6 Times The 100 Left Us Reeling
It has been nearly eight months since fans of The CW’s post-apocalyptic drama The 100 were left in emotional turmoil after the twist ending to the show’s fourth season. Last week, the network announced that the show won’t be returning to air its fifth season until April 24, 2018, making this The 100’s longest hiatus to date and undeniably the most painful one for fans to suffer through.
At the end of the Season 4 finale, titled Praimfaya, Bellamy, Raven, and the rest of their friends head to space in a rocket, narrowly avoiding the wall of fire that roars across the planet’s surface. The only one who doesn’t make it? Clarke, who sacrifices herself to ensure that a satellite dish aligns itself with the ring of the Ark that’s still floating in space, turning on the power and enabling her friends’ survival.
Although Clarke narrowly makes it into Becca’s laboratory as the death wave nips at her heels, she is affected by radiation that gets in through a crack in the face shield of her helmet. Clarke is shown collapsing to the floor of the lab, vomiting blood while her skin breaks out in horrific boils.
In a brief epilogue scene, the show jumps ahead six years and seven days, shocking even the fans who had been astute enough to predict a time jump might happen. Revealing that she survived Praimfaya due to her nightblood, Clarke is seen healthy and happy, sitting on the front of the rover (which miraculously survived the death wave as well) and drawing while a clean rain falls.
Clarke sets up a satellite dish and a radio to send a message to Bellamy up in space, which reveals to the audience the following information:
It’s been 2,199 days since Praimfaya and although she has been sending a message everyday, she has never once received a response; the bunker is trapped under thousands of tons of rubble and she hasn’t been able to make contact there, either; it’s been safe for the people in space to come down for over a year now, and for reasons unknown they haven’t; and Clarke is no longer alone.
What became of the people in the bunker, led by Octavia and trapped underground for a full year longer than they had been prepared to survive? What became of the seven people trapped in space and what has prevented them from coming back when they were supposed to? Who is inside the spaceship shown landing at the end of the episode, and are they friend or foe?
All of these questions have been plaguing fans of The 100 for months, and we will have to wait until April to find out the answers.
While this moment ranks at the top on our list of The 100’s biggest twists, here are five other times the show has pulled off a twist that has left the audience shocked, enraged, grief-stricken, or otherwise overwhelmed:
5. Season 3 Episode 3: The Assassin Inside Mount Weather
After receiving news from Echo, the Ice Nation grounder whose life Bellamy saved inside Mount Weather, that there is an assassin in Polis who plans to attack at the summit, Bellamy, Octavia, and Pike along with Echo rush there to warn Clarke.
Scenes with the four of them climbing the elevator shaft in Polis’s tower, desperate to reach Clarke before the assassin does, are intercut with an assassin performing a ritualistic preparation in what is assumed to be the bowels of the tower. When Bellamy, Octavia, and Pike burst into the summit with news of the assassin, Echo is nowhere to be found.
It’s then revealed that the assassin isn’t in Polis, he’s in Mount Weather. Echo betrayed them, leaving the people in Mount Weather—including Raven, Sinclair, Bellamy’s girlfriend Gina, and dozens of people from Farm Station—vulnerable to an attack.
The moment at which the audience is made aware of this is all the more distressing because those in Mount Weather still have no idea of the danger they’re in. Gina is the first to encounter the assassin, and although she is stabbed numerous times she manages to radio a warning to Raven and Sinclair.
The warning comes too late, though, as Raven and Sinclair chase the assassin down outside the mountain and retrieve the override code from him just as Gina succumbs to her injuries and the timer on the self-destruct device ticks down to zero. The resulting explosion kills everyone inside the mountain—including most of Farm Station’s remaining population—with Raven and Sinclair as the only survivors.
4. Season 1 Episode 5: The Culling
The 100 isn’t afraid to kill people off by the hundreds and while the audience has since grown accustomed to the show’s staggering death toll, at one point that wasn’t the case. The culling ranks on our list because it is the first time the show informs the audience that sometimes, there are no last minute saves; sometimes, the heroes are too late; sometimes, it’s not possible to save everybody.
The cost for being too late on this occasion: 320 lives.
The idea of a population culling is introduced earlier in the season as a way to conserve oxygen on a rapidly-dying Ark. Marcus Kane informs the council that for every day that passes, 10 more lives will have to be sacrificed in order to keep the Ark running for another six months, but Abby, convinced that the ground is survivable and is the solution to their problems, begs for more time until they receive proof that the delinquents are still alive.
Meanwhile, Bellamy, not knowing about the dire situation on the Ark and thinking only of his own self-interest—that if the people on the Ark find out that the ground is survivable, they will come down and he will be killed for assassinating the chancellor—cuts the radio out of Raven’s pod while she’s unconscious and throws it into the river, destroying it.
Thanks to a message broadcast by Abby, the citizens of the Ark are made aware of the dire situation. However, rather than rioting as Chancellor Jaha and Kane feared, people begin volunteering to sacrifice their lives so that their loved ones may be saved.
It is one of the show’s purest reminders of the good that lies at the heart of humanity, which makes the events that follow even more heartbreaking. While Jaha reads a touching eulogy over the loudspeakers, the air is drawn from the lungs of over 300 volunteers. Afterwards, Abby and Jackson walk among the bodies, checking for signs of life.
This moment counts as a plot twist if only because the audience is truly expecting the flares—Raven’s Plan B to the radio—to be launched in time; it isn’t until the last volunteer on the Ark falls still that we begin to accept what has just happened. The culling is an event of such heaviness that it reverberates throughout the series for the four seasons that follow, reminding us that actions can have unintended and horrific consequences.
