Bellamy Blake managed to climb to the top of his mountain after his boulders kept crashing into him.
“The 100” season seven, episode 11 “Etherea” aired Aug. 12 on The CW. Fans finally got their answer to #WhereIsBellamyBlake with an hour of many of us just wanting to give him a hug, blanket, cup of tea and a warm meal.
It’s heartbreakingly poetic how Bellamy has always been a lover of mythology and now he became a version of one himself.
He experienced his own type of Christianity pilgrimage while mimicking the Ancient Greek story of Sisyphus. Sisyphus, who escaped death so many times, was punished by Zeus to an eternity in Hades of pushing a boulder uphill, only to have it fall back down on him right before he got to the summit.
Bellamy is probably the king of escaping death — Clarke the queen and Murphy the cockroach. After all, it was Bellamy’s escape from death on Bardo that led him to his uphill battle on Etherea, always trying to make it up the mountain but being stunted and pushed back from the months’ long blizzard and other obstacles.
I loved this episode. It was a reminder of why this show has been my favorite for the past six years. It was emotional, action-packed, deep and horrific at times — and Bellamy was at the epicenter.
I’ve been overall disappointed with this final season, but having Bellamy back on my screen finally gives me a semblance of hope for the last five episodes.
Here’s my star rating for 7×11 “Etherea”:
Rolling a boulder up an endless hill
I know I’ve been like a broken record in my recent reviews when it comes down to talking about the characters being stuck in a cycle, but now’s my perfect chance to discuss that.
The cycle of absurdity is one of the biggest characteristics of existentialism — a theme often found throughout “The 100.” Sisyphus, doomed to push a boulder up a hill for eternity, is the poster child for this cycle.
Life is hard. We have to push our boulder up a steep hill in order to reach the top but, just as we’re about to get there, the boulder falls back on us and rolls all the way down. We go back to the bottom, repeating the process all over again. We’re doomed to repeat ourselves with the same circumstances for eternity. What’s the point of trying our best and believing in the meaning of life when our boulder is just going to fall back on us before we get to the top? This is the cycle of absurdity.
It shouldn’t be lost on anyone that Bellamy was this exact visualization in “Etherea.”
Conductor: And so the Shepherd persevered, climbing skyward from where the world below appeared as nothingness.
Bellamy: Let me guess. He was rolling a boulder uphill? No, no, wait. I know. He was wearing wax wings? And going for the sun.
So, Bellamy managed to do what the mythical Sisyphus could never do. He climbed to the top of a seemingly endless hill (Etherea’s mountain) while pushing up a large boulder (Conductor Doucette). Bellamy made it to the top where the Anomaly stone was and his freedom was earned after what felt like an eternity in his own frozen hell.
What did he have to give up to do this though? The one thing that has always defined him: His loyalty to Octavia, Clarke and the rest of his friends.
Bellamy is now a Disciple of Bardo, a believer of the Shepherd.
Many fans had predicted this scenario, but his journey to this point is different than what anyone could have imagined. Instead of being tortured through M-Cap and being brainwashed into being a Disciple, Bellamy found his way to this newfound faith on his own accord — a survivor mission turned pilgrimage on Etherea.
Why is this scarier than fans’ theories from the beginning of the season? Because cracking Bellamy’s belief in the Shepherd will be near impossible now. He believes in his heart of hearts that the Shepherd saved him from the mountain in Etherea and brought him home to Bardo.
Clarke had Madi and her radio calls to Bellamy to keep her sane on a desolate planet after Praimfaya, and Bellamy had a Disciple and his prayers to the Shepherd when he was stranded on Etherea.
Even though he tried so hard to hold onto his beliefs in his “people” and the ones he loves, that can only go so far when you’re starving, dehydrated and freezing to death on the edge of a mountain. He gave in and prayed to the Shepherd, saw his mother and the winter storm dissipated with the sun taking its place.
I can’t imagine feeling like you’re going to die, giving in and praying to someone you believed was a false god and then having your world open up and being saved right after. Of course he believes in the Shepherd. His belief in his friends didn’t get him anywhere other than a cave he was stuck in for months, but his belief in the Shepherd got him everywhere.
The biggest boulder of all and the loss of an identity
Bellamy’s boulders crashing down on him weren’t just his climb up the mountain, his frostbite from the months’ long blizzard, dehydration, starvation or the fact he was stranded on a desolate planet with just his enemy for company.
These were definitely all terrifying, tragic things that created the environment for his change into a Disciple to happen, but there’s another boulder that was the catalyst for this switch in him.
Bellamy has always defined himself by his heart. He came down on the dropship with the 100 delinquents in season one to protect his sister, and then everything after that he did for her, Clarke, Echo and the other people he loves.
Then Clarke made him aware of their “head and the heart” dynamic in season four, episode 13 “Praimfaya.” This is how he’s always identified himself and it’s how others have always identified him too. But when he was stranded with Conductor Doucette on Etherea, Bellamy had the biggest part of himself questioned almost daily.
Conductor: I know who you are. Your beliefs, they’re all about you. Your people, your sister, the lives you take to protect them. Your selfish view of the universe makes me sick.
Bellamy: So, don’t care about people. That’s your solution?
Bellamy: At least they’re worth fighting for. Not just words in some book. My people, that is what is real.
