Click here to read my main reaction to this show.
When I was watching The 100, I didn't know at first if I was actually enjoying it--and then I didn't really know why I liked it. I thought it might just be the suspense that was keeping my attention, but then I kept thinking about the show afterward, and that kind of thought is more than a reaction toward suspense. Once I started making note of some of the quotes I liked from the show, I started to get a better idea of what was so compelling. So I'm just going to go through some of these quotes and look at what they say about the themes and concepts in the show at large.
"In peace may you leave the shore
In love may you find the next
Safe passage on your travels
Until your final journey to the ground
May we meet again" (Burial message on the Ark)
In the physical sense, the people of the Ark have these words because when someone dies, the body is released into space to fall back down toward Earth. And yet there is something so beautifully symbolic in them, in the concept of travels and the hope of meeting again. There is the hope that the people have of returning to the ground--and there is also the hope of being reunited with loved ones after death.
"We've all got a monster inside us, Clarke, and we're all responsible for what it does when we let it out." (Lincoln)
This one introduces the concept of responsibility for one's actions, even when perspective is clouded. Pretty much everyone in the show, at some point, makes a bad decision. A very bad decision, often with terrible consequences and domino effects. Often they try to excuse it, they say that it was because they didn't know this or that fact or because they were overcome by grief and anger or some other explanation that may make sense. But Lincoln's words say that one is always responsible for one's actions, no matter what. Lincoln is all about consistency and justice. He says that even though we all have the potential for evil, we need to resist it and we need to try and right the wrongs that we (inevitably) bring about.
"We have to answer for our sins, Abby." (Kane) "After everything we've done, do we even deserve to survive?" (Abby)
Similar concept here. After Kane had his realization moment back on the Ark, he became very aware of the consequences of actions and of the need to take the whole picture into consideration before acting. He always carries the sense of a burden with him: he knows that humanity is not perfect and that he is not perfect. He knows that he has done things that have caused others pain--and he's trying to make up for that by learning and trying to do better. What Abby asks in response to Kane's comment is what many of the characters ask. Sometimes it seems that they have botched things up so much that there is no way to fix it, and the pain of that can be so great that they don't even want to fix it. They feel like they have to suffer the consequences.
"She was innocent." (Jasper) "None of us is innocent." (Maya)
In the literal sense, Maya is talking about the means that she and her people used to survive; they were knowingly causing harm to others in order to help themselves. Jasper, though, is talking about Maya as a person: as a person, Maya was good and nice and helpful. She was a good person, so Jasper thinks she didn't deserve her fate. But in a larger sense, you can take Maya's words in terms of humanity in general: humanity is never all innocent. Maya seemed to be at peace with this awareness in this moment; she knew that she had done her part, but if there were consequences for that one thing her people did, then she would accept those consequences. To do otherwise, I suppose, would be dishonest, trying to say that she was better than everyone else.
"You think you deserve this pain--that it's your cross to bear . . . It's not. You deserve more." (Sinclair)
Here we have some very kind words. In fact, they might be some of the kindest words in the show. Given that, once again, this concept of pain and clinging to a "cross to bear" is something most of the characters struggle with, it's quite something to have Sinclair come in and say that pain and guilt or regret shouldn't be Raven's birthright (since it is Raven to whom he directs his words). Raven and the rest of the people of the Ark should have more than this. They do deserve full lives, lives that also include good moments. Otherwise peace and laughter and quietness have no place in the world--and the world should not be like that.
"He really believes he's doing the right thing." (Kane) "Everybody always does." (Abby)
Kane is talking about Bellamy here, but the same words could be said about other characters at different moments, too. Clarke, Jasper, Indra, even Kane himself. Kane says this because he has come to put trust in Bellamy and so he knows what drives Bellamy--so he also knows how hard it will be to convince him of a different perspective. What Abby says is true, though: people don't (well, in these types of cases) do something wrong because they want to do something wrong. They're just seeing the picture from the wrong view. And that's when things get the most dangerous.
"I don't know if your death would bring me peace; I just know I don't deserve it." "I wouldn't be killing you for what you've done; I'd be killing you for what I've done." (Clarke)
This quote hearkens back to Kane and Abby's conversation from earlier about whether or not people deserve forgiveness. Clark, at this point, is starting to make peace with what happened at Mount Weather. She tried at first to flee and then to take vengeance--and now she's realizing that making peace starts with herself.
"What do you do when you realize you aren't the good guy?" (Bellamy) "Maybe there are no good guys." (Clarke)
And here is where Bellamy realizes that he was in the wrong to support Pike, that his actions have led to a terrible mess and possibly ruined the small amount of progress that had previously been made. He realizes, much in fact like Kane on the Ark realized, that he has done wrong. Clarke tells him that maybe there are no good guys--but I take this to mean rather that no one can do everything perfectly. No one can make the right choice all the time, and so no one is good in that sense. But I don't think that that means that no one is "good" in a more basic sense.
So what I began to realize was that while the events of the show are hopeless, the people aren't. These quotes express their search for something more in their lives besides chaos and their desire to keep up hope even in the face of everything that happens. Looking at quotes like this also shows how important the theme of forgiveness/salvation is within the story. It isn't just an action show; it isn't just about different groups of people trying to overcome their differences; and it isn't just a show about leaders trying to help their people. It's also a show about individuals trying to come to terms with who they are and what they do and how they can act in the right. And I think that's what's made this show continue to be of interest to me.