The 100 – Season 7 Episode 6
The 100 catches up with Clarke’s group on the ice planet as Diyoza’s whereabouts become known and the situation in Sanctum continues to deteriorate.
At last we learn what happened to Diyoza and, to begin with, it’s more or less the same thing that happened to Octavia. Those in Bardo tried to forcibly extract her memories but Diyoza kept them out of her mind by using pain to her own advantage meaning that nothing useful was learned from probing her mind. Diyoza’s determination is a combination of her skills and training as a soldier as well as her role as a mother. Every action she takes is now in service of protecting Hope as her daughter has become her number one priority. It’s interesting to see a mix of the classic more savage Diyoza and the newly minted serene mother figure that she became when living a simpler life on Penance. It’s a sly commentary on how people can change under particular circumstances but the person they were can never be truly suppressed.
The cold open showing Diyoza’s experiences ending with her meeting up with Echo, Gabriel and Hope was really well done however brief. It gets the point across and puts her in a position where the overall plot can move forward but it’s unfortunately lacking in the texture of her time on Bardo. Telling her story by way of a montage gives us an idea of what she experienced and how it made her feel but it was over very quickly which prevented the episode from really digging into her character. Octavia’s similar experience in the previous episode was rich and detailed which makes this more shallow depiction weaker by comparison.
It’s very convenient -and perhaps necessary- that Diyoza would so easily find Echo, Gabriel and Hope. It’s necessary to let the plot move onto the next things so that the Bardo section of the plot can take the required step forward that places those characters in a position that leads to all of the characters reuniting at some later point. The general structure suggests that things are heading in that direction which is fine because it’s inevitable that the different storylines will converge at some point but so much of this is coming at the expense of characterisation. It’s odd because so much of the character work is well done which makes it more apparent when shortcuts are taken that leave some characters poorly served. Perhaps condensing all of this plot into a a single season is simply too tall an order for the writers as there simply isn’t enough time to give everything the coverage it deserves. It could be that what we’re seeing here is two or three seasons worth of plot crammed into one.
Two out of the three settings in this episode are more plot driven than character driven. In Bardo all that really happens is a brief montage that shows what Diyoza has been up to before she meets up with Echo, Gabriel and Hope then they receive some information that helps them plan their next move before being captured. Diyoza’s lack of real reaction to encountering her grown up daughter after last seeing her as a child made sense given the urgency of the situation. She did a brief double take before refocussing on the task at hand. I suspect them being captured is to create an excuse for them both to process this reunion and relate to one another in the new normal. An extended conversation about how much of Hope’s life Diyoza has missed and how little time has passed for her while years passed for her daughter could be interesting because there’s a lot for both characters to wrap their head around so taking some time to explore that is essential.
Gabriel’s betrayal of Echo, Hope and Diyoza after Echo needlessly killed an old man for reasons she is surely unable to justify makes sense given that his role as the moral compass of that group has been highlighted on a few occasions. Echo’s actions in this episode amounted to the last straw as far as Gabriel is concerned. He doesn’t want to keep heading down this violent road so he stuns them and surrenders himself to the Disciples who knock him out as well. This may end up being a decision that he regrets but in the moment it made sense because he is part of a group that is descending too far down a dark path for his liking. Echo’s behaviour and decisions still make no sense with no attempt to properly justify it.
Levitt’s appearance as a janitor is perhaps too obvious a callback to Bellamy doing the same thing to protect Octavia back on the Ark but it did allow for another strong interaction between the two characters. His admiration for Octavia stops just short of unsettling and still manages to be endearing especially after the time was taken to set up his admiration of her coming from the fact that he spent so long experiencing her memories and developing his own conclusions on the necessity of the choices he made. He has a genuine desire to help her and I really like the connection they are developing. I’m not sure if it’ll head down the romantic route though it would make more sense to me if it didn’t but Octavia having a friend not connected to her old life who can encourage and support her might be exactly what she needs to become the better person that she clearly wants to be.
Clarke, Jordan, Niylah, Miller and Raven find themselves on Nakara; a planet that is used to store dead bodies. As with the Bardo part of the episode this is more plot driven than character driven though there are some things that stand out. Miller finding the Second Dawn emblem all but confirms that there is an anomaly stone somewhere on Earth which suggests that at some point in the coming episodes some characters may head back there for reasons that are as yet unknown. This is supported by Madi drawing an anomaly stone without knowing what it actually is so there is definitely something about Earth that is going to come into play at some point. For the moment the Second Dawn discovery is left as a reveal and an open question that will be answered in the future.
