Snark Tank; Recap

The 100 Recap: So You Want To Go To Earth – Season One, Pilot

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Snark Tank is where we recap TV episodes. This The 100 Recap is for the series premiere, Pilot.
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The 100 is a show that everyone should be watching. In two short seasons, this sci-fi survival drama has managed to create a compelling world and narrative that is not afraid to break the rules. The 100, created by Jason Rothenberg, unapologetically embraces its adolescent characters and the micro dramas that spring from the teen drama genre, but manages to balance this with high-stakes survival and political intrigue. To be perfectly honest, I have not seen a more compelling sci-fi series since the 2003 reboot of Battlestar Galactica.

In contrast to Battlestar Galactica, humankind in The 100 is already stranded in space, and trying to return to Earth. Ninety-seven years prior to the beginning of the series, a nuclear apocalypse occurs, irradiating the planet and nearly wiping out the human race. A few thousand survivors made it off of Earth to various space stations that were in orbit at the time. Those 12 space stations were hodge-podged together to create one super station dubbed “The Ark.”

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Note: Not created by Noah

Faced with the reality that there is not enough oxygen to last humanity for the next 6 months, let alone the 100 years humanity assumes they need until the Earth is radiation free, the leadership of the Ark makes a decision to send the 100 juvenile delinquents in lock up to Earth to see if they will live or die. No adults are sent as all crimes committed by people of age on the Ark are capital offenses, and result in the offender being floated out an airlock. In contrast, juvenile offenders are sent to a prison called the Sky Box until their 18th birthday, when their case is reviewed and they are either pardoned or floated.

The pilot episode opens inside Clarke Griffin’s cell in Sky Box solitary confinement. Clarke and her father, Jake, were both charged with treason. While Clarke was under 18 and was imprisoned, her father was not so lucky and was executed.

Our first shot of Clarke is as an artist and a dreamer – one who wishes for the open air and freedom of the ground. She is very shortly granted her wish, when her mother, Abby, shows up and informs Clarke that she, and the other 99 juvenile prisoners onboard the Ark are being sent to Earth.

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Understandably, Clarke is not exactly reassured. But before she can protest, Clarke is tranquilized and placed inside a dropship with the other 99 prisoners. The S.S. Tin Can is ejected from the Ark and begins its journey to the ground.

Clarke wakes up already strapped into her seat sitting next to her former BFF Wells Jaha. Wells got himself arrested when he learned about the plan to send The 100 to the ground so that he could protect Clarke. Clarke is less than thrilled to see him, as Wells was the person that told the Chancellor, his father of their treason. I do roll my eyes at this a bit because only a few minutes into the episode and we are given love interest #1: “The Best Friend”.

Speaking of love interests, another boy, Finn, has removed his restraints and is floating around in front of Clarke and Wells. He was imprisoned for an illegal spacewalk that ended up wasting a month of oxygen for the Ark. This is love interest #2: “The Bad Boy with a Heart of Gold”. Side note: I feel like I should be clear upfront that I hate Finn. He is the absolute worst and most – if not all – of my recaps will be biased against him. To quote a dear friend of mine, “he is an absolute pee pee.” Despite how much I hate him, Finn is critical for driving the narrative and character development of other characters – specifically female main characters – forward. For that reason, I tolerate his presence.

I do want to state for the record that even though the two love interests we have met thus far are guys, Clarke is bisexual in canon. It is a beautiful thing.

While we are being introduced to the love interests, the S.S. Tin Can is hurtling rapidly towards Earth. The in-flight entertainment consists of Chancellor Jaha explaining the aim of this experiment. The Council (Ark government) is hopeful for their survival, but admits that The 100 were sent because they are expendable. If they should survive, their primary objective is to locate an old United States government facility called Mount Weather which should have resources to last them several months if not years.

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Two other kids follow Finn out of their restraints during the video, using knives that they have mysteriously procured even though they were prisoners prior to this point. They float for a few moments before the parachutes pop on the S.S. Tin Can and physics comes into play. Finn survives, the other two kids do not, bringing our survivor count to 98 delinquents on board.

