Reviews

October 1, 2020

SHOWBUZZDAILY Series Finale Review: “The 100”

 

THE 100 stood apart from its CW fantasy-adventure counterparts, unique both in its often unexpected (and sometimes ruthless) narrative choices, and in the sense it imparted of true auteurship by series creator Jason Rothenberg.  The fact that the series reached 7 seasons is itself remarkable, as it never approached the ratings echelon of the network’s DC properties, and remained largely below the mainstream radar, in part because many dismissed it after a teen-oriented pilot that turned out to have very little to do with the dark tone of the series.  Yet The 100 survived to reach broadcast TV’s promised land, a predetermined final season that allowed Rothenberg to fully realize his vision of a finale.

As sometimes happens, this ultimate season didn’t represent The 100 at its best, although certainly not for lack of ambition.  Season 7 introduced a portal that allowed characters to hop among multiple planets, some of them with measures of time that were different than others, so that characters aged at varying rates.  In addition, the show expanded upon the Season 6 storyline that allowed characters to occupy or subsume the consciousness and body of others.  Season 7 also brought in what amounted to a different plane of existence, where god-like creatures would judge whether entire species should be annihilated or allowed to “transcend”.  It wasn’t just that all of this was enormously complicated, but the sprawl over time and space was so great that the show’s characters were minimized and often allowed to be little more than walking plot pieces.  Series heroine Clarke (Eliza Taylor), for one, was reduced for the most part to grim determination to rescue her surrogate daughter Madi (Lola Flanery).  Poor Bellamy (Bob Morley) was yanked back into the story after seemingly being dead, only to be unceremoniously killed for good by Clarke soon thereafter.  It also didn’t help that the show’s relatively low budget was clearly stretched by the demands of the scripts.

The series finale, written and directed by Rothenberg, seemed to hit all the notes that he’d planned, however imperfectly.  The season’s Big Bads Cadogan (John Pyper-Ferguson) and Sheidheda (JR Bourne) were both dispatched, the first by Clarke and the other by Indra (Adina Porter).  Humanity reached its test of existence, with the clever touch that mankind’s representatives were met by the otherworldly creatures in the shape of those they most loved, which allowed for cameo quasi-returns by Paige Turco in the guise of Abby, and more importantly for fans, by Alycia Debnam-Carey as a version of Lexa.  That character had become the show’s most notable focus of controversy when she was killed immediately after she and Clarke became each other’s true loves.  The 100 had always freely–some might say wantonly–killed off its major characters (and Debnam-Carey had decided to leave the show to become a star of Fear the Walking Dead), but this plot turn was taken as perpetuating an anti-gay Hollywood trope.  In the end, Clarke failed the test because of her warlike nature, but Raven (Lindsey Morgan) was able to convince the higher beings that mankind was worth saving by showing that human armies could put down their arms and co-exist.  This allowed all of humanity to transcend by becoming Tinkerbell-like balls of light, although Rothenberg had his narrative cake and ate it by having most of the series regulars decide to return to the mortal plane of existence to live their lives alongside Clarke.

Mystical mumbo-jumbo isn’t Rothenberg’s specialty, and the finale felt cranked out to impart a message, particularly when Octavia (Marie Avgeropoulos) delivered a battlefield oration against war that seemed all too clearly to be directed at viewers as well as the soldiers she was addressing.  Still, it was satisfying to see the season’s pieces fall into place, and while many of the characters had less to do than one may have wished, it was a particularly strong season for Murphy (Richard Harmon), who completed his character’s arc from heel to hero, and there was fun to be had in some of the season’s games with time.

The 100 deserved to end on its own terms, even if those terms weren’t to everyone’s taste, and CW will be a less interesting place without its daring narrative moves.  But this may not entirely be the end:  a Season 7 episode served as a backdoor pilot for a potential prequel series that would take place several generations before the events of The 100 itself, and it appears to still be in consideration.  Rothenberg’s voice is strong and valuable, and there’s promise in finding out whether he has more surprises to offer.

 

 



About the Author

Mitch Salem
MITCH SALEM has worked on the business side of the entertainment industry for 20 years, as a senior business affairs executive and attorney for such companies as NBC, ABC, USA, Syfy, Bravo, and BermanBraun Productions, and before that, at the NY law firm of Weil, Gotshal & Manges. During all that, he has more or less constantly been going to the movies and watching TV, and writing about both since the 1980s. His film reviews also currently appear on screened.com and the-burg.com. In addition, he is co-writer of an episode of the television series "Felicity."




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