It’s no surprise to fans of The 100 that the show has been the source of a whole lot of controversy this year, both on and behind the scenes. And while it’s impossible to ignore the flaws in the writing of the series, this post will serve to do more than just air grievances about season 3. Instead of rehashing everything that went wrong, since The 100 was renewed for another season on The CW, it’s time to start looking ahead to determine what the show can do right when it returns.
Here are 15 Ways The 100 Can Improve In Season 4.
One of the biggest issues surrounding the third season was a storyline that fixated on The City of Light. With that story came one of the cardinal sins of television writing – removal of character agency. Instead of becoming more fully-realized and stronger characters, nearly every character this season had their free will stripped of them, thanks to a mind-control chip and artificial intelligence program. This was especially problematic in terms of the female characters on the show. Female characters are notoriously underappreciated on television and are more likely to be used as tropes than their male counterparts. So multiple female characters – strong women – began to bend to the will of an A.I., there was a lot of (understandable) backlash.
In the upcoming season, hopefully The 100 will return to characters who are able to think and act for themselves, and writers cannot cover up character mistakes or weaknesses with a “mind control” trope.
The 100 is a series that is unafraid to take risks, which is what made it – in the first and second years – such a critical darling. No one was safe on the show, and within the final few minutes of the pilot, even, Jasper (Devon Bostick) was stabbed by a spear. This show doesn’t hold back. But over the years, the common thread on television in general in regards to deaths of characters has been “shock for the sake of shock.” In particular, this criticism applies to the death of fan-favorite Lexa (Alycia Debnam-Carey) whose death felt more like a jump-scare than anything else – brash and shocking without much reasoning behind it. The show’s disservice to the character, her fans, and fans of “Clexa” was extremely apparent in the writers’ erratic and confusing handling of her death. It had fans around the world angered by the resurrection of the Dead Lesbian Syndrome, and it seemed wildly disrespectful for a character of her magnitude to die by a stray bullet.
If The 100 wants to succeed in storytelling next season, it needs to be respectful of its characters and their deaths. There cannot be a shocking death simply because they want to do something shocking.
Octavia Blake (Marie Avgeropoulos) has had an incredible journey throughout the course of The 100. And it’s been a surprising one, as well. What the show does well is flip expectations on their heads. Octavia began the series as this beautiful, rebellious, but compassionate young woman. She, in any other show, would have been the first to die simply because of the preconceived notions that horror films and sci-fi shows have about pretty young women who are naïve. But throughout the seasons, Octavia has developed into one of the most vastly complex characters. She no longer has a home, not finding solace with her literal brother Bellamy (Bob Morley), nor Arkadia. But Octavia doesn’t have a home with the Grounders, either. And since Lincoln (Ricky Whittle) was brutally taken from her, Octavia has been in more pain and more lost than ever. Her rage and desire for vengeance caused her to kill Pike (Michael Beach), and that’s something that she cannot come back from.
The season ends with Bellamy watching his sister – so calloused and wounded – walk away from murdering the former chancellor in cold blood. Hopefully The 100 doesn’t shy away from the pain and reality of the consequences (emotional and mental) of what Octavia has done in the upcoming season.
One of the issues with The 100 recently has been its inability to focus on the residents of Arkadia. Throughout the third season, it seemed like more and more things were simply happening TO those on the Ark. Their responses and their actions were mostly reactive. And while conflict between the Grounders, Arkadians, and Mountain Men was compelling in the second season, the third season seemed to lack the same punch.
Instead, it focused a lot on characters and politics, spending most of the time in Polis with the Ice Nation. And while the Grounders are certainly an integral part of the show and need to remain a part of the show in order to provide conflict and build character relationships, the focus needs to be re-shifted back to the people who are on the Ark as well. And hopefully the upcoming season will strike a better balance between the two groups of people.
The 100 began as a show focused primarily on teenagers, with adults calling the shots and controlling them from afar. Throughout the years, however, the adults have been integrated better into the larger narrative and are now staples, just as much as the teenagers are. In particular, Marcus Kane (Henry Ian Cusick) and Abby Griffin (Paige Turco) have played large roles in stories. While the show needs to keep its focus on the teenagers and not get over-invested in the stories of the adults, hopefully season 4 will find a good balance between the two groups.
One of the most compelling stories for all of the characters will be dealing with the trauma and guilt of all they had to do while under control by A.L.I.E. (Erica Cerra), and the role reversal of the parents and adults asking for forgiveness from their children and the delinquents is certainly plausible. Additionally, now that Clarke (Eliza Taylor) and Abby are reunited under such horrible circumstances at the end of the season, perhaps the show will return to stories of the mother/daughter relationship. Additionally, if he continues to be present in the show, Jaha (Isaiah Washington) needs to have some sort of story that doesn’t involve him being the villain for once.