Back on the Ark the former Lieutenant Gaeta of Battlestar Galactica has appeared and looks like he still hasn’t recovered from the events of BSG. His name is Sinclair on The 100, but seeing as I had to go to IMDB to look that fact up, I will probably keep calling him Gaeta for the duration of these recaps. Gaeta is telling Kane that communications are down with the dropship and the only signals still being received are from the wristbands monitoring the vital signs of the kids on the ground.

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Having finally landed, everyone onboard the S.S. Tin Can (that hasn’t died yet) crowds around the ship’s hatch door, where self-proclaimed leader Bellamy is about to open the door. Bellamy stowed away on the ship to reunite with his sister, Octavia, who has been in space juvie for the last year or so because population control laws deemed it illegal for her to be born. Bellamy and momma Blake hid Octavia for nearly 16 years but when she was eventually discovered, mommy dearest was floated and Octavia sent to lock up.

Octavia gets the fine distinction of being the first person on the ground in nearly 100 years. Bellamy opens the doors, Octavia takes her first steps on the ground and she, along with the rest of the kids, swarm out and celebrate the fact that radiation did not instantly kill them.

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“We’re not dead!”

As cheesy as this moment is (between Octavia’s “We’re back bitches!” line and Imagine Dragons “Radioactive” playing in the background), I can’t help but think it is the perfect way to start the show. [pullquote=right]The 100 is first and foremost an exploration of character under extreme circumstances with all plotlines working towards building, breaking, and transforming characters. [/pullquote]The first ground scene hits the nail on the head in regards to portraying the initial naivety of the adolescent ensemble. One of my primary criticisms of The 100, used to be the presence teen drama tropes during the series. They felt jarring and almost ridiculous in contrast to the other events unfolding. During my rewatch, I almost wonder if those teen dramas – love triangles, petty friendship fights, star-crossed lovers – are purposefully inserted as a means of contrast to the high stakes of survival in a hostile world and the inevitable loss of innocence. Food for thought at the very least as you continue watching.But I digress. Clarke hops of the ship and looks excited for about 0.2 seconds before it’s back to business mode.

Clarke - sweet summer child

She has a map and has discovered that S.S Tin Can landed 20 miles off course from Mount Weather. Bad news kiddies, no food for you tonight.

While the kids are celebrating on Earth, Abby and Kane are arguing about the first two deaths. Abby is dead on with her prediction – that it was an injury from the landing. Kane is a pessimist and thinks it’s only a matter of time until they keel over and die because red things are flashing at him on the screen; “what’s logic and reasoning Abby? I have no idea, I just wanna be in charge. Computers are scary”. They probably would have argued more but Abby gets a phone call: the Chancellor has been shot. She rushes off to medical and we are rushed back to our friends on the ground.

Clarke is planning a trip to Mount Weather for supplies. Wells volunteers to go with, but Clarke refuses. To be fair Wells keeps putting his foot in his mouth by bringing up Clarke’s father so I can’t really blame Clarke for not wanting to be around him. Some of the other kids from the drop ship come to pick a fight with Wells because he is the Chancellor’s son, and the Chancellor also killed their parents. One of the guys, Murphy, manages to injure Wells’ ankle, but before the fight can really get going, Finn jumps down off the dropship parkour-style and breaks up the fight. Murphy backs off, Octavia takes this moment to flirt with Finn, and Finn gives her a gross smirk in return.

Since a crowd had developed for the fight, Clarke tries to garner their attention for help with the whole “gathering supplies and survival” plan. Unfortunately for her, most of the crowd are irritated that she’s taking charge – Bellamy specifically. Do I detect the beginnings of a power struggle? Why yes, yes I do. Bellamy is considered by a large chunk of people to be another love interest for Clarke (interest #3: “The Rival” if you’re keeping track), but to be honest I just do not get any sort of sexual or romantic tension/vibe between them at any point in the series. Ship and let ship I suppose.

Bellamy agrees they need food but tells Clarke that she should have to go get it and bring it back for all of them. I mean he does make a fair point about the privileged doing the hard work for once, but also how does he expect one person to bring back enough food for the rest of the camp. Make your point but be practical because this is a survival situation and y’all need some food and supplies. I also dislike it, because while the point is valid enough, he is making it in order to garner his own personal power rather than actually trying to make work within the camp equal.

Sufficiently pleased with himself and his weird, slicked-back haircut, Bellamy confronts his next concern: making sure that his sister knows she has to listen to him because he needs to protect her.

