Well, this episode has certainly struck more than one nerve in the fandom. Unfortunately, it wasn’t Clarke’s assassination attempt, the amazing Lexa/Roan fight, or Monty and Jasper’s fight that has everyone buzzing. I will address Bellamy in a bit but first, I want to talk about the other main events of this episode as they are just as important to the overall narrative as Bellamy siding with Pike.
Clarke, Ambassador…and Assassin
Clarke was quite the multi-tasker in this episode. Once she realizes that neither Titus nor her are going to talk Lexa out of fighting in the challenge, she decides to take a page from Roan’s book, and approaches him with the proposition of killing his mother in pretty much the same way he came to her to kill Lexa in the last episode. Just as Clarke was tempted by his offer, so was Roan by hers, but in the end Roan puts the needs of his people ahead of his personal desires, just as Clarke did. Fortunately, they both agree that Nia needs to go and Roan helps Clarke with an assassination attempt on his mother. Clarke played her part beautifully and if not for Ontari’s intervention, she would have succeeded in killing Nia. This was a powerful scene – not only because it shows Clarke comfortable with killing but it showed us that Nia isn’t just a blood thirsty warmonger and that she respects Clarke’s status as Wanheda. Perhaps there was some truth to what Roan said to Clarke last week as Nia’s wrath is clearly directed solely at Lexa. I wish we could’ve gotten more backstory on what made those two such bitter rivals – if we don’t see it in flashbacks later in the season, maybe a webseries (hint, hint)?
Warrior Lexa Has a Plan
Discussing this scene without mentioning the amazing fight choreography that went into it would be a grievous disservice to all involved. This was an award worthy sequence not only for choreography but for execution. I can’t imagine the hours of practice that Alycia and Zach had to put in to get this right and how many times they had to do it to get all those spectacular shots. This is by far my favorite scene of the season so far.
Usually when there is a big fight scene, I know that the “good guy” is going to win even if he/she is a bit worse for wear at the end. But this is The 100. Good guys die, by the dozens actually, and the choreography underscored that both Lexa and Roan are skilled warriors so it was a real possibility that either could fall. When Lexa had Roan bested and Nia was telling him that he would die a coward instead of a prince, I was screaming at my screen for Lexa to kill her, not Roan. There may have been a very loud exclamation of delight and more than one fist pump when the spear found its way into Nia’s chest. I can’t help but wonder if this was Lexa’s plan all along. Lexa knew that she couldn’t have someone fight in her stead or it would make her look even weaker so she used the opportunity to kill Nia, squash the coup and seek vengeance for Costia all in one act. However, Nia’s death was not the only surprise. Lexa crowning Roan the King of Azgeda is something I did not see coming at all. It’s no secret that Roan doesn’t share his mother’s love of war and is more inclined to give diplomacy a try but I still go back to Roan’s bow in the last episode. When Roan bowed after Clarke did but before anyone else, I think Lexa realized that Roan respects Clarke as much, if not more than he does her and that if anything happened to her, Roan would prove to be a powerful ally to Clarke. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t think Roan is going to be Team Clarke and he will absolutely choose his people over Clarke but I do think he will listen to her where others would just meet the end of his blade.
BFFs to the End
Just like Monty, I’m sick of Jasper’s pity party. Every Arkadian has lost someone they love – whether it was to Grounders in the fight at the drop ship, inside Mount Weather to bone marrow harvesting, or to the Council when they floated people for any infraction to the militant rules on the Ark. I get that Jasper is hurting but I hope that Monty giving him some hard truths before walking away is the kick in the pants he needs to get his shit together and start to heal. I do hope that Raven kicks his ass for spilling Finn’s ashes. Out of all the stupid, bone-head things he’s done, such disrespect to Finn’s remains is the most aggravating of them and I hope he gets called out on it by Raven, not Clarke.
What were you thinking?
I think it’s safe to say that Octavia asked Bellamy the question we were all thinking as he stood with Pike and the others at the gates of Arkadia.
Jason Rothenberg and Dorothy Fortenberry have taken a lot of flak for this episode. Many have accused them of character assassination and have cited various reasons for why they think it was done. The most well thought out argument that I’ve seen is that they expect us to believe Bellamy cared so much for Gina that her death could cause this degree of character regression when their relationship has been largely off screen. Of course, this assumes that what is happening here is entirely because of Gina’s death as opposed to a man that has undergone serious trauma over the last six months and when he finally breaks, he makes a decision from a place grief and overwhelming guilt. I agree that love, and the loss of it makes people do stupid things but I think Gina’s death is the card that brought Bellamy’s house of cards down, not the whole house. Let me explain…
Elizabeth Kubler-Ross teaches us that the five stages of grief – denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance – are not experienced linearly. It’s more like wibbly wobbly, timey wimey (apologies, the Whovian in me couldn’t resist). For non-Whovians, it means that most stages are experienced multiple times and in no particular order, possibly even simultaneously. Even if one has gained acceptance, something could send them back to any of the other stages again. I think Kubler-Ross would agree that in the world of The 100, it is appropriate to replace bargaining with guilt and acceptance with forgiveness. Everyone has been dealing with the events of the first two seasons differently and has had varying degrees of success coping with the horrible things they’ve been forced to do and/or witness.
