Blood must not have blood.
Hakeldama means “field of blood” in Aramaic. It refers to the field Judas Iscariot bought and then died in with the money he earned when he betrayed Jesus to the temple authority. The theme, then, is blood and betrayal. The field of blood upon which the Grounders die, and Bellamy’s betrayal of Clarke, though I’m getting ahead of myself.
As with every episode this season thus far, “Hakeldama” continues to build the momentum. We get the sense that we’re hurtling toward…something. Something big and, let’s be honest, probably bloody. With Ice Nation safely out of the way, we return once again to the seminal conflict of this series: Grounders vs. Sky People.
It opens with the aftermath of the decision making processes of “Watch the Thrones”: the seeming bloodsport of the Grounder combat to the death has wrought peace. Heda and Wanheda ride together, clean, peaceful, and solemn, though with the typical flirtatious Clexa undertones. Back at Arkadia, however, the democratic process wrought only more bloodshed. Bellamy, Pike, and the others return from killing the Grounder peacekeeping force coated in blood, dirt, and sweat. Clarke and Lexa seem content with the outcome. Bellamy? Pained, dark, and brooding.
This contrast marks the central theme of this episode: Clarke vs. Bellamy. As the characters have asserted since the finale of S2, war does terrible things to good people, forcing them to make uncomfortable choices and sacrifice people in ways that fracture their humanity. Last season, Clarke was on a very, very dark path, culminating in the destruction of Mt. Weather. In this season, we’ve seen her start to climb out, to realize that maybe, just maybe, she can forge a life where the horrible things she did has meaning. She’s turned outward to embrace the Grounders as her own people. She’s realized that they’ve lost as much as she has, and so perhaps it’s not worth all the bloodshed. In this episode, she’s back to her old self of fixing things and trying to make peace, like we saw in S1.
We also see that war has had the opposite effect on Bellamy. It, too has returned him to his S1 persona, but not in a good way. He’s hardened where Clarke has softened. His dark path has led him to a darker one instead of toward the light. He’s fixated on what he’s lost, rather than what everyone else has also lost. With the two people closest to him—Clarke and Octavia—embracing life on the ground, he’s pulled away and back, back to the “us vs. them” mentality that defined his brief tenure as head of the 100 in S1.
I’m not entirely certain that it works, though. In S1, he was willing to wipe out all the Grounders, sight unseen because he believed the lives of his people were in danger and did not recognize the Grounders as real people. Then, he learned how to compromise, make tough decisions, and bear the consequences. His choice to not let Clarke take full responsibility for Mt. Weather by placing his hand with hers and telling her they’d do it together was a moment of real maturity for Bellamy. A choice to not let Clarke share the burden alone, as she had since the bomb dropped and people died.
This season, his anger at her seems entirely out of character for the progression he made because we haven’t gotten enough time for it to truly build. He’s angry she left him, but it’s sudden and forced. We saw no hint of this anger in the past 4 episodes. He’s angry that she didn’t warn everyone about the bomb and then irradiated Mt. Weather (which he helped with, but conveniently doesn’t mention), killing people who helped them. But Tree Cru helped them too, yet he feels alright massacring 300 Tree Cru soldiers sent to protect them. When he confronts Clarke, he actually seems more upset that she’s the one making all the decisions than the actual decisions themselves.
Bellamy: “You are not in charge here and that’s a good thing, because people die when you’re in charge.”
Nevertheless, the scene with him and Clarke arguing was scripted beautifully, acted superbly, and filled with tension. While I may not fully buy how quickly his anger accelerated this season, I completely bought into this scene. I actually paused the episode and ranted a bit at my screen at Bellamy when he was yelling at Clarke. I wanted to smack him. It may sound excessive, but it means that despite my misgivings about his anger, it still worked enough that I was invested.
Clarke: “I’m sorry for leaving, but I knew I could, because they had you.”
The rhythm and timing of the scene was impeccable. Their mutual anger, followed by a heartfelt apology on Clarke’s part, was well paced. She was truly vulnerable with Bellamy in a way that she’s not vulnerable with anyone else. Then comes the Judas kiss. She lets Bellamy see her sorrow, and he apologizes, only to slap handcuffs on her. Honestly, I did NOT see that coming. Not here, not after such an outpouring of raw emotion from Clarke. The scene was an emotional rollercoaster, and I loved every minute of it. This show is able to tug your emotions so expertly when it’s on point. When it’s good, it’s really, really good. It’s just the right amount of drama and anger without becoming tired, the apparent reconciliation feels earned, and then the twist. Bellamy is the betrayer, the one who ‘purchased’ the field of blood via the deaths of the Grounders, and ultimately, betrayed the person whose loyalty he first earned: Clarke.
After the tense and dramatic Episode 4, I wondered if Pike would be able to step into the villain role occupied by the Ice Queen, but I needn’t have been worried. He’s quite distasteful—both as a person and a character—but at times he’s too one note for my taste. I get that he’s lost a lot of people he loved, but the black and white “us vs. them” mentality clashes with the political nuance that this show has managed to work into the fabric of its narrative over the course of S2 and S3 thus far. He doesn’t have a mustache, but whenever he talks I see him twirling it nonetheless.
