The 100 – Season 6 Episode 12
Revolution in the air as the plan to infiltrate Sanctum begins to play out in the penultimate season 6 episode of The 100.
After a more subdued and slow paced outing last week this episode has a much more kinetic action driven focus that presents a ticking clock to be fought against and throws in an insane amount of character drama that continues character threads built up over the course of the season. Everything coming to a head at this point only reinforces how well built the different elements are as very little of it feels rushed or superfluous while adding to the tension through how everything links together.
Perhaps the most prominent continuing emotional thread that sees resolution here is the Raven and Abby relationship. Animosity is the best buzz word to describe their connection this season at least as far as Raven is concerned. She seemed unable to forgive everything Abby had done and held the fact that she was a drug addict against her. Abby’s decision to help the Primes end a life so she could get Kane back did nothing to alter Raven’s opinion of her either so there was a lot of tension in this relationship that the writers consistently made good use of. This episode manages to dig a little deeper before offering a resolution that makes sense within the existing framework. Things have changed recently in that Wonkru have come to the collective yet separate decision to be better people which means doing things like letting go of grudges or taking a less violent path. There is no better showing of this than Raven showing that she at least begins to forgive Abby and expressing understanding for what led her down the path to doing what she did. Raven admits that she was harsh and begins to see Abby’s point of view which makes for an immense step forward on her part.
Abby’s role in this interaction is to achieve some clarity on the decisions she has made and acknowledge that brining Kane back didn’t feel worth it for her despite thinking that it would. What was supposed to be the answer to her problems only brought her personal shame and she had to get to that point before she could begin to build herself up. Admitting this to Raven and herself allows her to start working towards her own personal redemption. She also tells Raven that she considers her to be family which tracks with earlier interactions even if it has never been spoken out loud before. Family is a strong recurring theme in this episode with the Abby/Raven relationship being only one example of that. It’s clear that Raven feels the same which does explain her extreme opposition to Abby earlier in the season. She became angry with her and stood in judgement of Abby’s decisions because of how much she cared about her and valued that relationship. This stance also opens up the path to forgiveness because people tend to work harder to maintain familial relationships. It’s certainly true here and their reconciliation is very moving.
Sadly there isn’t much time for Abby’s moment of clarity to be built as her body becomes the vessel for Simone which marks the end of Abby as a character. Some may argue that it’s cheap to have her resolve her relationship with Raven only to die in the same episode but it works really well without feeling rushed because of how this is handled. Her sacrifice to save Maddy by becoming a Nightblood and removing the need for Maddy to function as the additional host can easily be seen as how Abby can atone for everything she’s done. It also plays into the familial theme as she does everything within her power to protect Maddy because she is part of the family. They may not be blood relatives but Clarke’s bond with Maddy has encouraged Abby to consider her a granddaughter so her decision to sacrifice her life for Maddy’s benefit makes a lot of sense and feels appropriate given the circumstances. It also draws a clear connection between Abby and Clarke by having Abby mirror Clarke’s protective instinct when people she cares about are threatened.
The moment Clarke discovered that her mother was gone and Simone was in her place was nothing short of perfect. Eliza Taylor’s performances have been consistently excellent with her embodying two distinct characters who frequently have to pretend to each other. It can’t be an easy acting challenge but she consistently nails it. Her performance when Clarke realises that her mother is dead is great because of what Clarke’s responsibilities are in that moment. She has to make sure that everyone in the room continues to believe that she is actually Josephine as well as having to convince Simone that Josephine is in control. Simone being Josephine’s mother makes that more of a challenge and the shock of learning what happened to her mother would make it almost impossible. Clarke has to process her grief while keeping up the deception and it can all be seen on Eliza Taylor’s face as she plays Clarke struggling with all of that while knowing that the slightest slip-up will result in the failure of their plan at best and death for all present at worst.
Her difficulty maintaining the Josephine persona is shown in other ways throughout the episode. There are various examples of her coming across friends who are in some sort of danger and being unable to react in the way that would come naturally to her. Seeing Maddy in pain is a particularly difficult moment for her as shown by the anguish on her face when she knows nobody is looking. Eliza Taylor should definitely be commended for all she has accomplished in her performances this season as she has had plenty of challenging moments that she never fails to sell to the audience.
