Review: The 100 Ep 3.01 “Wanheda Part 1”

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I used to “officially” review Covert Affairs over at GeekFurious the same night the show aired, staying up late to get the review out before morning.  I’m not cool enough to get TV screeners ahead of time, otherwise this would be an easier process for me.  But there was really only one reason that me doing those reviews made sense:  There was a huge gap in review coverage of Covert.  Very few sites were doing regular weekly reviews – it was pretty much just TV.com and … I can’t even remember anyone else.  Other sites did recaps, but not actual reviews.  So there was an opportunity there fill a gap there.  And it worked – my reviews on GeekFurious would generate between 600-1,600 hits depending on the episode, which for me is huge, lol.  It may be small to others, but on this site I’m lucky to get 10 hits on anything, so those days of 1,000+ hits were great.

The 100, on the other hand, which I am watching for the first time live, does NOT have a gap in this area.  Not in the least.  I saw reviews of the season 3 premiere from everyone and their mother: Variety, USA Today, Entertainment Weekly, AV Club, IGN, TV.com, Hypable, etc. etc. etc.  The list is a mile long.  And I love that because it means the show is getting critical attention, but it then also makes no sense for me to bother adding my own review to the already saturated market, unless I’m doing it simply to aid in my own mental processing of the show.  When episodes are in the “really good” to “great” zone, I often don’t feel the need for this, because I’m content with that I watched.  “Wanheda Part 1” definitely fell into that category – The premiere was really for the most part everything I wanted it to be and more.  It was a set up episode for sure, but one of the most satisfying season premiere/set-up eps of any show I’ve seen.  Which is saying a lot, because eps like this usually aren’t the ones that deliver the the major feels.

So why bother reviewing it then, given everything I’ve just laid out here?  I’ve got one major motivation – Mo Ryan and Ryan McGee’s reaction to the first 4 eps.  Mo has stated in her review and in her/Ryan’s podcast that she was very satisfied with the first 2 eps … but then it seems that there was something in episodes 3 and 4 that upset both her and Ryan deeply.  Eek!!  I am totally beside myself just thinking about it, based on the issues they described (which were spoiler-free).  I’ve been following Mo’s reviews since the Chuck days way back in early 2009, and she is one of my most trusted TV reviewers.  So if this thing, whatever it is, has upset her so much, there’s a very high chance that I could wind up feeling the same way.  Gah!!

So essentially what this boils down to is that I’m reviewing these first couple eps because I suspect that I will have a LOT to say come 3.03 and 3.04.  So I might as well capture my journey in getting there.  Heh.  For 3.01, since it’s been reviewed by so many people, I’ll just cover the highlights and the elements that gave me particular feels, whether good or bad (don’t worry, it’s mostly good).  Let’s get to it.

The Opener, a.k.a. The Murphy Show

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Everyone I’ve seen out there on the interwebs seems to have followed a similar path with Murphy – They despised him in season 1, and then started to like him in season 2.  In S1 he was just such a freaking cockroach, refusing to die and constantly just coming back to wreak havoc, and WHY the fuck did Clarke and Bellamy keep letting him get away with it??  It was getting ridiculously out of hand.  Luckily in season 2, he started to play much nicer with others.  He grew so much as a character that he even wound up being the sane one in several scenarios.  Who’da thunk it?

My cousin Katie was mildly annoyed that the premiere opened on the Murphy/Jaha/City of Light storyline, but I didn’t mind it, partly because they really didn’t have much of a choice – They wanted to jump ahead 3-ish months with the other storylines, but with this particular storyline, they wanted to show the progression through that time gap.  I enjoyed the sequence, and thought Richard Harmon did a great job with it.  The only piece of it I wasn’t thrilled about was what Eric Goldman called the “awkward slow-mo” in his IGN review.  This made me laugh so hard, because this show uses that weird slow-mo effect ALL the goddamn time, and it has always driven me insane.  I admit that I know nothing at all about the different types of slow-mo effects, but the one they use on this show regularly looks horrible to me.  I’m sure there’s a name for it, but it has the effect of looking choppy rather than smooth.  I can’t stand it, it looks cheap and cheesy, and I cannot for the life of me figure out why they insist on using it constantly.

Anyway, thankfully the crappy slow-mo was only used for a few seconds of this scene, so I didn’t have to suffer through it for long.  I felt Murphy’s pain and insanity quite well, though I did also find it funny that he must have had access to a shower in that fancy bunker, but didn’t bother to use it.

Bellamy and Lincoln Sparring Sesh

OOOOMMMMMMMMMMMMGGGGGGGGGGGG SO MUCH FUCKING HOTNESS I CAN’T HANDLE IT.  SWOON!!  That’s really all that needs to be said about this scene except – OH wait, I just realize they didn’t use the shitty slow-mo effect here!!  Yay, they really are capable of using normal slow-mo!  Which then just still begs the question of why they still use the other crappy kind so often.  Sigh.  p.s. I was glad to get a glimpse of OG Skaikru Harper and Monroe here, I hope these two get a chance to shine this season.