Conductor: And yet there’s still something missing inside you. Death and despair hover around you like a shroud, a consequence of your selfish love.
Bellamy: Please tell me again how it’s better not to love.
Conductor: Love is not the problem. It’s how you love that is. It’s not filling the hole inside you.
Conductor: Your obsession with your sister and your friends, it’s what drives the darkness that makes you suffer. My love for all mankind, my faith in the Shepherd, it’s made me lighter than I’ve ever been. Why is that?
Bellamy: You believe in the Shepherd. What did the Shepherd believe in?
Conductor: The bond that unites us all, that we’re all connected. I can help show you if you like.
Bellamy: I like. Sure. (They both start praying)
This wasn’t just one big boulder that fell on him once. This was worse. It was small rocks falling on him constantly. He couldn’t escape it. These rocks were constantly carving at his belief in himself. Bellamy was defending his identity, his choices and the way he views the world, day in and day out. It must’ve been overwhelming and exhausting.
To make matters worse, Conductor Doucette told him all the ways he could love better, aka Bellamy’s weak spot. Bellamy wants to love and care for people (it’s part of his identity after all), so if he could learn to better utilize his strength while making this everyday pain go away, of course he would listen to the Disciple and start praying to the Shepherd.
Him praying to the Shepherd, which caused him to hallucinate his mother in the Cave of Ascent, was the final nail in the coffin of his identity we’ve come to know over the years.
I think it’s also possible to list The 100’s showrunner, Jason Rothenberg, as one of Bellamy’s boulders throughout the season.
Season seven has been a large disservice to Bellamy, Bob Morley, the fans and the show in general. He is supposed to be the male lead of “The 100,” but he’s just finally had a full fledged scene in episode 11 out of a 16-episode final season.
How is that fair? How is that right? How is limiting the heart of the show going to make the final season feel organic and make sense? It doesn’t. Limiting Bob’s screen time doesn’t make the final season feel mysterious and ominous; it makes it feel hollow and disappointing.
This was the first episode this season — besides the prequel’s backdoor pilot and episode five “Welcome to Bardo” — that genuinely excited me. This entire season has felt like a different show entirely, but having Bellamy finally back on the screen grounds the story and reminds me why I’ve always loved “The 100.”
The head & the heart disconnect
Clarke and Bellamy, the head and the heart, are two of the biggest reasons I’ve loved this show since its start in 2014.
They’re the leads, and their complexity and inner turmoil is often what drives “The 100.” That’s also why these past two seasons have felt off.
The first four seasons — and arguably season five — were prime examples of Clarke being the head and Bellamy being the heart of it, but we’re losing that.
Clarke was bodysnatched by Josephine last season, and her brain took Josephine’s consciousness over her own. The head of the show was forced to give up both her autonomy and her mind.
Then, this season, Bellamy was stuck and dying on a planet and the only way to get through it was to trade his loyalty for his sister and friends for the Shepherd. The heart of the show was forced to give up his love.
The first time it’s made clear that he’s giving up his loyalty to Clarke is when he prays to the Shepherd for the first time. During this sequence, he sees Cadogan, who leads him to the Cave of Ascent.
Lining the passageway are all the weapons Bellamy’s used in the past. While we don’t get a good look at all of them, there’s a shot that focuses on the barrel of one of the guns with Bellamy staring at it in the background.
This gun looked incredibly familiar to me, and after spending about a minute on Netflix for confirmation, I realized that was the same gun Bellamy taught Clarke how to use when they found barrels of guns in season one, episode eight “Day Trip.” This was the episode that cemented their partnership and made them trust one another, and now this gun was used to show his shifting loyalty.
“They’re just pieces of metal. Faith is the true weapon,” Cadogan said while Bellamy was staring at it in the cave.
This involuntary betrayal was proven after Bellamy and Clarke reunited at the end of the episode. They hugged and Clarke told Bellamy, “The key is the flame. They think it’s still in my head. Say nothing.”
Then Bellamy turned around with a stoic expression and said, “My Shepherd… There’s something you should know. Clarke doesn’t have the key. The flame was destroyed. I’m sorry.”
This was obviously a huge blindside to everyone, but especially Clarke. No matter what their circumstances, she knew she could always trust him to be there for her. After all, it was Bellamy who fought to save her life last season. The heart told the head to live.
Now, after watching the promo for the next episode, 7×12 “The Stranger,” it looks like things are going to be the opposite.
Bellamy is going to play a large role in torturing Clarke with M-Cap. The heart of the show has given up his love, and now it looks like he’s going to force the head of the show to give up her mind (for the second time in two seasons). It’s going to be traumatic for Clarke to be strapped down to a chair having strangers rifling through her memories involuntarily again. It’s going to be even worse when she sees the person she’s always trusted standing next to her doing nothing to stop them.
I don’t know how they’re going to come back from this. My hope is that Clarke will bombard the M-Cap machine with random memories to stop herself from thinking of ones involving the Flame and Madi. She’s also smart, so I like to assume she would bombard it with memories of her radio calls to Bellamy. This would be an easy-ish thing to keep her mind on while hoping this brings Bellamy’s heart back to him.
No matter how much we theorize though, we’ll have our answers when the next episode airs Wednesday, Aug. 19 on The CW at 8/7c.