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The 100 - Ashes to Ashes - Review: "Promising Prospects"

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The season finale of The 100 is just a fortnight away, but in last night's eleventh episode, "Ashes to Ashes", the creative team finally hinted at how this sixth season may close out, with some promising prospects. Series star Bob Morley made his directorial debut, with the script written by Charmaine DeGrate.

The hour opened rather unexpectedly with Madi on the operating table in the Sanctum laboratory. In last week's hour, her sentence for murdering Miranda was commuted from death to being a lab rat essentially, with her bone marrow being harvested by Jackson in order to pioneer a new way of creating Nightblood. Sheidheda took time out of his presumably busy schedule to stir Madi on somewhat, and as she drifted in and out of consciousness Sheidheda told Madi what he wanted her to do, which was to rule this world and kill anyone who might stand in her way. Madi appeared once more in the episode's final minutes, which I'll discuss soon, but I will say here that Sheidheda ending his stint here was rather abrupt. In an episode which had very good pacing and flow throughout, Sheidheda should have held off his appearance right before Clarke turned up, but again, more on that in a minute.

Outside the shield, I was really happy with what went down. Gabriel's dialog was well thought out, and made a complex development in the power and abilities of the red sun toxin easily understandable, with the character development flowing around that nicely. With Josephine's mind drive no longer available as a bargaining chip to broker a peace deal, Gabriel, Clarke, Bellamy and Octavia had to come up with a new plan. As we've seen before in this series, the Praimfaya equivalent of dealing with the problem was suggested first, but in perhaps the most crucial piece of character development this season, both Clarke and Octavia questioned that solution, and instead of using the naturally occurring and now weaponized red sun toxin to kill everyone they could, a smarter plan was set in motion. By lowering the potency of the toxin and distributing it in the Sanctum water supply, the insects would react first, prompting the evacuation last seen in the season premiere, and enabling a far less deadly rescue mission for the people who arrived on Eligius IV.

If we can spare innocent lives, we should.

What would Monty do?
These are perhaps the most important words to come out of the mouths of any characters this season. Though I was optimistic in the early weeks that this season would be different to the five previous ones in which essentially everyone gets obliterated, in the latter half of the season that's looked increasingly less likely. These words look to have moved the goal posts back to where they should be, which is preserving life instead of taking it. Needless to say, I'm hugely relieved, and with the finale in sight, I'm hopeful that it will be drastically different to what we've seen in the finales gone by.

Built around all this was the character development and dialog that was expected between Bellamy and Octavia. When his camp was raided in rather interesting circumstances by his own 'children', Gabriel sent the pair to go and harvest mushrooms in a cave that contained the red sun toxin. It was there that Octavia made a move to win her brother back, but Bellamy rightly set about deflecting Octavia's claims about essentially being enlightened by her experience with the anomaly. Octavia's choice of words here was the problem. Though she was telling the truth exactly how it was for her, it was far too much for an already skeptical Bellamy to get his head around, and it lacked context that would have made sense to him. She's likely going to have to prove with her actions that she's changed, and there's still time for that to occur.

What do you say when 'I'm sorry' isn't good enough?

Inside the shield, more was happening. Gaia, Miller and Murphy remained imprisoned, but Murphy was summonsed to Echo's sentencing, which came about after Riker foiled her assassination plot last week. He was told that he and Emori would secure their immortality if he went beyond the shield and returned with Josephine. His allegiances were rightly heavily criticized last week, but this week he decided to be loyal to his people while stringing Russell along. Of all the characters in this series, Murphy is the most accomplished game-player, and this game is more important than most. Before Echo was led away to become the first guinea pig Nightblood via bone marrow transplant, Murphy spoke in Trigedasleng to Echo, advising her of his, Gaia and Miller's plan to retrieve Becca's notebook.

What followed for Echo was quite unexpected, but rather ominous, one might say. Riker's bone marrow solution worked, but that could only mean that the next thing to happen to her would be that she became a host. It was up to Echo to save herself, and for a character who has become known for her physical abilities, she could only talk the talk in this situation. She opened up about what can only be described as a terribly traumatic time in her life as a young girl when she had to take the life of her friend, Echo, in order to save herself in an impromptu fight to the death ordered by the Ice Queen. Her actual name was Ash, but she had to assume her friend Echo's identity after she killed her, and carry out Echo's mission involving a neighboring crew. This all played through in flashbacks which was good to see, though as sad as this story was, I couldn't really connect with it on an emotional level, perhaps because Echo is a very emotionally conservative character - an important trait when she's a spy or assassin, but a negative trait in this situation. Eventually, the time came for Riker to anesthetize Echo, but instead of inviting his guards in for assistance, he invited Gaia and Miller in instead, who had escaped from their cell earlier. Echo wasted no time killing Riker, which came as no surprise, but repercussions for that are virtually guaranteed given how important Riker is to the Primes, not to mention the fact that he's a Prime himself.

Murphy, meanwhile - aided by Jade - kept the word he gave Russell, and set about finding Josephine. He succeeded, and diverted the attention of the Children of Gabriel guards enough to sneak inside Gabriel's tent and rescue Josephine - or so he thought. Clarke, Bellamy, Gabriel and Octavia had already discussed Clarke pretending to be Josephine as a way to get inside the shield and deploy the red sun toxin, but Murphy beat them to it. Clarke returned to Sanctum and greeted Russell, who wasted no time on updating Josephine on the progress of the bone marrow solution, but Clarke was mortified to find that Madi was the supplier in this instance in a subtle callback to the days of Mount Weather.
Mistakes are forgivable. Not learning from them isn't.
Clarke had to stay the course as Josephine, and couldn't signal to Madi that she was in fact Clarke. Returning to what I touched on earlier, Sheidheda should have shown up in Madi's dream sequence right before this moment. It would have given Madi's outburst of anger more definition and meaning, and better conveyed the fact that she's battling Sheidheda in addition to battling the Primes for her freedom.

The hour ended leaving several important things in motion. Clarke is now inside the shield masquerading as Josephine, and leaving Bellamy, Octavia and Gabriel to find a way to get inside the shield and deploy the red sun toxin. Fortunately, Gabriel's followers should now be on side with him after their disagreement over his version of events concerning his resurrection, and Clarke sparing the life of one of them, proving she isn't Josephine. With Riker now dead, there's no one except Abby or perhaps Jackson who can create additional Nightbloods. Gaia, Miller and Echo are now free and their next moves remain to be seen.

It's not a matter of if Sanctum is going to be turned on its head by the finale, but how. The way I see it, there's two options on the table. The first is whether those in the know inside Sanctum can convince enough of Sanctum's believers that their Primes are phony and to overthrow them, or the release of the toxin causes the intended evacuation and enables those outside the shield to rescue their people, with the optional extra of killing the Primes. A combination of the two could also occur.

All up, this was a pretty good episode that was difficult to fault and easy to follow. The character and story development were well balanced and flowed very smoothly. The prospects for the season's final two episodes look very promising, so I'm hoping things don't go belly-up.

Thanks as always for reading. I'd love to hear what you thought of this episode of The 100 so please share your thoughts and theories in the comments below. See you right back here next week for the penultimate episode.

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