The 100: The Last War

“I bear it so they don’t have to. Again.”

The 100 was a series about not just surviving, but about how to achieve that survival and retain your humanity. ‘The Last War’ is an attempt to reckon with Clarke’s journey, and the things she’s done to keep those she loves alive. Though it doesn’t make much sense of this season’s struggles or Clarke’s actions, ‘The Last War’ does provide some semblance of closure to this seven season story; an achievement given how royally screwed up things were a few episodes back.

Following Clarke’s tremendous loss in the previous episode, ‘The Last War’ quickly addresses the true nature of the final “test” that humanity has to pass in order to “transcend” – as it turns out, transcendence is a very real thing. As Cadogan uses the knowledge he mined from Madi’s mind to open the portal, Clarke makes her way to the white room to stop it. Before she arrives, Cadogan has a short face-to-face with the judge of the final trial who takes the form of the test subject's “greatest teacher or the source of their greatest failure”. In Cadogan’s case that person is, naturally, his daughter Callie.

Bill doesn’t get much of a chance to answer the judge’s questions before Clarke arrives and shoots him multiple times. Queue another familiar face: Lexa. It only makes sense that Lexa is Clarke’s greatest teacher – a wonderful reflection of their shared history, and a nice callback to past seasons given this is the final episode and all. This is also where the test starts to take a turn for the morally complicated – and confusing. Though she’s paid her dues, it's true that Clarke isn’t a shining beacon of all that’s good in the world. Why should she be the barometer by which humanity’s fate is decided? Shouldn’t Raven have been the first choice to answer the judge’s questions and fight for their souls? It felt a little strange, and the argument that Clarke should reflect humanity doesn't make much sense given that her actions were mostly a burden she placed on herself so others wouldn’t have to.

After Clarke’s answers fail to satisfy the criteria for transcendence, Raven eventually makes her way back to the judge to take another stab at the test. Raven’s greatest teacher is Abby Griffin. I smiled when I saw Paige Turco; I really miss Abby, and I really enjoyed the scenes that Raven shared with Clarke’s mother throughout the show. As Wonkru confronts the disciples and both sides stand on the precipice of another bloodbath, Raven argues that humanity deserves another chance, in a way that only Raven can. She’s had a hard time this season, and has had to deal with some harsh consequences, but in this moment she really made me remember why I loved her so much.

In the end, it's Octavia who stands up to stop the killing when Sheidheda tries his best to incite another war. It was a total full circle moment for Octavia and a testament to the lessons she's learned since her time as Bloodreina. It was timely too, given that both Echo and Levitt were both seconds away from dying. As we learned from Levitt earlier, only the living can transcend and they made the cut just in the nick of time. As Wonrku and the Disciples lay down their weapons, they are swept away to the after life – indicating a successful result to the final test.

I’m still a bit confused about Emori making the cut. She really did die, but clearly her consciousness being held in her mind drive was enough to ensure her viability. Murphy’s decision to join her in their shared “mind space” annoyed me at first, but now I kind of get it. He spent so long trying everything to stay alive because it was the only thing he cared about, only to realise that he now cares about Emori a lot more. Which was good for both of them, as they transcended with all of the remaining members of humanity.

Clarke’s actions meant that she didn’t get to transcend with everyone else. As the judge explains, she presents an unusual case. As Clarke wanders through the battlefield at Bardo, the empty village at Sanctum, and later Earth, she is confronted with a lifetime alone, with the soul trees of everyone who has transcended acting as a stark reminder of what she had to sacrifice to help them make it to the finish line.



It makes sense that Clarke’s friends wouldn't leave her alone, but they really did give up a whole lot for her. Anyone who transcends can return, but it's a one way trip. Madi is at peace, and will be for the rest of eternity, but her friends who returned to Earth won’t get that. I grappled with this ending a bit, but I think it makes a certain kind of sense. Clarke faced worse to save these guys when the world was engulfed in Praimfaya, and on multiple other occasions. This is their way of saying thank you. If only Bellamy got to share in their peaceful life with them.

Plus

Indra finally blew Sheidheda to pieces before Octavia called for a truce. If only she had done it a few episodes ago when she had the chance.

Raven brought Nikki back with her from Sanctum to help free Echo and Niylah. I guess Nikki really has gotten past Raven's actions.

Hope and Jordan shared a kiss, and looked pretty cosy on Earth in the final scene. It makes sense that these two people who have lived very lonely lives would share a bond.

The characters that stayed on Earth were Octavia, Raven, Murphy, Emori, Echo, Jordan, Indra, Gaia, Niylah, Nathan, Eric and Levitt. All characters that deserved to live on, so I’m relatively happy about that. We’re just missing one person.

That little flash of Clarke on the Ark in the final scene was a reminder of how far this show has come from its humble teen beginnings.

