Well everyone, we made it. “The 100” completed its final journey to the ground after 100 episodes, but any semblance of closure has been floated.
After all that, I still don’t know what transcendence is.
“The 100” aired its series finale – and 100th episode – “The Last War” on The CW last Wednesday, Sept. 30, and I’m feeling the opposite of what I should be feeling after my favorite show ends. One could almost say it was the last straw (*side smirks*).
I originally wanted to write an in-depth review of this episode, diving into all the deep messages I thought we’d get. However, the final message was a 180° from what I expected and strength flooded out of me. I just wanted to rest my head and heart.
Reviewing an episode that physically felt like a punch to the gut, a slap in the face, a clench of my heart felt meaningless. “The 100” felt meaningless.
I just wanted to rush to the healing process from all the pain this show has caused me. I needed time to sit in my feelings and cool down from my initial anger, and it’s taken me over a week to write this.
I sincerely feel like I wasted the last seven years of my life watching this show. This was showrunner Jason Rothenberg’s directorial debut and it showed.
From the directing to the writing, everything felt messy and slapped together in the finale. Almost all the shots were too shaky. To be partially fair, “The 100” was one of the last shows filming in North America right as the COVID-19 emergency shutdown was going into place. That doesn’t excuse lazy writing though.
Nothing about this series finale felt true to the show. The entire season was an outlier and this series finale proved it. It obliterated all the characters.
The show is no longer about survival and trying to do better. It’s about the petty grievances of the man who made it and how that impacts the story he’s been trying to tell since 2014.
I sobbed on my floor for 30 minutes after the final scene faded to black, and it wasn’t because I was sad my once-favorite show ended. It was because all my hope for the last seven years was for nothing. I poured myself into this story, insisting it was going to be one of the most meaningful, important shows out there. I was wrong. I cried because all the characters’ journeys weren’t worth it in the end. It was all for nothing. I wasted my time.
Here’s my rating for “The 100” series finale:
SPOILER ALERT WARNING:
Who gets to take the group test?
I’ll be honest, I genuinely enjoyed the first half hour. Cadogan used the code, went into the Anomaly’s white light and was faced with his teacher for humanity’s final test.
We learned that the alien-god-transcendent-judge takes the form of the test taker’s greatest love, largest mistake and biggest teacher. Cadogan’s was dressed as his daughter Callie, who we saw lead the prequel’s backdoor pilot in episode eight.
Unfortunately for Cadogan and humanity (I guess?), Clarke quickly showed up and shot him in the head, ending his test but unknowingly beginning hers.
Clarke was stuck in the trial waiting room until her teacher showed up in the form of fan-favorite Lexa, all decked-out in her grounder outfit. I don’t want to rain on any fans’ parades, because I know what it’s like to love a character and ship with your whole heart. I’m glad we got to see Lexa again, but the problem is that it wasn’t really her. It was some alien-judge dressed as her.
I also think there were other, better contenders for this role in Clarke’s life. Yes, Lexa was Clarke’s big love and teacher, but was she her largest mistake?
Why wouldn’t it be Wells – a boy she loved on the Ark, the one who taught her forgiveness and morality, the boy she blamed until he was killed on the ground after following her down)?
Why wouldn’t it be Bellamy – a man she loved enough to talk to on the radio for 2,199 days, the one who taught her to lead with her heart, the man she killed for believing something he was right to believe in)?
Why wouldn’t it be Madi – a girl she loved and chased down for two seasons, the one who taught her that her “only choices” were terrible mistakes, the girl she couldn’t protect in the end and almost killed)?
Why was Lexa dressed as a grounder when the girl Clarke fell in love with was Lexa “the girl” and not Lexa “the commander?” So many things didn’t make sense in this, besides one thing. Clarke failed the test and it was brilliant.
Of course she was the first person to ever kill someone during a test about humanity’s morality. That’s some mighty fine character development right there (*looks into the camera*). I was glad she failed the test, because it was one of the only things that made sense. Humanity is stuck in our cycle and when we’re given an opportunity to do better, we mess it up.
However, Raven wasn’t about to let Clarke get an F on the group test she’s being graded on too, because Raven is a straight A student. She rushes into the Anomaly’s white light and is greeted by Abby on the Ark (I could’ve sworn it was going to be Sinclair or Finn, but I guess I can’t predict anything this season).
Abby is like, “Sorry girl, but there’s nothing I can do. Your species sucks and is already on the cusp of another war (*shrugs shoulders*).” Raven doesn’t take “no” for an answer and continues trying to be the teacher’s pet. They’re transported to Bardo where a war is about to break out between the Disciples and everyone from Sanctum. Levitt runs into the middle of the battlefield, ready to be the voice of reason. Sheidheda emerges from the bushes, pulls the trigger and war breaks out, Levitt getting shot in the process (don’t worry, our newfound sweetheart is fine).
Eventually, Octavia runs out on the battlefield and gives one of the biggest motivational speeches of her life. Everyone on both sides lower their weapons, the war stops and the Abby-alien-judge decides humans kind of learned to be better. Everyone still alive is allowed to transcend besides Clarke since she originally failed the group test for everyone.
Everyone turns into “golden Groots” (I love the fandom for calling them this *chef’s kiss*) and Clarke walks around all nostalgic and peaceful with blissful music playing in the background. She runs into Picasso and decides to go back to Earth to live out her remaining days alone.
I was bummed that humanity got to transcend because I didn’t think they deserved to. However, I was happy that Clarke would live and die alone. This season’s version of her was terrible, so I thought her ending was well-deserved. She “bears it, so they don’t have to” after all.