Bellamy’s Girlfriend

BOO!!  O.k. fine, I’ll try to be nice.  She seems aiight, I guess.  Hmph.

The Rover + Horse Ride to Sector 7

One of the most fantastic scenes I’ve seen on not just this show but any show out there.  It was just pure glory having the OG Crew back together having a fun moment, plus that gorgeous scenery, including Octavia on the horse.  And the Violent Femmes, obviously.  Fucking beautiful, top to bottom.  It’s imperative for heavy shows like this to have moments of happiness and laughter, otherwise it all feels like a pointless slog through misery.  The whole purpose of fighting through the bad stuff is to get to the good, fun, happy places like this, and we need to be reminded of that.  Season 2 had a few light/funny moments that I can think of, but none as long and glorious as this, that I can recall.  This is likely the first and last bit of fun we’ll get before season 3 gets fucked, but I’m glad we got it.

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I was pretty shocked that they waited until 24 minutes into the ep to get to Clarke’s storyline, and in most instances I would find that hugely obnoxious, but in this case it worked surprisingly quite well.  It allowed the show to properly catch us up on where Murphy, Jaha, and the Arkadia peeps are now, and I wouldn’t give up that Rover scene for anything.  At the same time it also gave us the same level of suspense and mystery around Miss Wanheda as there has been for all the other characters on the show for the past 3 months.  Where the hell did Clarke go?  What has she been doing this whole time?  How has she been surviving out there all by her lonesome?  Killing panthers, bitches!!  That’s how.  Black jaguars, to be precise.  I saw one review (I forget which) that called it a “cougar”, and it made me want to claw that reviewer’s face off.  Theoretically it could be a black leopard, but I’m gonna go with jaguar since we’re in North America.

Anyway I digress.  Clarke has gone feral, just living out in the woods surviving like a dirty badass.  Upon seeing both Clarke and Murphy in this premiere, I really couldn’t help but think that both of them must be smelling pretty ripe right about now.  But that’s life in the woods and it didn’t stop Clarke from getting some grimy action from her new grounder friend Niylah.  I’m kinda figuring that she’s been (or that she at least she IS in this moment) pulling a bit of a Peaches, if you know what I mean.  Niylah is a good character and a friendly face amongst the shitshow that Clarke is likely dealing with every day.  I’m curious if we’ll see her again at any point this season, but she seems genuinely sympatico, so maybe she’ll be able to pop in and lend a helping hand (sounds dirty) again at some point.  We shall see.

Clarke honestly, now that I think about it, has very few speaking lines in this ep at all.  She’s just purely physical here, whether it be in killing panthers, avoiding bad guys, getting help with her cat-scratch fever (err, the open wound on her back), sexing up a grounder, waking up from nightmares of the ghosts of Mount Weather, or getting kidnapped.  But with just a very few lines of dialogue, we can see that she is haunted by what she did 3 months ago, and is still in significant mental turmoil over it.  As well she should be – It’s not uncommon for TV shows to sweep monumental events like this under the rug, especially when moving from one season to the next.  So I’m glad that with both Jasper and Clarke, we’re getting a realistic view of how they’d each be affected mentally by their experiences.

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Which, as luck would have it, is a perfect segue to …

Raven and Abby

From my observations on social media, there’s a pretty decent faction of the fandom who are constantly pissed off about how much this show loves to torture Raven.  And while I don’t share their anger about it, they’re also not entirely wrong: Raven kind of is the Job of The 100.  As in, Bible Job.  Over the course of this series she’s been cheated on by her boyfriend, shot, left to die, paralyzed, been operated on with no anesthesia, suffered permanent nerve damage, watched her first love killed before her eyes, been tied to a post and cut up, been blown up, been drilled into for bone marrow, and now in season 3 is suffering further aftereffects of her injuries.  I think I’m a tad sadistic, because the times I tend to be most glued to my television are when my beloved characters are going through hell.

However, I should be extremely clear, there ARE ways to go horribly and gratuitously awry with this, and a ton of shows fall victim to it, especially the long-running ones.  ER and Grey’s Anatomy are the two that most readily pop into my head.  Oh and Sons of Anarchy of course, which probably did this more outrageously than any show I can think of.  The best description I’ve heard for this is “torture porn”.  This tends to happen when a show gets to a point where they torture their characters just out of pure boredom and because they’re running out of things to do.  That’s when it gets so idiotic and ridiculous that it becomes a parody of itself.  SOA was beyond laughable by the time the series ended, and Grey’s Anatomy is frankly a show that I will never understand for the life of me.

That said, I don’t think The 100 is in this territory with Raven, at least not at this point.  Admittedly the one time it felt like overkill was with the bone marrow drilling, because they could have picked any one of the Skaikru to put on that table but of course they picked Raven.  But if we can set that aside, her journey through these trials and tribulations has made sense.  Particularly the issues she’s suffered in relation to her gunshot wound in late season 1.  The status quo on TV shows is to give someone a horrific injury in one episode, and then 1-2 eps later there’s no sign the person ever had encountered a problem to begin with.  Covert Affairs drove me absolutely insane with this after they shot Annie twice in the chest/heart.  They couldn’t even be bothered to give her the right scars.  It took them 1.5 seasons before they finally realized that maayybe an injury like that might have some lasting effects on a person (and even then they managed to do that wrong too!).  This type of thing drives me up the wall because it feels extremely lazy and makes the original plot point – “let’s put so-and-so on their deathbed for just one episode!” – feel like nothing more than a cheap gimmick … a manipulation.

