer play the High and Mighty card.

"Contents Under Pressure" provided another example of how The 100 isn't afraid to challenge its characters and test their limits in this brutal world. However, I take issue with the use of Clarke's feelings for Finn—which still feel rushed, given the short amount of time she's actually known him—as the reason that she radically changed her calm and rational demeanor. Love makes you do the wacky, but does it really make people condone the use of torture? Was there another way for the series to force Clarke to see that being a leader sometimes means making tough calls? Maybe, maybe not, but her feelings for Finn are still the weakest link in an otherwise exciting story. It's the one instance in which the quick pace of the series is a hindrance rather than an asset.

Back on the Ark, Kane was feeling the weight of his own guilt over learning the Earth was habitable not long after he'd pushed for the death of 320 people. It was a strong performance from Henry Ian Cusick, and in the same way that Bellamy is being humanized as time progresses, so is Kane. It looks like Kane might not be the villain we once thought he was, which is fine with me. It makes him a more complex and flawed character. Plus, it looks like there's a new villain in town now that former chancellor Diana Sydney (Kate Vernon, another Battlestar Galactica alum!) has conspired to gain a position on the Council in the wake of Abby losing her place. For the record, I am 100 percent behind this decision. The politics on the Ark continue to be as exciting, if not more so, than the action on the ground, and her presence is bound to kick up more dust as The 100 attempts to decide which of 2,000 people on the Ark will make it into the 700 seats on the drop ships. 

The limited setting of "Contents Under Pressure" didn't limit the episode in the slightest; instead, its smaller scope resulted in some good character moments, and its dark subject matter pushed those characters to reexamine what they will and will not do when faced with dire circumstances. Clarke and Bellamy will be forever changed by the choices they made this week, just as Kane will probably be forever haunted by the knowledge he has the blood of 320 people on his hands. It's true that not everyone is going to survive this journey, but right now that's what's making The 100 an exciting ride.


Current population of the Hundred (including Bellamy and Raven): 92

– The Grounder speaks and understands English! He's remained silent until now, content to observe the Hundred, knowing they'll eventually tell him what he wants to know if he stays quiet. While Rothenberg said he'll probably never be reciting Shakespeare, he will eventually get more lines.

– Despite making the tough call to torture the Grounder for the antidote, Clarke was back to  acting like her same old self by episode's end as she chose to let Raven have Finn. I could complain about how The 100 is making Clarke appear to be good and sacrificing her own happiness for someone else's, but that's such a cliché. I'd almost rather see her take a stand if her feelings for Finn really are that deep.

– Isaiah Washington's performance when he told the people on the Ark that he'd lost his son: A+ (I'm also glad that wasn't dragged out and that he knows Wells is dead. I have a feeling he won't find out just how Wells died for awhile though).

– The Octavia/Grounder connection is a bit weird, but I'm willing to at least wait and see where it goes. And it's only 60 percent because of his abs.

  • Comments (166)
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  • lindhoffen Jun 28, 2015

    I hate watching a series with teenagers (or anyone else for that matter) rummaging through a forest/jungle/desert/whatever, blah blah love-triangles, and generally silly behaviour.

    But I'm hooked.

    I know I'm late to the party, and I've only watched 9 episodes, but I'm hooked. There, I said--hooked as a gutted fish. That's me.

    Binge watching ahoy!

  • AndieGirl8 May 05, 2014

    I gave up on Star-Crossed after about 6 episodes I think. (Sorry, CW!) I just didn't find the characters compelling or the romance that interesting. But I have to say - after 7 episodes of The 100, I am here to stay. This episode turned me from "I'll watch another episode and see..." to "Okay, I'm hooked!" I am loving this show, and I can't wait to see where it goes next week. I really hope it gets renewed for a second season.

  • bkyle2429 May 18, 2014

    I am the opposite the only character on the 100 that is compelling is Octavia, Star-Crossed is so much better, their is a story that make sense, you actually care about the characters and not just the main ones Taylor as a example!! the story on the 100 especially on the ARK is over the place, no organization/ mumbo jumbo horrible on the ground much of same!! the CW is very under rated they really can't compete with the big four NBC,CBS,ABC, FOX hell even some basic cable shows get better rating, now THE TOMORROW PEOPLE, ARROW, BEAUTY AND THE BEAST, HART OF DIXIE SUPERNATURAL, REIGN, THE VAMPIRE DIARIES,THE ORIGINALS, STAR-CROSSED AND THE 100 I watch and the 100 is the WORST BY FAR
    I will not be watching S2 actually I will not be watching the final four of this season

  • GiseleFun May 04, 2014

    Clarke/Finn: I've come to the conclusion that they are totally boring together. A love triangle is not the problem. Their love is the problem. Clarke is a complex character and the fact that she is developing a leader role in such a difficult situation is much more interesting but when it comes to emotions/love, it would be more challenging if we had to see her struggling with the fact that she has fallen for a "bad guy" such as Bellamy. Her inner fight between reason/feelings would be more bearable to watch than Finn's puppy face everytime he has to be with Raven instead of Clarke.

