‘The 100’ Season 5 Finale Proves It’s One of TV’s Most Fearlessly Inventive Sci-Fi Series

     August 8, 2018

the-100-season-5-slice

Be aware there are full spoilers for The 100 Season 5 finale below.

Few series have the guts to reinvent themselves as frequently and fearlessly as The 100. The CW drama just wrapped its fifth season with a banger of a finale, “Damocles – Part Two,” and once again reset the stakes for the long-running tale of survival with a soft reboot that opens countless doors for world-building and evolution. Somehow, it’s about the fifth time The 100 has pulled off that trick — though this one is definitely the biggest reinvention yet.

Let’s back up a bit. The 100 debuted four years ago, looking like another fresh-faced dystopian narrative spun in the height of the YA fiction boom. But a few episodes and a lot of moral grey area later, it became clear that the latest CW series wanted to go deeper and darker than your average post-apocalyptic adventure. Rooted in themes of survival, xenophobia, and cycles of violence, The 100 introduced us to the space-bound remnants of the human race, removed from their humanity by mercenary survivor’s logic, and thrust back on Earth where they learned they weren’t the sole survivors of the nuclear apocalypse after all.

the-100-bob-morley

Image via the CW

With each new season came a new realm to explore and a new science fiction narrative to employ. The 100 introduced us to the Grounders, then the Mountain Men, constantly expanding the mythology and reframing the story by using each new reveal as a launching pad to explore a different science fiction subgenre. We learned about their cultures, cults and religions, and ultimately the sad truths behind those beliefs. The 100 has taken us from space to underground bunkers and back again, using every trick in the arsenal to deliver new ecological, biological, emotional, and technological terrors with each new frontier. We’ve seen the wonders and horrors of post-nuclear Earth only to watch it fall to another nuclear apocalypse and die again. And now, in act of truly spectacular self-one-upsmanship, The 100 is taking us to a whole new world. Literally.

“Damocles – Part II” picked up in a moment of peril. Blodreigne’s war finally arrives and it’s not going well for Wonkru, thanks to a last minute betrayal by Kane and Diyoza. Big bad McCreary is going all in on torturing Raven and Shaw, waiting for either to break, pilot the ship, or end it all with some well-aimed missiles, but Clarke puts a gun to Diyoza’s pregnant stomach and stops McCreary dead in his tracks. Well, kinda. Madi assumes her rightful responsibility as the new Commander (and Octavia wisely takes a knee, uniting her people), and the remnants of Wonkru take the valley. The only problem is McCreary’s a real crazy asshole — an actual villain, unlike our principled if morally ambiguous antiheroes. “If I can’t have the valley, no one can,” he says and launches a missile straight at the last habitable land on Earth.

the-100-season-5-madi

Image via The CW

It’s over. To survive, they’ve got to leave Earth once again, and the clock is ticking. After a last-minute boarding by Monty, Murphy and Bellamy (who refuses to leave his friends behind this time, saving their lives in the process), the remainders of McCreary’s crew, Wonkru and SpaceKru journey back to the final frontier together, if not united. In a refreshing change of pace, everyone makes more or less morally sound choices in the Season 5 finale (well, not McCreary, but Clark kicked his head in, so let’s let bygones be bygones.) Emori and Abby chose to stand by the men they love rather than just survive. Octavia lets go of her grudges and helps Abby try to save Kane’s life. At Bellamy’s urging, Madi choses to let McCreary’s men live and prove their worth. Raven choses to let Bellamy wait for their friends, rather than rocketing into space without them. It seems The 100 finally wants to say that humans, sometimes, can work together instead of tearing each other apart.

With no planet to call home, Clarke and Bellamy decide the fate of the human race… “again,” Bellamy quips. They’re all going to cryosleep, with a plan to wake up a decade down the line when the Earth has healed itself. But this is where The 100 makes its biggest swing yet. When Clarke and Bellamy wake up, things clearly have gone off-book. For one, they’re the only ones awake. And they’re met by a kind young man they’ve never seen before… who introduces himself as Monty and Harper’s son, Jordan. They never went to sleep, opting instead for a quiet life of peace together. Monty and Harper explain over a series of video missives that the Earth never recovered, and we watch them grow older with each new entry until Harper is gone and Monty is old and frail. Remember when that six year time jump seemed like a big deal? Well, brace yourselves, because Clarke and the rest of the survivors have been asleep for 125 years. Now that’s a time jump.

Television