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The 100 - Adjustment Protocol - Review: "Devoid Of Emotion"

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Like it or not, the sixth season of The 100 has just one more episode to go before it wraps. Last week's hour left things in an interesting state of play, with Sanctum's downfall being a matter of 'how', not 'if'. Last night's episode moved at a pace I thought was too frantic at times, and had numerous twists and turns along the way. "Adjustment Protocol" was directed by Antonio Negret and written by Kim Shumway.

Right from the first minute, Russell's cards were on the table. His primary objective was to get his followers back on side with him, and crush any possibility of dissent and uprising. When he was implanting a new empty mind drive into Clarke in the lab, he stated that in order to do this he wanted to resurrect all the Primes at once, so disrupting this process was Clarke's main objective from then on. It almost killed Clarke as she listened to Madi struggle in her restraints - albeit under the influence of Sheidheda - but the success of her agreed plan with Bellamy, Octavia, Gabriel and his children depended on her keeping her cover as Josephine, and remarkably, she's still managed to keep the act up flawlessly.

It was also clear early on that this episode was going to be a farewell of sorts to Abby. In a touching moment, Clarke dropped her Josephine act and hugged her mother, which gave Abby a tremendous boost since she believed her daughter was all but gone. With Madi nearing death thanks to being the sole bone marrow source for new Nightblood serum, Abby decided to take the serum herself to become a Nightblood and spare Madi further transplants. Her end was further signaled when she out of the blue apologized to Raven for the way she had treated her, with Raven reciprocating. The Abby  we knew came to an end when Russell decided that Abby would become the final host in his quest to resurrect all the Primes, and she was implanted with his wife's mind drive, hereby becoming Simone Lightbourne.

Running alongside this was Murphy and Emori's storyline, as they still wanted to continue on the path to immortality by joining the Primes. After nearly being burned at the stake, they had switched allegiances back to their people and away from the Primes, but hung in there long enough to become Nightbloods and receive their own mind drives, before recanting their allegiances to the Primes and opting to stay on Sanctum while the remaining Primes evacuated Sanctum on board the drop ship, and returned to Eligius IV.

And finally, Gabriel made a dramatic return to Sanctum sanctuary for the first time in decades. He couldn't sit helplessly outside the radiation shield and wait for Clarke to bring it down any longer, so he walked on through posed as a guard, and was able to deploy his watered-down red sun toxin before being captured. Russell was one step ahead, however, having also successfully weaponized the toxin, but his wasn't watered down. It was known as his adjustment protocol, and by being fully potent he was able to start a war within his followers right then and there, supposedly allowing the true believers to kill the non-believers.

That right there is the majority of this episode in a nutshell, but it was told in a much more chaotic fashion than it perhaps needed to be. I'm sitting here trying to put this review together, and I'm just unsure what to say next. The episode didn't connect with me. I felt no emotion at all because the storytelling was so frantic and and no time was put aside to let things sink in.

Losing Abby to the Primes is up there with most significant moments of the series to date, but it seems that this episode didn't want me to care about that despite throwing a big reunion between her and her daughter and a big closure moment between her and Raven. There were flashbacks as well, but when you think back just a few weeks to how Kane bowed out of the series, Abby's farewell felt significantly underdone. It was all over in a flash. I can't recall a moment like this one in this series being so devoid of emotional connection. Maybe it's just me, but it feels so bizarre. The only possible explanation could be that Abby is somehow alive in a similar fashion to Clarke, but that doesn't seem likely according to many expert commentators.

It was a similar situation when Clarke, Gaia, Echo and Miller reunited. The latter trio were on the run and being hunted by the guards, but again, it seemed like the creative team had forgotten the significance of this moment. They thought it was Josephine, but it was actually Clarke. It's a big deal that Clarke is essentially back from the dead, but the reactions from everyone were very much underdone.

There is nothing more powerful than the truth.
Russell's showdown with Gabriel was the only scene that felt like it came somewhat close to doing the significance of the moment justice. It was an important clash of ideologies, and the difference in power and status was very much reminiscent of any protest we see in our world today, where someone very small stands up to someone or something much more powerful than them, but it was also clich├ęd in that Gabriel couldn't do the deed when it counted. He couldn't kill Russell when he had the chance, and that mistake proved to be significantly costly.
We're not here to fight. We're here to liberate.
To top it all off, the episode's climax was a flop. With Gabriel defying the original plan and deploying the red sun toxin earlier than planned, Bellamy, Octavia, and the Children of Gabriel found themselves up a creek without a paddle. They had no plan B, until Echo decided to use the previously captured Priya to try to swing the Sanctum population away from believing in the Primes. Though that proved useless this time around, I was pleased that Bellamy and Octavia stuck with their pact to do as little harm as possible, though they can now blame Gabriel for the presumably deadly results of Russell deploying his Adjustment Protocol.

Though this episode was far below what I expected from a penultimate episode, at least the ending managed to deliver some intrigue. Aside from the strange plot hole that seemed to suggest that the Primes had no bug-out plan except for a tunnel for when the drop ship or Eligius IV wasn't present, Russell ordered Simone and Josephine to join him. Raven was also forced to pilot the ship, and somehow Clarke managed to convince Russell that Gaia be allowed to come too. Russell handed Sanctum over to Gabriel, and then the hour's best piece of dialog followed moments later, courtesy of Murphy once he realized Josephine was in fact Clarke:
Just so you know, Josephine called me John.
Next thing we know, the doors connecting the drop ship to Eligius IV open, and Simone, Russell and Clarke have Raven, Madi and Gaia at gunpoint, while Niylah and Indra, among others, point their own guns back at them.

What's going to happen in next week's season finale, you say? I honestly haven't got the slightest idea. On Sanctum, the new arrivals will have to hope they can ride out the Adjustment Protocol and stay in one piece, perhaps while someone can deploy the anti-toxin in large enough quantities to stop the toxin from doing more damage. Someone will have to step up and lead the population, hopefully creating unity along the way, and revealing the whole truth to the Sanctum population. On board Eligius IV, it's hard to imagine what Russell and Simone stand to gain from being there, given they're significantly outnumbered. What we didn't see is who else they brought with them on the drop ship, so the dynamics may change somewhat.

In summary, you can probably tell I didn't enjoy this episode very much. I don't feel I need to reiterate why that was the case, given I laid it all out in the review, but in three words I'd describe it as devoid of emotion, but I do hope next week's season 6 finale puts in a stronger innings. The season 5 finale set a very high bar, and while I don't think next week's episode can top it, I'm more than happy to be proven wrong.

Thanks as always for reading! Do share your thoughts and theories on this episode in the comments below. I'm interested to hear who else felt an emotional disconnect because I'm sure I'm not the only one. See you right back here for the season finale of The 100 next week.

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