For an updated view on “Thirteen” and my changing thoughts on the real-world issues raised by this episode, please my Season 3 Wrap Up.
Let me say this upfront: I’m a bit scared to write this review. I’m taking a bit of a contrarian stand that won’t please people, especially those that want to condemn this show. So I’m going to get through it using a good friend: scotch. Day drinking, y’all! Lagavulin 16, get in mah belly! Tastes like liquefied Ron Swanson. Ooof.
Disclaimer: This was a heavy episode. It demands more than a cursory or an emotionally inflammatory reaction. Remember, these are only my views, and you may have some very different opinions. I’m doing my best to be analytical. You may feel I’m betraying my own belief system, but my views are nuanced and sometimes conflicted and complicated. I don’t see this episode in black and white. I cannot tell anyone how to react or feel, I can merely present my thoughts and make the best argument possible for my statements and opinions. If you disagree, please engage.
I had to take a more than a day to process the episode, let my emotions calm down and my take is: it was a beautiful, heartbreaking, revelatory, game-changing episode that left me completely drained and shocked. So yeah, it was my jam.
I just want to mention it now: Alycia Debnam-Carey and Eliza Taylor, take all the awards right now for your work together in this episode. All of them. Their acting was raw, emotional, stunning, and moving. I can’t even with these two right now.
I dive deep into the really heavy Lexa and Clarke stuff in the second half of my review, so stick with me folks.
Let’s get into it!
Just Skaikru Doing Skaikru Things
Guess what guys, Skaikru done fucked up again. Yeah, I know, color us surprised.
Octavia is brought before Lexa as a prisoner of war by Semet, who recounts how Skaikru attacked their village. This aggression demands a reaction, and Lexa gives it to them: the 12 clans will assemble their armies and create a blockade to keep Skaikru contained. She places a kill order on any Skaikru found outside the boundary of the blockade. Lexa doesn’t outright declare war because she wants to give Skaikru the chance for a little “regime change” within their own gates. If Pike is removed and the sane people are put back into power, then Skaikru can regain its place as the 13th clan.
This is Lexa trying to find a way to avoid all-out war and keep her promise of peace to herself and Clarke, but something has to be done. This isn’t good enough for Semet, who calls for “death to the Commander” and tries to attack Lexa.
Titus puts a quick stop to this because somehow, Titus is also a shaolin monk and kills Semet for his actions. But this marks an important last straw for Titus. This was a direct attack on Lexa’s life by one of her people, and the stakes are too high for Titus to ignore the danger of Clarke’s influence. He’ll act on his fear of losing the Commander later, to disastrous results.
I Want Octavia To Be My Best Friend, For Realsies
Octavia gets some good screen time this episode, both with Clarke and Indra, going a ways to repair her relationship with Clarke, and giving some tough love to Indra, who is suffering from the effects of her shoulder injury. Octavia is someone, like her brother, who is ruled more by heart than head, but she is usually on the right side of things, lending her strength and support to those who deserve it. I would want Octavia to have my back in a fight. I would want her to slap sense into me during times of self-doubt. I would totally want to drink with her and throw shade at randos.
Octavia is often cited as one of the characters that had the most dramatic transformation throughout the series, from the “we’re back, bitches!” girl in the pilot episode to freakin’ “get knocked down, get back up” ninja warrior. Remember when she challenged a Grounder to a fight and got the shit beat out of her, but kept on coming? Spit blood in his face? That’s fucking character growth. And huge brass balls.
Octavia’s role in “Thirteen” is to light some goddamn fires under the asses of the two people who will be her strongest allies in the fight for Arkadia’s soul: Clarke and Indra.
She confronts Clarke about her trust in Lexa. Now, I’m not quite sure how much Octavia is picking up on the dynamic between Clarke and Lexa. I joked in a previous review that even blind-ass Arya over on The Game of Thrones can see the chemistry between those two, but how much Octavia can sense is up for debate. What she does know is Clarke is needed, desperately needed, on the front lines if they’re going to beat Pike. Octavia knows that Clarke is a leader and a fixer and will do just about anything to help Skaikru survive, but Clarke has been in ambassador/advisor mode to Lexa for so long that Clarke wonders if staying in Polis is the best way to help.
There are a couple things at play here: her pull towards Lexa and her avoidance of any responsibility or leadership role since she murderated everyone in Mount Weather. Clarke has found a role that lets her pull back from bearing the responsibility for all her people’s welfare, even though she strongly argues for sparing Skaikru over and over again. I imagine that Bellamy’s condemnation of her – “it’s a good thing you’re not in charge, because people die when you’re in charge” – is also weighing heavily in the back of her mind.
