To be clear, The 100 tripped over its own feet, jumped 12 sharks, and shattered its reputation with viewers long before Game of Thrones boffed it. But the Game of Thrones finale has quickly become synonymous with missing the landing harder than a drunk gymnast on the vault so here we are, comparing the two after The 100 had an absolutely wild finale that I cannot get over.
One the one hand, The 100 turned its young blond heroine into a villain seasons ago, while Game of Thrones pulled a heel turn in the second to last episode of the show. One the other hand, Game of Thrones did not end its whole-ass show with a U2 song. I could say more but maybe you’re planning to catch up when it comes to Netflix and I don’t want to ruin this experience for you! You should witness this on your own terms and in your own space. So let’s just drop a little spoiler tag.
Welcome, my clowns who made it to the finale, and my wise friends who are reading this because you have to know how bad it is but don’t want to devote hours of your life watching it all happen. For years in genre criticism, we’ve associated shows where anyone can die with quality. Early seasons of The Vampire Diaries and The 100 were praised for their wanton murder. Same with The Walking Dead. Game of Thrones’ entire shtick in the public discourse revolved around this. Death equals quality. Then The 100 killed Lincoln and Lexa back to back and the fandom rioted.
Game of Thrones probably should have taken note, because way back in 2016 The 100 discovered there were limits to the death audiences could endure. When Game of Thrones started murdering its way through its cast list in its final season like my dog through an all-beef-and-peanut-butter buffet, its viewers felt discomfort and then horror and then gave up on the show, salted the Earth, and seemed to never discuss it again. The 100 might end up facing a similar fate. Because of the whole “Rapture” thing.
Let’s jump back a second. All season Clarke’s happy band of killers have been waging a low key war with another surviving faction of humanity. This new group had discovered a path to some celestial beings who will ultimately judge humanity based on a single person and either Rapture everyone...sorry, transcend, to alien heaven or wipe out this last little band of the human race completely.
It’s been an extremely Left Behind kind of storyline, and because this is The 100 and everyone on it is pretty terrible I’ll admit to assuming these people were zealots and there weren’t really some Contact aliens patiently waiting to Rapture them if they did well. But last week their leader melted Maddie’s brain so he could finally meet the aliens and a furious Clarke chased him into the judgment zone while the rest of her ragtag team of war criminals prepared to deal with the rest of the zealots.
This week’s series finale, “The Last War,” immediately confirmed the whole alien judgment day thing is 100% real, and then Clarke immediately—like without a single breath—murders the zealot leader and splatters his blood all over a celestial being.
Things promptly get...real...Christian. I don’t mean that in a good or bad way, it just very quickly and clearly starts feeling like one of those plays you had to do if you ever attended vacation bible school. Only, because it’s Clarke, she sees the celestial being as Lexa, and also because it’s Clarke she admits to committing genocide and horrible crimes to protect those she loves. Just another day. Celestial Lexa is unimpressed by Clarke’s absolutely terrible defense of humanity, largely because Clarke truly is a terrible person. She has not bathed since season two, and we all know she’s killed a lot of people, including Bellamy, to protect “her” people. She has never sought peace or unity and has always been out just for herself. It made her an interesting central character, but like Dany melting Westeros alive, it’s made her a villain.
Lexa tells Clarke she’s just condemned humanity to death and punts her out of their star-filled dock. Clarke then does what Clarke has increasingly done as she’s grown older, she decides to focus on herself over others and rushes to be with Maddie and wait out the end times. Which is when Raven steps in, hops into the portal to the test realm, and demands a redo. And she gets it.
While Clarke has spun off into a place just shy of super-villainy this season, Raven has been quietly reckoning with the damage she and her friends have done. Earlier this season she killed a man when she probably didn’t have to, all to protect her friends, and where Clarke would nod and accept this as a necessary sacrifice, Raven’s been wondering if there’s another way to deal with disagreements than, you know, murder.
The Celestial greets Raven while looking like Clarke’s dead mom, Abby. Remember Abby? Long before she was a drug-addicted cannibal she and Raven had one of the most compelling and actual adult relationships on the show. It was such a good relationship it worked whenever they were reunited—even if it had been episodes or whole seasons between them. Raven takes the appearance of her dead friend in stride and spends the bulk of her time convincing this creature that humanity is worth something. She gets an assist from Octavia—back in fabulous makeup—who manages to get the two warring factions of humanity to stop killing each other long enough for the celestial being to realize maybe most humans don’t suck.
Instead of giving humans more time to grow as Raven had asked, the being decides they can all transcend anyway! Every human on every planet turns into tiny balls of light and leaves behind glowing trees. Clarke, however, is left all alone because not only did she fail the test but she committed murder while taking the test and honestly that’s pretty bad!
Almost as bad as when the U2 kicked in as Clarke wanders a number of worlds as the only sentient creature, with a dog left in all of the universes apparently. If the show had ended there it would have been bizarre and weird and confusing, but this is The 100 and it does not know when to quit.
Naturally, Celestial Lexa appeared again, and just as I was beginning to assume the show was going to end with Clarke and Celestial Lexa just hanging out for eternity, Clarke rounded a corner and found all her friends alive. Because they had peace and eternity but decided they would rather live in a single large cabin all together by a river on Earth.
Maybe that isn’t as bad as Tyrion telling the audience that Bran had the best story and should be king, but similarly as unearned. And wild. And nonsensical. And ridiculous.
When everyone started dying off halfway through the episode I texted a friend and said “We’re gonna get an anime ending” which is shorthand for all those shows where everyone dies in the last couple of episodes and then the hero either remakes the world or travels to an alternate universe or does a Rapture. The 100 sort of did the anime ending, and then like many other times over the course of the show, it fucked it up and left a group of 12 people alone at the end of creation. Rarely has a show had such extraordinary potential and cocked it up so badly.
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