I feel like I’ve fed through a woodchipper, heart-first.
Sorry kids. No GIFs or funny bits this time around…I’m a bit exhausted and simply can’t do a normal review.
Do you know how much I love this show? So much that I’ve probably written 150,000 words – that’s a very long novel y’all – sharing my thoughts about this show, spending nights and weekends on work I’m not paid for…something that I pretty much vowed I’d never do again after being a graphic designer waaaay back in another life. I love this show SO MUCH. So the wall I have suddenly slammed into really hurts my heart. And slam I sure have, with all the crunching, slippery gore you’d expect.
Let me be frank: we live in a very dark world right now. Nothing feels right. And perhaps now, The 100, with its dark themes and “no good guys” aesthetic is the wrong show at the wrong time for me. Maybe I need a good guy. Or a hero. Or some hope. And waiting until the first part of the finale to get any of that seems punitive to me. I feel like I’m actually being punished for watching this show and expecting something different. This episode is a culmination of a season that I feel has gone very wrong for me. It’s been going wrong for me since episode 5 or 6, and it’s taken awhile to realize that it’s NOT getting better.
I can’t sit here and try to deconstruct and analyze the plot or the characters because I simply don’t understand intent and action anymore. I’ve done enough mental gymnastics with this show of late to force myself into staying in love with it, and I don’t have that energy. You’ll need to go elsewhere for some sunshine blown up your ass in regards to this season.
And let me also state this: none of my disappointment or heartburn is coming from a shipping perspective. I’m not upset Bellarke isn’t happening. I don’t care about romance on this show anymore. Fuck it. Love is dead. This is simply from my perspective of being the biggest fan and cheerleader of this show, even to my own detriment. Even when it lead to some truly awful takes (one need only read my tone-deaf, unwoke 3×07 review for that…sorry gays, I was dumb).
This season, I so wanted Clarke to be Clarke Freakin’ Griffin this season, but I got a traitorous, abusive, dumb, self-doubting wrecking ball who had suddenly forgotten how smart and resourceful she is, suddenly forgotten her friends, instead becoming the very worst version of herself. People do change, but they usually don’t abandon the foundational elements of what makes them…them. She is literally my all-time favorite TV character and I haven’t even recognized her since episode 5.
There are some very good bits this season. Episodes 1-4 were LIT. I love our new characters. Madi, Diyoza, McCreary…I love them. I truly do. I love how Octavia became dark, I love how driven she is to try to make it all WORTH it. I love Bellamy becoming the very best of himself, with a lot of the very best of Clarke as part of him now. I love the performances. The actors are putting in work.
But there are some very difficult things I’m saddened by:
- The physical abuse of a minor. I cannot stress how much this upsets me. I cannot believe how much this doesn’t upset many fans. Bewildered. Straight up.
- The show’s dubious relationship with the concept of consent.
- Pretending there are no other choices in order to shock and awe, rather than taking a harder route to write a better story.
- Clarke forcing her will on Madi when saying she wouldn’t…Abby is a SHITTY role model.
- Brutally slow pacing, having resolutions/revelations come far too late to really care about anymore. Too little, too late.
- Murphy emotionally abusing Emori and we’re supposed to still find them cute.
- The doubling and tripling-down on well-tread themes that just seem like dead horses at this point.
- The obviously problematic and creepy situation of having Clarke’s dead lover in her daughter’s head…and speaking about Lexa’s memories in the first person (and this isn’t about Lexa…I LOVE Lexa, I loved Clexa. Call backs to her feel natural – as would call backs to Finn or Wells or Gina that NEVER HAPPEN to be fair).
- Comparing familial love with romantic love in any way, shape, or form is gross…it’s not a competition.
- Last episode, it seemed like Diyoza had an “ah ha” moment where she figured out how to double-cross McCreary. Nope…that was a completely wrong read…Kane and Diyoza completely fucked over Wonkru/Spacekru.
- Mothers are jerks, that’s supposed to be my takeaway? Except for Indra. Why can’t they all be more like Indra?
- Bellamy actually admitting he wants his sister dead, after doing a hell of a lot to ensure she didn’t die this episode. WTF. I actually had to rewind, put captions on, and watch it again to be SURE he said “yes” to wanting her dead.
- That Raven/Clarke “reunion” was a laughable kick in the balls.
- Conflict-driven characterization. Plot-driven characterization. Not character-driven characterization.
- I see that the bindi is back next episode – STOP putting bindis on white girls, just ditch the cultural appropriation as costume.
- Lack of ANYONE to root for.
- Lack of ANY hope.
Those last two are really kicking my ass.
I’m a bit exhausted by how much has happened on this show since episode 4 without ever seeming to GO anywhere. The Flame has been used to almost disastrous result, not only putting Lexa in Madi’s brain, but creating such a contentious situation with Clarke that physical abuse is the result.
Here’s how you fix that very problematic “Madi as Lexa in first person” memory discussion at the end of this episode that I wanted to like SO MUCH but skeeved me out: center it on Clarke’s memories. Because I’ll be fucking damned if Clarke’s consciousness isn’t also in that chip. Madi could have shaken Clarke out of her dumpster fire existence by simply saying something like (and I don’t write dialog, so suck it if you hate it, it’s a thought experiment):
“I see you standing in Mount Weather, your hand on that lever, having to do the unthinkable to save your people. But I also see Monty and Bellamy there with you, believing in you, trusting in you. I see Raven and Abby and Kane, grateful to be alive. You saved them. I see you working with Lexa to create a new way, to create peace, and she so loved you for it. I see you in the City of Light, defying ALIE and putting your faith in humanity to find a way to save itself. THAT is who you are. Now pull your head out of your ass, you’re supposed to be a goddamned hero.”
