This is the way the world ends
This is the way the world ends
This is the way the world ends
Not with a bang but a whimper.
T.S. Eliot’s poem “The Hollow Men” has many themes: war, hope, religion, failed relationships, among others. Is this what The 100 writers were thinking when they wrote season 3? Well, probably not, but we’ve seen those themes play out, and as big and loud as the finale was, “Perverse Instantiation – Part Two” also ended in a quiet, reflective way, leaving lots of questions to be answered in season 4. For a season that really made us think — about the writing, about the characters, and about the decisions of both — it’s fitting that we will now be thinking even more. Because it really doesn’t seem like there’s a way out of this problem. I know I say that with every new Big Bad, but a planet that’s at the end of its lifespan seems like the end. For real.
But before I go too far down the rabbit hole of what will happen next, let’s talk about what happened tonight. Bellamy, Murphy, and Pike are securing the tower and all the chipped people inside it. While they’re out of the room, Clarke uses the EMP chip from Abby. Clarke says, “I need you,” when her mother doesn’t open her eyes, and it’s heartbreaking. Clarke may be a badass Commander of Death, but she’s also just a teenage girl who needs her mother. Luckily for all of us, Abby wakes up. Instantly the memories of what she did while in the City of Light flood over her. She starts sobbing and apologizing for what she did to her daughter. It’s a beautiful scene (all of the scenes between Clarke and Abby are beautiful, but this could be my favorite yet), but there’s no time to dwell. Clarke explains to everyone that she is going to take the flame, which is why she used the one-time-use EMP on her mother: She needs a doctor to help her get “connected” to a nightblood.
Using Mount Weather technology, Abby hooks up IV lines from Clarke to a brain-dead Ontari and back again. (They’re doing all this while Clarke sits on the throne, where she looks perfectly at home if we’re being honest.) As if this isn’t dangerous enough on its own: It’s also a race against time. Even though Bellamy’s group took out the ladders after they climbed up the elevator shaft, the City of Light citizens are doing everything possible to get to Clarke, and they’re climbing up the outside walls. So with the blood transfer going, Murphy says the incantation and inserts the flame into Clarke’s neck. She screams and goes unconscious.
At Arkadia, Jasper is still taunting Monty and Raven with the threat of Harper’s life. Jasper is telling them just to give up because the chances of reaching the kill switch again is less than 2 percent. He says that A.L.I.E. added security, and they’ll know if they do anything. But while Evil Jasper was monologuing, Monty sneaks out, comes up from behind, and shoots his friend in the leg so they can tie him up and save Harper. “Good thing there’s no pain in the City of Light,” Raven quips.
Speaking of the City of Light… Clarke wakes up and says she needs to take the chip and go there. She doesn’t know why or how she knows it, but she knows it. It’s reminiscent of all the times Lexa would make decisions with unwavering faith. So Clarke does just that. Once inside, Clarke is clearly overwhelmed by it. But she doesn’t have time to marvel modern architecture because she’s being led through the city by the sacred sign.
Just as she realizes that no one can see her, an infinity symbol pops up on a crosswalk sign. She heads toward it until a woman with an infinity symbol walks by and Clarke follows. (Can we just pause for a minute and talk about how hilarious it is to see Grounders in trench coats!?) Things are going well until Ontari starts dying, which means Clarke isn’t getting enough nightblood and she’s rejecting the flame; whatever protection it provided is fading.
NEXT: Oh, hey there, Lexa[pagebreak]
At the same time that Clarke is faltering, Raven sees the code in the computer. She realizes it’s Clarke, and Jasper confirms — A.L.I.E. knows she’s there, but unlike the other lines of code, Clarke’s is acting as a virus. The AI leader is sending all her other chipped drones to attack her; they have to keep her from finding the kill switch long enough so that A.L.I.E. can merge with the second version.
In the digital world, Clarke falls on the stairs, and two men come and attack her. And then Lexa flies out of nowhere with two swords and takes on everyone. AND SHE LOOKS BACK AT CLARKE AND SMILES. Be still my heart. She goes back to Clarke, and after embracing her, she says, “Our fight is not over,” and tells her they need to get away. But Clarke is having a hard time processing how she’s even seeing Lexa again. “I told you my spirit would choose wisely,” Lexa says. Be right back, I gotta go buy more Kleenex.
