Wednesday, August 12, 2020

REVIEW: 'The 100' - Bellamy Fights to Stay Alive on a Treacherous Planet with a Stranger in 'Etherea'

The CW's The 100 - Episode 7.11 "Etherea"

Where in the universe is Bellamy Blake?

In 2019, the television industry aired 532 scripted shows across numerous outlets. The way people consume content now is different than it used to be. It happens according to one's own schedule. As such, it's less necessary to provide ample coverage of each episode in any given season from a show. Moreover, it is simply impossible to watch everything. As such, this site provides shorter episodic reviews in order to cover as many shows as possible. With all of that being said, here are my thoughts on the next episode of The CW's The 100.

"Etherea" was written by Jeff Vlaming and directed by Aprill Winney

Bellamy has a history of falling in line with dangerous and destructive ideologies. It hasn't always been a compelling story for the show. He was in lock step with Pike and his tribalism. He has spent years trying to atone for the actions he made during that time. He struggles accepting himself as a good and noble person who is fighting for a just cause. He would almost rather give that responsibility to someone else and be a loyal follower. He is deserving of independence though. He should be allowed to make his own rational choices and decisions. Here, he once again feels the pressure to throw away all that he has known about the world in favor of an ideology that can help him survive a treacherous new planet. He and Jonathan Scarfe's Conductor have to rely on each other in order to make it to the top of a mountain where the orb is. It's a much more perilous journey than what Clarke and her friends had to deal with trying to get to Bardo in the first place. In that particular story, they had resilience as a group. They may have fought on different sides in the past and have survived according to different beliefs. But they were able to come together as a group to continue surviving in this crazy and ever-expanding universe. That's ultimately the core foundation of this series. That's what it truly means to have respect for all of humanity. The Conductor says that he values human life. That's why he comes back to save Bellamy. And yet, he also starts this episode trying to kill Bellamy. The Disciples believe in a strong form of retribution. In the Conductor's mind, Bellamy has to suffer because of the fate forced upon them. It's because of his ignorance that this chaos and destruction was allowed to occur. Bellamy looks down upon this belief. He sees nothing but the rantings of a cult leader. The Shepherd was disillusioned on Earth but has found power in the new world. People hang on his every word because he positions himself as someone who can see the greater picture. That's a sacrifice that all of humanity has to make. In foregoing close personal relationships with certain people, then humanity can have nothing but profound and everlasting love for everyone. But again, the Disciples are still a society built around the idea that peace can only be obtained through war. That fundamental truth led Bill to believe what he wanted to believe when the message left behind was translated. He may be completely wrong about what the pending test will be. He wants to prepare his people for it. That just happens to be done through a demand for uniformity. This isn't a society built around an abundance of love and compassion. It still believes in population control, torture and capital punishment. People suffer if they question the systems and beliefs. Bellamy has to survive though. He has to get back to his people. That possessive understanding is thrown back against him as being selfish. He cares about some people but not others. Bellamy has valid points in understanding the cost of war and the never-ending cycle of it. He has fought for so long. He wants to find peace. He wants that for his people. The Disciples make that offer to him. He doesn't see the Conductor cracking under the same pressures while going through the brutal experiences on Etherea. When Bellamy is delivered a message from the planet though, it's a warm embrace from his mother. That's the powerful visual that allows him to find the strength necessary to move forward. He can only embrace those emotions because that relationship thrived. It is a powerful and visceral reaction from him. It's one about love not war and the need to put up barriers. Bill has contorted his followers into believing that he is right about all the mysteries of the world. Bellamy has to surrender here and basically accept that he may be powerless against the grand mysteries of the universe. Once he stops fighting, that's when he is allowed to survive. But he is immediately reunited with his friends. He makes a choice. It's once again a betrayal. Bill didn't save him on Etherea. Teamwork and trust in humanity did. That was inspiring. And now, it will be distorted into him once again siding with the enemy. That is a precarious choice made by the creative team. It has to have a different foundation and purpose than Bellamy's trust in Pike. Things have charged. He feels the need to be a better man. He can't be consumed by that darkness once more. He can't allow his friends and family to be either. He fears it's still there. The Shepherd may help take that burden away. He found that strength and conviction on his own. Now, he has to understand exactly what happened and find peace in that. That will be difficult given the near constant high stakes of this narrative.