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Even though I think Finn is the worst and she should pick someone better to pursue (literally anyone else, or like the dirt maybe), I 100% support Octavia’s agency to do whatever the hell she wants.

Bellamy also takes this opportune time to confesses to Octavia that he had to Do Something Bad to get on the drop ship, but that she should trust him because he’s her big brother, whose one and only job in life is to protect her. I’m pretty sure we all know where this is heading.

Clarke is still trying to figure out how she and Stupid Terrible Finn, who has now volunteered for the trip to Mount Weather, are going to bring back enough food. Finn drafts Monty and Jasper (BrOTP) to join, and Octavia skips up (an irritated Bellamy following on her heels) and joins the group as a way to piss off her brother. A++ portrayal of actual siblings.

So the kids set off on an adventure, but not before Clarke gets after Finn for trying to remove his wristband. Have they mentioned the wristbands enough times this episode yet for you to catch on that they are an Important Plot Device™? 

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The group of five takes off and basically everyone except for Clarke is psyched about being on the ground and taking in all of the new things. Clarke’s mostly just like yeah no animals so we’re probably gonna slowly die of radiation. Lo and behold, mere moments after making this statement about animals the group stumbles upon a deer. Even Clarke gets excited about it.

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Yeah, it was freaky.

Meanwhile in space, Abby is trying to save Jaha’s life and breaking laws. Medicine, like food, is also rationed, but Abby just says “screw the police” and moves on, thinking her privilege and position of power will protect her. Honey, they’ve floated people for much less; I wouldn’t bank on your survival.

With Abby engaged in major surgery on the Chancellor, Commander Shumway and Kane have used their resources to discover who the shooter is. As I’m sure you brilliant souls have all deduced at this point, Bellamy was the shooter. However, this is not all those two are up to…

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Turns out these two are also talking about an emergency population reduction. With Kane as Chancellor Pro Tempore he has the authority to order the death of a couple hundred people. This is the point where Kane starts shouting “FOR THE GREATER GOOD” over the intercom while killing everyone. Not really, but it could’ve happened.

Rewind for a second. Remember when I mentioned that Clarke and her dad were arrested for treason? Well you see, the Ark is dying. For some mechanical/science-y reason, the oxygen is not going to last for another 100 years – at least not with the Ark’s current population. Clarke’s dad believed the people had a right to know about the oxygen issue. The Chancellor/council felt otherwise and threw him out an airlock (yeah democracy!). Clarke was going to follow through with her dad’s plan, but never had the chance as she was thrown into solitary confinement.

Sending The 100 to the ground was a win-win because either the Earth is habitable and they can leave space, or it is still radiation soaked and at least they’ve bought themselves more oxygen. Though not enough time for the engineers to fix whatever the problem is, hence the need for additional population control measures.

While Kane and Shumway are “debating” the ethics behind killing a couple hundred people, Wells has stayed busy by gathering firewood and receiving death threats.

typo1typo2typo3 Wells leaves, disgusted at their grammar skills, and Bellamy approaches to start phase one of his diabolical master plan to save his own ass. He convinces Murphy and Imbege to get rid of their wristbands because if they keep the wristbands on then they are helping “the Man”. #logic. Actually all of these first episodes are #logic and it makes me want to punch all of these idiots in their stupid faces. It’s a great show. Anyway.

Elsewhere in the forest, Octavia has decided now is a good time for a swim.

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The group starts to join her but stops when Jasper spots something moving in the water. It’s a giant water-snake-monster thing, and frankly after seeing a two-headed deer I’m not sure why Octavia or anyone else thought that playing around in an unfamiliar body of water would be a good idea. Not that anyone in the group is complaining about the impromptu striptease. Clarke and Jasper at least seem wholly appreciative of the view.

Octavia does survive thanks to Clarke distracting the monster with a boulder and Jasper jumping into water to rescue her. They all laugh off the attack like it was no big deal. I would just like to point out that this was not some nice and friendly mutant-water-snake-monster hugging Octavia’s thigh with its teeth out of love. Octavia was nearly monster munchies and I feel like maybe they should take that more seriously.

