2:30 pm EDT, January 31, 2017

In praise of ‘Team Adults’: The unsung heroes of ‘The 100’

As The 100 season 4 approaches, we celebrate the ‘teen’ drama’s often overlooked adult characters: Abby Griffin, Marcus Kane, Indra and Thelonious Jaha.

In the brutal world of CW’s The 100, the apocalypse doesn’t care who you are, or what you stand for. The key question of the show is whether you’re strong enough to survive — and if you do, can you live with yourself and the things you’ve done?

Our protagonist is Clarke Griffin, a fearless bisexual space heroine who crash-lands on Earth in the company of 100 teenage ‘delinquents’ sent to determine if the post-nuclear planet is habitable. A recent Hypable article zeroed in on the perceived generational conflict between the delinquents and the adults as a source of perpetual conflict, but we respectfully disagree.

Related: Interview: The 100 showrunner teases “dark, relentless, but surprisingly hopeful” season 4

By The 100 season 3, the divisions between ‘kid’ and ‘adult’ have largely eroded, and The 100 has carefully built an age-, gender-, and ethnically-diverse ensemble which gives as much narrative weight to the adult characters as it does to the delinquents. Without the hard choices Abby Griffin, Marcus Kane, and the rest of our ‘Team Adults’ make, all the characters we know and love would have perished long ago.

As we know, the delinquents from the Sky Box were sent down to Earth to free up oxygen resources on the Ark. But it’s Abby’s quick intervention and ingenuity that gives our beloved characters a chance to survive on earth instead of being floated. It’s Abby’s wristbands that allow the Ark to realize the delinquents are alive, and later form the basis of a communications link. (They even return in season 3 as the base for Raven’s device to remove ALIE’s chips that frees Abby from the City of Light.) 

It’s Abby who illegally commandeers an escape pod and drafts Raven for her near-suicide mission — without which Earth would never have been proven to be survivable, and everyone on the Ark would have died. Abby’s leaps of faith, in the face of Kane and Jaha’s doubt, turn what could have been a long shot for survival into salvation for the space-faring members of the human race.

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Whoever your favorite character on The 100 is, if they came from the sky, they’d be dead without Abby Griffin.

The 100 season 3 Abby

Through the seasons, we see Abby’s medical expertise and stubborn optimism save the lives of everyone around her. She becomes key to brokering peace with the Grounders, utilizing her skills to heal Lincoln and single-handedly proving to Lexa that her alliance with Clarke and Skaikru is built on trust. It’s Clarke who we come to see as Lexa’s primary contact among the Sky People, but Kane and Abby play an often overlooked role in keeping war at bay and laying the foundation for peace. In fact, Kane is first of the Sky People (well before Clarke) to establish diplomatic relations with Lexa, and the first besides Octavia to learn any Trigedasleng.

All this is done in addition to juggling the responsibilities of a Chancellorship Abby never asked for, during which she and Kane built Arkadia into a thriving permanent settlement holding a steady peace with the Grounders.

But as we know, “there are no good guys,” and the adults — as flawed as they are heroic — are no exception to that rule. Abby’s defining trait is her love for her daughter, a trait which sometimes blinds her to consequences or leads to disastrous mistakes. For Kane, it’s the fight for the survival of their people at any cost.

It’s Abby who first puts a gun in Finn Collins’ hand, sending him on a rescue mission to go search for Clarke. Though his massacre of innocent civilians at Tondc is his own fault, there are dramatic consequences to her decision to subvert Kane’s authority without his knowledge. In turn, Kane chooses the Ark’s old ways of governing and punishment for Abby instead of listening to her and rewriting the laws of the Exodus charter to suit their unique circumstances.

Additionally, Abby (impulsively and unfairly) slaps Raven after she accuses Abby of sending her own daughter and the other kids down to earth to die. It’s an inexcusable moment, though Raven clearly understands where that reaction came from; but it’s proof that the show’s writers remain consistent in giving every character — not just Abby — moments where we’re meant to find their behavior indefensible. The characters exist inside a moral grey area where mistakes get made. They would not be three-dimensional or complete without them.

The 100 Bellamy Kane

We also see the adults serve as mentors for the delinquents, sharing their life experience and guidance. Sinclair’s relationship with Raven was one of The 100 season 3’s most beautiful surprises, opening up a world of Raven’s backstory and showing us a father figure who could truly see her potential. And Indra’s mentorship of Octavia is one of the richest and most interesting female relationships on the show. Not to mention the complex dynamics of mentorship and loyalty in the relationship between Pike, Kane and Bellamy last season, where we see Bellamy caught between conflicting ideologies of two men who both see him as the future leader of Arkadia and want to help shape the leader he becomes.

Even Thelonious Jaha (whose evolution from reserved, morally decent Chancellor in season 1 to mind-controlled supervillain in season 3 is one of the show’s most startling developments) is a vital component to the story, serving as a foil to younger characters like Murphy.

Far from being a cautionary tale about the boomer generation’s oppression of millennials, The 100 actually does a remarkable job for a teen drama of highlighting intergenerational relationships, showing us families — both biological and created — based on deep trust and respect.

With sneak peeks from upcoming episodes of Jaha mentoring Clarke as a leader, hints from the recent Unity Days convention that we’ll be seeing both Clarke and Bellamy get more screen time with Kane, and trailer clips of Abby in storylines with everyone from Murphy to Luna, we’re hopeful that even with some ‘Team Adults’ losses in season 3 (R.I.P. Sinclair and Pike), this dynamic will only continue to grow in The 100 season 4 (and hopefully season 5!).

The 100‘ season 4 premieres Wednesday, February 1 at 9/8c on The CW

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