The other Blake still has faith in Clarke, despite the hard choices that Clarke had to make that put Octavia in harm’s way – most notably not warning anyone about the missile that destroyed Tondc in season 2. Before Octavia goes off to wait for Clarke, she leaves her with this:
“We need you. The kill order goes into effect at dawn. You have an hour to say your goodbyes. If you’re not there, you’re not the person I thought you were.”
I don’t know which way Clarke was leaning before this scene with Octavia, but I do think it helped light that spark that Clarke desperately needs in order to get her head back in the game. To have Octavia tell her that Skaikru needs her is monumental because of the hurt between these two. That Clarke was unable to leave with Octavia in the end because of unforeseen circumstances, unknown by Octavia, breaks my heart because Octavia now thinks Clarke let her down.
I wanted this:
Instead I got this:
Somewhat timely sportsball reference!
Octavia finds Indra in a place of weakness. Her injury has affected her ability to be a warrior. Octavia is there to honor Indra and seek her guidance, but Octavia ends up being the one who gives Indra her swag back.
Octavia: “Indra, please. I’m going back to fight my own people, the people who did this to you! I’ll fight my own brother if I have to, but I can’t do it alone. One word from you and Trikru will…”
They have a little scuffle, and Octavia gets the better of Indra. For once. And Indra is defeated, mentally and emotionally. Her lack of self-confidence is heartbreaking because we’ve only seen her be a B.A.M.F. That’s “bad ass muther fucker” for the record.
Octavia: “We all die. You can either do that here, feeling sorry for yourself, or you come back with me and get your revenge. The choice is yours.”
In the end, the one who joins Octavia to head back to Arkadia before the kill order goes into effect is Indra, not Clarke. And we get this scene: the baddest bitches in all of the world are back in business, y’all!
Murphy’s Continuing Adventures In Titus’
Titus is still holding Murphy hostage. Murphy tries to explain the City of Light and ALIE v1.0 to Titus: “She’s a computer program. But I get that’s hard for you to grasp considering you pray to garbage. No offense, obviously.”
Murphy eventually starts putting the pieces of the story together after seeing the Pol
aris escape pod and the drawings on the walls of the sex dungeon. Murphy explains to Titus that the pod is from Polaris, the 13th station, the one that Skaikru blew out of the sky when it refused to join the other 12 stations. Murphy goes further on to try and explain the drawings on the wall. The mushroom cloud is the end of the world. The woman is likely someone who escaped Polaris. This person that Titus and his people revere is Skaikru, which Titus doesn’t take kindly to. He doesn’t want his faith in any way connected to Skaikru. Murphy gets a bonk on the head for his troubles.
At this point, no one but the audience know who the Polaris survivor is, so if and when Murphy et al. learn it’s Becca is yet to be seen. But we know. Because we learn everything. And everything we thought we knew about the story line of The 100 is completely blown out of the water through the flashbacks and Lexa’s fate.
It’s The End Of The World As We Know It, And It’s Awesome!
Cue up R.E.M. and let’s talk about the end of the world.
Through some really well-used and wonderful flashbacks to 97 years ago, we find out that the 13th station is Polaris, Becca is up on Polaris working on A.L.I.E. v2.0, and oh, A.L.I.E. v1.0 broke out of her containment system and is setting about to “make life better” by solving the problem of “too many people.”
I don’t know if y’all have been waiting to see this moment since day one. I know I wasn’t. To me, the nuclear destruction of the earth was simply the premise the show used to kick off the narrative.
But now that season 3 is in full swing and EVERYTHING is being tied together, this moment is painful and awesome and everything I didn’t know I wanted to see.
Becca is up on Polaris to work on A.L.I.E. v2.0. I’m guessing once she had her “chat” with her AI’s avatar and A.L.I.E. v1.0 dropped the “too many people” bomb (sorry) on Becca that they contained A.L.I.E. v1.0 and Becca went to work on v2.0 in an effort to create an AI that understood humanity a wee bit better and didn’t want to wipe it out. That should be easy.
As we move through the flashbacks, we learn that Becca has been working on something else – an injectable black liquid that presumably protects against the effects of nuclear radiation. The origin of the Nightbloods! What. The. What. Another link in a chain in this expansive narrative.
