This episode succeeded for one reason and one reason only: Bellamy Blake.
To clear up any misconceptions, this is not a bad episode, at least not by season seven standards. It’s difficult to create a poor episode centered around one of The 100’s most well-written and dynamic characters. But, therein lies the problem: this episode is less about Bellamy himself and more about Cadogan’s ideology, and the process of indoctrinating Bellamy into believing his many over the few mindset. Bellamy Blake is the best conduit for this story as a few near-death experiences will do that.
That’s not to say Bellamy didn’t influence the way the plot unfolded in “Etherea.” Bellamy is the best-suited character for this arc due to the audience’s intense emotional attachment to the eldest Blake and his primary drive, which is to protect and love his family. If there are any doubts about this, The 100‘s fanbase is a testament to the love for the character.
While “Etherea” isn’t exactly a tribute to Bellamy nor is it an episode that sees him grow in his own right, The 100 finds a groove that seems more similar to its past seasons with the re-introduction of the male lead into the show.
Regardless of how The 100 uses Bellamy Blake, “Etherea” is a breath of fresh air, one that allows fans to immerse themselves in the character they’ve been missing for so long. And yes, we have seen a glimpse of Bellamy in season seven. But a fake-out death scene and an unnecessary flashback to explain a poorly-executed character don’t really count.
Nor do his sporadic mentions in season seven. While he is missing and his absence is the motivating force for many characters this season, so little time is spent on him outside of the realm of Echo devolving and acting out. Clarke and Octavia serve Echo’s grief and almost the second they find out about his supposed fate, it’s back to plot and new characters that haven’t earned such a heavy influence in a final season.
In “Etherea,” Bellamy Blake is found, we rejoice, and while it’s easy to sink into the trap of giving the episode acclaim, it’s also important to remember how we got here and where we’re going.
Still, “Etherea” is closer to what a final season should look like, especially when compared to any other episode this season. And, while the issues that extend from the season into Bellamy’s journey can’t be ignored, it’s also possible to appreciate the character Bellamy is, and why his absence impacted this season and the fans so heavily.
Bob Morley also brings his A-game to “Etherea,” proving how skilled he is as an actor, and how Bellamy Blake is a part of him. The ease Morley plays Bellamy and understands him stands out and, unfortunately, makes many other performances appear weaker. Bob Morley is one of The 100’s strengths and his underutilization still stings as the final episodes approach.
So, if you’re looking for a TL;DR, read this: Bellamy Blake is a powerful, impactful character who deserves so much more than The 100 has ever given him. While his journey is stunted by the emphasis on new lore, returning to Bellamy feels like coming home. The potential of Bellamy having to find himself again after such a traumatic experience could be gold if handled correctly because, much to Cadogan’s surprise, individual love is necessary, and could very potentially be the answer to his war, or test.
Levitt, once again acting as an audience insert, replays the moment where Bellamy died. Or, as he finds out, gets pulled through the anomaly, as many fans also replayed that game-changing scene from “Welcome to Bardo.”
Levitt’s had a rough go at it, but that’s not surprising of Octavia’s newest tragic love interest. Even his fellow Disciple is concerned for him, but Levitt seems more focused on his role than we’ve seen him previously. Before, Anders has conveyed multiple times the priority of the needs of humanity rather than those of individuals, and maybe Levitt’s “A Little Sacrifice” experiences remind him of this.
While The 100 still doesn’t reveal his personal reaction or thoughts after Echo’s torture and Octavia’s apparent abandonment, he does seem on edge, which doesn’t bode great for our “heroes.” Levitt, although amenable to Octavia’s plight, is still a trained Disciple with Cadogan’s goals embedded in him, and to this note, he easily pulls The Disciple’s memory of the explosion.
If only afflictions such as PTSD were so easy to diagnose and treat.
Focusing on this perspective of the memory and after several rewinds to get the perfect frame, Levitt realizes Bellamy and The Conductor (whose name is Duccett, but we’ll just call him the Conductor for now) are alive. They end up on Etherea, ill-prepared and unfriendly.
