‘The 100’: Bellamy Embarks on a Dangerous, Emotional & Spiritual Journey (RECAP)
[WARNING: The following contains MAJOR spoilers for The 100 Season 7 Episode 11, “Etherea.”]
It’s been a while since we’ve seen Bellamy (Bob Morley), huh? We all knew he wasn’t dead! But what a treat it is for him to resurface in an episode as emotionally resonant as this one. “Etherea” is 43 minutes dedicated almost entirely to Bell (“almost,” because the opening sees Levitt, across the stars, realize Octavia’s brother is alive).
In many ways, this is a Bellamy character study; it explores who he is, who he’s willing to be, his belief systems, his philosophies on love and loss and what it takes to change his mind. There’s also several laugh-out-loud moments, which are a refreshing change from the drier, more depressing installments of Season 7. There’s a surprise return of a Season 1 character you definitely weren’t expecting. And the ending is a real jaw-dropper.
Here’s how it all goes down.
My Enemy is My Enemy… and My Friend
So, as Levitt finds out, Bellamy didn’t die; he went through the portal to Etherea (which we all figured out weeks ago). He winds up there with the control room’s conductor (Jonathan Scarfe), and they immediately come to blows. Bell gains the upper hand, shatters the man’s leg and nearly kills him, but he freezes just before striking the final blow.
He tries to begin his climb toward the anomaly stone, which is located on the top of a mountain, but he can’t get up the ledge. This leads him back to the gravely injured conductor, who has crawled his way into a cave. They’re not friends, but Bell can no longer afford for them to be enemies: So, left with no other choice, he nurses the guy back to health (“Sometimes, Bellamy Blake, irony can be funny—this is not one of those times,” he mutters to himself).
The Shephard’s Passage
A big source of discord between them—well, besides the fact that Bell almost killed him—is that Bellamy doesn’t believe a word of The Shephard’s writings, while that’s what the conductor has devoted his whole life to. “I gotta say, the message doesn’t add up,” Bell says. He doesn’t understand why people would have to fight a war to earn peace. The conductor, on the other hand, points out Bellamy’s “selfish” views of the universe: he cares only about his sister, his friends, his people. “You saw the words, but you didn’t truly read,” he says.
Nonetheless, a kind of bond is formed. The conductor helps Bellamy get up the rocky shelf, and then they embark on their journey up the mountain. “The Shephard guides us both,” the conductor insists, while Bell counters, “are you sure your Shephard isn’t laughing at us?”
The Cave of Ascent
They make it farther up the mountain until their progress is halted by a gigantic snowstorm. Bell wants to press on while his pal recommends they follow The Shephard’s example and seek shelter. Bell doesn’t, and he ends up nearly frozen; the conductor saves him and brings him into a cave. It’s not just any cave, though. This was the cave that The Shephard—well, Bill Cadogan, as evidenced by a photo still there—stayed in on his journey.
It’s also home to the beings who ascended, according to the conductor. They’re motionless figures that radiate golden energy, and Bell regards them with a pinch of awe and a dollop of healthy skepticism. While he and the conductor are trapped, they discuss their differences in philosophy. The conductor notes that there’s still something missing inside the eldest Blake. “Death and despair hover over you like a shroud,” he observes. “A consequence of your selfish life.” He says love isn’t the problem: it’s the fact that there’s an element of selfishness to the way Bellamy attaches.
They’re trapped in the cave for at least two months, and Bellamy’s miserable. His pal isn’t. “Your obsession with your sister and your friends is what drives the darkness that makes you suffer,” he says. Desperate, Bellamy accepts his offer to “show him” the Shepard’s teachings, and he kneels by the fire and prays… and when he opens his eyes, he looks as he did months earlier, there’s no storm, and Bill Cadogan (John Pyper-Ferguson) is there.
Cadogan invites Bellamy to follow him deeper into the cave, back to the ascended beings, and he sees his mom. “My son,” she says, and Bell cries as she presses her hand to his cheek. “Go to the light, Bellamy,” she tells him, “the light is the way.” He touches the golden glow, and he’s back in the cave with the conductor. The snow has stopped. “It means we’re worthy, I think,” the conductor smiles. “Both of us.”
Their next challenge is climbing to the top of the mountain before dark. If they’re still climbing when night falls, they’ll die, but Bell insists it’s their only chance. “Have some faith,” he tells his friend. Of course, the climb does not occur without incident. The conductor slips down the mountain, suspended in midair by the fraying rope. He urges Bellamy to cut him loose and it looks like the end for them both, but together, they pray—and Bellamy’s able to pull him up and save his life.
They reach the mountain’s peak and the anomaly stone, and the conductor enters the code. There’s a pretty big problem, though; the portal is below them, meaning they’ll risk a rocky death by plummeting down into it. Better have good aim! The conductor does, and he falls from the mountain gracefully, a smile on his face.