Commander Cole of Polaris, who learns about A.L.I.E and Becca’s hand in the nuclear strikes, refuses to take A.L.I.E. v2.0 along for the ride as they prepare to join the other 12 stations of the Ark. He will not introduce a genocidal AI to what’s left of the human race. Becca is insistent that this version is different and will save the human race.
Becca: “A.L.I.E. 1 didn’t understand what it meant to be human, yes, but A.L.I.E. 2 will. It’s designed to interface with humanity on a biological level. It will understand the value of life by co-existing with us.”
This doesn’t convince Cole and Becca makes a desperate move, locking herself in her lab to protect the chip that contains A.L.I.E. v2.0. Since Cole is delaying docking maneuvers with the other 12 stations, the Russian and Chinese stations start to get a little antsy and refuse to dock as well. Alpha station threatens to open fire on Polaris to make an example out of them and force all other stations to comply.
Becca packs up her stuff, including vials of the black substance she’s been injecting, heads to an escape pod, and jettisons out towards earth. See ya, wouldn’t want to be ya, bitches! Polaris, unable to meet the timeline to begin docking, is blown the fuck out of the sky.
“Let this be a lesson to all Federation stations. God rest your souls. My God help ours.”
Happy Unity Day guys! Hats and horns!
When Becca lands on earth, she’s in a swampy morass of deadly nuclear fallout. But when she takes off her helmet, she’s just fine. The black blood protects her from the radiation. The camera pulls back a bit, and we see she’s wearing the spacesuit of Polaris’ Commander, so that’s another link in the chain filled in. We then see a group of people in the distance in radiation suits coming to find what fell from the sky, and that’s where Becca’s journey leaves off.
Oh, save for the one huge reveal – a scar at the base of her neck where she implanted A.L.I.E. v2.0. The same scar that we will see on the back of Lexa’s neck.
Now, a couple of my previous theories were incorrect, which I covered in my last review. I thought the black blood WAS the AI, but I was wrong. It’s the way Becca survived earth’s radiation. There’s only one interface with A.L.I.E. v2.0, and that’s the chip that’s implanted in Becca’s neck. The chip that serves as the spirit, or the “flame,” of each Grounder Commander. But I was spot on about Becca being the lone Polaris survivor, being the first Commander, and being a Nightblood.
Were y’all’s minds blown? Mine was.
THIS is the world-building moment that makes The 100 an exemplary program. The mythology of the Grounders is intertwined with the end of the world, Becca, A.L.I.E., and Skaikru. Everything is linked together beautifully, in ways I never expected moving through the first two seasons.
Some folks don’t necessarily like this expanded world, they would prefer we get back to the original 100 (~44? ~43?) delinquents and their stories. But I think there’s limited sand box there to play in and create compelling stories that don’t get feel retread. Do we want another The Walking Dead, where every new conflict is just another slightly different flavor of Rick & Co. versus zombies or Rick & Co. versus other humans?
This AI narrative moves the story forward in exciting ways, opening up tons of possibilities for future story lines, new characters, new conflicts, new moral choices, and an exploration of what it means to be human. I can’t think of a better way to create intrigue than what the writers have done.
Now, in regards to A.L.I.E. v2.0, I see a couple people on the interwebs, that hive of scum and villainy, saying that Lexa wasn’t actually Lexa, but the AI. I don’t buy this for a second. Becca doesn’t seem to be summarily changed by implanting the AI into herself. I firmly believe that A.L.I.E. v2.0 rides shotgun with its host, politely giving some advice on the best route to take and contains some part of the previous Commanders. I would call it “data,” for lack of a better word, but how much of that data transcends mere information and contains the consciousness of previous hosts is unknown at this point. Will Lexa’s desire for peace be instilled in the next Commander? Will any of the feelings Lexa had for Clarke be present in its new host? Freak the fuck out at that thought for a bit.
The Thing Finally Happened!
Lexa and Clarke have been dancing around each other since season 2, with a crackling energy and palpable sexual tension. Their chemistry served as an undercurrent to all of their scenes. Even when Lexa was betraying Clarke at Mount Weather or Clarke was spitting in Lexa’s face and swearing to kill her, their connection drove the depth of their emotions. Love or hate, there was always a thread pulling them towards one another.
The moments between feral Clarke raging at Lexa out of hate and anger to her finally kissing Lexa was a slow burn. And it had to be. Some folks don’t buy it…it wasn’t enough time for Clarke to forgive Lexa for Mount Weather. I don’t know what show they’re watching, but I think plenty of time was given and plenty of progression was shown on Clarke’s part to get her to that kiss.
