This The 100 review contains spoilers
The 100 season 3, episode 5
Like many of you, I was unaware of the meaning behind this episode’s title. “Hakeldama” (also known alternately as “Aceldama” or “Akeldama”) is Aramaic for “field of blood.” An apt title, given the way Pike and his men summarily wipe out the Grounder army outside the camp’s walls. But this same ancient field of blood is tied to Judas Iscariot, one of history’s most infamous traitors. Again, this is very fitting, given that this episode presents us with a few possible traitors—depending on your point of view.
Let’s start with the first alleged turncoat — namely Clarke. Alliances are very fluid on The 100, with loyalties seemingly turning on a dime. Again, this depends on one’s point of view. To those she left behind, Clarke is seen as someone who not only abandoned her people, but sided with the enemy as well. One could easily argue that not all Grounders are bad, and indeed this is true, as we’ve seen for ourselves over the last few seasons. Kane and Abby understand this, but they’re no longer running the show—Pike is the chancellor now. And as the newly elected leader, he’s wasted no time in taking the Grounder threat head-on. He’s not just a man of action, he’s a man of absolutes.
Given that The 100 has long trucked in gray morality, such decisiveness is very impactful, both to the storyline, and to characters who are suddenly faced with new marching orders. But this doesn’t bode well for Clarke, who has stolen into camp to act as a peacekeeper. Bellamy is not overjoyed to see her—just the opposite. Their unhappy reunion is nonetheless quite powerful as each admits hard truths about themselves, and about each other. Clarke wants to make everything right, for her, for her people, and for Lexa. But to Bellamy, Clarke is no better than the Grounders who betrayed them at Mount Weather. Which is why he has no compunction handing her over to Pike.
Which brings us to Octavia. From where she stands, Bellamy is the traitorous one, colluding with the man who wiped out 300 innocents in cold blood. It’s easy to believe were Bellamy not her brother, she would have taken him down in a heartbeat. Instead, she tries reasoning with him, insisting he do the right thing. But that’s the problem—Bellamy is no longer pretending to be someone he’s not. As he tells Octavia, they’ve been battling with the Grounders since day one. Lincoln’s transformation notwithstanding, Bellamy’s not wrong.
Kane’s not wrong either, for his continued faith in the coalition and the chance for peace it represents. But in his case, his loyalty to Lexa is an act of sedition. By aiding Octavia and now Clarke, Kane is taking his life into his own hands. While he may respect the power of the people that voted him into office, Kane doesn’t trust the man in power. Pike may be keeping everyone safe in the short term, but he’s started a war with the Grounders that Arkadia may not survive.
And speaking of the enemy, Lexa’s motives are called into question, too. Blood must have blood, as the old Grounder saying goes. The slaughtered peacekeeping force demands that Lexa enact swift justice. That is, until Clarke convinces her otherwise. To Indra, this change of heart is akin to betrayal. Again, this is all depending on one’s point of view. There is certainly a nobility in Lexa’s wanting to break the cycle of violence, but who knows if she actually means what she says. Fool me once, and all that.
As for Raven, one could argue the only person she’s betraying is herself. The Raven we’ve known and loved is not a quitter, and yet her chronic pain has caused her to slowly give up on herself. Being “useful” is not enough, but it’s the best she’s capable of now. As Abby explains to her, there’s no chance of healing, only of reducing her pain. The same could be said of everyone on this show: You will never heal, but you will survive, albeit with a great deal of suffering, physical or otherwise. This creates the perfect setup for Jaha to sell Raven on the idea of a place where her pain will no longer exist. And as Alie insists, if they can convert someone as strong-willed as Raven, the rest will likely follow her to the City of Light.
Some closing thoughts:
As I watched this episode it suddenly occurred to me that Alie is a lot like Six, the Cylon from Battlestar Galactica. Only Jaha can see her, much the same way only Gaius Baltar could see Six. It would be easy to let the similarity slide, except Alie wears a red dress not unlike Six did on BSG. Even Alie’s musical cues are very close to Six’s. Is this an homage, or something else?
And speaking of music, “Hakeldama” featured this season’s third song. Music can be quite a powerful storytelling tool depending on the genre, but even then it should be used sparingly, lest it lose its power to complement and elevate the material. For me, the third time’s not the charm, and reminds me of the show’s use of Imagine Dragons’ “Radioactive” early on in the first season. Addressing the irradiated landscape with a hit single was a bit too cute. The song choices now are definitely more tasteful (if no less apt content-wise), but they still don’t jibe with the bleak tone of this show. And maybe that’s the point—to leaven the oppressive nature of a post-apocalyptic world. To do that though, is to rob The 100 of its ability to deliver powerful, unapologetic stories. This is not so much a gripe from me as it is an appeal to the show’s creators to worry less about selling potential soundtracks and focus more on the unforgettable characters whose suffering brought us this far.