The 100 – Season 6 Episode 10

Jul 17, 2019 | Posted by in TV
The 100

“Matryoshka”

The 100 continues develop the conflict that exists between Wonkru and the Primes as desperation fully asserts itself on both sides.

Clarke and Josephine are the most obvious representation of that conflict. They are two vastly different entities fighting to share the same space. This is the same basic conflict that exists between Wonkru and the Primes though the two mirror one another as internally Josephine is the intruder where externally Wonkru are the intruders. This creates two main plots involving one side trying to rid themselves of the other. It’s more complex than that but on a basic level that is what’s happening here and the writers do a great job of piling extra depth onto the relatively simple objective. It’s neat, easy to follow and allows plenty of room for expansion.

The 100

Murphy finds understanding

In the case of Clarke and Josephine time is very rapidly running out. It’s really fascinating to see them working together to survive when it’s mutually understood that survival means that one of them will be able to live. Both are fiercely determined to be the one left standing while also recognising that the other is of use to them in the short term. It basically amounts to an extended waiting game where each are waiting for the opportune moment to strike and claim ownership of Clarke’s body.

The episode creates a palpable sense of urgency and visualises the ticking clock wonderfully by having the order that once existed within Clarke’s mind break down in very obvious ways. Josephine’s extensively curated collection of memories are piled up in the corridors as she frantically struggles to hold onto her sense of help while Clarke experiences her memories as if they are hers. It just goes to show that simple imagery can be incredibly effective and building on the visualisation of Josephine’s memories taking the form of meticulously organised books with those same volumes thrown into complete disarray gets the point across nicely. This all helps establish the shared desperation of the situation as the inner turmoil is preventing either of them of regaining consciousness in Clarke’s body. Without order in the mind the body simply can’t function so Clarke comes up with the idea of redefining that separation by removing Josephine’s memories. Naturally she’s less than enthusiastic about that idea but accepts that losing memories is better than the alternative of permanent oblivion.

This is an obvious link into the loss of self theme that has been explored in various ways throughout the season. Up until this point it has been more about Clarke’s loss of self so it’s interesting to see that flipped and have Josephine get a taste of what that’s like. She has spent centuries surviving at the expense of others but now she has to deal with memories that she holds dear being removed in order to secure her continued survival. Arguably it’s what Josephine deserves considering everything she has done though the writers have done an excellent job making her just sympathetic enough to make this loss tragic. If nothing else she values those memories and her life experiences so in many ways losing those renders her efforts to stay alive this long pointless as she has nothing to show for it. It also forces Josephine to consider what memories are most important to her which results in a brief exploration of one of Josephine’s major motivations.

The 100

Josephine remembers the good times

Clarke and Josephine visit a memory of her second body (Skylar Radzion) reconnecting with Gabriel (Donald Heng) who has just entered his second body. Their reactions to this outline the central motivations of both Gabriel and Josephine; he is clearly consumed by guilt over the life that has ended to allow him to live and Josephine is elated to have him back. The scene is endearingly romantic with a compelling twist thanks to Gabriel’s less than enthusiastic reaction about the second chance he has been given. He quickly states that they can’t do this forever only for Josephine to reply with a simple “Why not?” to show the very beginnings of the rift that now exists between them. Josephine and Clarke watching this memory from the sidelines adds a lot to this scene through Josephine letting her walls down very briefly and showing vulnerability. It anchors her telling Gabriel that she will love him forever by proving that it’s still true all these years later. I find it simplistic that love is what the writers choose to focus on as the most prominent motivation for Josephine but there’s no denying it keeps the plot moving and makes for a consistent through line for her character.

