This review contains spoilers.
One of the most contested things about the otherwise stellar second season of The 100 was the treatment of Finn’s character. On the one hand, Finn was a fairly boring relic of the show’s early teen-Lost beginnings, and the series did a brave, unexpected thing of turning him morally grey and eventually killing him off. On the other hand, there’s an argument to be made that, in order to achieve this, the writers simply moulded Finn into an entirely different character.
He ‘cracked’ under the pressure of surviving day to day on earth, and that gave the show license to pretty much do whatever they wanted with him. To get to that point, Bellamy suddenly became a bit nicer in comparison, suddenly a viable romantic candidate for our heroine, Clarke.
This was, of course, before the show became completely, brilliantly batshit crazy, and we could still predict what would happen next with any hope of accuracy. At this point, for example, Clarke is the most troubling character of all, and there’s almost nobody left (except perhaps Raven) who’s clean of copious amounts of blood on their hands. We wouldn’t bat an eyelid at Finn if he existed in this phase of the show.
This season it’s Bellamy’s development being accused of conveniently excusing out of character behaviour, with him joining Pike in his pre-emptive war against the grounders. Early on in Hakeldama we learn that last week’s campaign promises were not an empty threat, and that he and Bellamy were partially responsible for a massacre of Indra and her army.
As often as we’re reminded that he let Indra live, he still partook in the first act of what will likely be a long and bloody war. He justifies it by reminding Kane of the bloodshed that occurred before the Ark’s residents even arrived, but we’re clearly supposed to be on the grounders’ side here. Pike throws the sick out of medical bay, preaches hatred and is doing his best to convert camp members to his way of thinking.
Which finally gives Octavia something to do, her long-time straddling of the line between grounder and Arcadian paying off. She’s someone who found her identity when she landed, and I can see her leading the charge when the non-converted decide to fight back.
The final scene between Bellamy and Clarke was excellent – a rare moment of utter vulnerability for her and genuine conflict for him. Being the two young leads of the series, it’s shocking how little they’ve interacted of late, but the writers appear to save their scenes for the show’s most important moments. This is, after all, the first lengthy conversation they’ve shared since last year’s finale.
Clarke was worried from the start about returning home, believing that she no longer fit in with the friends and family from her old life. It was guilt over Mount Weather that led her away in the first place, but it’s a sense of belonging – to Lexa and to her people – that kept her gone for so long.
That’s why her and Bellamy’s scene is so striking. These are two characters who have become almost strangers to each other, but who also share a connection deeper than their circumstances.
And speaking of clashing personalities, here comes Jaha and his mildly alarming ramblings about the mysterious City of Light. Oh, all of this is so wonderfully weird, the action in this episode repeatedly being interrupted by his sermons and concerned glances shared between Kane and Abby. But we as the audience know that the City of Light is real, and now Raven has the key.
She’s been struggling for a while and, after reaching the end of her tether yet again, decides to give Jaha’s methods a try. With everything else going on it’s easy to push this story thread aside, but I’m really glad the show is instead peppering clues to its real nature throughout the season. Raven’s a logical person, so it’ll be interesting to see what she makes of it.
She’s got nothing left to lose because, as she says, she’s unable to change who she is on a fundamental level. And that’s true of every character on The 100. Bellamy wants to borrow Pike’s conviction because it’s easier to feel responsible for a war than guilt over the death of his friends.
That way of thinking may clash with the ideology of the show, but I’d argue it’s not out of character at all. This show’s about doing what we have to in order to survive – all the while wrestling with the people surviving makes us – and, even if we don’t always agree with specific actions and choices made by the characters, that throughline hasn’t changed.
Read Caroline’s review of the previous episode, Watch The Thrones, here.