One of the benefits of The 100 is how vast and varied the post-apocalyptic landscape is. In many ways, the setting is its own character in the show. Whether it’s the Ark itself, the drop ship, the forest, or a Grounder camp, the show has the ability to pair its dark, pained, and wandering characters with an equally jagged landscape. But unfortunately one of the issues (which will be discussed later) with this season was the central focus of Polis as a place of action.
While the place itself was not bad by any means and the construction of it both intricate and yet also desolate, the show needs to wipe its hands of what went wrong in the third season and start anew. And that means finding a new location that is reflective of what the season will be about. Every year has pretty much had one or two central locations. But now that all of the main characters are together in Polis, it might be a good time for them to travel together in order to discover somewhere new where they can plan for the impending end of the world.
A.L.I.E. was a mind-controlling computer software and also the season’s Big Bad. The issue, unfortunately, with The 100’s decision to make her the villain was its inability to properly pace her storyline and plot. The entire season was spent with the heroes of the story trying and failing every single episode to stop A.L.I.E. And while that’s definitely common and necessary in storytelling (because no one wants to have a villain that you can stop within the course of an episode), the way that it was executed meant that the Big Bad began to feel more and more unbeatable, with the audience caring less and less about how, or if, the main characters would ever stop her.
The 100 made A.L.I.E. so powerful that they actually damaged their storyline by stripping more and more agency from their characters. In the upcoming season, it will be necessary for the writers to find a balance between the villain and the heroes trying to stop him/her. And with no clear-cut villain on the horizon, given the season-ending reveal of the world’s eventual demise, perhaps having no physical villain will be for the best.
On a show like The 100, the possibility for “shipping” is endless. Whether you preferred Clarke and Lexa together romantically, enjoy Bellamy and Clarke, or maybe even Bellamy and Raven (Lindsey Morgan), it is clear that there are a lot of potential romances lingering around the Ark. The 100 is a diverse show but if it’s going to do anything in the romance department, the writers need to ensure that their decisions further character development and don’t simply exist for the sake of existence. If two characters share a tender moment, there needs to be reasoning behind it simply apart from “they’re two pretty people and we want to put them in the same scene.”
The show did a fairly decent job of building up the Kane/Abby romance recently, through creating a slow bond between them that eventually developed into romantic partnership and affection. But the show needs to be cautious in how it handles the romance between its teenagers. Not committing to a single ship or definitive pairing on a show is fine; however, it’s not okay if the writers only use chemistry between characters (or actors) to bait viewers into watching. (An unfortunate trend in television.)
For three years, Jaha has essentially served as the in-community villain. That is, the characters have faced threats and opposition from those outside of their community (like the Grounders and the Mountain Men), but Jaha remains such a destructive character that it seems suspect that no one has killed him yet. He is the reason, after all, that A.L.I.E. managed to rise to power and control entire civilizations at the end of last season. It is Jaha’s selfishness and naiveté that is such a dangerous combination.
He held power for so long on the Ark that, without the ability to wield that same power on the ground, he has no idea how to function. Jaha’s issues never lead him to growth. In fact, he seems to be the most stubbornly consistent character on The 100. It’s doubtful that he’ll learn his lesson or accurately assess the weight and consequences of what he and A.L.I.E. did in the upcoming season. So it’s honestly baffling that no character has yet to kill him. Maybe that will be remedied.
So many characters on The 100 have endured trauma, but Raven Reyes has faced a lot of it in the past few years. The most intelligent character on the series by far, Raven is a mechanic whose bold and noble escape pod trip to Earth earned her respect. Since then, Raven has: been possessed by A.L.I.E., watched her ex-boyfriend die at the hands of Clarke, been tortured for her bone marrow, been shot, undergone surgery without anesthesia to remove aforementioned bullet from her spine, endured persistent nerve damage in her leg. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg of what Raven has gone through, really.
But one of the most impressive things about Raven as a character is her resilience. The other most impressive thing is her intelligence. Raven is the one who figures out how to destroy A.L.I.E. She is strong enough to fight against mind-control, longer than anyone else fought. And Raven deserves to share more screen time in season 4 as the hero that she truly is. Without Raven, most of the characters – if not all of them – on the show would be dead. Here’s to hoping that the show remembers that and spends some time in the fourth season fixating on what she has endured and what she will do with the emotions she has to process as a result.
When The 100 began, Monty (Christopher Larkin) was a sweet, fun, energetic character. Paired with his best friend Jasper, the two quickly became essential members of the team with their various expertise. In season 3, viewers saw a much more somber Monty – one who had to deal with the ramifications of what he did alongside Clarke and Bellamy in Mount Weather. And with the fracturing of his relationship with Jasper, it seemed like that somberness would only escalate. As the season progressed, Monty began to take more control of his own story and decided to rebel against Pike and his minions in order to try and help Kane and – eventually – Bellamy out.
