The 100 6x13 "The Blood of Sanctum" Review
Well, The 100 fans, how are we feeling? Tonight we watched the last season finale The 100 is ever going to give us (the next will be a SERIES finale) and I must say, this is perhaps the first time a finale from this show has left me unsatisfied. Let’s delve into why that is:
Closing Season 6 was always going to be a bit of a challenge. We entered this season with perhaps one strong “A” plot and a minor subplot. We walked out with approximately five more plot lines and none of them are ones I’d consider minor. It’s astonishing to me that The 100 managed to craft a finale that not only didn’t close a single one of it’s existing plot lines adequately but also opened up, quite literally, an entirely new can of worms (anyone remember when worms where a thing on this show?). Let’s run through the list shall we:
Worm Number One: Have You Seen This Boy?
We start the season with the mystery of the Primes, and although we now know exactly what they are and the vast majority of them have been floated, we are left with Russell the Eighth and Priya’s mind drive, clutched securely in the grasp of a now brainwashed Jordan. If it wasn’t obvious enough that Jordan is “under the influence” so to speak, we watch the camera focus on his adjuster while he chats with Bellamy in the finale, proclaiming that he is fine even as he spouts out pieces of information that would make me question that if I were in Bellamy’s shoes. The Prime plot, which could have ended this season, will now make its way into Season 7, where the cult that we were introduced to in this final episode will have a more active role in disrupting the peace. I wouldn’t be surprised if a large part of Jordan’s role next season is finding a new host for Priya and I can’t bring it in me to be upset about that.
In a season where Jordan Jasper Green was one of the most anticipated new additions to the cast he was sorely under-utilized. We listened to various characters recite Monty’s charge to do better all season, but they all failed Monty and Harper where it mattered the most: their son. Shannon Kook is an expert at bringing a Harper-esque zest for life mixed with Monty’s desire to live better and it was a promising combination and one that was lost after episode 5 of this season. While I understand the appeal of first love, especially when you’ve never met anyone who wasn’t related to you or one of your parent’s friends, it is frustrating to me that so much of Jordan’s why is trapped in Priya nee Delilah. It would have been far more interesting to see Jordan take up the mantle Monty and Harper left behind and become the new moral compass of the group, even barring that, I would have been more interested in watching this man-child explore a world that was bigger than the space of the Eligius ship. Opportunity was squandered there and we’ll never get a return on the investment we made.
Worm Number Two: Prime Schmimes
Along with Jordan holding on to Priya’s mind drive comes the need for another host and I have an idea of where he might find one. As I’ve mentioned in my YouTube videos and Twitter threads, they don’t make people Nightbloods for no reason. You need look no further than the Griffin ladies to see that: Clarke, Madi and Abby were all made Nightbloods (born or created) to further storylines and Echo (Ash) will be no different. Although she was spared the privilege of hosting Simone, she is currently the only available Nightblood we know of. Russell is also aware of her status and in the finale he quite clearly states that he wants revenge. He may not be able to bring his family back, but all it takes is one mole in the works to help him achieve that, and he has at least two (Jordan and the adjuster — not to mention the possibility of all of the Children of Gabriel who were brainwashed as well). It would also be revenge for Ryker at the very least — his mother’s mind hosted in the body of the woman who murdered him. While Echo does have the neural mesh (she entered the City of Light as well) and has not been exposed to an EMP, we learned in this episode that Russell was careful to examine Abby before he put Simone’s drive in her — to ensure that there was no failsafe. It’s entirely possible that they can shock Echo with an EMP and implant Priya’s drive and further move Russell’s revenge plot along. After all it was love that drove Gabriel to create immortality, what will love drive Jordan to do?
Worm Number Three: Skynet? Is That You?
Some foreign line of code has managed to find a home in the Eligius ship’s hard drive. While trying to save Madi (and we’ll discuss that in a bit), they essentially crash the Flame, allowing them to remove it without the need for the passcode. While this is happening, Madi and the Dark Commander are fighting a bitter battle for control of her body. I believe that — if one isn’t paying enough attention — it’s easy to say that the reason the Dark Commander disappeared from Madi’s body is because they removed the Flame, but I’m going to hazard a guess that he — like any other virus — realized his removal was imminent and adapted to the situation, leaving Madi’s brain and uploading himself into the Eligius computers.
What does that mean for Season 7 and how will we see him return? Yana Grebenyuk (@yanawrites on Twitter — make sure to watch this space for her finale write up!) postulates that we might actually see him in two places next season! As a rub to Diyoza, who laughed at Gaia teaching Madi how to control the Flame (anyone remember what Gaia says during this scene: “A mind can’t be in two places at once”) Yana speculated that she might actually be trapped with him in the, wait for it, past! We know that the anomaly deals with time and space and we know that when Octavia went in she was gone for some time. Now it seems we have an estimate on how long. Hope is at least 20 years old when she stumbles into the tent and she and Octavia clearly know each other well. As Hope embraces Octavia, stabbing her — much as Clarke did with Finn — she tells her “He still has her” when Octavia asks about Diyoza. Hope’s appearance is very much Grounder-chic and it would also tie into why we learned about Indra seeing the Dark Commander once when she was young.
