The 100 – Season 6 Episode 4
“The Face Behind the Glass”
The 100 features a celebration and continues to develop the culture that has evolved on Sanctum while introducing various complications.
There is literally a lot of ground to cover in this new season of The 100. Sanctum is a whole new world of possibilities, mysteries and compelling characters that the writers can sink their teeth into. Last week moved things forward by having some of Wonkru allowed to live with the Primes in an effort to break the cycle of violence and live a more peaceful existence. This episode centres around a celebration that doubles as Delilah’s naming ceremony -where she takes on a Prime name- and a welcome party for the new arrivals.
For the most part things seem really jovial with no threats to anyone. Yes there’s awkwardness but on the whole everyone is fairly welcoming and the members of Wonkru are able to observe the situation and find a way to blend in with the customs they are unfamiliar with. It’s refreshing to have an opportunity for Clarke to lighten up and take some enjoyment out of life for a change and spending at least some time exploring a less bleak tone definitely feels like a respite from the onslaught of darkness viewers can normally expect. Not that the darkness is bad but it’s good to change things up once and a while.
Some members of Wonkru acclimate very well such as Jordan who wastes no time in shacking up with Delilah on the eve of Naming Day. They appear to be a good fit as they are young and clearly enjoy each other’s company. Jordan opens up to her about his experiences growing up not knowing anyone besides his parents and seeing everyone else inside their cryo tubes. The title comes from this idea and he talks about going into cryo himself because he wanted to live his life and have the opportunity to meet new people. He mentions that his parents were supportive of his decision because they understood how sheltered his upbringing had been and that he would desire to interact with others. Jordan feels guilty having done that because he sees himself as the unattainable person his parents could no longer interact with, he was gone but not really gone and now that things are quieter he has the chance to reflect on that. Delilah simply encourages him to take happiness while he can which seems to go over well.
Even though there has been no time spent establishing the connection between Delilah and Jordan the actors do an excellent job selling it. They seem comfortable around each other and there’s clearly a loneliness in each of them that is answered by the other. It works on a narrative level to some degree as it makes sense for Jordan to become smitten with the first woman who shows him interest especially with everyone on the ship coming with baggage that he has been made aware of. Not to mention that they all see him as the child of their friends so it puts up a barrier to socialising
It would be fairly easy to miss the fact that Delilah is constantly tense throughout the episode until it’s revealed why. There are hints at something deeper going on but the audience is encouraged to see Jordan’s perspective and dismiss it as simple nerves. He doesn’t see it because he’s smitten by her while also having very limited understanding of how to interact with new people but ends up relating to her without even knowing it because he understands what it’s like to be helplessly trapped.
Delilah’s naming ceremony turn out to be a ceremony that ends with receiving the consciousness of a former Prime in order for them to live on in a new body across many lifetimes. The ceremony was sold as a symbolic inheriting of a name but it’s actually more nefarious than this as the previous owner of the body is erased -at least as far as anyone knows- and replaced with a former Prime. Delilah’s dalliance with Jordan causes her to have doubts about what she’s about to do and she begs him to not allow her to become “a face behind the glass”. I suspect she will be recoverable and it will be Jordan that helps bring her back. This makes for a really interesting mystery as there is currently no information around why people feel beholden to have themselves erased for the benefit of someone returning and using their body to continue their life. Perhaps there has been little resistance to it up until this point and those that go through it see it as a divine privilege that is a necessary sacrifice for some greater good. If there is some opposition to this within the Prime society then The 100 could be looking to make really profound points about blindingly following a doctrine analogous to a religious one.
The details of the process are explored in more detail through Clarke who becomes the host for Josephine -last seen being killed two episodes ago– after being forced into it by Russell and Simone. It is made clear that a Nightblood is required to accept the consciousness which invites an immediate comparison to being the keeper of the Flame. It’s also worth remembering that Clarke wasn’t able to fully accept the Flame because she isn’t a real Nightblood so this will most likely offer an avenue for her to regain control of her body as she would be an anomaly within this framework and anomalies are often what create loopholes to be exploited. I highly doubt Clarke will be permanently lost and this could allow for a complex exploration of identity as well as the notion of choice in terms of how it relates to a body.
Clarke’s contribution to the episode also allows for further development of the conflict that exists between the Primes and the Children of Gabriel. Last week they were framed as antagonists looking to kidnap valuable hostages for their own reasons but it turns out that their kidnapping attempt was in service of saving Delilah of having her personality erased. Cillian (Carlo Marks); a Doctor that Clarke immediately takes a liking to is looking to get her to safety once he learns that she’s a Nightblood. The pair share a passionate night together brought on by their obvious attraction and chemistry but Cillian is also motivated by his desire to not see her destroyed by the horrific Prime custom. This adds further depth to the Children of Gabriel who are starting to seem less like “bad guys” and more like the better option since they currently don’t seem to have horrific identity erasing rituals. There’s still a lot of work to do on them to flesh out what their society is really like but the way the episode manages to flip the Primes to seeming more villainous and the Children of Gabriel towards being more altruistic is really effective. Using Clarke’s perspective helps this as everything unfolds before her eyes as she is helplessly paralysed and resigned to a fate at the hands of whoever happens to be victorious.
Outside of Jordan’s connection with Delilah and Clarke’s brief fling with a man who paralyses her after sleeping with him there looks to be the beginnings of another relationship taking place through Raven and Ryker (Thomas Cocquerel); a fellow tech expert responsible for maintaining the motorbikes as well as other tech. Naturally they seem to hit it off almost immediately because they have shared interests. There isn’t much to say here other than groundwork being laid for further development in the coming episodes. He is revealed to be a Prime who doesn’t really want to be involved in the ritual that’s happening outside which makes him something of an outlier similar to Raven so there’s already the suggestion of resistance within this community. If nothing else we get to see Raven smile and spend some time pursuing something she enjoys so that’s definitely forward progress.