A Shocking Betrayal
“I am afraid,” Bellamy says, but he has to jump, so he does. He lands back in the control room with his friend… and Cadogan. “Welcome back, Bellamy,” he says, and—gasp—he kneels. “My Shephard,” he says. Bill tells them he wants to know everything about their time on Etherea, but first, Bell needs to go speak with his friends, who have “gotten themselves into a bit of trouble.”
There are tears aplenty when Cadogan reintroduces Bellamy to his family and friends, but Octavia (Marie Avgeropoulos) can’t approach him (the Disciples raise their weapons, preventing her from going to her brother). They won’t risk harming the Key, though, so Clarke (Eliza Taylor)’s free to embrace him, which she does. “The Key is the Flame,” she whispers as she holds him, “they think it’s still in my head. Say nothing.”
Unfortunately, Bellamy very much does say something. As the Disciples and Cadogan turn to leave, Bell betrays Clarke and his friends. “My Shephard,” he says, “there’s something you should know. Clarke doesn’t have the key. The Flame was destroyed. I’m sorry.” The group stares at him, all in various stages of shock, horror and despair.
- Others might disagree, but I feel this is the strongest episode of the season. I think The 100 has suffered in Season 7 because it has tried to do too many things at once. It’s tried to tell the Sanctum story, the Bardo story and the stories of the Disciples and the anomaly stones, while developing secondary characters and also giving storylines to the longtime mains (which has meant separating the longtime mains), etc. What’s nice about “Etherea” is that it tells one cohesive story focused on a character who’s been there since episode 1, and it does it well.
- There were tons of callbacks to earlier seasons and trademarks of Bell’s personality here. We got mentions of Pike (Michael Beach) and Earth Skills classes, Octavia’s phrase (and that heartbreaking inversion of it before Bell jumps), nods to Greek mythology with references to Sisyphus (rolling a boulder uphill) and Icarus (flying too close to the sun), the weapons on the outside of the vision-cave being ones Bellamy used at various points in the series and, of course, Aurora Blake (Monique Ganderton) making an unexpected appearance.
- I also loved this episode’s exploration of Bellamy’s character, especially as it relates to his heart. Framing his turn to The Shepard’s side as being motivated by his love for his friends and his people was a brilliant writing move, because it’s unlikely anything else would’ve changed him. It also made some valid points in that yes, Bellamy’s suffering was largely driven by how much he loves people, and yes, letting go of that type of love would erase that pain, but it’d also erase that essential component of him and turn him into a totally different person. It remains to be seen whether he really relinquished that affection, though, or if the old Bellamy is still in there somewhere.
- This episode also did a very The 100 thing: it added shades of gray to the Disciples vs. Clarke’s People conflict. While it’s likely that what happened on Etherea is driven through the stones or those light-beings or even the planet’s energy, maybe there’s a force that listens to the will of the pure-hearted, and Bellamy was worthy? And that also created his vision, which Cadogan was in because he expected to see Cadogan? It’d be hard to go through what Bellamy did and not see some truth in The Shepard’s teachings, even if the dude is a total narcissist.
- The conductor and Bellamy’s friendship was wonderful, so I’m preparing myself for him to either die a horrible death or turn against Bellamy at some point. Or both. Because this is not a show that lets us have nice things.
- If you’re curious about what the Shephard’s Passage had to say regarding the Cave of Ascent, here’s the text of the page Bellamy read: “Though I didn’t know of its existence before I happened upon it, completely exhausted and nearly dead, I had already pondered the idea of such a place. A singular location that, however unlikely, would define as testament of that which I believed. A lens that would cement the tangibility and intangibility of belief. Beyond that, I had to face the fact that if, indeed such a holy and inspiring place were to exist, the question at once was, “Why had it never been cited or alleged before?” The answer was as simple as it was daunting: such an [a few words are covered by Bell’s finger] focal point could not be reached easily.” Yeah, it definitely sounds like Cadogan wrote this.
- Okay… but where’s Gaia, and who took her? I’d expected her to resurface on Etherea with Bellamy, but that didn’t happen. I also wondered if Bellamy was the one who took her, but since there isn’t a huge time difference between Etherea and Bardo (it seemed like time might slow down on Etherea relative to the other planets?), that’s not it, either. It would be absolutely wild if she’s back on Earth somehow, considering her name literally means “Earth.”
- Rating: 5/5. As of the end of this episode, it seems like The 100 is telling the final-season story it wants to tell rather than spinning its wheels, and Bellamy’s journey was more powerful than much of the season preceding it. There are five episodes left. Let’s hope it’s enough to draw everything to a satisfying end.
The 100, Wednesdays, 8/7c, The CW