The 100 S3E5: "Hakeldama" Review & Analysis
Hakeldama is a refreshing return to form for The 100. Several characters returned to Arkadia for the first time since Pike’s election, and their interactions with the family and friends they left behind grounded the episode with complex, multi-layered conflict.
The last two episode reviews, I discussed why I disliked the way The 100 chose to develop Bellamy’s character. That opinion still stands—I wish they had chosen a longer arc to demonstrate Bellamy’s conflicted, broken state. As Bob Morley has demonstrated so far this season, he would have clearly been up to the task.
Critiques about the plot structure aside, it happened, and here we are. Now the question is, can The 100 recover? And I am so very relieved to say that Hakeldama is a gigantic step in the right direction.
Hakeldama (”field of blood” in Aramaic) presents several different intersecting storylines. The main thrust is Arkadia in the aftermath of Pike’s election and the subsequent slaughter of the peacekeeping force that Lexa sent to protect Arkadia from Ice Nation. Jaha also returns to Arkadia with ALIE and a bunch of ingestible ALIE/City of Light-chips in tow. Far afield, in the mossy woods and caves of the “Commander’s Forest”, Murphy and Emori are playing Bonnie and Clyde with an unexpected outcome.
At its heart, Hakeldama is an episode about truth and suffering, told inside broader arcs of leadership, power, and manipulation. Who leads us, and why? What lengths do those in leadership go to, what tactics do they use, to ensure they stay in power? What is the personal, private cost of those decisions? And how does that private pain (and the promise of alleviation) intersect with our power structures?
The 100 is at its best when it demonstrates how people and their relationships fuel these broader conflicts. Hakeldama takes that strength and runs with it. I could spend thousands of words dissecting the entire episode, but I’m going to focus on Bellamy and Raven since they are strongly paralleled.
Hakeldama begins in the direct aftermath of the massacre of Lexa’s peacekeeping forces. Pike, Bellamy, and their crew did it. Bellamy might have wanted to spare the wounded (unsuccessfully), and he did save Indra, but in the end, he participated.
[As a note, the following is not a justification of Bellamy's actions, rather an exploration of his emotional state and how people in power try to use him. ]
Immediately, he is unsure about it. When Pike suggests “clearing” a village that is in Pike’s desired territory, Bellamy objects. They’ve gone too far already, he tells Pike.
There’s a reason that Pike wants Bellamy on his side. Bellamy is one of the heroes of Mount Weather. Before Bellamy turned in his guard jacket after the Mount Weather explosion, he was a combat trainer and squad leader. He clearly holds sway among the delinquents. Besides all of that, Bellamy is charismatic, a great motivator, and a unifying force among different factions. Pike recognizes it, and he needs those strengths.
Pike sees that Bellamy is in pain, that he’s hurting. It’s how Pike convinces him to join the slaughter in the first place. Now Pike can see that Bellamy is doubting. Bellamy, it should be noted, is a potent mix of anger and absolutely zero self-worth. The only time he starts to recover from that is when Clarke reinforces his worth. “We need you,” she tells him in Day Trip to convince him to come back to camp instead of leaving. And he does. She becomes crucial to his self-worth.
But Clarke is gone. She chose to leave, and then chose to stay with the Grounders. For awhile Kane stepped in, and Bellamy flourished under that mentor-ship. Three months, though, is not enough time to correct a lifetime of guilt and self-hate. So when Mount Weather blows up, taking Gina with it, all of that comes crashing back on Bellamy.
Pike sees that doubt and offers Bellamy his guard jacket back. That guard jacket is a potent symbol to Bellamy, a symbol of power and status, two things that he has struggled for, and against, his entire life. That jacket has always been uneasy for him to wear. But at this moment, when he needs some modicum of control, he takes it.
Bellamy chooses Pike, and everything that implies. Pike offers him a direction to channel his rage, his guilt, his blame under the guise that he will be helping take care of his people. And if there is a defining characteristic of Bellamy, besides anger and guilt, it is a need to protect those he loves at all costs.
By successfully zeroing in on exactly what makes Bellamy Blake tick, Pike has further consolidated his power in Arkadia.
Raven Reyes is suffering. The once self-assured young mechanic has lost Finn, the use of her leg, and now, with Abby not signing her medical release, her job, identity, and place within Arkadia’s society. Raven, who was once the youngest zero-G mechanic on the Ark, is now sorting scrap metal. Every step she takes causes her immense pain. That pain fuels her depression and rage. There is no escaping it. Her suffering is suffocating her.
Raven initially scoffs when Jaha promises to erase pain and suffering with the City of Light. Why should she believe it? Life is struggle, and no one knows that better than Raven. She didn’t come from a background of privilege like Clarke did. She, like Bellamy, was part of the working class of the Ark. Her mother drank and used Raven’s rations for alcohol. The only one to care for her was Finn, who is now dead. Even on the ground, for all that she was the crucial component to the Sky People’s success, she endured heartbreak and injury.
What point does that pain become too much? At what point do you try to solve that problem? Even if Raven is wary of Jaha’s promises, it’s not in her nature to leave a problem unsolved. Abby has repeatedly told her that she can’t fix her leg, that the solution is now pain management. That is unacceptable to Raven. To her, there’s no problem that can’t be solved. Why not try the City of Light chip?
Raven doesn’t know the implications of taking this chip. She has no idea of ALIE’s plans of world domination. She has no idea that she is the first, crucial step in Jaha and ALIE’s plan to take over Arkadia. All she knows is that she’s suffering, and it must stop. The problem must be fixed.
