I guess calling the season one finale of The 100 “explosive” is a bit of an understatement, huh? Epic may seem clichéd, but it couldn’t be a more perfect description.
Where do I begin? I had some pretty high expectations for this finale, especially after all the careful constructed build up that’s been playing out over the last 12 weeks, but I can honestly say I didn’t see any of this coming. Well done Mr. Rothenburg, well done.
When I met and interviewed several of the cast members and producers back at Comic Con last July, the excitement among everyone about this project was pretty infectious. Still, I was cautious about the chances. After all, this was relegated to late midseason. It wouldn’t run until March! Apocalyptic stories haven’t been living up to potential, and this one was coming on the teen oriented CW. How could it win?
Well, it did, and I have to admit this is one of the more exciting season finales I’ve ever seen. A++. After all, in the last 12 weeks I’ve grown very attached to most of these characters, both in the sky and on the ground. Whenever producers start hyping “spectacular deaths”, I get worried. Well after that hour, I’m no longer worried. I’m thrilled beyond belief that this show will be back in a few months and I cannot wait.
I’ve said it numerous times in my reviews, what makes this show exceptional is that they’re not just telling a story, they’re emotionally telling a story. Everything has repercussions, everything has ramifications, and everyone is doing their best trying to survive. The themes are dark, but through the optimism of the characters we see a light that has us rooting for these guys now matter how dire the circumstances (too bad Revolution didn’t follow this idea very well). This week, I openly wept. They finally got me.
What got me the most was the story on the Ark. After the survivors on the Ark all gave each other their tearful “Until we meet again” messages, the Ark fell, most of it breaking apart. Oh, but there was a technical glitch and someone had to stay behind. Kane made it obvious he would be the one the stay, because “Salvation comes at a price.” Yes Kane finally earned his, and he got his well deserved showing of gratitude for his selflessness as he went to save everyone…until the ship broke apart. The thing about tearful goodbyes is that it gives another guy enough time to race and save the day. Jaha was not letting anyone else stay behind.
As we expected, it was Abby and Kane’s section that survived the re-entry, landing in one of the most visually spectacular places on earth. Well done location team for finding that spot (even if you could tell Abby and Kane were green screened). Abby’s reaction at seeing this beautiful earth for the first time, amidst all the tragedy and heartbreak she’s had recently, brought tears to my eyes. Bravo for the decision to slow down the action long enough to give Abby that moment of wonder. Then Kane got out and I cried harder! I was pretty much a wreck by the time Chancellor Jaha later raised his toast to the earth, the only man left in the sky, proclaiming “Until we meet again.” All three of these brilliant actors just killed me.
But that was just one part. There was the entire drama on the ground. The whole thing put together was an on the edge of your seat symphony of characters sticking together no matter what, fighting for their own lives and each other. Bellamy listened to Clarke and they left, but the scouts Lincoln warned them about were already there. So the plan to run failed and they ended up going with Bellamy’s original plan, stay and fight. The leaders all gathered for a strategy meeting and Raven was conscious enough to mention all the rocket fuel under them. Thus a crazy plan was born. Ignite the ship for takeoff, burning up everything in it’s path.
Actually, there were a few crazy plans. Raven was rapidly losing consciousness, so Finn volunteered to go out there, where Grounders were everywhere, to Lincoln’s cave to get some medicine that could help. Except by the time he got to the cave and Lincoln, the Grounders had begun their surge. Crazy plan number two. Why not draw out the reapers and let them get involved in the fight too? “The enemy of my enemy…” Finn has been the greatest question mark for me all season, but these last few episodes have proved how brilliant he can be and how he’s willing to take risks after all. Like when he jumped in to save Bellamy. More on that in a minute though.
Lincoln went back with Finn, just in time to intercept a wounded Octavia and Bellamy. Lincoln had finally earned Bellamy’s trust and he accepted only Lincoln could save Octavia from all this. Their goodbye was about a 4 out of 5 on the weepy scale, even if Bellamy’s speech was a little on the corny side. It was at that point I know they were setting up Bellamy for a downfall and my anxiety level increased by ten. On the other side, I’m thrilled Lincoln lived. Does this mean Ricky Whittle joins the cast next season? Also, here’s my theory. Lincoln is really a Mountain Man undercover. That’s why he’s trying to save The 100. We’ll find out next season!
