Well, we made it. Last night’s season three finale of The 100, ‘Perverse Instantiation: Part Two’ did many things, very quickly. Unlike the previous two seasons, there were very few plot threads being dangled for the future, no other character arcs following their own paths and no other plan than to destroy A.L.I.E. and the City of Light. This sort of focus made the world more claustrophobic than ever but allowed almost every event in season three to be resolved in an hour’s time.
FULL SPOILERS AHEAD!!!
In a truly zany plot to destroy the City of Light, Clarke discovers a way to implant The Flame in her head so she can find the kill switch in The Matrix*… sorry… The City of Light. Because she needs Nightblood to keep her brain from liquefying once The Flame is inserted, Clarke and Abbey rig a system to transfuse Ontari’s blood into Clarke’s body.
Also, the chipped members of society are scaling the exterior wall of Polis to get to our heroes.
‘Perverse Instantiation: Part Two’ doesn’t take time to linger on many items as it knows it has a hell of a lot of plot and story to resolve. Clarke fights her way to the kill chamber with the help of Lexa (!). The return of Lexa was a very welcome one and we’re reminded just what a presence that character had in the very short time we get her here.
The one thing the finale does linger on is Bellamy explaining to Pike why he had to go on this particular journey from light to dark to light again all during a tense moment trying to keep the chippers from entering Polis. It’s almost as if this entire episode was written as an explanation for all the bad storytelling that previously occurred. Nothing Bellamy says is new to us but it is the quickest way to get Pike and Bellamy to a particular understanding before this entire story thread goes away. The writers broke out the plot jackhammer for this one.
When Ontari’s body begins to shut down from the transfusion, Abbey must perform the quickest internal cardiac massage known to man as she breaks open Ontari’s rib cage and begins to manually pump blood from Ontari’s body to her daughter’s. Murphy takes over for Abbey and toward the end of the episode we’re treated with the best image from the season with Murphy squeezing an exposed heart, black blood seeping into Clarke’s veins and Bellamy, Octavia, Pike and co. keeping the Chippers at bay while Clarke decides how to destroy A.L.I.E. It’s pure madness and I couldn’t help but smile with joy at the ridiculous image. If only it had come at the end of a season with stakes as high as the last two.
When at the precipice of destroying A.L.I.E., we get the metaphorical reset button with the big picture plans for where our heroes will go next. A.L.I.E. tells Clarke that she’s been protecting human life because of the current meltdown of nuclear plants all around the world. In six months, 96% of the planet will be uninhabitable and A.L.I.E. was providing safe haven for when that event occurs. What happens next is the exact same push a button/flip a switch beat we were treated to when Clarke and Bellamy committed genocide in Mt. Weather except with none of the emotional stakes at hand. There is absolutely no tension as we’re all positive Clarke will destroy the City of Light for good and learn to deal with the next problem as it comes. That’s her character and the way this was always going to end.
Goodbye A.L.I.E. and good riddance.
Elsewhere, all the Chippers wake from their trance and we see the looks of horror and relief on characters like Kane**, Jaha and Jasper. The Jasper moment was actually quite touching as he admits how happy he was in the City of Light and with his look of loneliness even in the midst of his closest friends. This is a damaged and interesting character.
The final beat of the season is Octavia finally seeing through her revenge and killing Pike. Of course Pike deserves to die after all the illogical and horrific acts he’s committed but what The 100 has proven so adept at doing is pivoting characters from hated to understood. Pike had a reason to align with those he once fought against and common ground is always found in battle and life-endangering situations. The fact that we lost this character to such a predictable beat is a lamentable one given we finally have reason to be invested in Pike’s journey. It’s also a weak ending to a season finale. We aren’t treated to anything new or exciting as we see the fissure between Bellamy and Octavia rise again to the surface.
Ok, so where to from here? As bad as I believe this season was, there were some truly great moments. The season started on a strong note but quickly digressed into a convoluted, weightless and standard AI plot. Bright spots like the two Kim Shumway scripted episodes, ‘Ye Who Enter Here’ and ‘Nevermore’, shone brightly and proved that there is still magic in this world to be mined. The show has also never looked better as the heightened budget also shone through and looked like every dollar was placed on the screen. I’m not sure what that picture will look like for season four as I’m sure the audience has tempered a bit on this show for the time being.
I also have to give credit to the show for even attempting so many bold sci-fi ideas this season. They weren’t well handled but The 100 tried very hard to give its CW audience hard sci-fi week in and week out and as a sci-fi nerd, that’s a very cool thing to see. Taken at strict face value, season three of The 100 will be something the Netflix generation can binge through and enjoy because of how pretty and dramatic it is and tries to be.
At the end of season three I still love many of these characters and am truly glad to see basically everything from season three be jettisoned by its closing titles. We’re on to a fresh start and another terrible situation to escape. The 100 has now had its creative lull. I truly believe we’ll see it roar back to life next year.
“We’ll figure something out. We always do.” – Clarke
*This entire episode owes everything to The Matrix from Raven seeing through code to a multi-Agent Smith-ish battle.
**Kane beating Bellamy to a pulp is a continuation to my favorite game in The 100: “How badly can we eff up Bellamy’s face and make Bob Morley act through it (which I believe he does a more than admiral job under all that makeup)?”