The 100 finale won't air for several more weeks, but the show is already laying down track for what's certainly going to be an exciting—and probably deadly—end to its freshman season. Though, to be fair, you could probably say that about the entire season up until this point. The CW renewed the series for Season 2 last week, and I'm very glad we'll be able to continue exploring its world, because it continues to tackle subjects that most teen dramas never even think of, including war, survival, and the brutal honesty of being a leader and having to make the hard decisions.
In "Unity Day," both the people on the Ark and the Hundred on the ground were celebrating, well, Unity Day—the day when all 12 space stations came together to form the Ark. Naturally, as teenagers are wont to do, their celebration included getting wasted on Unity Juice, and for Octavia, it meant having sex with Lincoln, the Grounder who saved her life. That feels awfully sudden, but if we look at things from Octavia's point of view, it certainly makes sense that she would be impulsive in her decision-making. I mean, wouldn't you want to live a little if you'd spent so much time locked up, either under the floor or in a cell with only your mother and brother for company? I'm just not sure her ladybits are going to be what successfully bridges the very wide gap between the Hundred and the Grounders.
Finn, ever the nice guy and optimist that he is, wanted to make peace with the Grounders before any more danger could befall the Hundred's camp, and before the first ship from the Ark arrived on the ground. The plan was for that first ship to be loaded with soldiers and weapons, so that a more "real" settlement could be established before the rest of the Ark (or rather, the people who were lucky enough to secure passage) descended, and Finn wanted to ensure that the first group didn't just show up and start a war. To kick off his peacemaking efforts, Finn returned the knife Lincoln stabbed him with (is Finn too forgiving?) and asked Lincoln to set up a meeting between Clarke (Lincoln saw Clarke, not Bellamy, as the leader of the Hundred) and the leader of the Grounders, played by Dollhouse's Dichen Lachman. As the show has done time and again, it took everything we thought we knew and flipped it. The 100 takes pleasure in making viewers reevaluate their opinion of this particularly savage world, that's probably its greatest strength. Well, that and killing people.
The Grounders, who until now were viewed as aggressive attackers who'd murdered several of the Hundred, saw those horny teens as invaders! The flares the Hundred launched to alert the Ark they were alive actually ended up burning down a Grounder village—which, to be fair, most people would see as an act of war, no matter the intent. Add to that the fact that the Hundred kidnapped Lincoln and tortured him, and it's very easy to understand the Grounders' mindset. So it obviously didn't help that Jasper fired the first shots at the Grounders in the trees, which erased just about any hope of a truce between the two groups. Just when I think I have this show all figured out, it turns a corner and surprises me and makes me look at everything in a new light.
Most series would have painted the Grounders as your typical enemies with no redeeming qualities, but villains who are villains for no reason are not nearly as compelling as villians you can (partially) relate to. The 100 excels at showcasing both sides to every story, just as it shows that there are two sides to every person. We often look to Bellamy when we think about a character who's changed considerably since the series premiere, and who's proven himself to be more than just an angry leader championing chaos. And as he's changed, so has Clarke. She's morphed into another character as being on the ground has forced her to adapt who she is and decide what kind of leader she wants to be. Right now she's still holding down the middle ground between Finn's optimism and Bellamy's pessimism, but with each passing episode, she's leaning more and more in one direction.
As the Hundred were facing their own problems on the ground, the adults on the Ark weren't in any better shape. They held a nice Unity Day celebration that ended with six people dead—including Kane's mother—after an explosion that was meant to kill Chancellor Jaha interrupted the proceedings. Fortunately, Jaha had ended his Unity Day remarks early and escaped any real harm, but the damage was done. The mutiny on the Ark was a seed planted in the series premiere when Jaha was shot, and it's been a slow burn ever since. At the time, I assumed Kane was calling the shots, because he had all the trademarks of a jerk who was tired of sitting on the sidelines. He was the obvious choice as the person desperate enough for power that he'd stage a coup. But just like Bellamy, Kane is proof that you can't judge a book by its cover; he's just a man who was placed in a very difficult stituation.
The scene where Kane said the prayer over his dying mother was probably some of Henry Ian Cusick's best work on The 100 to date, and it only adds another item to the list of reasons why Kane is my favorite character. I never know what to expect from him—unlike Diana, who's so easy to read it baffles me how neither Jaha nor anyone else ever saw her as anything but a mutineer. She's so desperate that she launched the ship to the ground without taking the proper precautions, and now the entire Ark is without power, which means she might've just doomed everyone on it. Thanks a lot, Diana! Of course, she's not necessarily in any better shape, as the ship didn't deploy its parachutes as it headed toward Earth, and appeared to crash upon impact. Clarke's mother was on board, and it's going to be a very long week as we wait to find out whether or not she survived the crash. Poor Clarke, dude. First her father died, then she found out her mother was responsible, and now her mother might be dead, too. I do not envy her!
"Unity Day" was yet another surprising and exciting episode in a long line of them, as it moved The 100's story along and took it to places I never saw it going, or even dreamed that a show on The CW would be able to reach. I assumed we'd see an altercation between the Hundred and the Grounders before the season was over, but I never thought the Hundred would be painted in a negative light as the attackers. Of course, few people ever see themselves as the Bad Guys in a conflict—and the Hundred did go into the meeting with as good intentions as they possibly could have, given the circumstances—but the way the series has embraced the duality of human nature, and its belief in giving voice to the Grounders, is what makes it exciting to watch week in and week out.
Until next week! When Shoulder Pads returns!
AIRED ON 5/19/2016
Season 3 : Episode 16