Lexa-alien-judge shows back up as Clarke’s crying because she doesn’t want to be alone anymore. They round a corner, and almost all her pals are setting up camp on a beach. They decided to be with her instead, because apparently transcendence is voluntary. However, people who don’t want to transcend are never allowed to have that opportunity again and they’re unable to procreate (Whaaaaaa??).
The ending would’ve made more sense had humanity turned into crystal giants like they were supposed to after Clarke failed the test. I don’t see why Raven and Octavia were suddenly allowed to retake the test for her.
What are the rules for transcendence? Are there rules at all or are the transcendent gods just making things up as they go along like the writers did for this final season?
What happened to the cycle?
No matter what happened on “The 100” I always loved the whole “we need to break our cycle” aspect (see almost all my reviews on the topic). I love talking about existentialism, and it was fascinating to see its characteristics depicted on TV in such a glaring way.
Jasper Jordan took the nihilistic approach saying we’re stuck in our cycle of “us versus them” and always choosing our people even if it causes the destruction of another. Monty Green and Harper McIntyre (ahem, I’ll never forget about my girl) took a hopeful approach saying we can break our cycle of “us versus them” if we actively try harder.
Jasper committed suicide because of his belief. Monty and Harper sacrificed themselves to a lifetime alone in space for theirs.
Both sides died for their opposing beliefs in the cycle, and in the end, the cycle ceased to continue. It wasn’t because everyone killed each other like Jasper thought would happen, and it wasn’t because humanity worked together to break the cycle like Monty and Harper hoped for.
Jasper, Monty and Harper’s deaths were all in vain.
The cycle ceased to exist because a random divinity (that’s never been discussed on the show before) decided to rid humanity of the cycle completely. It didn’t continue. It didn’t break. It was simply taken away from them. Choice, freewill and the opportunity to prove themselves were taken out of the equation.
The remaining human race (and Emori) got to transcend without Clarke. However, her “friends” – who constantly tore down her self-worth for the past three seasons – decided to skip out on transcendence and live a life alone with her on Earth, procreation stolen from them.
There’s no longer an “us versus them,” because there’s no longer a “them.” Humanity doesn’t get to learn from its mistakes and break the cycle, because there’s no longer a cycle to break. The human race is doomed to end with Clarke and the pals who almost drove her to suicide in season six. How is this a hopeful ending?
All the characters who actively worked to be better and make humanity worthy of saving got left in the dust. Wells, Jasper, Monty, Harper, Kane, Diyoza, Nelson/Sachin, Gabriel and Bellamy never got to transcend and they’re some of the only ones who deserved to.
What type of rule is this?
It’s clear Rothenberg only made this rule up as he went along because of the drama with certain actors off screen. Emori got to transcend after dying. Why did certain dead characters get to transcend and others didn’t? These rules don’t make any sense.
Rothenberg’s bias has never been so clear.
Was it worth it?
Along with the strangeness surrounding transcendence (dude, what is it??), it’s also important to note how problematic this ending is.
So, humanity can’t break the cycle. People can’t coexist peacefully with different groups. The only way we can be saved is if one collective religion saves us all. Their god decides who gets to go to their version of heaven, who dies and who’s allowed to procreate all on the judgement of one human.
Cadogan’s Second Dawn cult was right (*shivers in disgust*). Us meek, violent creatures are doomed to repeat our terrors on the world, and the only way we’ll ever find peace is through one mass culture/religion with our individualistic rights taken away. That’s the final message.
Excuse me, what? What am I, an atheist, supposed to take from this? That I don’t have grounds for a moral foundation because I don’t believe in a divinity? Sorry, but I heard plenty of that logic at my small, conservative hometown and I don’t wish to hear it from something I once considered my favorite show.
What are people in minority groups supposed to take from this?
Yes, it’s a cute final shot of Clarke hugging her pals on a picturesque beach, realizing her friends chose her over eternal peace – which Murphy was ready to help kill her for in season six, but I digress. However, what’s the price of this scene? It cost the entire integrity of “The 100” and the fans’ intelligence. How dumb does Rothenberg think we are?
This season downplayed everything “The 100” ever tried to accomplish.
The first six seasons were centered around Bellamy and Clarke’s partnership. The last two seasons were centered around Clarke and Madi’s love for each other. In the end, Clarke didn’t get to live a life with either of them. She killed Bellamy and almost killed Madi.
The entire show was about the morally grey and trying to break the cycle. In the end, they didn’t have a solution and the cycle was miraculously taken away from them because they managed not to fight one war (*slow claps*).
The entire third season was about how bad the City of Light was and that people shouldn’t live in some otherworldly, peaceful plane of existence controlled by one person. In the end, that’s exactly what happened to them. Was ALIE right all along? Should Clarke not have pulled that lever ending the City of Light in season three? Maybe “The 100” should’ve ended with that instead. I could go on.
I’ve never been so disappointed with a show in my 22 years of loving TV. Clarke once asked, “Was it worth it?” I’m sad to report that it wasn’t.
It physically hurt me and took all my energy away. Don’t get me wrong, I knew the series finale was going to be disappointing but that didn’t stop that small, hopeful voice in the back of my head giving “The 100” the benefit of the doubt.
I thought reaching the end would feel like how Jasper did when he swooped to the other side of the river in the pilot episode, arms reached high and cheering. In reality, it felt like a couple seconds later when he was quickly impaled with a spear to a tree, all energy immediately gone.
At least half of season seven delved into characters’ false gods. In the end, the smoke and mirrors dissipated and that’s exactly what “The 100” turned into for me. I had to reconcile with the realization that the show is toxic and problematic. I have to learn to set my sights to something brighter and worthy of loving.
Thank you all for coming on this journey with me. It’s been a brutal, mind-bending seven years, but I’m slightly grateful for the hard lessons “The 100” taught me. We got through this together.
To our final journey on the ground, fellow fans, may we meet again.