The 100 only has one episode left, and there’s no clear path to resolving all that a show needs to in its finale episode, character-wise, plot-wise, and thematically.
Technically, The 100’s seventh season could probably be titled “The 100: The Dying of the Light” after killing pretty much everything loveable about the show. However, The 100’s penultimate episode continues to assassinate its lead character while it threatens the life of one of the best-executed characters of the season and leaves another bright character all but completely paralyzed, taking away her agency once again right after finally giving it to her for the first time.
There are some bright spots in the episode. “The Dying of the Light” follows a troublesome trend that the two episodes before it also followed: an episode filled with the normal highs and lows typical of this season, ended with a generally horrific scene, tone-deaf to the real-world issues that these final scenes touch on.
For “Blood Giant,” it was Bellamy’s death. For “A Sort of Homecoming,” it was Gabriel’s death(s). For “The Dying of the Light,” it exists in Madi’s medical condition and the way the people who loved her so quickly moved to “mercy-kill” her for it.
Ignoring the last scene, while “The Dying of the Light” could exist as a decent, even good episode for The 100’s final season (the only way to analyze these episodes are within the context of the season and not the series, as the two feel vastly different), it doesn’t exist as a good second-to-last episode of the entire series.
There are still too many questions about the sci-fi elements of this season. There still is no discernable moral to the story (there was until this season began). All of the characters are grouped in little pods—there’s no central group, which makes last wars and other less important things like character and dynamic closure a lot more difficult.
The 100 is ending next week. But right now, it’s hard to tell why this all happened in the first place.
So, sticking a piece of rebar and mangling an already disabled woman’s leg kinda sucks. That being said, Emori had one of the strongest and most enjoyable arcs of the season, and the story that follows Emori, Raven, Jackson, and Murphy is hands-down the strongest of the season.
“The Dying with the Light” didn’t hit the mark when it came to issues of ableism, including injuring Emori’s leg. She is already physically disabled in one limb so this seems excessive when the rebar did all that The 100 needed for this plot. Emori has been deathly pale too many times this season comparatively to… everyone else.
Violence works when it has a purpose, and sometimes overt violence even is a characteristic of certain genres, but when it comes to issues of disabled characters, The 100 doesn’t know what steps not to take. Raven’s seemingly random reactions and different levels of ability after her disability are example enough.
And while it’s appreciated that The 100 is attempting to resolve at least one of its character’s stories, it’s debatable whether this is needed in this way, right now, looking at this plot from a series ending perspective. “The Dying of the Light” is very much an Emori episode as it wraps up her emotional journey, but inevitably this will become Murphy’s story in the series finale, which is a shame considering how much season seven allotted Emori to be a person outside of Murphy’s person.
For having multiple characters being disabled, The 100 doesn’t always portray them thoughtfully. While Emori’s story is powerful and inspiring, and it portrays her disability more consistently than Raven’s (who hammered into a concrete floor with no noticeable pain or mobility issues), still at the end of the day, her story mainly informs somebody else’s.
One day maybe television will provide us with a disabled woman potrayed consistently and thoughtfully with a story of her own, free of torture-porn. But we’re not quite there yet, shamefully.
Still, Emori is a hell of a character and has some of the best growth on The 100. Beginning with her being banished from her people because of physical attributes she could not change, The 100 sees her progress from a woman who feels the need to steal to get by. Even though Emori found Murphy, she still didn’t feel quite accepted from the world—two seasons after her introduction she still felt inclined to lie and betray to ensure her and Murphy’s survival.
At first Emori wasn’t willing to sacrifice herself to protect anyone. Then, Emori was willing to sacrifice herself for Murphy and eventually her family. Season seven then shows Emori putting herself in danger to protect everyone who needed it—people she didn’t know. Not only that, she tries to enrich the people of Sanctum’s lives, giving them closure she never got to have.
Emori grows into her kindness and generosity that the world took from her, and following the trend of the season, the people who are the most emblematic of the potential and goodness of humanity either die or are on their way there.
Bellamy should have taken the test. Gabriel’s unwillingness to take the test made him worthy. Emori is worthy as well.
Emori’s quickness to sacrifice her own life for everyone else’s is a decision far from one that she would have made before she went to space with the others. And while Murphy’s story stagnated this season, Emori had a true chance to shine, using her wit and abilities to protect the others around her. She bloomed into a true hero, and a leader.
