The 100 6x11 “Ashes to Ashes” Review
Trust is hard to come by in a civilization built on lies. In “Ashes to Ashes”, Clarke, Bellamy and Octavia are forced to come up with a plan quick that will appease the Children of Gabriel and save their people in Sanctum while Echo, Gaia, Miller and Murphy forge their own respective plans to get out of the sacred city alive.
Not only is the story in this episode captivating, thanks to veteran writer Charmaine DeGrate, but the acting and visuals are stunning as well — all due to Bob Morley’s natural talent in his directorial debut. He has definitely proven himself a force in front of and behind the camera, and I know I speak for the entire The 100 fandom when I say I cannot wait to see where his career takes him.
For now though, we are lucky to have him as our Bellamy Blake, who particularly shines in this episode as he faces Octavia and acts as the mastermind behind the plan that aligns them with the Children of Gabriel. That is until Clarke has other, more selfless plans, of course.
Upon waking up as 100% Clarke Griffin, our protagonist has a very different outlook on life. While in the mindspace, she was forced to face her demons in the form of people from her past who knew she could do better. Monty in particular helped Clarke to realize that violence isn’t always the answer. So, when Clarke comes to and realizes her people are still in Sanctum, she is dead set on masquerading as Josephine to get into the city and save them.
We as the audience get to see that changed and evolved Clarke inside the mindspace come to fruition in the “real world” and witness the satisfying tension it causes between her and Bellamy. Bellamy, who has spent much of the season fighting tooth and nail to get Clarke back finally has her by his side again. So naturally, when she wants to thrust herself back into a dangerous situation, he isn’t a huge fan.
Though it was disappointing that the two only briefly discussed the lengths Bellamy went to to save Clarke before refocusing their attention on the rest of their people, this is how it has always been. As frustrating as it is, they live in a post-apocalyptic world where there isn’t much time at all to discuss feelings and desires. After the ending scene of 6x10 in which we felt how desperately Bellamy needs Clarke by his side, it’s undeniable that they need to find the time to sit down and have a longer conversation someday about what it actually means that they will risk everything, including the safety of the people they love, to save the other (hint: It is absolutely not platonic). However, as we are approaching the end of the season and tensions are coming to a head, it doesn’t appear that they will find that time anytime soon.
Regardless, just seeing Clarke and Bellamy back together, working through the problem in front of them side by side was much needed after a season of Clarke mostly existing only inside her own head. Clarke and Bellamy are co-leaders first and foremost, and as such are a force to be reckoned with. Though it pains Bellamy to consider the consequences of Clarke getting caught in Sanctum, he knows that this is what must be done — what Monty would do.
Monty continues to be their moral compass this season as they try to work towards peace. Though this moon has thrown them for a loop more than once in their attempts to start anew and be better, our heroes know they must do so even when the temptation to get revenge is stronger than ever. Doing what is right is not always the easier route, but it’s still the one that should be taken.
While callbacks to characters long gone can sometimes be tiring, this season has done a beautiful job at emphasizing the important roles they played and continue to play in the lives of the characters still standing. While Murphy is terrified of facing his mortality, we know through Monty, Maya, Jake and even Pike that dying does not mean you cease to matter. The impact you had on people while you were alive remains.
And so, Clarke faces her own mortality head on for the greater good. If she doesn’t, she knows her people will likely die. While I’ve missed Clarke deeply, her returning to the screen in such a powerful way almost makes it worth it. She’s evolved into a whole new kind of hero. Just when I thought it was impossible, I love her even more.
While brainstorming a plan that will lower the radiation shield and get Bellamy, Clarke and Octavia’s people out of Sanctum, the group is confronted by the Children of Gabriel. They believe that Gabriel is still Xavier, and that he and “the old man” are protecting Josephine, thus betraying their anti-Prime regime. When they discover that Gabriel has bodysnatched Xavier, and has secretly existed in this form for 10 years, the Children of Gabriel are understandably upset.
Layla, the sister of Xavier, helps add an interesting layer to the story. As Bellamy and Octavia work through their tarnished sibling relationship, she must mourn the fact that she’ll never get the chance to do the same, as her brother is gone forever. Layla’s hurt and anger is palpable as she must cooperate with Gabriel in order to destroy the Primes.
