After a breakneck couple of weeks, The 100 finally slows down enough to let us glimpse the emotional cost of what's happened this season. "Hakeldama" is the best kind of episode: It relies less on surprising plot points to move the story arc along than it does on small, intimate moments.
That's not to say that there weren't moments of surprise. The scene where Lexa and Clarke see the massacre that Pike carried out? Brutal. It doesn't get any less difficult to watch the second time we see it, as Octavia slowly walks through the bodies. It'll go down as one of the show's hardest moments.
Back at Arkadia, hours after returning from the attack in which he wiped out an entire army, Pike orders all of the Grounders into an internment facility. It's the latest move in his anti-Grounder agenda, and a particularly classless one, at that — these people were brought to Abby for medical care. For some reason, Jackson brings Lincoln to watch this all go down. Things get violent, and Lincoln is imprisoned with the other Grounders.
Meanwhile, Octavia sneaks out of Arkadia with Kane's help. She explains what's happening to Lexa, Clarke, and Indra. Clarke asks Lexa to let her go speak to Bellamy, urging Octavia to sneak her into the camp. Clarke thinks she can convince him to see peace as the only solution going forward. Octavia agrees, but when she goes to find Bellamy, she finds the Grounders being rounded up and calls Bellamy out. "I saw what you and Pike did to Lexa's army," she hisses at him. "You killed everyone." It's an intense moment, and it may hint at how bad things are going to get between the Blake siblings. Bellamy actually tells his sister to stop "playing Grounder." It's a comment that betrays his unwillingness to see how Octavia feels about Trikru, Lincoln, and Indra, and I bet it will come back to haunt him.
One of the reasons that I loved "Hakeldama" so much, though, was Bellamy. Last week, we watched as he surprisingly sided with Pike. I wrestled with that choice; it didn't seem true to Bellamy's nature to flip so quickly. Would the Bellamy we've watched for the past two seasons really make that decision?
Part of my hesitation comes from the fact that I'm really not feeling what The 100 is doing with Pike's character. This has nothing to do with Michael Beach, who does an exceptional job with the material he's been given. It's just that almost everything we're told about Pike comes from expository dialogue. We haven't seen the brutal conditions he talks about experiencing with the Ice Nation. Without evidence, we're just supposed to nod along with his almost-devout belief that all Grounders are bad. He comes off as rough and one-dimensional; his character isn't allowed enough nuance. This is increasingly frustrating because I know The 100 can do better, and certainly has with characters whose backstories took place offscreen — Charlotte and Murphy are great examples of this.
"Hakeldama" doesn't fix its Pike problems, but it does a remarkable job of letting us understand where Bellamy is coming from. We see the hesitation on his face when he returns to Arkadia after the massacre of Indra's troops. We hear Indra begrudgingly explain that Bellamy saved her life, that he opposed Pike's order to kill the wounded. We watch as Bellamy stands up to Pike, clearly expressing his doubts about what they did. It's because of these details (and the care Bob Morley puts into his performance) that Bellamy's conversation with Clarke packs the gut-punch it does.
When he sees Clarke, Bellamy doesn't express joy or relief. Instead, he finally spews out all of the anger he feels toward her for abandoning him and the Sky People. The conversation gets heated really fast. Clarke pleads with Bellamy to agree with her, but Bellamy isn't having any of it. "People die when you're in charge," he says. The quick flinch on Clarke's face shows that the barb hit deeply, right where it was meant to. When Bellamy lists the ways that Clarke's decisions have jeopardized people, it's hard not to agree with him. She apologizes for leaving him, and he turns back around to hold her hand. It's a sweet moment — I totally believed that she could talk him out of this insanity — but it's only sweet for a second. Bellamy quickly cuffs Clarke to the table.
Clarke escapes with Octavia's help and returns to Lexa. The two of them talk it out in front of Indra, and Clarke encourages Lexa to give peace a chance. Lexa agrees. There's a great moment in particular: Lexa tells Indra that war is the easy option for the Grounders, but the mark of true leadership is picking the harder path. When bluntly asked if she'll back Lexa, Indra answers with conviction. It's nice to know that these two are sticking together.
We also reached a nice little story line convergence this week. Jaha returns to Arkadia with Otan and the tech pack Murphy tossed into the river. When he tries bringing Otan into Arkadia, however, a guard shoots him. Jaha leans over and whispers that A.L.I.E. is waiting for him in the City of Light. It's a gross moment, and it clues us in to how far Jaha has gone.
Both Abby and Kane show the perfect blend of reluctance and excitement upon seeing Jaha again. When he's filled in on everything that's happening with Pike, though, Jaha tells them about the City of Light. The brief moments of eye contact between Abby and Kane are golden. They clearly think he's loony — and for what it's worth, I'm with them.
Jaha then gets permission from Pike to preach to the rest of the Sky People … and this is where the plot dips into worrisome territory. One of the first people to happen across Jaha's crazy talk about life free of pain is Raven. Raven, who has been struggling with her leg. Raven, who earlier in this episode was sidelined after Abby refused to give her medical clearance. When Raven initially hears about the City of Light, she gets visibly upset. "There's no simple way to eliminate pain," she says. A.L.I.E., invisible to everyone except those who've accepted the City of Light tab (or pill, or whatever it is), stands beside Jaha, creepily narrating. If Jaha gets Raven on their side, the others will come. She initially shows restraint, scoffing at Jaha's fervent belief — but at the end of the episode, while struggling with a ridiculous amount of pain, Raven takes the City of Light pill. She limps forward, then slowly notices that her pain has diminished. She pats down her leg and looks up again. A.L.I.E. is standing right in front of her. I'm concerned about this. I love Raven, and the last thing I want is for her to fall into the weird City of Light story line.
- Now that Octavia has left Arkadia with Clarke, I really hope that means they'll spend more time together. They have particularly complex relationship: Octavia knows that Clarke would have let her die in a bomb on Tonch, and she's watched Clarke torture Lincoln. Also, Octavia has worked so hard to gain acceptance from the Grounders. She trained with Indra, learned the language, and really admires the people. However, Clarke is the one who gets to live with them. She's the one who's been taken into the Commander's confidence. The dynamic between Clark and Octavia has only been explored in fits, as they've rarely been in the same place for long. I hope it gets more attention this time.
- Murphy also makes a brief return in this episode. He and Emori are playing a bizarre game of survival: Murphy pretends to be dead, and when someone comes across him, Emori jumps out to rob them. Their moral compasses are certainly unique, but when Emori mentions going back for her brother Otan (whom we know is dead), Murphy balks. He wants nothing to do with Arkadia. They decide to stick together, but Murphy is captured soon thereafter. His captors, who appear to work for the Commander, see the City of Light chip — the infinity symbol on the chip is important, I guess. I'm still on the fence about the Jaha/Murphy story line, but hopefully, next week's episode will integrate both of them. In a perfect universe, Murphy will be delivered directly to Lexa. I'd love to see how Murphy interacts with her.