When its first season aired in July 2014, E4’s teen-sci-fi import The 100 defied expectations to become one of the most gritty and captivating shows on TV. With a grim realism and a brutal savagery that belies its teen-dystopia genre tag – the series is based on an eponymous novel by Kass Morgan and airs on the teen-friendly CW network across the pond – the show grew to embrace its dark themes and difficult subjects as it went about transforming 100 sheltered and frightened teens into tortured and battle hardened survivors.
Forced into an inhospitable environment with a growing list of vicious enemies, the Hundred had to adapt to survive and they became leaders in the process; but now their world is set to change once again in season two with the introduction of the vitamin D-deficient Mountain Men and the arrival of the people from the Ark.
While the first few episodes struggled to blend the show’s teen drama and science fiction elements, coming across as too tame and unoriginal, The 100 developed massively throughout its first season; and Ricky Whittle, who plays love-torn Grounder Lincoln, insists all involved want to continue pushing the boundaries in season two, promising the new episodes will be even darker.
“It’s really exciting,” says the 32-year-old Brit. “We’re going to keep flipping it on its head and it’s going to go really dark. But we’re still going to keep it real.”
But even though the world of The 100 is set to change, that has done nothing to halt the momentum of the first season carrying over into the new episodes, and the second season premiere picks up right where we left off with Clarke incarcerated in an underground complex inside Mount Weather.
As if to prove a point, it’s barely six minutes into the episode before Clarke has escaped her captors and kidnapped a nameless teenage worker, while another teen is cruelly offed by a grounder because he can’t keep up.
The introduction of the Mountain Men – a deeply secretive society of technically advanced survivors led by Justified’s Raymond Barry – is part of a carefully orchestrated plan to expand the world of The 100 whilst delving deeper into the themes and characters that made the first season so enjoyable and successful.
“We’re going to explore how all the different societies relate and who stands where,” explains Devon Bostick, who plays goofy chemist Jasper. “What’s really going on here? What do the Mountain Men do? What are the Grounders all about? Who are they?”
These opposing societies will be chiefly explored through the stories of Lincoln and Octavia, played by Marie Avgeropoulos, as their Romeo and Juliette-esque romance continues to cause trouble for their relationship and their loved ones.
“We’re going to see the Grounders through Lincoln’s eyes and through Octavia’s eyes and that’s going to help the audience learn more about this culture,” posits Whittle.
The former Hollyoaks star also suggests that a war is brewing between the rival factions and indicated that much of the unrest will be caused from within the individual groups.
“As in any society, you have good people and you have bad people,” teases Whittle. “You have people who will want peace and people who won’t want peace.”
And with so many factions now on the ground – the Hundred, the Grounders, the Reapers, the Mountain Men and now the people from the Ark who want to reassert control over the teenagers they abandoned to death a few months ago – season two is shaping up to be even more explosive and suspenseful than the first.
But with so many different ideas to explore, is there a risk that The 100 could lose it focus and become to convoluted?
Lindsey Morgan, who plays Finn’s old flame and resourceful mechanic Raven, insists no one associated with the show is getting complacent and has warned fans to be ready for the new episodes.
“If you thought season one was nuts, season two is definitely… just get ready!”
The 100 returns to E4 on Tuesday (January 6) at 9pm.
Click here to watch the trailer for The 100 – Season Two