We also get to see more of how the Primes are directly hurting people and tearing people apart, even though they believe what they are doing is right. The 100 has always placed emphasis on the grey area between right and wrong, a space that many if not all of the characters on this show have occupied at some point in time. The view of the Primes as godly figures and the cold war between the believers in Sanctum and the nonbelievers in the forest once again highlights that grey area. Both believe they are right, and neither are willing to budge.
Also interesting is Gabriel’s role in all of this. Though he has notoriously led an anti-Primes movement, he is still alive in yet another body. We get little insight as to why he was resurrected 10 years ago, only that it was done by a man named Eduardo without his consent. This explains why he’s been hiding for so long, pretending to be Xavier. Though this season has largely been about redemption for characters like Octavia and Clarke who we know to have done bad things in the past, Gabriel needs to redeem himself as well. He has his own demons that he must face by helping to rescue the innocent and unwilling before they become hosts.
What is still undetermined is whether he will go along with Clarke’s peaceful plan, or aid the Children of Gabriel in killing the remaining Primes. While Clarke and Bellamy have a moral compass in the form of Monty guiding them, he does not. Though he has agreed to side with Clarke, we know how quickly characters on this show can switch allegiances when it is convenient for them. So, Gabriel is certainly a wild card.
A Spy Named Ash
Back in Sanctum, Russell and Co. waste no time finding a new host for Simone’s mind drive. Echo, who has just been betrayed by Ryker while attempting to assassinate Russell and save her friends, is the chosen one.
As Ryker prepares to kill her, Echo stalls, offering up a backstory that gives the audience an important little tidbit of information: Echo isn’t the name she was born with. As a child living under Queen Nia’s rule in the Ice Nation, or Azgeda, Ash was forced to kill her friend, Echo, and assume her identity before a trip to a neighboring kingdom.
She tells the tale through tears, seemingly still guilty that she was not able to spare her friend’s life. However, when Gaia and Miller (a dream team, might I add) come to her rescue, Echo reminds Ryker of something Queen Nia taught her, right as she plunges a spear into his heart: hesitation is death.
While this was an unexpected “badass” moment, it completely alters the importance of Echo’s story. While watching the flashback, we’re supposed to feel bad for Echo who was forced to kill someone close to her at such a young age. We believe that this provides more depth to her character, shows her as more than just a spy with good aim.
However, Echo does not redeem herself by doing better as so many others have done this season. Instead, she takes the easier route, revenge, and kills Ryker.
While this may be smart and cunning, it makes all of Echo’s flashes of vulnerability up until this point seem ingenuine. If this moment, an important glimpse into her traumatic past, was only a ploy to set her up for revenge, how are we as the audience expected to interpret any moments of warmth or vulnerability from her as anything other than manipulative? I want so badly to like Echo and to see her become a well-rounded character, but unfortunately this flashback only aided me in viewing her as cold-hearted, one-note character.
The “badass female warrior” trope is only entertaining up to a certain point. If Echo is to continue being a part of the story the writers are telling, she needs an emotional facelift. And pronto. In a season constructed around the idea of facing one’s demons, there’s no reason Echo couldn’t have done the same — and shown some real depth in the process.
My Sister, not My Responsibility
While dangerous, Sanctum sure is beautiful. I’ll give it that. While foraging for the toxic mushrooms needed to make a bomb with the same hallucinatory properties as the red sun, Bellamy and Octavia get a much-needed opportunity to hash things out in a glowing cave.
Octavia has changed since going into the anomaly and facing her demons, the most significant of which was her brother and what she put him through. She knows that she cannot expect Bellamy to forgive her for the person she became in his absence over those six years, but she also needs him to know that she’s turned over a new leaf.
It’s understandably difficult for Bellamy to believe that she could have changed so much in such a short amount of time, but it’s clear that he sees some sort of shift. While Bellamy refuses to forgive and forget, he does offer up a satisfying line, delivered perfectly by Bob Morley: “You are my sister, but you’re not my responsibility, not anymore.”
