'The 100' series premiere recap: Was The CW's new futuristic drama out of this world or dead on arrival?
The pilot episode opened on a bleak existence, with main character Clarke (Eliza Taylor) narrating how the humans have sought refuge in space after a nuclear war annihilated all life on Earth. She calmly tells the audience that it won't be another 100 years until the Earth is absolutely safe to live on again. Until that time, the humans who were lucky enough to be on space stations when the bombs went off all now live on one giant space station, dubbed The Ark.
Life on The Ark is dismal, and the juxtaposition of the horrible words Clarke is saying is stark next to the beautiful shots of The Ark being shown. Due to scarce resources, any crime committed no matter the severity is punishable by death, or "floating" out an airlock into space. But if the criminal is under 18, then they're imprisoned in lockup, called the Sky Box, until they turn 18, when they'll be reviewed and either floated or absolved of their crimes. Spoiler alert: It's usually floating.
But even with these harsh measures in place, The Ark is dying, and oxygen is quickly running out. The council decides to send 100 juvenile delinquents in lockup down to Earth to test if humans can survive on the abandoned planet. If they can survive two months without dying of radiation or exposure from the elements or starvation, the rest of the humans will join them on Earth and the 100 will be absolved of their crimes. But if they die, all human kind will die shortly after since The Ark can't sustain life for more than four months anyway. It's either win-win, or lose-lose, and nobody's happy about it.
Before the 100 even reach the ground, their launch pod malfunctions and two kids are killed in the crash -- proving this show isn't wasting any time with fatalities. It's fascinating to see the wonder in these kids' eyes as they hear silence -- no machine hum -- and see green for the first time in their lives when they finally step foot on Earth. But their happiness is short lived: They were dropped on the wrong mountain, not the one containing a bunker with non-perishable food that's been in place since before the bombs went off. That's all it takes to separate the camp into two groups: Those who want to follow Chancellor Jaha's (Isaiah Washington) orders to hike to Mount Weather for supplies led by Clarke and Jaha's son Wells (Eli Goree), and those who don't want to follow any orders anymore now that they're free, led by Bellamy (Bob Morley).
Bellamy has a reason to not want to follow the Chancellor's orders: He committed a crime back on The Ark and snuck onto the drop ship to be with his sister Octavia. That's why he's so against helping those on The Ark monitor their stats, because he doesn't want them coming down to Earth two months later to prosecute him. He wants to build his own society on Earth, free of any laws or punishments ... and that's when he gets the idea to remove everyone's wrist cuffs that transmit their stats back to The Ark.
Bellamy figures if everyone thinks they died (since that's what it looks like when they break off the cuffs), then no one will want to follow them down. He convinces a lot of the 100 to break theirs off voluntarily (he's pretty charming when he wants to be), but forces Wells to break his off at gunpoint. Hey, where'd he get that gun?
Since Wells hurt his ankle during the drop, he has to stay behind while Clarke, Finn (Thomas McDonnell), Monty (Christopher Larkin), Jasper (Devon Bostick), and Octavia (Marie Avgeropoulos) hike to Mount Weather. That's when Clarke reveals to the group how The Ark only has about four months left of life support, and how that's the secret she was locked up for and her father was floated, because the council didn't want them going public with that information. And Wells was the one who turned them both in. That's pretty awkward, since Wells got himself arrested to get on the drop ship to be with Clarke. Looks like they're stuck together on Earth now.
However, during their trek to Mount Weather, the kids quickly realize that the ground isn't as safe as they all thought, as they come across a two-headed deer, gigantic man-eating eels in the water, and something spears Jasper just as he swung across the river to Mount Weather's base. That means in addition to all the radiation-soaked predators in the forest and the water, they've also got some mysterious enemies watching them, who don't want them crossing into "their" territory. Are there people living on Earth that actually survived the nuclear apocalypse? If so, why don't they want to help the 100? And is Jasper really dead?
Things aren't going any better up on The Ark, as the Chancellor was shot ... by Bellamy before he escaped onto the pod! Clarke's mom Abby (Paige Turco) uses more than the limit of blood and anesthesia to save him in surgery, and she gets arrested for breaking that law even though it saved the Chancellor's life. Her execution is scheduled for the morning by the Chancellor's second-in-command Kane (Henry Ian Cusick). He may seem like a villain, but he argues that he's just doing what he can to ensure the human race survives. He's willing to take the population down to a "cosmic Adam and Eve" if that's what it takes, and it's obvious that he truly believes he's doing what's right, even if that means floating his friend -- since he already floated Abby's husband, who was his best friend.
But Chancellor Jaha survives the night and runs to the airlock to pardon Abby just in time, before Kane can send her out into space. Does the Chancellor suspect Kane was behind the attempt on his life? The audience knows Kane had nothing to do with it, but Jaha clearly knows that Kane will do anything to get his job. How will Jaha react to finding out that his son Wells is "dead" (according to the wrist cuffs)?
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"The 100" airs Wednesdays at 9 p.m. ET on The CW.