It’s fitting that going into the finale, she is able to feel her own worth, and the others show her how much of a priority she is. Emori is no longer the girl shunned for her hand, but a woman celebrated and chosen, even if it may put humanity at risk. The moments in which “The Dying of the Light” emphasize this are important to Emori as a character, but also the representation she provides as a disabled woman. For reasons ironically demonstrated at the very end of the episode with the quickness to write of Madi’s life due to her new disability.
But these scenes don’t just see the culmination of Emori’s story, but also the culmination of Raven’s in the final season. Throughout the sequence in the rec room, the story shifts to focus on more of Raven and Emori’s dynamic versus Murphy and Emori’s relationship. Raven and Emori are arguably the best relationship to come out of the time jump (that hurt the series more than helped it), so their emotional conversation lands. And even though Murphy didn’t say much, the way he spent the entire episode destroying the concrete floor with desperation still is a powerful performance.
Lindsey Morgan and Luisa D’Oliveira give some of their best performances of the season as the two provide the catharsis each other needed to act as the most important closure needed for “Spacekru.” Afterall, Echo had the first ten episodes, and Murphy will have his moment in the series finale. (The rest are dead.)
Raven hasn’t had much to do this season, which is disappointing for such a once powerful character. Her only arc worthy of mentioning is her struggle to come to terms with her decision to kill some of the miners to save Sanctum—The 100‘s radiation-themed trolley problem. It didn’t make too much sense in the beginning. Afterall, Raven has been instrumental in saving her people time and time again, resulting in the deaths of many others.
Now, it makes a bit more sense, looking at it from a backwards perspective. Raven had to choose Emori in this scenario, and her grief from taking the lives of Hatch and the others pushed her to self-assess and make that decision. Build-up is a good thing, but it should make sense in every episode, not just on a re-watch.
Even so, did Raven miss the entire point? Or did the writing forget the lesson Raven was supposed to learn?
Raven let multiple people die to save Sanctum, yes. But that wasn’t the most painful part—Raven didn’t give them a choice. She says so much in referencing Hatch. Sure, Raven will try to save Emori. And then she will try to save everyone else, depending on how many minutes are left in the finale.
So, what was the lesson? That you can’t sacrifice the few for the many? If so, well, The 100 grappled that for seasons on end. And Clarke herself makes a practice of saving Madi, and many times Bellamy, before the human race. Maybe Raven is the wrong person to focus this lesson upon. Moreso, it feels like Raven was supposed to learn forthcomingness. The problem wasn’t that Hatch died, but that she lied to him about the situation and she took away his choice.
Isn’t this exactly what Raven did here? Emori expressed her desire for them to save the others, and Raven blatantly disregarded Emori’s wishes. She took away her choice just like she took away Hatch’s. Thankfully, Jackson forgot about his Hippocratic Oath several episodes ago.
Now, Emori is probably the last person still alive that I would wish to see die. But Raven’s hypocrisy is there, even if this time it works for the benefit for the characters we love. There is the possibility of Raven being able to save Emori and help the others as well, but she’s missing the point.
Now, the missed point could be a plot necessity. It seems odd to pull some of the major players to Sanctum on the eve of the finale. But there’s probably something there they’ll need — maybe the survivor’s of Sheidheda’s reign. They could be useful in a war, that may be a test, or a test of might — honestly who the hell knows?
It seems like even The Discples don’t as they stand up and surround the anomaly armed to the tooth and nail with guns and explosives — for an enemy they know nothing about. There’s too many plot holes, and The 100’s new lore is too expansive to make any sense. We still have no idea what Judgement Day is.
But whether this point was missed because of plot neccessity, or because Raven will still need to realize this in the finale, or because the show is over so who cares anymore, the emotion in this season are the stand-out moments of the show. Raven and Emori have a beautiful relationship, and Murphy and Emori were the only real dependable thing in this season.
If season seven took so much away, and even if Emori could have had this epic moment of self-love and acceptance anytime time since the beginning of season five, these moments provided hope in a hopeless world, as evidenced by much of the rest of the episode (and season).
Clarke & Madi
While the high points of the episode rest in Emori and her relationships to her family and what become her people, Clarke’s story is the opposite in just about every way. Clarke is starkly in the few-above-the-many camp this season, and her scenes are clearly the low points of the penultimate episode.