For Octavia, Bellamy was her moral compass. She needed his guidance, although this is the first time she’s admitting that. The Blake siblings have been through a lot. At times, their tumultuous relationship has felt exhausting. Bellamy’s recognition that Octavia is still his sister, but that she’s not his to guide anymore is something that has been a long time coming, perhaps too long. Though they still have a lot to work through, when and if they ever find a moment of peace, this moment felt satisfying. Bellamy is no longer running away from Octavia and pretending she doesn’t exist, and Octavia is taking responsibility for her actions.
Marie and Bob’s acting in this scene was impeccable and really brought this relationship back to life. This scene was probably my favorite of the entire night, purely because we got to see a pairing that has been missing all season return. And, perhaps more importantly, Bellamy was able to definitively tell his sister that he doesn’t forgive her for her abusive behavior, and doesn’t have to.
From this point forward, Octavia will have to continue on her journey of redemption by herself, without that moral compass she claims to need so badly. Her demons are perhaps the darkest of all, so it will be interesting to say the least to see if she can reach some form of enlightenment or if she will fall back into her old ways.
The Unsung Heroes
An unexpected yet delightful pairing this episode was Miller and Gaia. These two minor characters got the chance to shine through and bounce off each other in ways I never knew I needed. Gaia helps Miller to forgive himself for following Octavia despite her wicked ways, telling him that mistakes can be forgiven, it’s not learning from them that cannot be.
This line parallels Gaia greatly to Monty, whose only wish for his people was to be the good guys moving forward. While Monty is the moral compass for Bellamy, Clarke and Octavia in the forest, Gaia is that same moral compass in Sanctum.
She and Miller escape their holding cell and manage to save Echo, but not before she’s been made into a nightblood. Gaia notices this right away as she’s untying her, and in true Gaia fashion is stunned.
I can’t help but wonder if Echo’s nightblood is a setup for something greater. Will she take the chip and become commander? I don’t think so. More plausible, I think, is that she will have to lower the radiation shield. Of course this means something would have to happen to Clarke and/or Raven that would hinder them from being able to do so themselves.
While Gaia and Miller got their chance to be unsung heroes in this episode, perhaps Echo will get that same chance soon, possibly redeeming herself. Though this is equal parts speculation and wishful thinking, The 100 is unpredictable. Regardless, I would like to see Gaia and Miller become best friends and continue being a dream team, please and thank you.
Caught in the Middle
Poor Murphy, always finding himself caught between a rock and a hard place. Then again though, as Russell puts it, he’s willing to do whatever and align with whoever in order to save himself. While Murphy takes offense to this, he can’t necessarily deny it.
However, there’s a shift in Murphy’s thought process that is visible when Russell warns him there will be consequences for not bringing Josephine back alive. Murphy assumes he will be killed, “an eye for an eye”. He seems genuinely accepting of this. It’s only when Russell says Emori will be killed that Murphy’s face changes.
Murphy has always been a selfish person. Arguably, Emori changed that about him the moment they fell in love. In Season 4, he fought to make sure she would not be killed in the radiation chamber. Similarly, she refused to leave him to die on earth at the end of Season 5. The two are willing to die if it means dying by the side of the person they love.
However, this is the first time we’ve seen Murphy really accept his own death as he recognizes Russell’s deal for what it is, immortality versus mortality. He still wants to live forever by Emori’s side, but if one of them has to die to save the other, he wants it to be him.
I’m still waiting for Murphy to change sides as he does so well and become the hero we all know he can be (see: him helping to save Clarke in Season 3). This time though, perhaps he will stay on the “good” side and take Monty’s words to heart.
Murphy’s internal battle with his mortality has been so interesting to watch, and has been perhaps my favorite storyline to come out of Sanctum’s body-snatching ways. He’s known as a cockroach for a reason, but does he want that to be his legacy? Though he’s high up on my list of characters most likely to die this season, I sincerely hope he sticks around purely because I want to see him accept his mortality and live with it.
This is The 100 though, so I’m not holding my breath that he will get a happy ending. After all, does anyone ever get that on this show?
