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The 100 Discussion: 'The Last War' brings something akin to peace
Well, Grounders. We've done it. We've reached the end of The 100's run. It's been uneven at best, especially in this last season, so reaching the end is more than a little bittersweet. After an extremely cynical final season, a fear that this show would end with ruination and despair wasn't unfounded. However, we did get a little peace, even if it feels a little hollow.
We're Alyssa Fikse and Jessica Toomer, and we're here for one last "may we meet again."
Warning: This discussion contains spoilers for the series finale of The 100.
Failing the Test
Alyssa: Well, here we are, at the end of all things. Raven, Jackson, and Murphy get Emori back to Sanctum, but things are not looking good for her. She sort of stabilizes, and Raven decides to take the prisoners through the portal back to the bunker to help out. Meanwhile, back in Bardo, Clarke, Octavia, and Levitt go after Cadogan, who has gone through the portal into the test. His daughter Cassie appears to him to conduct humanity’s final test, because the aliens take on the form of your greatest teacher, love, failure, etc. Really covering all the emotional bases there. Clarke follows Cadogan in and shoots him dead because of what he did to Madi. Well. I guess that’s one way to handle things, but certainly doesn’t paint humanity in the most compassionate light.
Jessica: Definitely not our girl’s best-planned moment, but we get it. These “higher beings” should be able to as well. Unfortunately, being the true egotistical maniac we’ve always know him to be, Cadogan agreed to take the test to either save or doom humanity so now Clarke has to pick up the pencil and get to it. Before she does, Indra and the rest of the bunker crew get rescued by Raven, who’s patched things up with Nikki enough that she brought her team to blast through the rubble and get Echo and Niylah free. You love to see it.
Alyssa: Raven really comes through in this final episode, and I am glad that she gets her hero moment. She has been such a consistent presence since the first season, and I am glad that the show at least recognizes that. They realize that even with the crew from Sanctum, they simply do not have the numbers to take on the Bardoans, so Jordan has a plan to make his dad proud (sniff) and create a distraction instead. He goes through the portal to the battlefield and somehow neutralizes the invisibility suits. They bring through the people from Sanctum and don’t immediately start fighting, instead heading for a less aggressive position in the trees. However, this plan for a cease-fire doesn’t last long, because Sheidheda comes through and isn’t going down without a fight. Meanwhile, Emori takes a turn for the worse and flatlines while they try to remove the rebar from her gut. As she is fading, Murphy begs Jackson to remove her mind drive and to put it in him instead so they can be together for a little while longer. I thought Richard Harmon really brought it in this episode, and again, I am glad that he got a chance to shine.
Jessica: Even though the plot was messy as hell, I do appreciate the desire to give all our mains their earned moments. While Jackson balks at the idea, he does what Murphy asks because he, like us, now it’s bullsh*t that Emori came all this way just to die in the first few minutes of the show’s last episode. Raven and Echo sneak into Bardo and find Levitt and Octavia. While she heads off to help Clarke, Octavia leads the others to the forest to stop some needless bloodshed.
Alyssa: While all this is going on, Clarke remains inside the test. Like Cassie appeared to Cadogan, Lexa appears to Clarke. It was good to see Lexa again, even if she wasn’t really Lexa, and I guess the fact that she is Clarke’s great love puts the nail in the coffin for this particular ship war. Simulation Lexa tells Clarke that because she murdered Cadogan in the test, she — and, consequently, humanity — has failed. Clarke argues that her revenge was actually justice and that the aliens couldn’t possibly understand all of the pain and loss that she has gone through over the years. Sure, she’s committed some genocide, but it was just in service of those that she loved. She also points out that these aliens have annihilated plenty of species for failing their tests, so it all feels a little hypocritical to bring up her death count at this point in time. Simulation Lexa is unmoved. Clarke failed the test, and therefore so did humanity. They will not be able to transcend.
The Final Fight
Jessica: It shouldn’t come as a surprise but I’m completely on Clarke’s side here and if the writers intended for this conversation to shed light on the strange story choices of this final season, they missed the mark. It feels like a bit of a cheat to have these extraterrestrial beings somehow stand in judgment of what Clarke and her friends have done to survive over the years. And for the reward to be peaceful oblivion (if they pass this erroneous test) feels odd considering we’ve spent seasons contemplating the difference between surviving and actually living, between just making it and actually doing better. I never understood why transcendence was such a wonderful thing for everyone — maybe for people like Cadogan and Bellamy who've seen so much war and death and just want an easy out, but Jordan, Hope, Gaia, Madi, they all have lives to live. This whole plot device felt like it was robbing them of that, and us of a conclusion to this series that gave us some hope, some message to take with us after the credits rolled. I could care less what a group of genocidal aliens think of the human race and I’m glad Clarke finally bit back and didn’t let the show just use her as their moral punching bag. Still, she did fail the test and that news hurt worse coming from someone with Lexa’s face. I don’t want to reignite the ship wars because who cares at this point, but it felt like an odd choice not to see Bellamy one last time. This could’ve been the perfect way to do it and to maybe gain a bit of closure for fans of the character. I have no issues with the Clexa fandom — I really grew to like those two as a couple — but we’ve seen Clarke grieve her death for hundreds of years now. I just thought Bellamy deserved the same treatment and he never got it.
