The 100 – Season 6 Episode 5
“The Gospel of Josephine”
The 100 continues to develop Sanctum by exploring the aftermath of the Naming Day celebrations through Josephine newly resurrected in Clarke’s body.
Resurrection is an idea that a lot of science fiction comes to explore in one way or another eventually. The City of Light was a version of that idea and had its own nefarious implications based on how that was being used and what people were being turned into. This season takes a completely different approach using the same technology to restore the consciousness of someone who has died into the body of someone living. It’s an interesting idea as it amounts to a ritual killing of the rightful owner of the body in favour of someone who arguably had their chance to live. In the background of this is concerns being raised around blind adherence to religious doctrine and how dangerous worship can be when viewed as an absolute.
The previous episode showed Delilah having her doubts at the last second but still going through with it and Clarke being forced into being the vessel for Josephine so both possible angles of how this could come about have been shown which only serves to highlight the fact that there is no actual choice for the one who has to give up their body. Priya -the new occupant of Delilah’s body- tells Jordan that Delilah was happy and wanted to make sure that he knew that but it’s unclear if there’s any truth to that or if it was just a tactic to make sure that Jordan stops pressing the issue. It’s also possible that Priya blindly believes this as part of the religious doctrine that she doesn’t question. Living life with the belief that those sacrificed were happy to do so would be a way to convince everyone to buy into this idea.
There are wider implications to the brain upload concept based on the information given. The Primes store their minds on hard drives so that they can live again in a compatible body which begs the obvious question over whether the mind being stored is the original or just a copy of it at the time it was uploaded. Evidence points to the latter which means that the Priya and Josephine seen here are copies of the original people that died a long time ago. This opens up broad metaphysical questions about the nature of life and if there is more to people than the sum of their experiences expressed as data that can be transferred. Basically the debate here is “Does the Soul exist?” and I’d be surprised if that doesn’t enter into the conversation at some point especially when it comes to combatting this problem. If the Primes are simply copies of the original peoeple then in theory they might not be considered as being truly alive which makes the decision to erase them a lot easier. It’s not an easy debate and I hope it’s given the attention it deserves.
Putting aside the metaphysical issues this episode is broadly about Clarke’s body being taken over by Josephine so that Russell and Simone can have their daughter back. There is mention of this being unorthodox beyond the obvious issue of Clarke being an unwilling participant in the ritual. Russell and Simone have brought Josephine back even though she wasn’t next in line to live again. There’s a pecking order that may simply be a randomised list that the Primes work through as the centuries pass but however it may be decided it’s clear that it wasn’t Josephine’s turn and that will definitely cause unrest because there are only a limited number of Nightbloods at any given time and a lot of Primes to resurrect.
There is a purpose behind this as far as Russell and Simone are concerned as they see Josephine as best placed to infiltrate the new arrivals in order to find out how many Nightbloods are among them. Posing as Clarke is the easiest way to obtain the information as her friends may be candid around her and let the information slip through the natural process of conversation. The difficulty where Josephine is concerned is playing Clarke convincingly without actually knowing anything about her. A lot of her early scenes are about trying to figure out the sort of person Clarke is/was using very basic anecdotes told to her through her parents.
It’s an interesting challenge from both a character and actor standpoint. Josephine has to think on her feet, react instantly to changing conversations in order to not arouse situation and hope the information is simply made available to her. In order for this to work Josephine has to be established fairly quickly. Her very brief appearance in the second episode of the season doesn’t really count as that was literally several lifetimes ago for her so there needs to be a baseline outlined early on. This is accomplished through her swiftly killing Kaylee (Sarah-Jane Redmond) as retribution for killing her. This and the discussion about sacrificing Isaac suggests that the society isn’t as harmonious up as we were led to believe which furthers the potential for it to be torn apart from the inside.
Josephine’s “whatever it takes” attitude sets her up as a formidable presence right from the beginning but she is always fighting an uphill battle to pass herself off as Clarke. Red flags appear almost immediately when she consents to Madi going to school which gets Gaia’s attention. There are other examples of her not acting quite right such as using her right hand to write something down in front of Abby or referring to Murphy as “John”. These details are subtle enough not to give the game away right away but are enough to make those she interact with do a double take. Other suspicious behaviour includes making a case for the body hijacking rather than being disgusted like everyone else and general odd behaviour here and there. The most cautious is Gaia who speaks in Trigadeslang knowing that the residents of Sanctum don’t understand it. It’s a line of defence and acts as a test for Josephine who manages to roll with it for a while.
Bellamy echoes this later in the episode by using the language to test her in a different way. She passed the first time as she was able to work out roughly what was being said based on context but Bellamy’s words are more emotionally driven so have no context for Josephine to latch onto. She does almost pass because she apparently has an ear for languages and is able to decipher some of it but knows she’s beaten and has no choice but to go on the attack. Saving this until this late point is great as it allows Josephine to use her intelligence to deal with the situation as best she can. It makes sense for her to be so intelligent and resourceful as she definitely had that potential in her brief early appearance. Extrapolating this across several lifetimes means that she has plenty of time to gain considerable skills. This will stand her in good stead for when she inevitably works on artificially creating Nightbloods after learning that it’s possible.