Why did Anders enter Etherea’s code before the explosion? It seems that with every episode that passes in Bardo, more confusing and intricate information is revealed, unnecessarily concealed. After all, an episode was spent with Echo’s intentions dubious, only for Clarke and co. to explain it away within a minute the following week.
Is Bellamy’s destination in Etherea mainly coincidental for plot purposes, or did Anders have something in store for the elder Blake?
Even only witnessing up to the battle in the City of Light, Anders could discern Bellamy’s importance, not only in Octavia and Clarke’s lives, but also in the lives of everyone in contact with them and on Sanctum. This, combined with Bellamy’s later vision in the Cave of Ascension, raises suspicion.
Bellamy is the perfect candidate for their cause. Out of everyone, Bellamy, perhaps, is the person most fueled by individual love. Even the morally dangerous acts he’s committed, and the audience is hit over the head with, came from a place of protectiveness and love. If Bellamy could fully believe in The Shepard, his influence would be powerful and gripping, especially to a group of people who are obstinant to the beliefs that shape Bardo.
But then again, as The 100 doesn’t seem to have consistent rules regarding the anomaly and memory loss, this could be a fluke as well.
Paragon of Love
Bellamy Blake’s triumphant return and circumstances of “Etherea” reiterate how loving of a character Bellamy is, and ultimately hints at how Cadogan and The Disciple’s aversion to individual love could be their downfall.
Bellamy is as heart-driven as ever in “Etherea” but a significant part of his growth allows him restraint. As soon as the two arrive on the planet, the Conductor attempts to attack Bellamy. After a gruesome fight that leaves the Conductor’s leg critically injured, Bellamy has the upper hand and could easily take his life.
Bellamy doesn’t. Just like he didn’t take Russell’s life after the Prime seemingly took Clarke’s. And just like Bellamy decides to allow Echo her life when they escape Praimfaya. Bellamy hasn’t always been well-versed in the art of restraint. He’s been driven to do desperate things that cross the line. However, Bellamy has learned and exhibited immaculate growth.
This restraint is even more evident after ten episodes of his absence, his presence replaced by the woman he romantically loves, slaughtering anyone who comes in her way, going so far as to almost commit genocide instead of saving anyone.
This contrast doesn’t just merely remind the audience of how Bellamy is forgiving and caring in nature, but it reminds the audience of how ill-suited he is for Echo, the latter bastardizing his honor. She is a woman who needlessly abandons allies (Orlando), tortures friends (Levitt), and kills mercilessly (there are too many examples to list). Bellamy is the man who will forgive his enemies and attempt to enlighten them — Echo is a prime example of this — even if his attempts are laced with disbelief and sass.
Echo tried to kill in his name, and Clarke tried to save in it. “Etherea” makes his preferred path obvious.
Even if the mismatch is obvious through his small appearance this season so far, the takeaway that provides more impact is that of Bellamy’s heart, which provides more of a foil to Cadogan’s philosophies, even if he begins to believe by the end of his journey to the top of the mountain. It’s not through prayer that truly got the two men to the top of the mountain, but it was Bellamy, through and through (though the vision helped).
To protect his own life, Bellamy injures the Conductor, but he also attempts to make amends with his enemy and find common ground to ensure both of their survival. He can’t survive Etherea alone, as evidenced by his poor attempts to climb a small cliff. Actors and characters don’t always intersect.
This failure solidifies his decision to nurse the Conductor back to health, thanks to the skills he learned from our good friend Charles Pike. At least there’s one thing that all fans can agree that Pike was good for.
Bellamy Blake doesn’t give up. His journey to save Clarke in season six is proof enough of that. And this is the case here. The mountain appears insurmountable, and Bellamy holds on, not unlike Clarke did, alone on Earth, holding onto the thought of seeing him again.
Bellamy’s primary drives are the ones that he loves, and he’ll do what is necessary to return to them, and through that journey, his circle extends and he makes conscious decisions to make sure the Conductor sees it through to the end as well. Too bad Orlando didn’t have someone like Bellamy on his side.
Sometimes this is harmful for the character. He’s become the subject of abuse by the people he loves, and many believe he’s opened his heart, in ways he perhaps shouldn’t, to people who have hurt him.