3. Season 2 Episode 15: Lexa’s Betrayal
From the moment she escapes Mount Weather in the third episode of Season 2, Clarke’s goal is to return to the mountain and save her friends before the Mountain Men can perform the same atrocities on them as they did on the grounders. Although she and Bellamy come up with several plans to achieve this, it isn’t until Clarke meets Lexa, commander of the twelve grounder clans, that they have the means by which to make it happen.
Lexa offers a truce and alliance with the Sky People, on the condition that Finn’s life is sacrificed. Clarke and Bellamy pin all their plans on this alliance, which is why it is devastating when Lexa betrays them at the base of Mount Weather, releasing her own people from inside the mountain while leaving Clarke’s trapped inside.
Lexa’s betrayal is made even more shocking because of the romantic feelings she has evidently grown towards Clarke (the two shared a kiss just one episode prior) and her increasing appreciation of Clarke’s ability to make decisions with her heart. In this moment, Lexa makes a choice that saves her people from the wrath of the mountain (in the short term, anyway) and sacrifices her relationship with Clarke and the entirety of Clarke’s people in the meantime.
Without an army backing them, Clarke and Bellamy are seemingly out of options. Matters only grow worse as they find their way to the command room and discover that even more of their friends and family have been captured by the Mountain Men, including Raven, Kane, and Abby, Clarke’s mother.
Driven by the desire to have all of his people on the ground in 48 hours, Cage relentlessly harvests bone marrow from unwilling Sky People, killing them in the process. When Abby is placed on the operating table, Clarke’s feels as if she is out of choices and instructs Monty to reverse the air turbines, bringing irradiated air from outside into the mountain. The subsequent genocide that Clarke commits, with Bellamy’s support and Monty’s help, is arguably the most devastating scene of the series and is an act that will stay with the three of them for the rest of their lives.
2. Season 4 Episode 8: Clarke Injects Herself with Nightblood
In Season 4, Clarke heads down a slippery slope where she gradually sheds pieces of her humanity in her quest to save the entirety of the human race. At the beginning of the eighth episode of the season, those on Becca’s island have just injected a grounder with their homemade nightblood solution, and have placed him inside a radiation chamber to test its viability.
Unfortunately, this version of nightblood is unsuccessful, and their grounder subject perishes in a rather gruesome and volatile manner. Abby believes she knows how to fix the problem, but now they’re left without a test subject—until attention turns to Emori, who is not only the outsider of the group, but who has just been discovered lying about the identity of the grounder they killed in order to protect herself.
What follows next is a harrowing sequence of events: Emori is forcibly knocked unconscious and strapped to the testing table, Murphy screams at Clarke not to let this happen, and, seeing Abby’s hand shake at the prospect of injecting Emori, Clarke takes the syringe filled with nightblood from her with the intention of doing it herself.
Here Clarke pauses, and repeats the words Dante Wallace told her so long ago: “I bear it so they don’t have to.”
Now, Clarke finally understands the true meaning of those words: it doesn’t mean to commit horrors on behalf of your people and then hold yourself apart to deal with the pain of that alone; it means to make sacrifices on behalf of your people, to put yourself first in the line of fire.
And so Clarke injects herself with the nightblood, in a moment that feels a bit like coming home: after several seasons of Clarke becoming more and more distant, more withdrawn, harder for the audience to connect to, here she proves that the sacrificing leader she was in Season 1 and the first half of Season 2 is still there.
1. Season 2 Episode 8: Clarke Kills Finn
There are no eleventh hour saves on this show, and what makes that fact even more heartbreaking is that the characters themselves continue to believe that there are. When Finn gives himself up to the grounders in the mid-season finale of Season 2, his death seems inevitable given that Lexa has declared it the only path towards a truce between her people and Clarke’s—the alternative being a war between the two groups that would leave both sides devastated and their people still trapped inside the mountain.
However, Raven, Clarke, and Bellamy still have hope; Clarke determines that she’ll speak to Lexa one last time in hopes of changing her mind, and Raven slips Clarke a knife with which to kill Lexa should she refuse to agree to new terms. The cost of this would inevitably be a war, but the price almost seems worth it to save Finn, who is loved by both Raven and Clarke (Raven as her previous boyfriend and the only real family she has left, Clarke as the first person she connected to on the ground).
The audience’s opinion on Finn at this point in the series ranges from deep loathing to understanding, but one’s personal feelings towards him doesn’t change the bond he has with Clarke and Raven, and doesn’t lessen in any way the impact of the events that follow.
The exchange between Lexa and Clarke is heartbreaking in its own right, as Lexa stands firm on the necessity of Finn’s death and Clarke pleads for them to take her instead, and to let Finn go. When Lexa refuses this offer as well, Clarke asks to at least be allowed to say goodbye.
During the goodbye scene, Clarke tells Finn she loves him for the first time—something he’s been wanting to hear since near the end of Season 1—kisses him, and then embraces him. We see Finn’s head fall and the light go out of his eyes and when Clarke steps back, blood is rapidly spreading across Finn’s shirt. In her bloody hand, she holds the knife with which Raven had given her to kill Lexa.
Although the matter of Finn’s death may have seemed inevitable, the means by which it happened were far from that. No one is more shocked and grief-stricken than Raven, who collapses to the ground with a cry that tugs the heartstrings of even the most hardened watcher.
If there's anything this show knows how to do, it's evoke emotion from their viewers, and we can't wait to see what twists and turns await us in Season 5. Which plot twists were your favourite? Let us know in the comments below.
Season 5 of The 100 premieres Tuesday, April 24 at 9/8c on the CW.