If anyone cares, here’s my ranking of the seasons.
  • Season 2
  • Season 3
  • Season 4
  • Season 6
  • Season 1
  • Season 5
  • Season 7

He Said, She Said

Clarke: "Madi's with you then?"
The Judge: "In a manner of speaking, yes. Her consciousness has joined ours. She's at peace. She'll never feel pain, she'll never die. She knew that living here without anyone her own age to love is something you wouldn't have wanted for her even if it meant you being alone. I suppose that choice was made easier with the realization that you wouldn't be."

The Judge: "A curious species, indeed."

So now that we’ve reached the end, it's obvious that season seven was, in general, a bit of a misfire. The narrative structure with several bottle episodes completely killed the momentum mid season – I felt like Clarke was standing in that goddam white room in Bardo holding up her gun for 5 years; the idea of transcendence was bit too hard to swallow given the overall tone of the show, as were the soul trees; there was too much world building that needed to be completed in a short space of time; and Bellamy’s death was a travesty. However, I do think the overall show isn’t completely ruined. The early seasons still stand strong and the ending is at least one that gives the characters peace, despite the fact that most of the extras ended up as glowing trees.

I mentioned Game of Thrones in my review of "Blood Giant," given that I hadn’t been that burned by a TV show since that one wrapped. While I do think Bellamy’s death is akin to the sins of that show’s final season, unlike Game of Thrones, I don’t think The 100’s finale undoes the better parts of its seven season run. I think I’d be more than willing to dive back into the first four seasons again, if only to relive the highs of the Clarke/Lexa saga, the rush to save humanity before Praimfaya and Finn’s death at Clarke’s hand – a clear turning point for the series. For a show that started out as a standard teen fantasy, it's such a feat that it told a story that ended up becoming as complex and profound as it did.

6 out of 10 magical trees.

10 comments:

Billie Doux said...

Panda, thank you so much for finishing up this series for us. I couldn't bring myself to watch the last few episodes.

TJ said...

I have waited with season 7 and was thinking of picking it up now.

It seems though that the reviews overall are not good...:-(

Lamounier said...

I was very surprised that they gave us a happy ending. None of the protagonists died! And I loved seeing Lexa and Abby, even though it was not really them.

But I'm on the fence. I'm glad that we got a happy ending, truly, I am. But the show ending with this supernatural/spiritual story when it was strict sci-fi up until a season ago is frustrating. From now on, there should be a clause in the contracts of sci-fi TV series' showrunners saying that they can't turn their shows into spiritual crap. Everyone minus Clarke becoming Tinker Bell didn't fell like The 100 at all. Though, I'll admit, those mystical gold trees were very pretty.

Shouldn’t Raven have been the first choice to answer the judge’s questions and fight for their souls?

Clarke didn't want the test to happen, she only went in to kill/stop Cadogan. You are right that Raven should have been the first choice. Then again, what is the logic of one person representing an entire species? You are going to doom everyone because an egomaniac decided he was worthy of the test? The only moment that this transcendence deal worked for me was when Clarke told the judge they were no better than her.

The thing... transcendence being the end of the human race doesn't feel like the worthy conclusion the entire series was building up to. It would have been more fitting to have the remaining of Wonkru, Eligius convicts, Sanctum people and Bardoans rebuilding human civilization on Earth after Octavia's speech brought them together. I don't watch sci-fi to see it mimic stories of heaven and salvation. And it seems that even Jason Rothenberg knew how weird would it be to have everyone ascend to a higher level, so much so that he backpedaled from it and had the main characters return from transcendence.

All in all, like I said before, I'm happy. As far as feelings go, this finale delivered. But intellectually, I feel cheated. This show used to be much smarter. I agree with you, though, Panda, that this season being a misfire does not ruin the series as a whole. From the second half of season one through season four, The 100 gave us great sci-fi. Seasons 5 and 6 had some good stories as well. Season 7 is just a weird capper to an otherwise complex and daring TV series.

My ranking of seasons: 2, 4, 3, 1, 5, 6 and 7. Book One was great; Book Two, not so much.

Anonymous said...

The show had massive behind the scenes dramas before the season began.
The show was written and ready to shoot when Bob Morley and Eliza Taylor experienced a tragedy (a miscarriage apparently). Bob Morley requested time off for mental health and Eliza followed suit. Apparently this angered Jason Rothenberg the creator especially with Bob Morley as he agreed only to come back for 4 episodes. Which is why he was taken off the main cast billing and promotion for the season. Not to mention Marie (Octavia) also requested time as she had a troubled time also before shooting began,also Lindsay(Raven) was prepping to direct an episode and they tried to tack on a pilot episode. Hearing all those things explains the choppy nature of the first 2/3rds of the season. Main characters inexplicably missing for episodes at a time and there lack of overall scenes and rehashing sets/scenes. You could see the seams splitting at times. It was uncontrollable but having your 4 leads not exclusively present must have been frustrating having had the season written already but Jason also handled the situation badly and became really petty behind the scenes especially with the handling of Bob Morley.
Its funny that despite how jarring the season was everyone got a mostly satisfactory ending or arc except Bellamy and I thought Clarkes ending was pretty dark all things considered.

