11:58 am EDT, August 8, 2019

‘The 100’ season 6 finale review: Once more, with feeling

The 100 season 6 finale, “The Blood of Sanctum,” was an action-heavy plot-twister setting us up for the final act of this epic sci-fi series.

Here we are again. It feels like last week I was reviewing The 100 season 5 finale, and yet an entire season has come and gone in the blink of an eye.

So much has changed. So much has not.

The 100 season 6 finale, “The Blood of Sanctum,” completed what feels almost like a three-part finale, with “Ashes to Ashes” and “Adjustment Protocol” all of the same action-packed piece.

As with all previous finales, “The Blood of Sanctum” was written by showrunner Jason Rothenberg. Tonally, it felt to me a lot like last year’s “Damocles,” fast-paced and plot-driven and speeding the story forward.

Only now, we’re speeding toward an ending that suddenly feels too soon, because how the hell are we going to wrap up all these outrageous twists and character arcs?! Plus, we need to get to all those other planets! Planet Omicron isn’t gonna populate itself!

On first viewing, “The Blood of Sanctum” felt the least finale-like finale the show has ever had. But now knowing that season 7 will be the last, perhaps that makes sense.

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We don’t have time for a patched season wrap-up cozying us up for the hiatus — we’re heading straight for the endgame, where we will (hopefully) get proper, thoughtful conclusions for every character and every significant group or pairing.

The only thing that got semi-resolved in the finale was the Prime storyline, which has literally gone out the window, leaving Sanctum to pick up its own pieces while our heroes (presumably) have to decide whether to stay or pursue the mystery of the Anomaly with Bellamy.

Of course, echoes of this story will still linger: Russell is still around (yay!) and Gabriel is still around (double yay!), and at least one mind drive is still in play.

But the most pressing ‘big bads’ of season 7 would appear to be the Anomaly — or the ‘him’ who rules it — and Sheidheda. (Unless they are the same person, eh eh eh??)

Unlike what seems to be most of the fandom, I’m very glad Sheidheda is still around, because we barely got to explore this entity in season 6, and he seems like an obvious link between the worlds’ mythologies.

Sheidheda could potentially tie everything from the Grounders, Cadogan, Becca and the Flame to Eligius and Second Dawn together — and that’s even assuming he’s not also involved in the Anomaly! And now that he’s no longer messing with poor Madi, I’m fully prepared to find him interesting.

As for the humanity at the center of this tale, Bellamy got Octavia back only to lose her (dejá vu, anyone?); Clarke has been put through so much emotional pain I don’t even know how she’s still standing; Murphy is back where he started before his hellvision-setback; Echo has been living a shadow life; Emori is rocking some sweet Prime garb and generally being The Best™; Mackson are officially The 100’s best couple, and Octavia Jon Snowed her way into the hiatus. OH MY GOD SHE’S DE–you know what, I can’t do this again.

With all these big storylines and all of these scarred, tired characters’ lives to patch up, I’m happier than ever that The 100 season 7 will be 16 episodes long, because they’ll need every minute of it. No more fun torch-passing games or zombiefied masses! We have storylines to wrap up in satisfying and emotional and surprising and intimate ways!!

And with that, let’s talk about fun torch-passing games and zombiefied masses.

Love is not weakness

As I’ve said before, above all else, The 100 season 6 was about love. Parental love was at the very center of the story, guiding every major plotline, with the Josephine-Russell-Simone, Clarke-Abby-Madi and even Indra-Gaia dynamics overlapping and paralleling and informing each other, a new shade of the ever-relevant my people/your people conflict.

Of course, there were threads of sibling love and found family, too, and, as always, plenty of romantic love: Murphy and Emori, Kane and Abby, Gabriel and Josephine, Jordan and Delilah, and of course Clarke and Bellamy, a romance now in every conceivable way but for the refusal to name it as such. (But it still ticks all the same narrative boxes.)

Love explored in the context of this series is always interesting, because of course you can’t talk about humanity without it: Love is the reason we construct an ‘us’ we value and protect above the othered ‘them,’ and the intensity of the emotion invokes the best and the worst in all of us. Love is the reason and the justification for everything that has happened on this show, both good and bad.

On The 100, our heroes and villains employ love as a tool of formidable destruction and self-sabotage as often as they draw on it as a source of good. Love is, by the show’s definition, not good, nor bad; it is all-consuming and equally capable of destruction and salvation.

