The 100 6x12 "Adjustment Protocol" Review
Hello friends, it’s good to see you all again! I’m happy to be sharing my thoughts with you in this form again. Tonight I’m reviewing episode 6x12 of The 100 “Adjustment Protocol”, written by Kim Shumway and directed by Antonio Negret. I found myself underwhelmed by the season’s lead-in to the finale episode and I’m detailing why below!
1. Eliza’s Exceptional Encore
Eliza Taylor has been on it this season. She’s been given extremely meaty scenes and she keeps blowing them out of the water. Clarke has been through so much lately and I am always excited to see what Eliza brings to the material she’s been given. The last few episodes have perhaps been some of the most challenging in her career and she’s been phenomenal in each of them. This episode was particularly tough for her, having to vacillate between Clarke playing Josephine, to Clarke listening to her daughter’s crazed rants and having to hide her tears, to Clarke experiencing the grief of realizing that her mother is dead and having to camouflage it so that her Josephine cover remains intact — and her friends remain alive. I wanted to reach through the screen and hug her when she broke down, because the girl has been through it!
For several seasons it’s been easy to debate about Clarke being a “worthy” hero because her actions don’t often line up with what we’ve been trained to expect of heroes. She is always ready and willing to make the tough choices, to kill whoever needs to be killed to save her people, to reach into the darkest parts of her own soul to make sure that other people don’t have to. This season Clarke has been unwilling to compromise on the promise she made to Monty’s memory. The promise to “do better” is layered in everything that she does and everything that she says. If last season was about the development of Bellamy into a “fully realized” leader, this has been that season for Clarke and she is extraordinary.
I do find myself concerned about what Abby’s death will mean for Clarke’s determination to be different. It would be so easy to fall back into her old patterns, to lash out and turn her rage to all of the inhabitants of Sanctum (including innocents) instead of just on Russell who rightly deserves it. I’m hoping that she turns to her friends for support in this moment (and in the future) because heaven only knows that she’ll need them to get through this and I believe that perhaps that will be one of the biggest pluses of this season. With all of the crimes her friends laid at her feet this season, after watching Clarke go through so much and consciously continue to “do better”, I hope that we come through this with them realizing how much Clarke has done for everyone, often at her own expense. She’s a hero and she deserves to be treated as such.
1. Men Ruin Everything (Especially Female Television Characters)
In a rather shocking (not!) development, Dr. Abigail Griffin has joined the ranks of deceased characters even as her body continues to walk among the living. It’s been clear to me since Season 4 that Abby and Kane didn’t have long for this world, with Kane’s Season 4 quote, ”The youth will inherit the Earth”, playing a huge part in my thought process. I expected Abby to die that season, due to the problems she was suffering post A.L.I.E., but thanks to Raven’s genius (and Kane’s unwillingness to let her walk out of the bunker) she lived to fight another season. I expected Kane to die in Season 5 after he was attacked mercilessly by the cannibal Vinson and yet he survived those wounds as well. For some, that was a relief but I personally found myself confused and after tonight’s episode (and, in all honesty, their treatment all season) that confusion continues. Instead of being treated with the gravity that main character deaths deserve, both felt unceremonious and rather rushed, but at least Kane received a hero’s death.
Abby’s story has grated on my nerves from the moment she first appeared in Season 5 with a drug addiction that was second only to her addictive obsession to Kane. Prior to Season 5, Abby’s story involved Kane but did not revolve around him. After that, all bets were off and Abby was only capable of caring about one person and that person was Kane. Everything she did in Season 5 and Season 6 up to and until Kane’s death served one person: Marcus Kane. Abby, a mother, a grandmother and one of only two qualified doctors for all of the people aboard the Eligius ship, became nothing more than a pawn on a romantic chessboard. She, like so many women on this show once they become romantically involved, became nothing more than a support for the man in her life. Even her death, which should be a hugely pivotal moment for this season, as Abby is the only mother of the original 100 we have any connection with, became wrapped up in the irony of what she’d done only three episode prior to save Kane.
I believe that it also says quite a bit about how this show (which features women quite heavily) understands feminism. It is tragically horrific to kill a woman only a few episodes after killing her male love interest. It sends a message, even if unintentional, that she is only worth keeping around as long as her man is there, too. Abby’s arc could have been finished well in the closing scenes of Season 4, it could even have worked in the mid-season finale of Season 5, but after giving her a drug addiction (which she had not completely conquered), showcasing the absolutely insane lengths she was willing to go to save Kane (which she was not given time to properly “learn” from), it was clear that Abby still had some growth left in her. Unfortunately, it’s a story we’ll never get to see.
