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The 100 - The Last War - Series Finale Review: "Credit Where It's Due"

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I think the majority of fans would have agreed with me in thinking that it was looking like a very tough ask for The 100's creative team to dig themselves out of some pretty big holes while also leaving the fandom with some satisfaction in its series finale. However, writer/director/showrunner Jason Rothenberg managed to surpass that, and even put a smile on my face - that's the first time since very early in this final season that that's happened. "The Last War" wasn't perfect, but credit where it's due, it was much better than I expected.

With the title sequence out of the way first thing, we were greeted with a critically ill Emori, along with Murphy, Raven, Jackson and Miller as they arrived through the anomaly on Sanctum to begin emergency care. Medical scenes in this series have always required suspension of disbelief, and this one was no different initially, with Murphy offering his blood for a transfusion as Emori barely held onto life.

Raven had nothing to offer in assisting with Emori's care, so the others wasted no time sending her back through to Bardo to aid her friends. We then reunited with Clarke, Octavia and Levitt, and what followed was the most disappointing scene in the finale by some margin. It was of course when Clarke threw stun grenades at the Disciples, and walked through them all, firing at will with dual-wield pistols. This was incomprehensively needless on so many levels. It's not true to her as a character for starters, and was complete and utter overkill even when compared to other incidents of mass murder as recently as this season. The scene wasn't needed at all in order for the episode to function, and I don't think anyone would have to think too hard in order to come up with something more deserving of those precious 40 seconds.

At the end of that mess of a scene, the trio opened the door to the Bardo arrivals/departures lounge and found an anomaly already open. Cadogan had already passed through it, and we then caught up with him as he awaited his judgment. What became apparent from here on is the concept of Judgment wasn't properly communicated with regard to how it tied in with the series as a whole. We learned from Cadogan's stint with the Judge in the form of daughter Callie that the Judge can take the form of the subject's greatest teacher, the source of their greatest failure, or their greatest love. We also learned Becca was the last member of humankind to face Judgment, but it's the broader concept of what a judge is, where they are, and where everyone goes after they transcend that I found to be missing here A bit too much was left to the imagination for my liking, especially given that viewers demand much more certainty in a finale. There's likely bits and pieces in previous episodes that would help piece the puzzle together, but in a finale that - to its credit - required none of that at any other stage, this was a loose end that 40 better-spent seconds could have easily tidied up, perhaps in the form of flashbacks, as this would have better connected the viewer to the past.

Cadogan's part in this finale was cut somewhat unsatisfactorily short when Clarke arrived and shot him through the back of the head. It was her turn to take the test, and it was here that Jason Rothenberg scored perhaps one of the biggest "last laughs" in television history, when he brought back Lexa in the form of Clarke's impression of the Judge.

The uproar caused from Lexa's death in season 3 still staggers me to this day, and the vocal minority of cancerous "fans" that still whine about it are a blight on the fandom at large. The beauty of Rothenberg's play in the two scenes Lexa and Clarke shared was that their relationship essentially wasn't mentioned at all. That was the beauty of having the Judge take the form of Lexa instead of Lexa herself being there. The only reference to their relationship was that Lexa couldn't have met the other two criteria that the Judge earlier outlined to Cadogan. It was truly a terrific "fuck you" moment from Rothenberg to all those who spewed utter nonsense over Lexa's death, and better still, he didn't even try to appease them. From my perspective, this was one of the highlights of this finale.

The questions the Judge asked of Clarke were pretty stock standard, and several of Clarke's responses were very powerful. I would go so far as to say they were pushing beyond her character again though. She had an answer for everything, but what I thought was missing here was the lack of an answer for something. Bellamy's death would probably have been the best option for that. She is human, she's not perfect, and she has made mistakes. That's also true of humanity as a whole. I was rather surprised at how seemingly perfection-oriented the Judge was throughout the episode. I think the Judge would have had more of an impact if it had a clearly demonstrated favoritism towards a growth mindset throughout the episode, as opposed to a perfection mindset initially that morphed a little towards the end. It would have left a much more powerful message with viewers as a result.

Then feel me holding Lexa as she dies. Feel me seeing someone else wear my mother's face. Feel me murder my best friend to save my child only to have her die anyway. Feel that.
Clarke took her failure to pass the test on the chin, and we revisited Sanctum, where Emori died on the table when Jackson and Miller attempted to remove the rebar. Murphy was understandably devastated, but this brought about a genuinely good use for the technology perfected by the Primes for the first time. Murphy had Emori's mind drive removed and implanted in his own head, so though Emori was gone physically, her mind lives on in his. I thought this was really neat and clean, with my thory on Murphy's long term health being that the two minds in his body are in love, instead of in conflict, which is what we've seen in the past.

Meanwhile, the last war was brewing on Bardo, and a number of characters remained trapped in the bunker on Earth. Raven was on hand to rescue them, bringing with her an army of Eligius prisoners who effortlessly blasted their way to the buried stone. The Eligius prisoners have been rather poorly utilized this season, with only minor stints. But they're a cheap, powerful and easily accessible force for fighting wars with. Jordan led the way through the anomaly, using what looked to be an EMP conjured up from nowhere in no time at all to destroy the Disciples' invisibility and other weapons systems. I would have liked to see that discussion between Raven and Nikki in which Raven convinced her and her fellow prisoners to join the fight though.