Any analysis of this episode wouldn’t be complete without praising Eliza Taylor’s performance. It can’t be easy playing someone else pretending to be the character that has been cultivated over several years but she does so brilliantly. In the more unguarded moments spent with Russell and Simone everything from her voice to the way she moves changes to indicate that she’s playing a completely different character and there’s a constant sense of unease to her pretending to be Clarke.
The background details of the body hijacking are filled in through Jordan’s relentless investigation. He refused to accept that Delilah went through with this procedure willingly because of her final moment with him and is less than convinced by Priya assuring him that Delilah was happy so he is fully motivated to uncover the truth. What doesn’t work quite so well about this is the other characters dismissing his suspicions as an extreme reaction to being dumped after a one night stand. Everyone concerned has been dealing with groups of people with hidden agendas for a long time so it would make more sense for them to always be in a constant state of suspicion when dealing with new people. A better way to frame this would be to encourage Jordan to let it go because it’s too dangerous to pursue given that they are guests in Sanctum and the relationship is fairly tenuous at this point.
This does allow Jordan to further challenge his perceptions of those he is now able to interact with. In particular he talks to Bellamy about being disappointed in the real deal. He talks about his “favourite Bellamy” from the stories he was talk being the version of him that would trust his heart over his head. Having this openly said to him could be setting up Bellamy returning to a more passion driven version of himself which may be required to deal with the escalating situation. Jordan also points out that Bellamy’s protective streak is a reaction to his inability to protect Octavia so he is basically overcompensating for his own failure. This is entirely Jordan’s viewpoint but it happens to make a lot of sense as he is effectively an outside observer making his mind up about the people he has heard stories about prior to this point. It’s character driven and moves the plot along as his actions lead to the discovery of the procedure that is being forced on Nightbloods.
Elsewhere Diyoza and Octavia are still on the run together and complimenting one another brilliantly. Most of their scenes together have them stuck in a form of quicksand which acts as an excellent metaphor for their current mental states. Diyoza is acting as the emotional support for Octavia now that she’s at rock bottom. She’s at the point where she understands what her issues were which is represented by her accepting the situation and remaining perfectly still in order to bide her time and wait for an opportunity to escape. Octavia is the complete opposite and continues to struggle which makes the situation worse. She is always looking for a fight, sees everything as a conflict and is unable to see past that. It is made clear that she has a chance to redeem herself in some way as Diyoza is trying to do the same thing and has a much worse track record to overcome. Their scenes together are great and the presence of Xavier (Chuku Modu) representing the Children of Gabriel works really well as he can remind them that his people haven’t actually killed anyone where they have. There’s a lot to work with here and the quicksand metaphor is a great tease for what will surely grow over the coming episodes.
An excellent episode with a stunning performance from Eliza Taylor and really strong plotting around the current situation. The resurrection concept suggests a number of large scale metaphysical questions about the nature of existence and what the resurrection actually means for all parties involved. It sits in the background for now but is rife for exploration. Showing different aspects of it through Delilah and Clarke’s different experiences works well enough for now and establishes strong foundations to build on. Josephine is a formidable presence who has an uphill battle to fight as she has to convincingly play someone she has never met and only has anecdotal experience of through her parents. It’s certainly not easy and she makes some key mistakes throughout that eventually give the game away but her intelligence and resourcefulness serve her well up until a point. The circumstances surrounding her discovery are really well done as it compensates for her ability to read a situation by robbing her of the necessary context. Eliza Taylor does an excellent job playing a completely different character while also doing a less than stellar job of being Clarke. It can’t be easy and she takes to this perfectly.
Jordan acts as the main driver for explaining the mechanics behind this ritual through being unable to accept that Delilah accepted this willingly. It makes no sense for the others to doubt him considering how frequently they have dealt with people being less than honest in the past. There was a better way to handle this that isn’t taken advantage of. Jordan’s role as the outsider looking in is also used to great effect as shown when he stands up to Bellamy and tells him about the favourite version he heard about in the stories his parents told him. This could indicate a return to old habits for Bellamy which could be necessary in the coming episodes. Octavia and Diyoza continue to make for an engaging pairing. The quicksand like substance they both find themselves stuck in acts as the perfect metaphor for their current mental states. Diyoza has accepted what she needs to do so remains calm and still while Octavia sees everything as a fight and a struggle so continues to uselessly resist the situation. Their shared redemption arc comes across strongly and Diyoza acting as something of a guide makes a lot of narrative sense. Xavier representing the Children of Gabriel is also a strong addition even if not a lot has been done with them quite yet. The reminder that they haven’t actually killed anyone where Diyoza and Octavia has leave a lot of food for thought.
- quickly establishing a baseline for Josephine as a character
- consistently having Josephine be out of her depth in pretending to be Clarke
- a series of relatively minor mistakes being all that’s needed to arouse suspicion
- Eliza Taylor’s excellent performance
- Jordan’s analysis of Bellamy and the version of him he prefers
- the quicksand metaphor perfectly encapsulating Diyoza and Octavia’s current mental states
- Diyoza and Octavia continuing to be an excellent pairing
- Xavier adding gentle reminders that there is more to the Children of Gabriel to be explored
- Jordan’s concerns being dismissed as an extreme reaction to a post one night stand dumping
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