Those of you with long memories will recall me picking up The 100 when it first premiered on the CW, watching and reviewing the first two episodes as they aired, with the implication that more were to follow. That was the plan. Until my trusty Tumblr dashboard informed me that The 100 killed off its single black character in episode three “Earth Kills” which ended all interest in the show on my end.
For Wells Jaha to die is so CW, and it’s a huge black spot on the show’s record (even after having finished up the season this summer and found the show to be far better than the CW will probably allow it to remain). The CW is one of the most (if not the most) racist networks out there, shamelessly perpetuating stereotype after stereotype and killing off any token non-white character they slip into a cast. And when Wells died, killed by a little girl dealing with her own trauma and drama, it reeked of more of the same for a network that gave me four painfully racist seasons of The Vampire Diaries, and I didn’t want to do it again. So imagine my surprise when my Tumblr dashboard ignited with more talk of The 100. Post- Wells’ death it apparently picked up enough to garner some attention from very trustworthy people I follow, and I decided to try it again, picking up where I left off.
Let’s start with that traumatized girl, Charlotte (Izabela Vidovic), who kills Wells in some attempt at relieving her own demons. To be frank, I cared not at all about her issues and the deaths of her parents, especially not when it ended up being her justification for killing Wells. It’s interesting that she got two different pieces of advice in her first appearance, and the two were polar opposites of one another. First, Clarke advises her to try to let go of the Ark and what had happened there and focus on beginning anew on the ground. Then there’s Bellamy (oh Bellamy) who inadvertently encourages Charlotte to solve her issues in a more lethal fashion.
It’s all leading up to some lame attempt at tragic drama as Clarke and Wells have just reunited when he’s killed, after Clarke realizes that it wasn’t Wells who got her father killed but Abby. “Earth Kills” has Clarke rebuffing Wells at every opportunity, even as he offers valuable solutions to their problems and tries to help her find a cure for a dying Jasper. Maybe it’s because Wells didn’t sell out her father, but he’s remarkably obtuse about just how angry one would be about a close friend getting one’s parent killed. It’s not exactly a forgivable offense, particularly not as Clarke knows it to be: that she told Wells a secret, explicitly asked him not to repeat it because of what would happen to her father and then he did so anyway. But Wells remains surprised by the strength of Clarke’s aversion to him in the aftermath, but it’s to his credit that he’s willing to keep up the facade to protect Clarke’s opinion of her mother.
But it’s not like Wells gets anything decent once it’s all out there. Clarke offers him an apology (I think), and they make up, but then he’s dead. Wells was only there to facilitate some drama on Clarke’s end before getting killed. Within only two episodes Wells showed promise as a character, the only one (besides Clarke) with any real handle on how things should proceed on Earth, generally kind but able to stand up for what’s right when necessary. His death deprived the show of a fascinating character, one who had a wealth of story opportunity to draw upon, having to deal with his father’s legacy on the ground. I could go on and on and on about Wells’ potential, but what’s the point now that we’re never going to see it realized?
While Wells is dead, Clarke’s story is picking up speed especially now that she really has something to angst about given that her mother’s betrayal of her father is what got him tossed out an airlock and Clarke imprisoned. Scenes aboard the Ark are all flashbacks, returning to halcyon days of old soccer games, when Jake Griffin had just discovered the Ark’s quickly approaching expiration date. The Ark’s quickness to execute people has been disturbing since it was relayed, but the ease with which Theolonius sends his good friend out the airlock is even more so. And it makes Abby appear equally awful, having been the first to remind Jake of what the cost of his insubordination would be and seemingly revealing his planned disobedience anyway.
It illuminates Clarke’s character some, as she’s obviously following (or at least trying to follow) in her father’s footsteps. Jake was determined to do what he thought was right, informing the people about their impending doom, and Clarke was eager to help him even after he was taken away. She’s much the same on the ground, trying to take responsibility for the rest of the 100, which often means fighting with them.
This week Clarke butts heads with everyone over Jasper’s fate. His agonized screaming is so annoying that people, Murphy, think it would be easier to just kill him. Since there’s no guarantee that all’s lost for Jasper, Clarke’s adamant about saving him, turning to the Grounder’s mysterious healing poultice. Getting it isn’t very difficult, though there is an deadly fog that comes through, forcing everyone to run for cover. While Clarke holes up for some awkward quality time with Finn and Wells, Bellamy is with Charlotte.
It’s clear from Bellamy’s interactions with Charlotte (and with Octavia when he’s not being awful) that he’s not all bad, that his stubborn adherence to his own rules is very much about appearing strong in front of other people who may try to take advantage of any perceived weaknesses. In Bellamy’s case appearing weak would also mean relinquishing control to the only other viable leadership alternative, Clarke, and she’d advocate for communication with the Ark. And such communication would end up badly for Bellamy, attempted murderer. So Bellamy’s got a lot riding on his ability to intimidate people into following him, pressing Clarke to either find a way to help Jasper or step aside while Bellamy puts him out of his misery. For all his talk, Bellamy’s not big on the mercy killing thing. When Atom falls victim to the fog and begs to be killed, Bellamy can only stare at him, and it’s Clarke who puts a knife in Atom’s jugular. It’s notable that Bellamy loses all his bluster after he’s sent all his cronies away. With them watching him, it’s likely he’d have been able to go through with it, if only if it meant keeping up appearances. But once they’re gone, Bellamy can’t, and the only person around to witness his moment of “weakness” is Clarke, who proves herself to have more of an iron will than Bellamy.
Overall “Earth Kills” isn’t a bad episode, even if Wells’ demise sinks it extraordinarily. In my review of the pilot, I said that the worst thing about The 100 was the network it was on, and that also seems to be the problem here. Certainly The CW’s not the only network hosting shows that have taken the oft-traveled route of killing off black characters, but it is such a problem on this particular network that it feels especially terrible, even more so because of how predictable it was.
- Let’s talk about how stupid it is that Atom’s name was “Atom” and not “Adam”. Anyway, he’s dead now so it doesn’t really matter.
- Octavia’s definitely my favorite. She’s just so sweet. She didn’t get a lot to do this episode, though she did get to assert her independence from Bellamy in a couple ways, which is one of my favorite things. Octavia just wants to be free, guys. I want her to be free.
- The plan is to keep these reviews as spoiler free as possible, as if this is my first time watching the episodes. I apologize in advance it any spoilers slip through. If there are any, they will definitely be minor. Also, I hope to have finished up the season by the time season two premieres on October 22.
- Catch Up Corner isn’t actually a thing so don’t go looking for more Catch Up Corners (at least not yet), but that’s what I’ll be calling this just so everyone knows that this isn’t a currently airing season.
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