The nature of a finale is to put everyone into the worst positions possible. Whether they stay there or if they end up resolving their issues in the end is a tossup. The 100‘s already proven itself to be far from a feel-good show, and the two part finale “We Are Grounders” only drives this point home. The worst things that could happen, do happen from Murphy taking his revenge on Bellamy to the Grounders finally attacking the camp. By the end, everyone’s in an impossible situation.
Let’s start with the Ark. Everyone tries to accept their inevitable demise. Kane runs scenarios to confirm their fate while Abby tries and fails at saving the life of a young girl while Jaha recalls Wells. It’s unlikely they’re really going to die this way, not as anticlimactically as the them just sitting around and waiting so it’s not surprising when Jaha comes up with a plan to get them to Earth.
Because nothing aboard the Ark is simple, even a best case scenario many people are going to die, several of the Ark’s individual stations likely exploding en route to Earth. Then there’s the impact, which could kill them. Then, just for kicks, the launch fails and someone has to send them off manually. Kane’s prepared to go, but Jaha beats him to it. It’s the most heroic option for him, the Chancellor who’s been the face of so many injustices, to sacrifice himself for his people. But it’s so, so sad to see him satisfy himself with a view of Earth from his window and a drink of his special occasion alcohol.
The Ark is in a slightly better position than the people on the Ground if only because they aren’t also grappling with a war. People are scared enough, and Bellamy’s only trying to prepare them for the horror that’s coming and not let them get distracted by Murphy’s antics. Bob Morley’s choked call to action is far from Bellamy’s other harsh reprimands. Bellamy’s clearly terrified for all of them, especially with Monty, Clarke and Finn all gone. Without Clarke, Bellamy’s has to take sole responsibility for them which means he’s also the one who has to step up.
So when Murphy takes Jasper hostage, Bellamy trades places with him. This is the same Bellamy who jeopardized all of their lives to protect himself from the Ark’s retribution. His self-absorption has given way to the leadership that he’s been fighting for this entire time. But Murphy demanding that Bellamy tie a noose around his neck and prepare to hang is a reminder of the Bellamy who came before. Bellamy’s entire story is a redemption one now. He’s constantly going to be acting in reference to the person he was when he landed there, but the finale may be the official end to this particular line. Bellamy’s had to face the consequences for his actions, even against people as despicable as Murphy, and his near hanging marks the end of this particular segment of his journey though there’s still a long way for him to go.
When Clarke and Finn return to camp, helped along by Lincoln, Bellamy and Clarke are back to usual, arguing about how to best protect them all. Bellamy wants them to stand and fight, preserving the home they’ve made for themselves. Clarke wants them to take Lincoln’s advice and run even if it means leaving behind their makeshift sanctuary. As difficult as it is (even their bittersweet journey to the ocean made me feel something for their tents and dropship), everything on Earth is transformative. If they’re going to live there, build a home there, nothing’s going to stay as it is. It has to change because that was the whole point of them being dumped there.
Unfortunately they’ve been dumped not onto the clean slate they thought they were, but a world with a society and hierarchies of its own. We’ve spent the season worried about the Grounders, and the finale proves that they’re far greater in number than we first thought. Anya’s tribe is one of many, and Tristan (Joseph Gatt) is sent by a Commander to help her squash the 100. Then there are the Reapers, cannibals living in caves that even the Grounders aren’t eager to enter. And there are people at the ocean who Lincoln wants to run to. And the Mountain Men, who make their first appearance at the episode’s end. The 100 has an advantage in having a largely unexplored world to use. It could, theoretically, go in any direction it wanted, bringing up any number of enemies, allies, etc just because there’s so much we don’t know and how the irradiated Earth could have really made anything.
The finale is a stack of misfortunes piled atop one another. Raven’s injured and possibly paralyzed and she collapses when she’s supposed to be engineering their last stand against the Grounders, the Grounders attack and trick them into using up all their ammo, and the 100 really are just in over their heads. They’re outnumbered by people with way more skill than them, and the reality of their situation is almost painful. Watching nameless extras get cut down is actually very difficult (the slow motion help with this), and it all looks so hopeless. They’ve constantly being buying time, everything they’ve done has been with the help of one obstruction or another, and this time the distraction is their lives. They watch each other die in the hopes that eventually Jasper will figure out how to torch the surrounding Grounders.