This also affects the arcs he’s been allowed. It’s easy to shelve a selfless character and neglect to give him stories of his own when it’s easier to use him to prop up the perhaps shinier characters in the story.
Bellamy should be more than a vessel to support what we deem in The 100 as “a badass with a sword.” Particularly, when many times he doesn’t receive the same concern or care from those others. Clarke probably gives him the most back, as she is typically the one to recognize his significance and goodness, but as the protagonist in this story, the focus naturally shifts to her. Sometimes her emotions regarding him are tapered when they shouldn’t be for the sake of the plot. (Looking at you, season five.)
He also should be more than a vessel to introduce new story ideas way too late in a season. And if he is going to be used for that, as he is, he deserves a deeper dive into his core than just saying a few names of the people he cares for.
Still, “Etherea” gives Bellamy the silence needed for him to shine brightly, at least until he becomes the conduit for this out of left field plot progression. His journey isn’t easy by any means, as the Disciples for the most part seem anti-murder, and well, Bellamy just killed some of his people. The Conductor doesn’t take this lightly, and continues to fight him as Bellamy makes his case.
Stop. I have a better idea. We survive. Both of us. I am more than happy to leave you here to die of your wounds, but there is a way off this planet, and to do it, it’s going to take both of us. Working together.
Bellamy was always great at motivational speeches.
But, after Bellamy resets the Conductor’s leg, he needs a little recovery time and Bellamy is alone with his thoughts, even if aloud, and he delves a little bit into the women driving him to move forward.
Everyone I love: Octavia, Echo, Clarke — they’re alive. They’re just out of reach. The problem is, to get back to the people I care about, I have to nurse my enemy back to health. Sometimes, Bellamy Blake, irony can be funny. This is not one of those times.
This comment is noteworthy as it’s the first time Bellamy has vocalized his love both for Echo and Clarke. And while it’s best to ignore the disingenuous relationship still hanging on by a thread, no matter the type of love he feels for them (there’s still time for six seasons of romantic build-up to make sense!), most Bellamy fans will likely rejoice at hearing him utter love and Clarke in almost the same sentence.
Bellamy just doesn’t foster love for his people and his family, but “Etherea” doesn’t let the audience forget why they love him. Throughout his journey, Bellamy is handsomely charming (even with that beard), and all over charismatic and natural in a way that The 100 hasn’t been able to nail all season. If there was a runner-up, it’s Diyoza, and she sadly sacrificed herself in “A Little Sacrifice.”
Bellamy combines warmness and darkness to make one of The 100‘s most intriguing characters. His natural ease in this environment is a call-back to past seasons, giving “Etherea” a mid-series vibe that lulls the audience into a sense of security. But even as Bellamy continues to make political debates enjoyable for once, security never lasts long on The 100.
While “Etherea” gives a glimpse at Bellamy’s motivations and gives fans a highly anticipated dose of their fan-favorite, this episode is unfortunately more about the lore of the season and allowing Cadogan’s purpose to nab a beloved protagonist. After all, with the fake-out with Echo, and slightly Octavia and Diyoza, somebody had to fall victim to this.
As Bellamy itches to return to Bardo and to his loved ones, he reads the Conductor’s pocket-bible (and sews, which was a marvel to witness), and as their journey progresses, the conversations always lie as a political discourse of sorts, as Bellamy recognizes the fallacies of The Shepard’s teachings.
The Shepard believes in transcendence and peace, right? But to get there, in order to reach the next step up, you have to fight a war? … Our people have been to war more times than you can let me tell you. It doesn’t bring peace. Just death and pain, and if you’re lucky enough to survive, another war.
Jordan and Gabriel have similar thoughts, but their theory about the wrong translation hasn’t traveled to Bellamy’s ears yet. The Conductor on the other hand, like the other Disciples, believes Bellamy and his people to be foolish, and self-centered. And, while many times they prioritize their people, that’s not to say Clarke, Bellamy, and the others don’t try to save others as well. Wonkru is living proof of that.
