The 100 Review by John Keegan

The 100 1.02: Earth Skills

The 100 1.02: Earth Skills

Written By:
Jason Rothenberg
Directed By:
Dean White

This has not been a good winter for mid-season replacements.  Star-Crossed has tried to be edgy, but has been soundly rejected by both genre and teen romance fans (for good reason).  Believe  has a great premise and a solid production pedigree, but has already dropped half its audience and fallen into a rut creatively.  Resurrection has popular source material and a creepy core concept, but it has done little with it.  Even critical acclaimed returners like Hannibal struggle to find an audience.  So where does that leave a show like The 100?


What looks like a cheap cash-in on The Hunger Games is already showing its own brand of potential.  Sure, there is the conceit of having 100 teens roaming a dangerous wasteland (a supposedly post-nuclear Earth) and vying for power and survival ala “Lord of the Flies”, but for genre fans, there is more to it.  Up on the “Ark”, the conglomeration of former space stations where humanity is eking out an ever-threatened continuance, the adults are dealing with population pressures and resource shortages.  In essence, the 100 prisoners sent to Earth are not just a test case to see if Earth is habitable; they were a sacrifice to buy those who remained in orbit just a little more time.


On the ground, the children of the privileged on the Ark find themselves at a disadvantage, even as they are the ones who seem to have the most logical perspective on their situation.  Part of that is the premise; the main character (Clarke) was imprisoned because she and her father were outspoken about the conditions on the Ark.  But it also stinks of convenience, since it divides the camp into easy-to-follow factions.


On the Ark, things are a bit more complicated.  Clarke’s mother wants to believe that those on the ground are not dying on radiation poisoning, even if their vital signs are abruptly disappearing.  She’s right; the former prisoners have been systematically removing the monitors.  But those above, particularly the ultra-pragmatic Kane, want to write the kids off and use the situation as a reason to impose draconian sanctions and population controls.  As in, controlling the rate of eliminating segments of the population.  It’s an ugly and cold equation, and from a certain point of view, it’s a terrible but necessary measure.  But it’s only valid if the assumption of no other option is correct, which is a false one.


Considering that this is the first actual episode of the series, since the pilot doesn’t really count, it’s good that this issue is tackled head on, so this doesn’t become a constant point of contention.  The 10-day reprieve is a calculated risk, not a dodge; Kane makes it very clear that there will be a cost for every day of delay. 


There are the usual elements of teen romance and such, but it comes across as far more organic than the forced relationship on Star-Crossed, for example.  (That said, I was totally hoping that the blue butterflies would turn out to be carnivorous!)  But having some version of humanity surviving the holocaust makes the danger a lot more pressing, and it also presents a mystery of the nature of the “primitives”.


It’s not a perfect series, by any means, but I already enjoy it a lot more than the other new genre offerings this mid-season, and that’s a very good sign.

Our Grade:
The Good:
  • Good balance between adult and teen drama
  • Solid genre elements
The Bad:
  • Teen elements may be annoying to some

John Keegan aka "criticalmyth", is one of the hosts of the "Critical Myth" podcast heard here on VOG Network's radio feed Monday, Wednesday & Friday. You can follow him on twitter at @criticalmyth

The 100 by - 3/26/2014 9:56 AM141 views

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