Moral Ambiguity Edit

"Maybe there are no good guys." --Abby

The 100 challenges its viewers' morality by allowing the show's protagonists to make questionable decisions. It's up to us to determine how far our goodwill reaches, and how much it takes before a character's past crimes can be forgiven.[1]

It's very clear that, although everyone on The 100 (with the possible exception of Raven) have done some shady and/or mass-murderous things over the course of the show's three seasons, our main protagonists ultimately want to do the right thing. But the further we get into the brutal world of the show, the less the characters are concerned with doing the right thing, as opposed to doing the right thing for their own people. In that sense, Shatner is right — after all, even villains usually see themselves as the heroes of their own stories.[2]

It's not just the characters that are left wondering whether their choices were right, the viewer is forced to ask the same question. Would we go to such a dark and brutal place? Could we? [3]

Even the antagonists are never truly "evil". When it comes down to it, they use the same reasoning as our main characters to justify their actions 'I'm doing what's best for my people'. Dante Wallace, despite being the leader of Mount Weather and allowing his staff to experiment on grounders, tried to protect the Delinquents on several occasions, as long as the safety of his people remained secure. In the final episodes of Season 3, Mount Weather has already been compromised. Only then does he allow Cage to drill the Sky People for bone marrow, as his final resort. This can be paralleled to Season 4, when Abby tests Nightblood on "Baylis", and almost on Emori, to save their people from Praimfaya. In both situations, the leader has taken the lives of innocent people, in order to save those of their own. In "The 100", the lines between hero and villain are blurred, and often a matter of perspective rather than true morality.[4] However, A.L.I.E., the major antagonist of Season Three, is purely evil, and has no remorse of killing innocent people.

"The 100" doesn't pretend that its protagonists are heroes. It never glorifies violence, no matter who is perpetuating it or however valid its logic is given the protagonists' goals. Even when "The 100" convinces us that we would probably do exactly the same thing in these characters' terrible positions, it never shies away from the unbearable weight of it all.[5]

This perhaps best exemplified in Blood Must Have Blood (Part 2), where The 100 show its protagonists do terrible things in the name of saving the ones they love, having Clarke and Bellamy kill every man, woman, and child in Mount Weather to save their people from Cage's bone marrow harvesting. This includes Maya, the girl who made their continued survival possible. It includes all of the Mountain Men who harbored Sky Teens at risk to their own lives. It includes the many innocent children who called Mount Weather home. This decision isn't presented as the only option (because there are always other options), but it is presented as necessary if Clarke and Bellamy want to save their loved ones -- and this is an important distinction.[5] In the following episode, Wanheda (Part 1), interesting subtext comes into play during the Niylah and Clarke story. While Clarke is burdened with guilt over the events of Mount Weather, Niylah sees her as a folk hero of sorts. Not only does she protect Clarke from Grounders searching for her, but she tells her that she supports her previous deadly decision. "You ended the reaping," she says. It's an interesting and complicated thread, about how violence and war creates heroes, villains, and antiheroes, and hopefully the show unravels it further as the season goes on.[6]

Identity Edit

"Who we are and who we need to be to survive are two very different things" --Bellamy

The idea of who people are and what makes them who they are is a prominent theme throughout the series, becoming more prominent as the series goes on. The 100 has never been about vilifying people because of their actions – however horrible.[7]

This perhaps best exemplified in the character of Bellamy, who goes through a number of changes related to power, morality, and loyalty since the show's beginning. Notably in his Season Three finale explantion, of his partially responsible for the massacre of 300 Grounders, in that he needed to think in black and white terms in order to survive in a world that's anything but, and now all he can do is work for forgiveness.[7]

Free will and the loss of one's agency has been a recurring theme on The 100 since the beginning. [1]

Sexuality Edit

Unlike many shows, sex and sexuality isn't a dominant theme on the 100. For example, it's the aspect of love and intimacy, rather than lust and sexuality, which makes Clarke's part in Finn's demise so difficult–the show plays with the idea that human connection, whether it's through friendship, family, alliance or romance, is painful because it matters, not because it is fundamentally wrong.[8]

Equality Edit

In the futuristic world of The 100, discrimination has become a non-issue. The only way to differentiate between people is what clan you're part of. Everything else just simply doesn't matter. It's the shows modern approach to gender, race, and sexuality that allows us a wealth of well-written characters, both male and female, who encompass violence in different ways.[3]

The show has an impressive amount of women in leadership roles, and much of its exploration of violence is around the lengths they will go to ensure the survival of their individual communities. In the world of The 100, which seems to be implicitly a world which has moved beyond modern prejudice, this is removed from gender… but as viewers now, in a world which very much still has issues with gender inequality, these make for complex women with strong and uncompromising characterisation. They are allowed to make decisions which affect the plot as well as their own emotional state and relationships.[9]

Notes and Trivia Edit

  • After Nevermore episode, Stephen King was inspired to tweet about the show.[10][11] Sparking a mini-debate with William Shatner over twitter on morality in Arkadia.[2][12]

References Edit

  1. 1.0 1.1 ‘The 100' has facilitated important conversations about free will and rape culture, Hypable, April 12, 2016
  2. 2.0 2.1 Stephen King and William Shatner debate morality in ‘The 100’ season 3, Hypable, April 18, 2016
  3. 3.0 3.1 Violence and Morality in ‘The 100', Bitch Flicks, October 26, 2015
  4. Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; no text was provided for refs named ambiguous-morality
  5. 5.0 5.1 23 times 'the 100' made 'game of thrones' look like a lighthearted fantasy, MTV, July 29, 2015
  6. The 100 is back, along with its dirty faces and complex morality, avclub, Jan 21, 2016
  7. 7.0 7.1 season 3: trauma, free-will and perverse instantiation, DenOfGeek, 26 May 2016
  8. How the CW’s ‘The 100’ Is Getting Sex Positivity Right, Bitch Flicks, September 24, 2015
  9. TV and Classic Literature: Is ‘The 100' like ‘Lord of the Flies'?, Bitch Flicks, October 27, 2015
  10. King, Stephen (16 Apr 2016) Tweet “The sad (but true) mantra that's repeated over and over in THE 100: "There are no good guys."” - @StephenKing
  11. King, Stephen (16 Apr 2016) Tweet “What I like best about THE 100 is the strong feminist slant. No preaching, just story.” - @StephenKing
  12. Season 3: William Shatner and Stephen King debate morality in Arkadia, Melty