So season 5 is done. The finale has entered our eyeballs and our journey is complete. Where do I stand on everything that has transpired?
I’m going to do a quick laundry list of my overall likes/dislikes of the season before I quadruple your recommended daily salt intake.
Stuff I liked this season:
- Bellamy’s character development – the show elevated him this season
- Big Dick Energy Diyoza – that she’s not dead makes me SO happy
- Madi – that she’s not dead makes me SO happy
- Octavia’s journey – it was dark, but it made sense
- Diyoza’s baby bump – leaning fully into Ivana Milicevic’s pregnancy was a good decision, just stop pointing guns at her belly, jesus
- Echo – what can I say, I love her (but she’s also in my dislikes list for reasons)
- McCreary – curb stomping that beautiful man is a shame
- Indra – season MVP? and she’s still alive!
- Monty saves the world – of fucking course he does
- Jordan – two seconds of screen time and I see Monty and Harper in this 27 year old kid, he’s great
- Space – a new world, beltalowdas!
- Bellamy’s and Murphy’s beards – boyz 2 men
- Actors DOING WORK – every single actor worked their butt off
- Episodes 1-4 – top notch, best start to any season
- Ian Cusick directing – I like his visual take on stuff, man
- Vinson delivering the best line of the season: “If only a conscience was a free pass, and not just a voice in your head you pretend to listen to in between unconscionable acts.”
Stuff I didn’t like this season:
- Clarke’s character regression – the show diminished her this season
- The depiction of motherhood – irrational, desperate, dumb, abusive – motherhood is the hardest job in the world, and conveying it as over-emotional has such an unfortunately sexist tinge
- Torture – stop
- Child abuse – FUCKING STOP
- The Flame – cool until it goes into Madi’s head
- How the Flame works – deus ex machina for all your war time needs; this “it is what it needs to be for plot purposes” stuff is utter bullshit
- Madi as child savior – this is so tropey
- Clarke’s hair – no dawg
- Echo – we needed more backstory to get others to love – or at least – understand her
- Authoritarianism in general – just cuz Madi’s nicer than Octavia doesn’t mean we like dictators
- Grounder traditions – kill it with fire already, why is Bellamy suddenly deferring to a child about if they should go into cryosleep?
- Tragic underuse of Raven and Murphy – what the fuck
- Dialog – so much of it was cringe-worthy, sick of the overused catch phrases
- Kara Cooper – I hated her so much I think I may now actually love her, so status pending
- Abby – prolonging her story without explaining her motivations until the end of the season bombed
- Pacing – felt like a lot of emotional reckoning came far too late and got the short shrift after a season of wanting it SO BAD
- Chekhov’s worms – went nowhere
- Lexa speaking through Madi – Clarke’s most meaningful conversation all season shouldn’t be with a dead person speaking through her adopted daughter (thanks Bubs for this great observation)
- Kane – worthless this season while up on his high moral horse, awful towards Abby
- “No choice” as a plot device – another shortcut used to move plot without logic or reason applied to assess a situation
- Emotional payoff – non-existent or glossed over for MORE FIGHT WAR FIGHT CONFLICT FIGHT
- Plot – relentless, unforgiving, chock full…like my underwear, I like my plots to breathe
- No heroes – leaned way too hard into that “no heroes thing” and y’all made me hate Clarke Griffin, congrats
- No hope – it can be an emotional drain to watch
The Final Verdict?
This season just wasn’t for me, dawg.
I’m not going to review and analyze the finale. I just want to vent my spleen, wipe my hands of it, and move along.
And let me tell you, this isn’t fun. A part of me has always been tickled and proud that folks from the show would occasionally read my stuff and get a laugh out of it. It felt good to celebrate their work by giving back a wee bit, and putting a smile on someone’s face is EVERYTHING to me. So it’s painful to rail on this season’s shortcomings and express disappointment, knowing it feels like I’m shitting on a lot of people’s hard work. Which isn’t and will never be my intent. I can’t only express how I feel, so here goes:
I’ve come to the sad realization that what I want out of this show and what it delivers are two very different things.
After watching the whole finale and really disliking most of it, I think I’ve just come to settle in a place of apathy. It’s fairly apparent that the show is plot-driven, not character-driven, and I fell in love with the show because of the characters. The folks I loved in seasons 1 and 2, the ones who would talk and check in on each other and argue and be there for one another are simply not the same since season 3.
The emotional separation of these characters, lack of impactful conversations, and their inability to emotionally multitask has left me cold. Bringing Bellamy and Clarke back together without addressing their respective betrayals – done with laughable dialog along the lines of “the commander said not to be mad” – fell so flat and is painfully indicative of this season’s issues: characters are just the way the plot moves forward with little or no caretaking of the emotional lives of these people.
And this isn’t just a season 5 issue. Season 4 had a great deal of short-cutting to make everyone suddenly okay with one another. Remember how Clarke and Bellamy had all of one Rover “conversation” together before they were all smiles again? Clarke stole the bunker…locked Octavia out to die…was going to shoot Bellamy…these are not minor things that a couple lines of dialog can fix.
The disconnect of characters to each other and to their own emotions has just created a disconnect between me and this show in a way that I never thought I’d feel. Hey, remember “Nevermore” and how it touched on the character dynamics of our beloved Adventure Squad, airing out grievances? It didn’t fix everything but it moved them FORWARD. Man, that was a long time ago.
That’s not to say this season didn’t have its bright spots. Episodes 1-4 were the best start to any season. Bellamy grew in ways that I loved and made a lot of sense to me. The new characters were delightful. The took Octavia on a JOURNEY. The acting – as always – was so spot on.
