The 100 – Season 6 Episode 6

Jun 12, 2019 | Posted by in TV
The 100

“Memento Mori”

The 100 continues to debate the morality surrounding resurrection as Josephine works to achieve her goal of continuing to live on in different bodies.

It cannot be overstated just how good Eliza Taylor is as an actor. There are plenty of examples of this throughout the run of the show but this episode coupled with the previous one have been an excellent showcase of what she is capable of. She is playing Josephine, a completely distinct character from Clarke, playing Josephine pretending to be Clarke to varying degrees of success and -albeit briefly- Clarke as she always has been. Her performance in this episode continues to be excellent and there’s a real sense that she’s settling into the Josephine character which combines nicely with Josephine settling into being alive in a new body.

The 100

Seeing eye to eye about not seeing eye to eye

So far Josephine is a fascinating addition to the show. She’s devious, lacking in empathy and laser focused on her own personal goals while having an unparalleled lust for life that motivates her every action. Her intelligence is also clearly on display as evidenced by the way she finds her way around the language she has never heard before in the previous episode and swiftly identifying Murphy as the best candidate for corruption. This tells us that she knows how to read a situation and knows how to read people which makes her a very good infiltrator. The best thing about this example of using a familiar face to fool a group of people is that there are a range of reactions to it that don’t insult the intelligence of the characters. Bellamy and Murphy were able to figure out the truth fairly quickly and the others clearly feel that something is amiss with “Clarke”. There are so many tired examples of body switching in sci-fi shows where the other characters dismiss odd behaviour until very late on but I’m glad to see this is a more nuanced approach.

Murphy finds the idea of immortality appealing which means that he is highly inclined to work with Josephine so that he can achieve that goal. He quickly accepts that Clarke is dead and isn’t coming back so sees no point in dwelling on it. This doesn’t mean he’s unaffected by the sudden loss but he has always been a survivor and his behaviour here reflects that. Josephine is his ticket to immortality as well as his continued survival so it makes sense for him to work with her for the time being. Wonkru are vastly outnumbered in Sanctum so it’s his opinion that opposing those that live there would run counter to his continued survival. Murphy is nothing if not consistent and opportunistic.

His role in this episode is to take the viewer on a tour of the perspectives at play. Josephine and Bellamy represent both sides of the main issue with Murphy weaving in and out of them. Early on he serves as a tutor for Josephine to successfully convince people that she’s actually Clarke. Her main target is Abby who knows how to create Nightbloods; a necessary ingredient so that Josephine and her people can continue being reborn. To do this Josephine focuses on Abby’s relationship with Kane and uses that as the necessary leverage to convince her to make use of her knowledge. The main argument is that moving Kane into a new body is the only way he’ll survive and in order to do that she will have to expand the pool of Nightbloods to make this possible. It’s a really strongly written conversation as it shows Josephine using the knowledge she has gained to emotionally manipulate Abby into doing what she wants. She still doesn’t seem like Clarke but the weight of the conversation clearly confuses Abby enough to push that aside most of the time though there is a moment where she calls Josephine out for not sounding like Clarke.

The 100

Manipulation thy name is Josephine

Naturally Abby is opposed to killing people so that others can survive but Josephine lists the terrible things they’ve done in the name of survival and suggests that this is really no different and the difference here is that the people of Sanctum would volunteer to be replaced which means that nothing is being done without consent. Strangely the wider implications of what people are actually volunteering for aren’t addressed but the whole point is to beat Abby into submission with differing arguments in order to bring her around to the idea. Eventually Abby agrees to go along with it but there’s an unease to Paige Turco’s performance suggesting that she isn’t entirely convinced by the way her daughter is acting. Once again Eliza Taylor is excellent playing Josephine doing a less than convincing Clarke impression.

There are other examples of her failing to truly understand Clarke because of her inability to empathise. When she hears Madi screaming she looks to solve the problem by snapping her out of reliving the memories of the previous Commanders. Gaia tells her not to do that because it could cause permanent damage but Josephine ignores her and does it anyway before shrugging off the permanent damage threat because it didn’t happen. This should have been the clearest indication that something is amiss as Clarke would never do anything to actively endanger Madi so being so cavalier about dangerous consequences where she’s concerned. It’s an example of a strong character moment for Josephine that doesn’t entirely work in terms of the story that is playing out.

