Meaghan McDonough ’17/ Emertainment Monthly Staff Writer
Though last week’s episode of The 100 fell flat, this week’s episode was a fully-realized three-dimensional beast, drawing on all of The 100’s most memorable plot points and character dynamics from both of its previous seasons. There were a few flaws, but it was, overall, a solid episode in a season that has been pretty hot and cold so far. The fifth episode of Season 3, “Hakeldama”, really pays tribute to that fact, with some strange directorial, acting, and plot choices that culminate in an episode that is pretty good, but still needs some work.
Opening on Lexa (Alycia Debnam-Carey) and Clarke (Eliza Taylor) as they ride into Ice Nation territory to return the body of their Queen Nia (Brenda Strong), the pair shares a fleeting moment of consolatory flirtation before the episode cuts to Arkadia. Returning to camp with their soldiers after an apparent night out, Pike (Michael Beach) and Bellamy (Bob Morley) are shown covered in blood. Pike looks proud as he gathers the masses of Arkadia while Bellamy, clearly despondent, looks on from the crowd. Pike gives a speech reminiscent of something out of a war drama, explaining how he and his soldiers “paid tribute” to the lives of lost Sky People. Octavia (Marie Avgeropoulos) and Lincoln (Ricky Whittle) listen with increasing concern. As Pike steps down from his pedestal and moves with his chanting followers across camp, Kane (Henry Ian Cusick) and Abby (Paige Turco) wonder to each other how a group of ten soldiers could have fought an army of three hundred Grounders without returning with any wounded. The episode then cuts back to Lexa and Clarke, who are stopped in their tracks by a mass of bullet-ridden Grounder bodies. This, all before the credits roll.
One thing that this episode does well from the start is pacing. Clarke and Lexa jump into action immediately as they find a wounded Indra (Adina Porter), the only person left alive among the dead Grounder army. Just as Lexa commands her men to return to Polis and gather the coalition to seek retribution for Arkadia’s actions, Clarke convinces Lexa and Indra that she can fix this if Lexa would let Clarke talk to the people of Arkadia. Indra, carrying a radio given to her by Kane, signals to the group at Arkadia where Kane, receiving the message, helps Octavia escape Pike’s watchful guards in order to attend the meet up. There is a heartwarmingly dark moment here, where, as Kane explains to Octavia she will have to use a crawl space to get out of camp, Octavia says, “I was born for this.” This is a clear reference to her childhood on the Ark. A once terrible aspect of her life, which by-the-book Kane must have been at least somewhat responsible for, has turned into a strength for Octavia. This is only the first of many in-episode reminders of just how far these characters have come from where they started in Season 1.
As Octavia makes her escape, the episode returns to Pike, who is explaining his plans for expanding the reach of Sky People land to his soldiers. Bellamy frets over the potential annihilation of a Grounder village, and seeing Bellamy’s face—distressed, starting to question Pike’s authority—Pike clears the room to discuss with Bellamy, privately. Any moral issue Bellamy brings up, Pike has a thoroughly logical and manipulative answer and, while the regret is clear in Bellamy’s eyes, he accepts Pike’s twisted morality, puts his Arkadia guard jacket back on, and walks away. On his way out he is confronted by Kane and Lincoln about the attack on the peacekeeping Grounder army. Echoing both Finn (Thomas McDonell) and Clarke from prior seasons, Bellamy responds with “We did what we had to do,” but Lincoln and Kane don’t let him simply skate by. The emotions that Bob Morley is playing with here are complex and don’t come through quite as clearly as they need to: Bellamy’s remorseful, but he’s stubborn too, and he certainly must feel lost—turned on even by his dear friends; Kane and Lincoln, who can’t find it in their hearts to even try and understand what Bellamy has lost to the Grounders. The tension between Bellamy and Lincoln is palpable, with actor Ricky Whittle carrying the weight of their scene.
When Octavia reaches Clarke, Lexa, and Indra and sees the damage that Bellamy and Pike have done, it looks like the last of her ties to the Sky People have been cut. As she explains the situation, no one reacts well to the news that Pike’s violence is supported by the Sky People, and that Bellamy is Pike’s right-hand man in all of this. Most of the argument for the Sky People’s innocence is done by Clarke. It’s apparent that Octavia, seeing the violence of the Sky People, is much more Grounder than she is a citizen of Arkadia. Once again, though Lexa is determined that blood must have blood, Clarke manages to convince Lexa that if they can just talk to Bellamy, it’ll be fixed. This is a wonderful change from the Clarke we saw last episode, who did nothing but listen to other people’s advice and sit on the sidelines as things fell apart around her.
