WARNING: This review contains spoilers
If The 100‘s first episodes of 2016 had everybody agreeing that this season would be the most exciting one yet, ‘Hakeldama’ did nothing but split opinions in the fandom. Ship wars aside, ‘Hakeldama’ was a much slower paced episode that reflected on the characters’ different and questionable point of views.
I argued last week that this third season was starting to suffer from some pacing issues. Even if fast pacing is often great to create excitement and it certainly fits this series, going fast is not so great when it comes to developing characters. Even the fastest, most intense series need breather episodes every now and then to reflect on how characters feel about the events that are taking place. A drastic change like Pike suddenly becoming chancellor should have been slowed down and properly explained, and Bellamy basically reversing back to Season 1 should have been, at least, foreshadowed from the first episode of the season. I would have been OK with having Pike as a villain and having him and his group banished to create a separate enemy. Instead of that, Pike has not only stayed in Arkadia, but also become chancellor, creating an unnecessary conflict in a Grounder/SkyPeople coalition that had just been created. This isn’t only a major stepback for the story, but also for character development. The fandom has always considered Bellamy as one of the best characters of the series. Everyone hated Bellamy in the beginning because he was rude, ruthless, rude and basically an anti-hero when we were supposed to support Clarke and her flawless morality. Bellamy’s growth by the end of the first season and during all season 2 was great and very well-handled. In fact, in the beginning of this third season he was everyone’s cinnamon roll and it seemed like he had settled down as Kane’s right-hand man and even got a girlfriend. I understand that losing Gina might have created some doubts in him, but going as far as to joining Pike, killing hundreds of innocent people and handcuffing Clarke? Sorry, but I’m not buying it.
‘Hakeldama’ was the perfect opportunity for Bellamy to reconsider things and backtrack (even if it was too late). He did have a pretty interesting conversation with Clarke in which they both exposed their actions (and which also gave life to Bellarke shippers, by the way). Bellamy made some good points, but his problem is that he’s dwelling too much in the past for no reason (‘cool motive, still murder’). I honestly don’t know what the writers are doing with Bellamy. The “this is who I’ve always been” line straight up felt like the writers flushing his character development down the toilet. If he doesn’t change his mind, his alternative is probably death. And even if he does change his mind, this whole conflict will still have not brought anything new to the table, only pointless drama.
If Pike and Bellamy weren’t enough, Thelonious reappears in this episode to spark even more confusion in Arkadia. Obviously, the majority of people don’t buy his story. The fact that he would resort to trying to convince Raven, one of the most mentally vulnerable characters at the moment (Jasper would have been an even easier target), was very low. “Death is not the end”, he says, and his talk about leaving pain and suffering behind is enough to convince Raven to swallow the magic pill by the end of the episode. We haven’t learned anything new about the City of Light, but we might learn more about it through Raven now.
The only person who doesn’t seem to be going backwards is Lexa. In the beginning of the episode, Lexa and Clare find Indra and the rest of Grounders murdered by Pike and the others. Apparently, Bellamy convinced Pike to let Indra live, which gives Clarke hope that she can get through Bellamy. Clarke was nothing but a mediator in this episode, talking to everyone to try to maintain peace. She wasn’t able to convince Bellamy, but she did convince Lexa. For the longest time, Grounders and Sky People have had very different ways of dealing with conflict (mainly, negotiating vs. fighting), but now Lexa has seen that there are other ways to do things and that peace is much easier. Even if Clarke’s helped a lot, Lexa has been showing signs of change and compassion since the season started.
‘Hakeldama’ was a strange episode. It was a much slower paced episode that served to thinking about what has happened so far and to establish each character’s differents positions. However, it still had some incongruities and things that pissed a lot of people off like Bellamy being out of character or Thelonious taking advantage of Raven’s fragile state of mind. But hey, The 100 has become a very big world with a lot of characters, so it’s understandable that some writing aspects will be a bit jarring sometimes.