Clarke’s feelings for Lexa were obvious in “Watch The Thrones,” when she feared Lexa would fall in combat to Roan. Her anger at Lexa’s decision to fight was only matched by her desperation to keep Lexa alive, up to and including her failed attempt to assassinate Queen Nia.
Go back and watch that episode carefully and see if you can spot the moment Clarke realizes the depth of her feelings for Lexa. I’ll give you a hint…she’s got something on her face during the scene I’m talking about. And no, it’s not just a scowl.
But Clarke didn’t necessarily trust Lexa yet. Pledging fealty to treat Clarke’s people as her own is one thing, but following through is another. So, when Lexa decides to not retaliate for the death of 300 warriors at the hands of Pike, declaring “jus nou drein, jus daun” (blood must not have blood), the rubber met the road. That was Lexa searching for the peace Clarke begged her for, going against the Grounder way, and putting her own life on the line.
Declaring a new way of life, and sparing Skaikru, was the gesture that maybe didn’t make up for Mount Weather, but proved to Clarke that Lexa was serious about her pledge. She would do whatever she could to treat Skaikru as her own. And even when Skaikru fucked up – yet again (eye roll) – she did everything she could to not declare all-out war. The barricade and a kill order is Lexa being as merciful as she can be, and I believe she would treat any of her other clans the same if they stepped out of line.
When Clarke goes to tell Lexa she’s leaving and to say goodbye, we get some great dialog between these two. Lexa was totally going to say “I love you.” Totally.
Lexa: “When do you leave?”
Clarke: “Now. I’m sorry.”
Lexa: “Don’t be. You have to go back. They’re your people. That’s why I — that’s why you’re you.”
Clarke: “Maybe someday, you and I will owe nothing more to our people.”
Lexa: “I hope so. May we meet again.”
And then Clarke, who isn’t going to leave like this, steps towards Lexa and kisses her. And Lexa lets a solitary tear run down her cheek. And things progress a bit further and we know where it’s going, but the camera doesn’t linger and cuts to commercial. There was no on-screen sex, and I think that’s an important juxtaposition in regards to Clarke and Niylah earlier in the season, where it was obvious that Clarke was just seeking human contact and that was just sex. Clarke and Lexa share something far deeper and make love, and I’m grateful for the discretion with which this relationship was treated.
It was raw and emotional. Lexa crying made me cry. I mean, if your bottom lip didn’t at least quiver when seeing her so vulnerable and seeing tears for the very first time, I think perhaps you’ve taken one of those City of Light wafers and are hardcore trippin’ on the light fantastic.
When we come back to Clarke and Lexa, Clarke asks about Lexa’s back tattoo and I think we get a huge plot point here. Lexa received it on her Ascendance Day to the Commander role, and the 7 circles represent each Nightblood that died when the Commander’s spirit chose Lexa. But, Clarke points out, there were 9 novitiates in Lexa’s conclave. What happened to number 8?
Okay, let’s unpack some of this info.
First and foremost, it seems that all the Nightbloods that don’t become Commander are killed during Conclave. My guess is the novitiates battle it out to become Commander and kill one another until only one remains. I base this solely on the season 3 preview scene were Ontari is on Lexa’s throne covered in black blood. She will be at the conclave and I’m guessing a grown adult can kill children to become a Commander. Sorry Aden, but your time is limited on this earth.
But, if this theory is correct, how then does the Commander’s “spirit” choose the next Commander? So wait, new theory.
What if the A.L.I.E. v2.0 chip is implanted in each Nightblood and it either accepts or rejects that Nightblood. Rejection = death. If a Nightblood is accepted and there are others still remaining, then they are killed. It’s plausible, but it also doesn’t jive with A.L.I.E. v2.0 understanding the value of human life.
And now theories as to who the 8th novitiate could have been:
- Emori (not likely) – a mutant with a lobster claw for a hand would not even be a part of the Conclave because mutants are cast out. But her statement about “being a stain on the blood line” stands out a bit to me.
- Ontari (not likely) – Lexa and Titus didn’t even know about Ontari since Nia was hiding her away in the Ice Nation, so she’s off the table.
- Costia (
unlikelylikely – see edit) – we know Costia was captured, tortured, and killed by Queen Nia to learn Lexa’s secrets. This would only be after Lexa ascended to Commander, therefore post-tattoo, so the timing of it is all off. Nor does it make sense because Costia would have been killed along with the other 7 novitiates during Conclave. But Lexa wanting to not talk about the 8th novitiate makes people think it was Costia. EDIT: My logic is flawed. Costia could have been spared, which eliminates the timing issues with the tattoo and her death. So upgrading her to likely.