Clarke is a shell of her former self, but this seems the norm when it comes to Madi-centered plots. Clarke tends to lose herself when it comes to issues about her, and her callous behavior towards everyone else when Madi is in danger is off-putting to say the least. Season six was a brief departure from this, and the separation benefitted both characters.
The fact is both Madi and Clarke are both more interesting and enjoyable when their arcs don’t directly revolve around each other. Madi finally being able to be a child but also using her skills to protect the friends she’s made in that pursuit? Awesome. Clarke struggling with her opinion of herself and the losses she’s endured? Great. Flames, abandonment, Hedas—not so much.
Whichever way you look at it — the final arc of the entire series should not hinge on a character introduced in the fifth season, who exists more as a plot device than a character. Madi initially exists as a wedge between Clarke and the others (specifically Bellamy). Now, she exists as a motivator to push Clarke to her lowest, and it’s hard to believe how many lows she can reach. Madi also serves as a way to continue the plot revolving around Hedas, Lexa, and The Flame.
These issues plague Clarke in season seven, especially with the seemingly uncharacteristic murder of Bellamy. The Clarke at the beginning of the season felt hollow—merely going through the motions, reacting to the plot instead of exhibiting any type of agency as a protagonist should in leading her story. However, the second Clarke and Madi are reunited, a switch flips, and she’s now hollow in a different way.
The 100 never has gotten motherhood right, and Clarke is their most obvious and extreme example. Ignoring many of the misogynistic facets of The 100’s portrayal of motherhood (such as forbidding Clarke of having other types of love due to her maternal love), motherhood turns Clarke, an intelligent, collected character, into a short-sighted, erratic person.
The Clarke that tried everything before irradiating Mount Weather now murders her best friend without considering any other options. This Clarke runs through hallways screaming for Madi with Octavia stating the plan. This Clarke moves to swallow the teleportation marbles (yeah, what?) without a thought. This portrayal of Clarke paints mothers as emotional, thoughtless, and obsessive. Not every mother will let the world burn for the sake of one person, even if its their child.
Clarke, while cutthroat, has also done the horrible things for her family and people from a place of love. Clarke is a woman of compassion. Yet, where Madi is concerned, she focuses on Madi too heavily to realize the pain she might inflict on Gaia, the woman attempting to comfort her, as she states that nothing matters without Madi. Ouch. And considering that Gaia is probably the closest friend she has, and the only one who attempts to help Clarke when her others mostly use Clarke? Double ouch.
And then there’s Madi.
Madi has been mostly used as a plot device. Clarke latches onto her, arugably in a very selfish way, Sheidheda uses her to attempt to re-enter the world, and Bellamy even used her as well, even though it was through good intentions. Since Madi has entered The 100, she’s been a pawn on a chess board, and even before that, her life had been strictly controlled to save her the burden of the conclave.
It’s the few moments that she’s allowed to be a normal child that she’s the most enjoyable, navigating and processing her own feelings while engaging with others on a more innocent level. These small moments with Madi are some of the brightest, especially in this season.
This episode is a big one for Madi. It’s when she finally takes back her agency, even if the visuals of her doing so are disturbing, showing a child harming herself. Though, The 100 has always been gratuitously dark, and even children can’t escape this trend as evidenced by Ontari’s slaughter of the nightblood in Polis back in season three.
The 100’s seventh season has roots from many its past seasons, especially season five. Except, instead of Madi being pulled in different directions, all of the people Madi heard stories about now put their lives on the line only for her protection. She isn’t being pulled in different directions this time, between Clarke, Wonkru, and Spacekru, but she still has no control over what she wants.
It’s no wonder Madi feels suffocated and takes drastic actions without advice to protect the ones she loves. Like mother, like daughter, as Gaia pointed out. With everyone now willing to go to war over her, and with Clarke willing to kill Bellamy (Bellamy!!!!) for her, it’s no surprise Madi lashed out, moving to take her own control back, on her own, perhaps for the first time.
Throughout the episode, Madi has several opportunities to make her own choices, knowing the consequences she may face. Just like Clarke, Madi is selfless in her resistance, and with Becca’s experience with Cadogan pulled to the surface, she doesn’t just want to protect Clarke and the others as she refuses to cooperate, but Madi wants to save everybody.
Madi finally took control of her own life, and The 100 punished her for it.