Maybe it’s just a personal preference, but I found President Dante to be much more terrifying as a villain precisely because he’s so nuanced. He was a man who appreciated art and seemed to care about reducing suffering, yet at the same time could accept bleeding Grounders out and creating a murderous tribe of Reapers in order to keep the transfusions going. Pike, on the other hand, is just a hateful man. His rhetoric is also uncomfortably colonialist, which, coming from a black character, makes me extremely uncomfortable.
Pike: “This is our land now. Resist and you will be met by force. Fight, and you will be greeted by death.”
As with every episode this season, there are a lot of other threads interwoven with the main story. Jaha returns to Arkadia with A.L.I.E., intent on converting all the Sky People to whatever pseudo-religious campaign A.L.I.E. has going on that we still know very little about. Monty and Jasper are absent, as is Polis, so we don’t know what the new King Roan is up to yet. Murphy and Emori are basically Bonnie and Clyde at this point, but I still have no idea what the point of their subplot is (I’m not a fan of either character). Kane and Abby are trying to overthrow Pike’s new regime and there are at least a few who sympathize. Poor Lincoln has to deal with a new wave of bigotry, and Octavia acts as messenger to the gods.
I’m disappointed with Raven’s subplot this season, this episode especially. On the one hand, I love how they’ve scripted her dealing with being disabled. As someone who has struggled with chronic pain, I know the feeling of people infantilizing you, thinking they know all the answers to help you feel better. She says what so many people with physical and mental disabilities wish they could say to all the well-meaning ‘nice’ people out there: piss the hell off. On the other hand, she’s been relegated to almost a tertiary character this season, which is so disappointing given that she’s one of the only disabled female protagonists on television. More could be done with her and she’s wasted. Abby’s “You can still be useful” line felt almost like a meta comment on Raven’s role in the show, “yeah, you’re no longer front lines material, but you can still be part of the team, just not as prominent.” Her joining team Jaha is also disappointing, but I hope she’ll work her way out of it, eventually.
Clexa continues to shine through as the most well developed relationship in this series. The writers are clearly invested in these two developing as more than just a sexual fling, and it shows. Just about every other romantic relationship has suffered this season: Wick and Raven broke up (speaking of, where the heck is Wick?), Octavia and Lincoln are fighting, Bellamy gained and lost Gina, Murphy gained Emori but their relationship is far from healthy, and Jasper, poor sweet Jasper, he’s gone a bit mad with grief. None of the grown ups seem to have any romance, which, why not? I like Abby and think she deserves some sexy times.
Back to Clexa. To me, their relationship feels less like its being dangled and more like its being actually developed because they give us more than just shipbaiting moments. Clarke and Lexa continue to grow and change in healthy ways by being around each other. Lexa has helped Clarke return from a very dark path and is giving Clarke a reason to heal herself. Clarke, on the other hand, is teaching Lexa about embracing emotion and showing mercy. In “Hakeldama”, we finally get the payoff when Lexa refuses to retaliate against Pike. It’s a move Lexa has been hurtling toward ever since she met Clarke, and it is very much earned. At the same time, it is also politically dangerous, and therefore exciting. I’m pretty sure the Coalition will not go for the mercy angle. Still, Clexa is the most amazing power couple ever, and I want to see them take down all the bad guys together (can you tell I ship them?).
Overall, what I continue to love about this show is how well it balances character and plot. This season balances political maneuvering, intrigue, and personal drama remarkably well and this episode is no exception. In a episode fixated on blood and betrayal, it would be easy to fall into fabricating drama for drama’s sake. While overall, Bellamy’s turn to the dark side falls flat, the storyline was still strong and there were legitimately good confrontations. The scene with him and Clarke is gripping. The mark of a good writer is that drama evolves naturally from characters interacting and on that score, The 100 remains fairly solid.
- Jaha continues to creep me out. He’s so predatory. Seriously, I hate him now. Hate him, hate him, hate him. Leave my precious Raven alone.
- Speaking of Raven, I still want to know what happened to Wick. I mean, just because he and Raven broke up doesn’t mean disappeared from camp. Did the actor leave the show? Was he fired?
- Kane has an impressive beard, and is it me or does his hair/beard get longer every episode?
- Clarke and Octavia teaming up is awesome. I’m glad Octavia is starting to turn around. These two have had persistent communication issues and personality clashes, but they’re more alike than they realize (probably why they clash? two independent thinking intelligent women are bound to butt heads). I’m glad to see that some level of the cattiness is going away. These two are powerful together. I want them on the same team forever.
- There is a lot of self assertion in this episode. “This is who I am” and “That’s who they are; they’ll never change”. Purposeful?
- Also a lot of men infantilizing women: Bellamy talks down to Octavia and Clarke, Murphy condescends to Emori when she wants to go after her brother, Jaha infantilizes Raven about her pain.
- Grown ups respecting kids! Kane and Abby went through a spell in S2 where they were kind of priggish douchebags, so its nice to see them working with the kids instead of condescending to them.
- Poor Lincoln, he has to put up with so much bs.
- John Murphy continues to be a dick—seriously, why does this guy have more of a presence than Raven? I have a hard time being invested in the subplot of a character who’s this much of an jerk. Give him a redeeming quality or make him go away.
- Why do the Grounders know about A.L.I.E.’s symbol and why do they call it sacred?