This The 100 review contains spoilers.
The 100 Season 6 Episode 10
This episode, named for Russian nesting dolls, keeps its eye on the prize and manages to align some of the fantastic season’s most exciting plot developments with hefty philosophical questions. If you had to, which memories would you toss and which would you keep? Is it possible to peacefully transition a corrupt regime that commits violence, albeit with a sheen of gentility? And of course, in a world where there are no good guys or bad guys, which way is up, morally speaking?
Madi made Murphy tell Abby how he betrayed Clarke, which frankly feels fair since it’s the truth and he has given Clarke such a hard time for her own moral shortcomings. It’s also a reminder of the fact that while Sheidheda is whispering in Madi’s ear, he’s feeding off of her own very real feelings. I hope this season teaches the characters on The 100 that there are no good guys and bad guys – everyone has stains on their souls. Raven might still need that lesson, if her adventure with making night blood wasn’t enough to make her feel complicit.
Bellamy and Clarke learned this lesson best and earliest, which is likely the thing that has bonded them together so strongly. Or rather, the category of things that have bonded them together. Even if you just start with the early days with mercy-killing Atom, their views on hanging Murphy (or not), and closing the drop ship doors, there were so many moments of parsing morality that helped the pair form a shorthand and a trust that others still feel on the outside of.
That’s why their closing scene was so powerful, even if you’re not a Bellarke shipper. For these two it all comes down to the head and the heart – finding the best balance you can to parse morality on a given day – and not being willing to lose one another, because that’s who they’ve been in the foxhole with since day one. It’s wild to think that Clarke ever needed to be taught to fight, but we all know she was always a fighter. Space Cru has their own moral code: they don’t give up on each other, which makes it harder to watch when, for example, Monty had to reconcile when Jasper wanted to ride out Praimfaya or when Bellamy turned on everyone he loved and everything he believed in during season 3.
One of the strengths of this episode is the way it plays with audience expectations, building on Josephine’s sympathetic backstory to prime her for redemption – or at least cooperation. Even if we (and Bellamy) don’t necessarily agree with it right away, we expect The 100 to try to sell it to us. And the writers do a great job. After all, this bait-and-switch gambit only works if Josie’s redemption becomes the expected path. When I thought Josie blinked out of existence, I was genuinely sad for the character to be gone and especially to not get the chance to mourn her. Silly me! Josephine always has something up her sleeve, and she ended up playing herself to death – for now.
Russell seemed to be working on almost a parallel track to Josephine. While she was convincing Clarke she was good while plotting against her, he was convincing himself but acting worse, making one violent Classic Clarke move after another while convincing himself that his brutality was both entirely necessary and completely the fault of Space Kru. But Russell is worse than WanHeda, because Clarke only tries to keep her people alive for one lifetime; she doesn’t kill people needlessly. She also knows how bad her actions are and feels that, rather than hiding from it or justifying it, as this season has gone to great lengths to show us.
Fire might be an appropriately theatrical way to kill someone for television, but it’s not all that great for putting out the flames of revolution. There’s the inherent cruelty, the length of the process, the brutal screams throughout, and the disturbing, unforgettable stench that lingers and forms a distinctive sense-memory. It might scare people, but they’ll never forgive you and love you again, either. And what will the nulls do about the giant speech Russell gave about how bad Space Kru is, a speech he then blatantly disregarded to let them go when they offered him something he wanted? Simone was right: the illusion of the Primes is over.
It was good to see Simone finally distinguished as a character with motivations in her own right. Up until now she and Russell have only disagreed about Josephine’s revival, with Simone clearly taking a back seat to Russell both in terms of her power in Sanctum and within the narrative of the show. But telling Abby that her daughter was (to her knowledge) dead and Russell didn’t want her to know, right in front of him, was a bold move. So was negotiating the punishment for Space Kru. I hate to see her dead so quickly after establishing herself as a real player in the story, but on the other hand, it’s high time that the Primes had some real skin in the game and true death raises the stakes.
One fascinating element I hope they tease out in their inevitable confrontation is Russell’s notion that all of these problems are because of Clarke and her people. Like someone whining because they were called out for saying something racist and trying to blame the whistleblower, Russell thinks Sanctum was A-OK until Clarke, Jordan, and the gang ruined it by bringing attention to those flaws. In truth, he’s no better than The 100.
Each season has an enemy, an inevitability of some kind, often intangible. This one might be Russell’s proclamation that Clarke would, “destroy this place,” but that feels like a cop out. Unless their conflict also takes out significant innocent lives and resources, it won’t feel like the kind of fateful condemnation we’ve come to expect from this show.
I love seeing a hatch and secret room below ground – great callback to Season 1 with Finn
I love getting to see Echo use every part of herself – the spy, the warrior, the empathetic family member
OF COURSE Raven has figured out how to get rid of Sheidheda!
Bellamy didn’t really seem to hug Octavia back, did he? Blakes, I’m so ready for everything to be okay.
There was a great Fight Club vibe to Josephine and Clarke’s time irl – I’m happy to have Clarke back but I will miss it, and Sara Thompson’s performance.
Murphy continues to be Mr. #1 Survival Expert