Why The 100 Is Way Better This Season

When The 100 debuted on The CW back in 2014, it looked like it could have just been another show with twenty-somethings playing teenagers who get into all sorts of trouble without adult supervision. By the very first commercial break, however, viewers could tell that The 100 would be unlike anything else on The CW. It was grim and grisly and didn't shy away from putting good guys in situations that forced them to behave very, very badly for the sake of survival. Season 1 was a solid set of episodes, and Season 2 raised the stakes by introducing even more clans and complications.

Unfortunately, Season 3 went off the rails pretty early on, and many fans had a hard time staying invested in the show as it made less and less sense. The season ended on a promising cliffhanger, however, and the first batch of Season 4 episodes has already improved on everything that was rotten in Season 3. Clarke, Bellamy, and all the rest are facing their most impossible odds yet, but the show has never been better. Take a look at our breakdown of why The 100 has greatly improved in Season 4!

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Radiation Kills Everybody

For the first time in the history of The 100, the big threat of the season is not a person or a group or even a war. In Season 4, the Sky People and Grounders alike are facing extinction due to the wave of radiation coming from all the century-old nuclear reactors that are melting down. Aside from Luna and any other Nightbloods that happen to be wandering around, all of the survivors are either going to die of radiation or be doomed to a bunker to try and eke out an existence on minimal resources. Obviously, radiation killing everybody isn't a good thing for the characters, but it has served as a grand unifying threat to forge unlikely alliances between some of the clans. Nobody will survive unless they work together, and this season has been more cohesive because of it.

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There's A Deadline

Of course, the first three seasons of The 100 proved that peace tends to fall apart whenever the clans get too comfortable and confident. Luckily, the survivors have a clear incentive to shelve their squabbling. The radiation isn't coming at some indeterminate point in time; the survivors have two months before the radiation hits, and the effects are already being felt by Grounders who have eaten contaminated fish. We can probably bet that more infighting will crop up as more clans find out about the radiation and people get desperate for what few resources the Sky People have, but the two-month deadline has added a sense of urgency to the plot that drives the action forward and prevents any of the characters from waiting around and doing nothing. The prospect of dying horribly within eight weeks is awful for the not-so-merry band of survivors; it's been wonderful for the story.

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Clarke And Bellamy Are A Team

As great as it is to see so many characters fighting against a grand unifying threat, special mention has to go to Clarke and Bellamy for finally working as a duo again. They're the leads of the delinquent generation, and they're more effective as a unit. Clarke and Bellamy are different enough to check and balance each other, and they both tend to make better decisions when they can bounce ideas off of each other. Season 3 suffered for keeping them apart and at odds for many of the episodes; Season 4 is better for letting them put their heads together again. They're pals and partners and each believes that the other deserves to survive despite their transgressions. Are either of them emotionally healthy? Not at all. But if he was going to be on the list of people who survived, then so was she.

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Everybody Has A Point

In Season 3, it was often pretty easy to see who was wrong and who was right, and it was a significant shift from the shades of gray in earlier seasons. In the first couple of years, we had Jaha ordering the Culling, Clarke killing Finn, and Clarke and Bellamy irradiating Mount Weather. The 100 lost a lot of its nuance in Season 3, largely thanks to the character of Pike. Now, the nuance is back. As much as Clarke wasn't wrong to prioritize doctors and engineers and fertile young women on her list of people to take shelter from the radiation, Jaha wasn't wrong that the people deserved a say in their fates. Raven and Abby both had justifiable arguments about the Ark's stash of medication. Even Bellamy wasn't entirely wrong in sacrificing the hydrogenerator. They all had good points for why they did what they did, and the reasonings haven't been contrived.

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The Storylines Are Balanced

One of the most frustrating aspects of Season 3 was the way that it often failed to balance its various plots. Some episodes would take place entirely or almost entirely at Polis with Clarke and Lexa (R.I.P.), while others would mostly stick with Bellamy and Pike at Arkadia, and still others would put the majority of the focus on A.L.I.E. There just wasn't balance to the storytelling, and it could be difficult to stay invested in all the plots. Season 4 has done a far more effective job of checking in with all the major stories throughout episodes. We had Kane and Octavia in Polis with Roan, Clarke and Bellamy handling things at Arkadia, and Abby working her hardest with as much help as she could get to find a way to cure the radiation. The pacing is better, and the show is more exciting for it.

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Raven Hasn't Been Tortured

All of the surviving characters on The 100 have suffered a few personal tragedies by now, but nobody has really gone through as much as Raven. The poor girl has been cheated on, shot, crippled, operated on without anesthesia, tied to a post and sliced by Grounders, literally drilled into by Mountain Men for her bone marrow, so tormented that she accepted an A.I. chip, lost her free will and was forced to do terrible things by the A.I. chip, then had the A.I. chip fried while still in her head in a move that probably caused brain damage. Basically, it almost always sucks to be Raven. Still, she manages to save the day on a regular basis. Will Season 4 find a new and horrifying way to torture her? Probably. But at least she's gotten a brief span of time without something truly awful happening to her.

New episodes of The 100 air on Wednesday nights at 9 p.m. ET on The CW. Check out our midseason TV premiere schedule to see what else you can catch on the small screen, and don't forget to take a look at our 2017 Netflix premiere schedule.

Laura Hurley
Senior Content Producer

Laura turned a lifelong love of television into a valid reason to write and think about TV on a daily basis. She's not a doctor, lawyer, or detective, but watches a lot of them in primetime. Resident of One Chicago, the galaxy far, far away, and Northeast Ohio. Will not time travel and can cite multiple TV shows to explain why. She does, however, want to believe that she can sneak references to The X-Files into daily conversation (and author bios).