However, I wouldn't have wanted to see that come at the expense of her moment in front of the Judge, however. The Judge taking the form of Abby was a really nice surprise, and somewhat made up for what was a pretty clumsy Last War, in which Wonkru faced off with the Disciples. Raven defended Clarke's reputation to the hilt, and also tried to account for humanity's mistakes, and this was where my earlier reference to a growth mindset becomes more relevant.
You say you have, yet even now you are poised and on the brink of self-extermination. Look.
Another disappointment in this finale soon followed, with Sheidheda reappearing. His only purpose was to incite violence and provoke the war between Wonkru and the Disciples, and that's what he did. Thankfully Indra finished him off properly this time with one of the Eligius rail guns, but if the showrunners had been keeping him around so far beyond his use-by date it wasn't funny solely so he could provoke the war? That leaves a pretty sour taste in my mouth.

Adding to the messy last war was Levitt getting shot by Sheidheda as he tried to negotiate a peace deal between the two sides. That in itself was ok, but Echo and Octavia storming no man's land to rescue him was a bit ridiculous, even if it was to create one last bonding moment between the two over Bellamy. It was just as well that they were able to transcend before Echo and Levitt died from their injuries. Octavia falling down a massive cliff and surviving virtually unharmed in one of The 100's early seasons is one of the most ridiculous death-defying moments I've ever seen, and I'm pretty annoyed that the showrunners felt the need for her to cheat injury let alone death yet again in a series finale of all places.
I know you're afraid to walk away from everything you've spent your lives training for. I am too. My brother believed as you do that transcending - whatever that means - is within reach. He died for that belief and for that he'll never get there. Never Transcend. I don't know what I believe, but I do know that if we fight this war we don't deserve to find out if he was right. We don't deserve to survive. We fail, we die.
Nevertheless, Octavia lived and went on to make her own peacemaking speech, which was reasonably well done on the whole even though the moments leading up to it - with Indra annihilating Sheidheda and then being able to raise her voice loud enough for her army to hear her tell them to cease fire - left a lot to be desired. This battle was supposed to be the biggest and most important in The 100's seven seasons, but as I've mentioned in my reviews before, because everyone knew that it wouldn't have any bearing on the overall ending, standards were able to drop, and it was a bit cringeworthy to watch. I did really like seeing Raven and the Judge walk through the battlefield though - that was a good call and made the whole war scene somewhat more bearable.

Somehow, merely actioning a ceasefire was enough for the Judge to think "yep, this species are all good now" and hit the transcend button. It was just in time for a gravely wounded Echo and Levitt, and a locked-in Madi, among others I'm sure. Except Clarke, who, because she had failed the test, was barred from joining her friends wherever they were. She hopped between planets like an anomaly pro, and looked set to be left alone in the universe with Picasso the dog at her side, but upon arriving at Earth, she was greeted by the Judge as Lexa once more. This was in essence the Judge's off-the-record word with Clarke. It was a happy ending for her fellow humans, including for Madi, and the Judge expressed relief that they had perhaps been a bit lenient when deciding to allow humanity to transcend. But in a rather funny and somewhat fitting ending of sorts, Clarke was barred because of a technicality: committing murder during the test. I thought this represented Clarke's rebellious nature quite succinctly, but it wouldn't have gone down with me so well if her friends had opted to nope out of transcending and return to live out the rest of their lives on Earth.
A curious species indeed.
So was this the happy ending I was hoping for when I wrote last week's review? Well, I couldn't have wished for much more to be fair. Everyone important survived the war, the test, and the transcending in one form or another, and everyone important decided to return to Earth - their true home despite growing up in space - to live out their mortal lives instead of opting for eternal life with the Judge and other species. They're starting from scratch just like they did 100 episodes ago, so provided your imagination doesn't include a fresh spawn of Grounders, I think it's pretty easy to envisage them all living together happily ever after. And with offspring not a possibility, there's little to be left to the imagination with regard to what a bunch of teenagers - left alone with a full universe to roam free in and no parents to tell them what to do - may get up to. I thought it was also a really smart call by Rothenberg to not give into the urge to couple everyone up in this finale. Dropping the strong hints of a future between Jordan and Hope, Miller and Jackson, and to a lesser extent Octavia and Levitt was just right. That's mature showrunning right there, and it was very good to see given how other series tend to behave in their last hour on screen.

All up, though this series finale had a few issues with it, and the final season has been lackluster in multiple areas, I'm happy with where things have been left, and I'm stoked that Jason Rothenberg had the last laugh. Whether the prequel eventuates thanks to the backdoor pilot we saw earlier this season is a question that remains to be answered. But for now, The 100 has left things in a good space, and I can't really complain about the final outcome. I'm pleased Rothenberg and his team behind the camera, as well as all those past and present who have appeared in front of the camera, had the opportunity to wrap the series up the way they wanted to. One hundred episodes is an impressive and increasingly rare feat these days as the industry undergoes changes on multiple levels, and that deserves some commendation no matter what your thoughts are on the final outcome. To you, the readers, thank you so much! It's been a time-consuming and difficult task at times getting these reviews and other content together for you, but I have enjoyed it and I hope you have too. For one final time I'd love to hear your thoughts on this finale, as well as the season and the series as a whole, so do make yourselves heard in the comments below.

Ai gonplei ste odon. Mebi oso na hit choda op nodotaim.

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