This season, love has been equal parts ally and enemy to both Russell and Clarke on their clashing quests to save their respective children. Love was equally likely to make Murphy selfish on behalf of himself and Emori as it was to make him choose to save his friends; love for her religion and love for her human charge were equally compelling forces for Gaia; love could bring the Blakes back together and love could tear them apart.

Usually, when Clarke says “I love you” to someone, they die, right? Yet, saying it to Madi in this finale, it saves them both. Significantly, Clarke seemed inspired by Bellamy in this moment, invoking the words he spoke to her a few episodes ago — you can do this, you have to fight — to give Madi strength the way Bellamy gave her strength.

In essence, love is what you make it, and in this finale, Clarke chose to weaponize love to her own benefit.

Sheidheda would have her believe that love was weakness, the way he made Lexa believe it, and yes, it can be — love can control us however we let it. It can make us weak. But Clarke chose in this episode to make love her strength, and so that is what it became.

On The 100, there is no definitive judgement as love as a power for good or bad, but the one thing love definitively is not on this show is weakness.

The power of love

Continuing the absolutely gut-wrenching story of Clarke having to pretend to be Josephine as she deals with Abby’s death, Clarke now has to navigate saving her people with tricking Russell for as long as she can.

Clarke having force herself to stay upbeat as she interacts with the reanimated corpse of her dead mother feels like a gift to Eliza Taylor. She does some of her absolute best work in these scenes, which draw out her realization of her mother’s death, gives her hope and then cruelly snatches it away, before leaving the character broken almost beyond repair.

But while it certainly gave Taylor ample room to shine (where are her awards? WHERE ARE THEY?), for both the character and the audience, these scenes feel like an excruciating punishment, like kicking all of us when we’re not only down but K.O.-ed out of the match.

Forcing Clarke to swallow her overwhelming grief and put on a gleeful charade for two episodes in a row, letting Simone — suddenly a diabolical supervillain, apparently — toy with the false hope of Abby being saveable, is the absolute worst thing the show has ever put Clarke through, and that’s saying a lot.

Still, Clarke manages to cling to her morality through this newest impossible test because that is what Clarke does. And, when it comes down to it, she can’t commit another genocide. She has turned the page, and she turns the gun on her mother’s body, ready to sacrifice whatever it takes.

And, finding out that her mother really truly is dead, Clarke floats them all by pulling her token lever, sending Abby’s body into space to poetically follow Kane’s.

But, of course, her suffering doesn’t end here. Clarke kills the Primes only to learn that Russell took Madi; she falls to the floor, utterly defeated to the point that she can’t even stand upright; she puts a gun to her head in a last desperate effort to save Madi because (once again) she’s down to having nothing left and no reason to keep living.

It’s a lot. But it’s also not new because we’ve been here before. Clarke has already had to make this choice, back in season 3 when she was prepared to let ALIE hang Abby in “Perverse Instantiation” to save the human race. This isn’t a new burden for Clarke, this is just her constant burden. And it’s getting to be depressingly repetitive.

However, one of my favorite parts of this episode is that, in the midst of Clarke’s emotional torture, the show makes Russell’s heartbreak over losing his daughter genuinely touching, inviting us to feel sympathy for him in this moment even as we are firmly on Team Clarke.

Because, at the end of the day, us and them and heroes and villains aside, Russell is just another parent who lost his child after breaking every moral boundary to save her. Just as our heroes have done in the past.

And when he finds out that it is Clarke standing before him, not Josephine, Russell is made to endure exactly what Clarke did when she found out Abby was dead (and what Abby endured when she thought Clarke was).

Yes, he killed both Griffins to save his own family, and we can judge him for that — as we can judge everyone else for the ‘them’ sacrifices they have made for their ‘us’ — but that doesn’t mean we can’t acknowledge his personal grief as a parent who lost a child, just as Clarke does.

That Clarke can find it in herself to do this at all speaks to her incredible compassion, and it is this tiny moment, more than any of her big, incomprehensible grief and loss, that defines her inspirational humanity.

I also love the resolution of the Sheidmadi storyline. How fitting that it is Raven, Gaia and Jackson who help save Madi in the end; that Clarke is no longer alone against the world when it comes to saving her daughter, but she now has a tentative support network that cares about both of them.

First, we’ve got Gaia making the choice to save Madi rather than the Flame, an incredible step forward for her character (she really is the best of them). I adore the relationship that has developed between Gaia and Madi, and I daresay it works so well because we got to see it develop in a way we unfortunately didn’t get with Clarke and Madi.

