The 100: Episode 2 “Earth Skills” Review
By Adam James Cuthbert
This week’s episode is an exercise in character-building, as Clarke’s party sets out to rescue Jasper. The episode establishes the existence of the “grounders”, Earth-bound survivors of the nuclear apocalypse. In its wake, human civilisation appears to have regressed to primitivism (e.g. the river surrounding Mount Weather marks a “boundary” that Jasper trespassed), suggesting advanced technology is either obsolete or forgotten about. It raises questions about the extent of the holocaust, if, under 100 years, the human race has so far devolved (are there any remnants of past technology that the grounders are cognizant of? If so, how do they regard them? Were there no means for past generations to attempt communication with the space-bound survivors?). Like the Biblical Eden, there lurks an insidious menace.
Whether the colour choice is significant or not, blue has so far been used to enhance scenes of tranquillity and attraction between characters, conveying an otherworldly hue. Octavia pursues a glowing blue butterfly, with childlike wonder, the butterfly’s glow reflected in Octavia’s eyes. She is surrounded by butterflies when Atom, appointed as her protector, spontaneously kisses her. Octavia reciprocates his affection. Atom is developed as a sympathetic character, and his scenes with Octavia are intended to be endearing. The character is flawed, however, not by the acting, but by the writer’s decision not to disclose more of the character’s backstory (why he was convicted; his life on the Ark). This would allow the character to interact with Octavia as equally grounded.
There are interesting juxtapositions within the episode: Clarke and her mother, and Bellamy and Kane, the respective protagonists and antagonists in their locations. Bellamy and Kane are presented as conniving, and ambitious for power, opposed by Clarke and Abigail. Bellamy’s assumed authority is twice undermined during the episode. Clarke identifies him as provisionally useful due to his possession of a firearm (with limited ammunition). She tricks him into accompanying her (“right now, they’re thinking only one of us is scared”). The second time occurs when Finn exposes Bellamy as a hypocrite, who has imposed rules in an anarchic society.
Bellamy’s society, as such, isolated from the adults of their civilisation, displays its own elements of primitive tribalism. The obvious precursor is, of course, William Golding’s Lord of the Flies, with the series potentially commenting on an intrinsic atavism in the human race. After Clarke nearly falls into a pit-trap, Bellamy grabs her. He appears tempted to release her, a more violent approach to convince the Ark she’s dead, yet would appear logical from his point-of-view (blaming her death on an accident), indicating a darker persona. His background influences his characterisation. Even in the far future, class tensions have not been resolved.
A final comment: the Chancellor says of the living conditions on the Ark that “signs of oxygen deprivation are everywhere”. As I addressed in my previous review, the writer would be advised to show the state of the ordinary people. The Chancellor’s exposition is a convenient technique to relay what could be visually communicated to the viewer instead.
Overall Verdict: 7.5/10