When the latest season of CW’s “The 100” returned in April, fans were on the edge of their seats. Anticipation and expectation brewed at the highest bar as viewers would finally see what become of the six-year time jump and the new characters that came with it.
Season five introduced one of the most significant new characters in Madi.
Portrayed by Lola Flanery, Madi is Clarke Griffin’s [Eliza Taylor] adopted daughter. Found a few months after Praimfaya – Earth’s second apocalypse – the two had a rocky start to their relationship before easing into their familial bond.
“I definitely had an idea of Madi’s journey, but certainly not all of it,” Lola says of her knowledge going into season five. “Jason [Rothenberg] told me where Madi would be going in season five but not all of the details. I am so happy he didn’t share everything because I feel like I would have started off even more nervous if I knew.”
Audiences first see Madi as a young child trying to survive in the only spot of green on Earth following Praimfaya. After connecting with Clarke and growing up under her supervision, she thrives on the stories of Clarke’s friends. Over the course of 13 episodes, fans witness Madi meeting her heroes, declaring her independence and taking on a role she never anticipated – Commander.
Contemplating her growth over the course of the season as well as her characters’, Lola says their journeys has been similar in a way. “I think [Madi and I] have grown stronger and more confident.”
Describing her character’s arc this season, Lola says, “Ascension.”
She will become who she is meant to be.
She continues, “I get that word is an obvious choice because of the flame storyline but ultimately Madi began as this young, wild child and by the end, she was Commander [and] leading people to victory. So I feel like ascension is a pretty good description!” Lola adds, “Or awesome!! Can awesome be an arc?”
The season finale finds Madi’s “awesome” arc come to an end the same as nearly everyone else.
With years of waiting ahead of them until Earth is livable once more, the survivors of its latest destruction find themselves going into cryosleep. One of Madi’s concerns before going to sleep is if they dream.
When a fan brings up the question of whether past Commanders might be telling Madi anything in cryosleep, Lola theorizes, “Well we know that they aren’t always talking to her. I’m hoping that in cryosleep if you do dream, she is having good ones.” As for the Commanders? “I don’t know enough about cryosleep yet, but I would think everything shuts down?” she suggests.
“I’m hoping Madi, and by extension the audience, learns more about how [the flame] works,” the actress goes on to say. “Whether that’s from previous Commanders or from stuff that happens with Eligius III, who knows. I think there is still a lot left to be discovered.”
One concern some fans had over Madi taking the flame is how much influence the knowledge and presence of the previous Commanders have over Madi. An example given by fans is a scene from the finale, where Madi has changed from her earlier tune this season of “He’s a good guy!” regarding a member of Eligius IV to “Kill them all!” during the battle.. Lola maintains that there is a balance between their influence and her character’s own decisions.
Ultimately, Madi loves Clarke above all else and will do anything to make things right for her.
“It’s almost a complete 180 from her feelings. Madi had, and I think or hope still has, the feeling that there are good guys, but she definitely isn’t opposed to killing the bad ones. That’s been from day one.” Lola explains, “She shot and killed the prisoner from Eligius that was attacking Clarke and the two that were threatening Skaikru when they first landed. In that moment [during the finale], I think it was a combination of who she has always been and who she is becoming with the guidance of the Commanders.”
She reiterates, “I feel like it’s a pretty good balance of [Madi and the Commanders]. The Commanders certainly influence her and as you can see from her help from Gaia they can be called upon for help, but Madi is still Madi. She will become who she is meant to be.”
Reaching that understanding of who she is will take time for Madi and will be shown through the tough decisions she will be faced with. This past season, Lola jokes that Madi’s toughest decision was telling Murphy [Richard Harmon] that she thought he’d be funnier. “Let’s be real, Murphy is really funny!”
Moving to a more serious note, Lola goes on to say of the pressure that accompanies making those tough decisions, “I think [Madi] has handled it pretty well so far, especially for a 12-year-old. Most importantly though, she hasn’t been alone in it. If she continues to have the people around that care about her and support her, then it should go fine.”
