Humanity always chooses love — that is the message The 100 leaves its viewers with.
Seven years ago, The 100 started as a simple survival series following 100 teenage delinquents who return to Earth from an orbiting space station 97 years after a nuclear apocalypse. In time, they meet the descendants of the survivors of said apocalypse, and the show evolved to explore the human condition.
The finale came with much apprehension from fans, who have criticized the final season for its lazy writing. The various sci-fi and spiritual elements added this season created more questions that remained unanswered as the penultimate episode ended. Other writing elements, such as the death of fan-favorite Bellamy Blake, was criticized for only being for shock-value. It was unclear the direction The 100 was heading, with fans creating theories that ranged from the show being a simulation to characters fulfilling transcendence. Some fans on the show even began to worry the finale would mirror the disappointment of Game of Thrones. One tweet, for instance, described feeling scared leading up to the finale, as the set-up felt similar to Game of Thrones.
Many felt the finale was underwhelming.
Ignoring the poor CGI of purple skies and a suspended boardwalk, nearly every moment was devoid of real emotion. Moments such as Clarke killing Cadogan was done far too early without enough buildup, while the so-called “last war” was ended by Octavia delivering a speech the audience has heard many times before about how we must fight “for all mankind.”
Even Clarke’s speech to the alien-judge version of Lexa fell flat. This moment had been building up the whole season, yet to see Clarke fail the “test” due to an alien race deciding that human's sin, without understanding the necessity of sacrifice, seemed poorly thought out. The alien resembled the logic of A.L.I.E., a homicidal AI from past seasons, and it was disappointing to see the show glorify a similar being when seasons had been spent exploring why the City of Light and choosing to let go of pain would destroy the human race.
However, while the episode itself stood out as poorly written in comparison to past masterpieces, which focused on the deep relationships and psychology of the characters, this episode’s final three minutes saved the finale from becoming a failure.
It's not the human race “transcending” into beings of light that brought tears to my eyes (quite honestly the whole transformation was never fully explained and left me confused), but it was the scene that follows, of Clarke returning to Earth after having been left behind due to her sins.
She chases after a dog, saying “I don’t want to be alone.” Suddenly, the alien being appears once more telling Clarke that her friends choose to return to Earth to be with her rather than to live an immortal life in paradise. We hear a laugh and the camera shows all the gang working together to start building a home, happy after all the suffering they have endured.
The alien tells Clarke humans are a “curious species, indeed,” and this solidifies the message of the series. Here is a being incapable of love, confused as to why humans would choose it over an eternity of peace. But the beauty of humanity lies in our ability to love, no matter what decisions we make because of it, love is sacred and it makes us better.
While I cried because of the happy ending, the finale was polarizing for the fandom. Some on the subreddit deemed it “satisfying,” while others were left angry due to the numerous questions left open and the lack of emotional depth for most of the episode.
In the end, The 100 was not a show afraid to blur the line of morality. It regularly had its characters committing genocide and making questionable decisions (such as torturing a child) all in the sake of protecting the ones they love. No matter the storyline, this message was always the heart of the show, making it only fitting that the finale finally showed viewers the happiness that results from making tough choices to protect love.