- Luna (likely) – could Lexa have spared Luna since they are (presumably) friends? This could also explain why Luna is in hiding. Although it’s hard to imagine how one person could survive the Conclave without Titus wanting him or her dead.
- Person X (likely) – the 8th novitiate could be someone we haven’t even met yet (other than Luna), and I’m always hyped to meet new people in this world.
I have no doubt we’ll find out either this season or the next who lucky Novitiate Number 8 was. This was another Chekhov’s gun we’ll be looking forward to turning up again in the future.
Now, Let’s Get Into The Real Meat Of The Episode – Lexa’s Death
The most shocking moment of “Thirteen,” and the moment that set the internet aflame, was Lexa’s death.
Angry statement alert: if you have participated at all with the death threats or exposing of personal information of any of the writers or actors of The 100, or you’ve been hateful towards LGBT individuals who don’t agree with you, you can go eat a bag of dicks. Get the fuck off the internet and take a long, deep, hard look at what a fucking cunt you are. There, off my chest. I’m constantly amazed at the depravity of idiots on social media. There are real human beings at the other end of your abuse.
Let me preface what I’m about to write with a little insight into my state of mind and emotions this week and what’s behind my analysis this part of the story, because I entered “Thirteen” already knee-deep in some emotional turmoil.
Monday, I learned my mother from another brother, Mama Faye, died after a long battle with cancer. So, I was already pretty broken emotionally by the time Thursday rolled around and I watched “Thirteen.”
Let me also expose this weakness about myself: I’m a bit of an emotional mirror when other people’s emotions are running high. Instead of taking a breather and letting myself process my own thoughts, I tend to get caught up in the moment and reflect what others are feeling. That’s not necessarily a good way to process things. I hope to stay off of social media while watching in the future so I can be in my own head.
I had also convinced myself that Lexa wasn’t dying this season. I was naive and hopeful. I became Pangloss from Voltaire’s “Candide,” the myopic optimist: “All is for the best, in this, the best of all possible worlds.” There’s a reason why that book is a satire and a scathing rebuttal of Leibnizian optimism.
When her death happened, I yelled “this is bullshit!” at my TV screen and waited for the 11th hour save. Apparently, I had learned nothing from my previous experiences of watching this show, which made me create this as a reminder to us all:
Let’s not forget, ever, the world that Jason Rothenberg and his writers have created and how high-stakes and heartbreaking it can be. I took an extra day to really think about Lexa’s death, the person she was portrayed to be on the show, and the harsh reality of the world in this show.
The whole is greater than the sum of its parts
Lexa’s death has been decried as a just another example of the “kill the lesbian” trope that has been repeated again and again across entertainment. As soon as a queer person finds happiness, their death soon follows, which sends a message that queers will not find lasting happiness.
To me, Lexa’s sexuality is one portion of who she is and not defined by it. She is also: a leader, a warrior, a visionary, a strong woman, ruthless yet merciful, driven by duty, driven by her love for her people, driven by her love for Clarke, intelligent, willing to make sacrifices, willful, independent, pragmatic, passionate.
She the unstoppable force to Clarke’s immovable object. Both women are a force of nature and to narrow either of them down to one aspect of their characters and make it the most representative thing ABOUT their character is complete bullshit. Lexa was a complex person who happened to be a lesbian.
It does this character a great dishonor to make her death just about her sexuality.
Additionally, would you just rather not have Lexa and everything she became to us all in the story? Just write her out after season 2, or was is the show better for having had her in season 3? Are we grateful for the time we got with this fantastic character? I can’t imagine Polis without her, or Clarke’s journey to this point as Wanheda/Ambassador without her. She was a vital and necessary part of the narrative.
What show y’all watching again?
The 100 is a show where very few people are safe. The “kill everyone” trope is very much a part of this show, and to ignore the death of Anya, Wells, Finn, and many others to decry Lexa’s death as just another example of the “kill the lesbian” trope is ignoring the rules that have been established for this show.
I don’t believe that one trope trumps or erases the existence of another trope, that’s too reductive for me, but if you’re watching this show and paying even the slightest attention, you must admit that this is a cruel world. The writers cannot shy away from killing anyone because of the perception it will create.
