The 100: Pilot

"Reality sucks."

So we have this situation: The dregs of humanity trapped on a space station with an oppressive government and dwindling resources, and the glorious, surreally green Earth, where you can tell right away that things aren't as lovely as they seem.

Ninety-seven years ago (why not an even hundred?), there was a nuclear apocalypse and the remainder of humanity managed to take twelve existing space stations and make them into one: the Ark, which is quite Biblical of them. On the Ark, every transgression is punishable by death, unless you're under eighteen, in which case they put you in prison until you're eighteen and put you to death, or something. This time, the government of the Ark took one hundred of their juvenile delinquents, popped them into a capsule, and sent them down to Earth to take their chances.

The lead character on the Ark appears to be Dr. Abby Griffith (Paige Turco from Person of Interest). The big boss is the Chancellor (Isaiah Washington from ER); unfortunately, his second in command is the way obviously evil Kane (Henry Ian Cusick from Lost with a bad American accent) who seems to want to put a lot of people to death, including Abby, because life support will fail in three months.

Which brings me to one of my big problems with this pilot: there were no adults volunteering to go down to Earth with all those teenagers to at least tell them they should boil their water before drinking it. You'd think there would be, especially with the life support failing. (Okay, it's a secret, but still.) And the communication problems didn't make a lot of sense, either. You'd think for something as critically important as finding out what the conditions were on Earth that there would be just a little communication redundancy. Although then we couldn't have the plot-heavy life-monitoring bracelets that the juvenile delinquents on Earth immediately started to remove.

Is all of this unmonitored chaos on the planet intentional?

Quite honestly, as a sci-fi geek, I'm a lot more interested in life on the space station with the adults -- but the majority of this episode was about the teenagers having a Lord of the Flies party on Earth, man. Because you can't just have people wandering around trying to survive on roots and twigs, the 100 immediately had a goal: trekking to Mount Weather and picking up the hundreds of years of supplies that are waiting for them. Unfortunately, only five of the teenagers thought that was important enough to do. Wait until they start getting hungry. Why aren't they hungry already? Instead, they're wandering around the glow-in-the-dark forest and dancing in the rain. Yes, I get that teenagers think they're going to live forever and that they spent their entire lives trapped in a space station with a very Nazi government, but I still lost patience with them.

Clarke (Eliza Taylor) is the lead character in the Earth group. Eighteen and beautiful as well as an artist, she immediately established herself as a leader and a grown-up. Wells, the other grown-up, is the son of the Chancellor who appears to either love Clarke, or he just feels terribly guilty that his father executed Clarke's father.

There's Finn, who has "love interest for Clarke" written all over him. And then there's the angry Bellamy Blake and his annoying sister Octavia (apparently no one on the Ark was named Fred or Jane). Octavia immediately jumped into a lake for some cheesecake swimming, while we in the audience were very aware that there had to be something dangerous in that lake, which there was. I'll give them this: I liked that there was no close-up of the huge snake, because often when you can see the monster clearly, it loses its power to frighten.

I don't think we found out what year it was, but Jasper, the kid with the goggles, had a T-shirt with the logo 'Earth Day 2062'. He got a spear through the chest at the end of the episode, which reminded me of the very bad Star Trek episode 'Galileo Seven'. I wonder if we're about to get a bunch of primitive earth dwellers wearing ridiculous-looking skins around their waists?

Things moved fast in this pilot. The kids had been dumped on planet Earth before the credits had even stopped rolling. I think maybe they should have spent a little more time universe-building and character-establishing, because I found the teenage characters on Earth stuff exasperating, uninteresting, and way too predictable. But I'm told that this series gets very good, so I'm going to hang in there for awhile.

Bits:

-- The creepy deer turning its face scene was used in promos so often that it had no impact.

-- Execution on the Ark is being "floated", dumped out of a very big airlock. You'd think they would use a smaller airlock, given the fact that life support is an issue.

-- Using the song "Radioactive" was almost a given. Welcome to the new age.

-- Two of the actors in this episode, Richard Harmon (John Murphy) and Terry Chen (Shumway) have continuing roles in one of my current favorite shows, Continuum. I also smiled when I saw Alessandro Juliani from Battlestar Galactica.

Two out of four snakes in a lake,

Billie
---
Billie Doux is the founder of Doux Reviews and has been reviewing her favorite shows for quite some time. More Billie Doux.

12 comments:

Billie Doux said...

Programming note: I'm planning to give this series a serious try. I can't promise more reviews than this one, though.

Anonymous said...

Ya! You're reviewing The 100.

