To both its detriment and success, The 100 has been unwavering in its depiction of the cyclically destructive nature of humankind. As Bellamy empathetically stated to Madi, so ready to slaughter a crew who had waged war with them as they surrendered, they too had been strangers in someone else’s home, ready to maim and kill to claim their own. That cycle continued until the end of season four when, once again, sacrifices were made, Clarke was left behind to potentially die in a radioactive death-wave, Octavia led a bunker of survivors underground and Raven and Bellamy took Echo, Murphy, Emori, Monty and Harper to space to survive while the earth cooled down.
The start of season five promised a breath of fresh air for characters who too frequently had been stuck in that loop of destruction, and where one of them would make an impulsive decision, others followed while the rest fought back. Their people’s survival would be at risk, and they’d do whatever they could to ensure they’d see another day. The difference this time, initially, was that the slate had been wiped clean, and we now had six years of character building to work with and those six years had been quite eventful. Clarke found a surrogate daughter, Octavia’s reign fell into totalitarianism, and the Spacekru became a family united against any odds. The first three or four episodes hammered all of these points home, but, by midway, just as it has been with every other season of the show aside from the miraculous season two, things fell apart as the writers tried to simultaneously rush and stall the plot.
The best aspects came in the face of detailed character motivation or growth. Diyoza was the best villain we’d had in ages (if ever) and in typical The 100 fashion, wasn’t a villain for very long. Similarly, Octavia as the Red Queen wasn’t particularly interesting as the young woman was forced into a position she’d never anticipated. She was ready and willing to do anything, even sacrifice her own soul, in order to maintain the protection of her people who’d been left in her care.
Unfortunately it was Clarke who rang false, a victim to the show’s worst storytelling tendencies, which are all too happy to sacrifice what we know of said characters if it means advancing the plot, even if it fails to line up with what we’ve come to know after five seasons. There’s no doubt that Clarke would do anything to save someone she considered to be her daughter and only lifeline during those six lonely years, but the means in which she did it that were rash, aggressive and disruptive, never fitting with the determined survivor of past years.
Another missed opportunity was the show’s lack of interest in developing the relationships of those who lived in space beyond cherished bits and pieces that carried years of growth and potential richness.
Ivana Milicevic, Bob Morley, Marie Avgeropoulos and Christopher Larkin stood out in a season full of fractured narratives. Milicevic brought a calm charisma to a character which allowed us to warm to her quickly while Avgeropoulos never allowed the cruel facade to stay firmly in place, always hinting at a redemption. Meanwhile, Morley got to play Bellamy as older and wiser, less ready to act on impulse. All the while, Larkin played Monty as world weary, with just enough hope to keep on fighting to survive so that, in the end, his people could live to see not just one sun, but two.
It hardly matters the missteps and flaws that lay upon the path on the way to the finale, which was as evocative and thrilling as we’ve come to expect from a show who understands more than most that the big episodes need to be spectacles. Once more, the characters are facing down the roaring, flaming head of the apocalypse on that one strip of land, Eden, that never stood a chance with such wreckage in its midst. This time though, everyone ends up on the ship and we get a genuinely sweet call back to the season four finale as Monty refuses to allow Murphy, who has been shot, to stay behind to die.
Similarly, Bellamy waits just outside the drop ship as Raven and Clarke yell at him to come in, and waits for Murphy, Monty and Emori to come into view. He’s just been told by Madi that Clarke called him every day while he was away and his declaration of not being able to leave a friend behind again is as poignant as anything this show has ever done.
There’s a lot to digest as the wounded survivors decide the next step for the human race, landing on cryosleep to see if ten years might pass and the earth will be habitable again.
To their credit, the fake out is effective, as Clarke and Bellamy awake and believe that their plan has been successful. Instead, a devastating melancholy lies ahead as they awake to a stranger’s face, Jordan Jasper Green, Monty and Harper’s son, who tells them that they stayed awake to ensure their safety throughout the ten years. Instead, it’s been over 100, both Monty and Harper have died after putting their son in a cryosleep.
Monty has always been a light on a series so full of darkness, and in particular, season five made him the pure embodiment of potential life as he continuously presented options where death and murder weren’t the solution, his algae always in his hand. There was so much that could’ve been done with his character, but if he had to go, him doing so in a way that potentially saves the human race in a manner that doesn’t lead them to kill again, is as befitting an ending any character has ever gotten on this show, as well as the happiest. It’s bittersweet, but how perfect is it that it was Monty Green, the peaceful farmer, who lead them all home to new and fantastic life.
The question now is what they do with their second chance as the earth they new burns over a century away from them. As Bellamy and Clarke weep over what they’ve lost and gained, staring out at this new unknown world as Monty’s voice overhead shares his hope that humans aren’t actually the problem and don’t have to just survive, but also live, we’re left with more questions than answers about where these characters go next, so many of the status quo’s now shaken into mayhem. Perhaps they’ll succumb to humans most animalistic demons once more when a threat approaches them, or maybe they’ll see their new home as the miracle that it is and treat it as such. The 100 has always loved to try and shock its audience and what could be more shocking at this point then our abused and cynical characters to reach to hope?