This further pays off towards the end of the episode when all of Josephine’s memories appear to be gone and she is essentially reset to factory settings. Even though she remembers very little her feelings for Gabriel are just as strong as they ever were and she becomes a very different person without the burden of many of her memories. Eliza Taylor once again excels in playing a vastly different version of Josephine, The variance in her voice as well the way she says her lines immediately shows that there is a significant difference and she exhibits clear empathy; something that Josephine so far hasn’t done. She retains just enough of what she was before to draw attention to Gabriel’s issue with Bellamy’s plan to use Josephine’s mind drive as leverage. Josephine knows that Gabriel agreeing to this plan means that at least one more innocent person has to die so that she can live and it has been made very clear that this is a line he refuses to cross. Chuku Modu plays Gabriel’s difficulty in this situation perfectly; the feelings he has for Josephine and the moral dilemma he faces are written all over his face and the subtleties to his movements bring that hesitation to life. Ultimately he decides that letting Josephine go is what he needs to do because he feels that they have had more than their share of life. It’s far from an easy decision but it shows that Gabriel can be counted on to stand up for his morals.

Josephine and Clarke’s final moments inside their shared mind act as a potential setup for Clarke’s next move upon regaining control of her body. It looks like Josephine might be the winner in this battle for dominance until Bellamy intervenes externally by keeping Clarke’s heart going. It’s a version of the standard “head vs. heart” conflict that crops up often in fiction where Josephine represents the head keeping herself alive through her intelligence and sheer force of will where Clarke’s survival has been largely due to her instinctual reactions to challenges. Bellamy keeps her heart going which allows Clarke to gain the upper hand as it represents those instincts that aren’t always rational. It’s also telling that Bellamy is fully committed to keeping Clarke alive where Gabriel as resolved to let Josephine die. It’s this support structure that allows Clarke to endure where Josephine fades away after several lifetimes of self interest. It’s unknown if Josephine will be gone after this but it definitely feels right to end the conflict between her and Clarke even if more time could and should be spent on her back story as well as her relationship with Gabriel rather than seeing brief snippets here and there. It feels unfinished somehow.

The 100

Someone should clean up in here

Bellamy’s relentless determination to not let Clarke die makes for a really tense and powerful scene. Bob Morley’s performance perfectly encapsulates the strong connection between them. Clarke hearing Bellamy’s plea for her to keep fighting just as all seems lost for her is brilliantly timed and highlights what motivates Clarke to survive. It’s great to have her back and hopefully lessons will have been learned about how unproductive revenge is and that the cycle of violence needs to be broken. Clarke could have an epiphany that mirrors Octavia and they could work together to find a better way to move forward. What better two characters to promote a new era of peace?

It’s understandable that the focus would be on Bellamy’s relationship with Clarke given that the climax of the episode rests on it but it unfortunately comes at the expense of his reunion with Octavia. There’s a small touch of Bellamy turning away when Octavia hugs him but the rest of the episode gives them very little time to takes stock of the state of their relationship at this time. It will definitely come before the end of the season but Bellamy could have shared his scenes with anyone for all the time given to the sibling reunion.

The question of revenge comes up in Sanctum as Russell has to decide what to do with the members of Wonkru that essentially betrayed them. Nightbloods can no longer be created and someone has to be punished for that according to the rules of the Primes. There’s also the issue of a perfectly good Nightblood body being wasted by Kane who blew it out an airlock so there has to be retribution for that as well. Russell is an interesting figure in all of this as he is comparable to Clarke as a leader who does what he feels is necessary while also shouldering the guilt associated with his decisions. Does remorse suddenly justify those decisions? Definitely not but there’s merit in having a character who has some form of moral grounding that runs counter to what is expected of him.

The 100

This is necessary…or is it?

Moral ambiguity is always a fun concept to play with and this show is one of the best I’ve seen at exploring moral questions that don’t have a simple answer. It is never forgotten that almost every character has blood on their hands in one way or another so nobody can occupy the moral high ground. Instead it becomes about who has a genuine desire to become better and atone for past mistakes while learning from them. Russell seems content to continue the immoral cycle that has afforded him an unnaturally long life but he also has respect for the sacrifices that are made in order for this to happen. The death of Simone was definitely a shock and Russell’s reaction to it shows that he sees value in the lives that are ended in order to preserve his people. He doesn’t grieve for Simone because she’s lost forever, he grieves for her because it’s a waste of a viable body that had many years left in it. Simone will likely come back but at the needless cost of another body.

