What’s that in the sky? Not a bird, and not Superman, that’s for sure. It could be several other things, depending on where we are in this week’s season finale of The 100. Maybe it’s Clarke playing with a satellite dish, maybe it’s Becca’s rocket, maybe it’s a mysterious prison transport ship or maybe it’s the Death Wave. The 100 ends a chapter with this episode, and sets up its next era. Our babies are growing up.
Bellamy gets his goodbye with Octavia, finally, as they talk over the radio between Becca’s lab and the bunker. He shores up her confidence so that she can face leading Oneclan for the next five years, and she tells him that she loves him. The radio dies before he can say it back, and before Clarke gets to say goodbye to Abby, but Octavia knows how Bellamy feels, and Abby made sure that she and Clarke said goodbye before Clarke left for the island. Octavia and Bellamy were the ones who needed to talk, and he needed to hear that he’s forgiven and still loved. Bellamy’s reference to Octavia as Prometheus is disturbing, since, as she points out, Prometheus ends up being punished and living in perpetual torment until he’s rescued by Hercules. Foreshadowing?
Indra comes to get Octavia so that she can speak to her people before the Death Wave comes. Octavia is still unsure about her ability to lead. Indra tells her that, “The time of the Commanders is past. The time of the Flame is past. This is your time. Let me help you.” She holds out Lexa’s bindi for Octavia to wear. Octavia puts it on and speaks to the people who are assembled in the hall of the bunker. We get a shot of Jackson and Miller together. Octavia assures the people that it will be difficult, but together, they will survive. As she finishes, the Death Wave arrives. There was also a shot of Gaia looking unhappy with what Indra said to Octavia. Is Gaia going to lead a rebellion against her mother?
The gang at the lab watch on their monitors as Polis is consumed by the Death Wave. Raven calculates that it’ll take 90 minutes for the Death Wave to get close enough to the island to prevent the rocket from launching. They have what sounds like at least a week’s worth of tasks to do in that amount of time, all of them nearly impossible, most of them dangerous. They get to work.
Murphy and Monty walk to the island bunker to collect its oxygenator. Murphy insults Jasper’s honor, and Monty uncharacteristically decides that now is the time to get into a physical fight. They pull themselves back from it before Murphy’s suit is torn, though. Instead, they find the maintenance shed where the oxygenator is housed and try to disconnect it, but the space is too small to reach into while wearing gloves. Monty removes his gloves, despite the powerful radiation already surrounding them, and gets the equipment free. His hands are covered with terrible burns. He puts his gloves back on and tries to help Murphy carry the equipment, but he eventually passes out from the pain. After a moment of deliberation, Murphy leaves Monty behind and brings the oxygenator back to the lab.
Clarke pulls Bellamy aside and tells him that he has a big heart and is a great leader but he needs to use his head more. She believes that her mom’s premonition that she will die of radiation sickness will come true, so he’ll have to learn to live and lead their people without her. I can’t let this scene go by without addressing it, so my thoughts are below in the meta section. I have strong feelings about the idea that Clarke is the head and Bellamy is the heart.
Just then, there’s an accident in the rocket that destroys the com system. Raven is devastated and ready to quit. She was planning to use the rocket’s coms to tell the Ring’s power to turn on so that they can open its door and dock. Now they have no way to communicate with the Ring and no way to get inside. With only 53 minutes left to solve the problem, it looks hopeless. Clarke looks to Bellamy to inspire Raven. He helps her realize that they can use ALIE’s island satellite tower to send the signal instead.
Raven takes Bellamy and Clarke outside and points to the tower, which is a short hike away, then explains how to attach the tablet to it and send the signal. Murphy emerges from the woods with the oxygenator, so Clarke ends up going to the satellite tower alone while Bellamy helps Murphy retrieve Monty. Clarke, the shortest person in the group, now has to run through the deep snow with barely enough time before the launch.
Bellamy and Murphy find Monty awake and trying to make his way back to the lab. Monty is thrilled that Murphy used logic and took the oxygenator back first.