Further, with his consciousness now uploaded onto the Eligius ship there’s no limit to what the Dark Commander might be able to get up to now. Maybe this is the true beginning of Terminator’s Skynet. With all of that being said: it is rather disappointing that, even with the close of “Book One” a part of the series’ final struggle will still boil down to the Grounders. It’s been 131 years, two nuclear apocalypses, a new planet and a new cult system (the Primes) and we still can’t seem to shake them. It feels like the show should have been called “Grounders” instead of “The 100” for the amount of focus given to them and it’s disheartening. At least for me.
Worm Number Four: The Little Whipping Girl
Clarke, my poor girl. Bradbury may be Bellamy’s middle name, but hers is definitely suffering. This season we’ve watched Clarke be isolated both physically and emotionally from the people she’d once called friends. We watch her put herself out there and have a bit of fun, only to wind up almost kidnapped and taken to the Children of Gabriel. We watch her die, fight viciously inside of her own mind to survive, almost die again, be revived by Bellamy and then realize that while she was dealing with that struggle, her child was losing her own mental battle, and then we watch her lose her mother.
No one person should have to be strong enough to deal with all of that loss and yet Clarke manages it effortlessly every season. We know (thanks to Executive Producer Jason Rothenberg’s Hypable interview with Selina Wilken) that Clarke will be dealing with the grief of losing her mother as Season 7 begins. While I am grateful that she is being given the opportunity to do so, because grief is something that is so often rushed through on this show, I am also concerned about how this will affect Clarke’s issues with isolation. For six seasons now, Clarke has consistently been on the outside of the group looking in, due in large part to her status as lead, forcing her to be the character we follow around to each new location and each new group. Although Jason notes that Clarke will be perhaps even more protective of her family with her recent loss, I don’t necessarily know if the show has the chops to make that work.
It doesn’t help that her best friend (script confirmed) Bellamy now has his own issues to deal with, which leads me directly into...Worm Number Five.
Worm Number Five: We Call That….Regression?
Many of you reading this initially found me via Tumblr or Twitter or YouTube, all places where a huge part of my online persona is my love for and defense of one Bellamy Blake. He has been my favorite character from the moment he appeared on the screen in the pilot episode and I have been in his corner ever since. We’ve watched him, over the course of six seasons, mature, moving past the unhealthy relationship he’s had with Octavia since her birth resulted in both siblings carrying a weight they were too young for, growing into a man who left behind the self loathing and resentment of the past and stepped into the self love. If you’d’ve asked me yesterday what my favorite arc on The 100 is, I would have replied without hesitation “Bellamy’s character arc!”
I’m no longer sure I can do that. After the events of last season, which culminated in Octavia putting Bellamy in the pit alongside Gaia and Indra and forcing them to fight to their possible deaths, burning the farm Monty cultivated and then forcing her people into battle out of necessity, it seemed as if Bellamy was finally ready to separate from the lifelong co-dependent relationship he shared with Octavia. The Season 6 finale has appeared to effectively erase that growth in one fell swoop. Just a few episodes ago we listened as Bellamy told Octavia she was still his sister, but she could no longer be his responsibility and this episode we watched as Octavia was stabbed and misted right out of Bellamy’s arms and into the anomaly. The season ends with Bellamy calling Octavia’s name as the anomaly recedes once more.
In post-finale interviews (again see Selina’s Hypable link above) Jason is clear that finding Octavia is a huge part of Bellamy’s drive in Season 7 (going so far as to compare it to Bellamy’s desire to save Clarke in Season 6), and while I can admire, respect and even understand a brother’s desire to find a lost sibling, it’s a huge walkback (literally almost 360 degrees) on Bellamy’s arc since Season 1. What is the point of watching a show, seeing its characters evolve and grow and change and mature if, in the final season, we watch them revert back to who they were in the pilot episode? Will Clarke always be a girl who’s lost a parent abandoned on a new world? Will Bellamy always be nothing more than his sister’s keeper? Will Octavia always be hidden away somewhere? People aren’t watching television shows to see characters wind up where they began. We watch for the hope that our current situations (whatever those may be) won’t last forever. That growth can be permanent, that who we are now doesn’t have to define who we become, but as we head into Season 7, I’m not entirely convinced The 100 is aware of that.
Worm Number Six: Madi’s Mad as a Hatter...or is She?
Madi’s plot is perhaps the only one that was wrapped up (even as the Dark Commander clearly continues his nefarious deeds elsewhere) but it was done so haphazardly I was left unsatisfied. We have watched Madi deal with the Dark Commander in her head all season, we’ve watched as she’s slowly folded under his control and we watched her break when it’s revealed that Clarke is dead. It does make sense that learning Clarke is alive would bring her back. What doesn’t make sense is how swiftly that’s dealt with. It took the Dark Commander days or weeks (I’m unsure of Season 6’s timeline right now) to successfully set up a home in Madi’s brain and simply seeing Clarke threaten suicide (and also — what a message to send to...lots of people...I understand that Clarke went through a lot this season, but even with the loss of your mother, even with the potential loss of your daughter, you can still fight) was enough to snap his hold on Madi almost immediately.
