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The 100 Discussion: 'Etherea' marks the return of Bellamy Blake
For the entirety of The 100's final season, we've been asking one question: "Where is Bellamy Blake?"
Well this week, we got our answer. The hero of this story is marooned on an alien planet with one of the Shepherd's flock and to survive, they'll have to work together. We wanted our Space Daddy back but guys, not like this.
We're Alyssa Fikse and Jessica Toomer and we're right there with you this season.
Warning: This discussion contains spoilers for Season 7, Episode 11 of The 100.
Jessica: It's 2020. I suppose we should count our blessings when they're bestowed so let's start by celebrating the return of our dark, mustachioed prince, Bellamy Blake. Levitt conveniently discovers Bellamy and a disciple got blasted through the Stone so he's actually not dead. Although, who here really thought they'd let Bellamy "Space Daddy" Blake go out like that? Even for a season that's so messy and problematic, the writers would never stoop so low as to kill off their male lead off camera. Right? Right. Anyway, Bellamy and his disciple buddy land on a planet called Etherea, and this whole episode acts as a sort of slow-burn bromance, enemies-to-besties tale with cult-worshipping in the background. It's … different.
Alyssa: Listen, we all knew that Bellamy wasn't dead. One of the biggest rules of TV is that if you don't see a body, all bets are off. However, I did not think we would be waiting until EPISODE 11 OF 16 before we saw our male lead again, but here we are. It's 2020 and we can't have nice things, even if Bellamy's freckles are back in our lives. The eldest Blake and the disciple land on Etherea and immediately start beating the shit out of each other, as one does. Bell gets the upper hand, but can't deliver the killing blow. Our favorite dude has done enough killing for several lifetimes, so I get that hesitance. He brings the disciple to a nearby cave and starts to tend to his wounds, and this guy immediately starts spouting off the Shepherd's indoctrination. Bellamy, ever the skeptic, is very "Thanks but no thanks, also sorry I broke your leg," with his new tentative ally, claiming that they need to work together to get off the planet. I don't know about you, but working with zealots is certainly not my favorite method of survival.
Jessica: And working with a comatose one is a pretty boring way to spend your time on an alien planet. Bellamy is kind enough to help set the Conductor's break before using his Earth-skill's knowledge to make an antiseptic from pine sap. Of course, all the pain temporarily knocks the guy out so Bell's left to crack jokes about irony to his audience of one. When that stops being fun, he starts reading the good Shepherd's manifesto, which the Conductor carries with him wherever he goes, and our boy's got some questions for the newly-awakened disciple.
Alyssa: Yeah, there isn't a lot to do in that cave other than read "pocket propaganda for another false god," so Bell gets his book club on. When the Conductor wakes up, Bellamy tells him that the Shepherd is full of shit, because he's seen war and it certainly doesn't bring peace, only more death, and pain. His zealot friend has a real agree to disagree moment, and after resting for a week or so, they decide that his leg is strong enough for them to continue their quest to find the stone that will get them off of this planet before whatever is laying giant eggs finds them. YET AGAIN, another cool creature moment that we're denied! They set off, and I kept thinking about all of the scenes of The Lord of the Rings where Frodo and Sam are trudging their way to Mordor. Extremely strong Mordor vibes in this episode.
Jessica: Oh that green light on the top of the mountain is definitely symbolism for the Eye of Sauron. No doubt. Unfortunately, this quest is about half as interesting as the one those sweet little hobbits went on. It doesn't help that the whole way, the Conductor is spouting off nonsense about how the Shepherd completed this same journey, how he'll save them, blah blah blah. Bellamy's had enough by the time they reach the rock-wall of doom or whatever. He reluctantly lets his hiking partner jump up first because of his broken leg and there's a moment when we all think this dude might just abandon Clarke Griffin's husband, but behold, the teaching of the Shepherd continue to plague us all and the Conductor helps him up. The journey's just getting started but I'm already so tired.
Alyssa: Absolutely exhausted, to be honest. Bellamy has to trust this dude as they climb, despite his endless proselytizing, and eventually, they reach the Cave of Ascent that the Shepherd spoke of. It is a glowing, weird time. A snowstorm rolls in, so they're trapped in there for months with just lichen to eat, which makes me feel extremely grateful for my cozy home and Postmates as we ride out our own quarantine. Bellamy tells the Conductor (who may or may not have another name?) that Bill the Shepherd is a fraud while they debate transcendence, and this brainwashed dude tells him that if he doesn't trust the messenger, at least trust the message. Bellamy sticks to his guns, saying that he believes in what he can prove, like his love for his friends and family. I have missed him, truly.
Jessica: Bellamy Blake, like movie theaters and spin classes, is something I will never take for granted again. Unfortunately, the Conductor starts to make some headway with our hero — months of isolation and the ramblings of a madman wears down even the strongest of us — and the appearance of these glowing figures deep within the cave go a long way to converting the eldest Blake to Team "Last War." I'm not sure what these illuminated, crystalized beings are but the Conductor seems to think they're the remnants of souls of a race that's already ascended, which is what our cult buddies hope to one day do. Honestly, the whole thing was hella confusing but Bellamy seemed shaken by whatever vibe those spirits were giving off.
