The 100 6x10 “Matryoshka” Review
You know, when I was assigned this episode to review, I wasn’t expecting to be discussing a moment like THAT (you all know what I’m referring to), so please, be kind while I process by obsessively refreshing Twitter and try to put my thoughts together.
There’s definitely a lot going on in this episode, some of which I LOVED (take a wild guess on what part that is folks), and some of which I was less than fond of. It’s all high tension and high stakes, even more than the last. I’m a big fan of the moves they made to set everything into place; this is probably one of my favorite episodes of the season.
Action and Reaction
Here’s the thing. Putting almost all of your characters in one place forces conversation and development, which can turn out fascinating, or it can illuminate the truly unnecessary plot points and characters that have been hanging on all season.
Raven and Abby are back from space and being taken prisoner like the rest of the Arkadians when Simone, angry about the loss of both the synthetic nightblood and the mind drive they used for Kane, tells Abby that Clarke is dead. As the audience we know that this isn’t exactly true, but Abby has no reason to think she’s alive, since every other host body is completely taken over by whoever’s mind drive is put in that body.
I was pretty peeved with both Raven and Abby’s reactions to Clarke’s “death,” even though it’s been an ongoing joke online that Josie!Clarke could basically say and do anything and Abby still wouldn’t notice that something was up with her daughter. Raven’s been mad at Clarke for the entire season, so I guess I understand a lack of reaction on her part — but Abby? Her lack of reaction is only so off-putting because just last episode we saw an absolute outpouring of grief over Kane. It makes no sense that the news of her only child’s death wouldn't even garner 10% of that.
The thing is, that’s poor characterization either way. Failing to show an emotional response that makes sense is a failure of the writing, and making her grief over Kane much more significant than over Clarke on purpose only highlights how far gone she is. That’s not a character worth keeping around, especially if this difference in emotion and priority is never addressed (and I don’t think it’s going to be). If the writers room is so keen on keeping her around they need to put some effort into showing the audience why that’s worthwhile. I know there are people who like Abby, but when it comes down to plot, what purpose does she serve? In a cast so large they need to trim loose ends or suffer for it, and I think hanging onto Abby for so long is an example of that. What has she done all season besides hole up in the library looking for a way to heal Kane, who’s been technically dead since the Season 5 finale? You could argue that they need her for the synthetic nightblood, but giving Becca’s notebook to Raven and having her do it also makes sense, especially since Abby doesn’t even leverage that ability when she should. Case in point: when Russell decides to burn them all at the stake after Simone’s murder, Murphy is the one who brings up being able to make nightblood from bone marrow, thereby saving everyone from a super vintage execution (for now).
While we’re at it — I can’t believe Abby is actually mad at Murphy for helping the Primes, even though he and Emori explain that they both thought Clarke was actually dead and nothing could be done about it. Sure, what Murphy did was a little cold and sketchy at best, but it’s right on brand. Clarke’s dead? Nothing can be done about it? Better leverage this to my advantage. Self preservation, baby. That’s much less than Abby did literally ONE episode ago, being fully complicit in Gavin’s murder and actually recruiting him to host Kane’s mind drive even though she knew exactly what would happen.
That’s exactly why these scenes with everyone felt stale: not every character is pulling their weight, and when that happens the scene gets bogged down with unnecessary interactions. There’s too many characters that really only take up space. Characters like Jackson, Miller, Niylah, and even Echo are dead weight at this point. Again, I know that these characters have their fans. That doesn’t change the fact that as far as the narrative is concerned, they're all relatively useless. Just being a named character doesn’t automatically give them significance, that significance has to be shown. What exactly does Miller bring to the show? Or Niylah? Even if they were once important that importance is dwindling if not non-existent. Miller could have been a compelling character: he was Bellamy’s right hand man in Season 1. He’s one of the original hundred. They could have done more with him, but in reality he’s replaceable. If you took Miller, Jackson, and Niylah out of the show, nothing would change. You could even say the same for Abby and Echo; they have more screen time than the rest, but Abby’s continued presence on the show feels forced and Echo is far from a developed character. Their “skills” can easily be transferable to other characters. Characters like Jordan and Emori are MUCH more compelling.
Another thing that drags the episode down (and the season, if I’m being honest)? The whole “Sheidheda” making Madi a murder princess. I absolutely cannot fathom WHY grounder culture is still a thing on this show. They are on another planet, over a century later, with a thousand better things to focus on. I understand that Madi’s nightblood is significant, and the flame might be as well (from a technology standpoint). But why introduce this “dark commander”? if they wanted Madi to go full assassin, the pain of losing Clarke would have been enough to justify it. Also, what point does Madi/Sheidheda being so threatening towards Gaia serve? Having to listen to anything about the commanders is honestly exhausting, and it’s holding the show back. They’ve moved on (literally) in almost every capacity, and the show’s tendency to beat a dead horse only ever backfires.
Not to sound too harsh, but that feeling I get whenever someone calls Madi “heda” is the same feeling I get if I’m at a party and this one person can only talk about how great high school was. This again? We’re in our late twenties. High school wasn’t great. Please, let it go.
