Did anybody else let out a deep, resigned sigh as The 100‘s “A Sort of Homecoming” finally went to its first commercial break? Or when the episode came to a close?
“A Sort of Homecoming” came amidst high expectations following the callous murder of its leading man, Bellamy Blake, and to be frank, it clearly fell short. With a few enjoyable moments sprinkled into an overall chaotic episode, the episode doesn’t feel like a cohesive project, but rather several random stray ideas mushed into one of the last episodes before the madness of the final two episodes and last war—test—whatever.
It’s strange how quiet “A Sort of Homecoming” feels despite an entire plot consisting of Clarke and Octavia running around the halls of the bunker screaming “Madi!!!!” over and over again.
It’s a shame that the writing and characterization have fallen so far that it makes it impossible to talk about anything else. For our review of “Blood Giant,” only the last few minutes of the episode were discussed, but these minutes made it impossible to acknowledge anything else.
For this episode, the exterior Earth shots were beautiful and there are no obvious issues or complaints with the framing, score, or shots of the scenes throughout “A Sort of Homecoming.” The writing and story structure lack so much that it would feel unbalanced to speak in-depth about these aspects of The 100 when the words being said draw the audience’s entire focus.
The question however isn’t so much of what went wrong. It’s more of a matter of how it went wrong. And did anything go right?
The first ten or so minutes of “A Sort of Homecoming” is perhaps The 100’s worst, aside from the problematic deaths of course.
With the episode beginning immediately as Clarke comes out of the other side of the anomaly after killing Bellamy, barely a minute passes before the episode moves on, giving a cheap and convenient explanation of how and what Gaia has been up to since “Hesperides.”
In reality, Gaia’s abscence can be chalked up to her actress’ schedule as she films for other projects. This isn’t the first time a character has randomly gone missing for episodes at a time with little to no explanation (re: Jordan), so perhaps instead of cutting the emotional reaction to Bellamy’s death short, The 100 should just embrace this fault and instead focus on what matters.
But almost as quickly as the narrative moves from Bellamy to Gaia, it moves back to Bellamy, but just to get addressing his death with out of the way. As Clarke moves outside, Octavia and Echo’s existence prompts everyone to realize, “Oh, crap! Bellamy isn’t here.” He’s still an afterthought, and although this plot is probably driven by behind the scenes circumstances as mentioned by the creators, that’s not an excuse for this incredibly out-of-character scene. No matter the circumstances that cause the necessity for rewrites, it’s the job of the writers to craft a believable and fluid story for the episode, and as professionals in the industry, there is no reason that this storyline should have made it to air.
The opening scene extending to Clarke and co. re-entering the bunker after Clarke confesses is probably the most ingenious scene The 100 has aired to date.
There are definite issues with Clarke in “A Sort of Homecoming,” but for her to say she tried everything is just untrue and baffles the audience already upset by his death. Her excuses are empty, even as she tells her friends that she murdered their friend, distraught and heavy tears in her eyes.
It’s hard to blame Clarke, however. This doesn’t feel like her, reminding many of her behavior and shallow plot from season five, but perhaps amped up on steroids this time.
This isn’t the Clarke we know and love and sometimes are incredibly frustrated with. This is a Clarke written with so much emptiness that even those who connect with her feel the clear change in her story. This is no longer Clarke’s story. Clarke merely exists to drive the plot forward, and this scene is just a way to get the Bellamy-problem out of the way with so The 100 can move onto things they actually care about such as Sheidheda who has undoubtedly overstayed his welcome.
This is what happens when behind the scenes behaviors and attitudes seep into the story. This is what happens when character and dynamics’ importance matters less to creators than sci-fi elements and big-bads.
How can Clarke be blamed when this isn’t Clarke? So much resignation has seeped into the story to where it’s so easy to laugh at this ridiculous world in which Sheidheda is somehow still alive, Clarke kills her best friend for no reason, and all development from past seasons has been forgotten.
