The time has come, after seven (or six, depending on how salty you are after September) seasons of The 100, to take a look back at all the highlights of the series! I am going to highlight all kinds of things, from characters to music to deaths and more, so stay tuned!
Today’s topic is one that came to me when I began my rewatch: Most Underrated Episodes. These are the episodes that maybe didn’t get a ton of fanfare and aren’t popping up on most “best of” lists. Perhaps it’s a quieter one, something more emotive than explosive, or just plain isn’t one of the episodes we think of when we list all-time favorites or game changers. Regardless, I wanted to pay homage to some of these hidden gems of the series!
(Sidenote: You may notice there are no Season 7 episodes, and that is true. But not entirely representative of how I felt about the season. As a whole, none of the episodes were magnificent, because the ball was dropped hard on the Bellamy and Clarke narratives- together, and separately. That said, I found some of the stories in S7 to be among the best of the series. Truly, I think the arcs of every other character were nearly flawless- or as close to it as I could hope for. Incidentally, there are also none from S5, but I have no explanation for that- my favorite S5 episode is the finale, so.)
It was hard to pick, and perhaps even harder to decide what exactly qualified as “underrated”. So you may disagree with a few of these (or hell, you might just not like the episode, what do I know), but here we go! Also I ended up picking 11 because decisions are hard sometimes.
It might be because I am currently watching this episode that made it impossible to choose between it and number 10 below it. But I feel like that is fair, as I was damn excited to get to it! And here is why:
- A plague! I mean, certainly pretty relevant this year, but also it was great to see the gang dealing will mass illness, as we’d seen everyone being pretty healthy aside from attacks (of Grounder and nature). Now, we see them having to deal with a new threat.
- Murphy’s back, and he seems… contrite? Helpful? Extra deceptively murdery? All of the above is the correct answer.
- The plot to blow up the bridge is smart and tense and incredibly high stakes. This is the most desperate time for the delinquents really, as they think they are for sure completely alone, no help is on the way, and the only supplies they have or will have are those in their current possession. So Finn coming up with a plan to delay the attack was really smart. And, comparing what they and the Grounders are doing to Oppenheimer… well, it’s definitely appropriate.
- There are a lot of relationship dynamics coming into play. Jasper being promoted to cool kid because he shot the Grounders in the trees, and Monty dealing with Jasper’s newly huge ego. Harper becoming a character of her own, and being turned down by Jasper (and Monty being baffled). Raven dealing with Finn risking his life to catch Clarke, but hesitating when asked who will take the bomb, and eventually knowing she deserves better. Bellamy and Octavia fighting over Lincoln. Lincoln wanting Octavia to run away with him, and Octavia battling within herself whether she can leave her people to go with him, and eventually deciding she could not.
This is the first episode where we really get to see Grounder culture outside of battle. We get a look at their everyday lives (and Kane’s brilliant interaction with them) at their markets, then see some of their beautiful customs during the summit. That they have become such a society of their own is both beautiful and in stark contrast of how Skaikru thought of them originally (and, more relevantly, for how Pike and his people see them currently).
Skaikru taking the brand of the Coalition is huge, both in terms for showing how far so many of them have come (especially Kane), but also for the fallout that will inevitably come from Pike and his group. Clarke bowing to Lexa (and then Lexa bowing to Clarke privately) also shows a huge shift in dynamic.
Kane is also making a bold statement for taking the symbol of the coalition- one he has to know will be divisive, yet he so truly believes in their peaceful coexistence that he is more than willing. Of course, as we see later, Pike will use this against him, but I thought it was beyond powerful.
Meanwhile, Echo betraying Bellamy will have consequences that last literally the entire rest of the series. It not only shows who Echo is as a character, but shows the lengths Azgeda will go to in order to gain power. Plus, it was a really tense situation for Raven and Sinclair (and I loved seeing Sinclair at the forefront of a story for once!)
This is the flashback episode that did a whole bunch of incredible things, thematically. Things like:
- Make me not completely hate Charles Pike. I mean, I am still salty, don’t misunderstand. But we see how much he cared about The 100, and how he did everything in his power to prepare them, despite the odds.
- Show some of our dead friends! We get to see some of the dearly departed The 100, which is sad but nice.
- Showing Murphy’s evolution. We see “typical” Season 1 Murphy being an ass to Harper just because. Snarking at Pike because he can. And then we see him in a cell, having really and truly survived. And he has no time for what Pike has done, yet is willing to help both him and Indra to save everyone, which to me shows such tremendous growth. We also see how important Emori is to him, considering what he is risking.
- Pike and Kane walking into Polis is jarring. Kane is completely flabbergasted, while the current state of Polis leaves Pike feeling vindicated. Meanwhile, Kane is forced onto the cross by a chipped Abby, and his strength and courage here is just… mind blowing.
