9:46 am EDT, March 12, 2015

‘The 100’ season 2 finale recap: Ask forgiveness, not permission

Well… none of us saw that coming. The 100 season 2, episode 16 had so many twists and turns, I don’t even know where to begin untangling. Like that game of Human Knot, where everyone’s holding hands? Anyway.

The 100 season 2 finale has come and gone, and wow. Can we just appreciate how this show never fails to deliver? Last season it was the culling, and this year, every single person inside Mount Weather was eliminated. There are no magical, last minute saves on this show, that that’s what makes it so compelling.

Also, can we just breathe a sigh of relief: Raven didn’t die. Kane didn’t die. Abby didn’t die. Harper didn’t die. I’m sorry, but Maya and Fox were a small price to pay, all things considered.

Related: The 100 season 2, episode 15 recap: You sunk my battleship

This episode – and the season, really – was ultimately about what it means to be a leader. In the two-part finale, we saw three leaders make very different (or maybe not so different?) choices in the name of their people: Clarke, Cage, and Lexa. And while I realise this might be a contentious opinion, I’m going to outline why, despite what the show wants us to believe, Clarke’s choices made her a big damn hero (to very appropriately quote Mal Reynolds).

Batten down the hatches

The 100 season 2 episode 16 Jaha

Let’s start with Nutjob of the Year, Thelonious Jaha. Over the season we’ve seen him go from pretty cool guy to semi-religious fanatic (isn’t Isaiah Washington brilliant? Damn, those crazy eyes), believing himself and Murphy’s lives to have more value than the others’ (interesting parallel to Cage, there).

In the beginning of the episode, Jaha pushed the last non-Murphy-shaped human on his boat into the water to get devoured by a monster straight out of a Troma film. I’m not even gonna say what I thought that thing looked like.

Red-shirts out of the way, they reached the promised land, which was not a futuristic super-tech city like I had speculated. It was… a Dharma station?

I swear, if Henry Ian Cusick had been down there I would have the words “The 100” tattooed on my forehead or something. Lucky for me, it was just a super swanky man-cave, which Murphy took some time (hilariously) exploring before finding a video tape revealing the super swanky man who used to live there. Mr. Eko then popped up and said, “I think we need to watch that again.” That happened, right?

Anyway, at some point in the last 100 years, the guy in the video took his own life because “she” took a missile, but he held himself responsible for what happened. We have to assume this video was made recently, because the missile in question is probably the one Jaha came down in.

But if that’s the case, where did the man’s body go? Is that really most important question right now? I just don’t know anymore.

The 100 season 2 episode 16 red woman

Jaha, beyond desperate to prove that he was as special as he wanted to be, arrived at a giant mansion, where a sexy hologram was waiting for him. Yeah, I really just wrote that. The woman (who is… a robot? A cylon? Has she existed since the bombs fell? What is happeniiiiiing?) took him to a room and showed him what I assume was the missile he traveled to Earth in.

“You were meant to come here,” she told him. “I knew it when I received your gift.”

I mean… yeah, the superstitious, potentially homicidal hologram robot lady reveal caught me by surprise. I’m not really that shocked or excited though, I’m kind of just bewildered. I have no idea where this storyline is going, because I assume it’s more complicated than her just wanting to blow the Grounders up (again) with the missile? And what the hell IS she? How does she exist? Hmmm. I’m gonna need more info before I even know how to feel about this.

The Great Clarke Defense

The 100 season 2 episode 16 Clarke

On the surface, Clarke and Cage were faced with identical choices in the season finale. After usurping their more benevolent parent, both leaders were in the position of having to decide whether to sacrifice the other’s people to save theirs. Lexa had the same choice to make last week, and ultimately, all three of them chose to save their own.

But the circumstances of their choices were very, very different. Because while Cage and Lexa both had a choice, Clarke never did. Every move she’s made this year has been a defensive one. Clarke has never instigated violence, she has never wanted it, and until the very end, she was trying to find a peaceful alternative.

(Lexa’s actions obviously were nowhere near as appalling as Cage’s. Like Clarke, Lexa acted defensively, and I think when the two eventually reunite, Clarke will be in a position to understand why Lexa acted as she did.)

There’s been a lot of talk about whether or not Cage was truly a bad guy – he was trying to save his people, blah blah – but with eight words, Kane obliterated every possible defense Cage could have had for his actions: “No one has to die for bone marrow.”

The 100 season 2 episode 16 gang

That’s right. There was an alternative to the cruel, torturous, slow deaths he was subjecting his prisoners to. Of course Cage was quick to point out that they probably wouldn’t have given their marrow willingly, but that’s exactly the point: they would have had a choice.

Cage robbed them of their choice; it wasn’t like the delinquents were on one lifeboat and the Weathermen were on another (like in Clarke’s case). Cage actively captured, tortured and killed them. The delinquents only ever acted in self-defense, and yet Cage was surprised and outraged that they were fighting back against the guards who were trying to kill them? What did he expect?

