I’m going to get this out of the way right now, The 100 is the best show on The CW. Which is quite frankly something that I’d never thought I’d say even at the end of its first season, because that was when Arrow was really hitting home with some excellent episodes and we’ve had The Flash since then. However, Arrow started to drop in quality as Season 3 began, just as The 100 was really stepping up a gear. In fact, I’d not just call it as the best show on The CW, but one of the best Science Fiction shows on television period, matching up with the likes of the clone-drama Orphan Black, and the procedural-turned heavy serialized science fiction thriller Person of Interest. It’s something that I’d have never expected The 100 to do, and really rewards those who stick with it after the first few episodes aren’t unfortunately the strongest that the series has ever been.
The conclusion of season 1 left the characters in a very unexpected situation as it delivered one of the strongest cliffhangers that I’ve seen in a while. Following the battle against the Grounders, the 100, who have been captured by the Mountain Men who make their home in Mount Weather. It turns out that Mt. Weather (which was the original objective of the 100 to reach way back in the Pilot), is actually the home of humans who have survived the Nuclear War and retreated underground, trapped in the Mountain because to step outside would mean instant death. There, the 43, of which the number includes Clarke (Eliza Taylor), Jasper (Devon Bostick) and Monty (Christopher Larkin), find themselves adapting to life inside the Mountain, which is overlooked by President Dante Wallace (Raymond J. Barry, who played Arlo, Raylan Givens’ dad, very well on Justified – to the point where it’s now odd to see Barry in a role where he actually cares about people other than himself). However, Clarke is incredibly sceptical about the apparent safe haven that she finds herself in, wanting nothing more to be freed. With Bellamy (Bob Morley) and Finn (Thomas McDonnell) are presumed dead, things are made all the more complicated by the fact that Ark Station, and all its residents (aside from Thelonious Jaha (Isaiah Washington), who remains in space, has crashed down to Earth, with its inhabitants finding themselves on Earth for the first time.
So that’s basically where we pick off at the start of Season 2, and it’s great to see The 100 continuously developing and changing over the course of the extended sixteen episode count that we’re given this season. It continues to be heavily serialized, with hardly any filler episodes found within, which is rare for a show that has to use longer episodes like this. It also continues to be incredibly bleak for a show on The CW, feeling more at home with the likes of The Walking Dead in terms of tone than that of The Flash, for example. It isn’t afraid to put its characters through the wire and do things that the majority of any other show on network TV would shy away from. Deaths don’t just happen in the season finale, they’re scattered throughout the show, and those deaths don’t just happen to nameless characters – there’s a shocking moment midway through the season that really punches you in the gut and leaves you breathless. Alliances are made, forged, tightened and broken over the course of the season, with several unpredictable betrayals (the one in Blood Must Have Blood, Part One, is easily one of the most shocking moments of the show), and more. Those who hate the CW’s apparent mandate of creating love-triangles left right and centre will be pleased to know that romance will be pushed to the side here, although that said, there are few moments but none as out of place as last season’s seemed to feel.
The characters, most of whom have already been pushed through hell and back, are pushed to the limit again. They make choices that you won’t like and actions have consequences. Nobody is the same at the start of the season as they are at the end and it’s great to see these characters constantly changing and developing. Octavia (Marie Avgeropoulos), one of the most problematic characters of early Season 1, really becomes one of the show’s strongest in Season 2, undergoing a total transformation. Jasper and Monty become far more than just the comic relief characters. Murphy (Richard Harmon) and Jaha both undergo transformations that you would have never expected their characters to take as the show puts them in an unlikely partnership midway through the season. And Bellamy steals the show in the final few episodes as he gets to Die-Hard his way through the tunnels underneath Mt. Weather on a solo mission that’s very awesome to see. And that’s before we get to Clarke, the main character, who gets some incredible development, as the show isn’t afraid to do things to its main character that others would avoid. So it’s safe to say that the show knows what to do with a lot of its characters and balances them very well with some excellent pacing throughout most of the season.
Despite the large increase in quality, The 100 does still have a few flaws. A few scenes here and there feel rushed and the ending cliffhanger doesn’t feel as jaw-dropping as the first season’s was (even though it features a very cool use of Warren Zevon’s Werewolves of London), and there are a few episodes that aren’t quite as good as most of the season. However, that said, there are no unwatchable episodes here, and I’d still rather watch an episode of the second season of The 100 rather than most of anything else on TV. This show (which has an excellent new title sequence, by the way), really establishes itself as the next Battlestar Galactica in this season and if you’re a science fiction fan who hasn’t watched it yet, what are you waiting for? Go check it out now. Season 3 can’t come quickly enough.