Josephine further shows herself to be a master manipulator when she convinces Simone to wipe three of the mind drives; one for Kane and two at Murphy’s request. Her argument is that it is considered a reasonable sacrifice in exchange for being able to bring everyone else back at once and not have to worry about the limited stock of Nightbloods. It’s a short scene but it shows how good Josephine is at manipulating others. The casual way the minds are wiped from the drives with no remorse after the fact is quietly shocking as it further highlights how little the Primes value the lives of those that aren’t them. Arguably they don’t really value their own lives considering how quickly this purge happened though that might just apply to Josephine and Simone may come to regret this in time.

The 100

Just like that…three dead

As Josephine is working to engineer the future just as she wants it Murphy is angling to ensure self preservation. He pretends to be a prisoner tossed in Bellamy’s cell so that he can learn Bellamy’s position on the deal they are being offered. Bellamy is fairly bloodthirsty about the whole thing as he sees the loss of Clarke as a violation. It’s hard to disagree with this point of view as Clarke was unwillingly selected as the vessel for Josephine. The red mist created as a result of the anger and grief changes his view on building an independent settlement to murdering the Primes and taking theirs. This is a reinforcement of the assertion that Wonkru are instinctively drawn to violent outbursts. It’s a point that has been made and seemingly proven consistently since the beginning of the season while also being part of the DNA of the show. The introduction of Sanctum and the Primes allows for an outsider perspective on how those from Earth chose to live and to hold them accountable for it. Once Bellamy attacks Russell it triggers the realisation that he’s playing into that and proving the point. Clarke warned him against it as did Monty but it took being pushed to the extreme in order for Bellamy to see it himself.

This marks a notable shift in approach at least where Bellamy is concerned. Instead of leaning into the cycle of violence and killing he makes a conscious decision to follow a different path and accept the deal being offered as well as the fact that Clarke is gone. It’s difficult to accept but also necessary if survival is something that they all want. The only issue with this acceptance is that it’s not entirely Bellamy’s decision as it’s pointed out to be “what Clarke would want” though it’s possible Bellamy’s stance will be fleshed out further in the coming episodes. Either way it’s a good move as Bellamy is actually taking action and making a moral decision rather than discussing it which definitely increases the pace of the storytelling while inviting further complications down the line.

As a counter to Bellamy embracing a more peaceful approach Madi is becoming more attuned to her dark side. Josephine snapping her out of reliving the memories of the Commanders had the unfortunate effect of leaving the persona of the Dark Commander lingering in her mind. Sheidheda (Dakota Daulby) works to turn Madi against Gaia and the others for reasons that are as yet unknown. Madi resists and tries to get rid of her but ends up leaning into that way of thinking after learning that Clarke is dead. She blames Gaia and banishes her as a result which could be a way to remove the temptation to cause her harm in the future because of the corrupting influence in her head. She also makes some concerning comments about learning how to kill everyone so this presents another clear antagonistic force to worry about.

The 100

Breaking the cycle of violence

Raven and Ryker’s conversations provide another angle on the resurrection situation. They have strong arguments concerning religion, the value placed on life, religion and what the true cost of immorality is. A lot of ground is covered but the arguments are clearly presented and fascinating to think about. Ryker’s comments about how he honours every single host body he has been in through devoting time to recognising them in some way shows that the voluntary sacrifice is valued in measurable ways. This doesn’t justify it on its own nor does the fact that the sacrifice is voluntary but it adds depth to it and suggests that it’s not easy for some to know that someone had to die in order for their life to continue. I suspect Ryker is an anomaly who is starting to become fed up with his own immortality. His hesitation when Raven asks if this is his final body is very telling as it shows that it has made him think about his place in this ongoing system. There are other more subtle details such as changing race and physical age with each new body suggesting that using those markers to identify people doesn’t matter though there’s currently no examples of gender changing and it looks like relationships are preserved in the new bodies. Such minutiae interests me in particular so hopefully the writers will find some way to organically address this as there’s a lot of complexity to consider.

