im really upset about bellamy and clarke’s redemption arcs and the way that they become reflections of each other
clarke is faith and god; clarke is the ark and all of its privileges; clarke believes in loyalty, and believes in jaha, and believes in the idea of the new beginning, and fights for it with every ounce of spirit within her. from day one, she’s thinking about where their new society is going to be in two steps forward. it’s not just about finding food and making camp, it’s about knowing the kinds of people they’re going to be and the kinds of lives they’re going to live. she builds; she heals; she resurrects.
and bellamy is faithless. and it’s every bit a product of his circumstances as much as her outlook is a product of her own. in his life, he keeps losing these people who are fixtures, and more importantly, are fixtures of power looking down. he’s charged with a single mission as a child and consistently ends up in a position where he fails (and keeps failing) god and, consequently, loses him, and all because of actions that are entirely his own. his mother is airlocked; he believes he killed jaha; he’s responsible for what happens to charlotte and to murphy. all of the blood - and all of the sin - is on his hands, and he never forgets that for a second. and it comes to this point where he believes the only way to absolve himself of that is to die. 1x08, 1x08, 1x08 - he asks the god he failed directly to be delivered from this, and god denies him because his fate is not about his own life. his fate is about living to suffer, to repent. bellamy’s whole arc is constructed around this idea of atonement to a god that literally has no means within him to forgive.
except enter clarke. except enter clarke as an icon of god and Good simultaneously, who acts on that divine behalf but isn’t bound to it. she’s witness to a whole host of evils that bellamy does, that the camp does - to lincoln, for example; to murphy - and she’s there, but she isn’t directly implicated. murphy is a mob mentality casualty of her decision to try to mete out justice; lincoln is a (figurative) casualty of her valuing the good of the many to the good of one. and clarke is the one to forgive him because she knows he needs forgiveness. she knows he needs it to keep going, and she gives it because he’s the icon of kingship in their camp, and what’s a king to a god anyway?
and his arc literally becomes about becoming the arm of her will. she becomes the face of their mission of diplomacy and about trying to reach out to the grounders and find a common ground, but she tells him to be there, armed, and she tells him to defend her, and he’s there. because bellamy has always been a crusader, but he’s never been on the right side. and this time, he is. (because she leads him, because she’s there, and because she’s pure force of will.)
if bellamy’s thematic struggle is about confronting icons of divinity as someone presumably lost to faith, then clarke’s is about confronting the consequences of her own (divine) power. in the end, bellamy does get to atone and die for his own sins. murphy hangs him, as he had murphy hanged, and he has to suffer for it until he’s saved. from the moment they land, so much of how clarke moves within the camp is by dint of her own authority. as healer, as someone smart and capable and knowledgeable, as someone the ark will listen to.
but in the end, her own power comes back to her - i am become death, destroyer of worlds, she says earlier in the season, and that’s what she brings about. she repeats the ark’s mistakes in her attempts at exodus of the camp, and she brings fire and ruin to it instead. and in the end, she finds herself placed within a site of authority, of science, and of health - things that she represents in the camp. she’s confined to a church but it isn’t hers; she’s powerful but isolated in a place where she’s rendered powerless.
if s1 was about bellamy becoming saved - and saving himself - in order to truly ascend to his own kingship, then i’m really hopeful about s2 being about clarke facing limitations on her power and becoming human (and all that that entails with the incorporation of [mortal] sin). because kings that rule with the power of the divine behind them need to face god, at one point or another, whether challenging them or supporting them, and gods that fall to earth must confront a humanity that challenges their infallibility and their purity. we already started out on one, so i’m real excited to see what happens with the other.