Clarke and Bellamy: Blame, Forgiveness, and Unconditional Love
I’ve had the fight in Hakeldama on my mind lately, and I want to talk about why it is fundamentally different from all other “people dump on Clarke” scenes, because while there’s a lot out there about Clarke having to apologize for doing her best, this one is categorically different.
First of all, if you look at Bellamy and Clarke’s friendship from 104 to 305, you notice something major– Bellamy does not blame her for things the way other characters do. He challenges her decisions (I don’t take orders from you) and doesn’t always agree with her, but once something has been done, he supports her emotionally (and unconditionally). First with Lincoln, then with the dropship door (it had to be done), and even when she wants to leave at the end of s2– Bellamy continually supports her emotionally, even at great personal cost. Keep in mind that when Clarke decided to leave, she was asking Bellamy to sacrifice his own needs (and mental health) for her own. He tried to talk her out of it, but when he understood it was what she truly needed, he hugged her goodbye and let her go.
I’ve written literally thousands of words about why that was the right decision for Clarke and the wrong decision for Bellamy and how that is unbelievably tragic, so we’ll set that aside for now and focus on the fight. Bellamy is horribly unfair to her in 305, but Clarke was also (less deliberately) unfair to him in 216 by deciding to leave. It’s a bruising, wounding scene, and it lands as such. But what really separates 305 from the other scenes wherein people yell at Clarke for her choices (like Jasper in 311) is it’s not about Clarke’s choices, it’s about Bellamy and Clarke’s friendship. And this is a marked departure from their previous established relationship. The delinquents questioning Clarke’s decisions after the fact/telling her to suck it up/telling her she chose wrong is a pretty well established pattern within the narrative. She bears far more of the public burden of their choices then Bellamy does, but from 104 to 305, Bellamy is behind her no matter what.
In fact, I want to take a minute to highlight the “it had to be done” conversation because in s2, you had Bellamy saying “the last time we saw each other, you chose to leave me to die and I want you to know I completely understand that.” He even brings it up first, like, “Just in case you’re feeling guilty about choosing everyone else’s life over mine– and I know you, so you probably are– I want you to know that it’s fine and I don’t even need to forgive you for it, that’s how fine it is.” The hallmark of their friendship is forgiveness, no matter what. Clarke started it with 108 but Bellamy picks up the baton and spends the rest of the time up to Hakeldama carrying it with gusto.
What makes the fight in 305 so horrible is that it’s a deviation from the norm. Bellamy has spent so long unquestioningly supporting her that his anger catches everyone, the audience included, off guard. It’s an aberration in their friendship, but it’s also important that 305 is not the end of the conversation. It finishes in 313, where Bellamy essentially says “I was hurt and I wanted to hurt you, but I’m sorry and I’m going to let it go.” I’m pretty sure that the only other time we’ve had someone yell at Clarke about her choices and then apologize is Abby after TonDC and then after Mount Weather. (I’m torn as to whether Jasper in 311 counts, but I don’t think he does because he’s still being kind of a dick about it). And with Abby, Clarke’s choices are framed a similar way– she has no good options, so she goes with what she thinks is best. Someone who is supposed to love Clarke unconditionally is angered by her actions, but then later admits they were wrong and equilibrium is restored.
Like Abby, Bellamy has made the same sorts of choices Clarke has had to make. He knows how awful they are, and he knows the toll they take on your soul. He’s not Octavia, yelling at Clarke despite not ever bearing the burden of leadership. He’s someone who not only understands her choices but has made them himself, and that’s why the fight is like a slap in the face. But it’s also why they can move past it, because beneath that friendship is a core of unconditional love.