Alyssa: Honestly, there were several roles in this episode that I thought would have been better played by Bellamy, namely that of Levitt. After she exits the test, Clarke tells Raven that she failed and humanity is doomed, so she’s going to go spend what little time left she has with Madi. Raven decides that she isn’t going down without a fight, so she goes into the test and ends up on the Ark. Abby is her chosen simulation, which feels like a bit of a stretch, but I was glad to see her back again. Sim Abby tells Raven that because Clarke failed, they’re all doomed. She shows Raven what is going on down on the battlefield, with both sides spoiling for a fight despite it being the end of the world. They see Levitt run out into the middle of the battlefield and beg both sides to put down their arms, appealing to their better natures. Seriously, how much more powerful would this moment have been if it was Bellamy. He has ties to both sides, raising the stakes, and having a character that began with such violence making a plea for peace would have been so powerful. It would have fit his character progression perfectly. But no. It’s Levitt, a character I like but don’t particularly care about. I care about him a little bit because Octavia cares about him. But this would have been such a powerful moment if it had been Bellamy.
Jessica: Very true. Levitt’s been a hollow stand-in for the eldest Blake these last couple of episodes and God, do I wish I knew why the writers chose to go in that direction. But here we are. With Sheidheda still kicking in the finale and shooting the poor guy in the chest to spark more violence. He really is the worst. Octavia and Echo rush onto the battlefield to save should-be Bellamy, running through a hail of bullets and giving us a tender moment after they reach safety in the woods. Say what you will about Becho but I got choked up a bit when our girl said she wasn’t going to lose Octavia too. Hope and Jordan run off to find them and they’re left in charge of keeping both alive while Octavia, our murderous girl under the floor, heads into the no man's land to make one final plea. I was very proud of Octavia Blake this episode. Very proud.
Alyssa: Agreed. I thought the finale did serve Octavia well. Indra finally kills Sheidheda — seriously, WHY did they keep him around so long??? — and Octavia takes her place between the two armies. She once again makes a plea for peace, which does feel appropriately powerful coming from the artist formerly known as Blodreina, begging both sides to put down their weapons. Indra quickly supports her, and soon everyone follows suit. For the good of mankind. Simulation Abby is clearly impressed by this show of peace, and decides that because of this ceasefire, humanity gets to transcend. Bellamy was right.
A (Sort Of) Happy Ending
Jessica: It all just feels so empty though and I’m struggling to put into words why. Sure, everyone now gets turned into magical balls of glowing light, which then crystallize into what can only be described as the flying tube men you see outside car dealerships. But again, what’s the point? Even Emori, who’s been chilling in the mind space with Murphy, ascends. Which, great! But technically she’s dead. Why is she allowed to go to this good place but not Bellamy Blake. I’m just confused. And also pissed because it seems like, for a while at least, Clarke Griffin was going to be left as the only human being in the freaking universe to not be worthy of a happily ever after! Seriously, she tells Madi, who’s conscious refuses to ascend without her mom, to just let go and then she discovers that everyone in Bardo and Sanctum have left without her. Well, except Picasso. Once I realized that these “higher beings” didn’t think golden retrievers were worthy of transcendence, I checked out. You mean to tell me all these humans, who are just the worst, who were ready to kill each other two seconds ago, get to afterlife it in peace but a dog … A DOG ALYSSA! … is somehow not “worthy.” Miss me with that bullsh*t, Jason Rothenberg.
Alyssa: Yeah, I definitely had a momentary thought that Clarke was going to be doomed to wander the earth alone. I am not sure that I would have hated an ending like that. Clarke, having made so many difficult and even cruel choices in order to save her friends, having to stay behind would have been dark as hell, but poetic. However, that was not meant to be. Clarke and Picasso head back to Earth, and because she never dedicated the time necessary to properly train a dog, Picasso runs off. Clarke is worried that she is going to be truly alone now, but Simulation Lexa returns to tell her that that’s not the case. She explains that Madi decided to transcend and be at peace, but the rest of Clarke’s friends decided to stay with her on Earth. They can’t have children and they can’t transcend after they die, but they can live out the remainder of their days together in their happy little commune. I guess this is something of a happy ending. Side note: it was extremely obvious that Tati Gabrielle wasn’t there for filming and was photoshopped in at a few opportune moments.
Jessica: Yeah, a bit of a mess all around, but you’re right. This is as close to a happy ending as we were likely to get and I love that these people chose family over this philosophical idea of heaven or whatever it was. It’s like, peace is great and all, but what does any of this mean if you’re not together in the end? I love this show, even though I strongly believe the writers simply lost their way this season and struggled to find a finish line that felt earned and satisfying. The plot always came second to the characters for me and that’s what I’ll hold onto now that it’s done — who Murphy and Bellamy and Octavia and Clarke and Monty and Raven and the rest were, what they represented and what they taught us. I’m also going to pretend that Bellamy Blake was on that beach because he deserved more. Mostly though I think we should thank the cast, especially Eliza Taylor, for just absolutely killing it every season and dedicating so much of themselves to this world and the fans who loved it. Alyssa, final thoughts?
Alyssa: As frustrated as I was by this final season, I am ultimately glad that I watched this show. I love these characters even if the show didn’t, and I am glad that the ending is something resembling happiness. I really thought that we were going to get a bleak end considering how cynical this final season was. I would say “May we meet again,” but I do not think I will be checking out the prequel series if it gets picked up. So, instead, I opt for a good night and good luck. After burning the fandom so thoroughly in the end, they’re going to need it.
Jessica: At least our fight is finally over, bebes!