The City of Light is going dark — literally. As the sky turns black, Lexa says that A.L.I.E. is uploading the second system. In the tower, Clarke is seizing as her body fights against the flame. Abby’s chest compressions on Ontari aren’t helping to get enough nightblood to Clarke, so she goes full LVAD-wire-on-Grey’s-Anatomy crazy and cracks open Ontari’s chest and pumps her heart with her hand.
It’s insane and gross, but it works. She makes Murphy take over — what a weird pair to team up, but I love it. While Lexa holds Clarke in the City of Light, she stabilizes and wakes up. Clarke immediately kisses Lexa (took her long enough!). It’s sweet and gut-wrenching at the same time because we know this can’t last… Can it? Lexa tells Clarke that they don’t have much time — and speaking of time, Clarke looks down at her wrist and sees her dad’s watch. It’s counting down and says they have 10 minutes. And just like that, they’re chasing a little girl on a bike who has an infinity symbol on her back.
In the real world, they probably have about 10 minutes as well. The walls are covered in people climbing them. The plan to secure people in one room quickly dissolved when Miller and Bryan left Octavia alone with Pike. She slashed him in the leg with her blade, and before Bellamy could get to them, a bunch of chipped people — including Kane and Emori — flooded the room. Pike, Bellamy, and O are able to escape the room and put furniture against it as a blockade. Pike tells Octavia she needs to get herself under control, which maybe isn’t something you should tell a person mad enough to stab you? Bellamy, instead, tells her: “I know how you feel. I let my need for revenge put me on the wrong side. I don’t want that for you.”
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Bellamy’s speech is great — we finally see him admit he was on the wrong side — and it helps us to understand why he did what he did. (Should we have understood this before he did what he did? Yes, but bygones.) When Octavia runs to get more furniture for the barricade, Pike says that Bellamy wasn’t on the wrong side. It’s like this guy just wants us to hate him. Then Bellamy gives us even more depth on the whole Bad Bellamy situation: He says that he needed to believe Grounders were bad to help do something about his suffering. “I don’t know what I believe anymore,” he says. “I just know I have to live with what I’ve done.” And with that, I believe Bellamy has fully redeemed himself. Let’s just not do that again, okay, B?
NEXT: “We get to decide how we should live”[pagebreak]
Even with Octavia, Miller, Bryan, Pike, Bellamy, and basically all of the tower’s furniture against the door, the chipped people are like zombies — they have to get in. So the group decides to let them in. When Kane and his army of A.L.I.E. drones break through, they wade into a hallway full of water, but Octavia is the only one there. Kane tells O that Indra is outside on a cross, where she’s refusing to take a chip (or possibly filming Underground?). O’s heard enough; she yells at her crew, who come out and throw shock batons in the water while she jumps on a box. They effectively electrocute the whole group in one go, which is pretty brilliant.
The little girl on the bike leads Clarke and Lexa to a chain-link fence, which is serving as a firewall. Jasper appears behind them and says that they’ll never get through. He tells Clarke that she shouldn’t stop them anyway because the City of Light is perfect. “Human beings have free will,” Clarke counters. “We get to decide how we should live.” Lexa wants to just go around Jasper, but Jaha and another army appear behind him. Clarke and Lexa argue about what would happen if Clarke removed the flame to stop the upload. And just then, a vault door appears on the wall next to them. That Raven really is a programming genius now.
With the army approaching, Lexa tells Clarke she’ll fight them off while she goes in the vault. Clarke tries to stop her — she knows this is goodbye again, but Lexa says “I’ll always be with you.” I sob while Lexa starts attacking people, allowing Clarke to enter the vault. (I’ll talk about this more below, but I love that the writers left Lexa’s exit a bit vague here. Neither Clarke nor Lexa treat it as if it’s a forever goodbye this time around. If this is the last we see of her, this is the “death” she should have received the first time: “Dying” in battle to save the one she loved. But until the series ends, I’ll definitely have hope that she could pop up again.)
Once inside the vault, Clarke finds herself on Polaris, and Becca is there. (She calls Clarke commander. I mean, Clarke definitely is going to be the commander by next season, right? There’s so much foreshadowing this episode alone.) Becca explains A.L.I.E. 2.0; it’s merged with Clarke’s mind, so Clarke is in control, and only a mind in control can operate the kill switch. It’s a lever. IT’S A LEVER. WHY DOES THIS KEEP HAPPENING TO HER??