The Nakara parts of the episode attempt to go down the horror route with a cramped dark cave, mysterious creatures that strike in the darkness and a general sense of foreboding that comes with the isolation, uncertainty and general terror of the situation. It works well enough though feels at odds with the other two plots. The claustrophobic mood and atmosphere is built well and works in a given scene but cutting to the clinical hallways of Bardo with a more frenetic pace or the open spaces of Sanctum with a more measured pace doesn’t compliment the horror and renders it less effective. There are essentially three episodes condensed into one here and it means that it’s more difficult to maintain the fear factor without maintaining the tension for the audience.
I did like the idea of the cave being a living creature that was essentially looking to digest them as it was appropriately creepy and a different challenge for the characters than anything they have ever faced before. It felt somewhat predictable as a reveal and it took too long to articulate the information but it was a good source of tension and added to the notion of the world they were on being truly alien. The actors did a good job of playing their characters reacting to this entirely new life form that they have encountered. This plot deserved its own episode to really immerse the viewer in the tension but what was on display was well done regardless of how much it contrasts with the other plots.
The most meaningful piece of characterisation within this section involved Raven and Clarke. It follows on from Raven’s guilt over the decision she made that ended the lives of the people tasked with fixing the reactor. I’ve said all I’m going to say on the contrivances of the situation to set that up but the emotional consequences of it are really well done. Raven directly asks Clarke how she holds herself together under the strain of having to make such difficult decisions that result in loss of life. Clarke points out that she doesn’t always cope with it and reinforces her belief that Raven is a good person. Considering the tension that has existed between these characters over the years it’s great to see their relationship continue to evolve and change as they experience different things. Raven has had a taste of life or death decision making after being judgemental of Clarke’s approach in the past and has now realised how difficult it is to weigh up lives as a commodity in order to solve a particular situation. This new understanding got a long way towards helping them find common ground and the actors do an excellent job conveying this. The fact that this conversation happens when both fear imminent death gives it something of a “final confession” vibe that isn’t needed but it is a decent excuse for them to be open with their feelings.
Thanks to Sheidheda, the situation on Sanctum continues to deteriorate. He remains positioned in the perfect situation for him as nobody dares kill him since doing so would unquestionably spark some sort of revolt. Leaving him alive carries the same risk but it’s far less immanent so at the moment it’s the best available option. Nelson takes it upon himself to try killing Russell because he rejected the teachings of the Primes to follow Gabriel and feels that it’s too dangerous to leave him alive. This prompts Sheidheda to reveal that Russell’s body is under new management and he sets about manipulating Nelson into being one of his followers. He makes maniacal statements about gaining power and offers to teach Nelson what he needs to do in order to acquire it. Framing this discussion over the beginnings of a game of chess is an effective symbolic link to what Sheidheda is doing; he is playing a strategic game with Sanctum that is aided by the general lack of awareness of who he really is. He stops short of telling Nelson and makes a distinct effort to say what he needs to hear in order to agree to follow him. It’s all carefully plotted and brilliantly done. JR Bourne once again excels in his performance.
Indra is still in charge of the overall situation and isn’t sure what to do in order to resolve it. One idea she tries to progress is bringing Madi back into the fold as a Commander so that she can unite Wonkru. She does this regrettably but doesn’t see any other way to deal with what is going on and feels that it’s bigger than what either of them might want out of life. She isn’t wrong but it’s also a very narrow view of the situation as she fails to consider any other possible solutions. It’s easy to understand why Indra would have tunnel vision about this because she has spent her entire life following a Commander so feels that her people can only be united by one. jackson, Murphy and Emori provide alternate perspectives for Indra to consider with the simple statement that Wonkru need a leader and they already have one in Indra whether she realises it or not.
Indra’s speech to Wonkru after proving her physical prowess when Knight (Xavier de Guzman) attacks her is brilliantly delivered and solidifies her as the best person for the job of leading her people. There is still the lingering issue of them not knowing about Sheidheda and it’s hard to see what the reaction will be when they inevitably learn but the fact that Indra takes charge while having her leadership accepted by the people, at least for now is a strong step forward that unites one of the factions therefore reducing the ongoing tension significantly.