Clarke & Co. are not the only ones having a party. The 100 back at the drop ship have made a nice big fire and Bellamy has convinced them to start taking off their wristbands. Wells is justifiably confused at why everyone is doing that since it is the only way anyone on the Ark knows they are alive, including family and friends, but Bellamy has really been working the “screw the Man” angle. Bellamy’s current leadership philosophy is “whatever the hell we want” and I need only to point to classic, cinematic masterpiece The Jimmy Neutron Movie, to illustrate that the “whatever the hell we want” philosophy is not going to last for very long.

Back onboard the Ark, rumor got around that Abby was dissing the police and handing out anesthesia like candy at Halloween. Said police/security force – run by Kane – are not having any of her attitude and she is promptly arrested and thrown into the same solitary prison cell that had belonged to Clarke.

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“Slipping through my fingers all the timeeeee”

I really love this scene. Though brief, it sets Abby and Clarke up as two sides of the same coin. Abby and Clarke often parallel each other in their narratives throughout the series, and it is no coincidence that they are both shown in this cell during the pilot episode. It’s not a scene I really noticed on my first watch through the series, but on rewatching it’s clearly intended as a visual clue for their relationship.

Meanwhile, Clarke & Co. have settled in for the night and are sleeping peacefully, despite run ins with not one but two mutant animals during the day. God forbid we ever find out what kind of mutant animals are around at night. Clarke wakes up to find that the trees, at least in this part of the woods, are like the foliage from the Avatar movie. Clarke wanders around a bit, taking in the scenery, and lo and behold Finn pops up. They have a moment or something (*gag*).

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Kane also has a moment with the PR lady from earlier in the episode who I think is his girlfriend and is also apparently Abby’s BFF. She is irrelevant because this is the last episode we ever see her in. Apparently her character is executed off-screen and never spoken of again. This is a fairly boring scene with not much point except to further beat us over the head with the info that Kane likes having power and will do whatever’s needed to save humankind, including killing their chief medical officer/surgeon/expert in all things medicine. I’m sorry but like that seems stupid from a survival standpoint. Even if you are a letter of the law, by the book kind of dude, you still need someone to perform surgery on you if you get shot.

In the end, Kane’s decision is irrelevant as Abby is saved by Chancellor Jaha, who has woken from his coma at the most dramatically convenient moment.

Unaware of the drama unfolding in the sky above him, Wells is sleeping peacefully. That is until Bellamy wakes him up with a gun in his face and marches Wells outside of the camp. Bellamy and his henchmen, Murphy and a couple of other guys, are telling him to take off the wristband or else. Wells refuses, Wells gets beat up, and Wells has his wristband forcibly removed.

Clarke & Co are back at the river and have either found or constructed a vine that should work perfectly as a swinging rope for them to cross the mutant-snake-monster-infested river. How they found this vine, or how they will get back once they have supplies, I do not know.

Finn has signed up to swing across the vine first but Jasper interrupts him and takes his place as the first one across the river. Pretty sure the logic here is: be cool + brave + show off for hot ladies = get kissed and/or laid by said ladies. Hypermasculine heteronormativity at its finest (this comes back a couple of times, especially in the first season, so brace yourselves).

Jasper makes it safely across the river. The teens whoop and holler so loudly that I am certain they have successfully re-established communications with the Ark just with their voices.

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Jasper finds an old sign marking this area as the Mount Weather territory, the kids continue their cheering – excited that they might finally get some food and supplies – until Jasper gets a spear through the chest.

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Less cheering from the kids at that point. Apparently those on board the Ark were not the only people to survive the nuclear apocalypse.

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Are you effing kidding me?

I feel you Clarke.

And that is where the episode cuts off. Abby and Jaha are both alive on the Ark, there a lot of alive kids on the ground that are presumed dead because of the wristbands, and Jasper’s condition is unknown but it can’t be good when there’s a spear through your chest.

Ground Survivor Count: 99 (-2 floating boys, +1 power-hungry man-child)

Tune in next time for Jasper’s fate, more mutant animals, and most importantly, Raven Reyes.

WHAT DID YOU THINK?

Sound off in the comments! How freaking was that deer? Who’s next to die? Have you seen The 100 and find it compelling? Cheesy? Tell us!

 

1 Comment

  1. Ndo

    February 1, 2016 at 6:55 pm

    great review ! looking forward for your take on the rest of the show 🙂

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