We’ve come a long way from 100 juvenile delinquents on a ship housing mankind in space being sent to a postapocalyptic Earth to see if it’s still habitable 97 years after a nuclear holocaust, baby. No, seriously, if you haven’t watched The 100 in a season or three and turned on last night’s series finale, you probably wouldn’t recognize it.
After we learned that yes, Earth was habitable and the people living in space could return, and that, surprise, surprise, a whole bunch of people had actually survived on the ground — they’re called Grounders — and began a new, tribalistic way of life, eventually there is yet another apocalyptic event: Praimfaya. Our protagonist Clarke Griffin (Eliza Taylor) — also known as Wanheda, dabbler in some light genocide — and her merry band of survivors (just kidding, no one on this show is “merry” except maybe Jasper at some point, RIP) cryogenically freeze themselves and travel on a spaceship for 125 years until they arrive at Sanctum, a moon where, thanks to scientific space exploration, humans landed long ago and figured out a way to save their consciousness on a “mind drive” that they could insert into other people’s bodies and live forever. Our group of humans royally mess up that whole Sanctum situation, because destroying societies is what they do best, only to learn that Sanctum is connected to a nearby planet called Bardo thanks to some trippy ancient stones people can travel through. Bardo is inhabited by the Disciples, a group of people descended from a survivalist cult back on Earth (where they also had a space time-traveling stone) who follow that same cult leader (cryosleep, baby!) called the Shepherd, but whose real name is Bill Cadogan. Cadogan has been wearing a lot of white robes and studying those stones and is waiting for a “Last War” so that humans can transcend into some higher plane of being. You know, typical cult stuff.
If you just read all of that and thought I must have just tossed a bunch of words into a blender and then laid them out randomly to form sentences, honestly, you might be right. I don’t even know anymore! The 100 was — especially in the later seasons — needlessly complicated at times. So much happened in seven seasons! And I didn’t even get into all those City of Light shenanigans or the cannibalism-in-the-bunker situation or the fate of our precious Lincoln. Just know that if you stuck with The 100 for all seven seasons, you have seen some things.
So when the series cut to black, how did it all end? Was Clarke able to save the human race once and for all while also keeping her soul intact? Hm, yes and no. Let’s get into what went down in “The Last War,” the series finale of The 100.
This Is How It Starts
Heading into the finale episode, here are where things more or less stand: Cadogan knows that the Flame — the mind drive placed in the head of each commander of the Grounders that holds all of their memories — holds the code needed to have the stone send him to wherever he needs to go to learn about the Last War and transcendence, but since the Flame was destroyed, he moves to plan B. He takes Madi, Clarke’s adopted daughter and the last commander, who doesn’t have the Flame in her head but still has some residual memories from it, and basically tortures her in a special Disciples way until he gets the code from her memories and leaves the teenager in an unrecoverable catatonic state. A distraught Clarke vows revenge.
Meanwhile, Murphy, Raven, and Jackson are fighting to save Emori’s life after the bunker back on Earth where they were being held collapsed — it doesn’t look good. Sheidheda, an evil Grounder commander who somehow got his consciousness from the Flame to jump into a mind drive on Sanctum (don’t even ask), is running around causing chaos. Oh, and not that you need the reminder, but our dear Bellamy is still extremely dead after Clarke, his best friend, MURDERED HIM once he got all cult-y and she believed he posed a threat to Madi, even though his death really served no purpose except to infuriate us all for the rest of time. Anyway!
The Final Test
Cadogan goes through the stone with the code and meets this Being from a higher plane of existence who takes the form of his daughter Callie (the Being takes the form of your greatest love, greatest teacher, or biggest failure) and explains that there is no “Last War” but there is a Final Test. One person, representing all mankind, will answer the Being’s questions, and based on that the Being will decide if humans are worthy to transcend and join their shared consciousness or if they should just be completely wiped out. Honestly, who gives these Beings the right??? Regardless, Cadogan begins the Final Test, but before he can even answer the first question, Clarke pops in and murders his ass. The rules of transcendence state that once the Final Test has begun it cannot be stopped and rules are rules (these rules really feel made up on the fly and have little internal logic). Clarke will have to finish the test. The good news is that for Clarke, the being takes the form of her dead lover and the Grounder’s great commander, Lexa. It’s not the real Lexa, but it’s still nice to see these two ladies in the same space! The bad news is Clarke fails that test REAL HARD. I mean, she was named Wanheda, which means “commander of death,” and killed, like, so many people, and has suffered a lot. Also, she murdered a dude right in front of the Being. She had no chance. So that’s that! The human species will be eradicated.
