The 100 – Season 6 Episode 9
“What You Take With You”
The 100 explores the concept of moving forward while recognising the mistakes of the past through Kane and Octavia’s challenges as the various plots start to converge.
This season has been all about morality in one form or another whether it’s the ethical implications of transferring consciousness into other bodies in order to become immortal at the expense of the former owners of those bodies or how many of the characters constantly struggle with their own morality after years of hardship.
Kane being reborn in a new body is the perfect way to further explore the implications of this process. He has often served as something of a moral compass for the show so having him act as the mouthpiece for the arguments against what the Primes do is a natural fit. Greyston Holt’s time in the role of Kane is short lived but very effective. It was obvious that he was playing Kane but there was a sense of unease to his performance as well, almost as if he no longer felt comfortable in his skin and felt disconnected from his very identity. This is certainly what needed to be conveyed in order for this to work as the loss of self is a major theme this season in regards to this plot. Kane’s experience flips the perspective on this by suggesting that the one who continues to live on loses something as they have been separated from the body that once defined them. This is backed up in Josephine’s characterisation as she has lost the capacity for empathy across her long life. Kane is at the start of that journey and Josephine represents the end of it so together they make for a compelling cautionary tale.
One thing I really appreciated about the handling of this plot is how understated it is. It would have been easy to play this as an excuse for a rift to be created between Kane and Abby with their opposing viewpoints serving as the foundation for it but instead the writers take the more difficult option and do an excellent job with it. Kane doesn’t chastise Abby for the part she played in him waking up in a new body; instead he understands how she feels and that she needs him in her life. This understanding is countered by his inability to go on living when the cost of that is the ending of another life. It’s a simple moral statement that says everything about the sort of person Kane is. His view on what has been done is further cemented when he meets the wife of the owner of his former body who talks about how honoured she is to have Gavin serve the primes in this way. This continues to pile on reasons for Kane to feel guilty as it’s a physical example of the life that has ended in exchange for his.
Naturally he condemns the Primes and their way of life and sides with those who suffer in order to maintain their culture. He sees this as wrong and wants to be able to put a stop to it. Once again he doesn’t blame Abby for this but also recognises that he can’t count on her to be objective in this situation so he enlists Raven and Indra -who is finally thawed- to help him to find a way to put a stop to what the Primes are doing. Indra’s inclusion in the episode offers perspective and context for the arguments at play. She takes on the Devil’s Advocate role to remind Kane of the terrible things they have all done in the name of survival and Kane fully acknowledges that showing that he has no intention to forget his past while working towards a better future. He is fully aware of the questionable decisions that brought all of them to this point and recognises that moving to a more peaceful status quo means making sure they aren’t repeated. This basically means taking the moral high ground and having a zero tolerance policy to what the Primes are doing. The most decisive way to do this is to prevent them from being able to make more Nightbloods so that the number of bodies with the potential to accept their consciousness reduces to nothing over time. This would naturally force a change in the Prime culture that they were aware was inevitable before Wonkru arrived.
In order to facilitate this Kane makes the ultimate sacrifice and floats himself with the serum necessary to create more Nightbloods. It feels fitting for Kane’s life to end this way considering he ordered many others to their death using the same method. The scene itself is brilliantly done with excellent performances from both Henry Ian Cusick and Paige Turco. Kane tries to be brave in the face of death and makes it clear he feels that he’s doing the right thing but nothing has affected how strongly he feels for Abby. By contrast Abby is being torn apart by this loss and has trouble accepting it. Having them separated by the airlock door only makes it more powerful as they are denied that final embrace. It’s also a really nice touch having Henry Ian Cusick play this final scene which serves as a goodbye to one of this show’s strongest moral pillars. Making his exit doing the right thing for the future of his people as well as attempt to secure a better future for the oppressed feels perfect. This of course leaves the open questions of who will take on the role of the moral compass now that Kane is gone; the obvious candidate is Raven but it remains to be seen if she can live up to that. Another concern is how Abby will take this and whether she will actually be able to cope with it.
The idea of letting go of the past and finding a new way forward is backed up in Octavia’s plot. Much of her time is spent inside her own head after being injected with a toxin that is supposed to unlock her memories of her time in the anomaly. Basically it serves as an excuse to internalise her struggle in really fascinating ways. Most surprising is the manifestation of Pike who serves as a reminder of what led her to become the person she currently is. This manifestation forces her to confront things about herself she has been ignoring up until this point such as how much of her current identity can be traced back to Pike and what he did. The death of Lincoln at his hand and her subsequent desire for revenge in the form of taking his life was the beginning of a pattern of behaviour that eventually led to the Pits where everything was justified as being necessary for survival. The confrontation of ignored truth is designed to get her to admit what it is she actually wants which starts with forgiveness but is eventually upgraded to redemption. Deep down Octavia wants to be accepted by her friends and Bellamy and she has to find a way to earn that. Interestingly the question over whether she deserves it is deemed irrelevant as what she plans to do to earn it is the most important thing.
