Before we even get to tonight’s action-packed finale of The 100, it needs to be said that this has been a rocky season. The first half of it was defined by shoddy character motivations and oversized villains. It wasn’t a good look for the show, and the controversy surrounding the death of Lexa certainly didn’t help matters. It felt like the show was rushing through familiar plot points, but with very little nuance or attention paid to previous character arcs. The second half of this season has done some work to bring the show back from the brink, focusing on the City Of Light and issues of freewill and difficult moral choices, bringing some much needed depth to the third season. That work pays of with “Perverse Instantiation: Part Two,” a thrilling, forward-thinking finale that provides some necessary closure to this season.
Admittedly, it takes a little bit to get back into the swing of things. It’s a symptom of the show’s tendency to craft a two-part finale, where what’s essentially a single episode is split into two. So, when the episode opens on Clarke frantically trying to revive Abby with the EMP device, it’s rather jarring. Thankfully, the show finds its footing quickly and establishes the clear arc of the episode right off the bat. The floor has been secured, for now, and Clarke decides that there’s only one option left for stopping ALIE. Abby will give her a blood transfusion using Ontari’s nightblood, allowing Clarke to take on the Flame. From there, she’ll take the Key to the City Of Light and navigate the City until she finds the killswitch and get rid of ALIE once and for all.
What’s important to the finale’s success is that this is a no frills episode. The 100 establishes clear stakes and then follows through with them. This is a show that does breakneck pacing well. The early parts of this season struggled with balancing that pacing with more meditative moments, but a finale doesn’t need to be as contemplative. Rather, “Perverse Instantiation: Part Two” goes for broke, and it works, all while managing to sneak in a few bits of thematic exploration along the way.
“Perverse Instantiation: Part Two” feels like an action-packed blockbuster, thanks in large part to the shades of The Matrix present throughout. I mentioned last week that the idea of Clarke needing to infiltrate the City Of Light had some serious potential, and sure enough the whole break-in is executed with appropriate tension and weight. As soon as she enters she’s at risk from ALIE, who begins to update her system, which in turn would allow her to delete the killswitch. So, the whole episode turns into a cat-and-mouse game, and layers are revealed as the plot moves forward. There’s Jasper happily eating an ice cream cone and not realizing Clarke is there, or Octavia leaving Pike to die before Bellamy saves him. Small character moments like those are peppered throughout the episode,revealing bits about character psychology that will end up paying off in the end.
Of course, the best part of the City Of Light subplot, and the finale in general, is that it allows Lexa to come back. Just as Clarke seems to be in trouble, Lexa swoops in and demolishes a bunch of baddies, kisses Clarke, and says, “our fight is not over.” It’s a huge moment, and while having Lexa back for the finale doesn’t change the circumstances of her death, it does serve as an appropriate course correction. Here, Lexa gets to go out the way she should have in the first place: in a blaze of glory. She sacrifices her City Of Light self for Clarke, allowing Clarke to get through a portal that Raven creates in order to get them out of a tough spot. It’s a moment that resonates because it serves every single character. Lexa gets to “die” in a way that suits her character, Clarke gets a final goodbye, and Raven gets to save the day. That’s how you build on previous character arcs and motivations and craft a meaningful moment. That’s what The 100 does well.
While all of the chasing and fighting makes for an exciting finale, it’s the emotional and thematic depth that elevates this episode above any other this season. When Clarke finds the killswitch she’s left with a difficult decision: ALIE has essentially started melting nuclear reactors around the world, and if Clarke hits the killswitch there’s no turning that back. ALIE begs with Clarke to relieve everyone of their pain, and that’s when Clarke delivers the line of the night: “You don’t ease pain. You overcome it.” It’s a good thematic statement for this season, as “Perverse Instantiation: Part Two” starts to see some of the wounds from earlier begin to heal. There’s Bellamy finally reckoning with his alliance with Pike, a moment of self-awareness that’s about 5 episodes too late but also better late than never. There are the pained cries of Jaha, Kane, and Jasper as they emerge from their City Of Light daze and realize what they’ve done. The 100 has gone down this road before; it’s always been interested in showing how people deal with actions that are justified but violent and potentially immoral. But the repetition feels necessary here. The 100 needed to reckon with this early parts of this season in a meaningful way, and “Perverse Instantiation: Part Two” does that.
In that way, “Perverse Instantiation: Part Two” feels more like The 100 we knew in season two, where tough choices remained grounded, and never felt contrived for the sake of conflict. In fact, the finale shows a way forward for the show, proving that it still has the complexity and storytelling chops to craft an engaging narrative. The final scene of the season is a big part of that. Having Octavia kill Pike, even after Pike saved her moments earlier, is important for the show going forward. It proves that The 100 is paying attention to character motivations. For weeks now it has felt like The 100 has been trying to paint Pike as a sympathetic character, but in order for the show to retain its credibility in terms of difficult and nuanced storytelling, he had to die, and he had to be delivered to the afterlife at the hands of Octavia. “Perverse Instantiation: Part Two” isn’t about redemption. It’s about reckoning with actions taken and the idea of freewill and morel consequence. That’s more depth than we’ve seen all season, and it’s a good look for The 100.
- I will take all the gifs of Paige Turco cocking a gun please.
- I will also take gifs of Jasper walking with that ice cream cone. He looked so content!
- Anyone else have the tears flowing? Kane crying killed me, as did Jasper and Monty hugging.
- Another nice reunion: Murphy and Emori.
- “Ew” moment of the night: Abby cutting Ontario open and pumping her heart.
- That’s a wrap on reviews of season three of The 100. Thanks for sticking with me through the rockier sections and for being so passionate and respectful in the comments. You’re all awesome. May we meet again…midseason next year.