Let’s not let the writing off the hook: Madi could have been brain dead and Clarke unaware of whether the key had been extracted, leaving Clarke to make a profoundly upsetting call (and leaving the window open for a too-late reveal that Cadogan had the key and had left) but ensuring that Madi’s death was at someone else’s hands. Indeed, many viewers likely assumed Madi was dead when they first saw her open, lifeless eyes and revised that theory to braindead when Clarke said she was breathing. But no! The 100 went for the despicable jugular, clarifying that Madi is alive and aware, compounding how grotesque Clarke’s completely unnecessary choice is as well as how bizarre these story choices.
To be clear, because in my mind I can already see showrunner Jason Rothenberg’s inevitable tweets defending this, I don’t object on the grounds that this is too upsetting. Plenty of characters make hard choices on The 100, perhaps mothers most of all. It’s the rapidity and firmness with which the characters came to a conclusion that is, in itself, ableist and actively harmful to people with disabilities, which went unchecked by the larger narrative of the show itself.
It’s also worth noting that while Leavitt was clear there’s nothing they can do with the technology on Bardo to help her recover, that single tear she cried at the end is likely a hint that she’s not down for the count. It once again feels short-sighted not to have Gabriel, the only character other than Becca or Raven who might have been able to help Madi. Even if Madi makes a miraculous full recovery or transcends or becomes a spaceship’s computing system, the damage of this episode is still done.
Over in the former killing pit, a brief philosophical conversation while everyone paced anxiously had a similarly familiar feeling. Indra and Gaia talking about faith and Jordan’s take on war as a failure of everything actually came closer to truly memorializing Bellamy than just about anything else thus far. Unfortunately, it’s hard not to shake the feeling that, like Madi telling Cadogan that the last war is actually a test, these characters grappling with these ideas should have come several episodes sooner.
There are a number of other issues of the type of general sloppiness that usually comes up toward the end of a season of The 100. Everyone on Bardo trusting constant-turncoat Levitt, the continued refusal to look out for Disciples in invisible mode, Jackson suddenly insisting on perfect conditions for surgery, as though we haven’t all been watching seven seasons of this show when he and Abby got by with a toothpick and gum up on the Ark or down on the ground.