At the beginning of this season, as the surviving members of The 100 woke up from cryofreeze to discover that Monty and Harper had sacrificed themselves in order to find a habitable planet for their friends to live on, they were charged with one order: “do better.” All that time alone got Monty to thinking, and he realized that they, as a people, had done some truly terrible things during their time on Earth. Now, hundreds of years later, this was their chance to start again.
The themes of forgiveness, sin, redemption, and rebirth have been there all season long, if only explored meaningfully in fits and starts. Madi’s descent into Dark Commander-inspired bloodlust has shown that sometimes there’s no escaping our past. On the other hand, Octavia’s entire arc this season has been an atonement for her actions as Blodreina. There have been times throughout these episodes when the characters have done nothing but talk about redemption while not exactly following it up with any concrete action, but “Ashes To Ashes,” appropriately enough, wipes the slate clean in a way that could be promising for The 100.
I’m not sure The 100 could ever fully and realistically have its characters atone for their actions. It’s all too complicated; we can conceive of some deaths as justifiable, but then that leads to asking if any deaths are justifiable. There’s no easy answers here, and trying to untangle these moral conundrums faced by Bellamy, Octavia, Clarke, and the rest is a fruitless task for any writing room. This struggle to deal with all of that has been evident in the season’s rather haphazard attempts at “redeeming” storylines. For all the talk of Sanctum offering these people a chance to change, nothing has felt all that different. It wasn’t long before our “heroes” were once again plotting murder against a group of people who also wanted them dead.
“Ashes To Ashes” offers up some hope that not only can this season perhaps forgo bloodshed in the name of character development, but also hit the reset button on the likes of Clarke, Octavia, and Bellamy. The 100 has been stuck in neutral for awhile, going over the same thematic talking points for a few seasons now. The events of “Ashes To Ashes” might just lead to everyone finally leaving a chunk of the past behind, and ideally that would open up new storytelling opportunities.
Sure, “Ashes To Ashes” has to take some liberty with true consequential storytelling along the way. When it becomes clear that every single plan is going to work out, and Echo is freed and Clarke walks back into Sanctum as “Josephine” in order to deactivate the radiation wall, it all feels a little too tidy, as if everyone is suddenly working together again and old traumas have been forgotten. But at some point The 100 was going to have to do that. It was going to have to let these characters off the hook and get on with some new stories.
There are certainly some concerns about how this season could play out, especially with regards to violence and Monty’s call to “do better,” but “Ashes To Ashes” does a good job of laying out the path that leads to some sort of redemption. Consider Octavia, who’s reunited with Bellamy—not exactly happy to see her, it should be said. As they forage for Red Sun toxin to be used in a bomb against the people of Sanctum (Bellamy’s plan, which is changed to one that won’t kill any innocent people by Clarke), Octavia tries to win her brother back. She feels hopeless, like nothing she can do or say will change his feelings, and he doesn’t know what to say to her pleas for some sort of reconnection. The scene ends not with resolution, but a slight compromise. “I want you to say I’m your sister,” says Octavia. “You’re my sister...but you’re not my responsibility anymore,” says Bellamy. The past can’t be changed, but it can be acknowledged, and Octavia knows this is all a work in progress.
That kind of thinking, of needing to take small steps towards doing better, permeates the episode. From Clarke’s plan to fake a Red Sun event rather than induce hysteria, to Gaia telling Miller that “mistakes are forgivable...not learning from them isn’t,” the episode finds ways to give these characters a fresh moral start without completely writing off their past deeds. It feels good to be getting to the point of this season where previous seasons can truly be put in the past, and the stakes can shift to the now. With two episodes to go, there’s just enough time to wrap things up in a way that finally sees The 100 morph into something new. Or, as Gaia and Miller might say, it’s time for The 100 to “transcend.”
- “The Queen of Cannibals” has to be the name of a metal band.
- All the Gabriel/Xavier/Josephine stuff is pretty convoluted. I don’t think it’s a complicated story by any means, but the show is just so clumsy about revealing all the details of Gabriel and Josephine’s relationship, and how the Children of Gabriel came to be.
- I genuinely don’t know what fate awaits Madi.
- Damn, Echo is truly ruthless. No redemption for Ryker.