The 100 Gives [SPOILER] A Proper Send-Off in a Game-Changing Finale
Spoilers for The 100 season finale follow!
The 100's third season has been an uneven one, to say the least. There have been amazing moments, as well as big blunders and one big controversy. And while the finale couldn't fix all of those problems, it was an exciting, streamlined, high-stakes episode, and one that shows potential for an equally great (and hopefully less problematic) fourth season.
First let's talk about that moment we've all been waiting for: Lexa's return and final send-off. Clarke has barely had a chance to grieve Lexa, but the character (and the fans) finally got closure when Lexa rallied and rescued Clarke in the City of Light, with a kiss and an "I love you" as a bonus. On a purely creative level, I'm not actually sure that this whole sequence was necessary, since we already knew that Clarke loved Lexa, and it's more realistic in the violent, harsh world of The 100 that these kids wouldn't get to say epic goodbyes. And while as a fan of the character, it was immensely satisfying to see her go out in a blaze of glory, we already knew that she was a bad-ass, regardless of her manner of death. Lexa vs Roan was one of the best fights I've ever seen on television, and that was all I needed before saying goodbye to the character.
But that being said, a proper goodbye for Lexa and Clarke served a productive purpose other than simple fan service. This extended farewell emphasized that Lexa was a beloved, significant character who was deserving of an epic send-off. The fact that this send-off took place in the finale just reinforced that Lexa was an integral part of the season, and a tragic hero in her own right, separate from her relationship with Clarke. This doesn't fix all of the problems with Lexa's death--particularly the fact that she slept with Clarke directly before, which was a big mistake on the writers' part--but this is a clear demonstration that the writers value the character and the fans' love for the relationship, which, in my opinion, goes a long way towards mitigating the accusations of queer-baiting.
And then, of course, there was the even less surprising character send-off: Octavia's brutal murder of Pike. After Indra decided not to kill him, I thought maybe he would survive the season, as it would have been interesting to see him actually develop as a character and seek redemption from the others. But over the course of this episode, it became clear that there was no other ending to his character arc. Especially when he showed no remorse, and told Bellamy that their way of thinking "wasn't wrong," I knew he was a goner. Bellamy gets to live to see another day, not only because he has main character armor (although he does), but because he finally understands that he was led astray, and that his actions were morally wrong. After everything Pike had done, his only chance was contrition, and he failed to see the error of his ways. The staging of his death scene was wonderfully ambiguous, with him saving Octavia and tenderly trying to make peace with her before she stabbed him, so it wasn't triumphant, but you still got the sense that it needed to be done.
And finally, there's that game-changing reveal for next season. I had a few quibbles with the execution of Clarke's final decision to pull the kill switch, mostly that a big ethical conflict about pulling a lever feels like a Mount Weather redux. Plus, although some of the thematic work done in this episode was great, such as Jasper's happy-go-lucky demeanor in the City of Light and his subsequent devastation, the dialogue was pretty heavy-handed, particularly the explanation of "perverse instantiation" and Clarke's "You don't ease pain, you overcome it." But that being said, A.L.I.E.'s reveal that the Earth will be uninhabitable in six months made the City of Light more appealing than it's ever been, and sets us up for a typically bleak fourth season. It's been a bumpy ride this year, but I absolutely can't wait.