When the first season of teen sci-fi drama The 100 aired on E4 in July it gradually overcame a stuttering start to emerge from the depths of space as one of 2014’s most surprising triumphs.
Set 97 years after an Armageddon-like event decimated Earth, the dystopian series thrilled with its accessible characters and brutally visceral energy, and last night’s season opener, The 48, deserves plaudits for carrying this forward momentum into its deserved second run.
The title refers to the number of the hundred known to still be alive following last season’s incendiary camp siege, and season two finds the remaining survivors scattered among the disparate tribes battling for supremacy on the ground.
Clarke is trapped in the seemingly idyllic subterranean haven of the Mountain Men, a secretive society of vitamin D-deficient survivors fronted by an unnervingly cunning Raymond Barry, while Finn and Bellamy are taken prisoner by a particularly savage Grounder who ruthlessly offs one teen because he can’t keep up the pace.
Also entering the fray this year are the remaining inhabitants of The Ark – a cobbled-together cartwheel of space stations – who crash land on terra firma and immediately begin stirring tensions with the former convicts with whom they’re reunited in an ongoing fight for survival.
Political gamesmanship is of vital importance to the success of The 100 and its enthusing to see season two kick this up a notch, replacing the fraught leadership battles onboard The Ark with the delicious mind games of Barry’s sickly President Dante, whose tempestuous relationship with Clarke evokes admirable comparisons with the President Snow-Katniss axis of the Hunger Games movie franchise.
Sometimes the show’s rapid pacing does work to its detriment, the mashing of multiple plot threads and sci-fi influences making the story clunky and uneven in places; but more often than not The 100 is an exhilarating roller-coaster of dystopian escapism backed up with relatable character drama and a crunching sense of peril. And it keeps getting better with every episode.
Click here to watch the trailer for The 100 – Season Two