Thursday, February 18, 2016

REVIEW: 'The 100' - Clarke Returns to Arkadia to See Just How Drastically Her People Have Changed in 'Hakeldama'

The CW's The 100 - Episode 3.05 "Hakeldama"

Clarke's hope for peace is dashed by a new threat. Raven becomes a target. Murphy is running a dangerous con.

Clarke returns to Arkadia for the first time in months. The place has a new name and a new attitude as well. She finds this out early in the hour when she and Lexa see the devastation that Pike and Bellamy have created. The new chancellor and his fellow soldiers have wiped out the entire peace-keeping army and have left Indra as the only survivor in order to deliver their message to the Commander. They are no longer honoring the coalition and plan on taking this land as their own. War will come to anyone who stands in their way. Clarke is horrified to hear all of this. She can't believe that her people are responsible for all of this brutality. She returns to have a frank conversation with Bellamy about what he has done. At one point, she simply turns to him and says "This isn't you." That's certainly how a lot of the audience should feel about this latest plot development. Bellamy's character arc has changed drastically over the last few episodes to create this conflict. It's a story that's getting larger and more problematic on the show this season. So much of the action that happens in "Hakeldama" doesn't really track all that well with the characters at the center of them. So, it's very difficult to connect with this story as it's only growing in importance.

That main story is so troublesome right now because the show is rushing into it. It's hard to understand why anyone does anything that they do. It plays solely as big plot moments that surprise the audience but don't make a whole lot of sense with who the characters are. In the past, the show has been very good at showing the ramifications of the actions the main characters take. Everyone is drastically different from the people they used to be when they first landed on Earth. But this story just doesn't have the time to adequately do that because so much is happening in a very small amount of time. Pike is elected chancellor just a few days after he arrived at Arkadia. And now, he and his soldiers have gone and killed the grounder army protecting them from the Ice Nation. It's a tense situation all around. But it's hard to connect with the motivations behind these actions. Pike and Bellamy are doing this to protect their people. And yet, there's no clear sign that these actions are affecting them at all. It largely amounts to Pike whispering into Bellamy's ear that he should be focused on all the people he is keeping safe instead of the hundreds that he is killing.

Mount Weather changed a lot of people. Bellamy was there for Clarke when she was faced with the harsh reality of needing to kill everyone in the mountain just so her people could survive. And now, they've survived but have been unrecognizable to her. She is surprised that Kane and Abby would allow this to happen. It's just like Clarke to explore every single option before allowing more violence to occur. Lexa and Indra want to assemble an even larger army to seek vengeance for the lives the Sky crew have just taken from them. It's wartime once again on the show. Decisions do come fast and often in times of war. But it's hard to make sense of anything that anyone is doing right now. Octavia is able to see the devastation her brother has just caused. They are at odds right now in a really lame and uncharacteristic way. But it's much more significant when Clarke returns to Arkadia and has a conversation with Bellamy.

Bellamy has changed so much since Clarke last talked with him. The grief of Clarke leaving following the massacre at Mount Weather combined with Gina's death is fueling his actions right now. He's angry because she left and he was left to lead these people. Some of that responsibility was taken away by Kane and Abby. But now, he sees this world as nothing but a violent place where war is the only way to survive. It's a much more complicated issue than that. Bellamy just refuses to see it any other way. It could be an interesting dynamic between the two friends. But it's just so difficult to understand where Bellamy is coming from. This anger is coming from nowhere. It's just so badly contrived when he tells Octavia that she needs to stop dressing up like a grounder and later arrests Clarke to bring her to Pike. It completely disregards two seasons worth of character development. With seemingly no purpose either. Clarke and Octavia only further fuel his anger by escaping from his custody. This is a dark story arc with no easy way out. That's problematic because of the damage it's causing for Bellamy. How in the world is he going to get out of this mess? Or will he meet a similar fate as Finn all in the name of bringing peace to this world for the first time?

But Bellamy isn't the only character who has an unusual reaction in this episode either. Clarke fails in getting her people to change their ways. So, she goes back to Lexa to see if she will break from tradition and try to find peace instead of retaliating with violence. Lexa listens to Clarke as she pleads to spare her people for their foolish and lethal actions. And yet, Lexa has every right to want to react with violence. Her people were slaughtered for no good reason. She and Clarke were bringing the Ice Queen's body to Arkadia to show them that justice has been served. Instead, they found a new declaration of war. However, Lexa chooses not to continue this fight simply because Clarke is telling her not to. It's an impassioned plea by Clarke. She's doing her best to save her people even though she no longer agrees with what they've done. But it plays as Lexa only agreeing to this strategy because her judgment is clouded by her love for Clarke. Again, this story is sucking in a number of really great characters and making me question why it is they are doing what they're doing right now.

And yet, not everything is problematic in this episode. Jaha returns to Arkadia from his four month journey to the City of Light. He returns by himself. Everyone else who left with him died on the journey. However, the citizens of this community still welcome him back with open arms. He sounds even crazier now than when he left. But it's also fantastic that the show wants to have a serious discussion about religion right now. That's exactly what Jaha is promoting at the moment. He's appealing to his people's beliefs. He's declaring a way to rid their world of pain and suffering. He wants to ease them away from the harshness of this crazy world. It's a comforting message to some. Most take him as a crazy fool. But this story also gets more significance because Raven decides to become a follower. She has gotten so broken by her time on Earth. Abby is no longer medically clearing her for her job. Her life has no purpose right now other than despair. She may not believe in Jaha but he's promising her something that Abby can't. She is so desperate to be rid of this pain that she takes the Alie chip. That final scene is so fantastic. It's empowering to see Raven as she realizes just how quickly this actually works. She may have serious questions about the woman she can now see. But it's so freeing to be rid of this pain. This could be the spark that could drastically alter the fabric of the storytelling on the show right now. With Raven a part of it, it's going to be much more engaging and tragic to watch moving forward.

Some more thoughts:
  • "Hakeldama" was written by Charlie Craig and directed by Tim Scanlan.
  • Murphy and Emori have certainly gotten closer with their adventures on the road. They have become quite the team in stealing from people they run into in the woods. And yet, Murphy finds himself captured by the end of the hour by grounders who actually worship the symbol that indicates the City of Light.
  • It's also tragic that Emori is pleading with Murphy to take her to Arkadia to save her brother just as he's being shot by the guards filled with anti-grounder hate. But hey, they may meet again should she enter the City of Light as well.
  • Pike locks up all of the sick grounders who came to Arkadia in order to be treated by Abby. Yeah, that's not going to win her trust anytime soon. In fact, it makes Lincoln so furious that he acts out and gets locked up as well.
  • At least Miller isn't going all in with the Grounder hate. He puts on quite the show for his fellow guards but is also able to sneak in some meds for Lincoln and his fellow prisoners.
  • Clarke and Abby continue to have these very brief reunions. They can never actually spend a lot of time together. The stakes are too high for them to catch up about all the horrible things they've done as of late. 
  • Pike wants to push the Arkadia territory fifteen kilometers in all directions. But that also means needing to wipe out an entire grounder village. Is no one going to mention the last time that happened with Finn? It didn't go so well.