  • ummhaniyyah May 10, 2014

    If it were just about Clarke's love life that might work but Finn and Bellamy really represent different perspectives on leadership and what the 100 should do.

    Bellamy is reckless, impulsive and generally short-sighted.

    Clarke has spent episode after episode literally getting in his face, pushing him, etc. to talk him out of bad decisions. Whenever she hasn't been able to, it has meant bad things for everyone.

    Finn was usually Clarke's backup in dealing with Bellamy. Doe-eyed as he may be, Finn cares about people and is thoughtful (able to see bigger pictures and the longer term).

    I'm not anti-Bellamy because I agree that he's a complex and interesting character. I just don't think we can expect anything good besides sexual heat when he collides with Clarke.


    Now Bellamy has guns, Clarke is all Team Bellamy and is unwilling to talk business with Finn because of the Triangle. That will have big ramifications for all of them.

  • Savvytvfan91 May 04, 2014

    I thought that now the Ark knew the Earth was survivable that the premise of the separated worlds would be over but I guess there will be the decision of who gets to go to the Earth. I'm but can't they just attempt to build some kind of shuttle that could return like a ferry? Or is that too much to ask?

  • ummhaniyyah May 10, 2014

    Innocents aside, at this point I'm kind of hoping that the Ark people aren't able to land or land far away from the 100 because of the crazy political games and treachery that are happening in their government and because I feel like when they show up they will put in place the kind of rigid rules they had on the Ark. It will be the end to freedom. Plus, they'll come with an army, which will mean more conflict with the Grounders.

  • Mangalore May 05, 2014

    The stuff you can put into space is designed for entirely different hazards than reentry. Their trouble will be having stuff to build heat shields for. In space station construction you don't need them and they are heavy to bring into space so in fact they lack the resources because they are not the same resources you need to run a station.

    Also those rockets on the space shuttle with that massive orange fuel tank aren't for show: That's what you need to get a ferry back into orbit. Falling to Earth is comparatively easy.

    There is also the possibility they lost more resources in those 100 years than the original plan hoped for in rocket fuel and pods.

  • Savvytvfan91 May 06, 2014

    Cool thanks!

  • bkyle2429 May 02, 2014

    first where are they to be getting smashed by a hurricane , okay granted Nuclear war could have changed things a bit but I don't think so we have seen nothing bout trees and a huge cliff where Charlotte took a nose dive, no oceans!! second honestly Finn should be dead the knife was barely moved via Clarke when the pod got rocked and Finn and Clarke went separate directions!! Finn would have been gutted like fish!! third we no very little about "the Grounders"" obviously this grounder is fixated on Octavia because she reminds him of someone in is past!! or he doesn't like the way Bellamy is treating her!!!!!! now the story up at the ARC is just BULLSHIT is unreal!! nobody is listening period!! and out of nowhere Diane (kate vernon) spurs some words of wisdom to Jaha (washington) then he finally gets it , then rallies the troops!!! I can go on but I wont!! and the revelation at end 2000+ people on the Ark and only room for 700 on the drop ships no offense if you can get the Ark up into space and if the plan was to return to Earth increase in the population should be accounted in the equation!! the 100 is very bad, the writing makes no sense at all this episode just might be the straw the broke the camels back and I stop tuning in!!!

  • Mangalore May 05, 2014

    A single missing heat tile in the space shuttle's hull did destroy one so if we imagine big drop ships they still might easily be too compromised to use. They might leak, they might have compromised heat shields, their electronics may be shot to control the descent. All would be causes to sabotage a vessel for reentry because it takes very little to burn up a space ship in that phase.

    They possibly had to cannibalize dropships to make others operational. At least this explains the one child policy. It possibly was a last ditch attempt to bring the population down within a generation.

  • ummhaniyyah May 03, 2014

    The Arc was originally a space station, like Space Station Mir (for example), orbiting the Earth to do research when the nuclear war happened on the ground.

    It was never intended as a facility from which ships went back and forth to the Earth or as a permanent home.

    The people on the Arc were isolated by the nuclear decimation on Earth and had to make do with water, air and food produced by the Ark.

    You can see that they've employed a one child policy to keep the population down with the plan/hope that they would be have longer to prepare for a return to Earth (in real life, and though it's not been underlined in the show, I think even for its characters 97 years isn't enough time to make a radiation soaked Earth safe for human habitation) and be able to keep the Ark's systems going for longer.

