Author’s note: This article CONTAINS SPOILERS for the season of discussion and all seasons of the series that have preceded it.
The 100 is a show I’ve always found to be pretty polarizing and yet interesting. Surely it has had its up and downs (like most shows), but never have I had an inkling to drop it, even when plot-lines may have been losing me. In the show’s fifth season, we saw the series gain back a lot of intrigue it had lost by presenting new challenges and situations for its characters. The closing minutes of the Season 4 finale were very drastic, and they could have well acted as a series finale for the show, especially given at the time the series had not yet been renewed. Well, shortly afterwards it was announced that the series would be returning, and I would have to say the direction they set forth was for the better.
Last season ended with our cast of characters being split off into three separate groups. Clarke was the lone member to be left on the ground to fend for herself, while Raven, Bellamy, Monty, Harper, Murphy, Emori, and Echo escaped on a rocket up to a space station to evade the oncoming nuclear Holocaust. Seemingly everyone else left of the human race (that we knew of) found refuge in an underground bunker. Their leader would become Octavia, whom we found out quickly this season became somewhat of a harsh dictator. By establishing these three separate story arcs, the foundation was set to build off of for the show’s fifth season.
The show jumped forward six years in those closing minutes of the fourth season, and at the start of the fifth, we picked up right where that left us. Over the course of the season, it was revealed to us just how brutal and horrifying things were in the bunker during those six years. From Octavia slaughtering would-be threats to her power, hosting gladiator-esque cage fighting, and eating their fallen to survive, things were quite bleak down below. The way these flashbacks were handled throughout the season was really well done, and always did well too inform the current events unfolding. It became quite clear that the Octavia to rise from that bunker was very different one than the one who had found refuge down below six years earlier.
Along with Octavia, we see life from the bunker through the eyes of Abby and Kane. The two of them suffered down there as well, with Kane being punished for speaking out against the violence and Abby being forced against her will to perform doctoral duties. Where their characters go during the course of the season after they reach ground-level was the weakest point of the season. Kane has always been a favorite character, and he was criminally sidelined for the majority of this season as he was seemingly always being held captive by someone. Likewise, Abby was perpetually being held captive either by her own severe drug abuse or enemies using her for her medical expertise. Time spent with her character this season as she spiraled into the depths of drug addiction was a real bummer, and frankly I’ve never been a fan of that character. It is unfortunate they have paired her so tightly with Kane on the show, as she holds him back both as a character and as an interesting onscreen presence.
The group of seven on the space station for the past six years quickly finds a way down to the ground within the first couple episodes, and the season quickly jumps into a bunch of gang war type storylines with all the characters on the ground. There is then a new player in the war: Diyoza, McCreary and all their men. At the beginning of the season, Diyoza appears to be our villain to hate and fear, but that quickly changes midway through the season when we start to root for her against the greater evil of the vicious convicted criminals that make-up her crew and army.
A huge part of the conflict during the season was found with Octavia, as she also played a villainous dictator for the greater part of the season up until the very end, when she comes around to Bellamy, but it is too late and he dismisses her. She certainly earned that cold shoulder with her countless violent and selfish decisions over the course of the season, but knowing the sibling connection they both feel, I can’t see him maintaining that disregard for her for long.
The final player in the season is Madi, whom Clarke took in as a daughter (which is weird they establish that due to Madi being a teenager and Clarke being in her early 20s). Conflict mounts between Clarke and Madi, largely because Clarke is holding Madi back from taking her rightful place on the throne and overruling Octavia due to Madi having nightblood coursing through her veins. This eventually sorts out by the end of the season with Madi claiming the throne and becoming the leader of the remaining human race.
Like the closing minutes of the season 4 finale, this episode’s closing acts to completely restructure what the series will be going forward. We see the human race evade another nuclear holocaust by going off into a large space station and a deep cryogenic sleep, only to be woken up many years later by Monty’s son. He plays a montage video of Monty on the space station chronicling his life with Harper and their son. Apparently the ground was not safe for return so he set the ship on course for another habitable planet, and Monty and Harper have both passed away in the meantime. Well, now they have arrived, watched his heartfelt video, and are getting ready to land on the mysterious planet. This opens up the show to wild new possibilities. It’s the type of move that a show needs in the middle of an extended run to shake things up and add in new elements that make sense with the foundation of what the show is. Everyone involved knows what this show is and doesn’t try to make it anything else. The 100 remains a fun, charismatic and kinetic exercise in young adult drama.
All five seasons of The 100 are currently streaming on Netflix. The series has been confirmed to be returning to The CW next year for a sixth season.