Clarke killed 300+ Grounders at the drop ship, killed Finn and irradiated 300+ men, women and children in Mount Weather. Her response to these traumas was to run away – a classic example of denial. After being captured by Roan and brought before Lexa, we see her finally break. When she has a knife to Lexa’s throat, anger replaces denial but Lexa’s acknowledgement and apology for her betrayal allows Clarke to take her first step towards acceptance. Her next step was to take on the role of Ambassador. I get the distinct feeling that her progress will be tested very soon.
Jasper is a tender soul. We first see this when he struggles to make the shot at the bridge in season one and again when he selflessly volunteers to cleanse Maya’s blood of the radiation. Jasper witnessed his friends being picked off one by one, first by the Grounders and then by the Mountain Men. Despite all the death he has seen, he manages to find love in Maya and is then forced to hold her in his arms as she dies too. Ultimately, he was unable to protect her or be the savior to his people that he set out to be when he realized the Mountain Men’s true motives. I don’t blame him for the drinking – it’s a clear manifestation of his anger and depression. Clearly, he hasn’t made as much progress as some of the others but I hope Monty’s words and the realization of the complete lack of respect he showed Finn will finally snap him out of it and help him make some meaningful progress towards healing.
Monty has always been the one to put on a brave face and swallow his feelings. In season one, he is devastated by Jasper’s injury but keeps going because he knows that he needs to get the communications up and running. In season two, we see it again in the way he helps Clarke and Bellamy radiate the mountain, knowing that it will kill people who have sacrificed their loved ones to keep him and the others alive. Monty has put up with Jasper’s abuse for months and he finally breaks, he admits that he is far from ok despite what he shows to everyone around him and walks away from his best friend.
We didn’t see Raven this week but her struggles were front and center last week in her conversation with Sinclair. Raven punishes herself by refusing treatment for her leg – so in a way, she is bargaining with herself. If she suffers, then perhaps that will balance out her perceived failures.
So, why did I go thru all of this? Because each of them have one thing in common: they are all struggling with the trauma of everything they’ve experienced since coming to the ground and the immense guilt over their roles in it. Bellamy is no different.
Bellamy attempted to assassinate their Chancellor, contributed to the deaths of 300+ Arkers when he destroyed the radio, tortured Lincoln, and assisted Clarke in killing the men, women and children of Mount Weather. Throughout all of this, we’ve seen Bellamy grow from a selfish teenager rebelling against the system he grew up in to a responsible man sworn to protect his people. But being responsible doesn’t mean he has dealt with the emotional fall out from these events, nor does it mean he is impervious to the guilt of losing more people he swore to protect, including his girlfriend. Do I think that Bellamy was in love with Gina? No. I remember thinking that if I was her, I’d be pissed that Bellamy spent the better part of the last three months going on missions to find Clarke, almost got himself killed when he did find her, and then he’s bitching about being at Mount Weather instead of with Abby and Kane at Polis. Soulmates they are not, but he certainly had enough regard for her that he asked her to stay behind to keep her safe and one doesn’t have to have their soulmate blown to bits in order to be traumatized by their death.
As I discussed above, everyone deals with trauma differently and hits their breaking point differently. Clarke told Lexa that she could hate herself and Lexa over the events of Mount Weather. She’s not alone – Bellamy clearly hates himself too but he didn’t have the close relationship with Lexa so his hate is also directed at a group of people instead of one person. Clarke, Jasper, Monty and Raven have had breaking points that did not result in more death. Bellamy’s breaking point will. Does this mean that he is back to being the selfish teenager we saw in season one? That the responsible man we know and love is gone? No. It means that a good man has broken. It means that Bellamy’s growth is not done. It means that his actions after the massacre will show us the man he is to become.
Wow, that was a mouth full. One last parting thought on this week’s episode:
I think of Clarke as the Picard to Pike’s Kirk. Clarke will try the diplomatic approach first but if that doesn’t work, she will not hesitate to kill. Pike goes in with guns blazing and an ask questions later mentality like Kirk who got so many red shirts killed, it’s become a perfectly acceptable phrase to describe senseless deaths.
Other Random Thoughts…
-I hope Clarke continues to follow up on how Queen Nia knew about the self-destruct in Mount Weather. Emerson is a snake but I’m sure Pike will understand his retaliation given what Clarke and Bellamy did to his people. Right, Pike?
-Did anyone else notice Octavia’s smile when the guard called her “one of them”?
-No City of Lights story line this week. Taking a break for the last couple weeks was a good idea. Now that the story lines at Polis and Arkadia have been developed better, I’m anxious to see Jaha in Arkadia with ALIE (we all know this won’t end well).
-I hope we see more of Ontari – she’s smart and likely a skilled warrior since she was trained by Nia. I bet she gives Aiden a run for the money and I would very much like to see her interact with Clarke.
-Indra dies and I riot. I’m not kidding, Jason.
1. Lexa: “If you’re right, today’s the day my spirit will choose its successor and you need to accept that.” Clarke: “Like hell I do.”
2. Pike: “Anger is our policy.”
3. Bellamy: “I have always done what is best for us. I need you to trust that I am doing that now.”