Ah, episode two. You know, I usually dread episode two in a new TV series. So much is put into the pilot – action, bells and whistles, twists and turns, character drama – that by the time episode two comes around, it seems they have nothing left. Luckily for The 100, the second episode drop proved to be an illusion. Two episodes in and I’m hooked on this show.
Sure, the pacing wasn’t as exciting as the pilot, but I was still engaged in “Earth Skills” from beginning to end. Everything picked up from the shocking end logically. Clarke, Finn, Wells, and an injured Octavia returned to the camp to share the stunning news of what happened to Jasper, except he isn’t dead! He’s been captured by whoever is out there, and they’re gonna get him back. Clarke even has a name for who took them, “The Grounders.” I accept it’s not original, but hey, it works. That doesn’t bode well with Octavia’s bro, Bellamy, who’s declared himself King. He has the gun, so they’ll listen to him. That also means Clarke is going to need him for the rescue mission.
Yes, this does sound like a lot of teen angst and overwrought drama, but this week that tension served the story better, for the most part. Sure, some things on the ground were still too contrived for my taste. We get it, Octavia is the camp slut. Was it very shocking that her brother took the guy that she chose to shack up with and strung him up in a tree? Overprotective brother will get old fast. However, the rest of the story lines helped move the story forward. With angst comes rebellion, and one by one teens are removing their monitoring bracelets, which means the adults are left to presume they are dying.
However, one teen was left on the Ark, a brilliant engineering prodigy type (there’s always one, isn’t there?). Enter Raven, a character that was way too cool for the pilot I guess. She’s already figured out the kids on the ground are taking the bracelets off because they were told not to. Leave it to a teen to do what they’re told. Raven is an interesting character, and Lindsay Morgan really makes a strong impression with her debut, but I do wonder if they made her a little too perfect for the start. Although, considering it was revealed that Finn was her boyfriend, suddenly she has vulnerability. How far will she go for the man she loves, especially since she saw through the “quarantine” bullshit and got the truth from Abby? It sounds like Raven will be a key player in this adventure to come.
While Clarke, Finn, Bellamy, and Wells (the Chancellor’s son for those needing a scorecard) all went off on a Jasper hunt, the drama up on the Ark continued with the adults acting like children. The council had to decide whether to kill 209 people now to give everyone more time. Kane (Henry Ian Cusick) wanted it, Abby (Paige Turco) didn’t, and Chancellor Jaha (Isaac Washington) abstained. That gives Abby ten days to come up with a plan while Kane and Jaha hurl insults and scornful looks at one another (okay Kane was doing most of the insulting). If there was tension hinted in the Pilot, this episode confirmed these guys just plain hate each other. Something tells me this conflict will lead to more than Kane smacking the desk and leaving in disgust over another Jaha decision. Anyone care to take bets who ends up on the ground first?
As for Abby, her plan is to have Raven fix up a 130 year old escape ship in 9 days so she can go to the earth with it. Besides the miraculous technical achievement that will be, I’m dying to find out how her plan going to save 209 people. .The plan reeks a bit more like suicide, but with Raven on the case, how can it go wrong? Raven has a catch though for helping, she goes too. She’s feeling a bit lonely being the only rational being left on the ark.
The rest of the episode was clever and suspenseful, unfolding little clues as to what was actually out there. When they do find Jasper, he’s strung up in a tree, and whoever caught him actually tried to heal him. Of course he was strung up in front of a hidden bear trap, and good thing Clarke wasn’t alone or she would have been, oh who knows what peril would have happened to her. Whoever’s out there using Jasper as bait (humans as well as wild animals), it seems there’s some intelligence and survival instinct to these grounders. Good for Wells taking Bellamy’s gun and scoring the group some dinner by killing the black panther like creature that attacked them instead of stupidly falling into the hole near Jasper. Of course they’re out of bullets now, but that’s where learning to survive becomes more fun.
Saving Jasper was a win for this crew, and Bellamy came out looking like the hero and leader that Clarke doesn’t mind letting him be, just as long as she can manipulate him to do her bidding. She is her mother’s daughter, that’s for sure, which makes her a very intriguing leader, even if it’s behind the scenes. Manipulation is more fun and effective than the brute force chosen by Bellamy. Clarke still refuses to take off her bracelet, but she won’t be able to keep that up long. Hopefully it’s long enough to give Abby her 9 days. Or, will the tinkering with the bracelets kid on the pod ship prove to be useful with his curiosity of communications?
“Earth Skills” did a very good job of moving plot forward while maintaining tone, and that’s the best you can hope for in an episode two. I’m also finding a quick attachment to a few of these characters, which means the writers are doing their job with strong character definition. Sure, there’s a few rough spots as the story develops, but I’m finding those are less than a lot of other shows of this type. Plus it doesn’t hurt ending with everyone on the ground being watched in secret by an earth mutant. There’s still plenty of ways this can go, which is all the more reason to come back next week.