In addition to Clarke, a major supporter of Madi has been Bellamy [Bob Morley]. He has looked out for her, given her the facts about situations before she makes decisions, and has shown he respects her. They immediately have a connection, all thanks to Clarke. Because of the stories she’s been told all her life, Madi trusts Bellamy and looks to him for reassurance and guidance even as Commander.
“I love that she still wants advice from others,” Lola gushes about her character. “She is still a child, so it makes sense that she turns to Bellamy. It also shows how much faith Madi has in what Clarke has told her about him.”
The actress expresses she’d love to see more of Madi’s relationship with him next season. “I really hope Bellamy continues to play an important role in Madi’s life. It will be interesting to see because of how strongly Madi feels about Octavia [Marie Avgeropoulos], maybe she can command them to fix all their differences!”
For now Madi is focused on fixing Bellamy’s relationship with Clarke. In an effort to get him to forgive her mother, Madi brings up the fact that Bellamy made many mistakes to protect Octavia, similar to Clarke this season. When that fails, she reveals what fans have been waiting all season for – that Clarke radioed Bellamy for 2,199 days.
[It’s huge] not just because of what it means for her as a leader but because her hero is bowing to her.
“Madi knows how important Bellamy is to Clarke. Regardless of everything that went on, she knows how much Clarke needs him. Ultimately, Madi loves Clarke above all else and will do anything to make things right for her.”
Looking to the future for the trio, both individually as leaders and as a unit, Lola has as much of an idea as fans. “I can honestly say I have no idea!” she exclaims. “There are so many unknowns coming that who knows who will remain leaders or as a unit!”
Lola does have high hopes for Madi’s relationship with Clarke going into season six. “I’m really hoping that based on the fact that they went into cryo with Clarke kissing Madi goodnight, as I imagined she did every night in Eden, that everything will be okay.” Her enthusiasm grows as she says, “I love them together, and now that Clarke has accepted the fact that Madi carries the flame, I hope they will go into the new world as a team.”
Madi isn’t too worried, according to Lola, about Jordan Jasper Green [Shannon Kook] joining that team.
Introduced in the season five finale, Jordan’s life is very much like Madi’s in that both grew up in almost total isolation save for their small families who told them stories of their friends. He was left in the care of Clarke and Bellamy, following Harper’s last wishes. “As long as Jordan understands that [Madi] is the boss, they will get along great.”
Thinking of season six, Lola takes a moment to decide which relationships with Madi she wants to see explored. “There are so many!” she exclaims at first. “I want her to hang out with Abby and also Raven. Maybe she will even get to babysit for Diyoza.”
It will be interesting for audiences to see what will become of Madi’s relationship with Octavia next year. Reflecting on season five, Lola says, “As much as Madi has changed from the girl who worshipped Skairipa, I feel like her admiration for Octavia is still there. You see that when she is talking to Clarke after hearing about The Dark Year and that she sees why Octavia did what she did.” A huge moment for Madi comes when Octavia takes the knee and bows to Madi as Commander. “[It’s huge] not just because of what it means for her as a leader but because her hero is bowing to her.”
As much as this was a big moment for Madi, it’s hard to pick a favorite of Lola’s.
“How do I even pick?” The actress starts, “That last fight scene in the gorge where Madi is leading as Commander.” Unable to choose just one favorite scene, she continues, “Also, when Madi comes out of the forest and sees Bellamy for the first time. And when Madi is about to go into cryo and Clarke kisses her ‘goodnight’.”
Fans are hoping that with such a large role Madi played in season five, it means Lola will be promoted to a series regular for season six.
“I swear I am telling the truth when I tell you as of right now I know nothing,” the actress admits. Still, her excitement for what will come next on “The 100” continues to rise.
“It’s going to be a brand new world!” she says of season six. “So excited to see what that looks like and so excited to see what the fans think!”
***ABOVE PHOTO CREDIT TO ISA BATTAGLIN