I have a confession to make: I’m still not ready to accept the reality that we are once again on hiatus. Really, I’m not handling it well (mostly, I’m just not accepting it).
Season 3 has been nothing short of an emotional roller coaster, to say the very least.
Regardless of where you may stand on how this season ranked, you can’t argue that this has been a season of absolutely heartbreaking, soul crushing, knock-out performances at every turn. Lindsey Morgan was almost unreal in every episode, and Devon Bostick brought such a hollow and painful portrayal of Jasper’s depression to the table all season. Christopher Larkin brought new depths to Monty, and Jarod Joseph and Chelsey Reist both deserve shout outs for the personalities they really got to bring to life with Miller and Harper, respectively, this season.
Richard Harmon has shown Murphy’s emotional growth and maturity so perfectly while staying true to the dark sassmaster that John Murphy has always been, and Henry Ian Cusick has brought Kane so far to the light side that I tend to forget that Kane was once…well, bad. Marie Avgeropoulos showed the darker side of Octavia with a crushing emptiness, and Michael Beach gave such dimension to Pike that in the end, you weren’t sure how to feel. Bob Morley showed Bellamy’s journey so powerfully that I feel like I could write a whole dissertation on it, and Eliza Taylor brought Clarke Griffin back to life again, a phoenix from the ashes.
The finale only amplified all those feelings.
With Nowhere Left to Run
The finale opened with Clarke using the EMP on an unconscious Abby, and then pleading for her to wake up, to be okay, crying over her saying, “I need you.” Abby opens her eyes, takes in her surroundings, and you can see the moment it all comes to her, the moment she realizes what she had done while chipped. She starts crying, only making Clarke cry more, and she repeats how sorry she is through her tears, shakily reaching out for Clarke before pulling back. She can’t even bring herself to touch her, burying her face in her hands.
I’m crying less than two minutes into the finale, as I suspect anyone else with a heart also was.
Clarke tells her it’s okay, it’s okay, it wasn’t her, she knows that–there’s nothing, in Clarke’s mind, to even forgive her mother for. It was ALIE, not Abby, and Clarke knows that.
Pike, Bellamy and Murphy barge into the room, and Bellamy, ever protective and on edge, pulls his gun up while Clarke shields her mother, shouting that it’s okay–she’s back. And just like that, they kick into gear.
Clarke lets them know her plan, their actual last hope. She plans to take the flame, with a little help from Abby and a brain-dead Ontari. Bellamy reminds her, worriedly, that the flame killed Emerson in seconds. She reminds him that Emerson wasn’t hooked up to a nightblood. Clarke wants Abby to hook them up and do a blood transfusion, and Clarke can then take the flame and get the kill code. It may be risky as hell, and Abby may not be a fan of it (doesn’t seem like anyone is, to be honest), but Octavia comes in to let them know that they better get a move on–they don’t have time to argue.
Because everyone that is chipped may be blocked off from getting up to the tower by the elevator shaft, which was blown in the explosion–but that doesn’t stop them from climbing the damn tower. (They are alarmingly fast at this, and also that shot while everyone looks down from the balcony at all the chipped minions climbing may have made me a little motion sick, but that’s beside the point.)
Clarke turns to Abby: “I have to do this.” And it’s settled. They’re out of time, out of options. This is it.
Back in Arkadia, Jasper is dragging Harper by the hair and threatening Monty and Raven through the door to let him in, or he’ll hurt her. Jasper (ALIE) lets Raven know that there’s only less than a 2% chance she’ll be able to get to the kill switch, again.
Are you really willing to let your friend die for a 2% chance?
Cue Monty sneaking up from behind and shooting Jasper in the leg, which Harper than kicks out at, and the dynamic duo ship kicks some serious ass together.
At least that’s one problem dealt with.