I can't really say that the show gets really good, but it does definitely get better. Especially in the second season, where a lot of new and fun characters show up. Clarke stays a badass throughout though :)

Anonymous said...

well its a typical cw show where the "stupidity" in plot is directly related to "stupidity" of the characters especially when it comes to the teenagers. i am willing to overlook this one because of the near doom circumstances that these individuals have been living in for a very long time with no way out. glad that you guys are giving it a chance though.

Corona Zschusschen said...

I wasn't impressed with the pilot and the couple of episodes after that, at all! But then things got layers and characters got layers and now I really like it (and trying to ignore some discrepancies that come with sci-fi science).

Lamounier said...

Yay, a review of The 100. Well, a very bitter one, but I’ll take it.

I have a very different take on this pilot than you, Billie. For instance, I’m more interested on what happens on the ground, because whenever we follow The Ark the show looks like a cheaper version of Battlestar Gallactica. However, the Ark does have some interesting stories through the season (and a bad one, unfortunately).

The character I connected to the most on this pilot was Abby. I loved how she never lost focus on the mission, both for scientific and emotional reasons, and until her (almost) last breath she kept trying. I loved her philosophical line about whether the human race deserved to survive.

Apart from Abby, pretty much every character (on the Ark and on the ground) are archetypes/stereotypes at this point. Kane is the grown up evil leader who is either power hungry or unable to face the wrongness of his actions, Clarke is the annoying teenage leader who is all work no fun, Bellamy is the manipulative douche bag, Murphy is the even bigger douche bag, Octavia is the irresponsible and apparently shallow teenager, and so on...

But, as Corona said, the characters get more layers. Kane develops into a more complex person, Clarke turns into a freaking badass leader, and I won’t say more for the sake of spoilers. I can say that, even though the characters are pretty much archetypes right now, their actions make a lot of sense once you know their backstories, which the show will explore. Octavia is the biggest example of this. The first time I watched this pilot, a lot of Octavia’s actions and lines that came across as typical teenager behavior bothered me. On rewatch I realized the way she acted made perfect sense. In fact, it’s quite fitting and poetic that she’s the first one to walk on the ground.

Another good point of the pilot is that the writers manage to create several distinct interactions among the many characters, and I’d say that that is one of the show’s strengths going forward.

There's Finn, who has "love interest for Clarke" written all over him.

Yeah, there’s not much in the way of the defense I can offer to that one. It is by far the worst part of the series. It comes to the point that the show is becoming stronger and that particular story drags it down. It’s a real bummer.


Things moved fast in this pilot.

That's another problem. The 100 only has had shorter seasons so far, and it shows. Sometimes they fly with character or plot developments that would be better if given more time.

All in all, I liked the pilot and the potential the story had right away. By the end of season one I was a fan. If anyone is wondering on giving it a shot, the series is flawed, but it’s also capable of greatness. So give it a shot. And, hopefully, may we meet again on another review. :)

tricksterson said...

It does get better and there is a goof deal of character development, especially for Kane. Won't say more because I don't want to spoil.

As to the character names of the kids some of them at least are a deliberate tribute to science fiction authors:

Clarke: Arthur C. Clarke

Wells: H. G. Wells

Bellamy: forget the full name but he wrote a navel about a utopian future

Octavia: Octavia Butler.

Panda said...

I actually didn't like the adult storylines in the Ark at first. I was much more interested in what was happening on the ground.

Billie I implore you to stick this one out, I think you'll like it. Season two is amazing and the characters suddenly drop their stereotypes and some of them go in some really interesting directions, one in particular. But if you get just half way through this season you'll see what its actually capable of.

Laure Mack said...

I enjoyed the earth storylines a lot more than you did, but the politics of what was going on in the ark fascinated me.

I'm excited you are going to give it a try Billie. It definitely improves over time.

Onanymous said...

I found the first ep interesting enough, but I only got around to watching the rest a lot later.

I was very surprised by how dark and complex the storylines became. Characters that start out as basic stereotypes get fleshed out a lot and are allowed to both make mistakes and face real consequences for their actions.

I was completely hooked by the end of the first season.

Arie said...

After this episode I can't imagine I'm watching the same show that people say is so good. I love sci-fi and this show has ingredients I should like, but so far is a cliche after cliche.

Not one of those adults thought the kids would take the monitoring bracelets off? Really????

Billie Doux said...

Arie, all I can say is that The 100 is an investment series. If you can hang in for a bit, it gets a *lot* better.

Patryk said...

I'm embarking on the 100 voyage finally. Fingers crossed that you are all right about it. :)