Clarke reaches the tower, but the connections between the tower and the tablet don’t work. She has no choice but to climb to the top of the tower and manually direct the dishes toward the Ring, which means she won’t make it back to the rocket before launch time. After being the one to decide to sacrifice so many others in previous season finales, this time Clarke has to sacrifice herself. She tells herself that her fight is over, and starts climbing.
Echo, who, as a bad *ss spy and warrior, is always prepared, is busy painting her face white and taking off most off her clothes as part of the traditional Azgeda suicide ceremony. After everything she’s done to try to stay alive, she’s decided to kill herself rather than get in a rocket 15 minutes before she would die in the Death Wave anyway.
Bellamy finds Echo five minutes before launch time when she’s about to stab herself in the stomach. He wonders why she doesn’t just walk outside. Probably because the ceremony is more familiar, and is something she can control. Bellamy talks yet another woman through her unmanageable emotions and gets her onto the rocket.
Not a single male character panics or doubts their ability to handle whatever life throws at them. Echo brings us up to four women who can’t handle their emotions in this episode, including Clarke, who brushed off Bellamy’s attempts to placate her. If I didn’t know better, I’d think this was the Whedonverse or the Berlantiverse, instead of The 100. Up until this season, this show has always been great with its female characters.
It’s launch time, and Clarke is still climbing the tower. The others are forced to launch without her. Emori is once again shocked at the ruthlessness of Skaikru.
The rocket makes it up to the Ring without a hitch, but the power isn’t on. Clarke is still working on the dishes, as she watches the Death Wave approach in the distance. Raven suits up and spacewalks to the hangar door so that she’s ready when the power goes on. They’re almost out of oxygen, and will die if Clarke doesn’t send the signal in the next few minutes. Clarke gets the dish aligned, and the signal is sent, but only for a moment. It’s enough to get the power on.
Raven opens the hangar door, spacewalks back to the capsule, and lands in the hangar. The Spacekru tumbles out into the Ring, and turns on the ventilation. The atmosphere kicks in just in time. Bellamy gets to push the season-ending lever alone, as he turns on the air in the Ring, saving lives instead of ending them.
Clarke climbs down the tower and runs for the lab. She falls and cracks her faceplate as she goes. By the time she’s deep in the lab, she’s covered in sores and vomiting blood, looking like she did in Abby’s vision.
Bellamy and Raven look down at the Earth, shrouded in smoke and fire, and decide that they have to live in order to make Clarke’s death matter.
Time Jump of 6 Years and 7 Days
Clarke lays peacefully in the sun on the hood of the rover, a massive gun beside her and a notebook and pencil in her lap. The gun looks like it could be mounted on the hood. What kind of enemies does she have these days?
She hops down off of the rover and radios up to Bellamy in the Ring. She’s sent a message everyday since the Death Wave, but has never heard anything back. It sounds like she’s had contact with the bunker in the past, but they’ve gone silent now. The entrance to the bunker is covered in the rubble of Polis. She can’t get in, and they haven’t come out. It’s been safe for the Spacekru and Oneclan to return for over a year. She wonders why the Spacekru hasn’t returned, and tells then to aim for the one little patch of green
Clarke hears what sounds like thunder, and a ship appears from space. She goes into the back of her truck and wakes up a young teenage girl who’s sleeping there. The girl is also a nightblood, and they’re clearly close.
When the ship gets closer, Clarke and the girl realize that it’s not Becca’s rocket. It’s the Gagarin Prisoner Transport from Eligius Corporation. Clarke tells the girl to move the rover and to hide all of their guns.
Could this ship be from the lost space mining prison colony that was referred to a couple of times earlier in the season?
There were so many things wrong with that speech about Bellamy’s ability to lead that I hardly know where to start. First, if she’s going to be literal and decide that Abby’s premonition will come true because Raven’s did, then she should pay attention to what Abby actually saw. Abby saw her with radiation sickness, but she didn’t see Clarke die. Big difference. They also might as well have told us right then that Clarke wasn’t getting in the rocket.
Second, I know that the fans like to say that Clarke is the head and Bellamy is the heart, and the writers have picked up on it, but I think it’s a terrible metaphor. It suggests that Bellamy is stupid and Clarke is heartless, when neither is true. Their leadership styles are different and complementary, that’s what makes them work so well as a team.