Or will it? When Clarke comes back through the stone and tells Raven what happened, Raven Reyes, a True Queen, is like “Um, no,” and heads into the stone to try and appeal the decision. For Raven, the Being takes the form of Abby, another welcome return. Fake Abby explains to Raven that humans never learn, are violent, and are always at war with one another. Raven tries to explain that they have the capability to keep trying to be better, but it doesn’t help her argument that at that moment a huge literal war is about to break out between the Disciples and all of our people from Earth (plus the people who survived Sanctum). Not a good look for humanity!
Some Big Ol’ Character Arcs for Ya
Speaking of people trying to be better, a few major character arcs get wrapped up in some full-circle ways. Let’s start with our little cockroach, John Murphy. Murphy repeatedly said out loud that he was a survivor through and through and there was almost no one he wouldn’t betray to stay alive. But in the end, he realized he didn’t want to just survive, he wanted to live. So when Emori, the love of his life, dies, he decides life is pointless without her. Without her, he’d only be surviving. He has her mind drive put into his body, knowing that two consciousnesses cannot survive in one body and he’ll die. Still, a few more hours together with her before dying is better than any life without her. It sounds weird, but once you get on board with the concept of mind drives, it is very moving. Who would’ve thought John Murphy would have the most romantic story line on this show?
If you recall, Echo began her journey on this show as a Grounder spy who betrayed Bellamy and all of his people and who, oh yeah, impaled Octavia and watched as she fell over a cliff. Octavia didn’t die, obviously, but there was still bad blood between the two women and things got especially complicated once Echo and Bellamy fell in love. However, when Echo watches as Octavia runs into the middle of the battlefield in an attempt to stop the war between the Disciples and everyone else, Echo runs after her to try and protect her. Echo ends up with some critical gunshot wounds and looks like she is about to die to save the life of someone she once fought so hard to kill. See? Full circle!
Octavia gets a nice wrap-up too. The Girl Under the Floor who turned into a true Grounder warrior who then turned into Blodreina and got deep into gladiator fights and forced cannibalism (I’ll never unsee that episode) and just, like, a lot of murder-y stuff, really is the only one suited to talk people down from a war that could end mankind. Things look bad on the battlefield, especially once Sheidheda fires the first few shots simply to cause bloodshed, but Indra thankfully, finally, takes that guy out for good and Octavia gives everyone a rousing speech about how they’re all from the same tribe and war is not the answer. It works! And since Raven and Fake Abby are looking on, Fake Abby changes her mind about the human species. (It’s a very fast reversal!) This of course means …
Transcendence, It’s a Thing, Ever Heard of It?
Humans get to transcend. Yep, suddenly, all of our characters turn into balls of light and disappear into some peaceful, eternal collective consciousness and I swear I did not make that up. Between the balls of light and the judge lording over humanity, it’s all very The Good Place, which is not a comparison I would’ve ever dreamed I’d be making! Anyway, apparently the rule is that dead people can’t transcend (Bellamy is shit out of luck), but anyone who is even remotely alive — including Echo, Madi, and Murphy and Emori — moves on to the next step in evolution. The other rule is that Clarke is forbidden from transcending because of that whole murdering-someone-during-the-final-test thing. These higher beings are really hot on their rules.
“The Ground, That’s the Dream”
So what’s a girl to do when the entire human race has moved on without her? Well, Clarke finds a cute dog named Picasso and travels through the stone back to Earth to live out her days alone. Only, it turns out, she doesn’t have to live alone. Fake Lexa returns and surprises Clarke with yet another rule about transcendence no one mentioned before: It’s a choice! You don’t have to do it if you don’t want to; and as it turns out, some of Clarke’s nearest and dearest decided that instead of eternal life as a ball of light in a collective consciousness, they’d rather return to their bodies and live out the rest of their days on Earth with Clarke. They can’t procreate and they can never transcend again, so this is it. Once this group — Clarke is joined by Raven, Octavia, Murphy, Emori, Echo, Indra, Gaia, Miller, Jackson, Niylah, Hope, Jordan, and Levitt — dies, mankind is over. It sounds extremely sad when put that way, but everyone there seems pretty jazzed about their decision — there’s so much joyful hugging! — and the show sneaks in a quick flash to the very first scene in the pilot episode when Clarke, then a prisoner on the Ark, was drawing a picture of the Earth and talking about how the sun on her face and the wind in her hair and being on the ground was “the dream.” Now that dream is real. I guess the moral of this story is that being a ball of light for all eternity isn’t really all it’s cracked up to be.