The 100 – Season 6 Episode 7
The 100 takes a trip inside Clarke’s mind and has her battle against Josephine for dominance of her own body.
An episode like this was inevitable from the moment Josephine woke up in Clarke’s body. It’s common for science fiction shows to have an episode that takes place within the mind of a character. If done right these sorts of stories can be fascinating insights into the inner workings of a particular character while also providing ample opportunity for some really trippy visuals outside the normal style of the show.
There has been a lot of talk this season about what Clarke represents to different people. Some hate her and some have forgiven her but most people have their issues with the way she does things. It could be said that she is never held properly accountable for her actions and that’s definitely a valid argument though it’s clear that this is deliberate as a lot of drama is mined from the fact that she’s still in a leadership position despite everything she has done. Part of the reason Octavia isn’t around at the moment is because she fundamentally disagrees with Clarke’s way of doing things. Raven can’t even stand being in the same room as her so the treatment of Clarke in the broader context of the show is very deliberate and is definitely heading somewhere.
Little attention has been given to how Clarke sees herself and how she feels about the decisions she’s made so an episode like this is welcomed as it addresses this head on with no way to escape from this. It starts off as a battle for dominance and an explanation as to why this is possible. The explanation itself is fairly mechanical but it draws on the rich history of the show and makes use of details that are fairly unique to Clarke. Bringing back A.L.I.E. to explain that the chips installed in Raven and Clarke have a fail-safe memory bank meaning that Clarke’s consciousness is copied and moved rather than destroyed was a nice touch. It shows that at least some good came from the A.L.I.E. situation as it allows Clarke to have that second chance.
The early scene inside the representation of her cell on the Ark where she looks over the drawings representing her memories is excellent. Eliza Taylor does so much without words with notable small touches such as putting her hand on the drawing of Lexa’s face. It’s such a subtle yet profoundly touching detail that says everything about how much Lexa means to her and how deeply affected by that loss Clarke is. Her brief conversation with a mental projection of her father is also really well done as it begins the process of Clarke accepting that her journey might be over. She seems almost content with coming to the end and makes reference to “fighting for so long” in a really weary tone suggesting that she’s tired of the constant struggle that her life has become though she also regrets never being able to say goodbye to Madi, her mother or anyone else that she cares about. Shortly after this comes the realisation that she is actually still alive and the mental projection reacts to her. The projection of her father acts as something of an early guide for her into how all of this works to set her off on the path while allowing her some form of closure on that relationship. He helps her realise that even though she’s tired of fighting the fight is far from over and she still has things to do.
It doesn’t take long for Clarke to meet her adversary; the Sara Thompson version of Josephine who looks to defeat Clarke and take full control of her body. Sara Thompson’s performance is very reminiscent of how Eliza Taylor played Josephine which makes the whole thing feel completely consistent. Even though Josephine isn’t being played by Eliza Taylor it’s still clear that it’s the same person that has been the focus of the last two episodes. It also further highlights just how well Eliza Taylor plays Josephine as Sarah Thompson even moves in the same way she does when playing Josephine so it’s clear that they are entirely different people.
The dynamic created between Josephine and Clarke is immensely entertaining. Josephine is relentless and uncompromising in trying to find a way to kill Clarke once an for all. She has a lot of experience navigating the mindspace which puts Clarke at a distinct disadvantage as Josephine knows exactly what she needs to find in order to ensure victory. This is represented by a single memory that Clarke has to keep hidden from her in order to keep herself in the fight but Josephine has no doubt that she will eventually find what she needs and win. This is backed up by numerous examples of her knowing what she’s doing so the arrogance isn’t unjustified.
This puts Clarke on the back foot for the majority of the episode. She’s in unfamiliar territory facing an adversary she doesn’t know or understand and may have to accept that it’s only a matter of time before her life comes to an end. There is also a ticking clock as the two minds can’t exist in one brain for very long without the body dying under the strain so there’s no way for both consciousnesses to survive this though it’s possible Josephine could be moved to a new body even if that isn’t what she wants.
Josephine ends up being the perfect catalyst for Clarke to reflect on the decisions she has made and consider whether they were right or not. A projection of Octavia calls her out on her tendency to let others make sacrifices for her. Octavia fighting in the Conclave is the specific example along with Bellamy being left to die in the Pits. Clarke still sees at least the latter as a necessary decision and qualifies it by stating that Bellamy has forgiven her but her projection of Octavia points out that there is no projection of Bellamy which suggests that deep down Clarke is uncertain about that forgiveness being genuine. The Octavia projection cuts Clarke deep as she has to accept that on some level she believes what is being said and isn’t as secure in her decision making as she tells herself she is. Josephine pointing out that Clarke’s projections hate her reinforces the self loathing that has been growing within Clarke for a while now.
This self loathing ends up being the underlying theme as far as Clarke is concerned. She is constantly aware that decisions she makes hurt people and sometimes make situations worse but she’s unable to break the unrelenting cycle of death and misery that seems to follow her wherever she goes. Other often judge her for what she has done but we haven’t really seen her judge herself. Having her own subconscious conjure up versions of people she knows who then directly challenge her about her past is excellent because it forces her to consider her history rather than brush it aside before moving onto the next thing. This could be what she needs to become a better version of herself as she now has the opportunity to learn from those mistakes. The projection of Maya offers additional insight into how she has compartmentalised the loss of life over the years. She tries to apologise for what happened to Maya but the projection makes the connection between her death and Jasper being driven insane. A cutting remark is made about others paying the price for what she does followed up by Clarke having killed more than she has saved. It directly addresses the consequences of the choices Clarke has made and that she has been trying not to think about them.
