Well, that was a beautiful disaster.
I’m salty, y’all. SALTY. This is a tough review for me to write because I pretty much ride or die for this show, but I can’t ignore how a major story line was treated in this episode. To sum up:
The Polis narrative: Great. Loved it. Fantastic fight scene. Fascinating politics. Black blood. Dark Clarke maneuvering like Lady MacBeth. The freakin’ Ice Queen. Lexa being a BAMF. More sexual tension than you can shake a spear at.
The Arkadia narrative: A fucking dumpster fire.
Let me be clear: I think the actors and writers and crew are working their butts off to create a superlative television series, but I’m not going to sugar coat that I really had problems with “Watch the Thrones.” I don’t think myopic unabashed fangirling is a great critical approach, so I will only fangirl myopically for half of this review. While I’m harshing on aspects of this episode, I still think this show is above and beyond most of what you see on TV. So, level set.
Let’s get into the episode.
Who Doesn’t Enjoy a Good Coup Attempt, Am I Right, Guys?
Let’s start with the good stuff that happened this episode that centered around Polis: clan politics, Clarke as the world’s worst assassin, and of course Lexa being a bad ass motherfucker.
Lexa is faced with a vote of no confidence from the clans, who are spurred on by the Ice Queen, Nia, who we finally get some real time to enjoy. Nia thinks Lexa is weak and it seems 12 of the clans agree with her. Debby Downer Titus blames Lexa’s precarious political standing on Clarke and the initiation of Skaikru as the 13th clan. But let’s face facts: Lexa’s swag was dinged the moment Clarke killed the Mountain Men. So yeah, it is sorta Clarke’s fault, but whatever. Dark Clarke had to kill people to save people. It’s what she do.
The coup fails. Clarke won’t join the other ambassadors to make the vote unanimous, so Queen Nia issues a challenge. It’s FIGHT FIGHT BATTLE FIGHT time in a bid to defeat the Commander another way – a fight to the death. Nia nominates Roan, the son she banished, to be her champion and Lexa decides to fight for herself. Commence concerned scowling from Clarke who has first-hand knowledge of both Roan’s ninja fighting skills and his delicious abs.
Roan and Nia have a mother-son talk while they stroll through Polis and really nothing about their relationship is revealed except Nia is a horrible mother. Maybe not pageant-mom bad, but pretty damn close. Roan is really just a tool to further Azgeda’s agenda, but that’s about all we learn. This was a wasted opportunity to get more backstory from these two. Boo.
Clarke approaches Roan and goes H.A.M. on the political maneuvering, telling Roan she wants him to be King of the Ice Nation. That’s all well and good, but the Queen needs to die, and his people will never take him back if he’s the one to do the deed, but Roan has another plan. Clarke tries some Slytherin tactics and proposes a deal with Nia to get close to her. Clarke will agree to stand against Lexa in the no confidence vote and will seal the oath with blood, as is Grounder tradition. Clarke cuts her hand, but poisons the blade when she wipes the blood off on her sleeve. Just as Nia is about to cut her own palm, Ontari (NEW CHARACTER ALERT!!!) susses Clarke out, pins her down, and discovers the poison by taking a big sniff of Clarke’s sleeve.
Dammit Clarke. WORST. ASSASSIN. EVER.
Pissed off, Nia declares Clarke and Skaikru are enemies of Ice Nation, but decides to spare Clarke’s life for the moment in order to send a message to Lexa. The Queen cuts Ontari’s hand and holds it over Clarke’s face. Drippity drop, enjoy your blood facial, Clarke! And this is our shocking introduction to…
BLACK BLOOD, BLACK BLOOD, BLACK BLOOD, OMG THE CRAZY REDDIT THEORY WAS CORRECT! Reditkru is simply the best.
All Commanders – who are chosen from the Nightbloods – have black blood, including Lexa. And it seems Ice Nation had there own little Nightblood all along that they never sent to Polis for training to be a Commander. Sneaky deaky, Ice Queen! Nia wants to kill Lexa and install Ontari as the Commander, and by proxy, control all the clans. But what about the other Nightbloods? I have a feeling Ontari has a plan to eliminate the competition. Another Reditkru theory, and a chilling one, is that Ontari murders all the Nightblood children that Lexa is training. Or perhaps even Lexa herself.