In another show of darkness, with little to no hope remaining as “The Dying of the Light” is very literal, as it attempts to crush the people surrounding The 100’s main heroes, leaving almost nothing left.
When an episode ends with a scene so tone-deaf and horrific, it’s not easy to acknowledge the highlights that came before. The scene overshadows everything, leaving the audience not on the edge of their seat or their heart pounding with antipation or emotion, but instead, it leaves them nauseous with a bitter taste in their mouth.
The 100 has achieved this this not once, but now twice in its final season. Is this what happens when a show doesn’t worry about another renewal? The 100 feels like it’s flying off the handle, making decisions that don’t make sense or respects its characters. The time of shock value and torture-porn has passed, but The 100 hasn’t got the message yet.
The only highlight about the last scene is the powerful acting from those involved. Eliza Taylor should have never been asked for perform this scene, and yet she does, the grief of rock bottom and insurmountable loss evident in her performance. Lola Flanery also does a great job. For such a younger actor, she’s been asked to do so many things, and every time she nails it, even if the character does feel extraneous and forced at times. Marie Avgeropoulos and Jason Diaz have smaller roles in the scene, but also held up their portion of the plate.
That’s it. That’s really all there is good to say.
The 100 is no stranger to triggering content. Sometimes it works because it furthers the story. Octavia’s bunker story was horrific, but interesting for the character. Clarke’s decision to mercy-kill Finn was heartbreaking, but made sense for the story. The 100 is a world filled with hard decisions, violence, and loss. But even as this world exists in a different place than the real one, sometimes the content of this show has real world implications and sends messages that just don’t provide the hurt of immersing the audience into a dark narrative, but it provides real hurt beyond something a television show should provide.
Killing Lexa with a bullet meant for the woman she just consummated a relationship with. The glorification of self-mutilation and even suicide, in Jasper’s case. The violent and frequent killing of Black and other characters who are People of Color. And the subtle and now, not-so-subtle irresponsible treatment of disabled characters.
There are some dark places media should go, and some places made impossible to go, made by real world phobias and discrimination. Madi’s near death should have never made it to air, and yet, it did. How many people had to do with this scene’s creation and decided that it was something appropriate for television? Are people really that naive to issues that plague the disabled community?
If there is any time that people should be more exposed to issues of the disabled and sick, the era of Covid-19 should be that time. With people blatantly disregarding suggested guidelines to prevent the spread of the pandemic, it’s obvious that people’s value is related to their bodies. Many people have suggested letting the disease run through the population because only mostly sick and old people will die. Even government officials have referred to the deaths of American citizens which is in the six-digits now as virtually nobody.
This rhetoric that makes the issues so much more sensitive for disabled viewers can be experienced through The 100’s final scene. The quickness that Clarke and the others came to the decision to mercy-kill Madi was haunting. Madi still can feel. She can experience joy and grief and fear. She can see and hear. She’s still a person in every way, and the show devalues people with disabilities by considering her so easily expendable and considers this an act of compassion.
Not to mention that the decision to let someone go is not a hasty decision to make, and that’s not even considering that Madi is still there. She’s still Madi. Ending someone’s life is not the first choice, even though Clarke seems to been made to believe so this season. The quickness Clarke and Octavia decide in which to shoot her in the heart is disrespectful not to just the lives of disabled people, but anyone who has had to make a difficult decision regarding their loved ones.
Did they not even ask for a second opinion? Is there no way to speak to Madi, to ask her what she wants? After all, Levitt can peer into her brain. The neural link was connected. Sheidheda can be brought back from the brink of death but Madi can’t even communicate a single desire? Upon hearing Madi is there, why is there no attempt to find a way? Raven could figure something out. Once again, Clarke attempts to make choices that aren’t hers to make, and Madi’s agency is stolen from her, as she’s forced to accept her impending death and she can’t do a single thing about it.
Disabling Madi and just as quickly deciding that her new existence isn’t worth living is repulsive and unnecessary. Breaking Clarke shouldn’t involve something that also sends an ableist message to the audience, although Clarke shouldn’t need to be broken again in the first place.
Looking past real-world implications of attempting to mercy-kill a fully conscious disabled girl, there are some other disturbing aspects to this scene that don’t make much sense. Actually, not much makes sense other than the fact that Cadogan pried Madi’s mind too deep.