Raven is, finally, there for Clarke — not because they’ve worked out their differences but because of their shared loss, which is ironically what has always brought these two characters together in the past: first when they discovered Finn had been playing them both, and later when they dealt with his death together.

Raven and Clarke share a beautiful, very overdue hug that genuinely makes me believe the show might actually honor this could-be-beautiful friendship in the final season. Let’s say I’m weary, but hopeful.

I don’t think I’m alone in saying that this has been a weird season for Raven; she has been around to judge others without having a storyline of her own, never fully being able to deal with her own issues or express her own feelings because her lines and actions were always directed at other people.

But I think they landed her in a fairly good place, particularly if they continue to build on her connection with Clarke, which has always effectively humanized both of these sometimes larger-than-life characters.

Raven proceeds to use the kill switch on the Flame, Clarke’s hands shake too much (a great little detail) so Jackson — another person who shares her loss — takes over for her, and they get the emaciated Flame out of Madi’s head at last.

So. The Flame is gone, then? Just like that?

NOT SO FAST. Because, dun dun dunnn: Sheidheda somehow ‘survived’ the kill code, disappearing into something. The Eligius ship? The Anomaly? Space itself? Whatever the case, he’s out of Madi’s head, which I’ll count as a win. I can’t wait to see Madi just get to be Madi again because she’s a fantastic character, and I was tired of the Flame.

Of course, we’re left with the million dollar question: Was it just Sheidheda that survived, or all the Commanders?

If only someone had had an opportunity to ask someone who could answer this question and actually asked it, amiright?! Now I guess we’ll have to wait and see.

But I’m torn between hoping the Flame storyline is done for good, because those ghosts have lingered long enough, and feeling very underwhelmed by its unceremonious end after all that hassle to keep it around.

Burn, baby, burn

The Sanctum part of the episode is mostly action, exciting if a little impersonal in its execution. A lot of time is given to random zombie slugging, inconsequential near-misses, and people we don’t need to care about because they are just there to die anyway.

But I really like the teamup of Bellamy, Echo and Octavia. Not only because it shows a lot of growth on Octavia’s part and proves how much the Blakes have healed, but because it’s a sign of all of their maturity.

Plus, they’re all badasses. What’s not to like? Echo and Octavia certainly have had a reckoning coming for a while, and I’m glad they found common ground at last, even if it (like most of Echo’s relationships this season) was severely under-explored.

By contrast, Echo and Bellamy’s dynamic is beginning to feel like the least interesting thing about both of them, and is particularly limiting for Echo. This is disappointing but perhaps not surprising, as sidelining the female character in a romantic pairing is a recurring problem on The 100 (although I’m still impressed by how they subverted that problem for Emori).

Echo did have some great individual moments in season 6, but every time she was around Bellamy, she stood in his literal and metaphorical shadow. More often than not, their interactions end up being about Bellamy and what he wants and the (other) women he loves, and even visually, they tend to frame Echo out of focus, half a step behind him.

I suspect/hope this is intentional. At least it fits perfectly into the leader/follower complex she was revealed to have in “Red Sun Rising” and which hasn’t been brought up since. Now, that was interesting. When are we actually getting that story?!

Based on what we learned about her this season, Echo didn’t open up to Bellamy and SpaceKru as much as we were led to believe; instead, she has been perpetuating her false identity/obedient soldier issues, never able to fully be herself with the people she has (I believe) truly come to consider her family.

She loves them, of course, and they love her; that part is obvious. There is a quiet, settled sort of love between all members of SpaceKru that, while it maybe doesn’t make for super engaging television, feels refreshingly simple and understated in a story full of big, bombastic emotion.

But I feel like what is implied by their various dynamics is that Echo loves and needs SpaceKru more than any of them love and need her — except maybe Emori, because these two characters don’t have an ‘alternate’ family. SpaceKru is it for them. But Murphy isn’t Emori’s ‘leader,’ as she made very clear this season; they are true equals, and Emori has an agency and individuality that Echo doesn’t have with Bellamy.

Surely, that revelation is the beginning of her story, not the point of it? These Echo-centric reveals about all the secrets she has been hiding certainly feel like they’re building to some kind of breaking point that, if it ever comes, I desperately hope will be about Echo the character, not Echo the girlfriend.

