This week's episode, in my opinion, might have been the worst episode since season one. The pacing was off. New characters are being brought in and offed with literally no development or background. Old characters are getting sidelined. Other old characters are being regressed like crazy. Plot lines are being rehashed. It's a mess and it makes me sad.
On the plus side, this episode included my absolutely favorite Monty moment. So that was cool.
Ice Queen Nia opens up our episode with an attempt at a coup. Her merry band of clan ambassadors rally together for an unanimous vote to unseat Lexa as Commander. Too bad the 13th clan, that Nia does not claim to recognize as legitimate, refuses to join in. So, with Clarke's deciding vote of no, Nia is forced to challenge Lexa to a fight. A fight to the death.
Nia chooses her son, Prince Roan, as her tribute. Lexa refuses to allow Titus to fight for her because she's decided to stop basing all of her decisions off of her feelings for Clarke finally and start being a really cool leader again. She will fight for herself, her position and her people. It's a fairly powerful moment that gave me a tiny bit more of respect for the character.
Meanwhile, Clarke is doing everything in her power to keep Lexa from dying. She's seen Roan fight and doesn't trust that Heda can defeat him. Losing Lexa would put the newly minted Skaikru in a terrible position considering Nia seems like she isn't exactly fond of anyone but the Ice Nation. Clarke tries to convince Roan to turn against his mother and take the Ice Nation people for himself. Roan never seems to believe he has the power to do anything himself so once again he tells Clarke that this is something only she can do.
So, Clarke approaches Nia with an offer of taking Lexa out of the picture. Nia guarantees the Skaikru's safety and Clarke whips out a knife to perform the old Grounder tradition of blood oaths. Nia see's right through it though and unleashes her second in command, a feisty woman named Ontari, on Clarke. Unfortunately, Clarke had poisoned the knife and figured Nia was too stupid to figure it out. You tried, Clarke.
Like every villain to ever exist, instead of keeping her hand hidden, Nia decides to reveal her nefarious plan in dethroning Lexa. Apparently, in Grounder culture, there are children with blood so dark it is referred to as night blood. I'm just gonna assume it has something to do with the radiation. Anyway, these children are brought to Polis to be taught and trained, all with the potential to one day be chosen as the new Heda.
Nia's second, Ontari, has night blood and Nia is grooming her to be the new Commander. Clarke takes this newfound knowledge back to Lexa, who reiterates again and again that she does not fear death and that basically Clarke needs to accept that she has a high chance of not making it out of this fight. The fight itself is pretty cool. Roan and Lexa are very evenly matched. Both are very skilled and quick on their feet. Lexa eventually gains the upperhand but instead of dealing Roan a fatal blow, she throws her spear right into Queen Nia's chest, and declares Roan the new King of Ice Nation.
It was a very cool moment and an excellent cathartic moment for Lexa considering Queen Nia is the one who killed Lexa's previous love. My problem is that this storyline moved SO fast. We were essentially introduced to Nia this episode and not given much in terms of why she really wants what she wants other than "power." I'm not sure we were given enough time with the character to appreciate her evil or even care. And why did she banish her son? So many questions to be expanded upon but we never will considering the character is already dead.
The pacing of Nia's threats, to Clarke's frantic desire to fix the entire situation, to Lexa just straight up ending any conflict was a bit jarring. That, along with a second week in a row of no City of Light plot progression makes me question what exactly the show is trying to accomplish this season.
What the show did accomplish this episode was Monty finally standing up for himself with Jasper. Jasper steals Finn's ashes and heads back to the drop ship to have his own little drunkin' memorial. Monty follows, because he's a terribly good friend and person, but Jasper just continues to berate Monty. He accuses his friend of being completely fine with his actions in Mount Weather. Monty then fights back and admits that he is in no way okay but he isn't showing it by stumbling down a dark hole of alcohol and self-loathing. He tells Jasper that he is done being a punching bag. I literally fist pumped the air. I've wanted this so much for Monty.
Despite this admission, Monty tells Jasper that he misses his friend (Monty is honestly a better friend than I could ever be) but Jasper says that he died that same day Maya and the people of Mount Weather died. Monty leaves him and Jasper trips in his drunkin' stupor and loses all of the ashes.
Finally, Arkadia. Oh....Arkadia.