In Case Of Emergency
Pike, Octavia, Bryan, Miller, and Bellamy take care of greasing the balcony and blocking as many windows and entrances as they can. All that’s left is the Commander’s chambers, which will be where the fighting starts. The crew goes to block off the room and be ready to fight, aside from Bellamy, who stays by Clarke, Abby, and Murphy’s sides.
Abby quickly sets up the transfusion between Clarke and Ontari, while Clarke sits on the Commander’s throne, stubborn and determined as ever. She’s doing this, despite Abby not loving the plan–can you blame her for being worried?
But as Murphy so eloquently points out, Clarke either dies when she takes the flame or dies with everyone else when the climbers finally reach them.
While the transfusion starts and Clarke takes a shaky breath, Bellamy at least tries to get a smile out of Clarke, per usual, with his own brand of comfort and humor that is so classically them.
Hey. Try doing that hanging upside down.
Also per usual, he gets just a tiny, little smirk from her, and I am dead because these two co-leaders will stand by each other through goddamn everything, carrying the weight of the world on their shoulders, and Bellamy Blake will still throw a snarky joke in there, just to make Clarke Griffin smile.
Clarke leans forward so that Murphy can insert the flame into her neck, and Abby stays by one side of Clarke, monitoring her, while Clarke reaches out with a shaky hand for Bellamy. He grabs her hand, holds it tight, and my own heart stops. She might be stubborn as a mule, she might be determined as can be, but that doesn’t mean she’s not nervous. Blindly, she reached out a clearly shaking hand for him, and he was standing right there, ready to take it.
(I’d be lying if I said I’ve rewatched this scene less than 10 times already.) (Leave me alone.)
Murphy mutters the passphrase and the flame sinks itself into Clarke’s neck–and she immediately starts screaming in pain before passing out, slumping back into the chair. Abby frantically starts checking Clarke’s racing pulse, and Bellamy’s voice cracks when he asks Abby, “Is she okay?!”
(I’m fine, I’m okay, my heart isn’t pounding, I promise.)
Abby starts yelling at Murphy to get the flame out of her head and now, before Clarke suddenly and wakes up, eerily calm, knowing what she needs to do–she needs to take the chip and go into the City of Light herself to find the kill switch. She doesn’t know how she knows, but the flame will protect her, she’s sure.
Abby isn’t so sure, and Murphy is never really an optimist about anything, but Bellamy grabs the chip and looks to Clarke, telling her, “I believe you.”
Clarke told him the episode before that she trusted him. Bellamy’s now telling her he believes her, and he feeds her the chip, promising her that they’ll keep her safe while she’s in there. There’s nothing more to it–they trust each other more than anyone else, they believe in each other more than anyone ever did, and that’s just how it is.
Abandon All Hope, All Ye Who Enter Here
She closes her eyes, and wakes up in the City of Light fresh-faced, cleaner than we’ve seen her in two seasons, and donning her Season 1 outfit (with the exception of the blue shirt, rather than gray), her Season 1 and 2 hair, and her father’s watch. She takes in her surroundings, having no clue where she’s going, but quickly realizing (once she sees Jasper walking along and eating strawberry ice cream)–no one can see her, and that’s sure as hell a good thing, at least for now.
She spots the sacred symbol on a traffic walk signal, hears “Clarke” being whispered to her, sees the symbol again in someone’s hair–and finally decides to follow the signs.
In the Commander’s chambers, Miller and Pike realize that Bryan is burning up as the result of his gunshot wound being infected, and Miller takes him to Abby to get checked, promising to come right back. Pike turns to Octavia, who stayed behind with him, telling her that they need to work together to get through this.
Now you say that.
They won’t be trading secrets and making bracelets anytime soon.
Pike checks out the window and realizes that some climbers have already made it up, scarily fast, and there’s no more time for sitting around and waiting. He and Octavia ready themselves for the first wave of fighters, standing by the window–
And then Octavia slashes her sword across the back of Pike’s leg, looking taken aback at herself, and watches on while some of the climbers come in and attack Pike, doing nothing to stop it, stop them.