Octavia’s capture by the Children of Gabriel provides the bulk of the action for the episode. She takes it upon herself to protect Rose (Amélie Eve); a young girl in a similar situation. Octavia tries to pass on the survival skills she has cultivated and teach her how not to be afraid even though they are running for their lives. It works to some degree though it isn’t long before their pursuers catch up to them and a brief fire fight ensues resulting in Rose’s death. The tragedy associated with this moment is brilliantly handled. Marie Avgeropoulos plays the shock and anger wonderfully. She also clearly feels responsible for this as it was her unwillingness to surrender that ultimately led to this. This could be one of the catalysts that leads Octavia down the path towards reclaiming her humanity as it’s a very clear example that her actions can have negative consequences for those around her. Rose certainly didn’t deserve to die because she was so young and clearly innocent in all of this so it should be a profound teachable moment for Octavia. Pairing her with Diyoza so that “the devils of Earth become the heroes of Sanctum” is a really good idea on the surface as it could lead to a binary redemption arc for these characters while allowing them to have some bloodthirsty fun along the way.
As much as this episode is about moving forward there is still some attention given to the lingering problems that exist. Bellamy is beating himself up over his decision to exile Octavia and takes it out on Echo who approaches him looking to lend her support. Bellamy talks about finding out that Monty and Harper were dead three days ago and not knowing how to feel about it. He’s basically having difficulty adjusting to the new situation and needs time to contextualise his thoughts. Snapping at Echo and calling her an Azgeda spy is definitely uncalled for but it makes sense given the clear emotional fragility. This is resolved to some degree when he approaches her later so that he can apologise. This provides much needed insight into Echo’s past when she opens up about her parents and the constant fight for survival that defined her life not so long ago. Bellamy making the decision that they need to forget the past and focus on moving forward is presumptuous as well as more than a little ignorant as it doesn’t take her feelings into account at all. He may be ready to light a lantern under his feelings and move on with his life but this won’t apply to everyone so he has no right to make that decision for anyone else.
Clarke’s focus on moving forward apparently doesn’t apply to Madi who asks her if she is able to go to school now that things appear to be calming down. She refuses this for fairly selfish and overprotective reasons which is somewhat consistent with how she has handled Madi in the past but the fact that this goes unchallenged is definitely a weakness and runs counter to everything that Clarke appears to stand for elsewhere in the episode.
One thing that Clarke tries to do is make amends with those who are less than enamoured with her at this point. Her conversation with Raven is most illuminating as it highlights how difficult it will be to fully repair the damage that Clarke has done in the eyes of some. Raven is basically sick of the apologies because they seem empty since Clarke ends up making the same mistakes over and over again. She is compared to Octavia with the notable difference that Octavia stands by her decisions and doesn’t pretend to feel bad about it. It’s clear that Clarke is sincere though it’s a valid point that she seems unable to break the cycle that she finds herself stuck in and it’s easy to understand why Raven would hold a grudge given all that has happened. The writers need to be careful not to get stuck in repetitive characterisation but equally the lingering resentments can’t just be glossed over.
An excellent episode that continues to develop the factions of Sanctum along interesting lines and maintains a compelling sense of mystery while delivering strong characterisation. Despite not having much time to develop Jordan and Delilah’s relationship makes for endearing viewing especially with Jordan opening up about his experience growing up with only his parents for company and the feelings he has about his decision to go into cryo. The fact that he doesn’t notice that there’s something deeper going on with Delilah’s naming ceremony and the audience follows that perspective is really effective and pays off nicely with Delilah’s moment of hesitation right before her body is taken over by a former Prime. Linking Clarke into this by having her become the vessel for Josephine gives more information about this process and paints the Primes in a decidedly sinister light. Clarke’s one night stand gives greater insight into the Children of Gabriel by revealing that they were actually looking to save Delilah from having this happen to her which flips the perspective on both factions and leaves a number of questions to be explored.
The bulk of the episode’s action is handled by Octavia and later Diyoza. Octavia takes it upon herself to protect a young child named Rose which doesn’t end well. The tortured reaction on Octavia’s part is well handled and further suggests that she is on a road to redemption. Having Diyoza join her on this path has a lot of potential as well. Raven befriending a Prime who seems to oppose Russell while also sharing her interest in tech lays the groundwork of a relationship while also establishing voices that run counter to the status quo and allowing Raven to actually smile for a change. The lingering problems between the characters are also given some attention such as Bellamy feeling guilty for exiling Octavia while also dealing with the recent loss of Monty and Harper. He crosses the line when talking to Echo who eventually opens up about her own past and Bellamy makes the wrong headed selfish decision that they have to forget the past and move on. Clarke tries to apologise to Raven but it is made clear that her resentment can’t be cured with a simple apology. This is because there’s no real evidence that Clarke can change and Raven has simply lost too much to be able to believe that Clarke can change. It’s important to deal with things like this though the writers need to be careful not to simply linger on them without moving anything forward.
- seeing the characters have fun
- the endearing Jordan/Delilah connection
- Jordan opening up about his decision to go into cryo and how that made him feel
- the reveal of the sinister nature of the Naming Ceremony
- tying Clarke to this plot to further flesh out the details
- organically delivering more information about the Children of Gabriel
- Octavia and Diyoza working together
- Bellamy making the wrong headed and selfish decision that he and Echo should simply forget the past
- Clarke failing to recognise that Madi should be allowed to move on with her life and this being at odds with her behaviour elsewhere in the episode
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