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Friday, 13 March 2015

The 100, Series 2 (Second Half)

Hey, guys. If you've not already seen it, Nine Over Five's Final Fantasy VIII Let's Play posted its final part up yesterday. After many years, it's finished. Weep now, for the world you knew is gone.

The 100
Series 2 (Second Half).

I was a bit underwhelmed by the first half of this series, as it had felt, in many ways, to have fallen short of the standard the first series set. That said, it had ended on an interesting note, with the formation of a new alliance between the arkers and grounders, and Clarke killing Finn. 

In the second half, Clarke struggles with keeping the alliance intact, and with preparing for war against Mount Weather, a seemingly unbeatable foe who are holding her friends captive with intent to use their bone marrow for their own ends. 

This part of the series, I think, represents a significant improvement. It's better paced, and with the ticking timebomb of Mount Weather killing their remaining captives becoming even more prominent, there's a feeling of real urgency, with each episode pushing the plot forward in leaps and bounds. The series starts to really hit its stride when the 'make sure the alliance doesn't crumble' plot ends and the 'let's go to war' plot starts, possibly in large part because it's treading new ground. Misunderstandings, culture clashes, and paranoia between the arkers and the grounders is territory we've already covered in great detail before, but waging an actual war isn't - the closest we've had to that is the Hundred defending the dropship from a grounder attack at the end of the first series, and not only was that not really a war, but it was also from the opposite viewpoint: Defenders fending off a siege, instead of attackers trying to bring down a fortress.

Don't play with knives, kids.

It feels like everyone gets a role in this half of the series, too. Clarke and Lexa have their plotline as leaders of the new war effort; Bellamy gets his infiltrator plotline; Octavia and Lincoln get a story about Octavia becoming part of the grounders; and Jasper and company get their storyline about resisting Mount Weather from within. Nobody's forgotten about, except maybe the adult arkers, who with the exception of Jaha (who has a plotline about searching out the City of Light that he heard about) mostly become supporting characters for Clarke.

Not all plotlines are created equal, though. I deeply enjoyed the Clarke and Lexa storyline, and the idea that the war is eroding Clarke's morality is worked into the narrative very well, and Eliza Taylor puts in an excellent performance. Also worked in well is the budding romance between the two, which gets some culmination in the form of a brief kiss, but is for the most part left hanging - the romantic element isn't, after all, the most important part of their relationship. I also thought that Jasper's storyline was very well done, and arguably sees him becoming a better leader than either Clarke or Bellamy, as he seems to combine elements of both. 

Or swords, kids.

Bellamy's storyline, meanwhile, felt as though it never really had much meat to it, so much as it was something for him to do. Jaha's storyline was even worse, being utterly baffling from a character storyline: This man has been depicted as a die-hard pragmatist up until this point, so it seems bizarre that he would abruptly decide to leave just before a war effort to seek out a place that for all he knows doesn't exist. Not long into his storyline he gets cast as a 'mad prophet' type character, doggedly in pursuit of a quasi-religious goal and willing to sacrifice anything to get at it - but that's never been what Jaha is like, and I have trouble reconciling this character with the Jaha of the first series (and I don't think he's had sufficient character development to justify it).

Also rather disappointing was the finale. With the climax of the series arguably having been reached in the previous episode, the finale presented Clarke with a weighty moral decision, but arguably with very little in the way of a concrete threat, as she infiltrates Mount Weather and reaches the command centre with startlingly little trouble. It felt a little lacklustre to me, and the best thing I can say about it is that it hammered in that the message of this series is nearly a reverse of that of the previous series: If the last series was keen on the idea of 'there are no bad guys, just good people doing what they think is best', then this one is equally keen on the idea of 'there are no good guys, because everyone has to make a bad choice eventually.' 

Or angry, bloody, shirtless people, kids. Unless you go for that, in which case by all means.

It'll be interesting to see how that plays out come the third series, which looks like it'll be seeing Jaha in cahoots with an evil AI. 

The 100 has been renewed for a third series, due to start airing this summer, so not far off now.

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