Bellamy runs into Miller and Bryan in the hallway, and immediately rushes to where they’ve left her alone with Pike. He finds her watching the climbers beat Pike, and he yells at her before shooting the attackers and helping Pike up, the three of them scrambling out of the room and barricading the door as more climbers arrive–including Emori and Kane.
While they barricade the door, Octavia’s eyes are closed and she throws her head back, looking frustrated, looking out of control (as Pike calls her), and Bellamy turns to her, going full big brother and explicitly showing his full character arc, spelling it out clear as day. Octavia needed to hear it from him, and nothing would break him quite like seeing Octavia go down the same path.
O, listen to me. I know how you feel. I let my need for revenge put me on the wrong side. I don’t want that for you.
Octavia goes to get more supplies for the barricade while Pike and Bellamy stay blocking the door, and Pike tries to tell Bellamy it wasn’t the wrong side, telling him, “It wasn’t the wrong side. If the Grounder army was still there when Lexa died, they would’ve attacked and you know it.”
And I can’t find it in me to say he’s entirely wrong. We can never know I guess, Bellamy can never know, they indeed might have.
But just as much as it might be true, it may not have been true–and they’ll never know. Regardless, it doesn’t justify any of it. Not for Bellamy. And he knows that now.
I wanted to see things like you. I needed that, to believe that they were bad and we were good. But I don’t know what I believe anymore. I just know I have to live with what I’ve done.
This is a damn character arc, and yes, I know it was a bumpy road. At the beginning of the season, I, too, was yelling at the screen, wondering what the hell Bellamy was doing–but, much like many others, once you looked at it from Bellamy’s perspective, it did make sense to him at the time.
All he himself had seen from the Grounders had been attacks, betrayals and bloodshed. Lincoln was an exception, Indra was an exception–but by and large, he’d only seen the bad. They killed, kidnapped and even attacked with biological warfare in Season 1. They betrayed them at Mount Weather at the end of Season 2, and Ice Nation betrayed them again at the beginning of Season 3. All he’d ever seen was the bad, and Pike came along at the right time, a vulnerable time for Bellamy where he needed to believe he could do something to protect his people.
He wanted revenge. He wanted control. He wanted to do right by his people.
He was wrong in how he went about it. We knew that, we saw that, and eventually, he did, too–just like we had faith he would. Because down to his core, Bellamy Blake is just protective. All he’s ever wanted was to do right by his people, and for a while, he may have been misled on the best course of action to do that.
But he’s come back around. He sees that, and now, he’s more reluctant to kill, to hurt people–he just wants to save them. (Which, really, is all he ever wanted–he just got lost along the way when figuring out how to do that.)
And he’s ready to live with what he’s done, the pain that’s there.
In the City of Light, Clarke is wandering around when she collapses, her nose bleeding, her body failing, and we see from the Polis side of things that Ontari’s heart is stopping–which means Clarke’s not getting enough nightblood, and her body is beginning to reject the flame. All the while, Raven has noticed that Clarke is in the City of Light–meaning Jasper (ALIE) realizes it, too.
Cut to City of Light Clarke, who is no longer invisible to the rest of the inhabitants. ALIE knows she’s there now, and she’s attempting to download the 2.0 version of her program, while having the inhabitants search for and attack Clarke (essentially a virus they’re trying to flush out). A weakened Clarke is being attacked, and Raven is aware that time has very much started ticking for her to find the kill switch before ALIE can update her programming.
All of which won’t matter much if Clarke doesn’t make it through this.
It’s looking bad in the City of Light, while Clarke is being beaten and ganged up on–until suddenly, Lexa (!!!!) flies into the shot, swords in hand and a war cry falling from her lips. She takes out the assailants beautifully, flawlessly, makes it look as natural as breathing–and then turns to look at Clarke with a smirk on her lips.
It was one of the most badass moments I’ve ever witnessed, looking every bit the tough warrior Heda we knew, and I loved every second of it.