When Bellamy points out that the Conductor is alive because of him, he isn’t wrong either, though it almost sounds like he’s proving his adversary’s point. That said, if Bellamy was already one of The Shepard’s fate, would he have saved the Conductor? If they were so small on the cosmic scale, what would the point be? According to Gabriel’s theory, one person would need to take the test. Could this ideology sacrifice the wrong person? After all, there’s no Flame to find the “right mind.”
Needless to say, these two walk two very different lives, which makes scaling a mountain difficult. Still, they do work together, and Bellamy trusts him enough to allow him to go first on their first hurdle. And to his surprise, the Conductor doesn’t abandon him either, despite the clear annoyance the two foster. Instead, he continues to slowly seed Bellamy with his belief.
Have some faith.
– The Conductor
Bellamy does. It’s one of his strengths, encouraging and believing in people. It’s part of the reason Octavia grew into the woman she finally became. It’s how Clarke was able to continue on, with Bellamy at her side. It’s the reason Echo is even still around.
Bellamy seeks partnership. Clarke is his person. In space, he co-led with Raven, or Echo (depending on who you ask). And on Etherea, it’s the Conductor. But as their journey continues, faith becomes all the more important, as well as a factor that pushes the two newfound partners apart, and then finally together, at the possible consequence of Bellamy’s familial relationships.
Cave of Ascension
“Etherea” includes emotional moments from Bellamy’s past, but perhaps one of the most gripping ones consists of Bellamy pushing forward through impossible conditions, repeating the Blake mantra, “I am not afraid,” which he also reminds himself as he falls into the bridge at the end of “Etherea.”
However, the callbacks are almost too clean, with Bellamy’s story almost becoming too neat, causing suspicion for perhaps a Glenn Rhee ending. A final death for Bellamy would deprive such a selfless, giving character of a deserved peaceful ending, and fan-favorites such as Lexa and Jasper have already disappointed with the poor handling of their ends. Will Bellamy be added to this list?
This is The 100, but there has to be a little light at the end of the tunnel, or bridge. However, with the unknown circumstances regarding Bob Morley’s absence from promotional material and the first sixty percent of the season, the audience’s red flags are raised high and his presence, especially in an isolated story, starts the timer counting down to his final fate.
The Conductor stays back, opting to follow the path The Shepard chose on his pilgrimage.
It’s true The Shepard prepared for his pilgrimage. To explore the universe, he had to. But it was here in Etherea that he found what he was seeking: the remnants of a civilization that had truly transcended.
– The Conductor
The Conductor knew best on this one. Personal relationships don’t always drive the most logical decision, but neither does faith. In this instance, Bellamy’s desire to return to his family could have resulted in his loss if it weren’t for The Conductor, who drags him into another cave. It’s the same cave Cadogan took refuge in on his journey, the Cave of Ascent.
And there are aliens. Or, at the very least, a light phenomenon that our characters quickly anthropomorphize. This seems rational as they do seem to be plucked out of a sci-fi blockbuster, not unlike other science fiction elements incorporated into The 100.
There is such a thing as too much sci-fi. Considering how character arcs, for the most part, are ignored (and let’s hope this is the start of one for Bellamy that lasts at least five more episodes), the science fiction becomes oversaturated in The 100. This problem began creeping up as early as season five, but the final season takes the cake.
Mind-wiping, mind-transfers, AIs, multiple planets, wormholes, ancient societies, genocidal chemical agents, memory capture, coded spheres, last wars that are actually tests, and energy/light beings? Maybe The 100 is trying to tick off every sci-fi trope box, but it’s a bit much.
This doesn’t make sense.
But, one direction The 100 could go is by making these non-corporeal light aliens responsible for the anomaly stones, essentially putting lower civilizations through a test to see if they could evolve. The Bardoans failed, and humanity is to be determined. This could explain why these stones are scattered across the galaxy on different planets, and according to Jason Rothenberg, every habitable planet. But again, this is something straight out of Star Trek: Enterprise (Episode 4×11, “Observer Effect,” if you want to check it out), and probably other science fiction stories as well.
This episode, introducing another entity and facet to an already overwhelming and confusing story, could have worked better if placed earlier in the season. But, since it’s introduced in the eleventh episode, this introduction comes too late, and once again pulls focus from the elements that should take focus in a final season. Of course, there seems to be a plethora of extenuating circumstances that shaped this season, but integrity still is integral for a story of this magnitude.