It’s extremely rare for a show to put in enough attention to detail and character development to play out the injury realistically, which is why I so appreciate that The 100 has done this right with Raven.

I also like that we got Raven and Abby back together for some classic “That’s so Raven!” moments in this ep.  These two have always had such an interesting relationship, it’s like Raven fills in the daughter role for Abby whenever Clarke’s not around.  When 3.01 picks up, Abby is understandably anxious and worried about Clarke.  She’s spending most of her time trying to take her mind off it because she knows there’s nothing she can do, and we wind up with a pair of characters who are both equally anguished over different things.  They each pick at each other and also worry about each other for their respective issues in the current moment, and as usual I enjoyed every second of their interactions.

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Octavia

Octavia … oh … Octavia.  Our little floorboard baby.  Incidentally, my cousin Katie, who despised Octavia through all of season 1 and still has trouble with her, nicknamed her Floorboard Baby in the pilot.  Clarke, btw, was “Blondie Do-Right”.  Which continues to be so hilariously perfect to me, but Clarke pretty quickly moved past that nickname.  Octavia finally was able to start moving past “FBB” status in the second half of season 2, and I really do want SO bad to root for this girl.  But she has a habit of taking a good thing and FBB-ing the shit out of it just when I think she’s gonna be able to play it cool.  I totally get why she doesn’t feel an allegiance to the Skaikru, and thus I understand why Lincoln dressed up in Arker gear would throw her off.  It’s just that I wish she would listen to reason in situations like this, and take 5 seconds to think beyond her gut-reactions to things.  The behavior feels immature and I wish she would grow up a little and learn to better deal with some of these hang-ups of hers.  She can be such a badass when she’s not too preoccupied with being whiny.

Shawn Mendes

So … he’s a singer, I guess?  Because I’m not a teenage girl, I had never heard of him before this, but all I knew was that some people were upset about him being cast in a guest arc on The 100.  Is he like, the Justin Bieber of Canada or something?  Is that the problem?  Then again I guess Bieber is the Bieber of Canada.  In any event, I can only guess that some people felt that he would be cheesy on the show and screw it up.  Luckily I was ignorant enough to have no such hang-up going into this, and I thought “Wow, these guys couldn’t have possibly used this kid more perfectly.”  I’m a sucker for a good music montage … and yes, again look no further than SOA to see how to gratuitously overuse this story-telling device, uggh.  BUT luckily The 100 doesn’t have this issue – they rarely do music montages, so it’s nice to get a good one in every now and then.  I loved every second of this one.

One Last Thing About Bellamy

I find it interesting that Bellamy has been able to compartmentalize/stow away his actions at Mount Weather into some other part of his mind in such a way that he’s able to go on with daily life without any major issues, unlike Clarke.  But I have my own interpretation for why this is – Bellamy, unlike Clarke, was able to play the true, pure hero for essentially all of season 2.  He was John McClane, infiltrating Mount Weather to save the day and rescue his people.  If you compare this to Clarke’s arc, this is in a sense kind of a major luxury.  Clarke didn’t have such a simple row to hoe here – She was the one being forced to make the gutwrenching leadership decisions at every turn.  And of course, this includes the extremely questionable – or let’s be honest, downright morally wrong – decision to let the people of Ton DC get obliterated by a missile.  So she was already completely convinced of her total failings as a human being there, before she then made an even more effed up decision to actively melt everyone in Mount Weather.  It’s more than any reasonable human could take … unless you’re Dick Cheney.  But we all know he’s not human.

Now, that said, I am actually legitimately terrified right now of where they’re going to take Bellamy’s character after 3.01.  I say this based on Mo/Ryan McGee’s reviews, plus speculation out there on the interwebs, plus hints in the trailers.  If they pull a Finn with him, I will straight up MURDER the 100 writers.  I will pull a Finn on the 100 writers.  I can deal with Finn pulling a Finn, but Bellamy pulling a Finn would ruin one of the best characters on this show.  So … uggh.  Let’s see what happens.  This feels exactly like that time I (and everyone) predicted the Helesa sitch on Covert Affairs, and we all hoped we were wrong, but we weren’t.  We’re never wrong.  Because if you see TV writers nearing a brink of fucking something up … they almost always do.  They get to that cliff and they jump right off.  Don’t kid yourself.  Buckle your seatbelts, kiddies, it’s gonna be a rough ride.  Auggie Anderson is permanently marred in my eyes and I’m just waiting for my beloved Bellamy to undergo the same fate.  UGGH.

So that’s my 3.01 review.  WAY longer than I intended.  Shit.  This does not bode well for the length of my reviews when the going gets rough here.  See you again after 3.02.

My rating for ep 3.01: 91/100

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