The progression of the plot in Sanctum is contrasted by the relative stagnation of Octavia and Diyoza’s adventure. It’s not without merit as they are still a lot of fun to watch as a pairing and some information is revealed about the Children of Gabriel, namely that “the old man” is Gabriel who had an epiphany -or Moral Awakening- after his 13th resurrection and decided it was wrong to prolong life in this way so started a rebellion based on those beliefs. Diyoza wants no part of the rebellion as she identifies it as a lost cause and just wants to save her child though Xavier points out that she’s fighting for Octavia who basically acts as the poster child for lost causes at this point. As good as all of this is it’s moving very slowly though it appears to be a means to an end to delay forward momentum until the point that Diyoza, Octavia and the Children of Gabriel are best placed to oppose a Wonkru/Prime alliance.

The re-emergence of Clarke at the very end of the episode makes for an excellent cliffhanger. This was something I predicted back when Josephine was first put into Clarke’s body and I suspect it’s an unintended side effect of artificial Nightbloods. Then again it could simply be that the unwilling can come back which could mean that the previous personality isn’t actually destroyed in the process. At this point it could go either way but for now I’m interested in what will happen in terms of Clarke trying to regain control of her own body. At the moment the manifestation of her situation looks a lot like her cell on the Ark from way back in the first episode complete with the drawings on the wall. This could suggest a regression to a more innocent time for Clarke before her life was overwhelmed by complications and the burden of leadership.

The 100

Trapped inside a mental cell


Verdict

An excellent episode that continues to showcase the acting talents of Eliza Taylor, adds fascinating complexity to both Josephine and the Sanctum plot while delivering a change in approach for Bellamy. It can’t be understated but good Eliza Taylor is in the role of Josephine. She is a vastly different character to Clarke defined by her lack of empathy and devious nature. Her conversations with Abby and Simone show how practiced she is in the arts of manipulation and deception. Her lack of empathy is also clearly shown both in the way she deals with Abby and her handling of Madi’s reaction to the memories she relives. Murphy’s role in the episode is to act as the middle ground to take the viewer through both sides of the argument. This is consistent with his prior characterisation as he has always been an opportunistic survivor so it makes sense for him not to go against the grain here. His conversation with Bellamy is great for outlining this and serving as a reminder for the seemingly endless cycle of violence that doomed them before. It isn’t until Bellamy acts on this that he sees the folly with it and decides to take a different approach. This heightens the pace as action is taken rather than debating the morality which also opens itself to additional complications.

Raven’s conversation with Ryker adds further depth to the overall debate through covering religion, choice, the cost of immortality and whether the process being voluntary makes a difference. A lot is covered but it’s clear and fascinating to complicate. Background details like shifting race and age through the rebirth process as well as the fact that couples seem to stay together through the lifetimes. Madi leaning into her dark side through the influence of Sheidheda makes for an intriguing complication with a potentially weighty antagonist. Octavia and Diyoza’s contribution to the overall plot feels as if it’s stagnating by comparison to the Sanctum plot. This appears to be deliberate as the time will come where Octavia, Diyoza and the Children of Gabriel factor in significantly. There are impressive details revealed such as Gabriel having an epiphany and turning his back on the cycle of resurrection after deciding that it wasn’t right to be a part of it. This will definitely become important and the Diyoza/Octavia pairing is still endlessly watchable but it would be better if the plot moved more quickly. The cliffhanger ending where Clarke resurfaces in a representation of her cell from the first episode which suggests a return to innocence on her part in some way.

Overall
  • 8.5/10
    Memento Mori - 8.5/10
8.5/10

Summary

Kneel Before…

  • Eliza Taylor continuing to deliver an excellent performance
  • further fleshing out Josephine as being devious and lacking in empathy
  • her conversation with Abby where she uses her knowledge to manipulate her
  • Murphy acting as the viewer perspective on the main debate
  • Bellamy breaking the cycle of violence by taking action
  • Raven and Ryker’s conversation that adds depth to the resurrection debate
  • setting up Madi as a potential antagonist
  • Octavia and Diyoza continuing to amaze

 

Rise Against…

  • the Octavia and Diyoza plot not moving all that quickly
  • moments where abnormalities in the behaviour of “Clarke” should have been more directly addressed

 

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9.07/10 (7 votes)

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