Our first glimpse of Ontari was in the season 3 trailer, and without any context, it appeared she was in a forest covered in mud. Now? Likely she’s covered in black blood, sitting on Lexa’s throne. Fun fact: over on Reddit, we get a little too giddy over the prospect of Ontari murdering children and taking Lexa’s throne. We’re not right.
But onto the Lexa v. Roan battle to the death. Clarke is all concerned scowls. There’s this one scene where she appears taken aback by her own feelings as she confronts Lexa about what seems to be certain death at Roan’s hands. It’s a subtle moment, but wonderfully played by Eliza Taylor, who is giving face all throughout this episode like she’s taking acting lessons from the Lexa school of emoting with one’s eyes. Love it.
The fight scene between Roan and Lexa was about as good as any you’ll see on TV, including Game of Thrones. This is the Red Viper versus the Mountain, with a lot less swished skulls. The action was simply incredible and it’s the first time we see Lexa fight. And she’s fierce. It’s everything we want out of the Commander and more. It’s hard to do this scene justice. Just go watch it. And watch it again. And again. Lexa comes this close to dying, but ultimately downs Roan. She could kill him with a spear to the throat, but jus drein, jus daun. Blood must have blood. Lexa launches the spear at Nia and kills her.
This was so bad ass. And so sad at the same time because dammit, I wanted more Brenda Strong as the Ice Queen. Barely one episode of Nia and she’s dead. This feels like a waste of a character most of us have been dying to see. I wanted to explore her motivations. Did she just want power and command the clans through Ontari? Why did she banish Roan? Why did she kill Costia? Why couldn’t we see Nia trying to give Clarke the Costia treatment once she caught on to the feelings between her and Lexa because come on, the tension is so obvious even blind-ass Arya in Braavos on an entirely different show can see it. Second Game of Thrones mention! Yes!
But long live King Roan! I wanted to see more of Roan, Ontari, and Nia and I guess two out of three ain’t bad. We hardly learned anything about Ontari, but I have a feeling she’s not going back to Azgeda territory just yet. She has murder(s) to commit.
Later that night, in a candle fetishist’s dream room, we see Clarke staring at the moon being all pensive and probably thinking “this room is the biggest fire hazard I’ve ever seen, I hope I don’t burn to death tonight,” when Lexa comes to her door. Seriously, did they clean out a Yankee Candle store for this show?
They’re both wearing what I can only assume passes for Grounder jammies and I’m pretty sure every single Clexa shipper was thinking the thing was going to happen, except, the thing didn’t happen. Clarke re-dressed Lexa’s cut, joked a bit about how Lexa only talks about dying (HILARIOUS!), and mused about how all the clan ambassadors basically betrayed Lexa. But Lexa said they were – say it with me kids – doing what they thought was best for their people. They said their goodnights and a billion Clexa balloons were instantly deflated. At least the tumblrinas can now post thousands of pictures of Lexa’s back tattoo. EYE ROLL.
The thing is going to happen. Give it time, shipper trash. Clarke was just spitting on Lexa and threatening to kill her two freakin’ episodes ago. You can’t make the thing happen just because you want it to happen. Go back to writing your awful, soul-sucking fanfic, losers. Jesus, the thing that’s going to happen is about the only thing on this show that isn’t being rushed right now.
So Polis was very satisfying this week, I’d say.
We got tons of worrisome looks from Clarke, a couple smiles of “chillax, I GOT this” from Lexa, and Roan being oh so dangerously sexy. We got to see Lexa go H.A.M. in battle, but not before she let Nia’s machinations play out. Lexa is cunning! How she deals with the ambassadors that stood against her – including I would assume, Trikru – shall be interesting. It will also be interesting to see how Roan fits into the story moving forward as the Ice King. We know he has a rapport with Clarke, but can he be trusted to work with Lexa, even after she spared his life and essentially handed him the Azgeda throne? And Ontari…what trouble will she cause moving forward? I cannot wait to see.