Pike is livid with the Grounders. Every Grounder. He doesn't care that Lexa sent Trikru troops to protect Arkadia. He sees the armies surrounding his people and he instantly reduces them to murderers and scum. This is all he knows of Grounders though, excluding his short time with Indra and Lincoln. It's fair that Pike has an incredible negative view of Grounders. The Farm Station has had nothing but death thrust upon them by the hands of Grounders. He has zero reason, compared to Kane and our people, to trust them. But honestly, his crazy stance that all Grounders are the same and deserve to be stopped before they can do anything is being poorly handled.
This is a storyline that could do with a flashback episode showing viewers just what Farm Station went through since crashing to Earth. The show's creator constantly reiterates that this show is all about the characters' perspectives. We need our own perspective of Farm Station's journey to get a sense of Pike's extreme viewpoints. But we don't get that. We get Pike's words on how many people they've lost and that's about it. It's just negativity spewing out of his mouth after that. He refuses to listen to anyone else's experience with Grounders and condemns any of the Skaikru for forming alliances or bonds with them. Except, he is somewhat decent to Lincoln? It doesn't add up.
On paper, I can side with Pike and Farm Station's hesitance and distrust. On screen, the emotional connection to their plight is not there. It just isn't and the entire plot feels rushed, contrived and frankly, disturbing, because of it.
Anyway, Pike talks Bellamy into joining him on his crusade and committing treason by getting Pike's people guns. When they attempt to leave Arkadia to kill the army that was literally sent to PROTECT them, they face opposition in the form of Lincoln, Kane and Abby. The rebellious group is thrown into Arkadia's holding cell, but not before a plethora of Arkers decide to randomly support Pike and his hate for all Grounders. He managed to quickly turn the people against Kane, who was "branded" the previous episode, because of his friendship and alliance with the Grounder army outside their gates.
It is in the final moments that Kane tells Pike that he won the election (that was never shown) and is Chancellor now. Pike immediately continues his crusade against Grounders. It all happens so fast and without proper build up.
Why do Kane and Abby give up so easily when they know the result of this is death to hundreds of Grounders? They've spent months securing peace through an alliance and they literally sit back after giving a few words about this being a bad idea. Why do they not warn Indra via the walkie-talkie they gave her that her army needs to get the heck out of there? WHY DID THE WRITERS SEE IT FIT TO THROW BELLAMY UNDER THE BUS FOR THIS STORY?
My recap this week is spotty and thin because I literally cared about nothing after I witnessed the regression of Bellamy Blake. I woke up at midnight last night and sat at my computer furiously typing out a 3-page rant on why Bellamy following Pike is incredibly poor writing. I've since read over it and realized that I myself was quite rash and at a lot of points viewing Bellamy with rose-colored glasses. So, I'm taking them off (partially. let's be real, we all look at our favorites in a different light) and offering the words below as my final opinion on the matter.
Bellamy is my favorite character on this show. He was not always my favorite. The early episodes on season 1 were a mess of teen angst. In the middle of this was a selfish, arrogant, hot-headed prick named Bellamy Blake. I didn't hate him. I didn't know enough to hate him. I just strongly disliked him and hoped that he wouldn't remain a one-note "villain" character for forever. Guess what? He didn't remain a one-note "villain" character for forever.
He grew. He evolved. We got insight into his backstory and understood his selfish motivations. We didn't have to agree with it but we understood it. Then he grew more. He went from a man hellbent on saving his own skin to a man willing to risk his own skin to save his friends. Selfish to selfless. That's who the show made him to be so that is who he is. We can project our own ideals on who these characters are and who we want them to be. We can be influenced by our own head canons, others' analytical write-ups or just plain ole' fan fiction. But the show is the show and holds more weight than anything we thought up outside of what we are told or shown on screen.
So, according to the show, this is what I know of Bellamy Blake:
1. He is selfish.
2. He is selfless.
3. He went from one to the other because one of his core characteristics is that he is an emotions-driven character that depends a lot on other people's feedback and help. This includes many examples from Clarke, Raven, Octavia, Monty, etc talking him down from impulsive decisions in the drop ship/Mount Weather/Arkadia/etc. This also doesn't mean that he isn't selfish any longer. It can be argued that he is selfish in his intent to be selfless for only his people. But that's doesn't really matter here.
