“Earth Kills.” Boy, does it.

I really enjoyed this third episode, but it had a different feel from the previous two.  The formula felt a lot more familiar, at least for those of us that watch other shows on this network.  A lot of CW shows are using or have used flashback sequences intertwined with current story. That kind of backstory is meant to enhance the current drama, like the quarrel between two characters that were once best friends. It’s an effective method for story telling, but it also adds some predictability to the structure. 

That doesn’t mean I didn’t like the story that emerged.  It still captured my attention, and addressed something that’s been lingering since the pilot.  What caused the rift between Clarke and Wells? This wasn’t exactly the typical teenage quarrel of cheating with someone’s significant other. A deep secret behind a betrayal was revealed and one that could play a big role in what’s to come.

Producers Jason Rothenburg and Matt Miller at last year’s Comic Con promised plenty of surprises, and we definitely got a few from “Earth Kills.” The pacing again was fantastic, despite the predictable structure, weaving well between the backstory on the Ark and the adventures on the ground. We got to see the whole drama of how Clarke’s father died and how she became imprisoned. He found out the truth about the arc dying, she told Wells, and suddenly they were being apprehended. Naturally Wells did it. He admitted he did, but he followed her to the ground anyway. Why so loyal after doing something so awful?

What a better way to hash out differences than dealing with the side effects from living on a nuclear holocaust planet, like a golden toxic dust storm that turns all those that don’t get to shelter into mutants. Clarke, Wells, and Finn found an abandoned car and some 100 year old liquor (is that drinkable?), and the airing of grievances began. It was Finn, who must read minds or something, that figured out that Wells was innocent. Someone else had to know what was happening, right? Suddenly the bells went off in Clarke’s head. Yes, there was another…

We also got to see a softer side of Bellamy in this episode, and one that shows that he could be a respectable leader. When the anger and cynicism is put away, he was able to help a scared 13 year old girl named Charlotte through a bad ordeal. He gave her a weapon and taught her not to be scared. We got to see the kind of big brother he likely was with Octavia, and no wonder she looks up to him. If he chooses to control his hot headed tendencies, he might be the answer to bringing everyone together. He still has quite a bit to learn, like making the really hard decisions, but the qualities are there.  Of course his reason for trying to kill the Chancellor is still shrouded in mystery, so we’ll see if he truly comes out, good, bad, or in-between.

There were three known victims from that storm, including our tragic hero Atom, who was left hanging in a tree at the end of the previous episode. He suffered his punishment and earned Bellamy’s favor by promising to stay away from Octavia. It didn’t do him much good when he tripped and fell in the gold dust. While the pacing was brisk for most of the episode, everything appropriately slowed down to a crawl to draw out the deep emotional impact for both Bellamy and Clarke over putting a suffering Atom down. It was poignant, beautifully shot, tragic, and unfortunately it ended up teaching a 13 year old how to kill. One quick jab to the jugular while humming a soothing song is all you need!

Speaking of Octavia, she’s becoming one of the gang, despite the rebellious nature. She fought to keep Jasper alive along with Monte, even though he wailing was spooking everyone, especially John, the other major hot head. It looks like they’re setting up that kid for early death, and honestly, I’m sure no one will mind.   I wonder how the relationship between her and Jasper will blossom, as well as her friendship with Monte and Clarke. She proves to be another promising character in this bunch. Being someone who lived in the floors for most of her life, hiding because she was a second born that wasn’t permitted to exist, she’s the one embracing the simple pleasures more than the others. I love how the producers are taking time to embrace the innate beauty of this new earth as well as the terrors.  Doing so lifts a lot of the darkness of this theme and offers some hope to their quest.   

A lot of the inspiration for this show comes from The Walking Dead. As viewers, that inspiration makes us ripe for getting to know the characters just well enough to see them killed. Nice knowing you Wells!  It’s sad to see that it was Charlotte, who took her new confidence from Bellamy and used it to kill Wells because his Dad had her parents floated. Judging by the flashback with Clarke’s Dad, seeing that happen is a very traumatic. It was rather jarring watching Gary sucked out into space. If Charlotte had to witness that at a young age, no wonder she’s so messed up. Her story though adds another element to the danger that will be explored next week, what happens when the danger lies among those of your kind as well as the earth?

We are left with one other big take away, and that’s in Clarke’s reveal.  Abby turned her father in? Her own mother? Did she do that out of loyalty to the Chancellor or was there another motive at work?   The fact that Clarke easily believed that her mother would do that uncovers a whole new can of worms for us the viewer. That uncovers a part of Abby and a history that we don’t know.  What is Abby’s game plan? How is Clarke going to react when she sees her again?  What is her motive for going to the surface?  

Onto next week, where we see the fallout of Wells’ murder.  So far three episodes in, The 100 is doing a great job of weaving complex characters into this two dimensional story.  While we only saw The Ark in flashbacks this week, there’s plenty going on up there and on the ground that needs to be unraveled, but the writers are giving us just enough each episode to keep us interested while leaving plenty to the imagination.  That ability to create anticipation with the viewers (something many other CW shows lack), is one of the biggest strengths of The 100 so farAs long as this show continues to do that every week, season two will be a reality. 

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