The ongoing mantra for Wonkru to “do better” is a difficult one to explore. There are examples of various characters resolving to live a more peaceful life and learn from the mistakes of the past which is all well and good but doesn’t always work on a show like this. Being non violent is a good goal to have but so much of the drama on this show is founded on violence and builds towards some form of violent outcome. This season is no different as the Primes have been established as an enemy that can’t be reasoned with due to their devout adherence to their beliefs. Each of the characters meditate on how best to honour Monty’s wish in their own way and to the writer’s credit they do constantly challenge this desire by having constant problems thrown their way that may necessitate a violent solution. This episode does simplify the Primes somewhat by leaving no doubt as to their villainous status. Russell seems more crazed than usual because he has shifted into the chief antagonist role. It’s perhaps a necessary evil as there is no easy answer to how best to question violence while actively engaging in it. The writers have actually handled this in a really clever way by having all of the Wonrku characters having at least learned something and resolving to be better people even if the journey will be a long one. Ultimately it becomes a case of progress vs. stagnation which provides an easy binary to follow. Russell and most of his people are simply looking to maintain their barbaric way of life which makes them easier to vilify. I still can’t see a way this season can be resolved in a way that has them truly live up to Monty’s wish but maybe it’s about beginning that journey rather than ending it.
Gabriel is the best embodiment of the values everyone else should strive to hold. He abandons the plan once he learns that there is an imminent naming ceremony and embarks on a one man crusade to confront Russell. He qualifies this with a simple statement that would make Mr. Spock proud “I can’t sacrifice the few to save the many.” which refers to not standing idly by waiting for an opportunity to strike when he knows people are about to die. He won’t stand for it and he refuses to make his entrance a violent one. His conversation with Russell is excellent; Chuku Modu and JR Bourne instantly have a dynamic that feels as if their characters have known one another for a long time. It also comes across as if they’ve been having the same repetitive argument for centuries with neither side willing to see the point of view of the other. Gabriel can barely live with the guilt associated with his numerous resurrections and Russell basically calls him a hypocrite for continuing to live in a body that isn’t his.
This isn’t really addressed and Gabriel has no real justification for it other than being alive allows him to oppose the regime that he chose not to accept any more. If he was to kill himself then there would arguably be nobody left who understands what the Primes do which makes his movement less equipped to oppose it. There’s also the possibility that he refused to let the previous owner of the body die for nothing so continues to live to honour that sacrifice. Either way it’s a strong point from Russell that adds some nuance to this conflict. This conversation mainly exists to reinforce how unnatural Gabriel considers the artificial continuation of life through resurrection and how it renders life meaningless since there is no end to it. It’s an interesting point and we’ve seen numerous examples of how readily the Primes don’t value the lives of others considering they know what the resurrection process entails and accept it without question.
Once thing the season hasn’t done a lot of is explore the perception of those ruled over by the Primes. Prior episodes have hinted that the Primes consider themselves Gods and have engineered it so that the common people see them that way. It’s far more explicit in this episode while also suggesting that some unrest exists within that society shown through the “False Gods” graffiti. This is another example of keeping things simple to make the plot more digestible as we have largely been encouraged to accept that the common people see the Naming Ceremony as an honour that allows them to transcend to a higher state of being that brings them closer to the Primes. Only a select few have the privilege due to being Nightbloods and the rest simply have to bask in the reflected glory. Regardless of how objectionable this way of life is there’s no denying that it functions to some degree even if there is some unrest so the revolution started by Clarke, Bellamy, Gabriel and the rest of Wonkru starts to tear this down.
The beginning of tearing this apart comes from Priya admitting to the assembled crowd that they have been lied to all this time and those chosen to be hosts for the Primes are completely erased rather than becoming one with the body’s new honour as they were previously told. Priya makes it clear that Delilah died when she was brought back and everything that Delilah lost is now gone. Naturally this provokes an uprising that Russell quickly deals with by declaring all of them non believers and infecting all of them with the toxin so that they’ll tear themselves apart. Words with obvious religious overtones such as “purify” are used to describe what he’s doing further showing how dangerously devout he is and his decision to take the Primes into space until all of this blows over serves as a chilling reminder of how little he values the lives of those he has forced to worship him. Once again this establishes Russell and the Primes as people who need to be stopped and the stand-off at the end of the episode indicating that they won’t be able to retreat to space so easily sets things up wonderfully for the finale next week. There’s still room for depth especially when Russell learns that his daughter is permanently dead so there’s plenty more opportunity for intrigue. Gabriel being in charge of Sanctum as it’s tearing itself apart could be interesting and it possibly sets up a situation where his regime is equally problematic for very different reasons.