In past seasons, characters have made decisions that maybe not every viewer found agreeable. Those decisions and actions tend to be rationalized to move on and enjoy the rest of the show. But when every action and the entirety of a character feels foreign and forced? That’s a writing problem, not a negative character trait.
Who are these people?
The writer’s choice to have Clarke kill Bellamy for spite and shock-value doesn’t stop at her own weak excuses and empty words. It’s clear that The 100 wants to move on as quickly as possible, which leads us to Echo, Octavia, and how to allow them to forgive Clarke with little time wasted.
When Octavia and Clarke had a short heart-to-heart before Bellamy’s interruption—it was clear what they were trying to do. This was the moment it became obvious that Madi would be involved in Bellamy’s demise (even if Clarke took away that choice).
Giving Octavia a strong aunt-like relationship with Hope not only gave Octavia understanding for Bellamy’s decisions regarding her, but it also allows Octavia to understand Clarke’s actions which led to her brother’s death.
And although this transition works in theory, it does not work in execution. Octavia, just as Echo does, mentions what the “old Bellamy” would do. But to that—what “old Bellamy”?
Because Octavia’s seen Bellamy recently. She may have forgotten her memories of her time on Sky Ring initially, but the last time she was with her brother was a mere months ago, and he was still obviously Bellamy, giving Clarke CPR and Sanctum motivational speeches and all.
But even if after regaining her memories the ten years feel more recent to her, Octavia still spent her time trying to get back to her brother, contemplating their relationship, and existing in a space that reminds her of what Bellamy did for her. Her one interaction with Bellamy was mostly a conversation between him and Clarke, and still, through all of these arguments with his friends, Bellamy explained his urge to also save them as well as humanity.
Echo’s reaction to Clarke’s admission makes even less sense. At least Octavia’s reaction follows a trackline of forgiveness, even if it makes sense only in analysis and less when watching her hug Clarke on the screen. Echo wanted to kill Clarke for merely leaving Bellamy.
“I should have killed you when I had the chance.”
With Echo’s left allies behind, Echo has made decisions that impacted Hope’s mission, and Echo’s almost committed genocide for what she believed was in the name of Bellamy. Although Bellamy would detest these things, nobody doubted Echo’s passion, in fact, some thought she acted too dramatically.
Only a few days ago, Echo was prepared to kill all of Bardo for avenge Bellamy’s death, but now she hugs Clarke because “We lost him a long time ago.” Echo may have not seen Bellamy in years, but all that time she was fighting to rescue him. So, was he really gone for her? How is it that it took each of these women only one conversation with a man they loved enough to move planets for to lose all of their faith in him?
Hope got it backwards.
Yes, Bellamy may have appeared to betray them. He revealed Clarke’s lie to Cadogan. But even as he worked for Cadogan’s goals, he did everything in his power specifically to protect the people he loved. He made that clear.
Everyone’s bizarre judgment of Bellamy wasn’t in line with the allowances they all gave each other. Bellamy, someone who always tried to protect his friends and almost never asked for anything for himself, has one moment of faith or confusion, and shooting him in the heart is easily forgivable.
Is nobody going to talk about the times Echo tried to kill Octavia? Or Clarke fled her people after Mount Weather? Or Blodreina? Or hanging Bellamy?
The 100 forces Bellamy’s friends to determine he was an acceptable loss and that he was lost after a single conversation with him. Murphy and Raven barely even spoke to him. The only person who treated Bellamy with the love he deserved, in the end, was Emori.
(They should have been the time-jump couple—make me change my mind.)
Bellamy is dead, and Octavia and Clarke are the only one to shed tears. Everyone stands around, looking kinda sad. Furthermore, the only “grief” really shown are lines sprinkled in. Murphy says Bellamy manipulated Raven, further villainizing him for no apparent reason. Miller talks about a moment that he had with Bellamy (that was cut from the episode) before quickly changing the subject to his father. None of these people seem to genuinely care about Bellamy in the way the show has shown them to before this season.
