We thought we knew about war

Series two of popular US TV show The 100 finished its UK run this week. The series had a dark, epic, complex plot hiding under the covers of a teen sci-fi drama. The final episode was a corker, disturbing, dramatic and thought-provoking it’s only weakness is that the prelude to season 3 did not look half as good, but season 3 can wait for later.

In our libertarian home one of us is consistently anti-war, i.e. was opposed to Syria and the action against ISIS in Iraq. The other favoured a limited intervention on behalf of the Yazidi but opposed all the other recent examples of foreign military intervention. The third likes to pull hair and sometimes to bite noses but isn’t yet able to march anywhere, let alone to war. So, between us, we’re pretty much anti-war. It seems we are typical of libertarians on that score.

What is interesting is that our reaction to the decisions made by characters in The 100 was not exactly consistent with our prior views. This is something that will need a little explaining:

In the first episode of season 1 the 100 are dropped to Earth from the orbiting Ark. They are “expendable” criminals and are being sent as an experiment. 97 years earlier the Earth was irradiated by a nuclear war, the 100 will find out if the radiation is sufficiently abated that the people of the Ark – who become known as “sky people” can survive there. A doctor on the Ark has some sort of theory that they can and the Ark is running out of oxygen, so it is time to find out.

The Earth is indeed survivable, but it is also full of savage survivors – the warlike “grounders”. It takes every sinew of moral fibre and every material resource to survive war with the grounders and so in the moment that the grounders are defeated the shadowy hazmat clad “mountain men” step in and capture 47 of the remaining criminals, just as the rest of the sky people crash to the Earth after their own conflicts come to an end. Such is the set up to season 2.

In season 2 we discover that the mountain men are bleeding the gounders for enzymes in their blood that process radiation. This is an evolved feature of the grounder population that also evolved in, or was genetically engineered into, the sky people. The mountain men have been hiding in a bunker for 97 years and have not evolved this ability. They are ruthless, literally blood thirty, and will do anything to get back to the beautiful wilderness of the ground. The mountain men discover that permanent immunity to radiation poisoning is available if they harvest every last drop of bone marrow from the 47 captives, killing all of them. Clarke is the leader who emerges to stop this.

The sky people fight hard to win the trust of the grounders and form a tense alliance. A military strategy involves sabotage infiltration information management and distraction gives them early dominance as their enemy falls under new leadership. They lay siege to the mountain bunker. A strike against the power plant renders life support largely inoperable and confines the mountain men to level 5, where there is a mess hall and a dorm. In the dorm around 40 remaining captives, and later the elite from the Ark, are confined. The scene becomes grizzly as the mountain men slaughter the sky people one by one, extracting bone marrow with a drill and expanding the force able to operate outside of level 5 and outside of the bunker. Their new president, Cage, is obsessed with the ground but is close to defeat. Consulting his father, the usurped President Dante, he suggests a deal is done with grounders to release hundreds of bloodstock grounders rom the dungeons, taking the wind out of the alliance and leaving just five individual sky people to a final desperate bid to save their people.

Grounder-trained bad-ass Octavia, and nerdy leader of the captives Jasper, find their way into level 5, seeking oxygen for mountain man turncoat Maya – Jasper’s love interest. Lead sky-person, Clarke, and her love interest Bellamy (Octavia’s brother) break into the control room in an irradiated part of the bunker. With them is electronics geek Monty, and their captive former President Dante.

The story’s ending is available on YouTube. If the above has not wetted your appetite for The 100 then these videos tell the rest of the story I want to talk about. If the show looks good to you, then go watch the whole thing instead.

And that, for today, will have to do. I hope you see what I’m talking about when I say there was a genuinely hard decision depicted here. What are you thoughts on it? My wife and I will you our thoughts shortly.

One Comment

  1. Simon, I am anti-war too. I don’t see how anyone can be otherwise, although in fact there are some who’ve said they like the fighting; and I don’t think they are all psychopaths, either.

    Be that as it may. I am anti-war, and therefore I approve of most of the wars my country has fought.

    Because although it is MOST CERTAINLY true that war must be a last resort, and even then must be fought only in defense of the innocent … it is also true that sometimes war must be fought or slavery and the most appalling atrocities will ensue (as when the Communists were allowed to “win” in Viet Nam and in China).

    And if war must be fought it is better to do so early, before the enemy is fully prepared.

    If the French had so much as sneezed in the direction of the Rhine….

    “If you would have peace, prepare for war.” Like almost all aphorisms, the wisdom of this depends on the circumstances; but if one lives or ventures abroad in country beset by murderous bandits, as a rule one had best go armed.

    And be prepared to use the arms to the fullest extent in self-defense, if the bandits appear and give evidence of intending to attack one.

    If a person values his life and the lives of his loved ones — he cannot meaningfully be anti-war unless he is prepared to fight.



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s