I hope that the show takes the “life is more than just surviving” bit to heart and really, TRULY re-invents itself by injecting some heroism and hope into season 6.
Sorry if you came here for GIFs and a chuckle…this review is completely raw and not creator-friendly and sorry if I’ve hurt anyone’s feelings. Peace out.
“Damocles Pt. 1”: one broken heart
There are some The 100 reviewers/recaps/writers you should absolutely be reading, and I offer them up for your enjoyment; I have no affiliation with any of them, save for being a fan:
- Selina Wilken – a mix of passionate fandom and truly professional journalism.
- Erin Brown – unfairly beautiful writing. Like seriously, stop being so good.
- McKenzie Morrell – recapping her damn face off and great interviews with the cast!
- Toni_watches – piss your goddamn pants hilarious photo recaps and owes me all her Raisinets.
- Jo Garfein – great fandom charity auctions.
Disclosure: this is my own indie site. This is on my time, my dime. Becho is endgame.
I always read your reviews…I’m always amused by them even though I frequently disagree with them….but I totally agree with this one…..I am so disappointed with where this season has gone.
And I can hardly bear to talk about Clarke….and what makes it worse is if they had focused on her total isolation from anyone but a child for 6 years and the toxic co-dependency and psychological damage that would breed…we might actually have had a decent characterization and been able too understand where she was coming from….instead we have the ‘mama bear’ angle [which I genuinely think is a kink for some men]….and as a mother I am so insulted by the sexist bullshit that suggests that when you have a child you lose half your brain cells,forget anyone other than your child exists and become totally irrational….not to mention that no caring mother would ever be as abusive towards their child as Clarke apparently is.
Man, I feel you on the mother part…I’m not anything other than a dog mom, but moms are treated so poorly in media and that The 100 has leaned hard into this “irrational protective mom” trope is just so disheartening. Does that writer’s room need to be ALL women with a new show runner in order to reverse this horrible characterization?
You’re so right. About everything. This season started out in a really promising way but to leave that promise hanging until the very end is just cheap. I still think there are just too many characters for the length of the season and if they had more time to spend with each one, motivations would become more clear and that might help. Maybe. Nobody seems to care about anyone else but themselves right now, and there’s enough of that attitude in the real world tyvm.
“Why can’t they all be more like Indra?” Indeed. Everyone except Indra needs to get over themselves in a big way next week or I don’t know if my love for this show can be salvaged.
I can’t even grasp what they have done to Clarke’ this season. It’s so maddening and heartbreaking. Thanks for sharing your thoughts. Sadly I agree with everything you said. Not sure I’ll even bother with Season 6.
I actually liked the episode, probably my favorite so far this season. I agree with your take on the destruction of Clarke, though, and it’s been painful to watch. But it felt like she might actually be getting back to her old self at the end. I was also a little sketched out about the Lexa/Madi connection at first, but I’ve eased my mind by telling myself that she is only able to see what the other commanders want her to see (so NO sexy times). Totally agree with how disturbing it was for Bellamy to say he wanted Octavia dead, and how they missed out big time on the Raven/Clarke reunion! Hoping next week’s show redeems itself on some of those misses!
Your reviews have always given me pleasure. I am sorry you are disappointed with the show. It’s always sad when we no longer relate to a project that we have invested in (been there). That said Season 5 is probably my favorite. To address some of your points:
1. Physical abuse of a minor – this has been part of the show from the beginning (“I sent a hundred children to the ground to avoid my daughter being floated.”) Perhaps it doesn’t disturb me so much because I am of a generation where corporal punishment was an accepted way of disciplining children. Clarke’s “short, sharp shock” was not the same as Abbey’s torture of Raven.
2. Concept of consent – it seems quite in order that a show that explores the grey areas of life should examine this.
3. Clarke forcing her will on Madi – is what most parents do to their children until they realize that it is time to let go. It is one of the causes of the perennial conflict between teens and parents.
4.Mothers are jerks – everyone in the !00 is a jerk. Everyone makes poor decisions, be they a leader, a follower or a parent.
5. Bellamy admitting he wants his sister dead – part of his personal journey is discovering that his sister has turned into someone he doesn’t like (“…and then we found you.”)
6. I cannot agree with your rewriting of Madi’s view of Mount Weather – your version calls for a young teen to deliver a sophisticated interpretation of a complex scene. The writers merely have her relay a message from someone Clarke respected and loved, reawakening the old Clarke (Wanheda).
7. Resolutions/revelations too late – in real life when we meet people that we have had no contact with for years we normally find that they are no longer the person we remember (I was shocked when someone I had been close to at University left his wife of 30 years for another woman – in my mind he and his wife were still the couple I had known when they fell in love.). 6 years have passed since we left these people at the end of season 4. We have not seen their development over these 6 years but have met them at the end of this time – Madi is still basically hostile to Clarke when we get “6 years later”; Octavia establishes Wonkru then we jump to Blodreina, Skykru get to the space station and then they are watching the arrival of Eligius IV. Clarke is lost in her utopia and is desperately trying to maintain it, Octavia is lost in her dystopia and is desperately trying to maintain it, and Skykru are lost in their “family” and are desperately trying to maintain it. For me Season 5 is about their separate journeys to facing a reality which eventually forces them to reconnect. The war for the valley (which must be won by compromise) is merely a reflection of their own internal war in coming to terms with former companions whom they barely recognize. If resolutions and revelations had come earlier the dynamic of the show would have been altered and would lack our struggle to understand people we thought we knew.
Apologies for the rambling essay. Your review was like a jolt from a shock collar for me, and it forced me to try to make some sense of my own reaction.