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The 100 - Etherea - Review: "Bellamy's Return, Squandered"

It took eleven episodes - probably four or five episodes too many - for Bellamy's story in this final season to be told in-depth, but, although I say this tentatively, I think it was worth the wait, even though I wasn't overly impressed. "Etherea" was written by Jeff Vlaming, with Aprill Winney directing.

For starters, this hour was a decent break from the Sanctum chaos and the happenings on Bardo, though the latter came into play in one of the more shocking final scenes we've seen over the course of the series. Thanks to memories examined by Levitt, he was able to determine that Bellamy did in fact survive the blast, and to boot he was fired through the anomaly to a new planet, named Etherea, which in my opinion is the most spectacular planet we've seen so far. Passing with him through the anomaly was a Conductor named Doucette, who he had taken hostage moments prior to his trip through the anomaly.

After initial hostilities between the pair, Bellamy decided to take Doucette along for the ride, and cared for him for long enough to allow his badly injured leg to heal. Some nice connections were made back to the Earth Skills training Bellamy received under the now deceased Commander Pike.

There is a way off this planet, and to do it it’s gonna take both of us, working together.
Their weeks together certainly weren't easy, and I was largely happy with what we saw, though some better detail on the food and resources they had to work with wouldn't have gone amiss. Bellamy and Doucette entered Etherea with nothing but the clothes on their backs, but we didn't even get to see a water source, let alone a food source beyond some large eggs and a scorpion-like arachnid. Depicting Bellamy having to really battle to provide food for himself let alone Doucette would have helped convince viewers that he had to overcome real adversity to get them both through, especially since the end cost that Bellamy pays by being converted to a Cadogan follower is a very large one.

The climb to the top of the mountain to reach the anomaly stone was a pretty brutal one, and often wasn't done justice from a realism perspective. We saw Doucette fall at one point, and it came as no surprise that Bellamy would go on to save him, but both of them should have fallen to their deaths given how they were roped. A more believable option would have seen them fall a short distance, but the rope snagged on something which spared their lives. Though somewhat cliched, the rope beginning to fray just as Bellamy hauled Doucette to safety is arguably even more cliche and overdone, too.

What the showrunners did do well was build the conversation of faith and belief into the pair's journey. What helped a lot here was that the characters didn't descend into an all-out shouting match when the subject was broached - rather their discussions were quite rational and sensible, though having Bellamy's mother and then Cadogan appear in dream sequences to ultimately convince Bellamy to become a Cadogan follower was a bit of a cop-out in my view. Predictably, Doucette would have to cash in one of his two lifesaving IOUs when Bellamy pressed on in the winter storm and nearly froze to death, which also had the added minor bonus of perhaps proving that neither could have survived the journey if they attempted it individually. The ultimate leap of faith came as the anomaly they activated at the top of the mountain required them to jump off to enter it at the bottom.
Have some faith.
By the time they returned to Bardo, Cadogan was most likely informed that Bellamy survived the blast, so it came as no great surprise to Cadogan when the pair re-emerged. During his absence, however, a lot had changed, including the events of last week's hour which saw Anders and Diyoza killed. What Cadogan would have found most surprising, however, was seeing Bellamy kneel before him, which immediately gave him leverage to exploit over Clarke, Octavia, Echo and Gabriel.

What followed was a reunion that should have been completely different. After being interrupted discussing their next move - and the priceless knowledge that Clarke didn't in fact have the Flame - with Bellamy's sudden arrival, Clarke embraced her friend and told him the details, only for him to relay them to everyone else in the room, including Cadogan and his Disciples. Cue surprised pikachu face from everyone on the wrong side of that announcement.

Overall, I'm relatively pleased with how the episode panned out, but, as I've mentioned in reviews of previous one-off episodes of this nature, the issue with them is that the main storylines are effectively paused, and any momentum from the weeks prior is lost. This hour did slightly better in the latter regard though because there was some Bardo interaction. The only other character who has been MIA for much longer than is acceptable is Gaia, but hopefully the Bardo storyline is now well placed for her reintroduction next week.

Other than that, I didn't really find the episode particularly engaging. There was nothing much in it that drew me to enjoy Doucette's presence - perhaps some time to go over his back story would have been an easy way to fix that. The mentions about how the planet's original inhabitants apparently transcended into beings of light kind of flew over my head - if anything all that and other associated information did was posit that Cadogan is a better than average cult leader. I think there was at least a decent minority of people, myself included, who were looking for an episode that at least strove to share similarities to the fifth season premiere which heavily featured Clarke and Madi. This was Bellamy's time to shine, but I really think that opportunity was squandered, and his story in this hour felt much more procedural than it did inspiring. It didn't even come close to matching the detailed hardships his sister, Diyoza and Hope experienced on another world. There was plenty of potential there, especially with how Etherea was set up, but I don't think it was utilized particularly well, and some realism and cliche elements fell flat from my perspective too.

That's all for my review of this episode. Thanks as always for reading. Next week's hour looks to be more business as usual with Sanctum back in play. Do be sure to share your thoughts and theories on this episode in the comments, and I'll see you right back here for the twelfth episode of The 100's final season next week.


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