    Finn had almost removed the knife and was on her last yank when the storm knocked her off her feet. Gutting would definitely be a possibility in that situation, but not the only one.

    I'm not sure why you think the Jaha story line is bullcrap. I can see how you may have written something stronger - but what happened with him and with the new Diane character wasn't outside the realm of possibility at all. Harder for me to take in was Kane's meltdown. That seemed to come from nowhere since he was an unrelenting Big Bad up until then -- though maybe making him Mom such a kumbaya spiritual guide was the writers way of giving us a hint that there was more to him than they'd first made apparent.

    Re the numbers: I was annoyed about the discrepancy between the number of people on the Ark and the number that can be accommodated in the dropships, not because I think it's ridiculous that they find themselves in that situation. Like I said before, the Ark wasn't part of a planned exodus to Earth orbit -- they just happened to have a front row seat to the destruction on the Earth below and then need to try to survive on their own. It was annoying because now there may be a lot of drawn out hand-wringing about who should live and who will have to be left behind to die.

  • ummhaniyyah May 02, 2014

    Bob Morley, who plays Bellamy on how he sees his body
    He grew up mixed race (his Mom is Filipina and his Dad who died when he was a toddler was white Australian) in a small, rural, mostly white community in Australia. He's had a lot going on - which he probably uses in his portrayal of Bellamy. Cued up to 13:44.

  • digital_dice May 02, 2014

    This episode was all about decisions and consequences. I think it was nicely summed up by Bellamy in the end with that one sentence:

    "It's not easy being in charge is it?"

    Clarke, Bellamy, Kane, Jaha and Abby all struggled with the choices they made either in the past or present. Each of them made those choices because they were backed into a corner and needed to step up and make a quick decision. The battle between a logical decision and an emotional or moral decision is constantly being played out in this series in both settings---the earth and the Ark. I think the producers are doing an amazing job of exploring these themes within the 2 settings.

    I continue to be impressed with the Clarke character. Yes, she can be very overbearing at times....but as pointed out in Kaitlin's review Clarke has been dealing with a whack load of problems since the opening frame of this series. She is really stretching herself thin trying to save people both on Earth and on the Ark. She has always been vocal about her frustration, but now we are starting to see signs of exhaustion and desperation affect her too. It's a good thing she has co-leadership with Bellamy now, because neither of them have what it takes to go it alone at this point.

  • ummhaniyyah May 02, 2014

    Re co-leadership: I think you are right. Though, Clarke's part seems the more exhausting side of their partnership because Bellamy is always wanting to do crazy things that she has to rein him in from doing with a huge expenditure of energy. Or she's unable to stop him and has to try to mop up afterwards. He on the other hand, really benefits from having Clarke there to balance him.

  • Abelak May 02, 2014

    I'm totally loving The 100 so far, but I'm becoming a bit confused about the show's longevity. They have established contact with the Ark awfully fast and even with the complication of the limited transport to Earth, isn't the show kind of over once people from the Ark touch down? Can't imagine how many seasons they can possibly drag it all out. Maybe they are counting on a short-ish run.

  • digital_dice May 02, 2014

    In TV-land anything can be dragged out. All you have to do is keep throwing obstacles in the way of characters. Personally, I think the drama on the Ark can continue for some time. They have a lot of logistical problems to deal with in addition to the assassination plot and now Diana(who seems shady) being on Council. Even when they do eventually abandon the Ark it's possible the escape pods will all land in different parts of the Earth (due to malfunction, storms etc...). The plot of survival/re-unification can remain the same with the various groups trying to make their way to each other on the ground.

  • ummhaniyyah May 02, 2014

    Yup, and the action on the ground can also shift with our main characters there going off on various quests or facing new baddies.

  • Gill1138 May 02, 2014

    I don't see Bellamy and Clarke AT ALL. I like that they're making his character more understandable, but it doesn't really condone some of the terrible decisions. Worse, Bellamy doesn't learn from them & he doesn't accept responsibility. Like The Grounders journal- the guy's obviously been watching the camp, but cataloguing the deaths doesn't in any way make him responsible. Bellamy constantly skews his interpretation of reality to rationalise his own actions; the character needs a lot of therapy and really should be in prison. Makes for entertaining television, but as a romantic option for Clark, that's just too far-fetched for me to even imagine.
    (Clarke and Octavia need to find some henchmen. Seems like Bellamy only gets his way because he has a couple of muscled guys around whenever anyone argues with him. Hench up, ladies!)
    Not really a fan of The Grounder. He could see how much these people loved Finn, and the antidote was there, but he didn't care. When it was his crush that was on the line, oh, suddenly he's all communicative. Torturing him for general info was stupid and just another example of Bellamy's character basically peeing everywhere in crazy territorial mode. Torturing him to try and make him point at a vial in the minutes left to save a loved one's life seemed more relatable.
    Felt sorry for Clark this episode. She lost Wells and almost lost Finn. Basically, they were the closest she had to henchmen! Also, Raven's pretty el loco... still think she suits Bellamy more than Finn.
    The politics on The Ark were cool. Now there's a new viper in the nest!