All of this plays out on her face as we watch Raven take the chip. First, the resignation. Then the resolve. After she takes the chip, she shakes her head a bit; she can’t believe she actually did something so dumb, believed something so foolish.
She gets up. Her brace squeaks as she struggles through the rain and the mud.
Then…her limp starts to disappear. Her face goes from pain to disbelief. She looks up.
And there stands ALIE.
The echoes of this scene are chilling. In the first episode of this season, ALIE stands across from Becca, her creator who she chose as an avatar. In this scene, ALIE stands across from Raven, the woman that ALIE knows they need because of her intelligence and influence. Thunder rumbles in the distance as they regard each other. This moment, right here, is the past, the present, and the future.
THE MESSY BUSINESS OF TRUTH
Of course, for all the talk about manipulation and power, there is one thing that can bring that all down…And that is truth. Raven hasn’t faced her truth yet, but I am sure that her dealing with the City of Light will lead her there.
Bellamy and Clarke, however, face their truths in the best scene of the episode—and maybe the series itself. For all Bellamy has been confronting heartbreak at every turn in Arkadia, Clarke has been running from her problems. Even as she serves as Ambassador in Polis she is still disconnected from her own people (and in many ways her own problems). That disconnect leads her to believe that she can just show up and “fix” whatever problems Arkadia may have.
Like Pike, both Clarke and Octavia recognize that the key to Arkadia’s inner power system is Bellamy. He’s a crucial influencer, and up until a few days before the massacre, who influenced Bellamy? Clarke. Clarke knows it, too, and so does Octavia, which is why they both believe that if Clarke can just talk to Bellamy she can bring him around. If they get Bellamy, then maybe they can get Pike and bring him to Lexa for justice.
As Kane points out later, it’s a silly plan. But it’s what they’ve got, so they go for it. Octavia maneuvers Bellamy into a room with Clarke, and shuts the door.
It does not go like Clarke or Octavia hoped. While Clarke is a skillful manipulator with most people, what exists between her and Bellamy now is too complex, too raw, for such tactics. But she tries anyway, much to her detriment.
Clarke opens the scene by immediately trying to command him (”go easy on Octavia” and “we need to talk”). But Bellamy is having none of it. “Oh, you’ve decided that? The mighty Wanheda,” he practically spits it at her it’s so distasteful to him. It’s a title that elevates her, but only serves to remind him of the great personal price that both he and Monty paid for that act. A price they both stayed to confront. A cost that she ran away from, but has also given her powerful currency in the Grounder world.
The conflict is so layered. In the beginning, Clarke just keeps trying to use all of the tactics she’s used before. She tells him she needs him, usually his weakness, but he’s having none of that. From his point of view, now, Clarke is only using him for her own ends. She didn’t come to hash things out; she came to use him to apprehend Pike.
But now Bellamy is with Pike. What Clarke offers Bellamy, politically, is to side with Lexa. Lexa, maybe the person that Bellamy hates most because of her betrayal. Lexa, the person who Clarke is now aligning with. Pike offers him power. Clarke offers him subjugation to someone he abhors.
Bellamy doesn’t stop at saying no to Clarke though. It’s time for Clarke to face some truths, truths that no one else will tell her but Bellamy, truths that she’s spend months running away from. People die when she’s in charge, Bellamy says. Ton DC, where Clarke almost got Octavia killed. The Mountain, where Clarke trusted Lexa, and that betrayal forced them to kill everyone—people who trusted Bellamy with their lives.
Clarke looks like she had the wind knocked out of her. It is the first time she realizes that she is not the only one suffering. She wanted to take her people’s pain and disappear with it. But she didn’t, she couldn’t. In the end, that pain wasn’t her burden to bear. No one escapes their problems. Worse, in the end, her trying to bear that burden might have caused more suffering.
“I’m sorry,” she finally says to Bellamy. “I’m sorry for leaving. But I knew I could, because they had you.”
It’s a moment of connection. The anger dissolves—not disappears, but dissolves—for a moment. Bellamy kneels before her and takes her hand. I know we can fix this, Clarke says.
I’m sorry too, Bellamy says. Then, because this is The 100 and nothing is that easy, Bellamy handcuffs her to the chair, determined to bring her to Pike. There was honesty between them, but their personal truths could not sway the separate paths they have chosen. It may be too little, too late.
Luckily, Octavia helps Clarke escape, and she returns to Lexa. Clarke petitions Lexa for peace, begging Lexa to end the cycle of retaliation. Lexa agrees and declares that the Coalition and Titus will follow her because they are her subjects. Lexa desires peace above all else, but with her Coalition already fracturing, she is in a precarious position to offer such assurances.
Hakeldama is a step forward for this season of The 100. Clarke and Jaha’s separate returns to Arkadia catalyze conflicts that reveal the brokenness and pain inside Arkadia. Though these conflicts would have been better demonstrated before the massacre of the peacekeeping forces, at least they are finally addressed.
Clarke, Octavia, Lexa and Indra working together to try and establish peace and a non-violent resolution to the massacre is another high point of the episode. Four women warrior-leaders working together to solve the problems of their people is a powerful, potent image. I hope this dynamic continues in the next episodes.
Finally, Murphy and Emori’s romp in the woods adds a breath of fresh air to these heavy episodes. Since Murphy is now captured and headed to Polis, the possibility of more reunions and unexpected pairings is exciting.