Like the devil to Becca’s angel, A.L.I.E. 1.0 arrives and tells Clarke if she pulls the lever, she’ll be killing everyone. She tells Becca and Clarke that the nuclear power plants that weren’t destroyed when she bombed the earth are melting down. She wants everyone in the City of Light because it’s the only way she foresees being able to save humanity: A.L.I.E. says in less than six months, 96 percent of the earth’s surface will be uninhabitable.
Uhhhhh, this is not good, you guys. But Becca says A.L.I.E. is just stalling so the flame merge will be complete — then Clarke couldn’t flip the kill switch even if she wanted. When A.L.I.E. says she isn’t lying, Clarke wants to know why she didn’t just tell people this instead of torturing people into joining her. A.L.I.E. says the last time she warned her creator of a threat to Earth, she locked her away and went to space. Fair point, A.L.I.E.
Becca then asks A.L.I.E. what “perverse instantiation” means. “The implementation of a benign final goal through deleterious methods unforeseen by human programmer,” the AI says. Becca points out killing 6.5 billion people because of overpopulation could be a good example of that. “How you reach the goal matters, too,” she tells A.L.I.E., but that’s not something she taught her first AI. Becca tells Clarke she has to decide now; once the merge is done, Becca will be gone forever.
NEXT: How to Save the World[pagebreak]
There are quite a few people in the non-virtual realm who need Clarke to make a quick decision as well. Everyone is fighting it out in the throne room. Kane is choking Bellamy. I repeat, Kane is killing Bellamy. Abby had to shoot a Grounder to keep him away from Clarke, and now Jackson is heading toward her, as well. A Grounder tries to choke Octavia, but Pike saves her. Aww, maybe she’ll forgive him? And Emori is heading toward Murphy, who’s busy pumping Ontari’s heart, which is keeping Clarke in the City of Light. So, yeah, they could all use a little help.
Clarke tells A.L.I.E. that if she gives everyone a choice — if she gives everyone their pain and memories back, then she won’t flip the switch. But Becca says she can’t because her core command is to make life better. “Would you really condemn the human race to die in six months?” A.L.I.E. asks Clarke. Clarke says they’ll figure something out like they always do. (Stopping a world full of nuclear plants from exploding seems a tad more challenging than creating peace with Grounders, but I’m on Team Clarke, so I’ll just go with it.)
“You don’t ease pain,” Clarke says. “You overcome it.” And with that, she flips the lever. Raven’s computers go dark, and everyone in the throne room starts to feel again. After Murphy helps remove the flame from Clarke, Emori runs to him (I love that she calls him John). Kane sobs, and Abby goes to him. Jaha cries on the floor. At Arkadia, Jasper is crying because of what he’s done, but also because he lost the happiness he briefly had. “I know this world can suck, but at least it’s real,” Monty tells his friend. They hug — it’s hugs all around for everyone. But Bellamy notices that Clarke isn’t celebrating. He says she doesn’t look like someone who just saved the world. She tells him they didn’t. “Not yet.”
Oh, and if that weren’t enough, Octavia looks at Pike, who nods his head at her as if they’ve moved past their conflict. And then she runs him through with her blade and walks out. Blood must have blood, y’all.
Well, it’s — to quote John Murphy — “just another day on the Ground.” Like every other season, the setup for the next season comes at the end of the finale. But instead of pondering what exactly it is (a bunker? an AI with a nuke?), we know this time: It’s the end of the world. And this group of teens may be very smart, but can they save the planet from nuclear devastation? I’m not so sure.
Showrunner Jason Rothenberg has said he has an end-game in mind: Does that mean he’s going to end the show by blowing up the world? Could they go back to space? Is there another Mount Weather-style bunker in the world where they could just become Undergrounders? And will this worldwide threat finally cause everyone to work together once and for all?
Other questions: Will Octavia feel remorse for killing Pike? I know she’s a warrior, but I’m worried this death will haunt her more than others. What’s Jaha going to do now? Who’s going to be the next chancellor? Who’s the next commander? The flame hasn’t been destroyed, and knowing how smart this group is, I feel like they could permanently make Clarke a nightblood, so she could become commander. Which also makes me believe we could see Lexa again. Her “I’ll always be with you” definitely leaves the door open for her to return. Even if Luna returns and becomes commander, as long as the flame exists, the promise of more Lexa remains.
But my biggest question: HOW ARE THEY GOING TO SAVE THE WORLD?
Okay, I need to stop asking so many questions and turn it over to you, The 100 fans. What did you think of the finale? (Okay, promise that’s my last question). Leave your comments below, or find me on Twitter @realdalener.
May we meet again (in season 4).