The 100 seems to be making a name for itself when it comes to hyper focused episodes. This season already included the one-off horror nightmare that was “Red Sun Rising,” and now we have “Nevermind,” an episode that almost exclusively takes place inside Clarke’s mind. Josephine may have taken over her body, but Becca built in a fail-safe memory bank in the chips that got installed in Clarke and Raven, which means that Clarke is still alive. She’s kicking around in her subconscious, doing her best to understand just what the hell is going on.
Once the episode deals with its necessary bit of exposition to explain how all of this could possible happen, “Nevermind” turns into a seriously entertaining thriller. Clarke spends a bit of time wandering around her room full of memories, represented by drawings on the four walls of a room. She immediately goes to a drawing of Lexa, placing her hand on her face. It’s a small, touching moment. Other characters will pop up later on, but Lexa is merely a fleeting image. Yet still, she’s the first image Clarke conjures in this room, and that means a lot.
The moment can’t last though. Because this is Clarke’s mind, Josephine is there too. She comes walking through a door adorned with Christmas decorations, and lets Clarke know this is a battle to the death. The dynamic that’s established is great from the get-go. Clarke and Josephine are two strong-willed characters fighting for what they want, and the way the show allows them to bounce off each other, both in terms of dialogue and action, is delightful. “I’ve heard so much about you,” says Josephine upon meeting Clarke. “Mostly murder-y things though,” she finishes, and we’re off to the races.
“Nevermind” does a good job of balancing tones. There’s tension and humor, but more importantly there’s some weighty excavation of Clarke’s past actions. The humor helps balance that out, as every single confrontation Clarke has with a memory that’s violent or damning is balanced out by Josephine making quips and promising to kill her. It’s Mean Girls meets The Hunger Games and it works so well.
But what makes “Nevermind” so memorable is the interrogation of Clarke’s history as a leader. Ever since she was floated down to Earth, she’s been the one in charge, the one making impossible decisions for a group of people just hoping to survive until the next day. Now, she has to come face to face with those decisions and reckon with the consequences. The neat trick here is that all of this, except Josephine, is a projection of Clarke’s own subconscious. These are her own internal thoughts, given life and a voice; how terrifying is that?
So, while Clarke attempts to hide the memory of her chip implantation from Josephine, she’s forced to not only run from a sociopathic teenager, but also deal with the lives she’s impacted since she came to the ground. She sees Maya, burned to a crisp, and confronts the fact that she’s killed more people than she’s saved. She sees her father, supposedly happy in the afterlife, and for a minute Clarke thinks she belongs there too. When she sees her father upon first arriving in this “Mindspace,” she feels nothing but relief. “It’s over. I’ve been fighting for so long,” she tells her father before lamenting the fact that she never got to say goodbye to her friends. This is the push and pull that eats at Clarke. She wants to save her friends, even if it means sacrificing herself, but she also wants to be with them.
Josephine knows this, and she plays on Clarke’s propensity for being a martyr. She convinces her to give up the chip of memories so that Clarke’s people can be safe in the real world. Russel and his people will help Bellamy build a Sanctum of their own, and in exchange Clarke sacrifices herself. She sees this as the logical option, the one Monty would have wanted when he told them to “do better” before heading to Alpha.
But then, Monty shows up. He tells Clarke that letting murderous religious fanatics control their destiny is hardly “doing better.” So, she decides to fight. When Josephine wakes up in Clarke’s body, still in possession of the chip memory that will allow her to kill the mind of her host, Clarke and Monty send a secret message to Bellamy. In the vein of Stranger Things, they use Christmas lights to send Morse code to Bellamy, who immediately understands that Clarke is alive.
That sets up a promising episode, but “Nevermind” works so well on its own. It’s exciting, inventive, and it deals with Clarke’s spotty past in a way that feels thoughtful and purposeful. The 100 doesn’t always reckon with its more murderous, war-loving side enough, but this is an episode that goes straight at its protagonist, questioning the choices she’s made to help her people. It’s thrilling and emotional, and it’s the best episode of the season.
- Clarke’s relief at finally being dead really hit me in the gut. It actually changed my perception of the character a bit too, giving me more insight into how she handles being the one everybody turns to in moments of crisis.
- “Even your projections hate you!” Great line, but if I went into my subconscious, it’d be the same thing.
- “You do things, but other people pay the price.”
- The 100 is pretty good at executing “heist/rescue” episodes, so I have high hopes for the eventual extraction of Clarke.