Bellamy initially denies the lights are the transcended civilization, a reasonable gut reaction. Although AIs and apocalypses shape his world, aliens is another A-word that seems unfathomable.
I don’t know what happened here. Those things didn’t ascend. That book of yours says a civilization needs to have tech-know-how, enough to work the stone. And those — those beings of light, they live in a cave.
The two delve into more philosophical conversation and the Conductor senses the inner turmoil that Bellamy lives with. The Conductor believes in a greater purpose: love equally for all instead of selfish love. Bellamy seems to listen.
Even if there is reason in the Conductor’s words however, this love will not be easy for Bellamy to let go of. It’s his purpose. His core. Which is also why his later belief is so striking.
But really, there is a distinction in the perspective of the two men. Bellamy focuses on the present. The things that are tangible, the people he can hold. The Conductor focuses on the future and what he can bring about for humanity as a whole, the things he can’t touch, but can feel.
Prophecies are stories to Bellamy. He’s accustomed to the great Greek tales, while these prophecies are real to the Conductor, enough for him to blindly follow the same path as Cadogan before him.
This impasse does not subside, and neither does the storm. Time seems to move similarly on Ethera that it does to Bardo, at least two months passing as they wait out the storm, and a little bit over three months passing in Bardo since Bellamy’s presumed death.
The Conductor continues attempting to influence Bellamy, and Bellamy begins to succumb, the time alone and away from his family wearing on him. Is his love really an obsession? Does it shackle him? At this point, Bellamy is desperate to try anything.
If The 100 was willing to go there, this would bond Clarke and Bellamy even further, which almost seems impossible without making the overdue jump to romance. Bellamy prays with The Conductor and is granted a vision of sorts. But, like with everything Bardo-related, this is also suspicious. Cadogan is just a man, but appears to Bellamy. Is this set-up in any way? Or this genuine?
Considering The 100‘s obsession with dictators and corrupt leaderships using faith as a means of control, there has to be more to this.
Faith is the true weapon.
Cadogan steers Bellamy away from guns and swords (ironic since he preaches of a finale war), speaking to faith, but isn’t he the one wielding the weapon? A misinterpreted faith at that? How is this any different than the physical wars Bellamy has surrendered himself to?
Following Cadogan into the cave of ascension, Bellamy meets his mother and she guides him to the light. A teary-eyed Bellamy takes in this vision and moves into the light as his mother asks, and even though something is off with this and how it comes to fruition, it hurts to see the eldest Blake so moved by his mother. Since their last meeting, the world has torn him apart. This hurts especially knowing that this could estrange Bellamy from the people he loves dearly and has fought for over six seasons.
Go to the light, Bellamy. The light is the way.
Coincidentally, as Bellamy goes into the light, he enters an opening in the cave and the storm has passed, allowing the two to tackle one last cliff scaling to reach the anomaly stone. Climbing the mountain, the Conductor slips, and it’s through prayer that Bellamy is able to save him and hoist him up for safety. Bellamy even uses the together tagline, which is a bit overused at this point, especially when it’s not directed at Clarke.
The Conductor and Bellamy take turns exchanging faith in each other. By the end of their journey they both have faith The Shepard’s plight. Bellamy’s faith is tested a final time as they reach the top and free fall off the mountain into the anomaly, down who knows how many feet.
And just like that, Bellamy Blake is Team Cadogan.
Blink and you’ll miss it: as Bellamy and the Conductor enter Bardo, the anomaly glows not with only its green hue, but also the yellow of the light aliens. Could these lights be connected to Bardo somehow, facilitating Bellamy’s vision?
The New Disciple
The fans wanted Void Bellamy and here he is.
Bellamy’s defection is completely reasonable. After all, he went through something incredibly trauamtic. Who wouldn’t be traumatized by being stranded alone on a mountain planet with one other person, forced to perform an incredibly physical feat to escape?
