Let’s talk about Finn Collins, who in The 100 season 2, episode 5 reached the point of no return.
The CW’s hidden sci-fi gem The 100 isn’t watched by nearly enough people (tell your friends, let’s see those ratings rise!), but those lucky enough to have found it can all agree that season 2 has been spectacular so far.
It didn’t seem possible to surpass the epic season 1, which brought us fierce, layered female characters, unsolvable moral dilemmas, and complex character evolutions.
Yet in only five episodes, The 100 has dirtied-up its main characters in more ways than one, turning everything we thought we knew on its head, and surprising us week after week with shocking twists.
Most recently, we saw loveable, peace-seeking Finn (Thomas McDonell) raise his gun and massacre a village of innocent people.
The slow unraveling of Finn Collins
Since the beginning of the series, Finn been one of the least-loved characters on the show.
This is a shame, because the character has served as an anchor for both the characters and the audience. A voice of reason, serving as a moral compass when things got too grey.
But between redeemable bad boy Bellamy (Bob Morley), reckless Octavia (Marie Avgeropoulos), brave Clarke (Eliza Taylor) and badass Raven (Lindsey Morgan), fans found it hard to empathise with the part-rebel, part-pacifist Finn.
The character seemed the most undefined, going from reckless to peace-seeking in the space of an episode, from romantic lead to cheater – a vagueness which seemed unintentional, until the most recent episode.
A lot of fans have critiqued Finn’s seemingly rushed breakdown in season 2, but in truth, it’s always been in the cards for him.
Where Bellamy kept himself sane by abstracting “who we are” and “who we need to be to survive,” Finn was never willing or able to make that distinction. This is what initially made him noble, but inevitably broke him down.
In a lot of ways, Finn is the most realistic character on the show. Everyone is layered, but Finn is particularly flawed and contradictory: he has always been impulsive, unsure of what he wanted, and afraid. Powerless in the face of hateful Grounders, he became more and more desperate for peace, partially to protect his own peace of mind.
Losing Clarke, watching so many of his friends brutally murdered in front of his eyes in the season 1 finale, proved that his efforts had been fruitless, and that they would never find peace. And he broke, like any human being would, unless they had super-human resilience (like it seems Clarke and Bellamy have, which is what makes them leaders).
In The 100 season 2, episode 5, Finn reached his ultimate breaking point. If Clarke had arrived five minutes sooner, there would have been hope for his recovery – provided they’d taken him back to Camp Jaha and protected him from the ruthless world he clearly couldn’t handle (which, again, is understandable).
Instead, it took one snap of a twig, one desperate, thoughtless act, and Finn had turned from a desperate, scared teenager into a mass-murderer.
The point of no return
No matter how you view his actions (I personally lean towards sympathy – he did not plan these murders, he lost control of the situation and he panicked, acting in misguided self-defense), all the fan reactions I’ve read say the same thing: there’s no coming back from this.
Clarke’s step back in the final scene proved the beginning of the end of the fledgling Finn/Clarke romance. It seemed so promising in the finale, when he told her he loved her – but actions have consequences, and the battle with the Grounders was the snowball which turned into this avalanche.
In the promo for the next episode, “Fog of War,” Bellamy implies that Clarke should forgive Finn, considering the circumstances. And she may well do so – she is Clarke, after all – but she would forgive him like she forgave Charlotte, the little girl who killed Wells in an attempt to end her own suffering.
(Not that Charlotte and Finn’s actions are comparable: Charlotte was much younger, but she also premeditated her murder. Finn’s actions were borne out of panic and desperation.)
But Finn has changed, irrevocably. And, arguably, his arc has been building towards this breakdown since they first landed on the ground, and his recklessness in the dropship caused the first two delinquent casualties.
An obvious death, or an elaborate misdirect?
The 100 season 2, episode 8 will be titled “Spacewalker.” It’ll air December 17, and serve as the winter finale. We know from an interview with creator Jason Rothenberg that this episode will have a heartbreaking twist. The first episode following the break is chillingly titled “Remember Me.”
The obvious conclusion is that Finn will die, probably sacrificing himself to save the others, in a last attempt to redeem himself for what will surely haunt him and drive him into depression and self-loathing.
And without Clarke (the girl he descended into madness to save), what’s left but a heroic sacrifice?
He could also be killed in an accident, or by another character (Murphy? Abby?) seeking to protect everyone else from his unpredictability.
Either way, his death seems the most likely outcome of this storyline. Plus, if a major character has to die, surely Finn is the most expendable, and the one whose departure will cause the least outrage in the fanbase (although I, personally, will be picketing. Beware my angry protest signs).
However, let’s not forget that the writers of The 100 are out to surprise, upset, and challenge us. It’s our reward for watching their show: they’re not just gonna give us what the most passionate fans capslock-demand on Twitter; they’re gonna give us a good, engaging story.
The argument for not killing Finn is that most fans are probably expecting it – and maybe some even hope for it. So what’s the most radical thing the writers could do? Keep him alive, tear him apart, use him to tear the other characters apart… and blindside us by killing someone else instead.
Vague rumours are circulating about Octavia, Raven, or even Bellamy dying in the midseason finale. Surely calling the episode “Spacewalker” and building up this great unraveling of Finn would be the perfect MacGuffin.
(Or maybe no one will die and they’ll all move into Mount Weather, take art classes with Grandpa Wallace, and live happily ever after.)
Whether Finn lives or dies, however, the incredible thing about his development is that everyone is talking about it, even the fans that didn’t spare him much thought in the past. He has evolved into so much more than a love interest for Clarke, or a roadblock on the way to “Bellarke.”
This twist, his shocking, heart-wrenching act, proves that The 100 is (at minimum) on par with Battlestar Galactica in terms of layering its characters, and presenting moral dilemmas for the audience to ponder.