Because her own sense of self is what makes Echo interesting, and I believe that Echo claiming individual worth for herself and stepping out of her leader du jour‘s shadow is the story she deserves to have told before the end.

(I suppose if there is a lesson here, it is that romance for the sake of pairing people off and ticking a box is reductive to at least one of the characters involved; romance for the sake of advancing both characters individually and as a unit is usually valuable to both characters and to the overall story.)

Meanwhile, the absolute best part of this storyline is Gabriel. #XtaviaEndgame aside (still going strong though! Joke’s on… someone), Chuku Modu’s Gabriel is an absolute gem of a character, and I’m so glad he’s still around.

Here is someone who has truly ‘transcended tribalism,’ who is willing to do the right thing not out of cynicism or because he’s emotionally numb, but because it’s the right thing. He sacrificed Josephine to save Clarke; he walked back into the lion’s den to make amends for his sins. He is, in essence, the new Kane we so desperately needed.

And, when it seems nobody from SpaceKru will help him save his people, even after he helped them saved theirs, it really highlights how far our own heroes have yet to go.

Murphy has evolved, but only by way of expanding his circle of survival to Emori+SpaceKru. Echo has evolved, but not (yet) to make an independent decision rather than following Bellamy’s orders.

And Bellamy, who seemed last year to be heading in a more big-picture mindframe direction, appears firmly back in ‘heart’ territory now, obsessively herding his people and putting on blinders for everything and everyone else.

Octavia, on the other hand, is in a very different place now, mature enough after her experiences inside the Anomaly to reflect back on her actions as Blodreina and coming to the conclusion, like Clarke, that she is unwilling to facilitate another massacre.

(Sidenote: I really regret that Clarke wasn’t in that final scene in the cave, not just because it was jarring not to have her there, but because I desperately wanted a Clarke/Octavia moment that connected their stories rather than connected them both to Bellamy.)

When Octavia goes, Bellamy goes with her. And when Bellamy goes, Echo goes with him. And when Echo goes… Emori goes with her. Because LOVE! (Listen, I would ship Echomori so fast, you have no idea.)

…And then Murphy goes, too.

What follows is some culty hijinks, a random burning lady, a cool stunt and a convenient reason to reveal the Anomaly tattoo on Octavia’s back. Sometimes plot’s gotta plot!

Was it worth it?

All’s well that ends well: the characters come back together for some sweet finale sunset hugs (and a Mackson kiss! Thank you for including that personally just for me), and it all culminates with Clarke and Bellamy sharing not one but two hugs, along with some of the episode’s most poignant dialogue that is probably going to sit with me throughout this hiatus.

Clarke, desperate to believe that there is any point to her continued suffering and loss, says, “I tried to do better, and then I lost my mom. Tell me it was worth it.” And Bellamy, equally desperate, replies, “We did do better. I have to believe that matters.”

And I wonder, now: Does it? If we take out the idea that some cosmic deity is judging them — be it God or Monty — do these characters’ actions ‘matter’ in a way that justifies or alleviates the extreme levels of pain and hurt and loss that they are forced to experience?

Clarke Griffin has been on the edge of taking her own life for two seasons and counting, her reasons yo-yoing between noble self-sacrifice and simply craving an end to the pain. She reached rock bottom a long time ago and she’s just kind of floating around in it.

Yes, the Abby charade was a(nother) test of her strength and willingness to sacrifice for the greater good, and she passed (again), but for what? What does Clarke gain? We know that she can survive, but where is the part of the story that tells us why life is worth living, and why humanity is worth saving?

Morality for the sake of morality, doing the right thing for the sake of rightness, is of course a noble way to live your life. It is Monty’s way, and the characters are right to try to live by his example.

Ultimately, if suffering happens regardless, it is always better to make sure that you personally add as little suffering to the world as you can. If you are in a position to make others’ lives a little bit better, then do it.

But in the context of this show, and especially in light of Clarke’s immense suffering, I don’t know if I believe, or if I’m meant to believe, that it is worth it.

Just as stories end, so does life. It has to. We don’t fight to stay alive forever, we fight for every hard-won now we get to spend however we can with the people we love. If the Prime storyline taught us anything, it is that life’s worth is measured in the joy we find along the way. The choices we make, the love we find, the selves we forge. (Or, as a wise character once said, “The ending’s the same, but who says the journey has to suck?”)