She runs over to Clarke, and they both just stare at each other and take each other in for a moment before they hold each other, just for a few seconds, just so happy to see each other again. Clarke’s face nearly broke my heart.
They make a run for it as more people come for them, Lexa half carrying Clarke, telling her, “Our fight is not over.”
But Clarke’s may be soon. She collapses, Lexa holding her as she starts seizing and calling her name frantically. Back in Polis, she’s seizing, as well–and Abby makes the most badass (it’s the most appropriate word for so many of the ladies on this show always, but especially during this finale, I mean, come on) move by cutting open Ontari’s chest, opening it wide, and pumping her heart manually.
A hell of a lot cooler (way less sanitary!) than any episode of Grey’s Anatomy, without a doubt. Dr. Abby Griffin is one of the main heroes of the day, and don’t try to argue with me for a second about this. (Plus, Murphy being Jackson’s part-time replacement and hating every second of it was a nice little something for us.)
Clarke wakes up back in the City of Light, and promptly kisses Lexa, an electrically charged kiss that was just needed. We needed that. Clarke needed that.
She realizes she’s wearing her father’s watch and not only that, but it’s working–it’s counting down. They have 10 minutes to find the kill switch before ALIE finishes updating.
Where Is My Mind?
Back in Polis, the barricade won’t hold for long, and when Miller suggests going to guns, it’s Pike who pipes up with a plan that will keep them from having to kill just yet–they toss shock batons onto the flooded floor, shocking Kane, Emori and the other chipped attackers into unconsciousness, at least for the moment. It’s an advantage, albeit a small one, giving them time to take their weapons and hole up in the throne room for a while longer.
Jasper finds Clarke and Lexa in the City of Light, and Jaha and a small army aren’t far behind. Their time is up, and it’s looking desperate–but the dream team is a much bigger force, and in the nick of time, Raven presents Clarke the door she needs, posting a symbol of a Raven on it so she knows, so that she’ll trust her.
Raven Reyes might have been the damn MVP of this season, and I have a hard time accepting anyone else as an argument. She fought ALIE while ALIE was still inside her head, and she’s been fighting tooth and nail to take her down ever since her friends helped save her from ALIE’s grasp. She’s been coding like a mad woman, and while she’s struggled here and there, Raven Reyes has been knocked down more times than anyone can count and she still refuses to be left behind or counted out.
(I have a lot of Raven Reyes feelings, okay?)
As everyone charges near Clarke and Lexa, Lexa tells her to go, she’ll fend them off–and with one last “I love you” from Clarke, Lexa tells her she’ll always be with her, and then charges at them, swords swinging and crying out, strong and mighty.
It was the way Lexa deserved to go out all along.
Clarke goes through the door, and finds herself in Becca’s control room, face to face with Becca herself. She asks her if she gave her back her father’s watch–and Becca tells her that ALIE 2.0 merged with Clarke’s mind, but Clarke’s mind is in control.
She gave it to herself.
Becca presents her the kill switch, which only she (as the mind in control) can operate–but ALIE comes in to let her know just what the consequences of that choice will be.
If Clarke pulls the kill switch, she’ll be dooming everyone. In six months, the nuclear power plants that weren’t destroyed during the first apocalypse have begun to melt down, and will leave 96% of the Earth’s surface uninhabitable. Even for those born in space, the radiation will be too much.
And once again, the decision lays on Clarke’s shoulders to pull a lever and decide fates like a god, a role she never wanted.
ALIE swears she’s telling the truth and insists that the City of Light is the only way to save them all. But as Becca points out:
In the City of Light, you don’t have to bear the burden of decisions like this one, Clarke. You don’t have to live with the pain of the things that you’ve done, anymore. The lives you have taken and those you’ve lost. You will be at peace. You will live forever.
I’ve tried running away from my pain. It doesn’t work.