Alyssa: It is all very confusing! Being trapped in yet another mountainside cave is enough to drive anyone mad, but Bellamy decides that now is the time to pray to the Shepherd, who appears to Bellamy in a vision. Listen, it will never not be hilarious to me that this all-powerful cult leader is some man named Bill, but that's what we get. He tells Bellamy that there is still so much for him to see, leading him to the back of a cave where Bell has a vision of his mother. It's a pretty emotional moment, and she tells him to go towards the light. No, not towards death, but towards the stone. In an instant, the snowstorm is over and they can continue their ascent up the mountainside. I swear to god, if the message of this season ends up being the power of prayer, I am going to lose my mind.
Jessica: Yeah I think a couple of seasons ago this episode might've hit different, but I've seen people bow down to a rich old white man who just spouts off nonsense and lets other people suffer for his vision and I'm just not buying that an egotistical absentee father is the savior of the human race. Not in this social climate. Bellamy though has been through a lot, so I can see why the idea of a different way of living — one that frees him of this burden of responsibility to his sister and his people, one that promises no more wars and eternal peace — might be appealing. It's all total bullsh**, but look, I'm not judging anyone for their methods of coping with trauma.
A Leap of Faith
Alyssa: Bellamy certainly has dealt with more than his fair share of trauma. My wish is for everyone on The 100 to get some seriously intensive therapy when this is all over. Surely someone on Sanctum is qualified. After the storm breaks, Bellamy, his beard, and the Conductor continue their climb. It's going to be a particularly arduous route to the top, but it's really their only option at this point, as much as I would like to see them fight whatever alien is laying those giant eggs. As they climb, the conductor (truly, how hard would it have been to give him a name?!) loses his footing and left dangling at the end of a fraying rope. He encourages Bellamy to cut him loose and continue the trek alone, but leaving a man behind was never Bell's MO. While chanting "for all mankind," Bellamy pulls him to safety. A heroic endeavor for sure, but a sign of troubling things to come by the end of the episode.
Jessica: Yeah, I wanted to shout at Mr. Blake: "It was your beefy biceps that saved your friend, not that broke cult chant!" but I knew he wouldn't listen. He's all in now, which is made clear when they reach the Stone, input the code, and realize in order to get back to Bardo, they'll have to take a literal leap of faith … off the very tall mountain they just spent months climbing. The Conductor is obviously game and after a mini-breakdown, so does Bellamy. When they land, the Shepherd is waiting for them and Bellamy immediately falls to his knees in front of him. The only person Bellamy Blake should be kneeling to is his wife Clarke Griffin.
Alyssa: Did they body swap Bellamy Blake with some imposter while making the jump to Bardo? Something is just not adding up to me!! We bounce to Clarke and the rest of the Sanctum crew as they debate what their next step is, with Clarke making the decision to stay behind and reveal that she no longer has the Flame and is therefore not the Key while everyone else jumps to safety. When everyone objects, Bill comes striding in with Bellamy in tow. It is a tense and weird moment and everyone is shocked as hell to see Bellamy alive. Clarke hugs him and quietly tells him that Bill thinks she is the Key because she has the Flame, which Bellamy knows that she does not have. HE SNITCHES IMMEDIATELY. Readers, I cannot fully communicate my rage at this development, but know that it is MIGHTY.
Jessica: I literally screamed "JUDAS!" at my screen. And no, I was not referencing the religiously-subversive bop from our lord and savior, Lady Gaga. The real Bellamy Blake would never. This must be the work of his tethered. Everyone is obviously shocked at his traitorous turn, Cadigan looks pissed, and that's where the episode (and my patience for this season) ends. If Bellamy Blake has turned into one of these sad-sack believers and completely betrayed his Queen Clarke Griffin, I will wash my hands of this show.
Alyssa: We have five episodes left. FIVE. A traitorous Bellamy Blake is not what I signed up for. It's not what I've committed to seven seasons for. Getting him back this way is some monkey's paw bullshit, and the viewers and Clarke Griffin deserve better. I don't know, man. The pacing of this season has been so very strange, and I feel like there is an impossible amount of plot to tie up in five episodes. This does not feel at all like a show that's winding down.
Jessica: Here's my main fear: that we won't tie things up, that this has all been building to some cliffhanger that can only be explained with that planned prequel. My fear is that we'll leave these characters we've spent seasons caring about in limbo in favor of kickstarting a new series. My fear is that after determining this would be the final run, after possibly having some work conflicts with main cast members while filming, and after realizing they could keep this CW machine turning, the showrunner and writers decided to use this season as a bridge to a blank slate, skirting the hard work of actually finishing something. I hope that fear is unwarranted, but at this point, I'm losing hope for a satisfying end to this thing.