Lexa had to die
Alycia Debnam-Carey is a main character on another show. She would simply not be available to work on The 100. They had to beg, borrow, and steal to get her for 7 episodes (and you’ll note, she’s only appeared in 6). Those are the facts of the business. Writing her off would have felt awkward – how does one “write off” the Commander of the Grounders, the single most important person of the 12 clans? In a season where Skaikru starts thoughtlessly murdering Grounders?
Moreover, her death was necessary to reveal that the Commander’s spirit isn’t spiritual at all, but a chip containing an AI that moves from one Commander to the next. Lexa’s death didn’t move one story along. It put the whole show on it’s back and moved the entire narrative forward. Her death wasn’t small or meaningless, it was the crux of a much larger story. It is one of the single, most important moments of the whole show.
The options available to the writers concerning her character were removed from the table because of Fear The Walking Dead, and what they gave to us was extraordinary. We got more of her backstory, we got her kicking ass, we got her as a cunning politician, we got her as a visionary seeking peace. I got exactly what I wanted to see, and while I wish Fear The Walking Dead never existed and Lexa could continue to live on, I’m grateful for getting one of the most complex, interesting, and compelling characters to ever grace our TV screens.
The inglorious banality of death
To the folks upset with the manner of her death, let me drop this one on you again:
Many people wanted Lexa to die gloriously – in battle, saving her people, or saving Clarke. Instead, she got hit by a stray bullet from a gun fired from her mentor and closest advisor, Titus. So, basically, people wanted the stereotypical heroic death trope. Not some “meaningless” death by accident.
Her death was tragic because it came about because of fear and jealousy and hate from Titus towards Clarke. The one thing Titus feared most – Lexa dying – came to pass at his own hands. I can’t be the only one picking up on how heartbreaking and hopelessly tragic and self-fulfilling this death was because Titus was unable to do the one thing Lexa could: trust in another person. There is a tragic lesson in Lexa’s death, far greater and more important than fanfic-ing her into a glorious death in battle.
People want to search for meaning in death. But most of us will die ingloriously. Some of us will die in accidents, or by dropping dead on the spot, or wasting away from disease, or from the inevitable march of time. We’ll shuffle off this mortal coil, not with a shout, but a whimper. And this bugs the ever-loving crap out of us. We don’t want this for ourselves and certainly not for our fictional heroes.
Don’t try to find meaning through death. Find meaning through life. Lexa’s legacy cannot and should not be defined by dying by accident. Her life was bigger than that. She was the Commander and she lived a Commander’s life. She was a BOSS. She changed the world immeasurably, and affected those around her deeply. If death by a stray bullet defines Lexa for you, or lessens her, then I simply don’t know what to say.
And now onto that elephant in the room
Now, to tackle the “kill the lesbian” trope.
I was initially very angry at the timing of her death, not minutes after making love to Clarke. This was the textbook definition of the “kill the lesbian” trope. I tweeted that I would feel like a fraud, being a straight woman, trying to tackle this because I can’t fully articulate what it means to be LGBT and see another lesbian die on TV.
And now, I’m sure people will call me a fraud and not a supporter of the LGBT community because I can’t condemn her death the way so many others have.
Let me be very clear: I do not believe, not for one second, that the writers of this show or of this episode are homophobic. I don’t think they are queer baiters. And if you are accusing them of this on social media: shame the fuck on you. Because it appears that you haven’t been paying attention to the show at all and are merely focused on the last 15 minutes of this particular episode. Context is everything, and this show has 2 1/2 seasons of context to deeply consider.
The 100 is set in a world where labels don’t matter – race, gender, sexuality, physical ability. It doesn’t raise up banners and call attention to people who are not straight white males, it simply plops them in this world and gives them a prime directive: survive or suffer.
And because they’ve given us this world and layered characters of all different types, we’ve given them kudos and have said “thank you for the representation” for having some of the most well-written characters on TV.
But the moment something happens that doesn’t conform to our social agendas, things go completely sideways in the fan community. Like fucking tits-up sideways. Social media was a goddamned goat rodeo after the episode aired.
I in no way feel killing Lexa off in the manner they did, with the timing they did, was a malicious or thoughtless choice. I think there were a number of issues that backed them into this 15-minute corner of time that gave Lexa both happiness and her fate.
We’ve already talked about the issue of ADC’s availability. So, given she has 7 episodes – 6 now, one later – and given that Clarke’s movement back towards Lexa needed time and space to breathe, when would have been a good time for the sex? When would have been a good time to kill Lexa?
The pacing of certain story lines have been an issue this season. Bellamy and Pike are prime examples of this, and I think many fans and critics have been quite vocal in how brief characters get from point A to point B, especially when huge shifts in motives are needed.
