Screen: The CW

The 100's Clarke Is Super

Sarah doesn't think the reference to another super person named Clark is unintentional -- or inapt.

I've liked The 100's Earth-side protagonist, Clarke Griffin, from the get, probably because she's everything I wish I could have acted like as a teenage girl but didn't have the eggs to. She's smart, and isn't interested in hiding it to let other kids feel better about themselves; to the show's credit, the premise of The 100 doesn't allow for that, so other 100-ettes don't do it just for the sake of maintaining teen-show tropes, but if at some future point an asshat is all "NNNNNERD" in Clarke's direction, I predict either a "fuck off" eye-roll or no response at all, because exactly.

Clarke's smarts more often take the form of an inability to suffer time-wasting foolishness, like when Finn's all trying to out-clever himself to make a net to gather the seaweed they need for Jasper's treatment, and Clarke's like, "Or I could just wade in and get it, but keep talking, MacGyver." So often, a TV show makes the bad-ass lady hero uptight and bossy as well, and Clarke is both of those things, kiiiind of, but 1) the 100's situation doesn't call for mellow, and 2) she's not rude about it. She knows what has to be done, and she sets about doing it.

The writers have also nimbly avoided making her too perfect, at least so far. In the beginning of the most recent episode, she hears Charlotte having a nightmare and comes out to comfort her. Of course she knows exactly how to soothe the younger girl without condescending to her. Of course she's one of the few 100s who wants to give Jasper more time, and the only one with the medical know-how -- even if it's secondhand -- to debride his spear wound to fight off sepsis. But she's not the one who knows what the poultice is made from or where to find the seaweed (that's Wells), and she's not above reacting to Wells telling Finn that they'll both "pass" on the ancient booze Finn found in the car in which they're hiding from the radioactive fart cloud by defiantly taking a swig. Cut to her later, a little drunk, in vino veritas-ing poutily, "I'm fun!" and ripping on Wells for getting her pops airlocked while Finn fervently wishes he could leave and blunders into an awkward pause with, "How about we just...take it easy."

Clarke's retort is the best: "I have no idea how to do that."

I think Clarke is a little bit of wish fulfillment on the part of the 100 writers, because as I said above, she's little bit of wish fulfillment for me, too. Intelligent, competent, compassionate, cute -- and nadsy. (It's a gender-neutral synonym for "ballsy." I'm tryin' it out; we'll see how it goes, you and I.) Bellamy isn't an utter waste in "Earth Kills," but he's plenty self-important, dropping a koan on Charlotte about facing her fear -- "the only thing that matters is what you do about it" -- before giving her a knife and a little behavior-mod phrase to say while clutching it. He also snits at Clarke that she doesn't have the guts to mercy-kill Jasper, but when Atom is caught in the fart cloud, Bellamy and Clarke come upon him as he's gasping for Bellamy to end it...and it's Clarke who sings gently to him while taking Bellamy's knife from him and severing Atom's jugular. So it's Clarke who has the guts. And it's stupid Bellamy whose goofy demon-slaying life-coaching prompts Charlotte to stab Wells in the neck because his dad airlocked her parents and she can't stop the nightmares about it. Slow clap, dick.

...Not to let this turn into "Clarke is a good character because she's not that clown," sorry. My point, which I strayed over here from, is that she's a strong, kind character we can get behind. Yeah, sometimes she's a liiiiittle too awesome, like figuring out thanks to a mental elbow from Finn that it isn't Wells at all who dimed her dad; I kind of liked that she was refusing to consider that it was her mother all along, because it made her human, but I respect that the show didn't think they could sustain that conflict realistically (although, since I'm up...that Wells is obviously hiding something about the circumstances of her father's getting floated isn't super-credible from a Wells character-beat standpoint, because it's sweet of him to try to protect her emotionally, but it's such a writerly thing to have teenagers do, versus Wells finally getting fed up all "your mom obviously dropped that dime so please quit talking to me like that," which would feel truer to me). And she's not sanctimonious; she's just solid, in hard-edged ways a lot of women would like to have been at that age.

We'll see how rad (pun intended) Clarke remains once the show throws her together with a boy is a question I look forward to answering with some trepidation -- though at the moment I would rather see her couple up with Octavia, who's a bit more dimensional than the gents on offer, and I don't think it's impossible The CW would go there. For now, thumbs up.

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