Just let me sum up Lexa’s swag this episode:
Ugh. Arkadia. EAT A BAG OF DICKS, PIKE AND BELLAMY
I can’t even with this story. This is the text book definition of corner cutting. Let’s break down some of the troubling plot points that simply do not work:
Intention: Fridge Gina to create emotional stakes for Bellamy.
Reality: Bellamy and Gina got TWO FUCKING SCENES together and we don’t buy their relationship at all.
Intention: Relate Farm Station’s experience with the Ice Nation to paint a picture of their horrific ordeal.
Reality: The show told us rather than showed us the massacre of their people, so we only know about it in the abstract, so its emotional weight is nominal.
Intention: The Mount Weather explosion will be Skaikru’s 9/11 and the Arkers will regard all Grounders as murderers and terrorists.
Reality: Were we really all that fucking stupid after 9/11? Is it too much to hope that our future selves have learned from our mistakes?
Intention: Create an alternate leader in Pike to present a differing point of view from Abby/Kane and create strife in Arkadia.
Reality: Pike is a one-note racist prick that the rest of Skaikru has known for ONE HOT MINUTE before he’s elected over the experienced and well-known long-term leaders, Abby and Kane.
Intention: Show Bellamy’s guilt over Mount Weather (and what’s her name) and make him determined to never let the Grounders do something like that again.
Reality: Bellamy KNOWS there’s a difference between Ice Nation and other Grounders, but he’s been hit with the stupid stick to advance this conflict.
Intention: Have Bellamy side with Pike so we have an emotional stake in the story, as we like Bellamy, our redemption boy and season 2 hero.
Reality: Bellamy has known Pike for ONE HOT MINUTE and is completely drinking his “we kill them before they kill us” Grounder-haterade? What the flippin’ fuck? Bellamy is dumb, just so dumb.
And most of this transpired over one episode. The writers went from point A to point Z and expected us to do all the intellectual heavy lifting to make that gigantic leap in story and character progression (or regression, in Bellamy’s case). By the end of the episode, which ended with Pike inexplicably being elected Chancellor by the stupid stupids that stupidly live in Arkadia, I had but one reaction:
Where do we go from here? It appears that the unthinkable happens in the next episode, ominously titled Hakeldama, which is Aramaic for “field of blood.” Previews have shown Lexa and Clarke on horses, coming across a field filled with dead Grounder bodies. Every bit of dialog in the preview indicates that Skaikru is responsible for those deaths. Let’s process this: 300 dead friendly Grounders that Indra rounded up to protect Arkadia from the Ice Nation. They are likely all from Trikru – Indra’s clan. Lincoln’s clan. Nyko’s clan. Lexa’s clan. Preemptively killed so they wouldn’t kill the people in Arkadia, because that’s perfectly reasonable and humane and not straight out of crazypantstown.
Fuck that noise. If this truly does happen as it appears to, I will have a dark pit in my stomach throughout this episode because we the audience know that these Grounders are the good guys and there to protect Skaikru. I know, maybe there are no good guys, but they don’t deserve to be slaughtered by idiots with guns who think “kill them before they kill us” is sound political and military strategy. There is a slight chance (less than 1% I’d say) that the preview could be a swerve, but I have yet to see any swerves in any previews. This is pretty much a straight-up show, and what you see in previews is what you get. They don’t try get to all tricksy and misdirect us.
But what if?!: Crazy speculation time! What if the preview for next week is a swerve and Pike et al don’t kill the Grounder army, but they die from a sickness or biological agent? This is a crazy theory, but why did Nyko bring sick Grounders to Arkadia at the beginning of this episode? It served zero purpose, except we know that nothing is introduced into the show without an end game. There’s a ton of dialog about war in the preview that leads me to believe that Pike does start a war with the Grounders, so I give this a 1% chance of happening, but I’m grasping at straws here for something to save us from Pike and Bellamy being the worst.