They began as 100 (101 if you count stowaway Bellamy). Going into their fight they were at roughly 80, and there’s no doubt that they lost a very large number of people in this clash. And even the ones we didn’t see dying, there’s still little certainty. An injured Octavia is spirited away by Lincoln, Raven’s in a particularly bad position when we last see her, and Bellamy and Finn are missing, unable to make it into the dropship in time. While all this is happening, there isn’t a lot of time for emotional stuff, but the show does what it can to squeeze it in there.
Clarke and Raven have a nice exchange. Like their other chats it’s influenced by their respective relationships with Finn. Though he surely is in love with Clarke, there’s enough history and affection between him and Raven that he returns to Lincoln’s cave looking for a medicine that can help her. Bellamy and Octavia finally, officially make up with Bellamy telling her that his life didn’t start until her birth, and he even doesn’t mind sending her off to safety with Lincoln. If there’s anything the show really did resolve, it’s the nature of everyone’s relationships with one another. They’re all in a pretty good place with one another, even as they’re losing this fight against the Grounders. Finn jumps in to help Bellamy take on Tristan, Jasper embraces Bellamy when he changes his mind about looking for their people, and these moment are the most optimistic in an episode determined to stack up as many misfortunes as it can.
And just because the finale features the war these past few episodes have been promising doesn’t mean it’s completely abandoned its moral quandaries. When Anya gets on the dropship, the 100 are of course happy to bludgeon her to death before Clarke stops them, reminding them that they aren’t Grounders. Except they are. If the first season proved anything it’s that everyone’s capable of doing some pretty despicable things in the name of survival, and the 100 (and Clarke) are no different. Clarke’s morality has always been on a bit of a spectrum, but there’s no doubt where she wants it to be. She’d like them to be the good guys, making the right decisions all the time, and making the calls that can’t be argued. She keeps the others from killing Anya because she doesn’t want to be like the Grounders, but it’s hard to see where she’s drawing this line when Anya’s not opposed to slaughtering them all and when they just torched all the other attacking Grounders. The negotiation of being who they want to be and being who they may need to be is ongoing, and the finale doesn’t resolve that one because it can never really be resolved.
Clarke leading the surviving 100 off the dropship to walk among the charred remains of Grounders, and a few of their own people is a great image. They’ve survived, at great cost. They’ve destroyed their home to do it and have piles of burned bodies to show for it. It makes for a bittersweet triumph. At the same time, Abby and Kane are seeing Earth for the first time, and this is even more bittersweet because Jaha remains alone in space to satisfy himself with a window view of Earth and his special occasion alcohol. But as sad as it is, he’s content because someone made it to Earth because of his sacrifice.
The 100 don’t get the moment of contentedness and quiet thrill that everyone else does, not when their examination of their surroundings is interrupted by gas canisters and men with rifles (with laser sights) and gas masks. These are the Mountain Men, hailing from Mount Weather, the same spot the 100 were supposed to make it to at the show’s beginning. The untamed wilderness doesn’t seem to reach here, at least not to the sterile, all-white quarantine where Clarke awakens and reunites with Monty.
- Clarke unconscious on Lincoln’s deformed horse has got to be one of my favorite images the show’s ever produced, as well as her waking up and being all “WTF”. And Bellamy punching Murphy while hanging from that noose is in my Top 10 Bellamy Blake moments.
- Why does Jasper have to be told multiple times to not speak loudly beneath the dropship?
- The strategy session between Clarke, Finn, Bellamy and Raven proved very clearly that Finn really serves no purpose. Hardly anyone looked at him, and he could have easily been removed from the conversation with no changes.
- I really, really hope Jaha’s not dead. He has two weeks of oxygen, and that’s certainly enough time for something extremely risky and dangerous, but possible, to occur to him so he can end up on Earth, too.
- The second season premiere airs tonight, and a review will be forthcoming, though no promises on whether or not they’ll continue throughout the whole season since I have other obligations on Wednesdays that’ll make keeping up difficult.
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