At its core — and this is a theme we see throughout all the seasons — 'The 100' is about survival. The CW show, which first began airing in 2014, saw the titular 100 delinquents from the Ark being sent down to Earth in a barely-there ship to see if the planet is viable to live in nearly 100 years after a nuclear apocalypse.
However, when the kids reach the earth, they soon learn that they aren't alone. There are, in fact, survivors from the nuclear apocalypse who have established their own communities and their own lands. These survivors are called the Grounders by the delinquents.
The first season focuses partly on the struggle between the delinquent's faction and the Grounder faction. The first instance of an attack by a Grounder happens in the very first episode when a spear is thrown to Jasper Jordan (Devon Bostick) as he crosses the lake to go to Mount Weather. Then, for a while, the show focuses on internal disharmony and politics.
Then in the sixth episode, we see Lincoln (Ricky Whittle), a grounder, help Octavia Blake (Marie Avgeropoulos) heal. Her brother, Bellamy (Bob Morley), and the others then kidnap him in order to question him. When they realize that the blade Lincoln stabbed Finn Hudson (Thomas McDonell) was poisoned, Bellamy and Raven Reyes (Lindsey Morgan) both torture Lincoln to get him to divulge the cure. However, it is only when Octavia slices her own hand with the poisoned blade that Lincoln gives up the answer.
The portrayal of the Grounders is where a big issue comes — they are shown as savages and therefore, fans justify the cruel treatment they are subjected to. This is, of course, a tactic that has been used by colonizers for long — be it for Asians, Africans or Native Americans.
The Grounders have a "way" of doing things that will be considered savage — they fight to the death, they have revenge death sentences and so on. Even the way they dress — with animal skull masks and animal fur, with messy (in the true sense) hair — are to show that no, they're not as civilized as the Sky People.
Of course, fans argue in a Reddit thread, that it depends on the point of view you are looking at. From the Grounders' perspective, the Sky People are invaders, whose ship crashed on their territory. Moreover, the three flash rockets that Clarke Griffin (Eliza Taylor) sends up the sky — so that those on the Ark can see they are still alive — ended up landing on a village and burning it down.
However, one fan also says if we look at it from the perspective of the Sky People, they are refugees. The Ark was dying and they did not have any other option for survival except down on Earth. When they first landed, they had no idea that there were still survivors.
However, the fan also notes that "Under Pike's leadership in [Season 3], they were becoming conquerors/imperialists/colonizers. Pike's goal was to wipe out the grounders and appropriate all available land and resources for their own use. As an aside, I suspect that is what the Mountain Men would have done had they survived."
Another fan notes that initial conflicts may lead to doubts about the Sky People being viewed as conquerors, however, noted, "But it was a hostility that came from the 'accidental' and unnecessary conflict between Anya and the delinquents, not because Skikru wanted to conquer Trikru. As another user said, I see them more as refugees escaping their terrible conditions and imminent death in the sky."
However, it is also important to note that besides the spearing of Jasper (which Clarke and the others eventually understood to be a warning to stay away from Mount Weather, whose occupants became villains in Season 2), the Grounders never attacked the Sky People first.
When Clarke tries to have peace talks with Anya (Dichen Lachman), it is Jasper who panics and shoots first on seeing Grounder warriors in the trees aiming at Clarke. Would they have attacked Clarke first? We can never know now, but there is no denying that the Sky People attacked and killed first.
However, the fan notes that the story is different for the upcoming season, writing, "I have a different opinion on this about Sanctum. They are refugees once again, but I think that they forced their way into Sanctum's society after they killed the primes. It was for self-defense, yes, but in S7's trailer we can clearly see how they basically take over Sanctum, overcrowding it and ruining it."
Another fan noted, "I think the show does a great job of dealing with themes of colonization, genocide and xenophobia, as a social commentary of what this implies. Skaikru were shown time and time again that their actions have consequences, and that in the end, we are all human, and the only way we can thrive is if we stop fighting and work together. if we don’t, bad things happen."
A viewer wrote, "It's not mentioned in the show. BUT it is basically discussed when they are talking about doing better than their ancestors. Yeah, they're colonizers, there's no debate over that, they're still more humane than most of the grounders and are willing to earn trust and are aiming for peace."
Another shared, "That was actually one of the first things I took away from season one! It's part of the reason why I like the Grounders more than Skaikru. All of the Grounders' actions were justified. I would say that in season 6, they were treated more as refugees than colonizers, but I can agree that they'll probably go back to being colonizers in Season 7 again."
Follow MEA WorldWide's countdown to the final season of 'The 100' for more. The final season will premiere on May 20 on The CW at 8/7c.