Murphy remains a wildcard pretty much until the last minute when he makes the choice to protect his people which reveals that he had been stringing the Primes along up until this point. It’s a satisfying end to what has been teased up until this point but there were a few logistical issues. I couldn’t help but wonder if something had been cut in regards to Murphy and Emori that would clear up the confusion but there was a point where they were referred to as hosts suggesting that the procedure had been performed on them though this is quickly followed by them being themselves. It was implied that they were pretending to be Primes but Abby turning herself into Nightblood renders that act pointless as she did so to make up the numbers so such a deception would have been unnecessary. Putting that aside his decision to remain behind and the moment he let Clarke knew that he was aware she wasn’t Josephine were really strong moments with his decision feeling earned. Unfortunately Emori doesn’t fare as well and comes across as an accessory to Murphy’s story rather than being an important part of it. More focus on their relationship as motivation for the actions they both decide to take would have helped this but her lack of agency lets the whole thing down considerably. There are indications that she doesn’t see eye to eye with him but there’s no exploration of where they differ so the plot is weighed too heavily in Murphy’s direction.
An excellent episode that delivers strong payoff for some of the major emotional threads of the season, has a powerful thematic through line, gives Eliza Taylor more opportunity to show what she can do and asks big questions about sustainable ways of life. The theme of family is explored in really interesting ways through Abby who reconciles with Raven partly through an open admission that Abby considers her family. Abby admits that her decisions were wrong headed and Raven admits that she was harsh to demonise Abby. The family angle makes much of this justifiable as it’s easier to accept extremes when dealing with family so Raven sharing this sentiment offers a strong basis for her feelings and equally allows the relatively quick reconciliation to feel more natural. Abby sacrificing herself to protect Maddy draws a direct line between her and Clarke while expanding Abby’s perception of family through her acceptance of Maddy as part of hers. Her sacrifice leading to her being replaced by Simone serves as her way of atoning for her bad choices. Eliza Taylor’s performance when Clarke realises that Abby is gone is perfect as she still has to maintain the deception that she’s Josephine while processing the suddenness of this loss. Her facial expression says it all and it makes for a really powerful moment. There are other examples of Clarke hiding her true feelings with great difficulty throughout the episode but this is the strongest.
Current events prove difficult for the “do better” mission statement as the setup pretty much leaves the characters in a situation where violence is unavoidable. The writers have cleverly gotten around this to some degree by making Russell and the Primes more villainous in their approach while making it clear that practically every Wonkru character has at least learned something that makes them better people. It boils down to progress vs. stagnation which provides an easy binary for the audience to follow. I can’t see a way the season will end with them living up to Monty’s wish in a satisfying way but it might be more about taking the first step and gradually getting better. Gabriel serves as the embodiment of the values Wonkru should aspire to with his non violent approach and abandonment of the plan because he refuses to accept the loss of any more life. His conversation with Russell is excellent, coming across as two people who have known each other for a long time having a repetitive argument with neither side willing to concede any points to the other. There are things about Gabriel’s approach that aren’t properly addressed such as the morality behind continuing to live in his current stolen body. Starting to bring in the perception of the common people and how they see the Primes is long overdue and probably should have been explored far earlier than this though the moment their belief system is shattered when the lie is revealed to them is really well done and Russell’s descent into villainy continues when he decides that they should die for becoming non believers. Murphy remaining the wildcard until the last minute is definitely a good thing though there are some logistical issues with this plot and Emori serving as a supporting player rather than being an important part of it is a wasted opportunity as it has the narrative weighted too heavily in Murphy’s direction.
- Abby and Raven’s reconciliation
- Abby sacrificing herself for her self appointed family
- Eliza Taylor’s performance when Clarke discovers that her mother is dead
- Gabriel serving as the embodiment of the values Wonkru should aspire to
- the writers cleverly establishing an easy to follow binary that naturally allow the Primes to be villains
- the lie being uncovered to the common people
- Murphy’s decision to protect his people
- the difficulty in exploring the theme of trying to be non violent when situations may necessitate violence
- logistical issues in the Murphy plot
- glossing over some large questions where Gabriel is concerned
- the wasted opportunity of Emori being a supporting player for Murphy’s story rather than an important part of it
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