- Clarke and Bellamy finally have a much-needed talk. Octavia is still in so much pain, but when Jasper finds the key to the signal fire in Lincoln’s book, she actually smiles for the first time since his death.
- Most excitingly, they wake up on Luna’s rig! Of course, Luna turns down Clarke’s ask of becoming Heda, but that’s an issue for another episode. Just seeing the Rig was incredible!
Wow, three Season 3s in a row? Well, this is the last on the list. Aside from Perverse Instantiation 2, which I don’t think is underrated, this was my favorite of the season. (And it, along with Spacewalker, are the two I most question being labeled “underrated” anyway, but go with it, yeah?) In a way, it seemed like the culmination of the entirety of the episodes that preceded it. We finally throw everything on the table, thanks to an extra-chipped Raven. She basically gave ALIE carte blanche of both mind and body, and ALIE isn’t messing around. She’s bringing up every past sin and indiscretion she can unearth from Raven’s mind.
And while the gang understands logically that this is not Raven’s doing, it still doesn’t lessen the pain. ALIE first brings Jasper to the brink with mentions of Maya, who she blithely refers to as “what’s her name” which… ouch. Then she gets Clarke to lose her mind by inferring that Clarke is the one who got Lexa killed, which Clarke obviously blames herself for (even though she did not). Bellamy thinks he’s up for the challenge, and he is… until ALIE discloses, loudly, that he is part of the group who killed Niylah’s father. And then it’s not Bellamy who’s pissed, but poor orphaned Niylah whose shop has just been infiltrated by a bunch of weirdos, which she was cool with, but not so much when she finds out that one of them killed her dad.
Meanwhile, Sinclair is desperate to get Raven back, and while Monty and Octavia are out scrounging for batteries, Monty has to make the biggest, most awful decision of his life. A chipped Hannah attacks Octavia, and it’s kill ol’ Mom or let O die at her hands. We know how this goes down, but make no mistake, this changes Monty forever. And I think it also changes Octavia, because she had been about to leave the group, feeling lost without Lincoln, but she stays. And I truly think that is because of Monty saving her.
A bottle Clarke-centric episode, but one that we all craved after Josephine had taken over her body. Plus, the glorious, glorious guest stars!
- Sara Thompson herself is always a welcome addition. The Josie snark was dialed up in this episode, and it was perfection. Josephine is just so sure she’ll come out on top, but Russell picked the wrong damn mind to try to wipe.
- Jake Griffin, in Shallow Valley! That was such a sweet touch, not only Jake, but Jake in a place where Clarke actually felt at home.
- ALIE on the Ark, being her usual cocky self. Reminding Clarke that technically, ALIE is responsible for Clarke being alive in the mindspace. And basically giving her a big ol’ “told you so”, which… Clarke never doubted you, ALIE. She just didn’t like the “options” you provided.
- Maya Vie, in Mount Weather, which was a surprising (and super appropriate) choice. Maya confronting Clarke was, I imagine, something Clarke had thought about over and over during the past few years. Maya did not blame Clarke, I truly don’t think she did. But Clarke blamed Clarke, and that was what was being shown to us here.
- Octavia in the fighting pits. Octavia, at this point, is someone with whom Clarke has quite a volatile relationship with. And I think their rocky relationship has always eaten away at Clarke a bit, because she respected Octavia, truly.
- Monty. Green. Need I say more? I have tears in my eyes typing this, frankly. Monty coming to Clarke was the hope and motivation she needed. No one else could have provided that for her. And, I loved getting to see them team up to save everyone, one last time.
I mean, we can pretend that the excellent Bellarke content is not the reason we love this episode so, but that would be a lie. But, it isn’t the only reason! Because while we have this absolutely beautiful moment with Bellamy refusing to let Clarke die, we also see the (very clear and intentional) parallel between their intended future and Gabriel and Josephine’s past.
Truly, seeing the love that Josie has for Gabriel, after centuries, makes her seem so much more human. Sure, she’s done awful things, but she isn’t only the bad. She’s a human, who has basically been alive so long she’s forgotten her humanity. Gabriel, for his part, has not. I wasn’t convinced he’d be able to do it, especially after seeing the literal centuries of love between them. But he is able to do the right thing, because he knows that they have had their chances. And it’s beautiful that he wants to give Bellamy and Clarke that chance too.
Bellamy, while all this is happening, is refusing to let Clarke go. It’s this that is arguably the most canon Bellarke moment of the show. He cannot handle the thought of losing her again. Even when logical Gabriel and Octavia gently try to dissuade him, he cannot be contained. He will not let her die. And she will not give up on him.