4. He is emotional and sometimes reckless, especially when he doesn't have a peer to counter his rash decisions. His natural instinct is to protect. It's how he grew up on the Ark considering his entire existence was around protecting Octavia. His need to protect informs his actions and when someone he loves is on the line he isn't above doing whatever means necessary to help.
5. He is emotional when it comes to people he cares about but that doesn't mean he isn't pragmatic as well. When Murphy is accused of killing Wells because of the knife, Bellamy is the one that urges Clarke to be smart about the situation. That is before Clarke herself gives in to emotion and the whole hanging thing begins.
6. He is open to criticism and respectful of authority when authority respects him. This is evident in the growth he has shown with Kane.
7. He knows the difference between the Grounder clans and says as much to Pike.
8. He respects Lincoln (fighting with him, trusting him with his sister, training with him, inviting him into Arkadia's circle) and works with Indra well enough to never give any indication that he doesn't respect her as well.
9. He loves his people (in my view his people are the fellow delinquents) but above all else he LOVES his sister.
10. Octavia's opinion and well-being matter most to him and, outside of his brief lapse of judgment in season 1, it always has. We see this in flashbacks of him constantly putting her first and throughout the seasons where he grows to trust her to be her own person and her decision to align herself with Grounders more than the Sky people.
11. He isn't stupid.
This is why his aligning with Pike is so infuriating. It is TOTALLY in character for Bellamy to feel hate for Grounders. He has a history of it in his beginnings. But he has also spent time with various Grounders and witnessed who they are as people. Bellamy also hated many of the Arkers (including Kane) for their policies and treatment of his family but he is super willing to fight for them now.
What is frustrating is how EASY the writers made his descent into this hateful person willing to fight a group that had nothing to do with the situation he is upset about. His relationship with Pike has little build-up. His motivation for being angry with Grounders seemingly stems from the death of a girlfriend that we knew very little about. It is furthered by the betrayal of a Grounder he trusted and his belief that he is the reason for Mount Weather's demise.
All of these things are grounds for Bellamy being upset and angry and quick to point fingers and want revenge. What makes NO sense to me is how a 10-minute conversation with Pike leads Bellamy to completely regress on all character development and declare war on an army that he KNOWS is there to protect him. What makes less sense is that he would listen to Pike's voice over Kane's, Lincoln's and especially OCTAVIA'S.
Bellamy wears his heart on his sleeve for Octavia and just last episode gave his support of her finding her way own her own. As a Grounder. In what world am I supposed to believe that Bellamy would choose to murder an innocent Grounder group when his sister might as well be standing next to them at this point? Even in his lowest moments he is not this rash or stupid.
Oh, Bellamy would choose to fight. But the Bellamy we have known up until this point would choose to fight the specific people responsible for Mount Weather in the first place. No matter how little he trusts or cares for Lexa, he personally witnessed the Trikru people confused by Ice Nation's actions and subsequent call to aid Arkadia. This was in no way heresy. He witnessed it.
So, no, I do not hold Bellamy on a pedestal high enough to think he would never react in this way. But I am so not going to pretend that this isn't character regression and the writers creating conflict for the sake of conflict. Maybe they don't know what to do with Bellamy anymore. Maybe they never really did. I know their focus is on Grounder lore and culture and the 100 themselves have been reduced to side characters, save Clarke and Bellamy.
It's just, we've seen this mass murder storyline before. We've seen a character senselessly murder a group of Grounders because of a girl or whatever. We've seen overwhelming hate for Grounders by Arkers. This has all played out and it's just being rehashed over again. Just this time it's throwing 2 seasons of character development out the window and at this point I thought this show was better than that.
"The 100" team likes to boast about its complicated characters and intricate character development. But this time they are choosing to develop characters based on story and not story based on characters. In all other areas the writing is attempting to be a character-driven show and for the most part it is succeeding. Don't force stories you want to see on characters just because you want to see that story within your fictional world. It reduces your characters to shells of themselves for the sake of crazy plot and flashy scenes.
I feel like I could say more but I've already ranted for long enough. I'm overall just disappointed and feel like this show took the praise from season 2 and is trying to do too much to top it. For me, it's falling short. The things that originally interested me in this show are disappearing, like Raven...ugh where was she? I know it's only episode 4 so we have a lot to get through but at this pace all I can see is a continued mess of storylines that have no emotional payoff. Oh well! If our favorite characters have to keep trucking through the mess of their world, I can keep trucking through the mess of this show.
May we meet again.