The 100 – Season 6 Episode 8
“The Old Man and the Anomaly”
The 100 further develops Octavia and Diyoza’s plot while considering the problem of Clarke being trapped inside her body by Josephine.
Octavia and Diyoza’s plot has been an interesting contradiction. On one hand it’s an excellent pairing that is watchable on its own but on the other it suffers from a lack of momentum. This is likely due to the Sanctum plot needing to reach a certain point before Octavia and Diyoza fully step in but having them in a bit of a holding pattern is a waste of potential. Up until this point they have danced around the Children of Gabriel, got stuck in some quicksand and had Octavia affected by a temporal anomaly which is all great for character beats and the building of a mystery but it amounts to very little in the way of progression.
This episode finally moves things forward by revealing that Xavier is actually Gabriel in a stolen body. It’s great that Diyoza is the one to figure this out and it adds so much more weight to Gabriel as the guilt he feels over living multiple lives is magnified by the fact that he’s living his life in the body of another and has no way of undoing it. The best he can do is try to figure out how to prevent this happening to others. This definitely doesn’t excuse doing this in the first place along with lifetimes of propping up a horrific system but he is leagues above the Primes in terms of his moral standing as he got to the point where he was so disgusted with himself that he took a stand against it. This fits into the Octavia/Diyoza redemption plot since Gabriel is looking to atone for past sins as well.
Learning Gabriel’s back story was a really effective touch as well. The story of him raising a child named Eduardo and teaching him how to remove the mind drive only to have Eduardo’s love for him alter that plan and upload Gabriel into Xavier’s head instead. This caused Gabriel to be so disgusted with Eduardo that he killed him then pretended to be Xavier so that people would follow him without seeing him as a hypocrite. His delivery of this story is largely bereft of passion which says a lot about how he has blinded himself to his involvement with it. The idea that he can’t live up to his own ideals and doesn’t want to risk losing loyalty through his followers learning the truth is a really interesting one that adds so much weight to Gabriel’s followers with the suggestion that he has a tenuous hold on them. There’s a lot for Xavier to regret in his back story and now that the surface has been scratched I look forward to learning more particularly if and when his parents are introduced.
The titular anomaly is a plot device that can restore the dying Octavia while also allowing the characters to see manifestations of things they fear as well as things they desire. In the case of Octavia she sees a badly beaten Bellamy and Diyoza sees her unborn child as a toddler; this further connects the two characters as their visions both have to do with family therefore cementing their underlying motivations. Gabriel has visions of Josephine who he identifies as his true love that he has lost through his actions. Seeing them reunited even in new bodies can only be a good thing and it is likely to happen sooner rather than later.
Octavia and Diyoza’s trip into the anomaly produces different results. Diyoza disappears when she enters it which suggests that there is some sort of temporal adventure that she has to go on before being able to leave and Octavia is completely healed along with the suggestion that she saw something within there that she hasn’t shared as of yet. Hopefully the momentum picks up from here as it feels like it has taken a long time to get to this point and the payoff doesn’t feel entirely worth the build-up yet.
Back in Sanctum things are heating up significantly. Things are really starting to come together as the majority of the information is known by everyone that needs to know it. Wonkru know about Josephine, they know that Clarke is still alive but has to be extracted soon and the Primes are aware that they have that knowledge so there is no option other than moving the plot forward at this point. Bellamy hatches a plan to get Josephine out of Sanctum so that Gabriel can hopefully save Clarke. There are some associated details such as Josephine having every intention of staying in Clarke’s body rather than being transferred to a new one even if it means the permanent loss of Clarke. As long as she survives Josephine doesn’t care so Bellamy sees forcing her out of Sanctum and being away from the resources of the Primes as the only way to secure Clarke’s safety.
The notion that Russell skipping the queue by restoring Josephine being massively against Prime doctrine is really interesting as it reinforces the emotional component to his decision to bring her back while reinforcing how inflexible their beliefs actually are. He can argue that the queue was skipped in favour of Josephine was necessary as she would be best placed to infiltrate Wonkru in order to learn how many Nightbloods were among them but the truth of the matter is that he saw an excuse to bring his daughter back and took it. Now that the future looks brighter for his people thanks to the ability to create Nightbloods he has become focused on restoring the natural order. This includes moving Josephine to a willing body and letting Clarke regain control rather than ending a life unnecessarily.