I also loved that everyone got to see the Ark fall from the sky before the big battle. That signaled The Grounders they had to strike now, and that made survival far more important to remaining 100, because they were watching everyone else they knew and loved being burned up by the earth. In their minds they were all that’s left of their people and it was essential they carry on.
Everyone played their part in this saga. Raven fell unconscious from her wounds, so Jasper was called in to wire the ignition to the ship to kick off the plan. Everyone fought to defend their camp until the end, and retreated into the ship to kick off the big lift off plan. Sadly, Bellamy went down before he could get inside, and Finn threw himself into the action, going after Bellamy’s attacker, super bad warrior grounder, just so Clarke could get onto the ship. I was stunned to find Anya see what was happening and jump onto the ship! I guess Dichen Lachman will also be part of season two. Glad to see it! She was no match for 50 or more (I didn’t really get a good count) people and was easily apprehended. I adore that Clarke ordered that they not kill her though, and her answer was perfect. “We are not Grounders.” It’s her coming of age as a leader, knowing when to kill and when to show mercy. I’m so proud.
Visually, the ignition sequence was stunning! Bravo to the visual effects team on that one. Jasper got the ignition switch working, they lifted off and everything nearby was engulfed in flames, including every fallen member of The 100 and all the Grounders that were attacking. Just wow. Explosive doesn’t describe it. That is the way to cap off the climatic showdown!
If we weren’t stunned enough though, the aftermath is both very emotional and left us with a ton of mysteries for season two. First, it’s presumed that Finn and Bellamy are charred corpses on the ground. Except they can’t be! Nope, I say Finn got away at the last second and pulled Bellamy out knowing the plan. Either that or Lincoln came back because Octavia begged him. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it (they aren’t dead, they aren’t dead, they can’t be dead…). Also, whoever chose to use Radiohead’s “Exit Music (For a Film)” as background for the closing sequences is a freaking genius (yes, it worked for Person of Interest’s finale too. Great minds I guess!) It set the perfect somber nature of what just happened and what they now face.
As for Abby, Kane, and the others that did survive, they must not only see what happened to their other ships, but they need to find the kids. That sounds like a season long journey themselves, and what will they encounter on the ground? From Lincoln we know there are others out there, but who and what? Plus Jaha CANNOT die! Please tell me he comes up with another harebrained scheme to save himself. Or maybe he figures out how to get the systems working again so he’ll have enough air to last a while. He can communicate with the ground. Please, please? Yes, that’s my denial running again.
But let’s get to the real end, which is what happens when the survivors come out of the ship. With Radiohead playing, the gate comes slowly down, and no one is enjoying the sight of their entire camp burned up and the loads of corpses littering the ground. It literally looks like a nuclear bomb went off, and everyone appreciates the gravity of the situation. That reaction is more realistic and genuine than celebrating surviving the battle, because they are alive at a great cost. Many of their friends didn’t make it. Because of the emotional nature of that scene, NO ONE saw the smoke bombs coming. Only Anya knew what was happening. “Mountain Men.” Everyone collapses as men with gas masks, military fatigues and guns emerge.
Just when we couldn’t take any more, we get our biggest mind**** of all! Clarke wakes up in a white room, white clothes, and there’s a Van Gogh on the wall? Is she dead? Nope. She’s in quarantine. At Mount Weather. And the guy in the room across from her is Monty. He lives! Holy crap, what the hell just happened here?
So what happened to Raven? Did the Mountain Men save her? Maybe they have Finn and Bellamy? Gah, cliffhangers!
Thank you so much to the producers of The 100 and The CW for delivering such an entertaining show, and at midseason of all things. It’s exceeded even my biggest expectations, but now it’s really got to live up next year. They’ve set the bar. With the setup they just gave us, the potential is huge. Season two isn’t going to be at all what we expected folks. I’m so happy we get the least possible time between seasons with this network. I also hope it ends up coming back for a full 22 or 23 episode season next year. I’m not asking for too much, am I?
So, what did you think of the finale? What are your hopes for season two? Who do you hope is alive? We’ve got a few months to ponder, so let’s get through this together.
Also, if you’re looking for a great season two preview, producer Jason Rothenburg talks with Maureen Ryan at HuffPost TV about the finale and what we can expect next season. Mild spoiler alert! It’s not too bad though.