The second episode of The 100 asks what’s better: saving some lives now, or potentially saving a lot more lives later — dooming a small minority for the greater good. This is the heavy question that Bellamy has to grapple with at the end of an already trying mission on Wednesday’s episode, “Heavy Lies the Crown.”
In order to make the Ark a place of refuge for as many people as possible during the impending nuclear apocalypse, Raven needs a piece of machinery that’s currently in Ice Nation territory. Bellamy leads a gang, including Monty, Miller, Bryan, and Harper, to retrieve it. Complications arise when the notoriously hostile Ice Nation unsurprisingly does not greet Skaikru trespassers with enthusiasm. In the season premiere, King Roan’s right hand woman Echo gave Bellamy an Ice Nation hall pass — but considering the fact that Roan has been in exile, not all his people see his word as the law. To make matters worse, once they talk their way into Ice Nation, Bellamy and his team then discover some Arkers they previously assumed died in the journey to Earth. They’re very much alive, but Ice Nation holds them prisoner.
Bellamy is thus faced with a difficult decision: Because the object Raven needs can also explode, he can trigger it now and use it to save the lives of these prisoners in the short term… or he can abandon people who need help in order to bring the machine to Raven as planned and aid her long-term goal.
He opts for the former, which illustrates the main difference between him and Clarke. Unsurprisingly, Clarke would have gone for the latter route — sacrificing lives in the short term for the greater good. Bellamy defends his judgement call, clearly still feeling a chip on his shoulder from Season 3. (“I am not sacrificing any more innocent lives,” he says. “We save who we can save today.”) This sequence signifies two important things: First, that the old Bellamy is back after the writing on his character went sideways in Season 3. Secondly, that Bellamy and Clarke make better decisions together than each does individually.
Left to his own devices, Bellamy tends to be short-sighted while, as this episode shows, there’s a thin line between Clarke’s methods and Jaha’s. As the episode also revealed that the apocalypse looms sooner than they thought, it’s time Bellamy and Clarke figured that out.
Elsewhere in the episode, Octavia becomes a full-blown assassin, King Roan grapples with his physical weakness and new power, an intriguing new character enters the story, and Jaha becomes a shockingly tolerable character. Aside from Bellamy’s big adventure, though, the biggest part of the hour is the reveal that the Ark can now sustain no more than 100 people; The 100 finally has a reason to be called The 100 again!