Running Out of Time: Bellamy and His Feelings
Obviously, there was a lot to unpack from the Bellarke Beach Scene 2: Hugless Boogaloo, but what I thought was most interesting was what it tells us about Bellamy’s emotional status. The line I think was most telling was It’s pathetic, right? She hates me but I keep coming back for more because there’s just so much desolation in those two sentences, starting with it’s pathetic. That line lands like a value judgment on himself– he is pathetic for still loving his sister, despite her hatred of him. It also speaks to his feelings of helplessness, both with Octavia and with their larger situation: there is not a goddamn thing he can do to make his sister forgive him or stop the end of the world, but he’s still going to keep trying. But even though he’s not giving up, he also sort of has– he’s given up on the idea of surviving, really. He’s got faith in Clarke (and Raven), but the cynic inside of him keeps whispering there’s no surviving this so he’s decided he’s just going to do his best to make things right.
And where things stand right now, there’s two important people in his life: Clarke and Octavia. Other people matter to him, of course, but those two women are his primary concern. Things are pretty good with Clarke and pretty terrible with Octavia, so when faced with the choice of “where to go from here” he chooses Octavia because Bellamy doesn’t want to die with her hating him. He knows that still might happen but he has to at least try to fix it, even if it seems pointless. He could have chosen Clarke and gone over to Science Island and spent his last few weeks on earth with someone who trusts him and loves him and supports him, but that would mean sacrificing any chance to put things right with Octavia.
And make no mistake: Bellamy does not see them coming out of this alive. He thinks this is the end, and that’s part of what is hanging over his head when he says it’s pathetic. Because he’s not just talking about returning to Octavia for more abuse, he’s talking about how he’s spent the last nine months fighting to keep everyone alive, often at great cost to his own moral values, only for everyone to die anyway. He hasn’t reached Jasper’s level of nihilism and I honestly doubt he will, but there is a certain fatalistic attitude leaking through in this scene that punches me in the gut. He feels pathetic and pointless, and so all that’s left is to try and get his sister to love him before they die.
But there is one thing left to tell Clarke, and that’s how he feels about her. Guys, when he says Clarke, if I don’t see you again, there’s really only one way to end that sentence. He has made it clear he loves her through his actions time and time again– letting her go in 216, going after her in 302, telling her he doesn’t want to be angry with her in 313, trusting her in 315 and 316, being there for her at her absolute lowest in 403– but he’s never actually said it. It’s literally the last thing left to do, and standing next to her on that beach, he really does think it could be the last time he sees her, and not just because of praimfaya.
It’s because over the course of the last few days, Bellamy has thought his sister died and watched their best hope for surviving the apocalypse go up in flames. And in the course of the previous twelve hours, he thought Clarke was dead and/or that he would watch her die twice. Clarke might not make it back before the radiation hits, or she might die from a stray arrow or an ambush or 400 other things that could go wrong. He knows that life is uncertain in their world and he’s not sure he’ll ever see her again. Thanks to Echo, Bellamy knows what it feels like when someone you love dies with things unsaid, so he steels himself for what is about to be a painful admission because he knows he loves her and he knows she loves him, but he also thinks Clarke doesn’t love him in the same way. He’s not planning on telling her this because he thinks she’ll reciprocate, he’s planning on telling her he loves her because that’s all there is left to do.
But Clarke stops him. First of all, guys, she fucking knows what he’s about to say. They just spent an entire episode being Drift Compatible as fuck, and she just said she’ll see how special you are which is a weird fucking thing to say about someone’s sibling (I don’t really need to see how special my brother is; I need to remind him of how we used to play chicken while sledding and I won every fucking time because he’s a goddamn chicken) so you cannot tell me she would have been surprised if he said I love you. Clarke was talking about her feelings for Bellamy here and pretending it was about Octavia because right now, feelings are painful for Clarke. (If you’re special wasn’t a significant admission for Clarke she wouldn’t have broken eye contact after she said it.) She’ll see how special you are is as close to I love you as Clarke can get at the moment, and I do think that if Bellamy was wavering (do I tell her I love her? Or do I leave that unsaid because she’s not ready to hear it?) having Clarke tell him he matters was all he needed to decide.
Except Clarke sees where this is going and stops him, but not just because hearing Bellamy Blake say I love you when she’s still a tangled mess of grief and fear would be too much. She stops him because she knows he’s saying it because he’s giving up hope, but she hasn’t yet. She believes they can survive this so there’s no need for last minute love confessions. In Clarke’s mind they have a future, and letting Bellamy say this might be the last time I see you so you need to know I love you is just too painful to contemplate. Bellamy was ready to say goodbye, but Clarke isn’t.
I’m honestly not sure if Bellamy would have said it anyway if Roan hadn’t interrupted them. He wasn’t looking convinced, at any rate, and I suspect if Roan hadn’t blown the Time Out From Feelings Whistle, Bellamy would have gone through with it. Not because he doesn’t consider Clarke’s feelings important, but because he’s desperate. This is it: the finish line is approaching, so make your peace and get ready for whatever comes next.
But Clarke didn’t stop Bellamy because she didn’t want to hear that he loves her; she stopped him because in her mind, there’s still time. It wasn’t “If you love me I’d rather die not knowing,” it was “Please don’t say goodbye to me because I haven’t given up hope.” Clarke is an expert at last-minute love confessions but she’s not ready to say they’ve reached that point. She has hope that there will be time later to talk about this, so she doesn’t say I don’t want to hear it she says we’ll talk about this later. Because Clarke has decided there will be a future for Bellamy, whether he believes in it or not.