The manifestation of Clarke’s guilt being the shrine in the woods is particularly effective. It contains snippets of everything she has tried to bury such as the knife she used to kill Finn along with the pole he was tied to, Jasper’s goggles, her father’s video message and Lexa’s throne. This is a single location that signifies all the loss that Clarke pushes aside and refuses to properly deal with. It’s a classic coping mechanism as many people suppress grief and pain in order to keep going so that’s basically what Clarke does. This is definitely not healthy as this episode looks to point out but it has also kept Clarke alive at great cost as it turns out. In this location Josephine suggests that Clarke sacrificing herself might be the solution to keep her people safe. Josephine offers safety for her people in exchange for giving up and letting Josephine live. Clarke does seriously consider it and briefly accepts that it might be the only way. To her credit Josephine’s offer seems sincere and Clarke’s reaction to it follows on from the suggestion that she’s fed up of fighting so looking for a way to put an end to that makes sense. It’s also a good move from Josephine as it shows her ability to read people; in this case she plays on Clarke’s desire to be a martyr.
The appearance of a manifestation of Monty is where things change massively for Clarke. Immediately prior to his appearance she is waiting for the end and indulging in some peaceful drawing. She seems content and ready for whatever comes next. Once her mind conjures up a version of Monty she is encouraged not to give up because she is reminded that his sacrifice is what drives her to carry on. There has been a lot of mention of doing better and starting fresh on this new world but it looks like Clarke had almost forgotten that for a brief time. He rolls his eyes at her assertion that she’s doing it for the others. Clarke is reminded that Madi needs her and someone needs to stop what the Primes are doing. This pep talk is all she needs to spring back into action and find a way to keep fighting.
Once they enter Josephine’s mindspace there is an opportunity to deliver greater insight into who she is and what has shaped her across her very long life. We see the point where her friend killed her which presumably is the catalyst for her being less trusting of others while further reinforcing her ideology of superiority and concern over the possibility of her resurrections coming to an end. This reinforces how casually sadistic Josephine is and how her baseline motivations are inherently selfish. There’s also a great deal of fear encouraging her to take certain actions along with a suggestion that she is extreme even by Prime standards.
Other background details further prove that the Primes have to be stopped such as sacrificing unworthy babies to the woods. The fact that this barbaric act is seen as normal adds to the questionable ethics of the Primes while further setting Josephine up as a horrible person within that framework. She sees non Nightbloods as less than useless which is ultimately a fairly grim way looking at others and their personal worth. Josephine’s arrogance is dangerous and deserves to be stopped based on her being willing to kill for her beliefs. Showing the foundation of this thought process going back to before leaving Earth when she is called out on her arrogance before the one pointing it out kills himself is very formative. She is shown to be stuck up and full of her own self importance very quickly. It’s almost as if she’s hiding from admitting that about herself while also continuing to behave that way. This ended up being the reason for her leaving Earth so she has been running from that fact for centuries and has never faced up to it. As good as this is it does feel a little rushed as it is crammed into a few minutes at the end of the episode. Using this memory to tap out a morse code message on the arm of Clarke’s body to let Bellamy know she’s still alive is genius and pairing it with the imagery of flickering Christmas lights is a really nice touch. It’s also good to see snippets of Earth before Josephine left it and how it is heading towards that point of no return. It adds into the theme of past mistakes not being repeated through providing an example of what those mistakes could cause.
Josephine’s presence keeps this episode from being relentlessly bleak. It would have been so easy for this introspective look at Clarke Griffin to exceedingly morbid but there’s a sharp comedic edge to it thanks to Josephine. Sara Thompson is really charismatic, witty and casual about the way she plays Josephine which adds an effective counterbalance to the emotional intensity. Clarke is clearly traumatised by being forced to relive her worst mistakes and Josephine is almost laughing about it as she works to take Clarke’s very identity. It’s darkly funny and helps maintain the overall pace of the episode as there is always the casually threatening other voice waiting in the wings.
An incredible episode that offers fascinating introspection for Clarke as well as deeper insight into Josephine while establishing a really compelling antagonistic relationship. Sara Thompson’s performance further highlights how well Eliza Taylor plays that role as it is clear that she is playing the same person while being completely distinct from Clarke who is around to offer that comparison. The dynamic created between Josephine and Clarke works really well and the journey Clarke undergoes is fascinating to watch unfold. Highlighting her self loathing and how she hides from the mistakes that she has made is interesting and the projection of Octavia harshly judging her for her mistakes says a lot about how she really feels about the decisions she has made. This continues until Josephine finds the memory that allows her to own Clarke and she manages to briefly convince her to give up.
This changes when a projection of Monty appears to her and reminds her of everything that was promised when it came to living in the new world. Ultimately that projection is what she needed to acknowledge that the Primes have to be stopped and stepping into Josephine’s memories provides ample evidence that she is not a good person. She’s arrogant, lacking in empathy and refuses to acknowledge that about herself as evidenced by her running away from Earth when she is directly confronted by it. Josephine’s presence keeps the episode from being relentlessly bleak as the dark comedy helps keep the momentum going. She’s an engaging presence and I look forward to seeing how this continues to play out.
- Eliza Taylor’s performance
- Sara Thompson’s performance
- an introspective look at Clarke and her choices
- using projections to deliver insight into Clarke’s subconscious
- Clarke appearing to give up and being reminded of why she fights by a projection of Monty
- the dynamic between Josephine and Clarke
- delivering insight into Josephine’s motivations and thought process
- the Christmas tree light imagery
- Josephine’s memories feeling comparatively rushed
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