Clarke spends so much time trying to rescue Madi, only to make a hasty decision when she couldn’t even let go of the Flame for how long after Lexa’s death. Clarke discusses killing her daughter right in front of her. Could she be more obvious? And then after expressing disgust that Cadogan left Madi helpless and alone upon getting what he wanted—she does the very same thing?
Even when ignoring the ableist subtext of the scene, it doesn’t make much sense with the way Clarke is portrayed when it comes to things related to Madi. All in all, this scene is sloppy. It makes Clarke feel short-sighted and it punishes Madi the only time she tries to make a decision for herself. The only feeling it leaves in the audience is shock and disgust when perhaps the scene intended to leave fans heartbroken and sympathetic. But that ship sailed for Clarke two episodes ago.
Yes, There is a Bellamy Section
There isn’t a way to talk about The 100’s end without talking about Bellamy Blake, even if he’s been gone the majority of the season and dead for two episodes by now. Bellamy’s death continues to be treated with disrespect and callousness.
Not only do characters treat his memory unfairly, or is his intended role obvious, or is his death made inconsequential by the events of the finale scene, but The 100 continues to feel hollow without him. Its heart is missing.
Many characters have the opportunity for heartfelt moments—Indra and Gaia debate faith, Hope and Octavia have an emotional goodbye, and Emori opens up and tells Raven that she loves her. All of these moments are done well, but none of them pack the powerful punch that any moments with Bellamy would have had. None of these pairings consist of characters that have both been around from the beginning, and any memories of this character are sabotaged to make his murder digestible.
His death is example enough. Has there ever been a major death that has lasted for less than fifteen seconds with such silence? Jasper had a goodbye scene with Monty, Lexa was able to tell Clarke her final words, and even Octavia watched as Lincoln was assassinated. Bellamy got nothing.
Clarke continues to try to shirk off any blame for his death, but that’s not so much Clarke doing that as it is The 100 attempting to keep its protagonist in the moral high ground, even if the death makes no actual sense in the context of The 100. This even extends to Octavia, which is even more shocking than Clarke’s behavior, as they both continue to talk about him as if he was beyond help, even though they trusted Sheidheda enough to enlist his help. Yes, the same Sheidheda that almost killed Madi a week or two ago, in Madi’s timeline.
And even if Bellamy had to die (he didn’t), there were so many ways to make this fit into Clarke’s arc and the narrative without sacrificing a series-long character and relationship for a character introduced two seasons ago. Bellamy’s death doesn’t only hurt the characters and dynamics he was directly a part of, but he makes more unrelated characters less enjoyable as well.
Levitt was introduced as an ally and lover for Octavia, but the signs that he played a role similar to Bellamy’s were there from the beginning in the form of a janitor’s disguise. However, “The Dying of the Light” took this completely to the next level. While his reunion with Octavia is sweet, and their dynamic remains to be one of the sweeter parts of the series, he still exhibits growth as he witnesses what Octavia and the people associated with her endure. The similarities between her latest love interest and her brother are still there, even if they’re a far cry from identical.
However, almost every moment given to Levitt in “The Dying of the Light” exists as it certainly originally meant to exist for Bellamy. Every moment seems characteristic of Bellamy’s intentions and who he actually is, down to the final scene, no matter how relieving it is in a way that he didn’t have to be a part of that.
The scene in which Cadogan sends off Levitt would have worked perfectly for Bellamy. Bellamy, as evidenced by his subtle pries at Cadogan, seemed to believe more in the faith than the man behind it. After all, he did want to save his friends. Cadogan hadn’t shown himself to be a real threat. Seeing Madi in pain, or even seeing the memories from Becca regarding Cadogan would have been enough for him to try to protect Madi, and subsequently go to Octavia and Clarke after.
Not to mention the last scene. After the nonsensical decision to kill Madi settled in Clarke, Octavia offers to do the deed before Levitt interrupts them. In this scenario, this scene sets up what could have been an intentional parallel with Bellamy taking the gun from Clarke while she hums to Madi—a direct reversal from a moment dating back to the very beginning of the series.
Clarke killed Bellamy and lost everything anyway. Bellamy’s abscence leaves a hole that not even rewrites can fill, and The 100 suffers tremendously from the forced circumstances that made Bellamy’s death happen, and now the show must reckon with the repercussions of losing all familiarity after losing its soul.
The 100 returns for its finale episode, “The Last War,” on Wednesday, September 30th, 2020, at 8/7c on The CW.