I’ll tell you: he expected them to lie down and die, because he had come to believe that his people had more of a right to live than they did. That makes him about as innocent as Voldemort. And you know who Voldemort was based on, don’t you?

The 100 season 2 episode 16 Cage

By refusing Clarke’s last-ditch effort for negotiations, Cage left her with two options: kill the Weathermen, or do nothing as he slaughtered her people. I’m not saying what happened wasn’t tragic, I’m saying that Clarke should never be held responsible for pulling that lever. Cage doomed his people when he began killing children and expected their friends and families not to fight back, and everything Clarke did to free the captives was done in self-defense.

Ultimately, it’s the same dilemma as in My Sister’s Keeper and The Island: you’ve got a healthy human being, who somehow is expected to die to save someone else. It’s not an either/or ultimatum. It’s believing that one human has more of a right to live than another, and that is the true crime here.

Cage believed his people were superior to the Sky People, and that he had some kind of right to take their lives to save the lives of the Weathermen. Clarke never, ever believed that one group’s lives were worth more than the other’s. And this is why Clarke and Cage’s choices were ultimately different, and why I hold Cage responsible for everything Clarke did.

The 100 season 2 episode 16 Clarke Bellamy hands

Clarke killing Wallace was a powerful moment. It signified Clarke reaching the point of no return. But when Abby later told her, “Maybe there are no good guys,” I think she was wrong. I think Clarke is the epitome of a good guy.

Because if the choice is death or death, it’s really no choice at all.

With Abby on the table and Octavia about to be executed, Clarke and Bellamy did the unthinkable and sacrificed the Weathermen to save their own people – together. And if they had done nothing? They would have let their own people die. Would you have made a different choice?

Damn, I love this show.

May we meet again

The 100 season 2 episode 16 Bellamy Clarke

It’s ironic that Jaha has spent the entire season looking for a promised land, and yet when the Sky People returned to camp (named after him, just to cement the irony), it’s “Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door” that played them home. They’re safe, they’re free, and the threat of Mount Weather is gone. At this moment, nothing wants them dead, and they may just be the safest they’ve ever been since arriving on the Ground.

But of course, it’s never that easy. As everyone stumbled into camp (Kane and Abby hand in hand, because #KabbyIsReal), Clarke stayed behind. Bellamy joined her, and for one shining moment all was right with the world. But then Clarke told him she couldn’t stay; she could not face her people after what she’d had to do to save them.

And while I stand by that whatever Clarke did was Cage’s fault, I understand her decision to leave. Bellamy wasn’t as understanding though.

The 100 season 2 episode 16 Bellarke

“If you need forgiveness, I’ll give that to you. You’re forgiven. Please come inside,” he begged, echoing what Clarke had once told him. But all she offered back was, “Take care of them for me.” Although he helped her bear the burden, Clarke knew that it was ultimately her call to sacrifice Cage’s people to save her own.

It was a beautiful moment between the two of them. You know, I see these all-caps shippers on Twitter demanding hugs and kisses and all this stuff from the writers, and I cringe because I would never want the writers to take the story somewhere it wasn’t organically going to go – especially not because fans stomped their feet like whiny children. Honestly, I think one of the strengths of The 100 is that no relationship – romantic or otherwise – is arbitrary. The writers don’t rely on soap opera tropes (hook-ups, deaths, pregnancies etc) to keep their audience engaged, nor should they ever have to.

But I’ve said before that if/when Bellamy and Clarke naturally gravitate towards each other, I’ll be 100% on board. This was a great example of what a beautiful relationship (romantic or otherwise) the show is building up between the two of them. It was a perfect moment, and I loved it.

So where is Clarke gonna go now? My guess, she’ll take Lexa up on her offer and go to the Grounder capital.

Last week, I worried that what Lexa did would sever her and Clarke’s connection for good. But after what Clarke had to do to get her people back, I think Lexa might just be the only one who she can stand to be around right now. I’m not saying it’s the pillar of a healthy relationship, but I like the idea of Clarke and Lexa finding common ground in the sacrifices they had to make for the sake of their people.

Also, the parting scene may have been sad as hell, but wherever Clarke goes, the audience follows. So the fact that she’s heading out to explore the world makes me super excited for where she might take us next year.

And that’s the finale! GUYS! Let’s talk robots.

Very important questions

The 100 season 2 episode 16 Murphy

– Is the woman real? Is she a machine? Is she the drone? How is she responding to what Jaha is saying? I DON’T UNDERSTAND ANYTHING.

– What is she planning to do with the missile?

– Okay, that Monty/Jasper friendship fallout was like a punch to the gut.

– Raven effing bit the guard like the BAMF she is, I love her so much.

– Murphy dancing around the man-cave was everyone’s favorite scene, yes?

– Monty/Harper is a thing? I don’t know why I expected it to be Monty/Miller, but I did. I love Harper though, so it all works out.

– I know there’s a lot I didn’t mention (Lincoln! Indra! Jasper!) but we’ve got a whoooole hiatus to get into the minutia. Watch this space.

‘The 100’ season 3 is expected to premiere this fall on The CW.

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