Up&Comers Spotlight is a new recurring feature that highlights great performances by rising stars in both television and film. Beware of spoilers.
It’s been about a week since “The 100” aired its season finale and I just cannot stop thinking about it. A magnificent end to a great season. In addition, today is the one year anniversary of the series premiere. Basically, I have “The 100” on the brain, so I decided to highlight the cast in the first Up&Comers Spotlight.
The series has several things going for it, including brave storytelling and a fascinating world, but it is the talented young cast that I find to be the most impressive component. Young characters usually shine when they are within an adult ensemble cast: Kiernan Shipka on “Mad Men” for example. “The 100” has a group of young characters in the forefront and has them dealing with some of the darkest story lines on television.
Leading the pack is Eliza Taylor, who is giving us Claire Danes on “Homeland” level acting. The world really needs to pay attention to what Taylor is doing as Clarke, the young girl forced to lead her people on the ground. Clarke played the strong leader navigating the world with a decent success rate, which led to war with The Grounders. The second season allowed for Taylor to step her game up even more. It began with her leaving behind a group of her people to get reinforcements to battle their new enemy, The Mountain Men of Mount Weather. Even with her own not believing in her claims about their new “friends”, Clarke was resolved to save them and did what was necessary.
It all came to a head when her initial love interest Finn (Thomas McDonnell) had to face the massacre he committed in search of Clarke during her time in Mount Weather. Taylor was on fire as Clarke racked her brain trying to decide what needed be to done, ultimately choosing to kill him in order to stop the certain grueling torture he faced. Her choice led to the second half of the season where Clarke battled her demons while trying to broker a deal with former enemies to take on their new shared enemy within Mount Weather. Taylor’s terrific season ended with her best work as she crossed the moral line to save her friends, which broke the young leader. It was a heart wrenching, but amazing thing to watch.
Bob Morley had an equally tough job this season: becoming the male lead of the series. When Finn made his tragic exit, Morley’s Bellamy was left to lead on the male side on his own. Bellamy shared a leader-like position with Clarke throughout the first season, but his trajectory went from antagonist to protagonist in a subtle, fascinating manner. Unfortunately, in season two, when the rest of the group living in space came down to Earth, Bellamy was knocked down to his former low society status. He spent the second season making his way back and earning the respect of the adults that viewed his as a criminal. Bellamy then went behind enemy lines as the Inside Man of Mount Weather and brought the excitement with him.
As Bellamy’s younger sister Octavia, Marie Avgeropoulos was the series’ secret weapon in season two. Her character started out the young rebel with an exceptionally difficult childhood, but as she explored the new world, met some boys and got into trouble several times, her surroundings hardened her. Avgeropoulos got in on the action literally by becoming a true warrior. The actress proved her skills by making her character’s grueling life changing ordeal believable.
The rest of “The 100’s” young cast is full of talent as well. This season included great arcs from Jasper (Devon Bostick), Raven (Lindsey Morgan) and Lincoln (Ricky Whittle). Bostick made Jasper a leader out of necessity to the group stuck inside Mount Weather. Where previously he looked toward Clarke or Bellamy, he no longer had that option. Adding in a great tragic love story and you have the formula a brilliant actor like Bostick needs to shine. Morgan played Raven, the rockstar engineer, who was part of a love triangle of sorts in the first season, but this time around she had a rough time. A life changing injury, a life-saving surgery — without anesthesia — was just the beginning of it, as she then had to convey unbelievable rage and grief as she watched the man she loved, Finn, die at the hands of the new women in his life.
Lastly is Whittle, who has always been a favorite of mine, as he dealt with this dystopian series’ version of addiction. Lincoln was the first character to humanize the Grounders, previously shown as savages, and as a result he became a well-deserved series regular. His love story with Octavia took a back seat in season two as she became a warrior and he tried to survive once the scientists of Mount Weather got their hands on him, but both characters were made the better and stronger for it. Their experimentation led to him becoming a drug addicted, brainwashed super solider, and Whittle impressed as Lincoln fought to save himself. In the end he made a huge leap towards getting back on track, culminating in one of the most satisfying moments in the season 2 finale as he finally got his revenge.