So how can the point continually made with Clarke be that she never gains anything good; that she is increasingly forced to be an instrument of morality, deprived of all that could make her own life (as opposed to life in the abstract) worth fighting for; a Jesus figure suffering and sacrificing endlessly for an extra-textual idea of ‘humanity’ that she herself is denied?

I cannot bring myself to believe that, in a story about humanity, the main character exists to be an expression of an abstract, nihilist morale.

As a rule, I don’t believe in characters “deserving better,” because this is not about checks and balances; this is a deliberately ruthless story, and nobody is owed anything. But I do believe that, in the spirit of realism and being allowed to feel emotionally connected to the story, these characters are human, not expressions of abstract ideologies.

In order to tell a story about humanity, you cannot reduce your characters to ideological mouthpieces. In order to tell a story about humanity, you have to let your characters be human, and you have to remind us through them why humanity matters. What are we fighting for? What makes life worth living? Why is it worth it?

And I worry, after yet another season of immense loss and suffering and no change to her circumstances, that Clarke has been caught in an endless Sisyphean loop of Overcoming Pain to represent humanity’s endless suffering that will ultimately negate her value as a relatable, inspirational, human woman.

Season after season, Clarke has been made to endure the same unimaginable pain over and over again with no reprieve, and no room to forge her own path or to make personal choices; the only choice she ever makes is personal sacrifice for the greater good. (And the one time she didn’t, she was villainized for it.)

To be clear, it’s not the ruthlessness of Clarke’s experiences that bothers me, it’s the relentlessness and the monotony of it. Clarke had already been pushed beyond her limit before this season started. She’d already lost her father, her best friend, two people she’d fallen in love with, countless friends; she’d been pushed into a lonely leadership position and been isolated there, and she’d isolated herself emotionally — even from Madi, who she treated in season 5 less like a person and more like property.

(I don’t mean to undermine that relationship, even though I daresay we’ve hardly been allowed to consider it one. But by virtue of it being a parental rather than sibling dynamic, Madi can never be a real equal to Clarke. Madi has decidedly been painted as Clarke’s responsibility, another human to save, until she grows up to build her own life and relationships and eventually leaves Clarke behind.)

“Nevermind” reminded us of all this and allowed Clarke to find a strength within herself that didn’t depend on anyone else’s approval of her (even though it was love others had for her, still, that saved her — because self-love and relationships aren’t mutually exclusive). It was a gorgeous, necessary and inspirational episode and one that reinforced what we already knew: that Clarke is strong, stubborn and self-sufficient.

But as powerful as Clarke has (genuinely) become as a symbol of independent female empowerment, I think it is important to point out Clarke the human being is not the sum of her arbitrary strong-female-characterness. Clarke is not a stand-in for women as a homogenous entity; Clarke is her own person, and this person does not want to be alone or isolated or loveless. Being alone is just one of the many burdens the story makes her bear.

There are powerful, empowering stories with female characters who choose to live a life without love (perhaps specifically romantic love). But the empowerment doesn’t come from the lack of romance, it comes from the choice that is afforded those female characters. For Clarke, love — including romantic love — isn’t something she has chosen to live without. It is something she consistently wants and is repeatedly denied. That is not empowering. It is limiting.

Agency and free will are concepts that hardly apply to Clarke Griffin at all any more, because the story leaves her no room for anything but big, thematic, conceptual heroism. The official reason might be that she doesn’t have time to have a life because she has to save humanity, but if she doesn’t have a life, how can she be human? How can she fight for humanity if she herself is always on the outside looking in?

Surviving is, as the show itself has so painstakingly made clear, not living; certainly not for Clarke. Existing to survive, existing to suffer and to be alone against her will, reduces her to an object of suffering and chains her to the narrative in a way none of the other characters have been.

So, what is this all building toward? Are we meant to understand that Clarke ultimately has to exist not as a person but as the story’s ideological tool, preaching morality for morality’s sake? That any chance she had of happiness on her own terms died with the girl she loved when she was 18, and now, she has no individual value beyond what she can give to her people?

Or is she actually going to be afforded personhood and some form of private victory that honors the amazing, inspirational character she is and lets her experience the very humanity she has sacrificed so much to save; the moments of joy that are supposedly what makes life worth living?

It was telling that Clarke’s choice whether to live or die in “Nevermind” came down to whether she believed she had more utilitarian value alive or dead; her life’s worth, to her, was what she could be to other people. (And it was a relief that Bellamy, the only remaining character the narrative has allowed her to fully emotionally connect with on a human level, was on the outside fighting for her life, as something that had incalculable value and as something he, ostensibly, couldn’t face a world without.)