It’s not realistic. I can understand the need to bring Madi back into the picture, but I think it might have played a bit better if the struggle was more prolonged, perhaps even something they needed to put her back into cryo until next season to discover. Unfortunately the choice was made, and a plot line that bit significantly into others ended with extreme prejudice in about two seconds flat.
Worm Number Seven: Make it Make Sense
(The above image is NOT edited.) The constant will they, won’t they of Bellamy and Clarke’s relationship needs to end now. Even as Jason tells fans that we (as a collective unit) all misunderstood what Bellamy’s drive was in saving Clarke (again see the Hypable interview linked above), he tells EW that "There were a few seasons in the middle of the run where we didn't know, we legitimately were on the bubble and were always trying to engineer something that could possibly be a series ender and a season ender, you know? I have for a while known thematically and like you say, in a general way, what I want the ending to be. I knew what I wanted it to feel like, I knew what I wanted it to say."
When you look back on the middle season finales (which for a seven season run would be Seasons 3-5) Jason has been crafting a very clear endgame, and that endgame is Bellamy and Clarke, together, facing their next adventure.
Season 3 ends with Bellamy and Clarke, in the Polis throne room, standing in front of Lexa's throne. They are united (literally touching), watching their people recover from the effects of ALIE, some wounded (like Jaha), others embracing the people they love (Kabby, Briller, Memori). Clarke delivers the news about the reactors melting down, that they haven't won just yet, and then Octavia kills Pike and walks away. Season 3 ends with Bellamy and Clarke — together — preparing to face their next challenge.
The Season 4 finale is a bit more ambiguous, because Bellamy and Clarke are physically separated but the notes are still there. We come into Clarke making a radio call and she is speaking to Bellamy specifically. She says "I still have hope" — that call back to the "You still have hope?/We still breathing" moment that sent the Bellarke fandom into ecstatic spirals of joy and — as a ship bursts through the atmosphere — Clarke stands, her breathing quickens, she smiles and she says "Never mind, I see you" and "I See You" (Confirmed by Tree Adams to be written for and about Bellarke), plays in the background.
Even as we watch Clarke's joy turn into apprehension when she realizes that's NOT Becca's rocket and instead says prisoner transport — if the series had ended here, in this moment — it's possible that it could have been Bellamy (and the others) walking off of the Eligius ship and in fact, that was the most common theory during the hiatus: that Bellamy and the others had joined up with the Eligius crew to combat the fuel issue, which wasn't far off. The series would have ended on the assumption that it was Bellamy walking off of that ship, reunited with Clarke and together again, facing the challenge of repopulating a barren Earth (after they dug out the bunker of course) and because we didn't have any updates on the Space Squad until Season 5 premiered, we also would have been left without the knowledge that Bellamy and Ash (aka Echo) were a thing.
Season 5 ends with Bellamy pulling Clarke into his side, both crying, both leaning on each other (with Jordan in the background) united and about to take on this journey (the discovery of a new planet) — together — again. And yes, I know a lot of people were upset about this ending because Bellamy and Ash/Echo were still a "couple", but again, I want to point you back to Jason saying that he was writing these as series finales and he knew what he wanted those finales to feel like and what he wanted them to say.
The theme of the Season 3-5 finales has always been "Bellamy and Clarke, together, facing the next adventure." and the feeling has always been that Bellamy and Clarke and their relationship to one another are the center of the story, that if the story ends here, Bellamy and Clarke are together. I'd even go so far as to say that the theme of Season 4 and Season 5's finales specifically has been about hope and renewal. The opportunity to do and be better in a "new" place.
And that’s fine and dandy. What’s not fine is when this relationship is deliberately given romantic beats, framing and lines in an effort to draw or retain an audience with no payoff. Again, people are not watching television for the never before seen plot twists. People watch television for the characters. They stay for the characters. Friends is one of the most successful shows of all time on the strength of the relationships it showcased as an example, and the same can be said for many other great shows. It’s when showrunners forget that, believing that the story they are so desperate to tell is more important than the audience who have given them the ability to tell that story, that everyone suffers. One need look no further than the recent endings of Game of Thrones and Veronica Mars for evidence of that.
Make the story clear. Make it plain. Your audience deserves that.
In conclusion, The 100 season finales work better when they are written as series finales. Given the knowledge that he would have one more season to close out the show the way he wants to, Rothenberg leaned too far into the chaos of Episode 12 (“Adjustment Protocol”) and left audiences with a bitter, unfinished taste in their mouths. With only 16 episodes left to satisfactorily wrap up all of the arcs he opened or left open this season, I’m not convinced we won’t be seeing a repeat of Game of Thrones.
April’s episode rating: 🐝.5
P.S. A Good Worm:
If you’re like me and you need something to look forward to as we enter the long hiatus before the final season of The 100, think about making your way to Conageddon! Located in Boston, Massachusetts, and this year held on April 3rd-5th, it is The 100’s only American convention and as someone who’s been before (and will be back) it’s a weekend packed with fun and friends. Tickets haven’t gone on sale just yet, but make sure you watch this space for more information, including cast information and ticket pricing!