CW’s The 100 ends its seven season run tomorrow night. Whether fans get a satisfying Battlestar Galactica ending or a controversial and forever debated Lost ending is still to be seen, but evidence is pointing toward the latter.
***Warning: potential spoilers for Season 7 (except finale) ahead***
After spending five seasons on Earth’s surface (or under, or low-orbit), The 100 abandoned the desolate husk of our planet, which never recovered from Praimfaya II. It was a bold strategy that delivered on Season 5’s tease line about Eligius III, giving us Sanctum, the Primes, and the Children of Gabriel (not to mention Gabriel himself). Part of that bold plot move was The Anomaly (now known to be caused by The Stones, connecting planets), a way to eventually get Skaikru to Bardo and the final conflict we’ll see play out on Wednesday.
But introducing a civilization as complex as The Disciples, concepts of time dilation, and the competing interests of The Last War deserved more than the 16 episodes allotted. Here are the five major issues we see with the final season of what is (other than this) a phenomenal show.
No Development is Made on The Disciples
The Disciples are not as fleshed out as they should be, their culture (and really not much beyond M-Cap, holding cells, the Stone Room, and their forest) plays more of a background role that viewers are supposed to care about, but really isn’t something in which a lot of emotion or concern is invested. The people of Sanctum (the CoGs, Adjusters, Faithful, Primes) are far more fleshed out and real, to the point that unnamed characters being put in harm’s way adds to dramatic tension, compared to Hope’s attempt to kill The Disciples’ population, which (beyond the obvious “don’t commit genocide”) isn’t really a dramatically tense moment other than the loss of Diyoza at her daughter’s hand.
In fact, the only Disciples we’re led to particularly care about are Anders, Doucette, and Levitt. The last one ends up too conveniently in too many places. For such a high-tech place, Levitt’s actions against The Disciples to help Octavia and her friends are strangely overlooked. His brief stint as a janitor is incongruous with everything we learned about Bardo up to that point and after. If he was being punished, why not send him to Skyring (Penance to The Disciples)? If it’s possible for someone of his stature to be made a janitor, why would the guard in “The Dying of the Light” (S07E15) ask “what’s a Level 11 doing in prisoner transfers?” [Editor’s note: This isn’t a direct quote, since we’ve already deleted it off the DVR.] If this is out of the ordinary, than we should all be asking why a Level 11 was serving as a janitor — especially if he ends up back in M-Cap when Sheidheda and Madi show up on Bardo.
Developing Months & Years of Emotional Commitment in a Matter of Minutes
While quick flashes across years could serve to help us understand Dev and Hope’s relationship, the same can’t be said for Echo, Hope, and Gabriel’s relationship with Orlando. When Hope meets Dev, she’s a child, alone on a planet. Dev acts as both friend and father-figure.
When Echo and the rest meet Orlando, they’re older, and while they have clear motive to learn from him and build a relationship, it’s difficult to absorb their dynamic in such a short amount of time. By the end, all are close with Orlando, but the feeling doesn’t pay off since the viewers haven’t appreciated the passage of time on Skyring. Orlando’s death mirrors Dev’s for Hope, but the relationship that led us to this point doesn’t resonate. There’s also the open question of how he knows about Hope, and why he feels any kind of protective feeling for her.
Similar to Skyring, Bellamy’s conversion to Disciple doesn’t feel as real, since the months he spends in the cave with Doucette is reduced to less than 10 minutes of show time. His vision helps explain the conversion a bit, but it’s still a stark thing to do with a character in one episode. Related to Bellamy’s sudden faith is Clarke’s action before following Cadogan and the rest through the Bridge.
The Murder of Bellamy Blake
Nearly seven seasons of relationship building have cemented Bellamy and Clarke’s relationship, and reinforced Clarke’s introspective feelings in later seasons to atone for her actions in earlier seasons. Viewers already went through the emotional turmoil of Clarke abandoning Bellamy to near-certain death in favor of protecting Madi seasons earlier. A cold-blooded murder of her oldest and closest friend, even to protect her adopted daughter, struck as strange and an overly convenient way to end Bellamy’s storyline ahead of the finale. Clarke’s killing Bellamy is made even more strange since no one made sure that Sheidheda, the moderate bad, was indeed dead. Leaving an enemy that posed more danger to Madi than any other to “bleed out” but murdering her best friend is one of the most out-of-character things Clarke has done across the entire series. And she’s not the only one.
Reaction to Bellamy’s Murder from His Loved Ones
Once Clarke tells Octavia and Echo that she murdered Bellamy, Octavia’s forgiveness could be explained by her processing the trauma of being back in the Wonkru bunker. The problem is Echo, who spent a whole season looking for Bellamy (including five years on Skyring), controlling her emotions without losing her core mission enough to fool The Disciples into trusting her. Echo’s near-nonchalance over Bellamy’s death makes no sense. For Echo to simply give up and believe Bellamy could never be recovered ignores her own efforts to fool Cadogan and his followers. Wouldn’t she think that perhaps Bellamy was doing something similar and hadn’t reached the point where he could break the façade? Echo’s easy acceptance of Bellamy’s murder cuts against the entire season (and several earlier seasons) of character development.
Return to Earth: Was Monty a Liar (or Bad Scientist)?
Finally, the Earth. When most of the few remaining Earth-born characters are returned to their origin planet by Cadogan (or, in Gaia’s case, by the Stones’ programming), the planet doesn’t look too bad. Exiting the bunker, the forest is now back, the area seems lush and green again; the Earth seems to have recovered from Praimfaya II. Monty’s reasoning for heading to Sanctum was that the Earth hadn’t and couldn’t be expected to recover. Now, this can be explained, perhaps, by Monty not believing he would be alive to wake his friends when Earth did return, but the question is then: when did Earth rebound, and how? Why not before Eligius IV left orbit? This is easier to explain, but the insistence on Earth being a dead planet since the beginning of Season 6 and the contradiction in the final episodes of Season 7 leaves questions to be answered.
Epilogue: “Why Don’t You Leave My Show Alone?!”
All of these concerns (and one more that I’m about to air out) don’t cut too deeply into my view of The 100. It’s a good show. It was a great show for years. It could have ended in the great, rather than high-level good (tentative on how the finale goes) if it had either constrained the story it packed into the final two seasons, or given more time for dramatic build. A lot of the blame can be put on the fact that producers boxed themselves in by choosing to end at Episode 100, which is a fun stat for a show called The 100, but clearly short-changes the story being told. Along with that, it’s concerning that The Last War, even if it is a test is constrained to a single episode. Surely that would be worth at least a two (if not three) episode arc.
Regardless, The 100 is cemented as a show worth a re-watch with all the character and story development the writers put into it, and nothing short of a Game of Thrones-style finale can take that away. But these issues didn’t need to happen, and could have been fixed.
Let us know what you think about The 100, its story, and Wednesday’s finale.