The 100 went from a darling sci-fi favorite supported by a small, loyal fan base to a polarizing show which sparked a social media firestorm in Season 3. What the hell exactly happened?
Before I share my own experience of watching Season 3, just a quick warning that this write-up will contain full spoilers. If you don’t know much about this show, you should check out this non-spoilers article: Five Reasons You Should Watch The 100.
The start to Season 3 went big and dark by killing hundreds of … red shirts. We never knew them so it’s hard to care about all those lost lives. Sorry. What mattered more is how the mass murdering affected our main characters and paves the way for the season’s story lines.
A big problem that got under my skin is how Bellamy sided with Pike and became his lap dog. Bellamy’s action wasn’t entirely within character, even if he showed some wavering on which side he was on at times. Loosing his new girlfriend isn’t enough of a reason to push him to Pike’s side because she was only introduced this season and we barely saw them together.
Bellamy is at his best when he’s a leader not a follower.
My other issue is who and how did Pike rise to power so quickly. I had to rewind the episode to make sure I didn’t miss a scene or two. This is where the 100’s rapid pace hurts the storytelling. Normally I love the pacing. If the writers really wanted to go in this direction, what could have helped is inventing flashback scenes which shows Pike and Bellamy’s past relationship on the arc.
Killing off characters is not new for the 100. Back in Season 2, by the time Finn died it was actually a relief to get his character out of the way. You can make that case that Season 3 is the first time the show killed off great fan favorite characters.
I can understand that actors Ricky Whittle and Alycia Debnam-Care are starring on other TV shows and could not continue on the 100. It’s not so much that they were written out of the show, which is terribly unfortunate, but how they died wasn’t deserving of their characters.
Lincoln is a badass. Executed on his knees, even as a sacrifice to save his fellow grounders, wasn’t an epic way to go out. Such a great, underused character only to be disposed of like that. What a waste.
Lexa is another great character. She brings out different sides to Clark. Lexa’s death is a tragedy because of how random and senseless it is. Snuffed out, just like that. Fans also felt cheated and betrayed because of the TV trope where lesbians get promiscuous and then get killed off.
Because I wasn’t enjoying the start of Season 3, I had stopped keeping up with the show as it aired. By the time I started watching again the season had already wrapped. So I was watching it in a bubble without getting caught up in the social media backlash.
Now it might sound like I’m ripping this season to shreds. Sure, the writers made poor mistakes and mishandled characters. But I’m actually pretty level headed. They are some good moments too. In the second half of the season, the old gang who had been off on their separates story lines came back together and it started feeling like a gritty adventure series again.
The major story line revolved around the artificial intelligence A.L.I.E. Here’s how I breakdown the key strengths and weaknesses.
• Season 3 is about having to cope with the pain of loss and from making morally difficult decisions. A.L.I.E. offers an easy solution to both the emotional and physical pain. In a way, it also offers immortality; a person’s consciousness remains alive forever. But it comes at a steep cost. What the 100 does is force characters into “damned if you do, damned if you don’t” decisions. Ultimately, the characters learn the importance of going through the emotional turmoil and coming out the other side.
• Even though I was never that curious about the pre-apocalypse era, A.L.I.E. tied together the origin of how earth got nuked with the Heda succession of command. Converging two very separate story lines into one as a part of the bigger mythology of the series worked out well.
• The struggle to resist A.L.I.E. lent itself to some great character moments. Raven’s exorcism like scene is creepy and intense. Kane’s crucifixion had me thinking are they are really doing that?! Kudos to the CW for being supportive of the 100 going into some dark places.
• The City of Light didn’t feel in tone with The 100; however, I’ll give some credit for the writers taking a risk and expanding the science fiction scope of the show.
• A.L.I.E.’s goal to mind control humanity isn’t the most unique story. It’s a plot device that has been done many times before and quite recently.
• Tackling Artificial Intelligence left room for more ideas to explored in a thought-provoking way.
• Jaha’s connection with A.L.I.E. was promising at first but didn’t go anywhere. As a result, Jaha lacked a character arc and is mostly used as a plot device.
Season 3 took a number of risks and not all of them paid off. In fact, some backfired on it’s loyal fan base. The 100 remains a gusty series and is one of the reasons why I enjoy it. However, as our core characters are forced into darker situations and endure more trauma, the emotional weight can be overwhelming to some viewers. There needs to be a better balance between the despair and some relief in lighter moments.
Despite some significant missteps, Season 3 expanded the scope of the series and helped connect pieces of the overall mythology. The production value has noticeably improved including going to brand new locations and creating bigger set pieces which helps with the world building. Season 3 also did a good job of calling back to events and places from previous seasons, it’s nice when the writers remember the roots of the show. Overall, I’m still hopeful that Season 4 can correct its mistakes and focus on making these characters likable again.
What are your thoughts on Season 3? Are you still interested in watching the next season?