What I find really interesting about this is the commentary on religion and how it can be used to justify actions that outsiders consider horrific. In this case Russell is able to feel morally righteous because he broke the rules and has a chance to fix them by going back to the natural order as laid out in Prime canon. The trouble with that is he’s still morally repugnant because he’s talking about erasing people in favour of the continued existence of the Primes. Nulls have no value to Russell or the rest of his people and he is still willing to leave babies to die in the woods so his efforts to bring Clarke back do nothing to make up for any of that. This is a hard thing to go up against as the Primes are so committed to their beliefs that it’s unthinkable for them to be challenged be that from within or without. Gabriel had to leave for speaking out against this and it’s looking like Russell’s leadership position has become fragile after skipping the queue.
The writers seem determined to explore this idea from every conceivable angle including the obvious temptation that comes with the promise of immorality. This is best characterised through Murphy who is fully onboard with embracing the idea of becoming immortal. It only has meaning for him if Emori takes the opportunity as well so he offers her the same opportunity by way of a proposal that comes with a promise to literally love her for eternity as they are continually reborn in other bodies. Already knowing Murphy’s stance allows this to be an excellent showcase for Emori and Luisa D’Olivera fully embraces the chance to explore the complex emotions she feels as a result of this offer. Her performance excellently conveys how conflicted she is as well as the difficulty she has keeping her true feelings hidden from Josephine, Bellamy and Murphy. Ultimately she pretends to go along with it in order to save Clarke’s life which fails spectacularly at the last second leaving Murphy bleeding out on the grass. She agrees to his proposal at the point she realises she might lose him.
Everything about Emori in this episode is fascinating as she seems to have no alignment to any side in particular. At first saving Clarke is a priority which means that she works against Josephine and Murphy before finding out from Bellamy that he already knew about Clarke being alive. This sticks in her mind as she isn’t trusted with that information despite being part of the group because of her connection to Murphy. Emori has often been characterised as an outsider within the group dynamic and this only confirms to her that she can only really count on herself. Her acceptance of Murphy’s proposal can be interpreted as a selfish decision on her part as she loves him even if they don’t see eye to eye so doesn’t want to have to deal with the pain of losing him. Immortality is a significant temptation as well so as long as Clarke is safe then it seems she can live with the prospect of coming back to life at the expense of Nulls at least according to her mindset in that particular moment. I suspect the moral considerations will play out sooner rather than later and she can discuss these with Murphy to weigh up the ethical implications; at least that should be the next logical step. For now the unpredictability of Emori in a complex situation adds a lot of intrigue. All of this keeps the plot grounded on the characters, their relationships and is in full service of allowing these to develop.
Madi has her own ideas on how to handle this situation thanks to the voice in her head. This involves systematically killing the Primes once by one until there are none left. It’s a simple plan as well as a risky one. In fairness it seems to be going ok until she gets to the palace and tries to kill Priya only to be foiled by Jordan stepping in and taking the hit. This further ingratiates him with the Primes courtesy of Russell who vows to do everything they can to save Jordan after his sacrificial move which may end up in him being considered for rebirth further complicating the moral questions at play. It remains to be seen how Madi’s actions will feed in but the different elements seem to be coming together fairly organically for the most part.
The plot involving Abby showing the Sanctum residents how to make Nightbloods adds to the melting pot of ethical implications being addressed elsewhere. Abby is entirely motivated by saving Kane and for the moment it seems that the only way to do that is to move him to a different body. Raven is on hand to act as her conscience and questions the morality of what she’s allowing to happen. Abby is under no illusions about what she’s doing and has found a way to compartmentalise her guilt so that she can go through with it. Raven directly challenges this by pointing out that Kane wouldn’t want her to save him at the expense of the life of another and will end up hating her for it; something that Abby is more than willing to accept if it means he survives. The only resistance that Raven can put up is refusing to go on the space walk to combine Becca’s serum though she backs down on that when she realises that the situation will only be worsened if Raven allows Abby to die as she becomes an accessory to that by failing to step in to prevent it.