I think the story buckled under its own weight in the end, this season wasn't great but i thought that was the fault of the stories started in 6. After they left earth in 5 they should have had a blank slate and be more about humanitys recovery and all the characters reconciling with each other what happened on earth.. Instead we got new enemies and a continuation of 3or 4 old plots that had to be aligned with 3or 4 new plots. This meant loads of world building and loads of new characters, when there was already a rich history and plenty of great character.
Despite all that i really enjoyed the show, one of the better and braver shows to come out in the last 5 or 10 years. and when you think about it, it has a massive range of great characters, almost iconic characters spanning since the beginning.

Billie Doux said...

Anonymous, thanks for that. I knew there was a lot of angst going on behind the scenes, but not exactly what it was.

Lamounier, I am also not happy with my sci-fi shows ending with a religious-ish twist. Argh.

Lamounier said...

It seems that they also had plans to develop a romance between Clarke and Gaia, which would've been interesting, but Tati Gabrielle wasn't available for most of the season. They actually had a stand-in for Gaia in the final scene, and a shot of Tati that was clearly Chroma key. Why didn't they do the same with Bob Morley?

On that regard, did anyone from cast or crew say that Jason was petty towards Bob? Not to jump to Jason's defense, Ricky Whittle did accuse him of bullying him out of the show in the past, but I've read a lot about Jason allegedly treating Bob poorly and it seems like the original source of that accusation was an anonymous twitter account that no longer is.

Panda said...

I'm a tad apprehensive about the Rothenberg and cast rumours that are floating around. I'm not saying there's no truth to them, but the 100 titter fans are a bit insane so you have to take what their saying with a grain of salt. I have no doubt there was backstage drama, though. It was obvious by how patched together this season was. And the production codes for the episodes indicate that there was a lot of shuffling round to accommodate schedules. That said, Bellamy's death was a very bad decision. There had to have been a better way to deal with Bob's request for time off.

I absolutely agree on the whole "religious" thing we had in this final season. As I said in the post, it was very hard to swallow. And there was too much world building needed to sell the multiple worlds story. It was a bad way to go about a final season that should have been dedicated to wrapping things up as well as possible. It wasn't a total travesty of a finale, but it could have, and should have, been so much better.

Anonymous said...

All the accusations of Jasons pettyness have indeed been cited from the crazy twitter fans who use the way Lexa and Lincolns exits were handled to paint this picture of this tyrant and effectively gaslight him. The truth is Ricky Whittle was cast as the lead on American Gods so the the 100 writers stopped writing stories for his Lincoln character and he got upset.

What those fans don't look at though are the amount of seasoned actors Jason has been able to not only get on the show but be around for seasons. A talented young cast that have had plenty of other better and bigger opportunities but most have stuck around for some reason. To continue this
@Lamounier : Tati Gabrielle has had other commitments since she began on the show in bigger more renowned shows like Netflix's Chilling adventures of Sabrina, but she has always been happy to return. Likewise the actress for Indra has been on several other shows during the 100s run but always wanted to be on this show in some capacity. Jessica Harmon is another and thats just off the top of my head. To me that doesn't sound like the evil showrunner they are trying to paint. Although i would say there was something a little spiteful about how he killed off Bellamy. Brought him back, made him the villain, died at CLARKES hands and not be mentioned or spoken of in the finale.

Anonymous said...

Octavia specifically called out to Bellamy having been right about transcendence, talked about him not being able to transcend with Levitt, and again to the Bardoans in her attempt to convince them to stop the war. Clarke also specifically mentions having to kill Bellamy to save Madi only to lose Madi right after anyway.

Bellamy's death hung over the characters and informed their decisions and character arcs in the finale.

magritte said...

@Lamounier, I'm totally on board with your criticism of the whole "transcendance test", and also liked Clarke's calling out of the tester for genocide. It could have been easily fixed, too, if the "superior being" had said something like "It's not that we wiped out these other species, it's that when a species reaches a certain level of tech they either learn to work out their differences peacefully or annihilate themselves." But there was one other thing in that scene that worked for me: the return of Lexa. The irony is that Clarke taught Lexa to deny the "Blood must have blood" mantra, but subsequently lost her own way.

I've never been a fan of the wise aliens judging whether humanity is "ready" trope in any form. But it seemed especially silly here. It's just kind of random to make the decision on the basis of one person. And then it's absurd to change your minds because Octavia managed to bring about a truce this time. When Raven said, "We just need more time," I thought they would agree and say we'll come back in 1000 years and see how you're doing. I think that would have been a better ending. I liked the final character arcs of Raven, Octavia, and Murphy...Clarke not so much.

One other thing I liked: though it didn't make much sense to me that everyone would start firing because Sheidheida did, it was kind of an interesting callback to the very first battle with the grounders in season 1.

Still, while the last two seasons had their moments, I feel like ending the series with Monty's monologue in season 5 would have been better.