The 100 "Terms and Conditions": Can Bellamy Be Redeemed?
Spoilers for The 100's "Terms and Conditions" follow!
Until The 100 came under fire from the LGBT community for killing a fan favorite character, the most controversial storyline of this season was Bellamy's apparent 180-degree transformation to one of Pike's followers. Last night's exciting episode, "Terms and Conditions," seemed to see Bellamy come to his senses and begin to course-correct. But is it too late at this point? On a narrative level, can this storyline be saved? And on a moral level, has Bellamy already become irredeemable, like Finn before him?
First, let's talk about whether his change of heart, either at the beginning of the season or in last night's episode, makes sense. Back when Bellamy first became a Piker, I argued that while there were several glaring problems with the execution, most notably the short time frame and the complete lack of development for his relationship with Gina, the overall transformation was believable. Bellamy was established as an inherently reactionary person back in season one, and honestly, it would have been more unrealistic if he had just randomly become an angel and never slipped back into his old, destructive patterns a little bit. Bellamy's defining characteristic isn't being a "good" person, but wanting to protect his own, so Pike's xenophobic rhetoric would be the perfect catalyst for his "us versus them" mentality.
And if his "us versus them" mentality caused his transformation, it only makes sense that the same sentiment would snap him back to reality. He didn't abandon Pike's cause when he ordered Bellamy to massacre a peacekeeping army in their sleep or attacked a defenseless village, but balked when Pike went full-on fascist and started spying on his own people, and then finally turned against Pike when he ordered the death of a friend. Ordering the deaths of hundreds of innocents is fine, but Bellamy is shocked when Pike orders Kane's execution because, in his words, "We're killing our own people now?" This isn't an inconsistency in the writing; it's just a cynical view of human nature (and especially reactionaries).
But if that's the case, then can Bellamy be forgiven? He helped massacre hundreds of people in their sleep, and agreed to take over and possibly pull a My Lai on a village full of innocents. He was shown to feel guilt over killing the peacekeeping army, especially when he asked Pike to spare Indra, but it would be a little short-sighted for the show to portray him as capable of being redeemed just because he saved the one character we actually know. The 100 is usually good at making us feel the psychological effects of the carnage, so even though it wasn't shown on screen (which I think was a mistake for exactly this reason), I would hope that Bellamy needs to do a lot more than simply change his mind to achieve redemption in the eyes of the other characters.
I had a lot of problems with the way Finn's arc was handled back in season two, because his descent into full-blown darkness seemed to come out of nowhere, even more so than Bellamy's. But I did admire the way the writers made us feel the effects of the massacre in the Grounder village, even though we didn't know any of the characters. It was immediately apparent that Finn had become irredeemable, and even when he was shown to be remorseful, still needed to be killed off, because there was no other way to go with his character.
I don't think Bellamy necessarily needs to be killed off (can you imagine if they killed off both Lexa and Bellamy, after all that?), since he's a more interesting character than Finn, and there's more of an argument to be made that his reprehensible actions were selflessly motivated, and were honestly a misguided attempt to protect the people he loves. But I hope that in the coming weeks, Bellamy will have to work very hard to pay penance for what he's done, and that this will have serious effects on him and his relationships going forward. Otherwise, the show is failing to disagree with Bellamy and Pike, and is telling the viewers that only the lives of the characters in Arkadia actually matter.