What I really want to know is how Lexa and Clarke are going to deal with these events if they unfold as we think they will. Earlier in this episode, Clarke demanded justice from the Ice Nation for the destruction of Mount Weather, and now the Grounders will want justice from Skaikru if 300 of their own are murdered without provocation. Blood must have blood, right? Who pays for this crime? And where does this leave Skaikru in regards to the coalition? Pike rejected the coalition, but can he do that in the eyes of the Grounders? Do they recognize his leadership position? What does this do to Clarke’s status as Skaikru’s Ambassador? Can Lexa shield Skaikru from any fallout and still be Commander or does she have to cut them loose?
At this point, if I were Clarke, I would go Dark Clarke mode and save Kane, Abby, Octavia, Raven and anyone else worth having and let the Grounders mete out justice against Pike and his little faction. Because those guys are the WORST. They need to seriously do some soul-searching and stop being xenophobic twat cakes.
Fuck this dumpster fire of a story line. None of it feels earned or authentic. And they are going to destroy Bellamy in the process – they’re Finning him! Unless there’s a swerve. But a swerve isn’t going to happen, right guys?. There’s not going to be a sudden Bellamy face turn where he runs to the ring and RKO’s Pike. Rasslin’ reference!
I wish this episode didn’t end up where it did, but I will give this show the chance to redeem itself. There are still 12 episodes to go this season, and plenty more craziness and awesomeness to embark on. I just don’t want Pike and Grounder hate to be a stain on an otherwise thoroughly engaging and entertaining narrative. Steer out of this skid, guys!
Sidebar: check out Mo Ryan’s review and interview with show runner and EP Jason Rothenberg. Ryan is a TV critic for Variety and an ardent supporter of the show. We need critics like her to sing the praises of The 100, but she takes JR to task over the problematic developments with the Arkadia story line.
- Looks like my ship is happily sailing along: Slarke (soap + Clarke). We did hit choppy waters with the face full of black blood, but she cleaned up quickly. No harm, no foul.
- No Raven. What the fuck, guys. We need Raven in these dark times.
- Lincoln’s for sure dying, right? They are telegraphing this move from miles away.
- Jasper and Monty’s friendship appears to be over…for now. Jasper continues to deal with Maya’s death and his PTSD, but man, stealing Finn’s ashes, calling Monty and Clarke mass murderers, and then accidentally spilling all of Finn at the drop ship site was gut wrenching.
- Seriously, where was Raven?
- I secretly ship myself and Nyko.
- I loved Lexa mentoring the little Nightblood kids on Commander philosophy. What I loved more was the WTF look on Clarke’s face when she walked in to see Lexa surrounded by children. “When the fuck did you turn the throne room into a kindergarten?”
- Seriously, how cute is Aden?
- SERIOUSLY THO.
- Who else is going to cry when Ontari kills Aden? Because I will be a bucket of weepies.
- If Ontari kills Lexa, I will burn everything to the ground.
- I would take 100 hours of Jaha over the Arkadia dumpster fire right now. Jaha, you guys.
- Bellamy’s eulogy to Gina: “She was real.” SHE WAS REAL. Just…I can’t.
- It pains me to use the term “dumpster fire,” a moniker I usually reserve to describe Houston Texans quarterbacks.
- No really, I needs me my Raven.
- I’d buy this game:
Watch the Thrones: TROUBLING. 5 out of 10 black blood drops to the face
Polis was 10/10 because fuck it, that fight scene coupled with the sheer quantity of Clarke’s worried scowls give it a perfect score.
Arkadia is a 0/10 because fuck it, I’m salty and it was a detour into crazyville that didn’t feel earned at all.
There are some The 100 bloggers you should absolutely be reading, and I offer them up for your enjoyment; I have no affiliation with any of them, save for being a fan:
- Jo Garfein – doing some great intellectual lifting when analyzing the show, and check out her The 100 podcast with AJ Mass, also found on Scifi Mafia at this link.
- Erin Brown – unfairly beautiful writing. Like seriously, stop being so good.
- Toni_watches – piss your goddamn pants funny photo recaps.
If you’re a fan of the show, join us on Reddit for deep discussions, wacky shenanigans, Trigedasleng lessons, and our weekly Breadheda-watch. Bread drein, bread daun.