Since the finale of Season Three is this week, I thought it might be fun to go back and re-watch Episode One of Season One, like a time traveler, coming from their future. Especially with this series, I have no idea if the writers knew in Season One the kinds of twists and turns they were going to create over the next three years, but I thought it’d be fun to look for clues. SPOILER warning – I will talk about events in all three seasons.
Clue one – this episode has no twisty, insider reference of a title. It’s just the “Pilot.”
We get the key to Clarke at 2:16 into the episode when her mother says, as they’re getting ready to send her to the ground, “Your instincts will tell you to take care of everybody else first, like your father…” That is so true, in so many ways.
It was odd to see everyone looking so young. Carefree would be the wrong word, although they go a bit crazy when they reach the ground, but certainly not as drawn and hardened as they’ll become.
I’d forgotten there was so much emphasis on the adults and the politics and harsh survival mechanisms of the Ark. All the infighting and maneuvering! The nasty Security chief gave me chills for one. Kane for another. I remembered instantly why I didn’t like him in the old days, when he had a slicked down old style haircut, by the way. He was a cold, unpleasant enforcer, although he was still trying to find a way to live by the law. “If we’re going to kill hundreds of innocent people, we’re going to do it by the book,” he says at one point.
I can’t even look at Jaha, because the character’s become so loathsome to me over time, with the ALIE plot. It’s weird to recall how in the beginning he seemed like such a good leader. But even in season one he gave ruthless orders the way he does as part of ALIE.
Finn! The first time we meet Finn, in the dropship on the way to Earth, I think my heart stopped for a moment. He was such a cool character. He’s the missing piece that Clarke and Bellamy need so badly in Season Three to balance their decision making…but alas, we lose him in Season Two. I’m still sad over that.
Did you remember that Octavia was first out of the dropship, thanks to Bellamy? I’d forgotten that but what a nice touch, since she’s going to literally become a Grounder. “We’re back, bitches!” was her line. Not quite up there with what Armstrong said on the Moon. I’d also forgotten how much of an outsider she was, the “girl who lived under the floor,” laughed at by her peers. She flirts with Finn. She flirts with Jasper.
So the kids go wild, except for Clarke, who’s got her map – to Mount Weather no less – and is already insisting they need to do this, they need to do that to survive.
It was so scary to me, watching them party and frolic, and wander around carefree, since I know the Grounders are right there, observing. I wanted to yell at the screen. It’s never going to be so happy and pleasant again, folks, so I guess it’s a good thing they have a few moments of sheer happiness. Savored the rainstorm.
Can you imagine if the dropship had landed in the right place, closer to Mt. Weather, and they’d trustingly arrived there, expecting it to be empty and waiting for them to move in? These naïve kids would have had no chance against the occupants at that point in time. Mt. Weather management might have played it smart enough to lure the entire Ark population to them for harvesting.
Would Jasper still have fallen in love with Maya at that point? He and Monty are such free spirits in this episode. I’d forgotten that Monty’s family was in charge of the Ark’s ‘herb gardens’, which was part of what drew the two guys into friendship. Shared interests wink wink.
Bellamy’s evolved over the three seasons more than I thought. I’d managed to overlook how many of his actions at this point in Season One are taken purely to save himself and Octavia. He talks everyone into removing their bracelets, mostly so he won’t get executed. The adults in the Ark won’t land if they think the 100 all died, remember? Clarke even asks him if he’s willing to sacrifice everyone on the Ark for his own benefit, after she reveals the Ark has only three months worth of life support left. He’s caught up in the “here there are no laws and we can do whatever the hell we want” spirit. He’s protecting his sister and himself and that’s all he cares about at this point. But even then, he’s seen as a leader and people listen to him. Of course, he’s telling them to party.
Murphy was more prominent in this episode than I’d expected. He was one of the first off the dropship, and he was Bellamy’s right hand man. His character was the way I’d remembered though – sullen and self-centered, and not trustworthy. I still think Murphy has evolved more over the three years than anyone else. Jasper became more hardened, but still the same person.
So a small group merrily goes off to find Mt. Weather and plunder it – Clarke, Finn, Jasper, Monty and Octavia. Along the way they find a lake, a two-headed deer (what ever happened to those cool special effects?), a snake-thing that nearly ate Octavia until Jasper (!) dives in to save her, and a midnight forest full of magical glowing flowers, shared by Finn and Clarke. OK, I’m still mourning Finn…
But wait, he’s found tracks, which he thinks are those of a great ape. (An animal we know will figure in a Season Two episode that I personally found quite unbelievable.)
And then after Jasper makes his terrific, Tarzan-style trip across the river by vine, and finds the Mt. Weather sign, he’s transfixed by a spear that’s the size of a young tree trunk. Fun times OVER.
“We’re not alone,” says Clarke.
Octavia took exception to Bellamy wearing a guard uniform. Nice foreshadowing of a lot of stuff to come.
Who was that woman on the Ark who kept saying she was Abby’s best friend and seemed to be Kane’s girl friend? I’d totally forgotten her, but apparently she was important to the plot in Season One.
Kane was going to float Abby!
I was delighted all over again by the attention to detail, especially the raggedy clothing the Ark residents wore. Subtly reinforced that they’d been marooned up there for 97 years with no opportunity to go shopping, or to manufacture new clothes. Hence, shirts with holes and careful mending.
I’d forgotten how Clarke was such a wonderful artist when she lived on the Ark, drawing all those pictures of the ground in her cell. That aspect of her personality gets submerged pretty fast.
And how she tried to keep her father’s watch…
There was a lot of good music in episode one. The producers certainly made excellent use of the sound track over the years, to emphasize key moments. “Radioactive” by Imagine Dragons is almost too much on the nose in this episode.
I didn’t see any specific foreshadowing of ALIE. Maybe at this point in season one, the writers hadn’t come up with that plot line. I did zoom in on anything red!
Jaha’s son Wells. He seemed like such a key character, as if he was going to be a mainstay of the series…and then they kill him off almost casually a few episodes later. Remember? He’s a victim of Bellamy’s “do whatever you want” slogan, when the little girl who hates Wells’s father slits his throat. That was the warning to us, the viewers, right then and there, that the series was going to be brutal about who dies and when. Wells was the foreshadowing of a lot of loss to come, characters we were going to care about much more than we did him. (We barely know him and he’s gone.)
Knowing what I know now, as a viewer, would I still have gone along for the ride? Yes. There’s a lot of good story telling ahead, twists and turns, and jaw dropping moments. I wouldn’t want to give up time with Clarke and Bellamy as they make their choices and take actions. I wouldn’t want to miss the tragic beauty of Octavia and Lincoln together. I wouldn’t want to miss out on meeting Raven and seeing her evolve. And Lexa was such a layered, exceptional character – who could regret meeting her, even if for far too brief a time?
I would be better prepared for some of the shocks and I’d still be highly upset over Finn’s death. Lexa’s death. Lincoln’s death. And probably some hard-to-take deaths in the season three finale ahead. I might not have let myself get so invested in the story and the characters, given some of the unfortunate-in-my-opinion choices the showrunner and writers were going to make. Been more of a casual viewer.
But overall? I’d be there. Well, depending what happens this week with the finale!