  • ummhaniyyah May 02, 2014

    Yes, Finn is Clarke's henchman. When she's squared off with Bellamy in the past he's been there to back her up (physically, too, if need be). Jasper and his friend (the herbalist) also back her up.

    There's a big difference between Clarke and Octavia though. Bellamy (who I guess sees Octavia as his property - "My sister, my responsibility") regularly has Octavia restrained and tossed around by his minions but those guys move out of the way for Clarke and are generally reluctant to put their hands on her.

  • digital_dice May 02, 2014

    I think Finn being Clarke's back up/henchman/friend is pivotal to her continued success on the ground. When Clarke said "I can't do this without you" or whatever....I don't think that was really about being in love with Finn. It was more about Finn being the guy who had her back and was also her sounding board for venting. Besides being her physical protector he also shares his observations with her. If it wasn't for Finn pushing the issue, she may never have questioned Wells' betrayal.

    The problem with nobody taking Octavia seriously is partly Bellamy's fault but also a flaw in her own personality. All those years living in isolation(a room, under floorboards, juvie prison) have stunted her emotional growth. Octavia lacks the social skills needed to sway people to your side....which is kind of crucial when you are trying to survive. Having tantrums, jumping into dangerous water, and running off with guys or to look at butterflies are all things that indicate her level of maturity is lacking in places. What she did with the Grounder in this episode was the first sign of her being observant/useful in a tense situation. Unfortunately she had to follow that up with a childish zinger at Clarke about saving Finn.

  • ummhaniyyah May 02, 2014

    The grounder relationship is dangerous though. It's not really clear what his agenda is, so even this choice is naive and immature.

  • digital_dice May 02, 2014

    The Clarke/Bellamy thing is just something fans are pushing for and not pre-planned. If you listen to any of the interviews with Eliza Taylor, Bob Morley or Rothenberg...they are generally surprised that people would suggest Clarke and Bellamy should hook up in that way. I thought it was kind of funny in Eliza's Wondercon interview that she had never even heard of "shipping" before.
    I personally don't see a romantic angle either. I just think they have screen chemistry because they are both Australian and get along well. And I must say both actors do a good job covering their accents.

  • ummhaniyyah May 02, 2014

    I really don't see the sexual chemistry other fans have mentioned around Clarke-Bellamy either. They look at and engage with each other a lot and both are compelling main characters but I think that's to be expected given their roles and the power struggles they get into.

    I'm guessing though that since the fans keep shipping them that it may happen.

    I really hope that if a romance happens that it is no time soon because of the stuff Gill1138 mentioned. Waving away the horrendous things (300 people's deaths) someone has done maybe works with vampires (e.g. Damon on Vampire Diaries) because they are just all damned -- but since Bellamy is a regular human he would have to go through a lot to redeem himself enough to be a good partner for Clarke.

    Plus, given that Clarke and Bellamy always struggle over leadership and control, Clarke sleeping with Bellamy might compromise her. Look at how Bellamy treats his sister. Better that he keep a healthy distance between himself and Clarke.

  • CKgirl May 02, 2014

    I didn't see it myself until this episode - I was going to make a comment to see if anyone else saw the beginning of a possible Clarke/Bellamy relationship. It was at the end, when he sort of held her hand and commiserated with her about the tough choices that sometimes have to be made. I could see them being equals in a relationship, since they're already co-leaders of sorts. I think the change we're starting to see both of them go through might make them better balanced personality-wise. Though I agree that with his possessive attitude towards his sister (not to mention that harem of his!) a romance might seriously complicate things. Bellamy needs to go on a bit of a redemption arc, and Clarke needs to get her hands a little dirtier before I think it would work.

  • jacobwright984 May 02, 2014

    why is everyone saying a 100 yrs 3 generations is 75 they should explain how everyone got on the arc and why they had to leave in detail

  • Tummelisa Nov 02, 2014

    If 3 generations is 75 then every woman needs to get pregnant at 25. That was probably the average age a couple of decades ago, but not today, and who knows about the future. Say the average age is 33? that would be 3 generations in 100 years.
    There were manned space stations in space when the Nuclear War broke out. They were not sent there to be saved from the war, they just happened to be there when it broke out and survived because they were there. That's how everyone got there. Well, except for those who were then born there.

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