If you’re just tuning in to The 100 or haven’t caught up, go away. No, seriously. I’m about to throw down some major spoilers up through the most recent episode of season 3, episode 4: “Watch the Thrones.”
Okay, we good?
Now, The 100 hasn’t exactly been a slow-moving beast and season 3 has been off the rails right from the start. There have already been more deaths and betrayals than in most seasons of Game of Thrones. While the show has never lacked for excitement, one of the things it does phenomenally well in such an action-packed environment is developing characters. In the most recent episode, Bellamy has acted, shall we say, different than we as viewers have come to expect. At first, this might be shocking, but after mulling it over, it makes sense and it makes Bellamy even more of the tragic hero.
Season 1 Bellamy was awful. Not quite Finn levels of awful, and I fully realize he was scared, but on the Grounder Scale of Stabbity, he was at least a 7. And I’m okay with that because in thirteen episodes of season 1 we watched Bellamy realize that 1. He’s kind of a coward and 2. He got in way over his head. In these realizations, Bellamy leaned heavily on Clarke’s leadership and no bullshit attitude. He learned from her and grew into a character so fantastic that I couldn’t help but cheer for him.
But as we’ve seen in season 3, there’s still a significant amount of insecure season 1 Bellamy inside that makeshift guard uniform. Octavia may have been the lucky one of the Blake siblings because she was given a clean slate on the ground. Bellamy, on the other hand, already had a role drilled into him as a child: protector. Without Octavia to protect, he loses his sense of purpose, but then smartly diverts that energy to protecting and rescuing his friends at Mount Weather. Much like his sister, Bellamy is more of a soldier than a leader. When push comes to shove he looks to those in charge (the ones he respects) for guidance before making a decision, because in Bellamy’s world, when he makes a decision without help, people get hurt. Octavia got caught and imprisoned on the Ark. Scouting parties were impaled searching for his sister. Finn ran off and killed innocents at TonDC, then getting himself killed.
Because of all this and his inability to brush aside the feeling of guilt, Bellamy is much more skittish about making decisions than his counterpart, Clarke, and is therefore more at ease with letting others lead. When Kane and Abby arrive on the ground, he appears almost relieved that someone else will be making the difficult choices. Yes, he goes against the rules and rebels for the sake of rescuing the 48 in Mount Weather, and he comes across as in charge, but he makes sure to get approval first from at least one leadership figure. He also does what many of the other characters do when faced with a challenge: he asks, “What would Clarke do?”
At the end of season 2, Clarke and Bellamy make the horrific decision to irradiate Mount Weather, killing everyone–men, women, and children–inside. We aren’t expressly told about how this event gnaws at him, how it’s changed his persona since the show jumped ahead 3 months in the timeline, but we can infer what may have happened.
Clarke, riddled with guilt over their actions, leaves Arkadia, hoping that with her departure, she takes that negativity with her, thereby allowing Skaikru to finally be free. Except she didn’t rid them of guilt; she ran away. And who was left to pick up the pieces, day after day? Who was left to watch Jasper as he fell deeper into madness, or as Raven’s health declined, or as all the in-fighting between Skaikru grew over the Grounders’ betrayal?
Bellamy stood up and risked his life to infiltrate Mount Weather with the hope that Lexa and the Grounder army would save his friends and do so without killing innocent people. Because for all his anger and bluster, Bellamy is a good person. Maybe one of the kindest on the show. And then Lexa betrayed Skaikru, leaving them to be tortured and maimed and slowly picked off by the mountain men. Lexa and the Grounders abandoned Clarke, Bellamy, and Monty alone in that security room to watch as their loved ones were chained to a bed and drilled through for their bone marrow. They watched the blood drain from their bodies and listened to their gut-wrenching screams. Lexa and the Grounders left them to make a horrific decision to kill hundreds of innocents, children, and allies. Lexa and the Grounders made them monsters.
In season 3, Bellamy is approached by Echo at Mount Weather with a warning that Ice Nation plans to attack the Coalition at the capital, Polis. Bellamy believes her because they spent time imprisoned together at Mount Weather–she saved his life–so he goes to the capital to warn his friends. He goes to be a hero. Instead, the attack happens at Mount Weather, killing everyone inside, including his girlfriend Gina. He isn’t a hero; he’s the one who left them to die. In his eyes, he’s just as bad as Lexa and the Grounders.
Bellamy feels guilty but more importantly, Bellamy feels weak. I don’t think his distress over Gina was because he had life-altering feelings toward her. We don’t get to know her better before her death because she isn’t important. What she represents, is. Her death just solidified Bellamy’s hopelessness. He feels he can’t protect anyone and his rash decision making only leads to more and more lives lost. So, he gives up.
When Finn snapped he went on a rampage that slaughtered families. When Bellamy snapped, he just stopped making decisions. Pike, the devious weasel that he is, sensed this shift in Bellamy and took advantage of a scared young man to mold him to his prejudices. Of course Bellamy knows not all Grounders are murderers, but his experiences and his feelings of ineptitude have left him so shaken that he goes along with the loudest voice.
The voice that might get him killed.
And I think that’s where he is the moment that Pike suggests they kill 300 Grounders with 10 armed men. Of all the characters of the show, Bellamy knows how little guns make a difference in this war. He knows that they’re dead if he agrees to shoot at a fully armed war party of Grounders. In that moment, he’s accepted his fate because at least this way, he won’t be responsible for killing anyone else. In that moment, he won’t be Bellamy the leader, but Bellamy the soldier, taking orders.
And the cherry on top is when Lincoln stops him from leaving; all resolve to be the Bellamy we’ve grown to love goes out the window because here in front of him is this strong beast of a man, a man who has endured torture, mental abuse, and far too many near-death experiences and still he’s come out on top. Lincoln was the one who protected his sister, his responsibility. Not Bellamy. Lincoln helped shape Octavia into a warrior. Not Bellamy. Bellamy couldn’t ever save his sister, he couldn’t rescue Clarke, he couldn’t save his girlfriend. And with Lincoln now guarding Arkadia, taking up the job that was once his, Bellamy is useless to Kane and Abby.
But he is useful to Pike.
I won’t deny that at first I found Bellamy’s actions, siding with Pike, procuring the gun, and agreeing to attack the Grounders, a complete 180 from the Bellamy character I knew. But then I started looking closer. He wasn’t willing to kill Grounders just because his girlfriend died. No, no. His actions have been building for a long time coming and he’s finally hit his limit of all the heartache he can stand. He’s human, not a punching bag.
And I think that if things continue as they are, there’s only one person who can save him: Clarke.
(But that doesn’t mean I want them to be together romantically! Please, let them just stay friends!)
The 100 airs Thursdays on the CW at 9pm EST.