There are still signs of the tension such as the lingering mystery of the stolen weapons that needs to be answered. Approaching Nikki to ask about it serves as a reminder of the hatred she has for Raven for condemning her husband to death and her desire for revenge that won’t be going away anytime soon. Her awareness of Murphy’s blood alteration only intensifies her desire for vengeance because she knows that the men were sent into the reactor to die. Keeping this bubbling under the surface adds to the overall scope of Sanctum and the complexity of the various factions at play. There’s room for personal vendettas to feed into the broader situation adding to the melting pot of motivations.
Despite that there is room for some positive steps forward. Jeremiah (Adam Lolacher) is very thankful to Murphy for saving his son’s life which prompts Murphy to have a genuine heartfelt Human interaction that makes for a strong step forward for him. He has spent so long having difficulty relating to other people but there’s a sense that he might be finding purpose to some degree. Having him stand between Madi and Indra in support of Madi supports this as it seems he has an affinity for protecting children perhaps because they represent the innocence that he has long since lost. It would makes sense for him to be motivated to ensure that doesn’t happen to anyone else after he lost that within himself.
Another source of hope and positivity is with Madi herself who is briefly seen around kids her own age who simply want to play games with her. The suggestion is that the children are the future where the cycles of violence will continue through the adults. If they are incapable of finding a better way forward then the inheritors of a new and better world could be Madi and the other kids her age who could somehow be isolated from the mistakes made by their parents. Ultimately they will remain influenced by them but Madi has shown a clear desire to be removed from it which is certainly a hopeful step. Of course there is doubt cast on that by her drawing an anomaly stone which suggests she has somehow retained the memories of the Commanders despite no longer keeping the Flame which could result in complications when it comes to living an innocent life as a child.
A good episode that delivers a well executed horror experience in one of the plots while moving things forwards in the others. The three settings that the episode focuses on are more plot driven than character driven which lets them down some though there are strong moments within them. A montage detailing where Diyoza has been before this point works well enough but is lacking in detail which means that there isn’t enough insight into what her character experiences. This directly contrasts spending so much time showing what Octavia went through as a way to develop her character. Meeting up with Hope, Echo and Gabriel is somewhat convenient but it does get things moving and Gabriel’s decision to betray them after Echo once again crosses the line makes sense given the development of him as the conscience of that particular group. It may end up being a decision he regrets but his discomfort has been cumulative so it’s easy to see why he would be concerned. Hopefully this is to facilitate a meaningful interaction between Hope and Diyoza as they each process what it means for them to be reunited in this way. The Nakara scenes are also very plot driven though they do create an effective horror atmosphere that works really well when on screen. Unfortunately cutting to the other plots lifts the viewer out of the experience and dulls it somewhat but it’s otherwise very strong and the actors do a good job conveying the way their characters react to encountering a vastly different life form. The interaction between Clarke and Raven further develops their changing relationship thanks to Raven’s altered perspective and is a really strong moment between them.
The Sanctum plot has the most effective characterisation. Sheidheda manipulating Nelson adds an extra source of tension that shows how in control of the situation Sheidheda is and how ideally positioned he is to create further problems. Using the game of chess as a symbol of what Sheidheda is doing is really effective and JR Bourne continues to do an excellent job in that role. Indra trying to get Maddy to resume her role of Commander because she thinks it’s what her people want is very much a tunnel vision approach on her part that makes perfect sense for her. Murphy, Jackson and Emori providing their perspective and highlighting that the people need her leadership is brilliantly handled and leads to a strong speech from Indra that solves some of the problem temporarily. There is still some tension as evidence by Nikki being driven to get her revenge on Raven and knowing that Murphy had blood alteration. Murphy is used really well as a defender of the innocent through Jeremiah’s reaction to the part he played in saving his son and the way he rushes to Madi’s defence so that she can continue living like a child. He has a genuine Human moment with Jeremiah that shows how far he has progressed and suggests he may be on his way to finding purpose. Another source of hope is Madi having the chance to live as a child and being around those her own age suggesting that the better way forward might have more to do with the children creating a better world than their parents left them. There are potential complications with the suggestion that Madi retains the memories of the Commanders that may get in the way of her desire for an innocent life.
- a well built horror atmosphere in the Nakara plot
- Raven and Clarke’s excellent interaction
- Sheidheda expertly manipulating Nelson and the general situation
- Indra’s failure to see another solution and needing further input
- formalising Indra’s leadership position
- Murphy as a defender of the innocent
- the suggestion that Madi and the other children are the hope for the future
- the horror atmosphere being diminished by cutting to the very different other plots
- two out of three of the settings being more plot driven than character driven
- a lack of insight into Diyoza’s experience due to moving through it too quickly
- Echo’s behaviour still making very little sense
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