It was telling that Clarke reached a point — and is apparently still at that point — where she is so used to being denied happiness and human connection that she no longer believes she is worthy of it, and certainly doesn’t ask for it.

And it is worrying that perhaps the audience is expected to believe the same; that asking for happiness or human connection for Clarke is naïve or limiting her as an individual. Or even that the desperate quest Bellamy went on to save her life has to be retroactively downplayed as something he did for ‘everyone’; just as Clarke needs to be relieved of having to endlessly sacrifice herself and people she loves, she also deserves to be put first for once, and to be the person that someone who loves her sacrifices for.

Hasn’t she earned the right to be picked first, just once? Can’t we just let her have this? Because what is happening with Clarke right now is hardly inspirational. It is just sad. An endless barrage of suffering. A seeming refusal to acknowledge her personhood and individual right to live and love and be valued for who she is, not what she gives to others.

Am I wrong in my interpretation? Is this not what is happening with Clarke? Great. Then let her be human now; she has been a symbol of the endlessly self-sacrificing greater good for long enough, and none of that will mean anything if it wasn’t worth it for her on a personal, human level.

Let her share actual moments of bonding with Madi. Let her process the loss of her mother, not just suffer for it. Let her have conversations with Raven and Murphy and Echo and Emori and Octavia and Jordan and Gaia about what she wants and believes and likes and needs. Let her forge real human connections with people who love her because she’s Clarke Griffin, not a leader or a savior or a symbol, and let her love them in return.

And let her and Bellamy be what they clearly want to be, because this is the most satisfying, truthful and emotionally rewarding human connection both of them have left, and limiting that connection only serves to further isolate Clarke. But let that not be her only relationship; let Clarke have familial and romantic and friendship love. Let her have all of it at once.

Love is not weakness, after all; love is what makes us human, and you cannot tell a story about humanity without telling a story about love.

I should add here that, obviously, my opinions about what I think should happen and my opinions about what does happen are two different things. I can emotionally multitask. The story hasn’t always gone ‘my way’ and it might not, ultimately, give Clarke the pre-ending payoff (if not the ending itself) I think she deserves.

This show is not made specifically for me. I have no claims to it. There was a while, after Lexa died, when I dared believe in Princess Mechanic, but obviously that’s not where it’s going, and that’s fine. (I guess the common thread in all my specific story-wants is just that Clarke is afforded some tiny sliver of happiness in the form of someone she loves picking her first.)

I can express specific opinions and wishes even while loving The 100 for what it is, as something brave and imperfect and raw and true, and I respect the hell out of the writers’ right to tell the story authentically the way they want to tell it. Just as I’d hope people would respect my creative choices were I to craft a story anywhere near this magnitude.

After all, as this surprisingly impassioned plea for Clarke that I accidentally just wrote proves, this story makes me think and feel regardless of what happens, and I value that a whole lot.

So let me just wrap up this impromptu Clarke Appreciation Essay by saying that all I want is for this little show that I’ve come to care so much about is to be truthful to itself and its characters, and obviously for what I see on screen to be reflective of the show’s intended message, with strong emotional and mythological through-lines that reward repeat viewings. I want to look back on it as a cohesive, satisfying piece, not a reactive one. I want it to have a lasting legacy that expands beyond its current audience.

I want this story about humanity to remind us why humanity matters. I don’t want it to reduce the main characters’ lasting impact by cutting off their emotional bonds for arbitrary reasons, making their endings feel hollow. (And I don’t just mean Clarke here, though she is always my primary concern.)

I want to believe that the emotional resolution for these characters will honor their humanity and the relationships that have shaped their journeys and choices. That they will be afforded the freedom of choice, not just in the abstract to be better or to sacrifice or to represent some arbitrary character archetypes, but in terms of their own individual personhood, which at the end of the day is what makes them human.

After all, what defines us as a species is choice — how to be, how to live, how to die, who to love. This is what we fight for. This is why saving humanity matters. This is why the answer to Clarke’s question, “is it worth it?” could be yes.

Like it was meant to be

Oh, my heart.

The 100 has done a lot of stories about parents and children and growing up to grow apart. There is only really one model of parental dynamics on this show, which is over-protectiveness > letting the child become its own person (and sometimes > death).

