The 100: Season 4
In 2014 the CW network premiered a new science fiction series, ‘The 100’. Almost a century before a global nuclear exchange rendered the surface of the planet inhospitable to life. With the surface uninhabitable the only option to continue our species was to retreat to orbiting space stations, each controlled by different countries. To survive it was necessary to put aside the jingoistic concerns that sparked the hostilities and join the individual stations into a single, huge ark.After almost 100 years after the bombs fell, they had hoped that the surface might once again be amiable towards life. Life was no longer feasible in orbit, so it was crucial to determine the viability of the theory. 100 teenagers considered socially problematic were sent off to the planet surface. Considering this is the CW network I was not surprised when the youthful selection to be exceptionally beautiful and handsome examples of humanity. I have long suspected that the CW network was engaged in some eugenics project that produced such a considerable number of exceptionally attractive young people apparently on demand. By initial reaction was despite a premise with fascinating potential the series would amount to little more than a post-apocalyptic version of the ‘Gossip Girls.' By the end of that first season, I was cautiously hopeful that my initial assessment prove wrong in the storyline would prove to be sufficiently substantial to achieve some longevity. In the subsequent seasons, the series has experienced some understandable ebb and flow in the quality always trending upward. Now, in advance of the fifth season’s premiere, before season four DVD set has been released and it is turned out to be the best thus far. After several years of talented performances and emotionally intense performance by a cohesive ensemble cast, the fourth season represented a culmination of all that hard work and training. This is certainly not to imply that the series has reached its pinnacle, it has just established a base camp before continuing to the summit. ‘The 100’ has demonstrated that a network that has garnered a reputation as teen oriented eye candy and broadcast approved salacious plot points can develop a series with emotional depth.
One hallmark I have found useful in assessing most forms of entertainment is how well the writers, directors and performers can build upon previously well-covered storylines and other plot devices to achieve something fresh and excitingly entertaining. Of late it seems that there has been a general rise in post-apocalyptic thrillers utilizing viral outbreaks, vampiric creatures and a wide assortment of the most popular creature to inhabit a ruined world, zombies. In ‘the 100’, they have decided to take an old school approach by returning to a scenario that dominated the fifties and sixties, nuclear holocaust. Making the circumstances even more familiar to devotees of this genre, the global nuclear devastation was initiated by a rogue artificial intelligent computer network, A.L.I.E., personified by the avatar, portrayed by Erica Cerra. The task of reinvigoration this premise is especially arduous since the exact circumstance formed the foundation for a myriad of movies and television series ranging from the insightful independent projects to one of the best-known franchises in science fiction, The Terminator’. The nuances artfully infused in this series with a distinctive narrative voice. The characters were exceptionally well written with an able cast that could breathe life into the characters subsequently realizing the circumstances with conviction.
The fundamental story lines involve many groups each possessing their characteristics and identity. The remainder of the inhabitants of the Ark were forced to abandon their decaying orbiting home retreating to planet-side. They are now referred to as ‘Sky People.' The people descended from those left behind on a desolate world, are the ‘Grounders,' a term that encompasses several some distinct tribes. Mostly consisting of warrior clans, they were bound in the tenuous alliance formed of shared treats largely through the efforts of the ad hoc leader of the 100. Clarke Griffin (Eliza Taylor), the daughter of Abby Griffin (Paige Turco), Chief Medical Officer who also served as the Chancellor of the governing Council. These convoluted circumstances resulted in a complicated relationship between mother and daughter understandably exasperated by Clarke’s exile, a decision that involved her mother.
By the fourth season of and TV series, particularly a show that is more convoluted than most installed with many entwined interpersonal relationships, the baseline for the principle characters should be firmly established. Within the context of the major story arc the need to constantly place them in dire, deadly situations. It is an expected plot contrivance than except for contracts not renewed; those characters must be extricated from the seemingly exorable trap. Leading characters such as Clarke possesses the extraordinary not just to escape unscathed but retaining her preternaturally beauty typical of the CW breeding program. The stakes for the survival of humanity are substantially escalated when the combined forces railing against the corrupt government in pre-war survival habitat, Mount Weather. The potential for eradication was sufficiently ominous with them protect to boost their resistance to the environmental radiation but once the City of Lights is breached they destroy the AI, A.L.I.E., that nuclear power plants were in the process of melting down reducing the expected availability of life reduced to approximately six months.
Rapid expansion defines this season. After three seasons of establishing the conflict between the last vestige of pre-holocaust technology in direct conflict with warring, tribal factions forming a tenuous alliance against a common foe. The initial contingent of 100 young misfits condemned as living test animals have grown beyond anything imaginable. The guerilla tactics that dominated the early clashes between Sky People and Grounders has expanded to the size of complete armies requiring formal strategy, coordination and precise execution. With the stakes so incredibly high the bare bone missions seeking to achieve a specific and modest goal is long gone. Wild card plot contrivances abound with the insertion of familiar science fiction tropes most noticeably chip with advanced micro processing capability. Former Zero gravity technician, Raven Reyes (Lindsey Morgan), received one of these chips. Raven was always exceptionally bright distinguishing herself as the only person to achieve her professional rating while still under the age of 18. The chip alters the neural connections in her brain giving her access to over 90% of her brain’s inherent potential. Of course, this is an infamously false premise that has been entrenched in science fiction for several decades. The downside is the hyperactivity resulted in a brain tumor.
A fan favorite was unable to continue into this season, Lexa (Alycia Debnam-Carey), leader of the Tree People. Lexa was the first Grounder leader able to look past the prevalent xenophobia and form an alliance with the Sky People. A considerable aspect of this decision was a growing respect for Clarke as a strong, honest leader devoted to her ‘tribe’ this respect grew into a romantic attraction but before it fully develops Lexa was written out. The usual reasons did not apply; there was no contract dispute or disagreement over salary. The intrinsic problem with such talented people is that it is understandable that they need to challenge their abilities, growing in their craft constantly. Ms. Debnam-Carey was offered a new, leading role in a spin-off of one of the basic cables most successful series. A prequel to ‘The Walking Dead’ was approved, ‘Fear the Walking Dead,' set just as the zombie pandemic was started focusing on families on the West Coast of the United States. While this change curtailed several potentially intense threads but such talent should never be restrained. The series has been approved for a fifth season, but I haven’t heard any definitive confirmation of whether it would be the conclusion of the series. The setup established within this fourth season could be extended into an exceptionally exciting season that could potentially reinvigorate the series to continue, but that remains to be seen.