As a symbol of moving onto a better and more peaceful way of life Octavia has to fight and kill the part of herself that sees violence as a first resort. It’s an exciting fight that shows how strong the two warring sides of her personality are and having her violent side lose is a clear indication that she is serious about making positive changes in her life. Once she emerges from her head trip she seems unburdened by everything that was dragging her down and is determined to prove herself worthy of that redemption she wants. It’s an exciting new outlook for Octavia and finally allows this plot to move forward after weeks of stagnation.
Less connected to the theme of moving forward is Bellamy and Josephine’s plot. This doesn’t make it any less entertaining but it also feels like it belongs in a different episode as it actively contrasts with the strong thematic through line otherwise. There is some new stuff in here but also some repetition such as the race against time to save Clarke before she dies and Josephine’s lack of empathy. The insight into her relationship with Gabriel and how complex it is to alter from love to his desire to kill her over centuries. It’s a commentary on the changing nature of relationships and how easy it is for negative influences to pollute them. This acts as something of a mirror to the Bellamy/Clarke relationship as they have been on opposing sides about as much as they’ve seen eye to eye. Josephine stands in judgement of that as an outside observer and is entirely correct in how complex it is but seems to ignore how similar it is to her relationship with Gabriel in a broad sense.
Josephine’s intelligence and resourcefulness is shown in a new way when she lets Clarke have control of her body temporarily because her survival skills are required in order to escape. She sees no risk to this because she will be able to regain control as soon as Clarke goes to sleep. To make it simpler to explore this conflict Josephine becomes a visible presence to Clarke so they can continue the dynamic that was recently established. Clarke back in control further moves things on and starts to tie the plots together as she heads for Gabriel which almost certainly means a reunion with Octavia. Josephine will likely continue to serve as a voice in Clarke’s ear reminding her how futile her efforts are and how little time she has left. It’s about the right time for things to start coming together and escalating with the march towards the end of the season starting to kick in.
An excellent episode with a strong thematic through line, compelling exploration of difficult moral questions and a definitive turning point for Octavia. Kane’s reaction to waking up in a new body once he understands what the cost of him being able to survive is. He is immediately against this and wants to put an end to the Primes perpetuating their own existence at the expense of others. Interestingly he doesn’t chastise Abby for agreeing to this as he understands her pain and need to have Kane in her life but he also can’t go on living when the cost is another life. Greyston Holt’s time playing Kane is short lived but effective; he does a good job playing a recognisable Kane with a sense of unease about him; almost as if he’s uncomfortable in his skin which definitely tracks with the current situation. The loss of self has been explored through Josephine and her loss of empathy over the centuries so it’s good to see that mirrored in Kaine not feeling comfortable in his new body. His debate with Indra that includes acknowledgement of the questionable decisions that brought them to this point is particularly interesting and having this lead to his sacrifice in order to prevent the Primes from continuing to kill others to perpetuate their lives makes for a really powerful exit that is wonderfully performed and dripping with emotion. It seems fitting that Kane be floated considering he ordered many to their death the same way. His loss means the loss of one of the central moral pillars the show has so it remains to be seen who will step up in his place and how Abby will cope.
Tying into the idea of moving forward while being better is Octavia’s internal conflict characterised through a manifestation of Pike forcing her to confront things about herself she has been ignoring. She is forced to acknowledge that a large part of who she is is because of Pike and her response to him killing Lincoln. Ever since then she has fallen into a pattern of behaviour where killing was justified as being necessary for the survival of herself and those closest to her. Her part in this episode is about recognising this and putting it behind her as shown by her fighting and killing the Bloodreina side of herself. The shift in her personality is immediately apparent when she wakes up from this head trip; suddenly she seems unburdened and determined to earn her redemption through whatever action she takes next. Less connected to the running theme is the Bellamy/Josephine plot though it is no less interesting. There is some repetition without expansion but the deeper insight into her connection with Gabriel and the commentary on how relationships can shift through this as well as the complex Bellamy/Clarke relationship is compelling. Having Clarke back because Josephine feels that her skills are needed and there’s no risk to letting her out since control can easily be regained helps move things along in really profound ways. Things are starting to come together now that the end of the season is in sight.
- a strong thematic throughline
- Kane’s reaction to waking up in a new body
- Greyston Holt’s performance as Kaine
- Kane reacting to Abby’s involvement with understanding
- the debate over the mistakes of the past and what is needed to move on in the future
- Indra playing Devil’s Advocate in that debate
- Kane’s moving death
- Octavia confronting truths she tried to ignore
- the manifestation of Pike forcing her to address uncomfortable issues
- Octavia choosing to be a better person and killing the Bloodreina side of herself
- seeing her unburdened and determined afterwards
- insight into the Josephine/Gabriel relationship and using it as a mirror of the Clarke/Bellamy connection
- Clarke back in action
- the Josephine/Bellamy plot not matching the running theme of the other two
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