The Best and Worst of The 100 Season 3
Best: Car Karaoke
This was amazing. Who would have thought these characters were capable of smiling for this long?
Worst: Jasper's Whining
Don't get me wrong: Jasper had earned the right to fall apart a little after everything he went through last season. But he didn't know Maya nearly well enough to justify all that whining, especially since most of the characters surrounding him have lost long-term partners and/or family members. His arc became more interesting when he chose not to take the chip, since we expected him to be first in line. But then he ended up taking it anyway, and for the dumbest of reasons: because he was upset about another love interest that we didn't have a chance to care about. Minus a million points.
Best/Worst: Bellamy's turn to villainy
Bellamy's quick turn to xenophobia and mass murder was one of the biggest sticking points with fans this season, and while I would argue the development wasn't all that outlandish, the execution was definitely rushed, and it would have been more affecting if we had seen more of Bellamy and Pike's relationship. But unlike Jasper's arc, Bellamy's plotline was somewhat redeemed by the end of the season, since the other characters (particularly Octavia and Kane) wouldn't let him off the hook until he admitted that his views of Grounders were bigoted and that his actions were based in fear and hatred. Considering the scale of his atrocities, the show still might have let him off a little too easily, but at least its heart seems to be in the right place.
Best:The 100 Becomes a Feminist Game of Thrones
Genre shows are infinitely better when they're willing to kill their darlings, and while some of the deaths have been controversial (more on that in a minute), there's no denying that The 100 hasn't been pulling its punches this season. The willingness to portray brutality in an empathetic and socially conscious light has always been the show's forte, and is a big part of why it's one of the best shows on television right now.
Not to mention that there was a direct allusion to Game of Thrones' Oberon vs The Mountain in the form of Lexa vs. Roan, aka one of the best fights I've ever seen on television:
Worst: Offscreen Violence and Fridging
That being said, it wasn't always successful in that area. The offscreen mass murders of characters we didn't know, such as the Grounder massacre and the Nightblood deaths, didn't land with the viewer as much as they should have, which seemed to devalue those characters' lives simply because we didn't know them. I don't know if it was a problem with the censors, but compared to Finn's harrowing execution of innocent villagers back in season two, these acts of violence were much less humanistically portrayed.
And in that same vein, there was poor Gina, who was such a blatant example of fridging, I thought I really was watching Game of Thrones. Bad form, The 100.
It's unclear whether Roan will be back next year, but I hope that he will be, because the character is arguably the most compelling new addition we've had since Lexa, and Zach McGowan's wonderfully subtle performance has already made Roan one of my favorites. (Plus, that ending would be ridiculously anti-climactic for such a bad-ass character. There's no way he died of a bullet wound offscreen... right??)
Less successful was the introduction of Pike, who was positioned as a villain from the start and hardly had a sympathetic moment all season. The 100 is usually deft at making the viewers see both sides of ethical conflicts and approaches to leadership, but when one side is represented by such a hateful asshole, it's difficult to find the ideological clash very interesting. It was a breath of fresh air to see him become a little more complex in those nostalgic Ark flashbacks, but ultimately it was too little, too late.
Best: A.L.I.E. as the Big Bad
Starting off the season, I was most worried about the A.I. storyline, as it had the most potential to be cliched and/or cheesy. But lo and behold, it became the best and most well-developed storyline of the season. While we--and the characters--were all distracted with Pike, A.L.I.E. was quietly becoming a major threat in the background, and with the A.L.I.E. 2.0 reveal, suddenly became the most awesome brainwash-y villain since Jasmine on Angel. While the philosophical gold mine could have been exhausted a little bit more than it was, A.L.I.E. still represented a potent exploration of the value of free will and adversity.
Best: Raven Becomes the Audience's Mouthpiece
The 100 has made a few mistakes this year, but the season's best episode, "Nevermore," showed that the writers are much more self-aware than fans were giving them credit for. In this episode, Raven was possessed by A.L.I.E., and this not only provided a fantastic showcase for Lindsay Morgan's considerable talents, it allowed Evil Raven to call all of the characters out on their bullshit and demonstrate that the writers are aware of the audience's reactions. Between reminding us that Bellamy has always been a xenophobic jerk (although a lovable one), poking fun at Jasper for being such a baby, and criticizing Clarke for making too many unilateral decisions that cause hundreds of deaths, she took everyone to task, and almost single-handedly redeemed all of the problematic aspects of this season.
Best: Clexa (and Kabby)
I'm not solely a Clarke/Lexa shipper; I think there are aspects of Clarke's personality that fit better with Lexa and others that fit better with Bellamy (although after Bellamy's antics this season and Lexa's death, I might just be a Clarke/Roan shipper now). But Clarke and Lexa were a complex, fascinating pairing between two strong, well-rounded female characters--as well as providing more representation to the LGBT community--and seeing them negotiating their romance at the beginning of the season was a pleasure to watch.
(And then there's Kane and Abby's love story, which is less central but just adorable. I love that they've been quietly falling in love in the background while supporting and encouraging each other, not to mention that it demonstrates just how far Kane's character has come since the beginning of the show.)
Best/Worst: Lexa's Death
As I've written at length, I don't think it was a mistake to kill off Lexa's character, as that was the only fitting ending to her individual hero's arc (even if it made me very sad). And I thought the death itself was tragic and beautifully done, and made it clear how much the character meant to the show and to the writers. In my opinion, the only major misstep was having Clarke and Lexa sleep together directly before Lexa's death, which pretty clearly evoked the Bury Your Gays trope. No character is safe on a show like The 100, but if they were going to kill off a gay character, they should have been aware of the cultural implications and executed the death in a sensitive manner.
Worst: Lincoln's Death
Lexa's death was befitting for her character, because there was plenty of build-up, the character had plenty of screentime, and the death itself had huge ramifications on the show. And while the beginning of the season seemed to set up Lincoln as a symbol of unity between the Arkers and Grounders, and his death as the inciting incident in a full-on conflict, the character was sidelined for most of the season, which made his ultimate death fairly anticlimactic. And while Marie Avgeropolous did an amazing job with Octavia's nuanced reaction to Lincoln's death, his demise should have meant more than serving to propel another character's growth.
I'm not sure there's been a character on this show--and especially not a female character--who was more simplistic than Ontari. She was wholly unlikable from the beginning, and while the writers added a few shades of cowardice to her personality, this wasn't nearly enough to get us invested in her character. Add to that the fact that she basically coerced Murphy into sex, and then the psychological ramifications of that weren't explored at all, and this was just a fail of a character. I was relieved when she was killed off, but also uncomfortable that the character apparently served no purpose except to pretend to be Commander and then serve as a human blood bag.
Best: Pike's Death
Pike's character was problematic in general, but at least the show recognized this, and that there was no choice but to kill him off. Indra arguably deserved that kill shot the most, but Octavia is a close second, and by emphasizing Pike's lack of remorse over his actions and attitudes, his death felt like an inevitability in the best way.
Best: That final reveal
The 100 has always excelled at finales, and season 3's didn't disappoint. Between the emotional final send-off for Lexa (complete with an "I love you"!) and A.L.I.E.'s bombshell that the world will be uninhabitable in another six months, I can't wait to see what happens next season. If there's anything we know about these characters, it's that they will do whatever they have to do to survive, so I shudder to think what will happen to this delicately balanced society once they find out another apocalypse is coming.