This THE 100 review contains spoilers
The 100 Season 7 Episode 11
A full ten episodes into its final season feels like a strange place for The 100 to finally bring one of its lead characters fully back into the story and use him to stage a debate about faith and religion, but, hey, Season 7 has been pretty darn weird so far, so maybe that actually tracks.
Yes, “Etherea” is The Bellamy Blake Episode, wherein The 100 confirms what we all already knew and had mostly guessed – that Bellamy is, in fact, not dead, and merely marooned on another Anomaly Stone-connected planet. He’s actually been sent to the titular Etherea, a planet which was, at some point, visited by Bill Cadogan and possibly his Disciples as well. (The associated pamphlet isn’t real clear on this point.) His journey here – or rather “the Shepherd’s” journey – and his discovery of the stone that exists on top of its mountain is literally the stuff of legend, recited in prayers and taught to the children in Bardo’s schoolrooms.
“Etherea” backfills Bellamy’s time on the craggy mountain planet, which, which stretches from his disappearance through the stone in “Welcome to Bardo” through to immediately following the events of “A Little Sacrifice” in our “present-day” timeline. Yet, for him, months, possibly even over a year has passed, as he’s eaten bugs and woven grass together in a variety of poorly lit caves.
He’s also not alone.
The explosion didn’t just knock Bellamy back through the Anomaly Stone portal, but the Disciple he was holding as well, and after both men get through trying to kill each other, they become uneasy partners and eventual friends. Thanks to B’s handy Earth-based first aid skills (shout out to Pike!), he manages to set the Disciple’s broken leg and keep infection at bay with the help of some tree sap.
This episode drops a variety of weird tidbits about both the Disciples and Cadogan’s history, essentially walking us through the Shepherd’s first ascent up the mountain. Bellamy and his new bestie end up in something called the Cave of Ascent, which features a strange glowing trio of lights that appear to be some sort of unidentified beings. Apparently, these are the proof Cadogan cited – supposedly evidence of a previous race that somehow transcended its physical form. For Bellamy, they appear to cause him to hear voices and see visions of people he himself knows, which indicates that whatever these things are – or were – they have some level of telepathic ability. (Probably?)
Unless, of course, Etherea is secretly Bill Cadogan’s brainwashing planet, where he sends new recruits on a hardcore reconditioning trip. This is The 100, so that’s actually not entirely out of the realm of possibility.
Interestingly enough, we never actually learn the name of Bellamy’s new Disciple best friend – in promotional materials the character is simply referred to as “The Conductor”. It’s an interesting bit of lampshading since this character basically exists to serve as the Virgil figure who ensures Bellamy makes it up the mountain while learning about the exponential grace of a higher power. (I’m choosing to read all of this as a not-so-subtle shoutout to Dante’s Purgatorio, and no one is going to tell me any differently.) That he might have been sent by the Shepherd, as well as on behalf of him wouldn’t really turn out to be that weird.
On some level, it makes sense that Bellamy would turn out to be a religious skeptic who is also sort of secretly desperate for something bigger than himself to believe in. He’s spent his entire life fighting, surely at this point there’s got to be something deeply appealing in the promise of being able to lay his burdens down, to trust or expect or blame some other power for the things that happen, or that don’t.
The idea of Bellamy as a person of faith makes complete sense. What doesn’t work so much for me is Bellamy choosing to essentially worship Bill Cadogan, a man he already knows is a charlatan and a liar. (And making the beginnings of that choice well before he started seeing visions of his dead mother.)
The thing is, even Christian scripture is full of references to bad men washed clean and reborn through the power of faith. Saul’s conversion on the road to Damascus is probably the most famous, but it’s hardly the only example. Yet, throughout this season of The 100 we’ve seen nothing to indicate that Cadogan – or the religion he’s built in his name – is a man that’s following that tradition. (Nor that any higher power should be busy building what is essentially an army and stocking them with bioweapons.)
It feels as though Bellamy should really know that, which is why his decision both to kneel to Cadogan and betray Clarke and his friends stings so much. We believed in you, kiddo! Did we really wait ten weeks for Bellamy to play a significant role in this story, only to have him suddenly turn into a fanatical zealot?
To be fair, this season of The 100 has really been expanding its story in interesting ways, introducing concepts like the Anomaly Stones and time travel and spending a lot of time on different sets of characters and set-ups. I want to trust that this story is going somewhere great and that the payoff for all this deflection, misdirection, and outright weirdness is going to be worth it. (After all, the idea of faith versus science has been running throughout this season, as has the idea that the real danger lies in blindly believing in something, not in having faith at all.)
But that said, there’s precious little time remaining on the clock for this show, and thus far, Season 7 hasn’t felt a lot like a story that’s in much of a hurry, or even all that interested in, to wrap things up. With just five episodes to go, do we really have time for this?