Madi is now mad that Clarke killed Bellamy for her, and she storms off. This is what arguments in this show are now. Is anyone going to say that this should not be normal? Casually killing the people you love?
This is why you don’t make a last-minute decision to kill off your leading man. It does not work. Shoehorning an ingenuine, campy scene into the beginning of the episode, and not changing any of the remaining content aside from sprinkling a line in here or there does not work. It is disrespectful to your characters, and it is disrespectful to your audience.
The Last War is Here
There are two episodes left of The 100 and “A Sort of Homecoming” anticipates that, giving many of the smaller players emotional moments. The last two episodes are likely to be focused on Clarke and Octavia, so to some dismay, it’s time for many of the supporting characters to step aside.
Unfortunately, this also separates them throughout the bunker, leaving each other vulnerable when the bomb renders the bunker unstable. With the unaired “The Dying of the Light” appearing to focus heavily on the aftermath of the explosion, it’s definitely a choice to have two bottle-styled episodes towards the end of a final season.
It was also a choice to violently kill two people of color in back-to-back episodes, but that happened, too.
Some of the small emotional conversations were endearing. Gaia and Indra reunited, and Jackson and Miller also had a scene in bed, albeit more chaste than many other intimate scenes between women or heterosexual couples.
The weirdest part of the scene is the lack of context. Miller mentions a conversation he had with Bellamy, and how it weighs on him since he’ll never have a chance to forgive him. This conversation, however, was cut from episode, “The Stranger,” based on stills from the scene being released, yet the scene not making it to air. It’s a curious decision to include a scene about an unaired scene, but Miller has to mourn Bellamy, right? Well, at least for a heartbeat until he moves onto his season five trauma.
Indra and Octavia’s private moment is sweet but out of place. Octavia’s brother just died, and yet she’s more caught up in her memories of the bunker and blodreina. This scene would be great, if Bellamy were still alive. He’s not, though, and to include this moment the way it was included makes the laziness in adjusting this episode ever more evident, making most of the characters more not relatable in their coldness and nonchalant reactions to Bellamy Blake no longer existing on Earth, or any other planet for that matter. In fact, it’s odd in the first place that no attention is given to how Earth is suddenly beautiful. Everyone’s seen their fair share of science-fiction movies to know radiation poisoning doesn’t go away that fast.
Where’s the nostalgia for Earth? Only a few moments are shown on the beautiful exterior set, and then it’s back to the rusty old bunker. How could they miss this opportunity? This episode is titled “A Sort of Homecoming,” but only focuses on a select group of characters who have a history with the six years stuck in the bunker. We’re not asking for another “Radioactive” bit, but something more inclusive and encompassing would be nice. Bellamy back on Earth would be best.
And while these dynamics most likely have their last emotional moments before the last war, some character arcs seem to come to a close, too.
Niylah’s arc starts and ends in the same episode with a random confession that she’s half Azgeda. It’s really strange to include this when those seconds would be much better served for someone grieving Bellamy. Most importantly, Echo’s arc seems to come to a close, as she admits to someone she’s not that close to, yet again, that her name is Ash. This once again clarifies how ill-suited Bellamy and Echo were for each other as she mentions how she could never be open with him. If Bellamy weren’t already dead, this would probably be the final nail in the coffin. Speaking of coffins, Bellamy is probably on Nakara now, and even the level of disrespect shown to his body is infuriating. And while most of these moments provide a tiny amount of closure to characters and relationships, Jordan and Hope also find something in each other.
It makes sense. They’re both legacy characters with a bit of time-wonkiness to thank for their existence, and they’ve also lost their parents. Hope finds solace in Jordan, and Jordan desires connection after living most of his life with only his parents. They’re probably the highlight of the episode, as their spark is cute. Although, it is a little bit annoying due to the timing of it. Episode 98 out of 100 is a little bit too late, especially the episode after the death to half of one of the biggest ships in The 100‘s fandom.