I just wish the characters weren’t bodies to get from one YOU ARE NOT READY! moment to the next YOU ARE NOT READY! moment. Short, isolated conversations can’t do the emotional heavy-lifting necessary to heal, hurt, or reset relationships that have gone through the conflict grinder. And there is no resonance from one emotion or conversation to the next. Each moment exists for its own little time and then is forgotten until is is brought up as a one-liner to short cut to another emotion or half-hearted resolution. Nothing reverberates the way it should.
The types of moments I love are fewer and farther between now. And it’s all character moments, like Indra having faith in her daughter’s beliefs and abilities, or Bellamy concerned that Echo will tease him if he misses his shot, Diyoza and Octavia finally sharing a moment, or Madi’s cryopod reading “Madi Griffin.” Those bits that I love are not holding the show together anymore; the connective tissue is worn thin. The whole is simply not greater than the sum of its parts.
The dialog seems more concerned with making sure catchphrases – “maybe there are no good guys!” – are nailed. And when past events are talked about, they aren’t explored. WHY did Clarke call Bellamy everyday? What does it mean to these two characters? It’s mentioned for all of a hot second, then dropped. THAT MOMENT, that small little scrap, is supposed to nourish our ravenous desire for character connection and it simply DOES NOT.
I want a five-course meal, and the show is giving me a Slim Jim and an off-brand soft drink named “Cola.”
At this point, I’m going to treat the last twenty minutes of the finale like the pilot of a new show. But I’m going to be far less invested. Dare I say…this season has turned me into a filthy casual.
What is truly disconcerting is that a large contingent of my online fandom friends are feeling gutted after watching this season and reading the post-finale interviews. That such a passionate group of fans is feeling adrift hurts my heart because I’m right there with them. There isn’t a lot of hope for a sea change in how characters interact. No one wants to see more of the Flame/Commander stuff. There’s a numb shock over the retconning of Bellarke into a platonic pairing, which brings me to…
The Bellarke of It All
A special note to you Bellarkes out there: You thought you were going to get something the show has been consciously and actively teasing for years, and I cannot imagine what it feels like to NOW be told that they’re platonic soulmates.
Look, I’m a platonic Bellarker…but the clues were dropped so hard this season that there’s something more between Clarke and Bellamy that you’d have to be utterly daft to not think the show was headed in that direction. That you feel duped and gaslit sucks. That you are made to feel foolish for wanting romance sucks. I’m usually the last person to take up for shipping, but this just plain unfair.
Bellarke as platonic soulmates should have been established early on, plain and simple, because that cow is out of the barn. Johnny and Dutch on Killjoys are each other’s north star, but it was established from day one they were only best friends, and that relationship has never suffered for it…in fact it’s one of my favorite things on TV.
This is a rug suddenly and callously pulled out from under fans who had emotionally invested in Clarke and Bellamy’s relationship, seeing the signs and tropes of an eventual romance between the two. Where Jason’s new cavalier attitude regarding how people read these characters is coming from is beyond me. It’s dismissive and undeserved. “You can read it the way you want to read it…except you’re wrong” seems to be Jason’s message here, and I’m befuddled. He wants to undo years of his own creative direction to what end? I’m just…no dawg.
Man, this band aid should have been ripped off 3 seasons ago. Y’all are mad and I get it. Jason has me taking up for Bellarkes…that’s where we’re at now. Things fall apart, the center cannot hold, mere anarchy is loosed upon the world.
To Ponder During the Hiatus…
What happened to Monty’s body?
- Love what you love for the reasons you find true to your core interests as a consumer of fiction.
- Celebrate the talent of Eliza, Bob, Adina, Lola, Marie, Lindsey, Chris, Chelsea, et al. every chance you can get.
- Work through your personal stages of fandom grief if you’re a Salty McSalterson and try to find some peace with yourself.
- Keep liking what you like about the show if you’re fine with where it is…no one can tell you what to like.
- Never, ever, ever, personally attack anyone involved in the show. EVER. No character, story line, or ship is worth acting the fool and hurting another person.
- TWEET/RETWEET: If you enjoyed this review, please share, retweet, or like it on twitter.
- SPOTIFY PLAYLIST OF THE 100 MUSIC!: Hey people who like sounds entering your ear holes! I have a Spotify playlist, which is music from and inspired by The 100. You can find it right here and marvel at my musical tastes. I keep it up to date with anything featured on the show or in promos.
If you need emotional salve for your soul, or just need excellent TV to fill the next 9 months (fyi Diyoza’s baby STILL won’t be born by then) there are three shows you must watch:
12 Monkeys – just do it. I can’t even talk about this show without yelling and crying. You want heart? You want character work? Emotions? Found family? Strong ass female characters? Holy shit, you don’t even know what you’re missing. Watch the fuck out of this show NOW. EDIT: I cannot be held responsible for how many emotions you go through while watching this show, but I do come flail at me on twitter about it. I’d love to hear reactions from new Monkey fans.
Cloak and Dagger – for you shippers out there, especially you younger folk who like teenage protagonists, this show fits the bill. I’m not much of a shipper, but I ship the hell out of Tandy and Tyrone. And it actually acknowledges it exists in the same world as Tony Stark and the Avengers.
The Expanse – just get through the first four episodes. Sound familiar? Holy shit this show is good. Satisfy your scifi needs and found family feels, topped with awesome female characters and a little of the unknown. And you’ll grow to love the cop in the hat. TRUST.
“Damocles Pt. 2”: ratings are currently closed for the summer
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.
And now, Chris Hemsworth as an alpaca.