The Academy Award Goes to:
You’ve seen Clarke, Josephine, Josephine pretending to be Clarke, and a Clarke and Josephine combo. Can I interest you in Clarke as Josephine?
Realizing that the only way to avoid killing innocent people is to lower the radiation shield before the less intense bomb is set off, Clarke knows she must pretend to be Josephine and do it herself. Clarke parallels Bellamy from Season 2 as the inside man, and she certainly isn’t expecting what she finds when she returns to Sanctum.
Madi is strapped down and being drained of her bone marrow to allow for the creation of more hosts, including one for Simone, Josephine’s mother. Clarke takes on perhaps the greatest acting feat of all time when she tells Madi that she is Josephine, and that Clarke is gone forever. She must be apathetic as Madi struggles in place, promising to avenge her death.
I genuinely expected Clarke to break in this moment, and I’m sure there will be many moments like it in the near future. Clarke knows she must remain undercover if she wants to save the lives of all her people, including Madi, but that’s her child strapped down and being used as a medical experiment.
It has been such a joy to watch Eliza Taylor’s range this season as she’s taken on the challenge of not only playing two entirely different characters, but playing them as each other as well. She’s really done an incredible job with it and shown just how talented she is (though just her as Clarke was enough to prove that). With Eliza announcing that she’ll be directing next season, I’m already excited for what’s to come after Season 6 is over. However, we still have two more episodes to get through in which I’m positive she’ll shine in front of the camera like she’s done all season long.
In his first episode as a director, Bob Morley really knocked it out of the park. Everything came together to showcase the story in the best way possible, with the actors shining through in their performances. It’s unsuprising that so many cast members have been singing Bob’s praises since before the episode even aired. Hopefully we will get more episodes directed by him in the future!
As far as the story goes, this episode was pretty on par with the excellent writing that’s been delivered to us all season long. Clarke has been set up to once again save the day, but will she be able to? It’s those unexpected yet expected twists that make this show so great. We know that something is going to go wrong with this plan, we just don’t know what.
With Clarke and Murphy back in Sanctum, almost everyone is in the same place again. The stories are starting to intertwine, with Abby’s bone marrow solution incapacitating Madi and thus throwing an unexpected wrench in Clarke’s plans to stay cool and undercover. Meanwhile, Murphy has further aligned himself with Russell and the Primes and will likely be a key player in determining the fate of his people. Does this mean more Clarke/Josephine and Murphy? Sign me up.
And then there’s Bellamy and Octavia who are still with the Children of Gabriel and Gabriel himself. These two will really have to work together to save those they love and avoid a bloodbath. Octavia’s redemption, incoming.
After all is said and done, Bellamy is going to have to face what he did as well though. He cannot sweep under the rug the fact that he left everyone else behind to get Clarke back. Even if it was in the best interest for his people, his focus at the time was on saving Clarke.
This episode did give us a few breathers amidst the chaos for characters to work through their personal issues, and I’m hoping that we’ll get more of that after the climax of the finale. If the story is to move forward, the characters' relationships need to change, whatever that means for each respective pairing.
Interpret that however you wish.
With two hours of Season 6 left to go, I think this episode ultimately did its job. It forced the characters as well as us to consider how this is all going to end, and if they can really follow Monty’s advice and do better.
Next episode, the penultimate, will launch us head first into the action and thrill The 100 does so well with that morally grey area growing even bigger. I can’t wait!
Where is Jordan? It makes no sense that he suddenly disappeared, especially having played such an integral role in the first half of the season.
Bellamy hiding his tears after talking to Octavia really got to me. Bob Morley truly is a force in front of and behind the camera.
Speaking of acting, can we talk about Eliza Taylor playing Clarke playing Josephine? Incredible. That “Boo hoo” was everything.
That parallel between Clarke pulling the gag out of Bellamy’s mouth and him doing the same to her in 3x02 was something I never knew I needed until now. *Chef’s kiss*
Gaia must be protected at all costs. That is all.
Jessica’s episode rating: 🐝🐝🐝.5
The 100 airs Tuesdays at 9/8c on the CW.