Meanwhile, the chipped army has broken through into the throne room, and it’s an all out battle, one where they’ve insisted not to kill, not unless absolutely necessary. They’re outnumbered and overwhelmed, and the chipped don’t feel pain–they won’t stop unless they’re knocked out, or they reach Clarke and stop this all. Kane has Bellamy down, choking him emotionlessly, Octavia is saved by Pike at the last second, is it bloody and hopeless and–
Clarke has 20 seconds to decide on the kill switch: to condemn everyone to die in six months, or to let them continue without pain, without love or memories or real emotion in the City of Light, mere codings of themselves.
We’ll figure something out. We always do.
Let me ease their pain, Clarke. We can save the human race. Together.
It snaps Clarke into gear, “You don’t ease pain. You overcome it. And we will.”
Another character arc so beautifully done, I could cry (scratch that, I most definitely did and we all know it). Last season ended with Clarke running from her pain, cutting herself off from everyone and from herself.
She told Roan, “I am no one.” She disassociated, she shut down, and she tried so hard to not feel the pain, to remove herself from everything that would make her feel it–remove herself from home. But she found her way back to them, found her way back to Bellamy and to her friends and her mother, and she found her strength and her fight, again.
Because maybe they’ll feel pain, but they’ll feel love and happiness, too. They’ll have a chance at that, too. Because it’s their decision to make–how to feel, how to live.
She pulls the lever and shuts down the City of Light, destroying ALIE. For good.
When the fight stops, when everyone freezes in their tracks and comes to, they all know its over–and here’s the part where they feel again. Kane moves off of Bellamy, downright distraught at the fact that he’d been killing him, mirroring just how Abby had reacted at the beginning of the episode when she woke up to Clarke and realized what she’d done.
Clarke looks to Murphy, thanking him, and all I want for Season 4 is much more Clurphy friendship moments, please. Clarke tells Abby to go to Kane–she’s fine. Abby approaches Kane slowly, and they just stare at each other, brokenly, before holding each other for dear life, Kane breaking down.
All around the room, people are feeling again. And it’s pain and tears–but it’s also love. Emori crying in Murphy’s arms, but safe in them anyway. Miller and Bryan hanging on each other just relieved to be alive. Back in Arkadia, Jasper is crying, telling them it’s done–and Monty promises him they’ll be happy again, and they hug for real this time, just together again, tearfully and painfully but real.
All around, it’s a lot of emotions, and that’s the whole goddamn point.
(Can we give all the kudos to Tree Adams for creating the most moving soundtrack for this show, which has been nothing short of great all season, but especially in this scene was so, so powerful.)
Bellamy goes over to Clarke and gently takes her arm, helping her off the Commander’s throne, and she tells him ALIE’s gone. He still knows her, can tell something is up, and tells her she’s not acting like someone who just saved the world.
Because we didn’t. Not yet.
Bellamy’s face falls, realization hitting him and the two of them just looked so tired, but at least they’re together for the first season finale ever. At least they’re side by side, and Clarke said “we.” It’s not her, it was never just her.
It’s them. Them being the delinquents and Abby and Kane and the whole Skaikru. Them being her and Bellamy. They always worked best that way.
In the last shot, Pike looks to Octavia, nodding, looking like they’re finally coming to some sort of peace, some understanding–before she drives her sword clean through him, killing him while she stares him in the eyes. She pulls her bloodied sword from him, lets his body fall, and walks out of the throne room with Bellamy watching her, and Clarke watching him, a collective “WTF?” moment all around.
Because just like the rest of them, Octavia is feeling, too. And she’s a Blake. She’s not good at controlling her emotions, she’s irrational and we’ve seen, ever since Lincoln’s death, a dark spiral ahead. Little moments, fleeting ones, have shown a look in her eyes that make it seem like she might even be scared of herself, of the war inside of her.
But she’s broken, right now. And if that last shot was any indication, she’s going down a dark path, one that maybe she won’t be able to get off of.