If there’s one consistency in any futuristic, “end of the world” type story, there’s the horrific mass death tragedy that’s supposed to make the humans left behind better people. It also comes with a strange twist of irony because I don’t know, irony is supposed to entertain us more (it really doesn’t). Such scenarios are a big risk, but The 100 proved this week in episode 1.05, “Twilight’s Last Gleaming,” to be the exception to the rule.
Ever since the pilot the focus has been on the over three hundred innocent lives that would have to be lost in the near future in order to conserve air. Everything was being done by Abby and the Chancellor to prevent that from happening, and it really did no damn good anyway. There’s many ways a TV show or movie can approach such a tragic scene or event. It seemed like they were going for something horrific, like putting 300 unsuspecting people to sleep in a section of The Ark without warning. Even the Chancellor was volunteering to be one of those people. He’s clearly tired of everything and ready to let the deaths of every one else be Kane’s problem. I kept waiting for the big, heroic moment or stunning soul searching to happen at the last minute and save the day.
However, The 100 surprised me by their approach. They actually went there and killed 300 innocent people, but made it the most humane act that’s happened on this show yet. Too often in TV deaths are senseless and shown without ramifications or remorse. That was far from the case here. Abby leaked her husband’s video that got him killed, and instead of creating panic among the ark, 300 volunteers stepped forward to be terminated. They wanted to give their families and loved ones more time. We got to know and care about some of these people and felt a real sense of loss over the 300. As a result, we were given a poignant, compelling and completely heart crushing tragedy. All lives were lost anyway despite efforts on the Ark and on the ground. Even the aftermath, pulling out the bodies one by one, was a tear jerking task. Out of something so horrible and so senseless came something uplifting and hopeful, and maybe their sacrifices were not in vain. It restored a sense of humanity in what so far has been shown as a very inhumane environment. Especially since they were mercifully put to sleep and not sucked out an opening in space.
On top of all that, Kane came out to be less of a villain than we perceived. He put aside his defiance crap and supported the Chancellor not only in his decision to terminate 300 people, but talked him out of being one of those people. Time is short and the people need a leader they can trust. Kane knows he doesn’t have that kind of connection with the people and they don’t have time to get used to him. Character ambiguity is always good fodder in TV and literature, so now we know Kane can be a dick and make hard decisions, but he’s accepted his inability to sugar coat realities. He doesn’t want to be that guy. Either that or he’s pulling the Chancellor’s leg for other reasons.
The heightened drama on the Ark managed to cheapen the teen soap going on the ground this week. Their hang ups, especially the Clarke, Finn, and Raven love triangle seemed ridiculous given what’s at stake. Plus, it was Bellamy’s very selfish act of destroying the radio, not wanting to face punishment for shooting the Chancellor, that got 300 people killed. So now he has that on his shoulders. Raven’s plan of sending rocket flares out into the atmosphere to signal The Ark did come too late, but it did come and was spotted by Abby and Chancellor Jaha. So what will this mean? Will they be taken seriously? Will more people be sent to the surface? I’m still wondering why the doomed 300 weren’t given that choice. It seems they were just as expendable as the kids put on the surface. I’m sure if they asked for more volunteers there would be a line. After all, the cat’s out of the bag and the air is diminishing on The Ark much faster than anyone had thought. People are coming down with all sorts of oxygen deprivation symptoms, which got Abby spared from an imminent floating since she’s the only doctor in town.
Four months doesn’t seem like a reality now and I do wonder if everyone on the Ark will be on the surface by the end of the season or sooner. That doesn’t curb the danger though, as we’re also left to wonder what happened to Octavia and the grounder that took her. That’s a story for next episode. For now, I commend The 100 for some ground breaking (for The CW anyway) story telling and not being afraid to take on the unimaginable. Hopefully that fighting human spirit among the Ark residents will continue to flourish as their situation becomes more dire.