Russell takes issue with Wonkru because they challenge the complacency that everyone in Sanctum has become comfortable with. There was no sign of dissent until outsiders came along to pass judgement on their way of life. The word “revolution” is thrown around a few times in the context of people trying to start one and the fear that such an uprising will actually come to pass. It looks like the way of life of the Primes has a shelf life to it at this point unless Abby’s bone marrow promise proves to be something other than a ploy to buy time.

Within Wonkru there are some really compelling character beats that make great use of those available. Murphy concluding that he will be the one sacrificed on behalf of Maddy is darkly funny in a way that only makes sense for Murphy. His involvement in supporting Josephine is brought to light and understood as him acting the best way he could based on available information so that suggests progress by itself. Gone are the days where grudges would be held for a long time and there’s a sense of community developing among Wonkru who are becoming united against a single antagonistic force. Raven’s short conversation with Murphy highlights this shift as she shows complete understanding for where Murphy was coming from while offering him advice on the best way to move forward. “If you want to avoid Hell, the answer’s not immortality, it’s morality” is a quietly poignant line that completely sums up the change in attitude that has to come from everyone in order to weather this crisis and come out the other end stronger.

The 100

Bellamy can’t let Clarke die…also goodbye Josephine


Verdict

An excellent episode that isn’t afraid to explore difficult moral questions, reminds the audience that there are no real “good guys” and delivers a powerful ending making great use of one of the core relationships. The Clarke/Josephine conflict comes to an apparent end in this episode and as conclusions go it’s mostly satisfying. Flipping the loss of the sense of self to show Josephine what it feels like is a nice touch and the insight into one of her treasured memories that helps reinforce her core motivation along with Gabriel’s. It’s overly simplistic to have Josephine driven by her love for Gabriel but it’s also very effective for her to do so. The visualisation of the lack of time left through Josephine’s carefully curated memories thrown into disarray is straightforward but effective. Having Josephine being reset to near enough factory settings works really well thanks to Eliza Taylor’s excellent performance as a less burdened version of Josephine who expresses empathy. Chuku Modu’s performance compliments this wonderfully along with Gabriel sticking to his principles and deciding that Josephine’s time is up. It’s a strong moment that really could have been enhanced by further exploration of their relationship but works well enough here. Bellamy refusing to give up on Clarke is an effective contrast to this and highlights their relationship in a really powerful way.

In Sanctum Russell embodies the moral ambiguity that the writers are so fond of exploring. In many ways he’s comparable to Clarke as he makes frequent life ending decisions that he sees as necessary for the preservation of his people but also feels remorse for what he feels he has to do. It doesn’t let him off the hook but it highlights that nearly everyone involved has blood on their hands in some way so the moral high ground basically doesn’t exist. The best that can be done is learning from mistakes and find a better way forward which seems to be a priority for Wonkru as shown through Murphy’s decision to accept that Clarke was gone and accept Josephine’s deal being understood. It is mutually decided that holding a grudge isn’t productive so there’s definite progress in terms of finding a better way to live. Raven’s advice to Murphy about avoiding Hell is quietly poignant and sums up the change in attitude required to come out of this crisis stronger.

Overall
  • 8.5/10
    Matryoshka - 8.5/10
8.5/10

Summary

Kneel Before…

  • Josephine experiencing a version the loss of self that she typically inflicts on her
  • the visualisation of the ticking clock shown through Josephine’s memories in a state of disarray
  • seeing Josephine’s treasured memory from different perspectives
  • Josephine returning to something resembling factory settings and showing empathy
  • Eliza Taylor and Chuku Modu’s complimentary performance highlighting the relationship history
  • Gabriel sticking to his morals and deciding that Josephine’s time has to end
  • the powerful ending where Bellamy fights tirelessly for Clarke to return
  • Russell acting as the Clarke analogue for the Primes
  • frequent reminders that almost everyone involved has blood on their hands
  • Murphy’s acceptance of Josephine’s offer being understood
  • Raven’s quietly poignant advice summing up the required change in attitude

 

Rise Against…

  • Josephine being motivated by her love of Gabriel being overly simplistic
  • the underwhelming Octavia/Bellamy reunion

 

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User Review
8.57/10 (7 votes)

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