The 100‘s “A Sort of Homecoming” attempts to execute a Game of Thrones styled night-before-the-battle episode, but instead creates a chaotic mess with the additions of Clarke and Sheidheda into the episodes. The episode attempts to provide emotion and closure, but with the death of Bellamy rendering some conversations out of place, and too many things happening at once, most emotion is lost as the audience tries to keep up amidst the mess.
Season five called, it wants its Clarke back, except this Clarke is willing to actually shoot Bellamy for Madi.
After telling everyone that she killed Bellamy, he’s out of sight, out of mind to her. The rest of the episode, Clarke spends the majority of the time panicking about Madi, chasing her down, pushing her away, so on and so forth. With the nature of the episode jumping around quickly, it’s too much.
This extends so far as to Clarke barely giving Gabriel any noticed as he passed away on the other side of the room. Not to mention it’s a complete regression of Clarke’s growth. For the past season, Clarke has given Madi space. Part of that is because she was looking for Octavia, Bellamy, and Echo, but Clarke, a season prior, wouldn’t have been able to leave her.
And when Madi calls her out, she’s right. Clarke does constantly take away other people’s decisions. She decided for Madi when she decided to murder Bellamy. And she does it again this episode, when Clarke smashes the Disciple helmet, stranding everybody on Earth for good (so she thought).
This is a constant problem that Clarke has, and it really hasn’t improved throughout the series. Clarke sacrifices for her people, but she also does this without giving them any other choice. She believes she is taking on pain for her people, but she also doesn’t ask what anybody else wants. This character trait is only amplified for Madi’s sake.
And yes, Madi’s use as a character primarily exists in keeping the Commander/Flame plot alive and isolating Clarke from her friends, but Madi’s exploration apart from Clarke and as a child has been one of the better parts of season seven.
Clarke and Madi work best apart, and that’s sad to say considering their close mother and daughter relationship. But truthfully, The 100 rarely gets parent/offspring dynamics right, and constantly forcing Clarke to kill others or leave them behind all for the sake of Madi certainly isn’t right. Pulling the trigger over the possibility of harm isn’t something that should be normalized as understandable.
The 100 constantly makes Clarke prioritize her love for her daughter, sacrificing familial, platonic, and arguably, romantic love for this relationship. This type of message about motherhood is toxic, and Clarke should have been allowed the opportunity to be more than a mother.
Gabriel’s loss and everyone’s insistence that they’d go to war for Madi leaves Madi clearly overwhelmed. Did Clarke think twice before telling everyone, including Madi, that she killed Bellamy for her? This is a heavy load for a child to bear, and isn’t that what Clarke has wanted for Madi to be all along? To be a child?
Instead, Clarke announces why she killed Bellamy, and she separates Madi from the new life and friends she built. Clarke is a “mama bear” in a sense, acting uncharacteristically emotional and frantic, traits not normally exhibited by the protagonist. Is this another subliminal message about motherhood?
Still, even if Madi is pushed to act following the events of Sheidheda’s mouse-chase, the visuals of a child impaling herself with a dagger goes a bit too far. This show isn’t sunshine and rainbows, but it’s essential to know which depictions of violence and gore are necessary and additive, and The 100 has seemed to have lost this, that is if it ever had it in the first place.
RIP Gabriel Santiago
At the moment every character cycled out of the rec room aside from Gabriel and Madi, it was over for Gabriel.
Gabriel’s death wasn’t shocking in the fact that he died, but it was in the fact that it happened in such a gruesome matter the week after Bellamy died a surprisingly bloody death (compared to other gunshot injuries on The 100). The 100 has a history of giving non-white characters gruesome or gory deaths, and its final season hasn’t remotely tried to prove that accusation wrong with shooting Nelson point blank in the head, Bellamy bleeding out heavy, and Gabriel bleeding out from multiple stab wounds.
Not only did Sheidheda stab Gabriel, but he stabbed him multiple times. Gabriel’s death felt as if it happened three times. The first time he was stabbed shockingly, the second time when Sheidheda tried to finish him off after he rescued Madi, and the third time when he left according to his own will. This gruesome and repetitive death felt horrifyingly comical, much like the rest of the episode.