Somewhere in the mix of things is Emori (Luisa D’Oliveira) and Murphy (Richard Harmon), who are off in the woods playing Bonnie and Clyde. While their scenes are interesting, they’re a bit disjointed from the rest of the episode. Emori and Murphy appear to have conquered their romantic tension, sharing a delighted kiss as they rob an old man. However, when Emori later asks Murphy to go after Jaha (Isaiah Washington) and Alie (Erica Cerra) at Arkadia to save her brother, Otan (Mik Byskov)— their being related easily forgettable, for how little it is mentioned—Murphy returns to his old, jaded self. Considering how deeply in puppy love he seemed in the last episode he was in, it felt good to see Murphy back to his old self, focused on one thing and one thing only: surviving at all costs.
Meanwhile, at Arkadia Med Bay, Raven (Lindsey Morgan) confronts Abby about being taken off her job due to not being cleared medically. Raven has been struggling with her injury since last season, but this episode finally shows just how deeply it has affected her. Morgan’s acting here is superb, making audience wish the show made better use of her more regularly. Raven’s situation is complicated further with the arrival of Jaha and Alie at Arkadia, who offer Raven the pill to the City of Light, promising it will take away her pain. Jaha and Alie aren’t only peddling their drugs to Raven. He explains the whole City of Light shtick to multiple people in camp, from groups of Sky People to Kane to Abby to even Pike himself, none of whom take him seriously. While Raven promptly refuses the pill, Alie is certain that Raven will be the key to gaining the support of Arkadia. That, it seems, is because Raven, who is physically weak enough to need the pill, but mentally strong and sensible enough to convince others to follow her lead if she takes it. While Alie is profoundly interesting, Jaha has gotten almost humorous in his part, becoming more and more obsolete with each time audiences see him.
The climax of the episode comes when Octavia returns to Arkadia. Arriving to find that Bellamy has helped imprison Lincoln, she confronts her brother for his massacre of the Grounder. The rift that has been growing between the Blake siblings since last season grows wider, but Octavia still manages to drag Bellamy into a surprise meeting with Clarke. This is where the bulk of the best parts of the episode come in. Bellamy finally confronts Clarke about abandoning him and their people, and though Clarke apologizes—desperately, repeatedly—she just can’t seem to win. Both actors are at their absolute best in this scene, with Bob Morley making up for his lacking performances earlier in the episode tenfold. Bellamy goes from accusatory and defensive to pained and longing, then back again with such natural rhythm. When Clarke says, “I need you,”—calling back memories of both Season 1 and Season 2—the precise moment can be seen at which Bellamy’s heart breaks, and yet also how his resolve deepens. He voices every grievance Clarke has ever given him. Eliza Taylor’s acting is right on par with Morley’s, her eyes teary and hopeful and anguished. The scene is indescribably heartbreaking, and the one moment of promise for resolution—after Clarke apologizes, Bellamy crouches beside Clarke, taking her hands in his—becomes a moment of betrayal by Bellamy.
Clarke and Octavia escape from Arkadia to return to Lexa, and though the episode’s ending is filled with light moments—assurance from Kane, a hug from Abby, a promise of peace from Lexa—the Bellamy and Clarke scene really seals the deal for the sort of development our characters will be forced to endure this season. The episode closes with Lexa deciding blood must not have blood, with Murphy captured by some Grounders who know something about the ‘sacred symbol’ on Jaha’s pill, and with Raven giving into the temptation of the City of Light. There are resolutions, good and bad, with the promise of complex plots being offered on the horizon.
The episode wasn’t perfect by any means, but it opened doors to what might become The 100’s most surprising and unstable (usually in a good way) yet. This episode was carried by the performances of Eliza Taylor, Ricky Whittle, and Lindsey Morgan, but it gave all of its best characters a chance to shine. Whether or not the show will keep up these on and off successful episodes, only time will tell. But this season certainly seems like it’s set up to be a expansive adventure in both plot and character development.
Episode Grade: B+