But the most compelling story in this season was that of Monty and his mother. In order to save Raven, Monty had to kill his mother. It was a heartbreaking moment, and one that defined him for the remainder of season 3. Even worse was the inevitability that A.L.I.E. would use Monty’s mother against him in order to prevent him (and Raven) from saving everyone in The City of Light. When Monty has the option to erase his mother from The City of Light – effectively erasing all of her from existence, never to return to him – he makes the choice and sacrifices her to save everyone else. This one energetic young man has had to endure some very harrowing circumstances and really dark emotional moments, so The 100 would do well to try and navigate his trauma in the upcoming season.
At the beginning of the third season, Jasper’s anger and grief over the loss of Maya (Eve Harlow) was understandable. He knew that Clarke was the one to massacre everyone in Mount Weather and his anger at her was not just palpable, but powerful. But the more the season went on, the more and more annoying Jasper became. Unfortunately, it seemed like Jasper’s persistent grief and anger had little to do with character development and more to do with the fact that the writers needed him to still be grieving so they could send him to the City of Light at the end of the season.
At every turn, Jasper was unbearable, lashing out at Monty and Clarke and everyone at the Ark who wanted to help him. Not only did his character suffer, but other characters suffered because the show had no significant story for Jasper outside of “drunk and angry character” for the entirety of the season. There to be some light on the horizon, thankfully, as the third season ends with Jasper finding strength and healing through his relationships. It’s unfortunate that the season was spent without much for him to do apart from cause trouble and hurt others, but it looks like next season might restore Jasper to the character viewers enjoyed – or, at the very least, a character they can tolerate.
A show like The 100 functions best as the ensemble that it is. And with Clarke’s departure from the group at the end of the second season, viewers knew that there would be tension between her and Arkadia when season 3 opened. However, the more scattered the show became – isolating not only Clarke from the group but also Murphy, Jaha, and others – the more erratic it became as well. That’s not to say that season 4 needs to focus on all of the characters being together all of the time. Splintering an episode into A and B-storylines (and maybe even C-stories) is necessary with a cast the size of this one. But the fourth season cannot make the same mistake that the third did in isolating important characters from one another for too long.
Bellamy and Clarke function well as a team, and they function better when they’re around Monty, Raven, Octavia, and Jasper. Abby and Kane do well when they’re together, too, especially when they’re paired with Indra (Adina Porter). Separating the characters from one another too drastically will cause cracks and flaws within the writing to become more obvious. And after a season like The 100 had this year, the last thing they should want in season four is to separate their core characters even further.
A major problem of the third season was the fact that Bellamy’s characterization was decimated for the sake of a very bad villain and story. Apart from Bellamy’s decision to commit genocide being nonsensical and wildly out-of-character, one of the reasons that he cites for suffering as much as he did was that Clarke abandoned her people. Though Bellamy doesn’t make a lot of compelling arguments in season three for his actions (and the things he did to the Grounders are not excusable at all), this one is an intriguing one. Because he’s correct – this is the first season in which Bellamy and Clarke have been extremely separated as co-leaders. Even while in Mount Weather, Clarke still had some sort of contact with Bellamy and they were still fighting on the same side. The problem with season three was that it isolated its primary characters and did so by drastically separating them, both in terms of physical distance and also beliefs. Bellamy was not a leader in season three, and that’s a fault of the writers. But Clarke wasn’t really a leader either in the season. Most things that happened to Clarke were just that – passive things that happened to her, rather than decisions she made on behalf of a people. Clarke became a passive character, which was extremely noticeable in season three because of how strong and decisive she had been as a leader and female character up until that point.
One of the only ways that The 100 will succeed in season four is if it remembers who its main characters are, and who the leaders are. If the writers are able to restore agency to both Bellamy and Clarke and allow them to work together and independently as the leaders of their people, perhaps the show will begin to walk on a bit more stable ground than it did this year.
Perhaps the best way that The 100 can succeed in season 4 is by remembering where it began and how it began – with its core group of Delinquents. The show started with Clarke, Bellamy, Octavia, Raven, Jasper, Monty, Murphy, and more working side-by-side in order to save and defend their people. Over the years, these characters have all grown and developed, but all are still central to The 100. In season 3, when the group comes together to rescue Raven from A.L.I.E., there were shades of the show that The 100 used to be: one focused on driven, intelligent, and determined young people who care about each other and surviving.
The show, thankfully, ended season 3 in a place where everyone was together. In the upcoming season, the writers should recognize the power of this core group of characters and the impact that their relationships have on the show’s narrative. They are essential to the story, but not only that – their relationships with one another are central, too. The 100 will succeed again when it returns to basics, remembering that it doesn’t really matter who the Big Bad is or where the show takes place. What matters is how these teenagers will work together and survive together.
What do you think The 100 needs to be successful in season four?