Forget juicing vegetables, plodding along on the cross-trainer and trawling the internet for your next summer holiday, what we need this dull and dreary January is some true escapism.
My suggestion? E4’s post-apocalyptic drama The 100.
Sure, you might think the sci-fi series isn’t your cup of tea. There’s a lot of blood, hormone-fueled sex and stereotypes. It’s highly unrealistic; in fact, if you think about it too much, it makes very little sense. But it’s also gripping, imaginative, immersive and full of suspense. It’s Lord of the Flies meets 90210 – and it’s brilliant.
Series two lands on E4 this evening, and if you’re yet to make your acquaintance with Earth’s newest residents, never fear.
Here’s everything you need to know about series one.
Let me set the scene… It’s the future, 97 years after a nuclear apocalypse killed everything on earth. Thankfully a plucky group of humans living in 12 space stations survived and have been living in an ‘Ark’ in Earth’s orbit ever since, meaning the current inhabitants have never stepped on grass or breathed our air. (How they do still breathe or clothe/feed/wash themselves isn’t important, okay? Just don’t question it. It will make this easier.)
Meet Clarke, prisoner 319 aka Janae Timmins from Neighbours. She’s behind bars for aiding her father who tried to reveal the Ark’s deadly secret: it’s running out of oxygen and soon will no longer be a viable place for the remnants of the human race to survive. (She got off lightly, her father was “floated” – space’s answer to the electric chair.)
With the end nigh, the only option is to reduce the population of the overcrowded Ark, so Chancellor Jaha (Grey’s Anatomy’s Isaiah Washington) decides to send 100 unrealistically attractive juvenile prisoners with an aversion to authority down to the ground to investigate the Earth’s radiation-soaked surface and ascertain whether mankind can finally return home. Following so far?
Down on the ground, our gang includes rule-breaker Bellamy (who shot Jaha before boarding the ship), his illegally-born younger sister Octavia and free-spirit Finn.
A group of them set off with a 100-year-old map to find food and medical supplies at Mount Weather Emergency Operations Center but they never make it. Double-headed deer, glow-in-the-dark butterflies and river monsters are the least of their problems when The 100 discover they are not the only humans on Earth.
Enter: the Grounders, brutal and violent survivors of the apocalypse.
The 100 might now be at war, but anarchy rules within the camp. For a while, under Bellamy’s watch, they do whatever the hell they want, even cutting communications with the Ark.
Clarke (who the group rely on for the medical skills she picked up from her mother Abby) soon gets the camp under some sort of control and begins to lead alongside Bellamy, but matters of the heart/loin then start causing trouble. People are peeling off their ripped t-shirts with abandon. Finn and Clarke get intimate in an old abandoned bomb shelter – just as Finn’s Ark girlfriend Raven lands on Earth in a stolen drop ship – while Octavia strikes up a passionate relationship with Lincoln, a Grounder played by Hollyoaks’ Calvin Valentine.
In space, the Ark prepares to return to Earth in the remaining drop ship but, discovering there isn’t room for everyone, rebels steal it, leaving the rest of the Ark damaged with depleted resources and falling oxygen levels. The only way to Earth now is to send the Ark itself out of orbit towards Earth, but at the expense of Jaha who is left stranded in the control centre as Clarke’s mum Abby and pal Councillor Marcus Kane embark upon the space station’s final descent.
On Earth, Clarke and Finn are captured by the Grounders and about to be executed, but Lincoln (Calvin Valentine) saves them. With The 100’s numbers depleted by viruses and brushes with their enemies, Clarke decides it’s time to abandon camp and head for the ocean, but they never get that far and are driven back to their camp as a full-on battle ensues.
As the Ark lands safely nearby, The 100 look to have overcome the Grounders but…
Enter: the Mountain Men.
This new and mysterious group knock out all the battle’s survivors (except Finn, Bellamy and Octavia who have become separated from the rest) with red smoke. And what remains of The 100 wake up in sterile surroundings, locked in Mount Weather’s strange quarantine ward.
What does it all mean?! Where are Finn and Bellamy? Who has survived? What IS Mount Weather?
Who knows. Tune in tonight to find out…
The 100 returns tonight at 9:00pm on E4