Even as a character who exhibits so much love has a breaking point, but there is still so much about his transformation that needs revealing. Does Bellamy believe in the Shepard just for himself and the miracle of his return to Bardo, or does believing in a greater purpose extend saving to those his heart belongs to?
While Bellamy attributed their successes to the Shepard, these are not things that Bellamy hasn’t achieved before. Bellamy Blake is a hero, not a perfect one, but one who strives for others, and sacrifices himself, his peace, to save.
He rescued a Mel from a cliff before. He’s been prepared to sacrifice himself to save others, people he wasn’t even necessary close to. Bellamy’s love for those close to him is what saved him and the Conductor, whether it was his will to return home to the people he loves or his selfless nature to put his life at risk to save someone he once considered an enemy. Doesn’t that sound awfully familiar?
The choices he makes on Etherea aren’t the Shepard’s grace, but Bellamy’s.
Even with this new perspective, Bellamy Blake still is himself. He’s perhaps manipulated and believes in this philosophy due to the illusion of evidence in his close life-or-death calls on Etherea, but Bellamy can’t completely turn away from those that he loves, can he?
After all, this episode isn’t a dedication to Bellamy Blake, although it should be. This episode uses Bellamy to elicit the most severe emotional reaction from the audience, which manages to work. “Etherea” is about expanding Cadogan’s lore, not pushing Bellamy and his fans closer to the closure needed for a final season.
While Bellamy deserves more, especially after a prolonged absence, there are a plethora of boring and repetitive ways to use him. At least his story isn’t anchored to one person, like his girlfriend’s story is.
Depending on the route this takes Bellamy, it’s the best that could be hoped for with so little time remaining, granted he is allowed to return to the man who loves his family so fiercely before his death or final appearance.
That doesn’t make the treatment or utilization of Bellamy Blake right, but maybe tolerable, all things considered. Even when used for lore purposes, Bellamy Blake and Bob Morley elevate The 100 to a level no other character has done so far this year, whether it be due to performance, or unenthused writing.
Bellamy’s new belief, the latest born out of necessity, should be his internal struggle. His nature to love and protect versus his new faith that The Shepard’s journey delivered him, indicating the correct path was not the one he was on. This is clearly wrong, especially witnessing how cold and inhuman both Cadogan and Anders behaved.
Could this newfound belief have solidified for Bellamy because it will possibly save his people too? Could Cadogan provide deliverance for those he loves while he still loves them? Balance is possible — Levitt has exhibited something similar so far.
Humanity does include Octavia, Clarke, and Echo. Could that be apart of his future drive, killing two birds with one stone?
After all, if Bellamy looked anything when reunited with Clarke, Echo, Octavia, and Gabriel (with his entertaining expressions), it’s dejected, and possibly conflicted, with a hint of pity.
When Bellamy first arrives, however, Cadogan appears proud and smug, almost too knowing. Bellamy kneeling to “his Shepard” makes the body crawl, but that’s why this direction for Bellamy succeeds, at least temporarily.
Meanwhile, Clarke, Octavia, Echo, and Gabriel wait in Cadogan’s quarters, separated from the others for no apparent reason other than these are the reactions The 100 wanted to show to Bellamy’s rebirth.
Thank God for the Flame.
– Said Nobody Ever (except Gabriel)
Just as the four plan their next move, with Echo oddly telling Clarke she wouldn’t let her sacrifice herself (after almost killing her in a genocide a few minutes ago), Cadogan enters, with Bellamy in tow.
The shock interrupts Clarke’s demand to Cadogan as Bellamy’s liveliness dawns on the four. Clarke at first is the focus, as their relationship continues to be the heartbeat of The 100. Bellamy seems to look at her before focusing on Echo’s shock, and then Octavia. She goes for him first, but only Clarke is able to touch him with guns trained on the others.
That is deserved. It took eleven episodes to get to the point where Bellamy and Clarke can share the same oxygen. Overdue is an understatement.
The scene is well done, from camera work to score. It’s relieving to see Clarke and Octavia take precedent, as their shelved emotions (thanks, Echo) begin to seep out. Echo remains in shock, while Octavia and Clarke express pride, happiness, and relief.