With that being said, they are setting up the next episode in a way that makes me think they might take the flame out of Madi for good, so we’ll see how that goes.
Now, there are some compelling pieces here: it was nice to see Raven go back to being sciencey and a little bit philosophical after almost a full season of nothing but self-righteousness. Her conversation with Murphy about morality, not immortality, as a way to avoid hell was well done. The 100 loves a good morality conversation, and with things getting more dire in Sanctum and the growing comparisons between the Primes and Arkadians I’m sure that’s not the last we’ll hear of it.
Getting almost everyone in one place, setting the stage for getting the dark commander out of Madi’s head, and setting up one last ditch effort to appease the Primes was great. The pacing in this case was well done and well executed, despite the issues that I did have, and I know that the final showdown will be epic.
The hold that the Primes have over Sanctum is disintegrating, to put it mildly, and my guess is that a mass witch trial-esque execution isn’t exactly the way to put the populace at ease.
There’s even an internal rebellion being incited by Ryker, who tells Delilah’s parents and another man that their loved ones aren’t “one with the Primes,” that nothing is left of the original host when the Prime’s mind drive takes over, and they’ve been lied to for decades. I’m curious to see the reaction when everyone in Sanctum learns the truth.
The Primes are Dead. Long Live the Primes.
Here’s the thing about the Primes and the Arkadians — they’re so concerned with not being like each other that they conveniently ignore or justify what they’re doing. Russell is hellbent on not ending up like the Arkadians, but how, in any way, are the Primes better than the Arkadians? At their current positions, I’d say that the Primes are decidedly worse. Here’s the thing, though — they’ve had time. Josie said it herself — she wasn’t always like this. Give the Arkadians a few centuries, and who's to say they wouldn’t devolve into something similar?
The driving force for both groups has always been taking care of “their people.” What’s not usually discussed is that in order to put your people first you need to put other people last. Someone almost always suffers, it's just about prioritizing that suffering.
It circles back around to that question of trying to save humanity but never bothering to question if it even should be saved. Sure, the Primes can live forever. Should they?
Clarke even gets a glimpse of Josie’s morality, or the morality she used to have, as their minds start to disintegrate and Josie’s memories bleed into Clarke’s mind space. We see Josie in love with Gabriel, watching that memory fondly until she absolutely has to let it go. In another episode, Clarke already discovered that memory of Josie’s from that diner on Earth.
Finally, when Gabriel and Octavia find Bellamy and Clarke/Josie and Gabriel is about to take out her mind drive, almost all of her memories are gone. Eliza Taylor absolutely kills this whole scene, and I actually could have shed a tear for Josie when she speaks through Clarke, saying she can’t remember, but she’s sure she did terrible things.
Josie had morality. Josie lost it.
The entire run of the show has been exploring morality and what it means — no simple task, I know. I think, however, that Gabriel really embodied that when he let Josie die. He said it himself, he’s been in love with her for centuries. But he needs, everyone needs, the cycle to stop. Putting an end to using hosts is the only way to do it.
That’s Love, Bitches
I mean… come on. Come ON.
This scene was everything. Well acted, well written, well directed. I cried, you cried, everyone cried. Twitter imploded. I’ll go to my grave being adamant that Bellamy and Clarke’s relationship is THE best and most well done thing about the show. The entirety of the sixth season is built on Clarke being gone and Bellamy fighting for her to come back. Love, sacrifice, forgiveness — all are main tenets of The 100, and all are wrapped up in Bellamy and Clarke.
It’s crystal clear that they’re paralleling Gabriel and Josie with Bellamy and Clarke. Josie dies, Gabriel letting her go while saying that their time is over, only for Bellamy to immediately bring Clarke back? Josie and Gabriel’s time is over, and Bellamy and Clarke’s is starting. A literal new life.
They really threw every romantic trope at them this episode. Clarke’s heart stopping in front of Bellamy and him pleading for her to come back? Bellamy saying he needs her? The CPR? The remnants of Josie try to kill Clarke, and she only comes back when she hears Bellamy’s voice? The first thing she sees when she comes back is Bellamy’s face? Octavia’s smirk in the back? The audacity.
This scene was lead up to with a full six seasons of development — from the beginning they were the head and the heart. Gabriel said it, the heart needs the head to tell it to beat. Clarke, clinging to her mind space, only came back because Bellamy restarted her heart. He’s her literal heart, guys.
Bellamy has thought Clarke was dead three times now — the first was during Praimfaya, the second when he discovered Josie was inhabiting Clarke’s body. Both of those times he could only witness and not do anything, so you better believe he wasn’t going to let Clarke die if he had anything to say about it.
There is a clear stage for romantic Bellarke being set here, and anyone who says otherwise is not watching the same show. You don’t have to like it, but it’s happening.
Honestly, anything I could say about this has already been said. Just know that this episode killed me, and I’ll be watching the next one from the afterlife.
Alyssa’s episode rating: 🐝🐝🐝🐝
The 100 airs Tuesdays at 9/8c on the CW.