So far Raven has served as an oppositional force to the Prime viewpoint in one form or another. Previously she was casting judgement on Ryker for perpetuating this horrific act and now she’s taking Abby to task for being complicit in enabling more of this to happen. There’s definitely more Raven could be doing in the context of the season as she risks being tarred with this brush while having little to do outside of it but there’s no denying that it’s working brilliantly so far especially when taking into account the pre-existing animosity she has for Abby.
This plot further reinforces the doctrine of the Primes from the point of view of the Nulls. Gavin (Greyston Holt) considers this an honour and has no objections to being the host for Kane even though it means he will cease to exist. This is backed up from a Prime point of view which further establishes how nefarious this society is considering the blind adherence to the teachings. It’s eerie to think that the lives of Nulls are valued so little by the Primes and the Nulls themselves that there’s complete willingness to submit to this on both sides without fearing non existence. The one exception so far was Delilah who hesitated at the last second. The Null perspective will undoubtedly be covered before long and Kane’s reaction to what has been done to him should allow this to be addressed while also giving Raven some much needed back-up.
A strong episode that grounds the various conflicts in established characterisation to deliver intrigue and compelling exploration of the morality of the Primes. Using this episode to provide a showcase for Emori who is always unpredictable in terms of what her allegiance with. This allows for the reveal that she wants to save Clarke to be both effective and surprising. Her acceptance of Murphy’s proposal and promise of immortality is an appropriately sweet moment while also laying the groundwork for deeper exploration of the ethical implications of what she might be signing up for. The doctrine of the Primes is further developed through the complications associated with Russell skipping the queue by bringing Josephine back despite the positive outcome for his people. This further reinforces the slavish adherence to their beliefs and how inflexible they are. Russell working to restore what he considers the natural order and bring Clarke back makes sense when considering that inflexibility while also drawing attention to how morally bankrupt he is in every other aspect considering his willingness to let babies die in the forest not to mention all the Nulls he sentences to death. There are numerous examples of how the lives of Nulls aren’t valued. Abby’s decision to bring Kane back in another body reinforces that as the perspective of the Primes is backed up by Gavin talking about how honoured he is to be in that position. Raven is there to act as Abby’s conscience and appeals to her knowledge of Kane but Abby is willing to ignore that in exchange for having him brought back. The stage is set for Kane to be an oppositional force to everything that has happened to him and back Raven up.
Madi’s decision to kill the Primes one by one is a risky one while showing how badly corrupted she currently is. Russell promising to do everything he can to help Jordan when he steps in to take the blow from Priya further ingratiates him with the Primes and sets up a potential addition to the moral complexity if being reborn proves to be the only way to save him. The Octavia and Diyoza plot is still moving forward far too gradually but the character beats are still excellent. Diyoza figuring out that Xavier is actually Gabriel and gaining insight into his backstory through the story he tells of how he came to find himself in Xavier’s body. It adds texture to the Children of Gabriel as well as Gabriel himself through the self loathing that he deals with every day along with being unable to live up to his own ideals. This ties him to Diyoza and Octavia through his own desire for redemption. The anomaly is basically a plot device to heal the dying Octavia but it also links her to Diyoza through being motivated by family when Octavia is shown a vision of Bellamy in trouble and Diyoza sees her unborn daughter as a toddler. Gabriel has visions of Josephine as a reminder of the love he lost. Seeing them reunited in their new bodies has a strong chance of being really compelling based on this and it may be what’s needed to give this particular plot a much needed push.
- the reveal that Xavier is actually Gabriel and the exploration of his back story
- connecting Gabriel to Octavia and Diyoza’s redemption arc
- the showcase of Emori and her complex shifting allegiances
- grounding the moral questions in the characters and their established traits
- additional information given about the inflexible doctrine of the Primes and adding in the Null perspective
- Raven acting as Abby’s conscience and challenging her decision
- not enough forward movement on the Octavia/Diyoza plot
- Raven still being underused
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