Bellamy is better at working with people, and looking at the issues that are directly affecting the people. But he does just fine when he’s alone and needs to strategize and plan, as long as the writers aren’t trying to prove a point, like they were with the rescue of Riley’s group. Think back to everything he accomplished inside Mount Weather. He’s not lacking in the ability to use his head. He’s able to remain open-hearted no matter how many times his heart gets stomped on.
Clarke is better at looking at the big picture, long-term and global planning, diplomacy, and other dealings with leaders outside of her own people. She has a hard time bringing her thinking down to the level of day-to-day problems, preferring to pass those issues off to Bellamy or whoever her current second-in-command is. She also hates to have to kill anyone, loves deeply, and fought hard to find a way to save as many people as possible from Praimfaya. Being the one who is strong enough to make the hard decisions and survive it doesn’t make her heartless. It makes her amazing.
If anything, Clarke is the one whose leadership style is unbalanced. Bellamy is able to work with all kinds of people and ultimately accomplish large and small goals. His dealings with Pike were the only time that he was swayed by someone else’s influence. Clarke has a tendency to fall under the influence of whatever charismatic leader she’s currently spending time with, or to fall into depression and wander off into the woods. She’s unrelatable and unreliable as a leader, long-term. Bellamy learned from raising and protecting Octavia how to be in it for the long term and to be willing to do whatever is necessary to take care of his people.
Clarke is all decked out in her Mad Max leathers, driving the requisite adapted vehicle, with her adopted orphan in tow. She’s all set to play Max in Beyond Thunderdome next season, with Octavia as Aunty Entity/Tina Turner, Queen of the Apocalypse. You just know that things didn’t stay all peaceful down in the bunker, and if Indra continued as Octavia’s main adviser, it may have gotten very medieval with the punishments when Skaikru continued to rebel. Spacekru will come down to Earth with more kids in tow to fill out Clarke/Max’s “orphan” contingent. They’ll found their own peaceful city separate from the bunker in Clarke’s little patch of green. The prisoners are the wild card, but every Mad Max movie needs a futuristic car chase through the desert featuring brutish grunts who die en masse. A couple of them can be saved to provide genetic diversity for breeding purposes. Or maybe they’re Cylons.
Or maybe Bill Cadogan, the original leader of the Second Dawn cult, went up to the mining colony 100 years ago, either to escape prosecution or the apocalypse, or as a prisoner, and has been kept in the hypersleep that Becca originally invented nightblood for. He could be making his triumphant return to Earth now in the prisoner transport ship. It’s weird that they hired John Pyper-Ferguson to play him, then never used him again. It suggests that they have future plans for the character.
Either Bill or Becca could also be in hypersleep in the Bunker, waiting to be discovered and woken up by someone (Gaia), and made into the new Commander. That would be enough to start a civil war.
I still haven’t given up completely on Roan being stashed away somewhere in the bunker, though the odds aren’t looking good at this point. What a waste of his character. Killed and left in a fountain, no acknowledgement that a king had just died. Clarke didn’t even care that her long time ally and sometimes friend was gone, after all that they’d been through together. Maybe the red in her hair after the time jump is an ongoing sign of remembrance and mourning, since she had red hair when they met. Just let me have this one little delusion, ok?
There’s the off-chance that the prisoners have been living with Spacekru on the Ring peacefully for a few years now and they all decided it was time to come down to the planet to check things out. That seems unlikely based on the interviews Jason Rothenberg has been giving (links below). It’s probably more likely that they’ve taken Spacekru prisoner and have brought them back to Earth. That solves the problem of getting them home, and brings in another Big Bad from the outside to fight. We’re back to season one, with Arkers, Grounders, and Mountain Men, with a side of extra bad guys from space.