In addition, the lead in to Abby’s death was painfully obvious. They needed to make 6 hosts, they only had 5 bodies. After making herself an obvious threat to Russell, Abby made herself a nightblood (“Like mother, like daughter”, says Jackson in the background for additional foreshadowing) and she’s in just the right age range to be suitable to host a 50-year-old man’s wife — unlike Ash (aka: Echo). She makes up with Raven in a rushed moment and conveniently learns that Clarke isn’t as dead as she thought she was — all in an effort to “finish” her storyline. As she dies, we’re treated to Raven and Jackson sobbing through flashbacks of her loved ones. It’s a death and not one particularly suited to a character of Abby’s standing on the show. More, fans of Paige Turco are likely going to have to prepare to watch “Abby” die once more — just as they did with Kane. It’s been a rough season for fans of Kabby. May we meet again Abby Griffin, you deserved more than you were given.
2. Forced Female Friendships are not Feminist (Say That 3 Times Fast)
This episode felt like a good reminder that most TV writers do not understand female friendships (yes, even if the writers identify as women themselves). In this episode we are treated to a moment that is still confusing me as I write this (after my second viewing of the episode): Clarke and Echo (and Gaia and Miller) are reunited and in a moment of relief, Echo hugs Clarke after realizing she’s managed to kill Josephine and that ...doesn't make sense. This season has felt like a huge attempt to retcon Clarke and Echo’s relationship into a friendship that does not exist; in fact Echo has been kinder to Clarke than people who have known Clarke for longer (albeit only by a few months) and that doesn’t work for me.
In the Season 5 two-part finale, Echo literally threatens to kill Clarke, because she is enraged that she left Bellamy to die, in the Season 4 premiere she does the same, in Season 3 she is responsible (in part) for killing many of Clarke’s “people”; and yet, the show, in a strange attempt to portray “friendship” between two women who the audience largely believe to be romantic rivals (because that’s how they are written), would have us ignore all of these previous transgressions, pretend the characters don’t need to have at least a conversation about mending their relationship and have jumped onto the bridge of friendship together. Echo and Clarke honestly don’t even know each other. It’s disingenuous and another example of the horrible ways in which a show that primarily features women treats those women.
Even worse is the fact that, after repeating Monty’s mantra all season long through many characters (but primarily Clarke), we watched Echo murder Ryker last episode in cold blood. (I have yet to come up with a reason his death makes sense. Yes he was going to wipe Echo, but Miller had him at gunpoint and he’d surrendered. It would have been easy enough to force him into the chair, tie the restraints and gag him — leaving him to be found later by the guards, or in this case Josephine.) What about Echo’s actions this season (in the small amount of screen time she’s been given) equate to “doing better”? We watched people castigate Clarke for killing people to save her people, but no one has anything to say to Echo for killing people to save….herself? It’s baffling that this show continues to have Echo act in ways that are antithetical to those of our confirmed heroes (Bellamy and Clarke) and suffer absolutely no negative pushback from anyone. At what point do we see the consequences of her actions? Especially with the messaging for this season?
3. Plot Holes Big Enough to Sink a Ship In
As per usual, The 100 once again crafts a season that is perhaps too big for its season length. This problem has been consistent since Season 4 and it’s largely because, after Season 3, the show which once prided itself on the fact that “anyone could die” has now become afraid to kill even the most useless character, if at least one fan likes them. This episode attempted to wrap up several character and plot arcs and as a result it felt overcrowded and rushed. Between bringing the Flame into the plot, the nightblood, making new primes, Emori and Murphy becoming Primes and pretending to be Kaylee and Daniel, Gabriel returning to Sanctum, Russell bombing his people and forcing them to kill each other, Priya’s kidnapping, and Abby’s death it’s just too much for one episode to handle!
If they needed all of these things to happen before the end of the season they should have begun the wrap up sooner (and or gotten rid of two characters in Season 4 and 5 respectively as mentioned earlier) and this is one of the prime reasons I support and advocate for smaller casts. Because every character with even an ounce of screen time is given the “main” treatment, all of their storylines must somehow be wrapped up in the final two episodes and it has historically not worked. In fact, this particular episode’s issues are so glaring largely because this season seriously pared down the amount of time it spent with people who weren’t Bellamy and Clarke (much like Season 2), greatly alleviating the audience’s need to care about so many different characters and it worked! Season 6, up until this episode has been one of the best seasons (my current order being 2, 1, 6, 4, 3, 5) because it felt like they were returning to the heart of the show: Bellamy and Clarke and their relationship to one another (however you might describe that). With this disjointed episode I was again reminded that there are too many characters I don’t have enough time to care about and it sapped the joy out of an otherwise excellent season for me.
But perhaps that’s my own fault. Perhaps I’m expecting too much from this show in its sixth season and of course I’ll wait to pass final judgement until the finale airs next week. I’ll be writing that review as well! I can’t wait to close out the season with you guys. See you soon!!!
April’s episode rating: 🐝🐝.5
The Season 6 finale of The 100 airs Tuesday, August 6 at 9/8c on the CW.