The only reason Sheidheda is still around (and he still didn’t die this episode) is because Indra had to be dumbed down not to kill him the first opportunity she got.
But while Gabriel’s death was gruesome in an unnecessary way, following the racial trend of deaths on The 100, Gabriel was at least allotted a heroic death, saving Madi, which could in turn, could save the human race, depending on how one looks at it.
Gabriel had the opportunity he looked for to help atone for his crimes. Gabriel deserved a heroic death, but he also received the death that Bellamy also deserved. This set-up feels actually as if it was meant for Bellamy instead of Gabriel, with Gabriel sacrificing himself in “Blood Giant” after his big episode with Josephine.
Gabriel’s actual death still rings painful, and regardless of how these two characters’ death scenes were initially planned, the death of three people of color in three subsequent episodes is glaring. And on a storytelling level, while Bellamy deserved so much more on so many levels for his series exit, Gabriel is also an intriguing, fan-favorite character who deserved a better-timed death as well.
Not to mention the odd decision of having Octavia recite the Traveler’s Blessing to Gabriel, who wouldn’t have even known what this was. Nor would he have learned during his time stranded with Hope and Echo. To give Gabriel this send-off while Bellamy just recently died alone seems like a slap in the face once more.
Actually, Gabriel’s death is numbed by the harder, note-worthy blow of Bellamy’s death just an episode prior. If these deaths were staggered further, Gabriel’s sacrifice and closure would resonate all the more, packing a harder emotional punch.
Emotional catharsis? The 100 doesn’t know her.
Gabriel Santiago was a bright light of the last two seasons of The 100. Many times in season 7, he was breathed life into the episodes, whether through his compassion for others, his facial expressions, small jokes, or charisma. With the absence of Octavia, Clarke, and Bellamy as narrative focal points, Gabriel was always something warm and familiar to look forward too in a largely foreign and unfamiliar narrative style and setting.
While Gabriel joined The 100 somewhat late into the game, he wasn’t a one-dimensional character by any means. He wasn’t exactly part of the main group of protagonists, but he had a story that easily aligned with the struggles the others had endured throughout the duration of The 100.
Gabriel was a man who had gone so far for love, to a point to where he no longer recognized himself. Looking at his mistakes and seeing the massive scale of immorality they created, Gabriel took explicit actions to try to rescue the victims of his actions.
At the end of his life, he had the opportunity to become a God once more. But Gabriel looked inside himself and saw what he truly desired, and shut that (and the Flame) down for humanity. Gabriel is not a God, but his path is an example of what humanity’s path should mirror. If anybody was the epitome of Monty’s advice to Bellamy and Clarke, then perhaps it was Gabriel Santiago. And in the end, after living too many lifetimes, Gabriel was finally able to take back his consent, and die peacefully, surrounded by friends and family.
The Dying of the Light
With only two episodes of The 100 left, “A Sort of Homecoming” doesn’t feel like coming home at all, but it does start to try to say goodbye.
But overall, this episode just feels like somebody closed their eyes and threw random ingredients in a pot while hoping for the best. Spoiler Alert: It doesn’t taste good.
With Bellamy’s death only happening at the end of the previous episode, its suddenness and sloppiness overshadow just about everything else, as The 100 appears to put the smallest amount of energy possible in addressing an event that should have much more narrative purpose than it does. Instead, this episode would look almost exactly the same if Bellamy stayed alone on Sanctum, or even accompanied Clarke back to Earth.
Going into the last final episodes of The 100, viewers have more questions than answers. Why is Sheidheda still alive? Is transcendence real? Are we supposed to take this seriously? Who is Clarke’s endgame now? What is Doomsday? Is Emori not pregnant then? Really, why is Sheidheda still a thing?
The 100 is back next week for its penultimate episode, “The Dying of the Light,” on Wednesday at 8/7c on The CW.