This THE 100 review contains spoilers
The 100 Season 7 Episode 16
Ultimately, The 100 turned in a series finale that’s better than the back half of its final season, but not by a whole lot. The use of two fan-favorite characters (Lexa and Abby), and a last-minute twist, are responsible for much of the emotionally satisfying material. So much of the rest, including the saber-rattling and Sheidheda skulking around, feel like a waste of precious time, plot missteps from earlier in the season that long overstayed their welcome.
The most successful moments were based in the characters we’ve invested in for so long. Octavia’s jaded takes on war, culminating in her speech. Raven holding it down for absolutely everyone. Murphy and Emori grieving what they thought were one another’s deaths. Miller and Jackson’s reunion and dancing juxtaposed with Emori and Murphy’s dire goodbye was a beautiful way to let us say goodbye to those characters, because even if everybody lives, we’re still saying goodbye.
This episode spends quite a bit of time on the concept of judging Clarke’s actions as a proxy for all of humanity. While that has always come with the territory of the show, it feels like an extremely reductive way of viewing seven seasons with a strong ensemble cast and far more robust storytelling, yet it’s the one the finale imposes upon us. Clarke was right about one thing: getting Raven back in the mix should have been Plan A, not cleanup.
It’s far too easy to judge an entire show based on whether you like the main character, even moreso when that character is a woman or girl. It feels odd for The 100, the same show that quietly gave us so many accomplished women and girls as leaders, to spend so many of its final minutes on this. Even with Raven and Octavia course-correcting, the series finale of the show still comes down to a question of Clarke’s choices, and whether we think they’re justified or not. Surely after all this time, The 100 could have aimed higher than that?
Up until the reveal that Clarke’s friends returned to Earth for her, the episode has almost no emotional heft outside of Emori’s fate. Seeing Indra vanquish Sheidheda for her mother was nice, but long overdue considering we’d watched her fail to pull the trigger so many times before. Raven’s pleading on behalf of humanity had more punch because it was with Abby, but it came so late in the episode and was so brief..
One of the more promising opportunities was Clarke’s conversation with her judge. While it’s not actually a long-awaited reunion with Lexa, it’s recognition that Lexa was Clarke’s greatest love, and perhaps her greatest teacher. I appreciate that the higher being pushed Clarke to justify some of her choices, though she mostly let Clarke slide on her intent to murder her own child.
Continuing this season’s theme, there were a few beats we never got to unpack because The 100 preferred to go for surprise (also a problem during season 5, which has more similarities than I’d like to this final season.) Octavia stopping the war was something only she could do, but rather than seeing the faith and growth it took for Blodreina to lay down her arms, the moment was clipped. Clarke killing Cadogan was a badass moment, but shooting him at that point in his test meant we never got to see what it looked like when he had to respond to the higher consciousness, who was in the process of grilling him about giving up love when Clarke takes him down. Similarly, we learned the mystery of what Becca saw, that she was asked to take the test and declined. But there wasn’t time to consider what that actually means.
Did Emori transcend? Her body was dead but her consciousness was alive, and we saw her orb swirl around John’s and transcend. Is she in his mind? Apparently she was in the final scene, but she was hard to spot, even on re-watch. This feels like an odd loose end to leave hanging and not make more explicit, especially after spending so much time this season building up these two possible deaths. Whether she lived or said goodbye in the mindspace, both could have been satisfying, but the in-between space feels accidental or even thoughtless.
In the end, it got me to see all these characters back together on Earth and building again. While they didn’t transcend, it’s their own kind of heaven to be together and to create a life that’s (presumably) free from violence and war. It doesn’t hold up to much scrutiny of course, but when I think of the show from seasons one and two that I fell in love with, it’s the final scenes on the shore that I’ll recall, if I think of the finale at all.
More likely, I’ll think of Octavia’s time on Sky Ring, Indra’s relationship with her daughters and how she let them teach her as much as she taught them, Gabriel’s humanity and eternal sense of curiosity, and the way Murphy and Emori changed so much, but always back to one another. How much I enjoyed meeting Hope, how Diyoza evolved beyond my wildest imagination, Raven’s strength and how she owned her mistakes, and so much more from so many seasons gone by and characters long gone. And how much this little show that people ignored or made fun of had to say about grief, trauma, colonialism, found family, and what we do to survive.
May we meet again.
- The high power mind palace place looks like the galaxy version of Rainbow Road but a lot less fun. Carved into the wood are Cadogan and his daughter’s initials, plus “Ben was here,” and JR + JR in a heart, which I assume was Jason Rothenberg’s tribute to his wife Joy. Any idea what these mean, or spot any others? Let us know in the comments.
- They still have not explained how Earth even exists right now. Are they back in time? Is this one magic? Are we in a multiverse? Alright, I know, I give up…It just feels relevant since a spinoff is happening on Earth at another time to know if that’s how Earth has suddenly cropped up all fine and dandy again.
- Can we just take a moment to appreciate how incredibly long Raven’s to do list was during this episode? Did she time travel? She must be exhausted.
- War is bad and stuff, but hell yeah O in her OG Trikru war paint! Linctavia forever.
- I just want it on the record that I’m bummed out that Jordan’s plan did not involve spraying algae on all the invisible Disciples.
- One thing I do appreciate is that The 100 continued to reckon with the doctrine of jus drein, jus draun and various aspects of Grounder culture until the very end.
- The contemporary music for The 100 has always been used sparingly and generally to great effect. Here we got a heavier hand than usual, but I think it still worked. The cover of REM’s “The One I Love” had the sort of intensity needed for the battlefield, though it seems they were using a very literal interpretation of the title. The Vance Joy song Miller/Jackson and Memori dance to felt like a lighter touch, especially when was filtered through some brain waves. Using U2 for the final scenes is the perfect Dad Rock move from Jroth, though “Bad” is somehow both surprising and on the nose. (Were they not allowed to use “I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For” or “Where the Streets Have No Name”?)
- It is low-key hilarious that Murphy is the first person Clarke assumes might not have transcended
- Clarke not getting to go to the Promised Land is very Moses of her, which sort of works because Clarke is very Old Testament.
- Birth control suddenly being handled feels like a real gift but also a weird thing for the Lexified higher being to mention, since this show has very much ignored birth control for seven whole seasons.