By contrast, Bellamy and Octavia’s sibling relationship — which always had echoes of a parent/child dynamic too — has been refreshingly dynamic in its evolution.

Over the course of the series, we’ve seen Bellamy and Octavia move from incredibly unhealthy codependency borne of tragic, scarring circumstances for both, to overprotectiveness, to volatile separation, to “my sister, not my responsibility” to “side by side.”

As these two characters have grown up and matured, separately and together, so has their love for each other; by the season 6 finale, Bellamy and Octavia are equals, with the mutual respect that comes with true, adult familial relationships.

The Blakes is probably one of the show’s very best examples of how a character relationship can inform and evolve both parties while they still have individual stories and identities. (Bellamy/Clarke, Monty/Jasper and early season-Kane/Abby have also been great in this regard.) They orbit around each other even when they’re apart, and how they feel about each other is intrinsically tied to how they feel about themselves.

After an absolutely gorgeous heart-to-heart and reunion in “Ashes to Ashes” (I’m sorry I missed this review; I do want to go back and look at Bob Morley’s fantastic directorial debut at some point during the hiatus), in this episode, they get to fight side by side — but only for a second before Octavia is whisked away again, leaving Bellamy desperately calling out her name, having realized that he was ready to love her and be her family again.

We’re now left to wonder not only what happened to Octavia and whether she’s alive, but how Bellamy will deal with her loss. Are we in for a repetition of his season 6 story of saving Clarke, or is he going to draw on his newfound maturity, balancing the needs of his ~people~ with his likely instinct to jump headfirst into the Anomaly and working more logically with Gabriel and Hope to find a safe way to get Octavia back?

I definitely imagine that Bellamy isn’t going to feel great about Hope at first, what with her being all sister-stabby, but hopefully he lets her say her piece before he goes on the offensive — because, clearly, there is a lot more to Hope and Octavia’s relationship than what we’ve seen.

We still have Hope

The episode coda, in lieu of an emotional Clarke-centric payoff or resolution like we got in “Praimfaya” and “Damocles,” was a thrilling, if almost world-breaking sequence with Bellamy, Octavia, Echo and Gabriel going into a magical cave, touching magical symbols and magically invoking the very clearly magical entity* that is the Anomaly.

(*We’re definitely in science fantasy territory now, but I’m not mad about it.)

Octavia, the destined Chosen O who was apparently named specifically for the final symbol in the sequence — some impressive foresight there, Bellamy — touches her finger to the Octonian and the Anomaly descends upon them.

Seemingly some kind of parallel dimension (very Interstellar-inspired), the Anomaly briefly overlaps with Sanctum’s, and out of the green comes what is very clearly Diyoza’s daughter Hope (played by Shelby Flannery — as usual, excellent casting).

Obviously we only saw her for a second, but at first glance, Hope seems a very Max Maxian, 12 Monkeys-Daughtery, Lexaish kind of character. Very on brand for this show. I just hope she gets more screen time than Jordan did in season 6, eh?

Octavia seems to recognize her, but Hope’s embrace isn’t as friendly as it seems. “I couldn’t get out of it. He has my mother,” she tells Octavia before stabbing her.

Octavia doesn’t seem surprised, though, as it appears some of her memories are resurfacing. “Be brave. Tell him it’s done,” she says before she is snapped away. (Damn, that pesky Thanos got his hands on the Anomaly Stone after all!)

Hope is left behind to, presumably, join the cast in season 7 and serve as our exposition character on all things Anomaly as Bellamy and co. work to recover Octavia.

Is Octavia dead? Survey says: unlikely. (Though that would actually be a real surprise!) Although Hope seemed devastated when she stabbed Octavia, I’m guessing she wasn’t actually trying to kill her as much as send her back into the Anomaly, maybe to the “him” that has taken Diyoza.

Did Octavia come back from the Anomaly to get help to defeat ‘him,’ but forgot? Was the plan always that killing her in this world would transport her back to the Anomaly when the time was right?

The 100 season 7 is going to play with time, both by showing us Octavia’s early Anomaly adventures and presumably by exploring the Anomaly’s powers. So is the distortion of time actually how we’ll connect every part of this story’s mythology? Is Sheidheda somehow the entity that created the Anomaly, having birthed a world in his image?

How far back in time can we theoretically go with this time-distortion story? Did Octavia actually leave that Octonian for herself to find? Hell, what about the first Earth apocalypse and the miscalculation of oxygen of the Ark? Is it all connected? If we’re going the Interstellar route, it could be!