Back in Sanctum Proper, Earthkru is doing their damnedest to stay alive. Abby is reeling from the loss of Kane, and now, the assumed loss of Clarke. How this woman is putting one foot in front of the other I’ll never know, but she is hellbent on saving her people. Russell is devolving quickly, and when one of the parents of an oblation victim kills Simone, he decides he apparently just needs to light every damn one on fire.
But they won’t be dying today! Even though Echo’s rescue plan goes south when Ryker is the absolute shittiest shithead on the planet, Murphy saves the day by reminding everyone of that fun time that they used bone marrow to manufacture Natblidas. So, Earthkru is saving the day all over the place- both for Clarke, and you know, not being on fire.
This is where I truly feel like The 100 hit its groove. While Twilight’s Last Gleaming (1×05) built upon the message that Earth Kills (1×03) initially showed us (which was, no one was safe, and the writers were absolutely not afraid to go there), Contents Under Pressure is when I truly became unequivocally hooked. And now in rewatching, I can still see its merits.
- Tense relationship moments. Which are, let’s face it, the backbone of the show. Between Abby and Clarke finally reconnecting (on bad terms, unbeknownst to Abby), the extreme tension of the Raven-Finn-Clarke saga, to the debate about Lincoln (which we’ll dive into later) enlarging the rift between Bellamy and Octavia, things were messy basically everywhere.
- Morally gray decisions- this time, for the delinquents. When the situation with Murphy had gone down, yes, Clarke and Bellamy were forced with some rough decisions. But banishing him was, perceivably, the morally “right” decision. Torturing Lincoln? Decidedly not. Torturing him extra so Finn could live? Bananas, but also fully understandable. That is where they got the viewer- we knew, based on our own morality and the fact that we knew Lincoln wasn’t a “bad” guy, that torturing him was not right. Yet… we could totally get where The 100 were coming from, because they couldn’t let Finn die. And let the “no good choices” begin!
- So much uncertainty! Will Finn live? Will Lincoln? Will the storm make the Dropship unlivable? We know, thanks to Charlotte, that main characters can/will be killed, so Finn is certainly not safe. And throwing a storm and Grounder torture into the mix is just… chaotic, in the best way.
- This is arguably one of Isaiah Washington’s best performances. I get chills every time I see him heartbroken over Wells, frankly.
This is the episode I most couldn’t decide whether to qualify as “underrated”. If you’d asked after S3 or so, I’d say of course not. But now, after it is all over, I feel like we’re so far removed that it counts. And I think it is the episode that truly cements who Clarke becomes (S7b not withstanding, obviously). She’ll do anything to save her people. Anything. Even if she has to kill them to save them. It also gives Finn the redemption he (in my opinion) deserved.
The thing is, Finn did a horrible thing, but he owned it. That said, I don’t think he deserved what the Grounders had in store for him, either. And seeing his past with Raven, and how he has sacrificed made that all the more apparent. It also reminded us of how important he is to Raven, and how hard it will be for her to go on without Finn. Yes, Clarke will be devastated by his loss, but I also feel like some part of Clarke would never forgive him for his actions anyway. Raven, on the other hand, will be losing her whole family, and we are made very aware of that.
Ultimately though, this episode shows us two very important facts: Finn is willing to die to bring peace, which is fitting for his character, and Clarke is willing to sacrifice her own happiness to save her people. She not only saves Skaikru by killing Finn, but she saves Finn by killing Finn. She gives him a chance to say goodbye, a redemptive death, and she takes away a very painful end, but it all comes at a huge cost. This changes Clarke permanently, and its impact cannot be overstated.
In Heavy Lies the Crown, we get to see just how much the guard has changed. How fully the adults realize that the delinquents are now the leaders, but also how said delinquents are handling their responsibilities. Sure, Clarke and Bellamy had been in charge before, in various forms. But they were always fighting for their right to lead, for their voices to be heard. Now, their people are looking to them to save the day. We see each of the de facto leaders here grapple with the awful decisions that are now solely in their hands.
Clarke, for her part, has been realizing that she needs to be the one to step up and make those choices for some time now. But now, in her actions, she finally understands why her mother and Jaha had to make the awful choices they made. And seeing her come to that realization is hard. Even Jaha seems like he is loathe to tell her- because once she realizes that she is now in that position, well, there’s no unknowing that.
Bellamy is grappling with the decisions that they’ve all criticized Clarke for: who gets to be saved? Now he is the one faced with the decision. Monty and Miller want to save the water acclimator, Harper and Bryan the prisoners from Farm Station. And in a typical The 100 fashion, both choices pretty much blow.
Raven has to figure out what the adults on the Ark grappled with for years- having to keep too many people alive with too few resources. And I think Raven’s frustration is in full force here, as she refuses to admit that maybe there’s nothing more that can be done.