Now, Clarke and Lexa’s story needed time to make it believable that Clarke would trust Lexa again, would fall in love with her, and give in to her feelings. Six episodes between “I’ll kill you!” and finally reciprocating Lexa’s feelings. Six episodes.
I think the timing of the death was unfortunate and again, a pacing issue. I can completely see how it is the definition of the trope. I don’t know how that was navigated in the writer’s room. I don’t know how they walked out of there feeling that they weren’t playing into fears that the LGBT community is hardly ever treated fairly on TV when it comes to their happiness. They probably did fear that something like this couldn’t be avoided, with the way the story was laid out across six episodes, Lexa’s death having to occur within a certain time period, with Clarke’s progression to lay in around that arc.
But I don’t think any of it was done cavalierly. I think it was a tough choice and my takeaway from this is simply: creating anything, especially something that takes great risks, is difficult and comes sometimes with a great cost.
Burn it all down
I’ve seen a number of people on social media swearing off the show forever.
So, basically, let’s ignore everything good the show has given us and throw it all away because of one scene. Makes perfect sense.
There’s also people saying they’ll keep watching the show, they just won’t watch it live or promote it on social media. Again, makes perfect sense. Is that spider dead yet?
Look, you don’t have to agree with me, and I’m certain I’ve lost some respect from people I don’t even know because I’m seemingly tone deaf to the concerns of the LGBT community. But looking at the show from a larger perspective and its role in telling the hard stories with high stakes with people who aren’t defined by their physical or sexual characteristics is rare.
This show has offered me far more than debatably falling into a regrettable trope. I’ve found role models, moral crevasses to explore, leadership philosophies to debate, crazy scifi theories to ruminate over, and incredible performances by a largely unknown cast to be in awe over. I can’t ignore what I’ve gained by watching The 100. It’s up to everyone to decide what they do moving forward, but I’m deathly afraid of spiders and my house is still standing.
So, I’m a bad supporter of LGBT issues, right?
I can’t possibly know what it’s like to go through life as a LGBT individual. I know it hasn’t been easy for a lot of people. I firmly support LGBT rights. My older…much much older…brother came out to me in the 80’s when I was still in junior high. My response to him, not really knowing what all of it meant: “do whatever makes you happy.” So, I’ve got skin in the game. Because of loved ones, dear friends, and because it’s the right thing.
I may now be “part of the problem” because I’m not as outraged as a lot of people are over this whole “kill the lesbian” trope. People may think that I simply don’t get it because I’m “the other.” Or because I refuse to draw battle lines.
If I’m going to pick a hill to die on, it’s going to be marriage equality or non-discrimination acts or anti-hate crime laws or voting for progressive candidates.
This trope simply isn’t my hill to die on, folks. I’ve thought about it. I’ve analyzed it, and I’ve put a little trust in a writing team that has shown much more sensitivity than not about issues surrounding gays, women, men, physical limitations, and race. I’m grateful for how challenging this show can be. Many of the choices they make are heart wrenching and they invoke strong emotions from the fans.
To me, the scales are overwhelming weighted towards the positive – they’ve done a ton of good by introducing these characters to the world.
Truthfully, we would not have such strong reactions if they gave us paint-by-numbers characters or story lines. They’ve created a deep, rich world filled with complicated and nuanced characters. I can’t kick The 100 to the curb when the voice in the back of my head tells me this isn’t the hill for me to die on.
So, make your judgments about the show and about me, but I beg of you: heart AND head. Find the nuance in your feelings, consider the contrary opinion. And most importantly, get out of those echo chambers that merely re-enforce your point of view. Nothing kills intellectual pursuits and debate and nuance more than surrounding yourself with those that parrot your beliefs right back at you.
My Heart Breaks For Clarke – But We Need Her To Rub Some Windex On It And Dig Deep And Get Back In The Game
Clarke is, and always will be, my favorite character on The 100. But this season, she hasn’t really been herself. You know it, I know it, everyone knows it. She doesn’t have that Wanheda swagger that comes from being a leader and doing all the heavy-lifting when it comes to making the hard choices.
She came to Polis a broken person from what she did at Mount Weather and is now completely destroyed and heartbroken from Lexa’s death. How does she navigate her way from here, especially considering she and Murphy are now essentially prisoners in Polis and in danger from the kill order against Skaikru? And how does she regain her strength and will to fight on? When does Dark Clarke come back and start kicking asses for – say it with me kids – her people?