Separating Clarke and Bellamy for 6 or more years seems like a cop out. Whether they are the eventual romantic endgame for each other or not, they are each other’s support system. Continuously having them get close, but then immediately ripping them apart before having to deal with the “will they or won’t they” question smacks of an endgame couple being kept artificially separated until the show is ready to deal with the question for real. Either let them be a couple already, or let them each have their romantic interests and their best friend. This show has shown that they can do long-term couples well, unlike other shows who think the interesting part is the potential of a relationship. How many more love interests have to die before the end of the series when they get their happily ever after, either separately or apart? The producers should take pity on those recurring characters, and put Clarke and Bellamy together next season if they’re planning to make them a couple eventually.
I predict that at least one couple will swap partners while up in space. Maybe Harper ends up with Raven instead of Monty. Murphy and Emori will stay together though. Neither trusts anyone else.
Jason Rothenberg said in post-finale interviews that it was important to separate Octavia and Bellamy in order for both characters to grow. He may have overcompensated a bit. Most kids manage to get out from under their overprotective families by going to college or getting a job and an apartment. Putting heaven, earth, a nuclear apocalypse and a sealed bunker door between them seems like overkill. Haven’t they been separated most of the time since season 1 anyway?
This entire season was spent pointlessly killing off characters, some of whom were introduced just so that they could be killed off (Was there any other point to Riley? I suppose he did have the honor of discovering the ideal suicide method.); trying out solutions that didn’t work, so that one small piece could come up again in the last few episodes; and wasting time while we waited for the big finish. The show did nothing but chase its own tail all season. It was bleak, it was depressing, characters acted out of character and changed motivations from moment to moment, and we were expected to care about people and plots that we knew wouldn’t matter. The people would be dead soon, and it was too early in the season for the plots to succeed.
The 100 was diverse, creative, and notably lacking in misogyny up until season 4. It’s still diverse, but the writers have fallen back on tropes, and misogyny comes with the territory. It was shocking to watch the female characters devolve from complex adult women into Whedonverse specials: tough, “strong” females who are regularly overwhelmed by their emotions and need a man to save them from making bad decisions because of it. Bellamy and Monty must have been exhausted by the time they got into space, after propping up all of the crying, suicidal women.
Emori has lost her edge. She’s suddenly shocked that people can be ruthless and cruel, even though she was sentenced to death at birth by her own people because she was born with a slight disability. She looks to Murphy for comfort when she’s thrown out of the “security” and “home” of the bunker by the people who were ready to irradiate her to death a few days previously.
Why on Earth would Emori feel safe locked up with Grounders and Skaikru for five years with no escape, when she’s never been safe with them and it’s always been important to her survival to have an escape plan ready at all times and to trust no one? Because, in the misogynistic, TV trope-heavy mind, women yearn to nest and build a home. If they’ve always been wanderers or warriors and felt no need to settle down, it’s because they previously haven’t had the chance to make the home and family they secretly dream of, or they aren’t self-aware enough to realize what they need. Men, of course, may or may not have a need for a permanent home. They are allowed the full range of individual variation in fiction. Only the most damaged and irredeemable of fictional women don’t secretly desire some form of stability and caretaking.
This show has all of the signs of a bored showrunner who’s out of ideas and ready to move on. It feels like he’s not closely involved with the writing anymore, leaving it up to the B or C team while he takes the best writers with him to whatever his new project is.
All we need for the writers to complete the Mad Max: Beyond Thunderdome scenario is a pet monkey inexplicably running around acting as a deus ex machina to save the good guys whenever necessary. Maybe the prisoners will bring one with them. Or maybe they’ll have evolved into talking apes and we’ll finally get the Beneath the Planet of the Apes homage that I’ve been hoping for since the Second Chance cult was introduced. It would make about as much sense as the rest of the science on this show.
After this Season of Meaningless Death, Character Assassination and Filler, a season-long homage to a campy classic movie would be a step up in creativity and quality. It won’t happen, but it would be glorious if it did. Instead, we’ll get a retread of season 1. Great season. If I want to watch it again, I’ll watch it again. No need to do a remake yet.
I stand by my opinion that the parts of this season that matter should have been done as a two hour season premiere or a between seasons movie. Season 4 should have taken place after the Death Wave and time jump had already happened.
Grade for the season= B-
Interviews with Jason Rothenberg: