The 100: Season 03, Episode 05, Hakeldama
Opening with not a massacre, but the lack thereof, is a great move. It makes sense financially; from the production standpoint, it’s ideal to save on major battle costs in the middle of the season so you can spend the budget on things like explosions and one-on-one setpieces like last week’s fight. But more importantly, it also makes a lot of sense emotionally.
Showing battle after battle will lead to viewer exhaustion, and we’ve already had one machine-gun slaughter in this show. Leaving us to wonder for a while, then revealing a large campground strewn with executed soldiers, is wildly effective. This is a pretty Biblical scene as well, with not even the wounded left, reminiscent of Old Testament tactics.
Speaking of wounded, Abby’s questioning their absence seems a little naïve, unless she expected the Grounders to have cause Ark wounded. Surely by now she knows what kind of leader Pike is, but if not, the emotional scene in the infirmary confirms it for her. She’s the first to catch on to what Pike is threatening, and to warn Lincoln to stand down.
Pike is a delightful villain. He’s cool, pragmatic, with a rich,deep-voiced explanation of why everything is necessary and expedient and Right. He’s often calm and reasoned when trying to convince someone to commit murder. He rationalizes taking out a Grounder village in a level-headed way which makes you realize how Vietnam generals must have laid out plans in tents mere decades ago.
The 100 is laying out its doctrine that there’s a path which too easily leads from committing necessary war to slaughtering helpless villages. War begets war, no matter how justified it may be, especially when there are people like Pike who have their own agendas and will manipulate those around them. Pike advocates for actively searing one’s conscience, the better to pursue war and eradicate guilt, doubt, and pain.
In fact, Pike gives Bellamy advice which would serve him (and Clarke) well regarding Mt Weather, in having to forget the necessary horrors seen and comitted. Only thing is, there are very different situations he’s trying to compare: a wilful slaughter of allies, instead of an impossible Sophie’s Choice. But it seems reasonable, and one will buy into a lot to escape unbearable pain, and that’s what matters for Pike to continue to sway the Arkers to his side, both as voting blocs and individually like Bellamy.
Oh, Bellamy. Bellamy Bellamy Bellamy.
Bellamy isn’t just being a terrible human right now, he’s being terribly moronic. Yes, he’s a big bad solider boy who used machine guns to take out 300 sleeping allies, but thinking the Arkers can take on all 12 clans is foolish. Also silly, especially in light of his history: saying “I am doing this for your own good” and “you can’t just kick a guard!”
Bellamy’s specific kind of PTSD results in him not knowing anything but how to be at war. He’s terrified of not signing on, of not having something to literally fight for. It’s his identity, his reason for living, the only thing he thinks he’s good at. He will let anything happen so long as he can be a soldier and blame deaths and bad things on war, and it being “their fault.” In this episode, we see Indra and Bellamy are not so different.
The need for war, the anti-Grounder / anti-Skaikru racism is perpetuated and exacerbated both ways. Both sympathetic and non-sympathetic characters are pushing for war. The modern axion “an eye for an eye leaves the whole world blind” is turned to “blood must have blood,” and ends with everybody dead. There are a hundred real-world parallels for this, but here’s a recent one close to home.
Bellamy’s solution was to embrace war, as is Pike’s and Indra’s, and as was Lexa’s initially. Month ago, Clarke’s solution was to run away. Now, she’s going to try a new tack.
It was during Clarke’s subplot I did most of my talking to the TV. “Clarke, I appreciate your commitment to being The Fixer. But, there is no way to fix this shit. Even by appealing to Bellamy’s ‘better nature’ or talking to ‘your people.’ See, I told you it wouldn’t . . . oh, so you’re appealing to Lexa’s nature now. Well, damn, you’re good. I mean, you’re basically giving her puppy eyes and cold hard logic at the same time. Playing to your strengths. Aiight, so maybe you know what’s up. You go girl. Do your thing”
This episode leans heavily on everyone’s history, without feeling the need to exposit for the viewers. Clarke has gone to the well of appealing to Bellamy too often, and her leaving him to cope with what should have been their shared guilt finally broke their bond. She still has a way of manipulating Lexa, which she wields well. She also shows off her basic healing skills as she tends to Indra. Others have similar nods to their pasts; Octavia was born to fit in tiny spaces, and has never been accepting by the Arkers since she was hidden in the floorboards at birth; Lincoln fights for the disenfranchised; Miller is used in a small scene but one which relies on our knowledge of his moral compass and compassion. They’re definitely still weighing peoples’ history in their current situations, and with no-one so much as Raven.
Raven’s history of not being cleared medically for things she wants to do makes Abby’s insistence of taking her off active duty even harder to take. This makes her an easy mark for Jaha and A.L.I.E. As Jaha’s “Go to the City of Light.” “Death is not the end.” religious overtones increase, he starts using cultish tactics to attain followers. When he isn’t successful at enticing Pike (and the scene in which a woman in a red dress directly guides the gullible cult-follower-prophet-wanna-be to speak to heads of power was waaaaay too direct a BSG scene for me), Jaha starts preying on more vulnerable candidates. He targets those with specific pains in their life, offering them an Out. Religious Cult Leadership 101. Raven’s very words call attention to the symbolism: “They swallow that wafer-esque thing you’re holding out?” But he persists, smugly, self-righteously demeaning her as she sits sorting metal parts, full of pain and rejection and broken dreams. Fuuuuck you, “I have no judgement” Jaha. Fuck every sort of authority figure who abuses and manipulates those who are suffering. You may have a ‘belief’ and a ’cause’ and are doing it ‘for a good reason,’ but you are causing harm same as Pike.
Of course, the fact I’m this angry at someone who is so far mostly just smarmily offering digi-eucharists and whispering platitudes to dying soldiers is, in itself, a triumph of the show. So far we don’t know Jaha will do anything as blatant or horrifying or bombastic as we saw Nia or Cage Wallace or Dr. Tsing, and we haven’t actually seen Pike do so, either. They’ve couched their authoritarianism and manipulation in terms of necessity or faith or ‘caring for others.’ But they really make you loathe them and have a visceral reaction, all the same.
Pike’s and Jaha’s subtle tactics are, sadly, more effective at convincing their fellows than a blatant bone marrow drilling, and are that much harder to combat. It’s so tempting to buy into what they’re selling, it’s so easy, and at least for a little while, it seems they may actually be right. They’re going to take a lot of people down these bad roads with them.
Oh, Raven. Raven Raven Raven.
– I get that they have to shortcut exactly how the logistics of this settlement went up, because NOBODY wants to see the TV-ization of Robinson Crusoe aka Most Boring Book Ever. We’re supposed to accept the settlement not only as a working civilization with clean water and constant electricity, but as one with secret tunnels . . . okay. It’s actually better that the show doesn’t try to explain it, just presents the secret tunnels and moves on without giving the audience time to do more than nod. Then, the third or fourth time they’re used, we’ve just internalized it. The tunnels have always been there.
– Speaking of willing suspension of disbelief: do we really buy that a teacher on a nutrient-and-oxygen-deficient floating space donut managed to get the body that Pike’s got.
– Hahaahaha Abby and her passive-aggressive sarcasm toward Jaha’s new ideas.
– “If it were me I would kill you on the spot.” Oh Lexa. Never change.