I think she may have some involvement in the Conclave since it doesn’t seem she’s leaving Polis for another couple of episodes. I cannot wait to see what comes of that, and if my guess is correct, Ontari rises to the top of that novitiate class. Now, remember Ontari stopped Clarke from killing Nia and likely doesn’t have any warm fuzzies for Clarke considering she’s Azgeda and they are the most warriory of all the warrior clans. Skaikru is the enemy…or was when Nia was alive. Does Ontari swear allegiance to Roan now that he’s the Ice King, or will she go rogue? I can’t wait for this.
More importantly, how much of Lexa’s “spirit” will move on to Ontari through A.L.I.E. v2.0? Trying not to ship here, people, but…Contari? LOL…shipping already and the body’s not even cold. Jesus. This is so wrong of me, considering I’m so against Clarke with anyone for the next 30 seasons. I’m weak.
And what of that shady rat bastard Titus? Will he keep his word to Lexa and protect Clarke? Is he on this way to a Redemption ArcTM? This is another dynamic I can’t wait to see play out.
Clarke And Lexa And The Ultimate Weapon – Love
I firmly believe, based on what Jason Rothenberg has said in interviews, that love will win the day. It is the ultimate power this season. Clarke will make her way into the City of Light, driven by her love of her people and the need to save them. It will also help her navigate that place and defeat it – with Lexa’s help.
That’s my ultimate take-away. Don’t give up hope on these two formidable women ever meeting again. A.L.I.E. v1.0 destroyed the world once, and she’ll imprison all of humanity if she can to “make life better.” I will repeat my phrase regarding the City of Light: it is existence without authenticity.
Clarke could become the City of Light’s ultimate victim, its most prized possession – the woman who fights tirelessly to save people, to fix things, to make things right. Someone who will do anything for her friends and family. If there’s anyone filled with more pain for the CoL to take away, it’s Clarke. The CoL could take all of that away…and take away her reason for fighting. It might even make her forget Lexa, which would be repeating the heartbreak of this episode all over again.
But she’ll see Lexa again. Perhaps for the last time in any tangible way when the two of them unite for one more battle. This time, no betrayals. No questions. Nothing but scratching and clawing and wielding their strength and wits to free their people and themselves from this fake reality that destroys the things that make us human. These two are going to kick some ass.
One last ride.
In peace, may you leave this shore.
In love, may you find the next.
Safe passage on your travels, until our final journey to the ground.
May we meet again.
- My ship, Slarke (soap + Clarke): unbent, unbroken. Unlike my heart right now.
- Did you high-five yourself when Clarke called Murphy “my friend”? Because I did. I’m so looking forward to this pair in Polis. Please don’t revert to your shitbird ways, Murphy. I need you to be Clarke’s Flamekeeper right now. You’re the only one who saw her heart break. She need you, bro.
- I wrote this review with my The 100 playlist from Spotify playing all damn day. It’s got music from the whole series plus some curated stuff that reminds me of the show. If you’d like to take a peek, you can find it right here.
- How many vials of the black substance did Becca bring down to earth with her? Did she use them all to create the Nightbloods? Or is the some left for anyone else to use to become a Nightblood? (Staring really hard at Clarke right now…my head cannon has her become fucking Muad’Dib by series end).
- Notice that “what have I done?” is spoken by both Becca, as she watches the destruction of the earth, and Titus, after he shot Lexa, and destroyed Clarke’s world.
- I had to rewatch parts of this episode a lot for this review. I cried every time. EVERY TIME. Day drinking is perhaps not my thing. It makes all the feels more feelier.
- David Peterson, creator of Trigedasleng, has translated the Traveler’s Blessing:
Kom chilnes yu na ban sishou-de au,
Kom hodnes yu na hon neson op.
Gouthru klir hashta yu soujon, Kom taim oso fali kom daun gon graun-de.
Mebi oso na hit choda op nodotaim.
- I use “y’all” a lot. Truth be told, I’m a yankee. Born and raised in the ‘burbs of Chicago. But when I moved down to Houston 22 years ago after college, they issued me the word “y’all” at the Texas border and I’ve been using it ever since.
- This was my longest review yet. Thanks for sticking around and reading it. I’m doing this for the love of the game, I’m just here so I don’t get fined, and I’m just trying to be the best teammate I can be. (Houston will miss you Arian Foster!)
“Thirteen”: 9.5 out of 10 Beccas falling from space
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.
Breadheda is gone, folks. Fuck Breadheda, we don’t need her anyway. I’m going to cry into my sexy beardy Kane body pillow now.