And how long was Octavia really in the Anomaly for? I assumed she stayed through Hope’s birth at least, but could it have been for a lot longer? Could she have stayed long enough for Hope to age, but her appearance ‘reset’ when she left the Anomaly? Is age arbitrary in that space? Did Hope age traditionally or did Octavia know her as a contemporary? There are a lot of exciting possibilities!

Questions and observations

  • What were Octavia and Hope to each other? Was Octavia like a parent to her? Did she watch her grow up? Did she know her as an adult?
  • Also, what was Hope WEARING?
  • I was right! There IS a Planet Beta! And more Eligius teams with mind drives were sent to all those planets! Aaaaarrrghhhhh, I bet we’ll never knoooowwwww.
  • “A little genocide, a long nap? What the hell. Let’s be explorers.” Iconic.
  • I’m so happy Russell is still around. J.R. Bourne is amazing, and I like the character’s insight and worldview.
  • Ok, in case I don’t get around to doing a review of “Adjustment Protocol,” I’ll just say it here: I am disappointed Abby died so soon after Kane. The Abby/Clarke relationship was unusual for television because two generations of female characters actually had equal power and agency in the story, but rather than use Kane’s death as a way to further Abby’s solo arc and say something truly revolutionary with Abby and Clarke, the show ultimately seemed to find no value in Abby beyond her male love interest and killed her just to give Clarke more pain. And that’s a genuine shame.
  • That Murphy kiss moment might have been a great way to low-key confirm the character as not straight, but instead, it was played for ‘gay panic’ humor like this was a ’90s sitcom. I frankly found it a little reductive, so the less said about it, the better.
  • Miller had to drink the blood of Sanctum, but it’s okay, he’s used to the taste. #toosoon?
  • Indra’s story about Sheidheda slaughtering Trikru was interesting. This might be why she was so fiercely supportive of the Commander in early seasons.
  • Was Lexa the only Commander (besides Madi) who overpowered Sheidheda? Or are we meant to believe that most of them did?
  • I just love that Gaia chose Madi over the Flame. What a great, quiet little evolution she has had. I hope they get Tati Gabrielle back for season 7.
  • I’m happy Madi is freeeeee, but I just want to say that Lola Flanery was SO GOOD as Sheidmadi!
  • So Jordan has been brainwashed and is spouting True Believer nonsense and still has a Prime chip (Priya’s, I’m guessing)… so much for Marper’s people taking care of him, I guess. Hopefully we’ll spend some more time with this character next season, and hopefully he won’t implant that chip in anyone important!
  • And ffs Bellamy, I know you had other reunions to get to, but Jordan was CLEARLY not okay.
  • Octavia saved Emori! Didyouseeit?? Also, Emori playing a Prime was so funny. Her little cape swish. I just love her.
  • “Cognitive dissonance. They’ll believe anything if it reinforces what they want to be true.” Gabriel, you’re putting me out of a job.
  • We didn’t see Cookie Man die. That means he ISN’T DEAD, right????
  • You know what? Forget my Sheidheda-Anomaly-king theory. The ‘him’ is gonna be Roan. MARK MY WORDS.

That’s all, folks! Enjoy the final ever The 100 hiatus. I can’t wait to dive deep into all the Anomaly, Sheidheda, planet, Second Dawn, Becca, Prime theories with you.

And I just want to end by saying that this has been an awesome season. Fresh, fast-paced, emotional, thought-provoking and a joy to write about. Josephine Lightbourne was absolutely delightful, the Primes were all interesting and I miss them already, and the journey to save Clarke (!) was long overdue.

The episodes “Nevermind” and “Matryoshka” were some of the series’ best. Octavia and Diyoza’s adventure was inspired, and even the sad parts, specifically losing Kane, prompted some great thoughts and discussions that I always value.

The visuals of The 100 season 6 have been particularly stunning. Hopefully in the hiatus I’ll have time to give them the attention they deserve. Moving off-world for ‘Book 2’ was a brilliant idea, and I’m really impressed with how alien they made this planet feel.

I’m with this show until the bittersweet end, and I reserve the right to have lots of opinions and observations and hopes and gripes until then! I love when television makes me care.

I hope you’re all joining me for what is sure to be one wild, last hiatus ride. Find me on Twitter @Selina_Hypable to talk about all things The 100!

Otherwise, see you on the other side…

The final season of ‘The 100’ premieres in 2020

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