Basically, the whole thing is a foreshadow of the season that will be ahead of them: Impossible choices and not enough ways to save everyone.
Funny story, I complained desperately at the end of The Old Man and the Anomaly (6×08), as I thought they’d let Kane (or rather, Ian) not have a proper goodbye. And here, in one of the most powerful non-finale episodes of the series, Ian gets the most proper swan song. In addition, we see the return of Mike Beach, who I positively adore (even if I don’t quite adore Charles Pike) reprising his role to help Octavia learn how to move forward. And to round out these epic storylines, we see Bellamy and Clarke fighting like hell to get back to each other, all with a little Josephine snark as the cherry on top of this sundae of awesome.
- Class in Session. Octavia had, unbeknownst to us at the time, had a decade to contemplate her choices over the years. And, she had a decade to both build and lose family, which is a lot. And I think that she needed that time to be open to Pike’s message. To be open to even the thought of speaking to Pike. Because many years had passed since Lincoln’s death in Octavia’s timeline, but it will always be an open wound. But healing helped her be able to face it. Diyoza, Hope, and even Levitt helped, making this moment even more powerful in hindsight. She took those years of love and contemplation, and allowed herself to listen to Pike. To defeat Blodreina once and for all. And no one deserved that moment more.
- Josie & Bellamy’s Day Out. Seeing Bellamy fight to get Clarke back gave everyone hope- especially when Clarke was able to break through to save the day. Not only do we see how much Clarke means to Bellamy, we see that Josephine understands how much they mean to each other. Plus, there is a bit of levity in this plot point that brings a much needed break to a highly emotional episode.
- May We Meet Again. Look, I knew we were losing Ian. It had been all but confirmed, but it makes Marcus Kane’s death no easier. The thing that did somehow make it more palatable was that in dying, Kane was restoring humanity to his people. Reminding them of what was right and what wasn’t. Reminding them not to let their own agendas lead them down the wrong path. He has a chance to say goodbye to his loved ones, and remind them why it was so important for them to not cower, why he had to die and take the nightblood with him.
The element that these storylines bring together, what makes the episode so perfect, was the restoration of these characters’ agency. Octavia, Kane, and Clarke all took back their agency in some way in this episode, and even in the sadness and loss, there was hope.
This episode destroyed me. Then rebuilt me with so, so much hope. The strength of this episode lies in the juxtaposition between the hopeful and the hopeless, really. On one side of it, we know that it won’t end well for the majority of Skaikru. More than 300 people will meet their demise when evicted from the bunker. But, we see that how the people come to this decision will determine whether they deserve to have spots at all.
It is, in essence, the epitome of the “no good choices” mantra the show’s been handing us since the start. Because of all the terrible choices, this one has to be the most brutal in the show’s run. It isn’t a “for my people” decision anymore, because they’re all Skaikru. While Jaha wants to rise up against Octavia, Kane forces him to see reason in what can only be described as the swan song of both men’s leadership eras.
Everything that goes down in the bunker is haunting. Abby wanting to give up, David Miller offering up his spot for his son, even the ever-annoying Five Year Old Dad begging Jaha to take care of Ethan gutted me. But Grounders dragging out unconscious Skaikru folks, while Kane is forced to put his decision into play, while we see families separated forever, all with Aurora’s “Through the Eyes of a Child” eerily playing… that’ll break your heart.
And not only was that huge decision weighing on everyone at the bunker, but Clarke and Bellamy were on an adventure to save Raven from her own bad decisions. Now that Raven was free of the brain trauma and knew that she could survive, she didn’t want to die alone in the lab. But it was a precarious trip for Bellamy and Clarke, who were joined by a desperate Emori and Murphy. Speaking of loss of hope, these two were pretty much out of it. When Bellamy opened the bunker door, they saw their chances for safety slip away. Emori, as a non-aligned Grounder, would have zero chance. Murphy may have gotten a spot had the lottery continued, but not with Kane’s plan. The Lighthouse bunker was their only hope.
Also out of hope? Echo, who had been banished by Roan, and Octavia who upheld his decision. Apparently, Echo hadn’t heard of “third wheel” because she was hoping to bunk with Memori in the Lighthouse. Sounds… miserable, but sure. None of that mattered, because the Rover was attacked, Bellamy crashed, and by the time Monty and Harper arrived for rescue, there was not enough time to get Raven and get back to the bunker. And, there was virtually no chance that they would have let anyone other than Bellamy, Clarke, and Raven into the bunker anyway.
But because this episode was all about hope when all seems lost, we know that this crew won’t be fated to burn in Praimfaya. They have other plans. With mere hours left until the end of the world (again), they’re headed to space.