Clarke hugs Bellamy, because what would a Bellarke reunion be without a hug, and there are few times Clarke’s appeared happier than she is in this moment. This is definitely the strangest of Bellarke hugs, but the look she bestows upon Bellamy as she pulls from their embrace? Pure love.
Clarke’s happiness in Bellamy’s return is amazing to see. In this moment, the love she feels for him is evident, even if her reaction to his death was muted. Her face lights up because Bellamy, her partner in almost everything, is here. She gets to hold him, touch him, and even just looking at him seems to warm her heart. It’s a joy to see this emotion from Clarke and her following confusion hurts as passionately as the joy feels.
Bellamy, however, is clearly off. He holds Clarke, but hesitantly as his face is laced with sadness, even disappointment, not necessarily at Clarke, but at the state they’re in compared to his.
Even her whispered warnings regarding the Flame go unanswered, and the wheels appear to turn in Bellamy’s head as realization sets in. He makes a choice. Bellamy is sad, conflicted, but unfortunately, resolved in helping the man he believes he owes his life to and has sent him down a path that is finally right in his eyes.
The Conductor planted the seed of the Shepard being able to fill that hole inside Bellamy, and unfortunately, it sprouts.
As Bellamy reveals the true fate of the Flame, the music amps up. Gabriel is confused, Echo is distraught, Octavia is bewildered, and finally, the focus ends with Clarke, rightly so, as she’s utterly betrayed.
This scene is great. The focus centering back to Bellarke and the Blakes inspires a sliver of hope for a correct refocusing of characters in the episodes to come. And while the choice to have Bellamy be the one to go to the “dark side,” per se, at first is jarring, it’s the perfect choice to amp up conflict, and further dynamics in a new way that isn’t the same recycled beats as in Sanctum.
Bardo has taken so much from Octavia, which introduces a Blake conflict that is reversed from its typical set-up. Echo has been slaughtering Disciples left and right, potentially creating relationship drama (if Echo is held accountable). Clarke’s best friend and partner possibly just put her life in danger, seemingly betraying her and all of their people. Even before when they’ve done awful things to each other, nothing like this has occurred between the two.
While Bellamy may not turn his back completely on those in that room in the coming episodes, Cadogan clearly takes precedent. Bellamy’s headspace hasn’t been explored much post-vision, but if The 100 finally takes advantage of a good set-up, something it doesn’t always nail, then this could elevate the season above the sublime place it’s been existing in.
While the potential is evident, that’s not reason to let down your guard. After all, Bellamy’s journey is more about audience impact than closure, which isn’t an unfamiliar problem this season. So far, there isn’t much of anything indicating that the arcs of the most popular characters with longevity will wrap up neatly, after all, there’s been little focus on Bellamy, Clarke, Octavia, and even Raven.
Even in the Inside the Episode for “Etherea,” it fails to mention Bellamy’s name once, indicating a seemingly severe disconnect between creators and the character which could end up badly for Bellamy.
Bellamy’s return is heartwarming and a homecoming, but with a track-record of poor treatment of the character inside and outside of the narrative, the potential of a set-up that could lead to some climatic and juicy conflicts for Bellamy, Clarke, Echo, and Octavia may likely be skimped upon as Bellamy and his relationships are clearly not the focal points of The 100’s final season’s narrative, unless it allows Echo to kill people laissez-faire.
The bigger question remaining is: was this worth the ten-episode wait? Maybe not. After all, even in a Bellamy-centered episode, the episode existed as a way to introduce the light-aliens and quickly turn Bellamy. The 100 continues to fall back on flashbacks as a quick and fast way to instill big changes without too much effort.
If a character is ignored for so long, they deserve more depth, and despite an uneasy gut feeling, this plot will hopefully give this to Bellamy, Clarke, and Octavia, the three mains who have felt like ghosts all throughout their final curtain call.
NEW DAY – It’s a new day in Sanctum. Clarke, Octavia, Raven and Echo struggle with a new foe.
The 100 continues next week with “The Stranger,” airing on The CW at 8/7c.
What did you think of “Etherea?” What do you think caused Bellamy’s vision? Will he return to his friends and family? Let us know in the comments below!